Mumbai in the 19th century – Vintage Pictures

By Somali K Chakrabarti

History has its own charm!

Vintage pictures of Mumbai, from the 19th century evoke a sense of nostalgia. These pictures, with their old world charm and enticing simplicity tell the story of how life would have been in those times.

The images, though may not be of practical significance, have an expressive value and a cultural significance. These broaden our horizons beyond what we have seen since our childhood, as we get transported back in time, away from the hustle and bustle of the day to day life, to a quaint world that is hard to imagine today.


Panoramic view of Thana Creek painted by James 1791

Mumbai- Thana Creek 1791


Paintings by James Wales, a Scottish artist who arrived in Bombay in July 1791.  Back then, Bombay was a smaller and less affluent market than Calcutta or Madras for a British painter. James Wales made portraits and captured the glimpses of old Bombay in his drawings and paintings.


Mahim Church, Bombay painted by James 1791.

Mumbai Mahim Church 1791



Flora Fountain ca. 1890

Mumbai Flora Fountain 1890

Flora Fountain, named after the Roman Goddess Flora, was built in 1864. It is now a heritage building that sits alongside the Hutatma Chowk memorial that was constructed in 1960, in honor of the martyrs, who laid their lives during the formation of Maharashtra state.


Panorama of  Bombay Back bay  – The Queen’s Necklace

Mumbai Marine Drive 1870

 Photograph taken by an unknown photographer.


Old Back bay from Malabar Hill,Bombay, ca.1860

Mumbai Backbay Malabar Hill 1860

Source-Southern Methodist Univ


Dwarkadhish Temple at Kalbadevi

Mumbai Dwarkadhish Temple c1875

The Temple, dedicated to Lord Krishna, was built in 1875. The temple is decorated with murals and sculptures and has monkeys carved on its facade. This prompted the British to call it the ‘Monkey Temple’. The temple can still be found in Kalbadevi.


Bombay Stock Exchange

Mumbai- Bombay Stock Exchange 1875

Bombay Stock Exchange Ltd, the oldest exchange in Asia. was established on July 9, 1875 as “The Native Share and Stock Broker’s Association” with 318 members & a princely fee of Re.1/- .


View of Bombay Harbour, in absence of the present landmarks in ca.1880

Mumbai - Bombay Harbour 1880


The place is almost unrecognizable in absence of the prominent landmarks – The Gateway of India and the Taj Mahal Palace.


Anjumen – i – Islam High School, ca. 1893

Mumbai - Islam High School


Designed by  James Wilcock, the school was built in 1893. Replete with arches, domes, spires, tracery and minarets, it is representative of Indo-Saracenic architecture, which combined elements from Gothic and Mughal styles.


General Manager’s room at Times of India, Bombay in 1898

Mumbai - GM's Room TOI c1898

Pic- Source EOS.& Company

This photograph was taken on occasion of newspaper’s Diamond Jubilee.  The period furniture, arches on the door and windows and the cloth fan are reminiscent of a bygone era that can be seen only in the period movies.


These pictures were shared on twitter by Mumbai Heritage (@mumbaiheritage) and Abdul Ghaffar (@ghaffar12) and Sunil Baboo (@sunilbaboo).



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Readers Comments (11)

  1. awesome. Mahim Church one is so good. It almost looks picture perfect. Sad that our leaders are trying to stuff it to the brim. City of dreams, they call it.

  2. Great collection of vintage pics.

  3. Great pictures, great information, thank you for posting them.

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