Mumbai, or as it was called during the British Rule, Bombay Presidency, was a seat of the empire most important due to its ports. The Fort area, today called South Bombay, saw the establishment of several government buildings, houses, recreational spaces, and institutions, all built in the Imperialist style of architecture – a combination of Victorian, Indian (Mughal & Rajputana), and Persian architecture. Most of these buildings are still used today for housing government institutions, providing living quarters for official and other recreational capacities, such as restaurants and amphitheatres.

In the year 2016, the Kala Ghoda Association decided to restore several depleted structures at Fort, one of which was the iconic Bomanjee Hormarjee Wadia Clock Tower at the junction of Bazaar Gate Road and Nariman Perrin Street in the Kala Ghoda Precinct.

Timeline of restoration: Bomanjee Hormarjee Wadia Fountain and Clock Tower - Sheet1
Bomanjee Hormarjee Wadia Clock Tower_Vivek Gadre

Birth and Rebirth

Built in honour of the Parsi philanthropist Bomanjee Hormanjee Wadia during the British Raj, the Bomanjee Hormanjee Wadia Clock Tower and Fountain in Mumbai were designed in the Persian style of architecture and also drew influence from Assyrian and Persepolis styles in its façade elements and details, such as its acanthus leaf cornice. Locally known as ‘Bomanjeeba no Fuvaro’, this monument also sees a few lines from the ancient Behistun Rock inscriptions (Iran) on three sides of the fountain.

Mr Wadia was a member of the Bombay Native Education Society and a part of the board of Elphinstone Institution (now Elphinstone College). He contributed greatly to the development of education in the city of Bombay, and this heritage clock tower and fountain structure were erected in his honour posthumously in the year 1882.

The precariously fragile situation of the structure and the subsequent diminishing cultural value in the public eye pushed the authorities towards the decision of its restoration. Specialized conservation architect Vikas Dilwari, undertook this project with an estimated cost of 65 lakh rupees. Architect Dilawari and his team have restored over 16 heritage buildings in the Maharashtrian capital of Mumbai.

Boasting a beautiful façade with winged bull reliefs, this clock tower was in severe need of restoration due to its unidentified depletion over several decades. A building constructed in black basalt stone with an interior structure of timber, the clock tower was restored by dismantling and replacement. Additional design elements, such as mouldings, gargoyles, cornices, and capitals, were originally designed in Malad Stone and Kurla Stone.

Step-by-step rebuilding

The process began with internal restoration, followed by the external. From the first look, it was not evident to the architect how much damage the clock tower had sustained. Over the months, as the team dismantled each portion of the site, new problems and situations came to their notice.

The Bomenjee Hormarjee Wadia Clock Tower had eroded over the years due to harsh weather and had developed cracks all along its internal timber structure. The presence of moisture and dirt led to tree roots taking root in the construction, which needed to be removed to prevent further damage and decay. External scaffolding was introduced, allowing the conservation team to take the load off the old structure.  Original wooden beams which could be salvaged were reused in the new structure, and new stainless steel pins were placed along with the timber to hold the heavy basalt stones that made up the building together.

Timeline of restoration: Bomanjee Hormarjee Wadia Fountain and Clock Tower - Sheet2
External Scaffolding_Tanushree Venkataraman

Once the internal structural replacement had taken place, each of the original stones used in the tower’s construction was removed, labeled, and reused to create the exterior and its additional decorative elements. During the restoration of this clock tower, lead architect Dilwari ensured that all possible existing old materials were reused. The only new addition was a concrete slab, which was required to be added in place of a badly deformed stone slab that was originally built in basalt.

Additional non-structural repairs were taken up after the building could stand on itself without damaging its teakwood-spanning members. Due to repeated vandalism, the clock at the top of the Wadia Clock Tower saw several robberies of its glass and clock hands and was usually shut on this account. This clock was restored and restarted. Lastly, the painted walls were scrubbed to get rid of the collection of soil and grime, after which a fresh coat of paint allowed the entire structure to breathe again.

After the restoration of the structure, the nearby landscape features were also restored to their original 19th-century language. To prevent flooding within the structure after the road around it had risen over the years, the last step was the restoration of an old, nearby drain.

Timeline of restoration: Bomanjee Hormarjee Wadia Fountain and Clock Tower - Sheet3
Before and after restoration_Free Press Journal


The final cost of the restoration did not cross 40 lakh rupees. Architect Dilwari managed to save on the budget prescribed by the Mumbai Municipal Government, while also maintaining a landmark in the heart of the Fort City of Mumbai for years to come. Dilwari was also awarded the Honourable Mention under the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation for his work on the Bomajee Hormarjee Wadia Clock Tower and Fountain.

Tall as it stands_Vivek Gadre


  1. Bomanjee Hormarjee Wadia Clock Tower, Wikipedia (
  2. Mumbai News, Hindustan Times (
  3. Jam-e-Jamshed, Facebook (
  4. Bomanjee Hormarjee Wadia Clock Tower, Bharatpedia (
  5. Vikas Dilwari Architects’ official website (
  6. The Indian Express (

A young architect turned to the world of writing through poetry, Nupur looks to bring together science and creativity at its core – through architecture. She believes that the built environment is the primary influencer of every person’s life, and the un-built, in-between spaces are where humankind grows as a species.