Occupying pride of place in the heart of Martyr Square in Mumbai, now popularly dubbed the Hutatma Chowk, lies a centuries old fountain that has captivated visitors to Bollywood central since time immemorial. Known as the Flora Fountain after the Roman deity of the same name, this monolithic work of art is a neo-classical sculpture with Gothic revival leanings commonly used during the colonial age.
Designed by iconic architect R. Norman Shaw and engineered by James Forsythe this breathtaking spring is the chief attraction down the Mile Long Road or Dadabhai Naoroji Road inside the Fort financial hub of southern Mumbai. Only a short distance from the Church Gate Railway Stations and the Shivaji Terminus, visitors will hardly miss the larger than life Roman style fountain.
Built at a cost of 9,000 sterling pounds way back in 1864, this stunning sculptural and architectural marvel is a heritage monument in Mumbai with no equal in terms of exquisite detail and precise execution. Made almost entirely of Portland stone which was imported especially for the project, the fountain was sculpted by Forsythe who created a fountain topped with the Roman goddess for the spring season adorned with flowers according to mythology. The relation to Roman mythology is in fact maintained throughout the structure which is flanked by all four sides by mythological creatures.
Originally constructed to adorn the Victoria Gardens in Byculla the fountain has also served as a source of inspiration for many a writer including the nostalgic reveries of a cricketer who spent his childhood playing cricket around the structure. Gujarati poet Niranajan Bhagat also penned a famous poem dedicated to Flora Fountain celebrating its breathtaking beauty amidst a “concrete jungle”.
Those who wish to explore the fountain in all it splendor can select an open-air tourist bus tour of Mumbai conducted by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation or sign up with the Mumbai Heritage Walks to understand and discover the city’s historic attractions in one all-encompassing excursion.
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