2021 is almost at an end. In a year where travel was sporadic-to-non-existent (again!), we took to exploring our own backyards. One of my most interesting experiences this year was an architecture-oriented Mumbai walking tour with Walkitecture.
Run by architect Nikhil Mahashur, Walkitecture organises guided walks around South Mumbai. These include an Art Deco walk at Marine Drive, Victorian Gothic architecture walk at Oval Maidan, and more.
A few weeks ago, I was invited to join their Kala Ghoda Precinct Walk in association with Blue Tokai Coffee. Architecture + coffee, what’s not to like? I signed up straight away! We began bright and early at 7.30 a.m. with a coffee at the Blue Tokai cafe in Kala Ghoda. We were a group of about 15 people, all excited about exploring the architecture of Mumbai’s art and culture precinct.
Being an architect, Mahashur was a fount of knowledge and anecdotes. He told us how to identify and distinguish between the various architectural styles like Gothic, Edwardian, Neoclassical, and Art Deco.
For example, the nondescript and slightly decrepit building (above) next to the cafe is in the Edwardian style. And none other than Mahatma Gandhi had his office in it before he left for South Africa!
We ambled along towards Bombay Dockyard (also known as Naval Dockyard), pausing to look at some examples of vernacular architecture on the way.
The iconic dockyard building with the clock tower dates to 1735 and Mahashur shared a bit of trivia about it. The main gate of the dockyard was originally under the clock tower but it was later shifted to Lion Gate. They walled up the part under the tower and that’s why you don’t see the arched niches on this part of the facade.
The walk continued to Kala Ghoda, Mumbai University, and Flora Fountain.
Across from the fountain, Mahashur pointed to Oriental Building, which I had seen umpteen number of times, but never noticed Shakespeare’s face sculpted on it!
The building was built in 1885 to house Cathedral School and the Bard’s face was meant to inspire the students. The things you discover in the city where you have lived all your life!
We walked further to Horniman Circle and eventually returned to the cafe.
Smell the coffee
But that was not the end of the experience. Blue Tokai had organised an informative coffee cupping session followed by some delectable snacks. I have always enjoyed their coffees but I do tend to stick to one or two varieties. So, it was great to taste some other estates and blends, not to mention the delish in-house bagels and almond croissants.
Overall, it was an enjoyable experience and I highly recommend it. Whether you’re a tourist or a resident, this Mumbai walking tour is a great way to (re)discover the city.
These are buildings that I have walked by (and photographed) so many times. Yet, I learnt something new on this walk. So check out the Walkitecture website or keep an eye out on their Instagram for upcoming tours.
Have you uncovered any hidden gems in your own city? Leave us a comment below.