Ballard Estate

Ballard Estate is one of the most coveted commercial areas in Mumbai, with broad, tree-lined thoroughfares and airy, spacious offices. Land reclamation for Ballard Estate started in 1904 using filling material excavated during the laying out of Alexandra Docks. Bombay Port Trust commissioned George Wittet with the task of developing Ballard Estate. As consulting architect, Wittet adopted the Baroque Revival style, which was in vogue in England during the reign of King Edward VII (r. 1901-10). Wittet laid out detailed control guidelines that mandated building height, uniformity of architectural style, and choice of building materials (for example, the extensive use of Malad stone). The guidelines also regulated the height of windows, the height of each floor, structural design, finish, etc.

Ballard Estate continued to be developed into the 1920s. However, with the demise of Wittet in 1926, the short-lived era of Edwardian Baroque architectural style ended, and Mumbai architects took to the new and emerging modernist Art Deco style. Due to its controlled development in a tight timeframe on newly laid out vacant land, Ballard Estate has the densest concentration of Edwardian Baroque buildings in Mumbai.

While land reclamation projects continued in other parts of Mumbai through the 1930s and 1940s, for example, the Back Bay Reclamation Scheme at Colaba. The Art Deco buildings that came up along Marine Drive and Oval Maidan followed the template set at Ballard Estate, following a strict set of guidelines that mandated a set of common decorative elements to maintain uniformity of the Art Deco style.

Emblem of Bombay Port Trust

Ballard Estate was named after John Archibald Ballard, founder of Bombay Port Trust (now Mumbai Port Trust), which was established as a corporation on 26 June 1873. The present-day docks were first built in the 1870s by the Bombay Port Trust and further expanded in phases on reclaimed land.

Canopy, Karfule

Karfule is the only Art Deco petrol pump in Mumbai and one of two (Construction House is the other) buildings in Ballard Estate built in the late 1930s. The kiosk-like structure, with its octagonal canopy and star-shaped terrazzo tiles in the interior, was designed by GB Mhatre and Architectural Studio, one of the most prolific Art Deco architects of the era.

Lettering, Karfule

Karfule is word-play on 'Car Fuel'. The pump opened in 1938 and is run by the Sequeira family, now in its third generation. The business was started by Gabriel Sequeira, who had immigrated from Goa in the late 1920s. Until his death in 2001, at 98 years of age, Gabriel Sequeira remained actively involved in the Karfule business, visiting the pump regularly.


The vertical accent provided by the tower at Karfule is distinctly Art Deco. The tower originally served as a clock tower. The clock was replaced by the Caltex sign, and since 1978, the Hindustan Petroleum logo. The Caltex sign remains with the Sequeira family as part of the pump's historical archive of objects.

Lettering, Neville House

Neville House is owned by the Wadia Group and named after its former chairman, Neville Wadia (1911-1996). In 1952, he succeeded his father Ness Wadia as chairman of Bombay Dyeing, which started in 1879. Under Neville Wadia's leadership, Bombay Dyeing became one of India's largest textile producers and one of its most recognizable consumer brands.

Window, Neville House

Neville House is a prominent corner building at the intersection of R Kamani Road and Currimbhoy Road. The building is made from yellowish brown regular dressed stone. The ground floor has semi-circular arches with prominent imposts and ornamental keystones.

Facade, Neville House

Neville House is the headquarter of Bombay Dyeing and Co; Manufacturing Company Ltd., the flagship company of the Wadia Group, founded in 1736 by Lovji Nusserwanjee Wadia, considered the founder of the shipbuilding industry in Mumbai. The Bombay dry dock, the first dry dock in Asia, was built by Lovji Wadia and his brother Sorabji Wadia in 1750.

Entrance, Imperial Chambers

Imperial Chambers on SS Tolani Marg (formerly Wilson Road). The ground floor house the Finance department of the Mumbai Port Trust which handles the pensions of its employees.

Commerce House

Commerce House is located on Currimbhoy Road. The first floor of the Commerce House hosts the contemporary art gallery Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, representing some of the country’s most sought-after painters. The gallery opened in 2006.

Shaw Wallace Building

The Shaw Wallace building on Walchand Hirachand Marg is now known as the Bank of Baroda building, which is housed in it. The ground floor has semi-circular arched windows while the windows on the upper levels are rectangular and framed with plaster moldings. Above the central entrance is a pediment supported on decorative brackets which is a balcony with balustrades. Mackinnon Mackenzie and Co. building

Mackinnon Mackenzie and Co. building

Mackinnon Mackenzie and Co. is made of yellowish-brown masonry and is located at the junction of Walchand Hirachand Marg and Shoorji Vallabhdas Road. The imposing building overlooks the entrance to Indira Docks (former Alexandra Docks). The main doorway is flanked by ornamental brackets supporting a capital with a marble statue placed on top.

Lettering, Mackinnon Mackenzie and Co. building

Mackinnon Mackenzie and Co. was formed by William Mackinnon (1823-93) and Robert Mackenzie (1810-53). In 1856, Mackinnon Mackenzie and Co. secured East India Company's mail contract between Kolkata and Rangoon and founded the Calcutta and Burmah Steam Navigation Company Ltd, the forerunner to the British India Steam Navigation Company.

Statue, Mackinnon Mackenzie and Co. building

Circular double-storey columns frame a nude marble statue of a bearded male figure, Mackinnon Mackenzie and Co. building.

Facade, Darabshaw House

Darabshaw House is a corner building at the intersection of Shoorji Vallabhdas Road and N Morarji Road. It was earlier the site of the Regent Hotel, one of two hotels in Ballard Estate (Grand Hotel is the other) at the time when it was built. It now houses the offices of Condé Nast India.

Lettering, Darabshaw House

The Darabshaw family has been involved in the shipping business since the early 19th century. Its founder, Darabshaw B. Dubash, established DBC and Sons (Gujarat) Private Limited in 1929 for operations as stevedores, ship agents, ship chandlers, and landing and shipping contractors. It is now run by the seventh generation of the Dubash family.

Entrance, Darabshaw House

The entrance to Darabshaw House is through a semi-circular arched doorway with moldings. Above the entrance, a row of stone brackets supports a balcony that runs around the cornice. Note the bollard on the footpath. Originally, bollards were used for mooring ships to the dock but are now installed to control road traffic.

Arched windows, Darabshaw House

Semi-circular arched windows with moldings and projecting imposts on the ground floor of Darabshaw House which was once open and let in natural light and air. The sealing of the windows is symptomatic of changes made in buildings at Ballard Estate in order to accommodate modern building requirements, like the installation of air conditioning units.

Facade, Bharat Bhawan

Bharat Bhavan on Currimbhoy Road is named after the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, which has offices here and owns the building. The building was completed in the 1930s and is entered through a cantilevered porch which is typical of the period and features in many Art Deco buildings in Mumbai.

Lettering, Asian Building

Asian Building on R Kamani Road houses offices of Life Insurance Corporation, New India Assurance Company, and Milton Housewares Private Limited, among other companies. The building was completed in 1932 and has some influence from Art Deco, including the bold lettering used over the cantilevered porch at the entrance.

Facade, Contractor Building

The Contractor Building on R Kamani Marg was completed in 1922. On the first and second floors, strong contrast is created by a mix of yellowish brown regular dressed masonry with white plaster. The roof has a pediment flanked by urns and a low parapet with balustrades. Stone brackets support projecting balconies with balustrades on the upper levels.

Balcony, Contractor Building

Contractor Building houses offices of Shapoorji Pallonji and Company Private Ltd. It operates in construction, real estate, textiles, engineered goods, home appliances, shipping, power, and biotechnology. The company was headed by the grandson of founder Pallonji Mistry (1929-2022), also named Pallonji Mistry, until 2012, when he announced his retirement and the succession of his son, Shapoor Mistry.

Signage, Cochin Street

Before Ballard Estate was developed, a row of jetties served as docking points for boats arriving from ports on the Konkan and Malabar coast, such as Cochin, Mangalore, Kumta, and Calicut. Consequently, the street that led to the jetty was named after these places. Some streets have been renamed but some, like Cochin Street, have retained the old name.

Signage, Adi Marzban Path

Named after Adi Pherozeshah Marzban (1914–87), Adi Marzban Path is where the office of Jam-e-Jamshed (Marzban was its editor) originally stood. Asia’s second oldest running newspaper, Jam-e-Jamshed was launched in 1832, by Adi's great-grandfather, Fardoonjee Marzban. A doyen of Parsi theatre, Adi Marzban was awarded the Padma Shri in 1964.

Facade, RPL House

RPL House on Walchand Hirachand Marg was earlier called Shahibagh House, named after the Shahibagh Palace in Ahmedabad. The building is made of Malad stone with an arcade of semi-circular arches on the ground floor. Upper-level windows have extended overhangs. Its facade was restored by conservation architect Vikas Dilawari in 2000.

Lettering, Alexandra Dock

Construction work on Alexandra Dock commenced in 1904 and was completed in 1914. It was named after Queen Alexandra of Denmark (1844-1925), Empress of India from 1901-1910, and wife of King-Emperor Edward VII. In January 1972, Alexandra Dock was renamed Indira Dock after the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi (1917-1984).

Mumbai International Cruise Terminal

In 1970, a new passenger berth was commissioned at the Ballard Pier Extension for luxury liners. It currently serves as the Mumbai International Cruise Terminal, expected to be commissioned by July 2024. The terminal will have a capacity of handling 200 ships and 10 lakh passengers per annum. Two cruise ships will be able to berth at a time at the dock.

Ballard Bunder Gatehouse

The triple-arched Ballard Bunder Gatehouse was built in 1920 to commemorate the repositioning of the Ballard Pier by the Bombay Port Trust. After Independence, the gatehouse became part of the Naval Dockyard but fell into disuse. In 2005, the Western Naval Command restored the building, converting it into a nautical-themed museum.

Facade, Hague Building

Hague Building was constructed in 1919 to house the head office of Pathé Frères, the Paris-based film equipment and production company, as well as a major producer of phonograph records. In 1908, Pathé invented the newsreel that was shown in cinemas before a feature film. In 1934, the building was renamed Hague with the change of ownership.

Facade, Port House

Port House (Old Bombay Port Trust building), located on Shoorji Vallabhdas Road, is an imposing building constructed in the first phase of the development of Ballard Estate in the 1890s. However, with ever-increasing maritime traffic, in 1911, it was decided that a new custom house be constructed, which was built adjoining the Port House.

Porch, Port House

A triple-arched projecting porch at Port House (Old Bombay Port Trust building). The semi-circular arches have projecting imposts and prominent keystones, the central arch being wider than the ones on the sides. The use of gray ashlar masonry blocks and brown sandstone accents provide strong color contrast.

Ships with angels, Port House

The maritime nature of the Port House (Old Bombay Port Trust Building) is highlighted by the presence of medieval ships projecting from the wall on the upper level of the porch. Two ships jut out of the wall, only half of their length visible. Both feature a figurehead of a winged angel attached to the bow (the forward-most part of the ship).

Indian Mercantile Chambers

Indian Mercantile Chambers on R Kamani Marg hold offices of Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB). MMB was established in 1996 to bring autonomy and adequate flexibility to the development and administration of small ports in Maharashtra. MMB is tasked with the administration of ports and harbors, opening inland water transportation, licensing of crafts, regulation, and control of traffic, etc.

Jamadar Bapu Laxman Chowk

Port Trust War Memorial is located on Jamadar Bapu Laxman Chowk, named after Bapu Laxman Lamkhade. He was the first Customs officer to be conferred the President’s Award in 1964, and again in 1979 (posthumously), for effecting a large number of opium seizures, gold, and counterfeit currency. Feared by smugglers, he was given the epithet 'Kohinoor of the Indian Customs'.

Port Trust War Memorial

The Port Trust War Memorial was installed in 1919 as a traffic roundabout, located at the junction of three streets; SS Ramgulam Road, N Morarji Road, and Shoorji Vallabhdas Road. The pedestal is irregularly hexagonal, with commemorative plaques fixed on the three larger sides. The pedestal supports a circular, fluted column crowned with a metal lamp on top.

Commemorative plaque, Port Trust War Memorial

The development of Ballard Estate coincided with the outbreak of World War I (1914-18) in which India sent troops on behalf of the British Empire. The Port Trust War Memorial records the significant contribution of the Port of Bombay in WWI. It mentions the passage of 18,70,000 troops and personnel through the docks to different theatres of the war. The first transport left Bombay on August 21, 1914.

Commemorative Plaque erected by Bombay Port Trust

Commemorative plaques were erected by the trustees of Bombay Port Trust in honor of officers who sacrificed their lives in WWI. The names include Captain Eric Stuart Dougall (died 14th April 1918), 2nd Lieutenant Ronald Edward Wilson (died 11th March 1916), and Giacinto Romagnoli (died 11th October 1916). Dougall was awarded the Victoria Cross for his deeds on 10 April 1918 at Messines, Belgium. Prior to his war service, Dougall was an Assistant Engineer at Bombay Port Trust.

Winged Lions, Port Trust War Memorial

Winged lions on the Port Trust War Memorial. The motif is an ancient one, having origins in Mesopotamia and Assyria. It appeared on the flag of the Republic of Venice, a major maritime power during the Middle Ages. The winged lion motif appears in many buildings in Mumbai which were designed by architects inspired by Venetian Gothic architecture.

Facade, Marshall Sons and Co. building

The imposing Marshall Sons and Co. is a corner building at the intersection of Shoorji Vallabhdas Road and Shahid Bhagat Singh Marg. The building was designed in Edwardian Baroque style by architect Charles Frederick Stevens, son of the late Frederick W Stevens who had been Mumbai's most celebrated architect during the Victorian Gothic phase.

Lettering, Marshall Sons and Co. building

Lettering at Marshall Sons and Co., which was an engineering company. It now has offices of the Central Bank of India on its ground floor. Completed in 1906, this was among the first buildings to come up at Ballard Estate, built during the first phase of development. Seen here are pillars of the Ionic order featuring twin volutes as pillar capitals.

Window, Marshall Sons and Co. building

Keystone with floral scrolls emerging from it over oeil-de-boeuf (Ox eye window) at the Marshall Sons and Co. building. The use of exaggerated keystones was a typical Neo-Baroque architectural detail used in buildings from the Edwardian era (1901–1910).

Entrance, Marshall Sons and Co. building

Entrance to Marshall Sons and Co. building, at the intersection of Shoorji Vallabhdas Road and Shahid Bhagat Singh Marg. The entrance has a round pediment with two life-size female figures seated in the spandrel. The year of its construction, 1906, is inscribed above the keystone.

Britannia, Marshall Sons and Co. building

Two statues of Britannia stand aloft on either side of the Marshall Sons and Co. building, one facing Shoorji Vallabhdas Road and the other Shahid Bhagat Singh Marg. Britannia holds a trident (symbol of maritime supremacy) and a shield. She is wearing a Corinthian helmet, and seated at her feet is the British Lion. Britannia is a personification of Great Britain, a symbolic figure that first emerged during the Roman occupation of Britain.

Lettering, Kaisar-i-Hind Building

Lettering at the Kaisar-i-Hind building that houses the Enforcement Directorate. The ornamental pilasters on either side are of the Tuscan order (the plain shaft that rests on an unadorned base and has a simple capital). The metal grille on the lintel has a swastika on a circular base. Similar swastikas also appear on the windows of the building.

Facade, Kaisar-i-Hind Building

Kaisar-i-Hind is located on Currimbhoy Road, named after Ebrahim Currimbhoy (1839-1924), a Gujarati Khoja businessman who founded E. Pabaney & Co. and made a fortune in the opium trade with China. He was nominated Trustee of the Port of Bombay. For his services, the British conferred E. Currimbhoy with Knighthood (1905) and Baronetcy (1910).

Lettering, Grand Hotel

Located on a corner plot, the Grand Hotel has a round edge with a circular tower on top. The hotel was designed by George Wittet, one of the prime architects of Mumbai, who designed several landmarks in the city, like the Prince of Wales Museum, Gateway of India, Wadia Maternity Hospital, Institute of Science, and many buildings in Ballard Estate.

Lettering at the entrance gateway of Grand Hotel

The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 resulted in shorter travel time from India to Europe, revolutionizing the maritime trade in India. Improved connectivity also brought more European tourists to Mumbai, and they stayed at the Grand Hotel, located close to Ballard Pier, from where ships disembarked passengers.

Entrance, Grand Hotel

Lettering over canopy and entrance at the Grand Hotel. The hotel was the most sought-after accommodation and dining place in Mumbai and opened in 1923. At the time, it was one of only two hotels in Ballard Estate (Regent Hotel was the other), developed primarily as a business and commercial district.

Facade, Grand Hotel

The Grand Hotel has ground-level windows with outward projecting canopies painted in alternating bands of blue and white. Above the windows, bracketed cornice runs all around the building, supporting balconies on the first floor (also on the third-floor level). The second-floor balconies are supported by stone brackets.

Facade, Hindustan Bhavan

Hindustan Bhavan on S Vallabhdas Road is named after Hindustan Petroleum Ltd., the owner of the building. The entrance porch is supported by two sets of twin pillars. The windows at the upper levels have weather shades supported on brackets. The first-floor windows have projecting balconies supported by a cornice that runs around the building.

Facade, Videsh Dak Bhavan

Videsh Dak Bhavan, also known as the Foreign Post Office (FPO), is in Irwin House, named after Lord Irwin, Viceroy of India (1926-31). The FPO facilitates the import and export of goods by Post Parcels. The Postal Department also provides access to Customs for examination, assessment, clearance, etc., of parcels that arrive via mail.

Porch, Videsh Dak Bhawan

The semicircular arched entrance to the Videsh Dak Bhavan has a porch with wrought iron ornamentation, though it is partially hidden behind the India Post hoarding fixed at the front. The porch project outwards and has a sloping roof.

Entrance, New Custom House

The New Custom House is entered through a semicircular arch with rusticated masonry, which contrasts with the upper levels which use regular ashlar masonry (dressed). Rustication is the deliberate use of rough or patterned surfaces, a technique extensively used by architects during the Edwardian era (1901-1910) and features in many buildings in Ballard Estate.

Entrance, Construction House

The land on which Construction House stands was lying vacant till 1936 when the plot was acquired by the Walchand Group. Because it came up more than two decades after Ballard Estate was developed, Construction House has a contrasting look, inspired more by the Art Deco style of the late 1930s than the Edwardian Baroque of the early 20th century.

Lettering, Construction House

Construction House is the headquarters of Hindustan Construction Company, a multinational engineering and construction company founded by industrialists and the founder of the Walchand Group, Walchand Hirachand (1882-1953). Among his many businesses, he established India's first modern shipyard, aircraft factory, and car factory.

Bas Relief, Construction House

The visual theme Messrs. Gregson, Batley & King wanted to highlight was the role of the Walchand Group in building landmark infrastructure projects. They used bas-reliefs of Indian men and women engaged in manual labor affixed on the corners of the Construction House.

Bas Relief at Construction House

Hindustan Construction Company had leased the plot from the Bombay Port Trust for 99 years. For Construction House, they commissioned Messrs. Gregson, Batley & King, who had designed several notable Art Deco buildings in Mumbai, like Dhanraj Mahal, Windsor House, Cricket Club of India, and Breach Candy Hospital, among others.

Entrance, Britannia and Co.

Located on the ground floor of Wakefield House, Britannia and Co. was founded (1923) by Rashid Kohinoor, who had emigrated from Iran to Mumbai in search of a better life. His son and Britannia's long-time owner, Boman Kohinoor (1923-2019), was proud of the cafe’s historic link to Britain and its royal family. He called himself the ‘Royal Family’s No.1 fan’.

Facade, Wakefield House

Wakefield House is located on SS Ramgoolam Marg (former Sprott Road), named after the founding father of Mauritius, Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, often referred to as Chacha Ramgoolam or SSR. He served as the nation's first Prime Minister (1968-1982) and had roots in Bihar, from where his father had arrived in Mauritius as a laborer in 1896.