It’s a Mumbai we have seen in books on the city’s history— sepia-tinted Apollo Bunder where the Victorias lined up outside the Taj Mahal to ferry the hotel’s guests to other parts of the city. Some rare images of early 20th century Mumbai appear in Bombay: The Cities Within by Sharada Dwivedi and Rahul Mehrotra, a definitive pictorial history of the city.
In Bombay 100 Years Ago, 50 such rare images will be on display on 27-28 September at the main lobby of The Oberoi, Mumbai. Ten prints per image will be produced upon request. The works cost Rs 60,000-80,000. Organized by the World Luxury Council (India) in collaboration with The Oberoi, the exhibition is open to the public.
Among the most striking images is a wide, top-angle view of the Victoria Terminus from 1887, which is in stark contrast to what the structure’s facade looks like today. Another is a panoramic view of the round temple or Gol Dewal at Sandhurst Road, which also has a view of the locality’s famous “stone” market; the same neighbourhood later got another name and found notoriety as the city’s red light district: Falkland Road.
In sepia: (clockwise from above) Esplanade Road or Kala Ghoda; the Bombay Club; and Victorias lined up outside the Taj Mahal Hotel. Photographs courtesy World Luxury Council (India)
Another familiar neighbourhood is Pydownie, or what is now called Mohammed Ali Road. Ever since it has been dwarfed by the JJ Flyover, the neighbourhood has become a mini-world of petty shopkeepers and food stalls. The original name “Pydownie” is a British take on the word pydhonie, which literally means a place where feet are washed. This probably was one of the first portions of land permanently reclaimed from the sea. The “foot wash” area could be recognized as a small creek that formed during high tide between the islands of Mazgaon and Bombay.
The 50 photographs have been sourced by Kamy Shah, chairman of the World Luxury Council (India), from a couple of the city’s lesser known collectors of historical photography and from collectors in London. Some images are from Shah’s own collection of photographs of vintage Mumbai.
After being acquired, they were reproduced over archival canvas, with German archival ink. Each photograph was cut into small pieces like a jigsaw puzzle and arduously reproduced on the archival canvas. They also have a matte coating that protects them from UV and other strong light sources, and are mounted on wood. Shah says the technology used will ensure they stay for a hundred more years.
Bombay 100 Years Ago will be on display in the main lobby, The Oberoi, Mumbai, on 27-28 September, 10am-7pm.@