Home > General, Mumbai, Mumbai Architecture, Mumbai History > Round the Oval, heritage building around Oval Maidan, Mumbai

Round the Oval, heritage building around Oval Maidan, Mumbai

Round the Oval

Heritage building around Oval Maidan, Mumbai

Oval Maidan is a large urban open space in the heart of Mumbai. It covers an area of 22 acres (8.9 ha) and is oval in shape and hence the name Oval Maidan. It is a a recreational ground with cricket and football being the most popular sports. The ground is also used by joggers, morning and evening walkers.

Oval F

Map of Oval Maidan, Mumbai

The Oval along with Cooperage Maidan, Cross Maidan and Azad Maidan once from the Esplanade, an open area that lay beyond the ramparts of the fort. After the demolition of the fort, several streets were constructed across the Esplanade, fragmenting it into several separate patches of green.

Oval Maidan 2

Sporting activity in Oval Maidan, with Bombay High Court, Bombay Stock Exchange and Rajabai Clock Tower in the background

After independence the park came under the ownership of Maharashtra State Government and was very poorly maintained. It was frequented by beggars, prostitutes and drug peddlers turning the area into a hub of antisocial activity.

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Oval Maidan with Bombay High Court

It was only in 1990s the local residence came forward to turn The Oval back to a usable open space.

In 1997 they formed the Oval Cooperage Residents Association (OCRA), a public charitable trust set up by the residents of the area.

A petition was send to the Maharashtra Government to hand over the maintenance of the Oval Maidan to OCRA.

As there was no response from the state government OCRA moved to the Bombay High Court. The Court ruled in their favour, forcing the government to either maintain the maidan or hand it over to OCRA which it subsequently did.

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Western Railway Headquarters Building towers above Oval Maidan

In 1999 the OCRA formed the Organisation for Verdant Ambience and Land (OVAL) Trust giving Oval Maidan a new lease of life.

350 truck loads of garbage and derbies were removed transforming the former portion of the Esplanade into a lush green open space.

The ground was fenced and a jogging track was laid along the periphery. A paved pedestrian walkway along the diameter of the park allows smooth thoroughfare.

Mumbai has always been a hub of Indian Cricket and Oval Maidan has always been a a breeding ground of several Mumbai cricketers, many of whom have made it to the national side. The former Indian cricketer Dilip Vengsarkar runs his cricket academy from the Oval.

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The Old Secretariat towering above the Oval Maidan

Oval also has its share of football but it is ultimately a people’s park proving the local residence with space for jogging, morning and evening walks. The open space of the park, something different from the crammed public gardens of the city, has something to offer for people of all ages.

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Rajabai Clock Tower and Bombay Stock Exchange, Oval

Political rallies, religious functions or any sort of gathering is strictly prohibited in the park. Cooking is not allowed in the park and picnics are a strict no.

The park authorities also prohibits the entry of hawkers. Consumption of alcohol and drugs are strictly prohibited.  There are several other rules which are maintained by the park authorities.

The outer and inner periphery of the Oval Maidan are lined with trees providing a dash of oxygen to the much needed oxygen starved air of downtown Mumbai.

But it is something else that makes the Oval Maidan unique. An array of two building styles flank both sides of the elongated open space.

On the eastern side (along Bhaurao Patil Marg) of the Oval Maidan stands a series of building built in Victorian Gothic style, while the western side (along the Maharshi Karve Marg) is flanked with an array of Art Deco Buildings.

The Victorian Gothic styled buildings were constructed in the later part of the nineteenth century, while the Art Deco Buildings came up more than a half century later  in 1930s. Mumbai has a large concentration of Art Deco buildings and along with Victorian Gothic architecture of the city, it is officially declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Bombay High Court, Mumbai

The very southern end of the eastern flank of the Oval Maidan is occupied by the Old Secretariat Building. The building came up in 1874 and the chief architect was Captain Henry St. Clair Wilkins and follows the Venetian Gothic style of architecture.

The building  consists of a central pediment and tower and is made of buff-colored Porbander stone, transported all the way from Gujarat.

Rajabai Clock Tower is a 85 m (280 feet) high clock tower located inside the Fort Campus of the Mumbai University. The tower came up in 1878 and was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott.

Modeled as the Big Ben of Lonadon the tower was constructed at a staggering cost of ₹ 550,000. A large portion of this amount was donated by Premchand Roychand, the founder of Bombay Stock Exchange, on the condition that the tower will be named after her mother Rajabai.

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Statue of Justice above Bombay High Court, Oval Maidan, Mumbai

The tower made of buff coloured Kurla stones follows the Venetian Gothic style of architecture and contains one of the best stained glass windows of Mumbai.

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Western Railway Headquarters, Mumbai

The massive building of Bombay High Court lies on the north – eastern side of the Oval Maidan.

It follows the Victorian Neo – Gothic style of architecture and was constructed by Col. James A. Fuller of the Royal Engineers. The building is completed in 1878n and is 562 feet (171 m) long and 187 feet (57 m) wide.

The central part of the western side as a elevated section flanked by two octagonal towers. The towers are crowned with the statues of Justice and Mercy.

The western side of the Oval Maidan, along the Maharshi Karve Road is lined with a series of Art Deco Buildings. Art Deco, sometimes referred to as Deco, is a style of visual arts, architecture and design that first appeared in France just before World War I.

Art Deco 1

Art Deco Buildings along western side of Oval Maidan

Art Deco represented luxury, glamour, exuberance. It was used primarily for office buildings, residences and movie theaters.

The western side of the Oval probably has the largest concentration of art deco building of Mumbai. Most of this buildings serves as residential blocks. Also nearby is the Eros Cinema, an art deco styled cinema hall.

Apart from the eastern and western flanks the northern end of the Oval Maidan is dominated by the massive black and white domed structure of the Head Quarters of the Western Railway.

The building dates back to 1899 and was designed by Frederick William Stevens. It follows the Victorian – Gothic style of architecture with a fair amount of Indo – Saracenic architectural elements.

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Panoramic view of Oval Maidan with Bombay High Court, Bombay Stock Exchange and Rajabai Clock Tower

Not only around The Oval Maidan, the surrounding region, staring from the Gateway of India in the south to the Chatrapati Sivaji Terminus (CST) or Victoria Terminus (VT) in the north, is a architectural paradise.

  1. April 16, 2020 at 9:26 PM

    Great

  2. The Scurvy Dog
    May 11, 2020 at 10:50 AM

    I find the architecture of old Mumbai buildings beautiful. Reminds me somewhat of Kolkata. I love to watch movies featuring Mumbai architecture, too.

    • May 11, 2020 at 10:56 AM

      I am from Kolkata and Kolkata also a huge collection of colonial buildings of varying style.

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