India Now - page 50

AR T S AND CU LT UR E
J E H A N G I R A R T GA L L E R Y
54
APRIL-MAY 2015
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great business empire. It is said that he was so
ready to advance money to people that it earned
him the surname Readymoney and became the
foundation for his future wealth. Two genera-
tions built on that fortune, but it was his great
grandson, Sir Cowasji Jehangir Readymoney,
Knight, with whom the story of philanthropy
unfolded. Sir Cowasji Jehangir was the first
male heir in three generations of Readymoney
and proved worthy of the family name, becom-
ing a leading financier and a great philanthro-
pist. He founded the University of Bombay, and
his lifetime contribution of £150,000 helped
build several hospitals, college buildings and
other public institutions.
Jehangir Art Gallery too was constructed with
the donation received from the Jehangir family,
though it came from Sir Cowasji Jehangir, the
Second Baronet in the 1950s. The patronage of
art and culture though had begun much earlier
when in 1844, Sir Cowasji Jehangir had gifted a
collection of oriental works to the Asiatic Society
of Bombay and later in 1864, a coin collection
that formerly belonged to William Frere. In fact,
his contributions to the architecture landscaping
of the city are also well documented. In the mid-
1860s, the Fort was demolished and when sever-
al important institutions were built, Sir Cowasji,
a member of the University’s Faculty of Civil
Engineering and the Senate, funded the Convo-
cation Hall in the Fort University complex. The
Hall with its splendid galleries and its marvel-
ous round, stained glass windows embellished
with the 12 signs of the Zodiac was designed by
eminent British architect Sir Gilbert Scott. It
stands today as an exquisite architectural and
historical marvel. His contributions spanned
across Bombay and can even be seen in Eng-
land. There are 40 water fountains erected from
his philanthropy and even the famous JJ Hos-
pital of Mumbai owes its existence to him, as
does the Bombay Gymkhana, three engineering
college in Pune, the main civil hospital in Surat
and an asylum for the mentally handicapped in
Hyderabad, now in Sind, Pakistan; the tower of
St Xavier’s College and the steeple of the Afghan
or St John’s Church in Mumbai.
In 1946, Sir Cowasji Jehangir offered a sum
The Hub:
Jehangir
Art Gallery (in pictures
above), Max Mueller
Bhavan, Bombay
University, Prince of
Wales Museum, National
Gallery of Modern Art,
Institute of Science,
Bombay Natural History
Society, Elphinstone
College, David Sassoon
Library, eateries, and
cafes, smaller art
galleries, boutiques
and other culture
hotspots have made
Kala Ghoda the beehive
for artists, performers
and craftspersons. The
Kala Ghoda Festival in
February and Monsoon
Art Show of Jehangir
Art Gallery in July are
big draws. The area
is always humming.
Art Central
Kala Goda, the art district of
Mumbai, is defined as the
area stretching from Mumbai
University at the northern
end to the Regal Circle at
the southern tip of Mahatma
Gandhi Road. On the
eastern side of this stretch
falls the Lion Gate and on
the western side it is flanked
by the Oval Maidan. The
hub, named after the King
Edward VII's black stallion
mounted statue, on the old
Esplanade Road is no longer
there, but it has become the
stamp for the thriving cultural
melting pot of Mumbai, a
beehive of artistic India.
PHOTOS BY JITEN GANDHI
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