South Mumbai’s exclusive Churchgate district is home to some of the city’s most iconic sites, including Elephanta Caves, the Gateway of India, and Rajabai Tower. Facing the Arabian Sea and dominated by the mile-long Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate is home to many of Mumbai’s most prestigious companies and organizations, including the offices of the High Court.
But what’s in a name? Well, the island of Bombay was first in the possession of the Portuguese, and when their national princess, Catherine Braganza, married King Charles II of England in 1661, Portugal needed to stump up an impressive dowry. In fact, they ended up giving away the whole of Bombay as a gift. The British, in turn, leased the area to the East India Company who decided that a fort was necessary to protect the precious city. Completed in the 1720s, the high city walls had three entrance gates, one of which was Churchgate to the south. This gate was named after St. Thomas Cathedral, which you can still see today.
A hundred years after the city walls were built, however, it was decided that such boundaries were suffocating the growth of the city, and so in 1860 they were torn down. Today, the grand Flora Fountain commemorates the original site of Churchgate. Built in 1864, you can visit this heritage site on Veer Nariman Street.
In South Mumbai, the Churchgate neighborhood is easy to get to. Just take the Western line to Churchgate railway station, a major terminus on Maharshi Karve Road. St. Thomas Cathedral is a half kilometer from the railway station.