Horniman Circle, Mumbai
What was once the Bombay Greens, a large open space within the nonextant Bombay Fort, was developed into a circular urban park in the 19th century. Elegant curved Neoclassical buildings, reminiscent of the Royal Crescent in Bath, England, were constructed around the circle, while at the eastern end was the Asiatic Society building. The park was named Elphinstone Circle, after Bombay's governor at the time, but after India gained independence, the name was changed to Horniman Circle, in reference to Benjamin Horniman, the editor of a local newspaper who supported independence. The park within Horniman Circle is a peaceful respite from the crazy traffic of Bombay, planted with beautiful tropical plants, for anyone looking to get away from it all.
The central green, the old Cotton Green where traders used to buy and sell bales of cotton, was laid out as a public garden in 1869. It was originally called Elphinstone Circle but was renamed after independence in honour of Benjamin Guy Horniman, an English journalist of The Bombay Chronicle who, through his editorial, strongly supported the Indian freedom struggle. The gardens are very peaceful despite being in the middle of one of the largest city's in the world. The elegant buildings around the garden were built in the 1860's and fashioned after acclaimed English examples at Bath Crescent and Tunbridge Wells.
Tucked in the Fort area is St Thomas' Cathedral - the oldest English building in Mumbai. The cathedral is still functioning and there are people praying at all times so don't go walking in talking loudly. The cathedral itself is nothing too impressive but worth a visit. Nearby is also the Horniman Circle - a ring of old state buildings laid out in the 19th century.
An oft overlooked part of the center. The circle is exquisite, if not for the 19th century buildings that look more at home in Bath then BOmbay then the park which has been restored. In addition, across the street is the Bombay Asia Society/Mombay State Library. In addition there is the newly restored St. Thomas Church, which is the oldest British built structure in Bombay. It was begun in 1682, but the church standing today really dates from 1712. The memorials inside the church are a testimony to the difficult lives that the over pampered and over bearing members of the East India Company found in their new home.
In South Mumbai, Horniman Circle Gardens represent a green territory amidst the soaring buildings. In the pre-independence era, the garden was a preferred hangout of the Parsi community.