India

KALA GHODA-The Dark Horse of Mumbai

The Mumbai Kala Ghoda area is generally popular for the nominative festival of arts hosted here. However, this area is also the main attraction because it is an architectural paradise. The magnificent exteriors of the buildings in this locale create amazing narratives of the place.

2 years ago | tourtravel
People get their pictures clicked while sitting in front of a beautiful and colorful handcrafted Shoe house during the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in Mumbai © CRS PHOTO

In This Article:

What’s The Best Way To Experience All That Is Kala Ghoda? Take A Self-Guided Walk
How to Reach 
What to Eat 
Where to Shop 
Some Images From Our Trip To Kala Ghoda Arts Festival


The crescent-shaped Mumbai’s Kala Ghoda area is a little north of Colaba. It extends from the Wellington Fountain to Mumbai University and is surrounded by the Oval Maidan. It is somewhat like an open-air museum. The translation of its name is Black Horse, which relates to the bronze equestrian statue that was located here in the age of colonialism. This area is included in the Fort district. In the 18th century, the British constructed a fort and walls to defend themselves. Kala Ghoda was particularly known for the libraries and colleges that existed here. However, this ended in the latter part of the 1980s. In most recent times, Mumbai’s Kala Ghoda is popularly known as the hub for culture, credited in the main to the art gala held here yearly called the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. Of late, the area has also been changed into a district for fashion and design (like Soho or Chelsea) since the heritage buildings were restored and boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, and cafés have been open.

Human like objects wrapped up with multi colored threads stand on the outdoor ground at Kala Ghoda with a blurry image of unknown people at the backdrop

Human-like objects wrapped up with multi-colored threads stand on the outdoor ground at Kala Ghoda with a blurry image of unknown people at the backdrop © Pete Burana


What’s the best way to experience all that is Kala Ghoda? Take a self-guided walk and explore the place. It is considered an architectural haven because of its array of architectural designs: Art Deco, Indo-Saracenic, Gothic, and Victorian. Begin your walk close to the Jehangir Art Gallery that was founded in 1952. It has four halls exhibiting modern art. Sip on a cup of coffee at Samovar Café inside the gallery. You can also purchase lovely art from the street artists who ply their trade on the gallery’s sidewalks. Rampart Row is located on the opposite side of the Jehangir Art Gallery. It is a heritage building that was renovated and opened in 2005. At this site are various restaurants, cafes, and specialty stores. Famous restaurants like Copper Chimney are here, as well as your ordinary gelato shops.

Lighted in the glory of patriotism, Army and Navy building Fort stand tall at the Kala Ghoda. It is a heritage G+3 structure with India's best clients such as Tata sons & Piramal

Lighted in the glory of patriotism, Army and Navy building Fort stand tall at the Kala Ghoda. It is a heritage G+3 structure with India’s best clients such as Tata sons & Piramal © Anil D


Stroll along the small, paved pathways that will take you past the once famed music store called the Rhythm House (recently closed). Gaze at the strikingly beautiful street art displayed on the walls. The old-world vibe is definitely present with small cafés filling the streets. Continue your leisurely walk and soon, you will reach the Knesset Eliyahoo synagogue painted in a powder blue color. This place of worship was constructed in 1884 by Jacob Sassoon. He built it as a memorial to his father. These days, it is a place where Mumbai’s Jewish community congregate. On the lovely interior are Burmese teak and extravagant pillars, white marble, and stained glass windows.

Across the road is the Army and Navy building sporting a neo-classical exterior from 1897. This was formerly a navy store opened by some British military officers selling items to satisfy the needs of soldiers, officers, and their families. The building was restored and is now owned by the Tatas. It has a Westside store and also an art gallery in its lobby.

A scenic view of Rajabai tower from Watson Hotel now known as Esplanade Mansions at Kala Ghoda in Mumbai. The annual Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is well liked for its edgy installations, performances and discussions

A scenic view of Rajabai tower from Watson Hotel now known as Esplanade Mansions at Kala Ghoda in Mumbai. The annual Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is well-liked for its edgy installations, performances, and discussions © Anil D


Esplanade Mansion formerly known as Watsons Hotel First 5 star of Bombay. It's a world-class monument which is a 150-year-old landmark building at Kala Ghoda

Esplanade Mansion is formerly known as Watsons Hotel First 5 star of Bombay. It’s a world-class monument which is a 150-year-old landmark building at Kala Ghoda © Bodom


As you continue your self-guided walk, you will pass the Esplanade Mansion. This building was completed in 1869 and is India’s oldest surviving east iron building. The structure was created in England, transported to India, and built between 1867and 1869. At one point, it was called Watson’s Hotel. In its glorious days, it had five stories with rooms built around an open-air skylight. Mohammed Ali Jinnah played pool at this hotel and famous writer Mark Twain also stayed here. In 1896, the Brothers Lumiere displayed their new innovation, cinematography, to an audience of only Europeans.

In the past, during the times of the British Raj, this hotel was very popular with the visiting dignitaries. British waitresses were employed in its ballroom and restaurant. According to the locals, the hotel’s demise came after Indian industrialist Jamset ji Tata was refused entry. Scorned yet inspired, he built Mumbai’s iconic Taj Mahal Palace that outshined all rivals! The Watson hotel was shut down in the 1960s and the once star of hotels became office space for lawyers and others. These days, it is listed as one of the World’s Endangered Monuments by the New York-based World Monuments Fund (WMF).

Jehangir Art Gallery is a beautiful art gallery, founded by Sir Cowasji Jehangir at the adjoining of K. K. Hebbar and Homi Bhabha. It was built in 1952 in the city of Mumbai

Jehangir Art Gallery is a beautiful art gallery, founded by Sir Cowasji Jehangir at the adjoining of K. K. Hebbar and Homi Bhabha. It was built in 1952 in the city of Mumbai © RAMNIKLAL MODI


On the other side of the road from the Jehangir Art Gallery is the David Sassoon Library. This three-storied Gothic-style building was constructed in 1870 in honor of a famous Baghdadi Jewish philanthropist of that era. It was built by his son, Albert Sassoon. This Libray is made of yellow Malad stone and is accessorized with Minton tiles imported from Britain. It accommodates thousands of avid readers. The steeple s on the tower makes it look less like a library and more like a church. Initially, it was a resource center for some young mechanics who were employed by the Royal Mint and Government Dockyard. They decided to establish an association to advance knowledge and learning. Now, several students converge here to do research on various subjects or a bit of reading.

Two artists sketching portraits of people at The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival

Two artists sketching portraits of people at The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival © Shivani V


The Victorian Gothic Elphinstone College is not far away from the library. It is a nineteenth-century establishment that has produced some prominent postgraduates. Trubshaw, the architect, designed this building, and it was finished by John Adams in 1888. The building was constructed with golden basalt and Porbandar limestone. Its steeples, corridors, and balconies make it one of the most magnificent buildings in Mumbai. In 2004, UNESCO bestowed on Elphinstone College the Asia-Pacific Heritage Award for Culture Heritage Conservation. This was in the category of the best-restored heritage buildings.

The round building now homes to the Museum of Modern Art is another beauty. It stands erect on one side of the Kala Ghoda area. George Wittet designed this hall. After being abandoned for a while, it was renovated sometime during the mid-1990s.

The Indo-Saracenic building that houses the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (formerly known as Prince of Wales Museum) is a beauty in Mumbai. Its interiors constitute columns, railings and balconies that are built like an 18th Century wada or a Maratha mansion. There is no restriction for photography in the museum

The Indo-Saracenic building that houses the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (formerly known as Prince of Wales Museum) is beauty in Mumbai. Its interiors constitute columns, railings, and balconies that are built like an 18th Century Wada or a Maratha mansion. There is no restriction for photography in the museum © CRS PHOTO


The Prince of Wales Museum (Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya) is your final attraction on your walk around Kala Ghoda. This museum was hacked out of grey basalt and with Moorish domes was specially designed as a museum. In 1905, work started on this building and the Prince of Wales laid the very first stone. It was built with an Indo-Saracenic architectural style—a mix of Moorish, Victorian towers, and Islamic domes. On this final stop take the time to look at the ancient relics unearthed from the Indus Valley: Buddhist and Hindu sculptures, weaponry, stuffed animals, and miniature paintings.

The expansive Oval Maidan is a good place to stop on your way back from the Kala Ghoda area. There, you get to enjoy watching a game of impromptu cricket matches being played on the grounds with huge palm trees and Raj-era buildings in the background. In this area of Mumbai, time seems to remain still.

Street vendors selling cotton candies and paper fans for the enjoyment of kids during the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in Mumbai. The annual Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is the most popular cultural festival and is well liked for its edgy installations, performances and discussions

Street vendors selling cotton candies and paper fans for the enjoyment of kids during the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in Mumbai. The annual Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is the most popular cultural festival and is well-liked for its edgy installations, performances, and discussions © CRS PHOTO


How to Reach

Kala Ghoda is located two km from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal railway station and 22 km away from Mumbai airport. Buses and taxis are available.
 
Where to EAT
La Folie Patisserie 16, Commerce House, Rope Walk Lane, Kala Ghoda. A tiny dessert bar by chef Sanjana Patel. La Folie has plated desserts like Rouge Velour or Pabana—tropical passion fruit and mango stuffed in light coconut mousse!

Trishna Saibaba Road, Kala Ghoda. For a seafood meal, head to Trishna. Taste its deep-fried prawn koliwada and garlic butter crab. Vegetarians can order the mushroom kadai.
 
Where to SHOP
Sabyasachi, Ador House, 6K Dubash Marg, Kala Ghoda,
Don’t miss a peek into this store by celebrity designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee. The palatial rooms, chandeliers, and vintage furniture here create the ambiance of a royal palace. Choose from richly embroidered saris and skirts, shoes and jewelry.
 
Chumbak Store No. 141, Ground Floor. Sassoon Building, MG Road Rope Walk Lane, Grant Road, Kala Ghoda – For quirky ceramic mugs flower vases, cushion covers, and stationery.

Seen here are pairs of Kolhapuri chappals (sleepers)

Seen here are pairs of Kolhapuri chappals (sleepers) © Coffeetable Photobook


Some Images From Our Trip To Kala Ghoda Arts Festival

Quirky installations abound in the Kala Ghoda area during the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. You can see the intricate men’s dresses and makeup which are inspired by Hindu mythological characters

Quirky installations abound in the Kala Ghoda area during the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. You can see the intricate men’s dresses and makeup which are inspired by Hindu mythological characters © Arun Bhargava


People stand between the poster and pose for pictures and have an enjoyable time during © CRS PHOTO

People stand between the poster and pose for pictures and have an enjoyable time during © CRS PHOTO


Creative and wooden wall art decorative items at the Kala Ghoda at Bombay. The annual Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is the most popular cultural festival and is well liked for its edgy installations, performances and discussions

Creative and wooden wall art decorative items at the Kala Ghoda at Bombay. The annual Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is the most popular cultural festival and is well-liked for its edgy installations, performances, and discussions © Mrunali Thakore


A beautiful shot of the convoluted architecture in the interior of the church of St. Thomas Cathedral at Horniman Circle, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai

A beautiful shot of the convoluted architecture in the interior of the church of St. Thomas Cathedral at Horniman Circle, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai © Rahul Ramachandram


Indian Army with Battle tank visualizes Patriotic feels at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. The annual Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is well liked for its edgy installations, performances and discussions. Coffeetable Photobook

Indian Army with Battle tank visualizes Patriotic feels at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. The annual Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is well-liked for its edgy installations, performances, and discussions © Coffeetable Photobook


A large number of windows on yellow and blue heritage buildings at V.B Gandhi Marg, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai. Many buildings in the Fort area sport street art and murals, such as this patch-work figure of a horse

A large number of windows on yellow and blue heritage buildings at V.B Gandhi Marg, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai. Many buildings in the Fort area sport street art and murals, such as this patch-work figure of a horse © Anil Dave


People and visitors write their messages and signatures on the colorful sticky notes and express their feelings at Kala Ghoda Arts Festival

People and visitors write their messages and signatures on the colorful sticky notes and express their feelings at Kala Ghoda Arts Festival © Coffeetable Photobook


Very colorful and pretty lamps hanging on the wall for sale during the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. The annual Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is the most popular cultural festival and is well liked for its edgy installations, performances and discussions

Very colorful and pretty lamps hanging on the wall for sale during the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. The annual Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is the most popular cultural festival and is well-liked for its edgy installations, performances, and discussions © CRS PHOTO


Colorful and beautiful earrings at this annual multi-cultural festival which has been celebrating visual arts, music, dance, theater, & the city's urban heritage at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival

Colorful and beautiful earrings at this annual multi-cultural festival which has been celebrating visual arts, music, dance, theater, & the city’s urban heritage at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival © Coffeetable Photobook


A zoomed in view of the trademark brand logo of Copper Chimney Restaurant outside the wall of their restaurant at the Kala Ghoda area, Fort, Mumbai

A zoomed-in view of the trademark brand logo of Copper Chimney Restaurant outside the wall of their restaurant at the Kala Ghoda area, Fort, Mumbai © Rahul Ramachandram


An eloquent representation of planet Earth with silver metal. It is an art set up installed near the statue titled 'Spirit of Kala Ghoda', at the Kala Ghoda Arts Fest

An eloquent representation of planet Earth with silver metal. It is an art set up installed near the statue titled ‘Spirit of Kala Ghoda’, at the Kala Ghoda Arts Fest © S. Miranda


A woman sells gorgeous artificial jewellery such as necklaces, earrings et al. The annual Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is the most popular cultural festival and is well liked for its edgy installations, performances and discussions

A woman sells gorgeous artificial jewelry such as necklaces, earrings et al. The annual Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is the most popular cultural festival and is well-liked for its edgy installations, performances, and discussions © CRS PHOTO


A woman puts designer henna on a girl’s hand during the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. The annual Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is the most popular cultural festival and is well liked for its edgy installations, performances and discussions

A woman puts designer henna on a girl’s hand during the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. The annual Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is the most popular cultural festival and is well-liked for its edgy installations, performances, and discussions © CRS PHOTO


A street vendor shows how to blow bubbles to a child who then enjoys it with his hands during the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in Mumbai

A street vendor shows how to blow bubbles to a child who then enjoys it with his hands during the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in Mumbai © CRS PHOTO


A sight of old building in Harniman circle situated at Kala Ghoda Arts Festival with vehicles parked outside in South Mumbai

A sight of an old building in Harniman circle situated at Kala Ghoda Arts Festival with vehicles parked outside in South Mumbai © Rahul D Silva


A Rock band performs at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2010 to which the audience enjoys and has fun

A Rock band performs at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2010 to which the audience enjoys and has fun © Mangala Shenvi


People and visitors get their pictures clicked while standing in front of a hand painted colorful decorated car during the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival

People and visitors get their pictures clicked while standing in front of a hand-painted colorful decorated car during the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival © CRS PHOTO


Share this post