Jijamata Udyan

Mumbai's renowned Victoria Garden

The Agri Horticultural Society of Western India played a significant role in the history of Mumbai, setting up public parks, gardens, and water fountains in the city long before the Bombay Municipal Corporation took over those roles. It was the Society that had commissioned the iconic Flora Fountain, which now stands at Churchgate. Formed in 1830, the Society committed itself to the advancement of scientific knowledge of India’s diverse flora and fauna and those of other British colonies. With this objective, they laid out the botanical gardens at Mount Estate, Byculla, on land donated by Sir David Sassoon. The garden was inaugurated in 1862 and named after Queen Victoria, marking the transfer of power from the East India Company to the British Crown. Adjoining the garden, the Victoria & Albert Museum was built, which opened in 1872. The Sassoon family, one of the wealthiest merchant families in Bombay, contributed generously to the establishment of the museum, a triple-arched gateway, and a grand clock tower. These monuments were built in the Neo-Palladian style, the only example of this style of architecture in Mumbai. A zoo was added to Victoria Garden in 1890, and the garden was renamed Jijamata Udyan post-independence in honor of Jijabai Bhonsle, mother of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. In 1975 the Victoria and Albert Museum was renamed Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum. The museum and the gardens are the most visited public spaces in Mumbai.

Jijamata Bhonsle memorial

Veermata Jijabai Bhonsle Udyan commemorates Jijabai Bhonsle (1598–1674), mother of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (1630–80) also variously known as Veermata, Rastramata, or Jijau. Jijabai taught young Shivaji about 'Swarajya' and raised him to be a great warrior and just ruler who challenged the mighty Mughal Empire and laid the foundation of the Maratha Empire.

Jijamata and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj

This statue of Jijabai Bhonsle and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj as a young boy was installed at Jijamata Udyan in 1992. The statues are made of pure bronze and are around 9 feet high. In 2022, a copper meghdambari (royal umbrella) was placed over the statue by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation at a cost of ₹43 lakhs.

Victoria Garden (Jijamata Udyan) and Zoo, Entrance

Victoria Garden was established as a botanical garden by the Agri Horticultural Society of Western India on Mount Estate, Byculla, on land donated by David Sassoon (1792-1864). In 1890, a zoo was added to the garden. In 1969, Victoria Garden was renamed Veermata Jijabai Bhonsle Udyan, though it is popularly known as Byculla Zoo or Mumbai Zoo.

Baobab Tree

The Agri Horticultural Society had first started a botanical garden at Sewri, but it didn't catch on. The garden became popular after the site shifted to Byculla. The garden started as a repository of exotic plants, herbs, and trees, which the British had collected from Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Madagascar, China, Sri Lanka, India, and other British colonies.

Founders, Jijamata Udyan

Notable citizens of Mumbai who played a leading role in the establishment of Jijamata Bhonsle Udyan include Jagannath Shankarshet, David Sassoon, Dr. Bhau Daji Lad, George Birdwood, and Sir Jamsetji Jeejeebhoy. The garden was named after Queen Victoria to mark the transfer of power from the East India Company directly to the British Crown (in 1858).

Triple arched gateway, Jijamata Udyan

Completed in 1868, the triple-arched gateway is the main entrance to Jijamata Udyan. William Tracey designed it in the Neo-Palladian style to resemble a Roman triumphal arch. The narrow width between the arches prevented horse-driven carriages from entering. The pediment over the central arch depicts profile portraits of the Prince and Princess of Wales.

Profile portraits of Prince and Princess of Wales

Double portrait of the Prince and Princess of Wales. In the foreground is Alexandra of Denmark (1844–1925) and in the background is Albert Edward (1841–1910), who became Prince of Wales in 1841 and held the title till 1901. The French motto on top, Dieu et mon droit means God and my right, implying the (English) monarch has a God-given (divine) right to rule.

Cherubs holding lamp post

Three winged cherubs hold up a stump over the central pediment of the triple-arched gateway. The stump originally held a gas-powered lamp. Three gas lamps were placed on top of the triple-arched gateway, one over each arch, but were later removed.

Pillar capital, triple-arched gateway

Corinthian order pillars with elaborate floral capitals decorated with acanthus leaves and scrolls, stand at the corners of the triple-arched gateway. The gateway was sponsored by Rustomjee Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy (1824-72) and designed by William Tracey, though the building was completed by Messrs. Scott, McClelland and Co. after Tracey's untimely death.

Equestrian statue of King Edward VII

Edward VII (1841–1910) was the King of the United Kingdom and Emperor of India, from 1901 until his death in 1910. His equestrian statue earlier stood at Kala Ghoda, which got named after the black (kala) horse (ghoda). In August 1965, the statue was dismounted from its plinth and shifted to Jijamata Udyan. The plinth is displayed at the Bhau Daji Lad Museum.

Frontal view of the equestrian statue of King Edward VII

The equestrian statue of King Edward VII was sculpted by Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm (1834-90). It was donated to the city by industrialist and philanthropist Albert David Sassoon (1818-96) who commissioned it to mark Edward's visit to India in 1875-76 when he was the Prince of Wales. Edward succeeded Queen Victoria as the English monarch in 1901.

Bandstand, Jijamata Udyan

The octagonal bandstand inside Jijamata Udyan was commissioned in 1937. Its construction was funded by Seth Hargovandas Jeevandas and handed over to the Bombay Municipal Corporation for the use and benefit of the public. Marble busts of Seth Hargovandas Jeevandas and his wife Bai Harkorbai are installed at the entrance to the bandstand.

Marble bust, Sheth Hargovandas Jeevandas

Marble bust of Sheth Hargovandas Jeevandas, who sponsored the bandstand at Jijamata Udyan. He belonged to the Kapol Bania community and was born at Talaja, Bhavnagar, in 1874. In 1932, he started the Mahalaxmi Mills at Bhavnagar. As a businessman, Sheth Hargovandas took a leading part in public affairs and was a trustee in several charitable institutions in Mumbai.

Marble bust, Bai Harkorbai

Marble bust of Bai Harkorbai, wife of Sheth Hargovandas Jeevandas, who sponsored the bandstand at Jijamata Udyan.

Frere temple roundabout

Victoria Gardens was inaugurated by Lady Catherine Frere, wife of Sir Bartle Frere, the then governor of Bombay (1862–67). Catherine was the daughter of Sir George Arthur, who was the former governor of Bombay (1842-46), and Bartle Frere had served as his private secretary. The Frere Temple was built in her honor and installed at a roundabout inside the gardens.

Open rotunda, Frere Temple

The 35-foot-tall Frere Temple was designed by William Tracey, an engineer of the Public Works Department who also designed the Victoria and Albert Museum (Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum) and the triple-arched gateway at the entrance to the Garden. The temple cost ₹ 42,000, which was raised through public subscription. The central part of the rotunda is open to the sky.

Statue of Charity, Frere temple

The Frere Temple originally housed a bust of Lady Frere, which was defaced by vandals. The damaged bust was sent to England but was beyond repair. In its place, a bronze statuary sculpted by English sculptor Herbert Hampton (1862–1929) was installed. The statue is mistakenly identified as Queen Victoria, because of its location in (former) Victoria Gardens.

Boy with dove, Frere temple

The central allegorical figure of - Charity, grasping a sword (symbol of justice) with her right hand and sheltering a young boy holding a dove (symbol of peace). The figure is in a seated position with her head tilted towards the left.

Kneeling girl, Frere temple

The allegorical figure of - Charity at the Frere Temple shelters a young girl who seeks protection at her feet. The caring gesture made with her left hand is a symbol of motherly love and holding the sword with the right hand is a symbol of justice for the needy.

Pillar capitals and rotunda, Frere temple

Frere Temple is made from Porbandar stone. The circular rotunda is supported by six pillars of the Corinthian order, their capitals decorated with acanthus leaves and scrolls. However, unlike Corinthian pillars that are almost always fluted, the pillars at the Frere temple are not fluted.

Koi Fish Pond, Seth Samaldas Narsidas pyaav

Intended location for Flora Fountain

A stone statue stands at the centre of the roundabout inside Jijamata Udyan, which was chosen as the original installation site for the Flora Fountain, originally commissioned by the Agri Horticultural Society of Western India. However, the site was later changed and the fountain was placed at Churchgate, where it stands now.

Though it is known that Seth Samaldas Narsidas pyaav was erected in 1903, it is not known where it was originally located before it was installed at Jijamata Udyan. The pyaav was in derelict condition before it was restored by the Heritage Cell of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. The fountain was converted into a Koi Fish Pond on the site of an existing well.

Lion-face faucets, Seth Samaldas Narsidas pyaav

Seth Samaldas Narsidas pyaav has lion-faced faucets on four sides through which water emerges and flows into the stone trough at the bottom. The overspill is collected in the Koi Fish Pond and recycled through the fountain. The trough was added during restoration to suit the purpose of a fountain and a pyramidal capital was added at the top.

Inscription, Seth Samaldas Narsidas pyaav

Inscribed in English within an arched niche, the name of the pyaav and its erection for public use by Javerbai, widow of Seth Narsidas Devidas, in memory of her son Seth Samaldas Narsidas. The year of installation (1903) is mentioned at the bottom. The Gujarati translation is inscribed on the opposite face of the pyaav.

Ardeshir Dadysett Pyaav

The installation of pyaavs to provide drinking water to humans and animals was an act of philanthropy made by prominent members of the various mercantile communities in Mumbai. There are four pyaavs installed inside Jijamata Udyan, which have been restored and are fully functional today, serving drinking water to visitors. Every pyaav, however, has its own indigenous water engineering and water dispensing method.

Ardeshir Dadysett Pyaav at Jijamata Udyan

There are four pyaavs inside the Jijamata Bhonsle Udyan that have been restored and are fully functional, serving drinking water to visitors. Two pyaavs were erected in memory of Ardeshir Dadysett, one in memory of Seth Samaldas Narsidas, and the fourth in memory of Khimji Mulji Randeria.

Commemorative plaque, Ardeshir Dadysett Pyaav

Scholars believe that Ardeshir Dadysett had commissioned two pyaavs in 1912, one placed at the Dadysett Atash Behram at Marine Lines and another at Dadysett Wadi in Walkeshwar, as corroborated by the information gathered from contemporary newspaper Parsee Prakash. At some later stage, as they fell out of use, the pyaavs were relocated to Jijamata Udyan, where they stand now.

Wash basin, Ardeshir Dadysett Pyaav

Ardeshir Dadysett pyaav has taps placed on multiple sides within an ornate niche. Stylistic elements comprise the multifoil arch, fluted pilasters, and floral borders. The wash basin is shaped like a blooming lotus flower.

Brackets, Ardeshir Dadysett Pyaav

Detail of brackets supporting the parapet, Ardeshir Dadysett pyaav. The pair of Dadysett pyaavs at Jijamata Udyan were commissioned together and are identical in design and size. They are made from the same materials, Porbander and Malad Stone.

Baobab Tree at Jijamata Udyan

Among the notable exotic plants at Jijamata Udyan are Baobab trees, which are native to Madagascar, parts of mainland Africa, and Australia. The tree was brought to India by Abyssinian traders more than 1,000 years back. Its bark fibre is used for making ropes and its fruit is relished by monkeys, hence also known as the 'Monkey Bread Tree'.

Royal seal of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj

Seal (Rajmudra) of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj at the base of the Jijamata memorial. The Sanskrit text is as follows: प्रतिपच्चन्द्रलेखेव वर्धिष्णुर्विश्ववन्दिता | शाहसूनो: शिवस्यैषा मुद्रा भद्राय राजते || Translated in English: This seal of Shivaji, the son of Shahaji, increasing in size like the moon of Pratipada (the first day after the moonless night), revered by the world, reigns for good.

Plaque, Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Musuem

Victoria and Albert Museum opened on 2 May 1872 and was named in honor of Queen Victoria (1819–1901) and her consort, Prince Albert (1819–61). In 1975, the museum was renamed in honor of Dr. Bhau Daji Lad (1824-74), a Sanskrit scholar and polymath, who was the first Indian sheriff of Mumbai and played a key role in the establishment of the museum.

Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum

The idea for setting up a museum was mooted in 1850 when preparations were underway for the ‘Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations’ to be held at the Crystal Palace in London (1851). The museum was established at Town Hall. With the transfer of power to Queen Victoria (1858), a meeting was called at Town Hall to raise funds for building a new museum.

Facade, Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum

On 1st November 1858, Queen Victoria was proclaimed Queen of India from the Town Hall steps. It was decided in a meeting of Mumbai citizens that the first public institution should be a museum to honor the new Queen, with the botanical gardens attached to it. Governor Sir Bartle Frere laid the foundation stone for the museum on 19th November 1862.

Window, Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum

Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum was designed by William Tracey in the Neo-Palladian style that originated in Italy. From 2003–08, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) in collaboration with the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation undertook extensive refurbishment of the building.

Stone elephant, Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum

The original elephant, after which Elephanta Island was named by the Portuguese, is displayed outside Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum. The statue was originally at Rajabunder jetty on the south shore of Elephanta Island, formerly referred to as Gharapuri. In 1987, UNESCO declared Elephanta Island a World Heritage Site for its collection of Hindu cave temples.

Stone elephant outside Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum

In 1864, during an attempt to remove the statue from Elephanta Island, it broke into small fragments. The broken parts were brought to Victoria Gardens and reassembled by Sir George Birdwood, the Victoria and Albert Museum curator. The statue was placed outside the museum in 1914, making it one of the oldest artifacts displayed at the museum.

David Sassoon Clocktower

The David Sassoon Clock Tower originally stood outside the gates of Victoria Garden, by the side of the main road, then known as Parel Road (now BR Ambedkar Road). In 1926, during the widening of the road, the clock tower was dismantled brick by brick and reconstructed at its present location. During shifting, the earlier alignment was retained, and the successful relocation of the structure set a good example of sensitive heritage conservation.

Clock, David Sassoon Clocktower

The David Sassoon Clock Tower is 67 feet high and has clocks facing the cardinal directions. The clocks are provided with four patent opal glass dials, each measuring four feet in diameter. Unlike other clock towers in Mumbai, which have mostly stopped functioning, the clocks of this clock tower are all in working condition.

Inscription, David Sassoon Clocktower

The name of David Sassoon is inscribed over the arch on the ground floor. He had donated a large sum (₹ 30,000) for building the clock tower. A Baghdadi Jew, David Sassoon (1792–1864) funded many educational institutions in Mumbai. Various charity trusts, that continue to exist today, were funded, by and named after him and other members of the Sassoon family.

Ground floor, David Sassoon Clocktower

The ground floor of David Sassoon Clock Tower is 12 sq. ft in area. The square base is open on all sides. The main entry is from the east, through a path leading from Jijamata Udyan. The west-facing entrance is also open. The north and south entrances have balustrades, preventing entry. Pairs of decorative colonettes flank the arched entrances on all sides.

Arch and keystone, David Sassoon Clocktower

Detail of arch and keystone with panels of Minto tiles and dressings of Blashfield's terracotta from Stamford, Lincolnshire. The David Sassoon Clock Tower is built from Porbandar stone, which was used in many public buildings of Mumbai, including Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, Knesset Eliyahoo Synagogue, Bombay High Court, and Crawford Market.

Keystone and tile, David Sassoon Clocktower

The terracotta keystones on the ground floor arches at the David Sassoon Clock Tower depict the faces of the allegorical figures representing morning, evening, noon, and night, each facing one cardinal direction.

Spiral staircase, David Sassoon Clocktower

The David Sassoon Clock Tower was constructed by Messrs. Scott, McClelland and Co., who also completed the Victoria and Albert Museum after its architect William Tracey died. In both buildings, they used the Neo-Palladian style, lending architectural uniformity in the buildings. The ensemble of buildings at Jijamata Udyan, which includes the triple-arched gateway, are the only buildings in Mumbai where the Palladian architectural style was used.

Intricate spiral staircase, David Sassoon Clocktower

Wrought iron helical staircase leading to the upper level of David Sassoon clocktower. The staircase is sealed, and no one is allowed to climb the clock tower.