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The Town Hall, Bombay. 9373

The Town Hall, Bombay. 9373

Photographer: Unknown

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1858

Shelfmark: Photo 937/(3)

Item number: 9373

Length: 20.1

Width: 24.2

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Photograph of the Town Hall in Bombay taken by an unknown photographer in about 1858, from an album of 40 albumen prints mostly taken in the 1860s. The busy port and industrial hub of Bombay is the capital of Maharashtra. During British rule, it was the administrative capital of the Bombay Presidency. Extending over a peninsula into the Arabian Sea on the west coast of India, Bombay prospered with maritime trade and became the chief commercial centre of the Arabian Sea. Originally a collection of fishing villages of the Koli community built on seven islands,

Bombay was by the 14th century controlled by the Gujarat Sultanate who ceded it to the Portuguese in the 16th century. In 1661 it was part of the dowry brought to Charles II of England when he married the Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza. In the 19th century, with their empire in India established, the British built grand buildings as outward manifestations of their power and legitimacy as rulers. Bombay boasts numerous examples of colonial architecture. Its Town Hall, designed by Colonel Cowper of the Bombay Engineers in 1820, was completed in 1835 and is considered the finest neo-classical building in India. It is plastered with chunam or Indian stucco and raised on a plinth with a Doric portico. The original Doric columns shipped from England were too large and were used in the Byculla Church instead. The Town Hall now houses the library of the Asiatic Society.

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