Still life in the city

Published: Jan 02, 2020, 07:00 IST | Dalreen Ramos | Mumbai

Mumbai is dotted with statues that serve as markers of its creation. Four chroniclers and historians pick those that tend to go unnoticed

Dr Acacio Gabriel Viegas had a dispensary in Mandvi's Port Trust Estate. Pic/Ashish Raje
Dr Acacio Gabriel Viegas had a dispensary in Mandvi's Port Trust Estate. Pic/Ashish Raje

Saving grace

Born on April 1, 1856, in Arpora, Acacio Gabriel Viegas was the first Indian Christian to be elected to the Municipal Corporation of Bombay in 1888. He was a graduate of Grant Medical College and passed his LMS examination in first class. He was also the one to identify a mysterious disease that hit Bombay in September 1896, leaving many casualties.

The bust of Jagannath “Nana” Sunkersett at a private crematorium in Chandanwadi.  Pic/ashish raje,

"The administration baffled by the swiftness with which the disease spread could not cope. Dr Viegas researched and identified the disease as bubonic plague, and worked tirelessly to fight the epidemic. Identifying rats as carriers helped combat the spread as well," Dr Fleur D'souza, former head of department of history at St Xavier's College, shares. The free-standing statue in front of Framjee Cowasjee Institute was constructed as a tribute by the citizens of Bombay in 1936, given his timely judgement.

AT Opposite Metro INOX Cinema, Dhobi Talao, Marine Lines.

A tale of gratitude

Sir Hormusjee Cowasjee Dinshaw’s statue at Churchgate. Pic/suresh karkera
Sir Hormusjee Cowasjee Dinshaw's statue at Churchgate. Pic/Suresh Karkera

The bust of John Harkness at Marine Lines. Pic courtesy/hashim badani
The bust of John Harkness at Marine Lines. Pic courtesy/Hashim Badani

Dr Simin Patel of Bombaywalla Historical Works reminds us of a time when people raised money to honour legacies. Such is the story of John Harkness, the first principal of Elphinstone College, whose bust was a gift by pupils at the time of his retirement in 1862. "Interestingly, it was also proposed that each subscriber to the fund receive 'a photographic portrait of the worthy principal,'" she informs. Another noteworthy statue is that of Sir Hormusjee Cowasjee Dinshaw at Churchgate. One of Bombay's last sethias, he made his fortune in Aden, Yemen.

Guide

AT People's Free Reading Room and Library, Marine Lines; near Bhikha Behram Well, Churchgate.

Preserving heritage

Guide
According to The Indian Magazine, in 1890, Lady Sakarbai's funeral was attended by 3,000 Parsis. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

Jerbai Masina
Jerbai Masina

Two striking statues of women, Patel points out, are that of Bai Sakarbai Dinshaw Petit at BSPCA Hospital and Jerbai Masina's at Masina Hospital. Dr Varsha Shirgaonkar, a historian who received a grant from The Asiatic Society for a project titled Statues in Mumbai: A Social History, says that many statues today are on the Heritage List, as published in 2012. "But this doesn't include Dr Dadabhai Naoroji's statue near Flora Fountain, which is beautifully made. One side shows him leading women in a procession towards Saraswati Mandir," she says.

Dr Dadabhai Naoroji
Dr Dadabhai Naoroji

Guide

Laying a foundation

Guide
The statue of Sir Henry Bartle Frere was created by Thomas Woolner, an English sculptor and poet. Pic/Suresh Karkera

The bust of Jagannath “Nana” Sunkersett at a private crematorium in Chandanwadi.  Pic/ashish raje,
The bust of Jagannath "Nana" Sunkersett at a private crematorium in Chandanwadi. Pic/Ashish Raje

Sir Henry Bartle Edward Frere, appointed Governor of Bombay in 1862, was responsible for the demolition of the walls of the old Fort. "That's how the Victorian buildings came to be. Apart from this statue, nothing remains of him here. Even Frere Road has disappeared," says Sidharth Bhatia, city chronicler and founder-editor of The Wire. Bhatia's second pick is the bust of philanthropist Jagannath Sunkersett in Chandanwadi, whose contribution to the city is gargantuan.

Guide

AT Asiatic Society of Bombay, Fort; near Bada Qabrastan, Chandanwadi.

Catch up on all the latest Mumbai news, crime news, current affairs, and also a complete guide on Mumbai from food to things to do and events across the city here. Also download the new mid-day Android and iOS apps to get latest updates

Sign up for all the latest news, top galleries and trending videos from Mid-day.com

Subscribe
loading image
This website uses cookie or similar technologies, to enhance your browsing experience and provide personalised recommendations. By continuing to use our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. OK