Sunday, December 23, 2018

Mumbai Heritage: Prince's Triumphal Arch Clock Tower, Mahalaxmi.

Who doesn’t love bumping into treasures?

But it’s not always easy since when did treasures ever come with a map?!

In fact, the entire surprise element that lies woven in the treasure hunt is what exactly makes accidently bumping into them just so amazing!

As a kid, finding treasures for me, was all about embarking on my own mini (mis)adventures, which often meant digging deeper, into the known and unknown corners of the house, and discovering something entirely new.

Growing up, now, I realize, nothing much has changed, for finding treasures still remains very much about embarking on my own mini (mis)adventures, which often means digging deeper, into the known and unknown corners of the house world, and discovering something entirely new.

So, imagine my delight when I bumped into an unobserved, easily overlooked and hardly ever talked about monument staring right in my eye on one fine day as I was casually walking by!


I saw the ‘Prince’s Triumphal Arch’ while on my way out of the famous Mahalakshmi temple in Mahalakshmi, Mumbai on a beautiful balmy morning.

One glance at the clock tower and I'd sense - this isn’t any ordinary structure.

By the looks of it, the monument passed every test of a historic structure – pale ochre in color, the arch is supported by little ornate Corinthian pillars domed by a beautiful clock at the top.

Not only did the tower look impressive in its built and make, the design reeked of British taste in architecture.

The year – 1905 - imprinted in numerals right above the clock, stamped my speculation right in.

There was a BMC garbage van standing beneath it (which is the reason why I omitted clicking the bottom part in the picture) and people walked by casually.

From this point, the street passed in a straight line on one side to the Mahalakshmi temple and through a flight of stairs on the other side via the entrances of Shri Tulsidas Gopalji Charitable and Dhakleshwar Temple Trust, past the Shri Trayambakeshwar Mahadev Mandir, till the main access point to the Bhulabhai Desai Road.

Mumbai Undiscovered - Prince's Triumphal Arch Heritage Clock Tower at Mahalaxmi
Don't these gnarled branches look they are giving a guard of honor to this epoch beauty?
Which takes us to the next question: In whose honor or memory was the 'Prince's TriumphAl Arch' at Mahalaxmi really built?

Seen from any side of the street, the arch is identical in make. The blue windows on the sides of the clock give it a nice antique touch. There is a small verandah besides the clock with a ladder going right up used when winding the clock and cleaning the monument.

In a city about whom so much has been written and so many great buildings, iconic structures and historic towers gracing the city with its unique character since centuries documented about - it was hard to believe that here was this modest historic marvel, unknown and unnoticed, standing nearly obscured in anonymity.

A sense of delight and thrill ran down my senses, as I stood in the shadows, marveling at the sight of a remarkable treasure jumping out live from the pages of history.


As I wondered of the untold story of the triumphal arch, I stumbled upon another very interesting trivia associated with the time zones followed in India during the British Era:

During the British Era, India followed two official time zones, established in 1884 – the Bombay time and the Calcutta Time.

While Bombay time was 4 hours and 51 minutes ahead of Greenwich Mean Time or GMT (39 min behind IST), Calcutta time was 5 hours, 54  minutes in advance of GMT (24 min. ahead IST.).

There was a third one too, railway time, standardized on Madras time (MT) as MT was between Bombay and Calcutta times, and often this, rather than Bombay time, was used in Indian timetables from the late 1880s onward.

While India adopted Indian Standard Time or IST (which is GMT plus 5.30 hrs) as its official time zone in 1906 – the quintessential city that Bombay is, continued to run on its own local time as late as until 1955.


Prince Triumph Al Arch time shown on the clock tower

The clock was striking 7:52 by the show of its hands when I clicked it. Since I wasn’t carrying my mobile phone (I like it that way), I couldn't confirm the exact time at that point.

After reaching home, I checked in my digicam and it showed 8:06 as the time I had clicked the picture which means the clock was running approximately 14-15 minutes behind IST.

So, the clock does not exactly show Bombay time as I initially thought miscalculated it to be. But as per my find, there is some time difference for sure.

If you happen to see this monument in Mumbai or
know more about the Prince's Triumpal Arch in Mumbai,
do write in the comments section -
I'd love to hear all about it!

Mumbai Undiscovered - Prince's Triumphal Arch Heritage Clock Tower at Mahalaxmi