“Architecture” is itself a wide topic, which is actually amazing, but what is more amazing is that if we take only one city, its architectural background is also so vast that we need a really deep study to know about it whole. India is one the country which is famous for its vast diversity in architecture. Its historical impact, as well as geographic impact, make its history of architecture so vast and diverse.

An overview of 18th century Mumbai - Sheet1
Port of Bombay, 18th-century engraving_©Photos.com/Thinkstock

One of the Indian cities is Mumbai. It was earlier known as Bombay. It is the commercial capital of India, a fabled fast-paced life, and a place where we can find a variety of architecture. It has a core witness to the city’s flourishing, business raising, and the growing Indian film industry. The city consists of Gothic Revival, Indo-Saracenic, Art Deco, and other contemporary styles mainly. It has lots of architectural gems. Its architectural features include a variety of European influences such as German gables, Dutch roofs, Swiss timbering, Romance arches, Tudor casements, and traditional Indian features. It has the second largest number of Art deco Buildings and it has the largest number of skyscrapers in India. Mumbai has heritage spaces like the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and the Elephanta Caves and lots of other buildings.

An overview of 18th century Mumbai - Sheet2
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai_©www.thehindu.com

Mumbai has a vast history throughout the centuries. Lots of other things happened in the 18th century which are notable. By the end of the 17th century, there was a territorial dispute in Bombay (now Mumbai) and it had developed an important local port. In 1715, Charles Boone was elected as the Governor of Bombay and he implemented the plan of fortification of the island. Walls were built from Dongri in the north to Mendham’s point in the south as well as established a force of Marines and constructed St. Thomas’ Church, within the fort. By 1728, Mayor’s Court was established in the town and in the same year the first reclamation was started. In 1735, building of the shipbuilding industry was also started. Wadia is the first dock built in Bombay. By the middle of the 18th-century Bhandaris from Chaul, Vanjaras from the Ghats, slaves from Madagascar, Bhatias, Banias, Shenvi Brahmins, goldsmiths, ironsmiths, and weavers from Gujarat migrated to Bombay. In 1737, Maratha Baji Rao captured Salsette from the Portuguese which forced the British to push settlements within the fort walls of the city. After new building rules were set up in 1748, many houses were demolished. Bombay dock was also built in 1750. By 1769, Fort George was built on the site of the Dongri Fort, and also in the next year, the Mazagaon docks were built. In 1772 an order was promulgated to segregate Indian and English houses. They are within and outside the Fort. A lot more important development came five years later.

An overview of 18th century Mumbai - Sheet3
Interior of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai_©www.shutterstock.com

Bombay’s architecture can be presented through the British in the 18th century as British control of Bombay was confirmed by this time. By this time citing planning had been started. There was height restriction placed over buildings as well as roads were built at right angles to each other and also segregation was enforced. In this period, a small town controlled by panchayats was set up. At the end of the 18th century, a regular civil administration was put in place. By the end of the 18th century, a court was made in 1794.

One of the examples of 18th century Mumbai architecture is Wilson College. It is a college founded by Rev John Wilson located in South Mumbai. The whole building is a very fine example of Gothic Architecture built in the 18th century.

An overview of 18th century Mumbai - Sheet4
Wilson College_©www.wilsoncollege.edu

Another example of this time is Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, formerly known as Victoria Terminus. It is also an 18th-century building following Gothic Revival architecture. Remarkably pointed arches, wood carvings, balustrades, ornamental metal, inscriptions, and ironworks were used to enhance the building.

Mumbai no doubt has a vast kind of architecture. Throughout the century this place has seen a variety of changes from early Indian architecture to Gothic architecture to Gothic revival to Art Deco. All of them are here in one place. During the 18th century, this place was under British control; so we can see more of these styles in architectural buildings constructed at this particular time. Several of the previous structures also influenced the newer structures of that time. The development of architectural style didn’t stop after the 18th century, and there was more and more development in this city during the 19th and 20th centuries.

An overview of 18th century Mumbai - Sheet5
Wilson College interior_©www.wilsoncollege.edu

As India is a developing country and as Mumbai is the business capital, it is also growing rapidly, and it is really important to know about the past to build our future. So, for a developing city like this, we should know deeply about the history.


  1. Petracco .S. (2012). Mumbai Architecture – A Travelers’ Walk Into History. https://www.travelguideline.net/mumbai-architecture-a-travellers-walk-into-history.html
  2. Raghavan .C (2020). Mumbai. https://www.britannica.com/place/Mumbai
  3. Theory. (2000). Mumbai Pages. https://theory.tifr.res.in/bombay/history/c18.html

A budding artist, poet and dancer by passion and an architecture student by profession pursuing 3rd Year in architecture from MBS SPA, New Delhi. Highly passionate about architecture also understands the language of art, currently running an art page showcasing her own art skills and now here to improve her skills on creative writing towards architecture. Life is a journey with lots of experience and she is here to acquire another set of experience.