IF STATUES COULD SPEAK?

(Updated text and photographs) In this busy world, one hardly stops by around a statue. If so, the reason could be a passive need – to click a photograph, draw a sketch, meeting point, the visitor is an historian or someone from the maintenance department.

Assume if statues could speak, what anecdote’s would they share? Would it be about the chronicles from their life archives or a narrative of all the observations gathered at the memorial site. Whatever it maybe, it would be our imagination.

Though motionless, the statues convey important stories ‘His- story’ and ‘Her-story’, and have become silent story tellers over the years. One just have to offer a little attention and decode their language of remembrance and sacrifice.

“History is like a frozen dessert, that melts our heart when consumed”. However, to maintain its consistency, the records and valuable material must be preserved for the forthcoming generations.

The colonial period of India reminds us of the trials and tribulations absorbed by our freedom fighters in the journey towards independence. The contributions made by the prominent leaders and average citizens has left a deep footprint that reflects in varied forms, such as – old architecture, museums, art and artifacts, statues, maps, documents, photographs, films, books and knowledge.

A statue erected at a public site symbolizes the events of the by gone era and the moral lessons learned from it. Statues therefore, are much more than mere physical structures. A carved out figurative image is a forever tribute to the distinguished personality and evokes emotions of patriotism, bravery and pride (unless the statue is of a controversial character).

Some statues like ‘The Statue of Unity’, ‘Statue of Liberty’, ‘The Thinker’, etc. have gained popularity in their own right. Represented in a larger-than-life-size figure, a statue is a viewable record of the past and a torchbearer of a countrys history.

I explored a series of statues in Mumbai that are mostly clustered in the Churchgate and Fort area. Thankfully, they are decently maintained except for the dust and bird droppings which is unavoidable. However, post the independence period, there are instances in history where statues were vandalized due to the public anger, hence, they were relocated.

Presenting to you, a virtual tour of all the sites I covered on a bicycle. Although painstakingly documented, the list is not all-inclusive.

King Edward VII, Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Byculla. This bronze statue is 12 feet 9 inches tall. Sculpted by Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm, it was donated in 1876 by the industrialist and philanthropist, Sir Albert Sassoon in commemoration of the King’s visit to the city as ‘Prince of Wales’ in 1875. It was originally installed at Fort near David Sassoon library, however, in 1965, it was decided to remove all the statues of the British rulers from prominent places, hence, the original ‘Kala Ghoda’ was moved to the Byculla Zoo. Read more about Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum.
The Kala Ghoda Association proposed the Mumbai Heritage Committee to host a statue that could identify with the location and represent the place name ‘Kala Ghoda’ (Black Horse), to fill the void, this new artwork was installed in 2017.
Lord Hardinge, Viceroy and Governor General 1910-1916. Original location – Apollo Bunder, Mumbai. Current location – Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum.
Edwin S. Montague, His Majesty Principal Secretary of State for India, 1917-1922. Original location – Marine Lines, Mumbai. Current location – Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum.
Queen Victoria with chopped nose. Dedicated by His Highness Maharaj Khanderao Gaikwad Shamsher Bahadur, kinghted Grand Commander of the Most Exalted Order of the Star of India A.D. 1846. Original location – Fort, Mumbai. Current location – Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum.
Canopy in which the above statue of Queen Victoria was once sheltered at its original location at Fort near Oval Maidan. This Canopy was bought by an industrialist from Singhania group. Seen here is the marble Canopy and seated inside is the statue of Lala Kailashpat Singhania outside the Raymond showroom at JK House, Breach Candy.
Dr. Thomas Blaney. C.I.E Born 24th May 1823, died 1st April 1903. A tribute from the inhabitants of Bombay for public services rendered during a period of half a century. Original location – Fort, Mumbai. Current location – Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum.
Sir Richard Temple Baronet, G.C.S.I., C.I.E. Governor of Bombay 1877-1880. Original location – Esplande, Mumbai. Current location – Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum.
Vandalized statue of Lord Marquis of Wellesley, Governor General of India from 1798-1805. Original location – Fort, Mumbai. Current location – Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum.
Damaged sculpture of Lord Marquis of Cornwallis, Governor General of India. Original location – Fort, Mumbai. Current location – Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum.
Partly broken statue of Lord Sandhurst, Governor of Bombay 1895-1900. Original location – Esplanade, Mumbai. Current location – Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum.
Statue of a lost dog, Esplanade House (1887), Fort.
Jerbai Masina, Masina Hospital, Byculla. This hospital was the Palatial Residence of the wealthy Jewish businessman David Sassoon. History says ‘The Prince of Wales’ King Edward VII visited David Sassoon’s house on 17th November 1875.
Cursetjee Manockjee, (1763-1845). Often referred as ‘Khada Parsi’, it is a 40 feet tall Fountain-Statue built in 1860’s. The statue stands atop a Corinthian pillar with sculptures of four mermaids surrounding the base and four dragons holding lamps. Historians believe it is the only cast-iron statue in the city, and one of only two such statues in the world, Current location: Byculla Junction.
King George V, Prince of Wales Museum (CSMVS), Churchgate.
Sir Lawrence Hugh Jenkins, Bombay High Court, Churchgate.
Sir Dinshaw Fardunji Mulla, Bombay High Court, Churchgate.
Sir Dinshaw Edulji Wacha, Churchgate.
Jamshedji Tata, Churchgate.
Mahatma Gandhi, Churchgate.
Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Churchgate.
Sir Hormusjee Cowasjee Dinshaw, Churchgate.
Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy, Churchgate.
Sir Dinshaw Manockjee Petit, Fort.
Sorabjee Shapurjee Bengalee, Churchgate.
Nusserwanji Maneckji Petit, Churchgate.
Sir Pherozeshah Mehta, Fort.
Vasudev Balwant Phadke, Fort.
Lal Bahadur Shashtri, Churchgate.
Khan Bahadur Kawasji Jamshedji Petigara, Fort.
Lala Lajpat Rai, Haji Ali.
Swami Vivekananda, Gateway of India, Churchgate.
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Churchgate.
Dr. Accacio Gabriel Viegas, Fort.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Gateway of India, Churchgate. Maharashtra being the land of the Great Maratha Warrior-King, there are numerous statues of the heroic figure that can be spotted in the state. A memorial dedicated to Shivaji Maharaj is under construction at the Arabian Sea and on completion, it is expected to be one of the biggest tourist attraction point in the Mumbai city.
Balasaheb Thakre, Churchgate.
Hutatma Chowk – ‘Martyr with a Flame’, Churchgate.
Rajiv Gandhi, Fort.
Vithalbhai J. Patel, Marine Drive.
Balgangadhar Tilak, Marine Drive.
Subhash Chandra Bose, Walkeshwar.
Mumbai Dabbawala, Haji Ali.
Read more about the Mumbai Dabbawalas
Barrister Rajni Patel, Worli.
R.K. Laxman, Worli. This statue of a cartoonist represents ‘The Common Man’ and is one of the most accessible sculpture in the city and often approached by the tourists for photography. Not to mention, it’s very popular in the cycling community.
Fisherman, Worli. Relatively a new creation, the fisherman statue is seated perpendicular to the R.K Laxman figure and can be spotted over his shoulder as you can see in the previous photograph.
Baby Head, Nariman Point.
Yogi, Bandra Reclamation.

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Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai

5 thoughts on “IF STATUES COULD SPEAK?

  1. Very interesting post Vijay……nicely explained the importance and reason of erecting these statues of famous personalities. Seen all of them actually but forgotten, going through the beautifully taken pictures I recollected the statutes, with their location

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