Join us as we take a quick stroll through Sprott Road in South Bombay, revelling in the sense of history that surrounds this area. Our guide for today’s virtual walk is Dr. Simin Patel, better known as Miss Bombaywalla. As a historian of Mumbai, she runs Bombaywalla Historical Works, an organisation that creates awareness about Bombay’s built environment and social history. Bombaywalla operates a blog, conducts historical walks (like this one) and curates public history projects for various organisations. So without further ado, let’s begin!
The first destination on the walk – the Grand Hotel. Established in 1922, this hotel gave Ballard Estate its shimmer at the time, and it’s not surprising why. With a jazz band playing in the evenings, and guests swaying through dinner on weekly dance nights, there’s no question that this hotel was well-loved in its prime. In the Grill Room, an Italian orchestra played all through luncheon and dinner.
In 1938, a stylish service station came up right next to The Grand Hotel. All the snacks for the gala opening ceremony were ordered from an Italian Confectioner, A Comba & Co. Karfule recently celebrated its 80th anniversary on 3rd October 2018, recreating the menu from its gala opening.
Still very much a Bombay institution, Britannia & Co (1923), was developed by a far-thinking Irani, Mr. Rashid Kohinoor. He predicted that Ballard Estate would become a first-class business area. With this in mind, he made sure that Britannia & Co. drew from all the best practices of the grand hotels in the city. This spot continues to be bustling and full of visitors.
The last stop on the walk is this building, which began its life as The Regent Hotel. Darabshaw House opened its doors in the 1930s and has been around ever since. Unlike the Grand Hotel, the owners of the Regent Hotel took another business route, aiming to create a space of homely comforts and more reasonable prices.
If you enjoyed this quick stroll through South Bombay, download the Urbanaut App for more recommendations, insider tips and guides on local discoveries. Visit the Bombaywalla website for more historical nuggets, blogs, books and information on their walks.
Featured Image: Grand Hotel, Mumbai. Photo Courtesy: Simin Patel.