She's watched over Mumbai for 143 years...

Jul 03, 2012, 16:31 IST | Fiona Fernandez

It's impossible for even the most time-strapped city slicker to ignore this creation in white marble (now pale with neglect, and in dire need for repair)

Flora Fountain was built on a spot that has been an anchor of sorts through the many transformations that Mumbai has witnessed over time. It was built at the heart of the Fort precinct to demarcate the junction of the bow-like cross axis that ran across the early city.

Pic/Shadab Khan

Initially, built as a dedication to Governor Sir Bartle Frere (1862-67), it was even called the Frere Fountain initially for a while. Frere was responsible for the vibrant and enterprising planning of the new town. It was designed by a committee that included R Norman Shaw in Britain. The fountain was sculpted in fine imported stone from Portland by James Forsythe and eventually placed at the square in 1869.

It was built to represent the Roman goddess of flowers — Flora — and is surrounded by a host of small fountains and mythological figurines. At the turn of the century, the Flora Fountain was enclosed by a circular garden. Today, it has become the centre of a huge parking lot surrounded by the nerve of the city’s business establishments. Nearby is the Hutatma Chowk (Martyr’s Square) that was built to commemorate the sacrifice of hundreds of freedom fighters who lost their lives in the struggle to ensure Maharashtra’s statehood.

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