Once upon a time, in the centre of the large node on Esplanade Road, Bombay stood a statue of King Edward VII astride a black horse, or a “kala ghoda” in Hindi. In fine disregard for the monarch, city dwellers informally named the area after his mount.
The statue, a relic of a colonial past, has long since been moved to the Zoo at Byculla, and the road is now renamed as Mahatma Gandhi Road. The citizens of Mumbai though, still refer to the areas fondly as Kala Ghoda.
This crescent-shaped area, with its concentration of museums, art galleries, educational institutions, boutiques and restaurants, and what is arguably the finest array of heritage buildings in the city, has emerged as an arts precinct and a prominent cultural centre, thronged by visitors and tourists from all over the world.
Kala Ghoda’s buildings give the area a distinct visual identity. There are over 100,000 square feet of existing indoor gallery space, mass outdoor pavement galleries, and exhibition space within the covered arcades, making the area a living, breathing urban museum. Support infrastructure like lecture halls, convocation halls and conference facilities in the University, Elphinstone College and other institutions, gives the precinct a unique place in the world of art and culture. A number of cultural activities are hosted by the various educational and art institutions in the area throughout the year, and Craft Fairs organised by the state government have all helped promote the area as the cultural hub of Mumbai.