For a few years now, the kids and I head to the Horniman Circle Garden during the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival and for the Sufi festival. This year, we went there before everything started — to simply be there and ‘see’ the regal green dot of South Mumbai surrounded by heritage structures.
The Horniman Circle Garden always looks inviting with its thicket of green and its beautiful, majestic wrought iron gates. The centre of the garden is a fountain. Trees at the Horniman Circle Garden bloom through the year as the original planners carefully chose trees of different flowering seasons.
Built in the 19th century, the garden was supposed to be the centre of the walled city. The Horniman Circle Garden was first known as Bombay Green; then renamed Elphinstone Circle after then Governor, Lord John Elphinstone and finally became the Horniman Circle as a tribute to Englishman BG Horniman, also the editor of The Bombay Chronicle. An ornamental fountain was placed in the centre, but it was replaced by a modern Art Deco-inspired iron pipe design.
During the pre-Independence era, the garden was the favourite venue of the Parsi community. A live band used to perform every evening. Now, with the Sufi Festival and with the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, this ambiance is revived, occasionally. There are trees, stand-alone gardens within the garden, broad lanes to walk and shaded spaces with stone benches to sit on.
The garden is calming indeed. With trees that are ancient, verdant and with heritage structures of might and beauty surrounding us, you can’t help thinking you are in another place, in another era. Beautifully constructed and meticulously planned sidewalks surround it from all the sides.
When we arrived at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival was yet to commence, so we spotted a few students placing an installation, while another team was busy erecting a platform for the literary festival. There are a handful of kids with their parents, few couples and a group of dabbawallahs. And yet, somehow, the peace remains undisturbed.
The broad steps of the Town Hall are the backdrop from one corner, while the Reserve Bank of India makes the other view. And then there is the lyrical St Thomas Cathedral, one of the first Anglican churches in Mumbai that you can not help look up to in awe, before you enter.
The kids sit on the wall of the fountain and seem to calm down. This is exactly the space that city kids need to be at. A space that is bereft of a structured play zone stills the child.
How to get there One can easily reach Horniman Circle Garden by boarding trains (Western or Central), getting off at either terminus and taking a taxi to the venue. It’s an easy landmark that is known to all taxiwallahs.
Timings: Daily, 8 am to 9 pm
Rest Room: Available
What’s good: The place is peaceful and seems to absorb sounds from all directions. You can come to Horniman Circle Garden and stretch your legs on the cool grass. The kids will not need any prop. Simply being there will calm them.
What’s Not good Prepare your kids for a quiet evening out. If your kids are used to going to places that have props and equipment to entertain them, they will be disappointed.
Rating: 3.5 / 5
>> The Asiatic Library and the Town Hall
>> The Reserve Bank Monetary Museum
>> St Thomas Cathedral
>> Flora Fountain