View of Flora Fountain looking towards Churchgate railway station with double turret of Central Telegraph Office and the revolving restaurant of Ambassador Hotel visible in the backdrop. Flora Fountain was installed in 1869 at the intersection of Dadabhai Naoroji Road, Mahatma Gandhi Road and Veer Nariman Road.
Historically, the circular shape of Flora Fountain acted like a roundabout for vehicular traffic. It is a prominent landmark in the heritage precinct of the Fort area, surrounded by several historical structures like Central Telegraph Office, Oriental Building, Ismail Building, Yusuf Building, and Mulla House.
The Flora Fountain has in total 64 sprouts located at the side and the corners. The water collects in a basin running around the base, and the overflow gets collected in a circular pool, from where it recycles through a complex system of internal plumbing. The theme represented is the flowering of life in the abundance of water and the care of the feminine nurturer.
Flora Fountain was built in honor of Sir Bartle Frere, who laid out plans to restructure Bombay along the newly laid out east-west axis (from Town Hall to Churchgate Station) and the north-south axis (from CSMT to Gateway of India).
The Flora Fountain was designed and executed entirely in England and transported via ship to India. The fountain is named after Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers and the season of spring. The statue of the goddess stands atop the fountain.
Flora Fountain is made from fine Portland stone, which is quarried in Dorset, England. It was designed by Richard Norman Shaw (1831–1912) and sculpted by James Forsythe. The four corners of the fountain have four allegorical female figures representing the four seasons.
Flora Fountain has life-size statues of the allegorical figures representing the four seasons; —Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. These figures are seated on thrones placed on the four corners of fountain. They are depicted wearing the stola, the traditional garment worn by Roman women, corresponding to the toga that was worn by Roman men.
Over time, these figures had dilapidated and suffered damage from exposure. In this statue, for example, the left hand was missing. During its restoration, the missing hand was re-modelled after careful study of old photographs. Craftsmen made replicas from Porbandar stone, and the hand was fixed using stainless steel.
Over 150 years of its existence, the Flora Fountain had deteriorated due to exposure to the elements and the pollution caused from vehicular emissions due to its location at a busy traffic intersection. Not only had the Portland stone turned dark, but the fountain was leaking. Major restoration work was undertaken in 2017 by BMC and INTACH under the supervision of architect Vikas Dilawari.
The fountain was build from funds raised by the Esplanade Fee Fund Committee, and the total bill came to Rs. 47,000, a considerable sum of money at the time. About half of it was contributed by Seth Cursetjee Fardoonjee Parekh, who donated Rs. 20,500 from his own pocket. Member of the Parsi Panchayat, Seth Cursetjee Furdoonji Parekh was a noted shipbuilding baron, and his ships traded with Europe and China.
Basins in the Flora Fountain is a favorite place for birds to cool down in the hot summer months, and hundreds of pigeons use the fountain daily. As a result, layers of bird droppings collect on the fountain surface. The acidic bird droppings not only damage the stone surface but also makes the fountain look dirty. Cleaning teams are deployed periodically to keep the fountain clean.
Flora Fountain was commissioned by the Agri-Horticultural Society of Western India who had initially planned the fountain to be installed at the Jijamata Udyan (formerly Victoria Garden) at Byculla. However, the site was later changed to be located just outside the former church gate where new space was made available with the filling up of the moat that surrounded the Fort walls.
During the time of its restoration in 2017, Flora Fountain was suffering from damage and leakage that interfered with the water flow. The restoration team led by architect Vikas Dilawari had to remove concrete to locate and create a map of the internal plumbing. They then enlisted the services of Burjoor Framji & Co., the city’s oldest plumbers, to repair the damaged plumbing and make the fountain fully operational when it was re-opened in 2019.
Flora Fountain shares the intersection of Dadabhai Naoroji Road, Mahatma Gandhi Road and Veer Nariman Road with “The Martyr with a Flame” memorial, which was added in 1961, and the intersection was renamed Hutatma Chowk in memory of those who were martyred during the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement (Movement for United Maharashtra).
Commemorative plaque at Hutatma Chowk dedicated to martyrs who laid down their lives, during the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement. The killing of protestors by police garnered major public support for the movement and led to the creation of separate Marathi-speaking Maharashtra state and Gujarati- speaking Gujarat state on 1st May 1960.
Marble memorial at Hutatma Chowk dedicated to martyrs who laid down their lives on 21 November 1955, when demonstrators at Flora Fountain were fired upon by security forces during the period of agitation for Samyukta Maharashtra Movement (Movement for United Maharashtra).
The names of 106 martyrs are inscribed at Hutatma Chowk on the marble memorial.