Dedicated to the field of Asian Studies, the ASM is housed in the grand Town Hall (or Tondal) in the Fort Area of South Mumbai. The Society’s library has over 100,000 books, including one of only two known original copies of Dante’s Divine Comedy, donated by Bombay governor and former ASM president, Mountstuart Elphinstone. In 1930, Benito Mussolini, looking to rally nationalist pride, offered the society a million pounds in exchange for the manuscript, but the decidedly un-materialistic society refused, much to a shocked Mussolini’s dismay. The manuscript, which was last visited by the Italian Minister of Culture in 2002, is said to be in very good condition.
An upscale neighborhood in South Mumbai developed largely on reclaimed land in the 1960s, Cuffe Parade was named after T. W. Cuffe of the Bombay City Improvement Trust. With a passel of 30-plus story buildings, Cuffe Parade is home to an elite group of wealthy Indian businessmen, and considered a kind of Indian Manhattan.
The General Post Office
Considered a “paradigm of Indo-Saracenic architecture,” the General Post Office was designed by British architect John Begg, and modeled on the Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur, Karnataka. Completed in 1913, the building is made of black basalt with a douse of yellow Kurla stone. Besides offering all your typical postal services, the GPO also has a philately section, where Mumbai’s irrepressible philatelists can get their postage kicks.
Prince of Wales Museum
Now called the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya after Shivaji, the founder of the Maratha Empire, the former Prince of Wales Museum is another gem of the Indo-Saracenic style. Designed by George Wittlet, who worked with fellow architect John Begg on the General Post Office and would later go on to design the celebrated Gateway of India, the museum was commissioned in the early 20th century by a group of prominent Mumbians to commemorate the visit of the Prince of Wales. Surrounded by palm trees and formal flowerbeds, the CSMVS is Mumbai’s premier museum, housing approximately 50,000 exhibits that cover the areas of Art, Archaeology, and Natural History.