♦ This blog post was featured in the “Around the Blog” section of the DNA newspaper published on January 14, 2013 (pg.6) ♦
At a road junction in the busy Ballard Estate area of Mumbai, and near two landmarks of the area — Cafe Britannia and Old Customs House — stands a memorial.
This memorial commemorates the employees of the Bombay Port Trust (now Mumbai Port Trust) who fell during World War I (1914-1918) and also Port Trust’s contribution to the war effort. A brass plaque on the memorial reads:
In the Port of Bombay in the Great War 1914-1918
1,870,000 troops and personnel embarked and disembarked at the docks
3,046 transports and 668 hospital ships were dealt with at the docks. The first transport left Bombay on 21 August 1914.
2,073 troop and hospital trains were railed over the Port Trust Railway.
2,228,000 tons of military stores were shipped from the port.
494 Government ships used the Port Trust dry docks.
The base of the memorial has winged lions carved on it. The lions look suitably fierce, but what stands out is the beautiful carving of the lion’s mane and the feathers on the wings. Each feather has been lovingly detailed and look very realistic.
I first saw this memorial when I used to work in the Ballard Estate area, I couldn’t have asked for a better location for my first job as, in my opinion, Ballard Estate is one of the most beautiful areas in Mumbai with its collection of buildings all uniform in architectural style and design. A favourite spot for film and ad shoots, Ballard Estate was built on reclaimed land by the Bombay Port Trust (now Mumbai Port Trust) between 1914–1918.
But in spite of this, I don’t think I really appreciated the history or beauty of the area till I changed jobs and moved to another part of Mumbai. Though my current workplace is beautiful and set in lush green surroundings, I missed the ambiance and the history surrounding me all the time.
So last year, when I got the chance to visit this area and say hello to my old and neglected friends in this area, I took a camera along with me to record them as well.
Mumbai Lens is a photographic series which, as the name suggests, is Mumbai-centric and is an attempt to capture the various moods of the city through my camera lens.