Kala Ghoda Association, was formed on 30th October 1998 with the object of maintaining and preserving the heritage and art district of South Mumbai by various art galleries, patrons, and concerned citizens with the object of maintaining and preserving the heritage and art district of South Mumbai. They have been working towards the conservation of this area since then. This association has prioritized its conservation tasks and, since 1999 organize an art festival annually, in February (the first Saturday till the next Sunday, for nine days) popularly known as the “Kala Ghoda Arts Festival” in order to bring attention to the area’s art and architectural heritage. This large multicultural festival draws attention to this unique and beautiful area in Mumbai. Now in its 17th edition, the Festival draws visitors in large numbers, not just from the city but from all over the country, and, indeed, the world.
Furthermore, the Association recognized and anticipated the need to connect this powerful contemporary use and function to the physical improvement process. That is, really to use this function and its potential, to generate goodwill as well as financial support and act as the contemporary engine to drive the conservation and physical improvement of the area. In order to do this the Association decided to institute an Art Festival as an annual event, to bring attention to this precinct, to generate funds for sponsoring projects , and also to set an annual target for improvements.
The Kala Ghoda precinct can be roughly defined as the area that stretches from the Regal Circle at the Southern end of Mahatma Gandhi Road, up to the Mumbai University at the northern end, flanked by the Oval Maidan to the west and the Lion Gate to the east. The name Kala Ghoda can be traced to the old equestrian statue of King Edward VII, which was placed at the centre of the large node on the old Esplanade Road. The statue, a vestige of the colonial era, has since been removed from the site, but the colloquially used for the district name persist regardless – an assertive confirmation of a compelling public memory.
Today, the area is a hub of cultural activity and a throbbing urban node with institutions like the Jehangir Art Gallery, Max Mueller Bhavan, Bombay University, Prince of Wales Museum, National Gallery of Modern Art, Institute of Science, Bombay Natural History Society, Elphinstone College, and David Sassoon Library around it, all within comfortable walking distance of each other. Apart from the entertaining pursuits of art and education, the area also offers a host of famous city restaurants and cafes, along with art galleries, designer boutiques, and many culture-related activities and venues – the most popular one being the annual Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, where many artistes, performers and craftspersons gather every February.
Besides the overwhelming impact of its myriad functions, the area also has a strong visual image, reinforced by historic buildings, perhaps the finest concentrated collection of heritage structures in the city. The Elphinstone College and David Sassoon Library are in the Victorian Neo-Gothic genre, while the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahlaya (CSMVS) belongs to the Indo-Saracenic style. The Army & Navy Building reflects the vocabulary of the Renaissance Revival, and the Cowasji Jehangir Hall (which is now the National Gallery of Modern of Art) that of the Edwardian Neo-Classical in Mumbai.
With a combined total of almost 1,10,000 sq. ft of existing indoor gallery space, the Kala Ghoda Precinct has an existing critical mass of art galleries, museums, and cultural spaces unrivalled in all of India, and perhaps comparable to art districts in other parts of the world. To this could be added an additional mass of outdoor pavement galleries on Rampart Row and potential exhibition space within the covered arcades to make the Kala Ghoda area a veritable ‘Urban Museum’. Such a phenomenal ensemble of art functions within one concentrated zone, offers tremendous avenues for future development and, added to this the support infrastructure of existing lecture halls, convocation halls, and conference facilities offered by The Mumbai University, Elphinstone College, and other neighbouring institutions, gives Kala Ghoda a unique place in the world of art and culture.
There are also many locational advantages that contribute to the special character of the Kala Ghoda Art District. The area occupies a pivotal location within Fort, and is on the tourist circuit of Taj Mahal Hotel – Gateway of India – Flora Fountain and The Asiatic Library. It has easy access to rail, water, and road transport and offers a large number of places of public interest within walking distance of each other. It is flanked by one of the city’s largest greens – the Oval Maidan to the west – and is situated in the heart of the city’s business, commercial, and administrative hub, close to Horniman Circle garden. The Cross Maidan is also in close proximity.
The Kala Ghoda Association supports the effort of aspiring artist’s through the rental of gallery spaces detailed below
Located on the pavement opposite the entrance of the Jehangir Art Gallery and extending along towards the entrance of the Max Muller Bhavan this space was refurbished and renamed the “RAMPART GALLERY” in 2014. The gallery space is available on a daily rental except during the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. For booking details kindly contact on 9892671581 / 9167103585. Closed from JUNE TO AUGUST each year.
The Kala Ghoda Association (KGA) in keeping with its philosophy of instilling art and beauty into the precinct has been continually associated with upkeep and maintainence of iconic structures of the district. We are pleased to share our contributions thus far:
- The Elphinstone College building and The Institute of Science have been restored with the help of the Kala Ghoda Association. The buildings of the Kala Ghoda Art District are in fact its greatest assets.
- The pay and park has been re-tiled as have been the streets and pavements on Rampart Row (Kaikashru Dubash Marg).
- The Khyber Restaurant wall mural.
- An amphitheatre has been built over a storage space.
- In 2008, the Kala Ghoda Association took on the task of restoring the Cama Hall exteriors.
- KGA has funded the maintenance and repairs of the main building structure as well as some of the interiors of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vaastu Sangrahalaya. This work that commenced in 2014 will draw to a close in 2016.
- The garden of the David Sassoon library was restored in 2014.
- The heritage façade of the Kala Ghoda Bhadekaru Co –operative Premises Society Limited, Buildings I & II, housing the iconic Mumbai landmark – Rhythm House – on the corner of K. Dubash Marg was restored and beautified by KGA in association with Asian Paints. This initiative was well received by the area as an example of area maintenance and beautification initiatives mandated by us.
- The prestigious Durbar Hall of the Asiatic Society Library, Mumbai, and the building structure itself has been supported via restoration and maintenance funding in 2015.
- The Asiatic Society Library has been a recipient of funds towards their building in 2015.
- Funding towards restoration and maintenance have been transferred to beneficiaries including Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), the Oval Trust, the Horniman Circle Garden Trust and the garden of The David Sassoon Library as part of the KGA’s outreach for the upkeep of this district.
- Restoration of iconic city landmarks in the Fort area are being undertaken in 2016. The Bomonjee Hormusjee Wadia Clock Tower, located at Perin Nariman street, the Seth Gangalal Nandlal V Mulji, Pyav located at the entrance of the Horniman Circle Garden and the Ruttonsee Muljee Jetha water fountain, located at the junction of Mint Road and Shaheed Bhagat Singh road will be restored and maintained by the KGA.
- To create a synergy between the existing components and functions in the Kala Ghoda area and therefore, to create a unique function of an Art District for the city.
- To animate and make possible the use of interstitial spaces in the area such as pavements, the parking lot, side alleys, quadrangles in the buildings, etc to not only bring art into the public realm, but also, through use, effect the introduction of the spaces into the public realm.
- To create an infrastructure in the area to make possible and encourage cultural and art-related events, making Kala Ghoda Art District a landmark in Mumbai
- To liaise with city authorities to create an appropriate context for the improvement of the precinct in the form of improved lighting in the public areas, and other such improvements that might make it a more efficient and humane environment.