THIS ENTIRE AREA was once part of the sea until it was reclaimed by the Bombay Port Trust and converted into a business district. Planned between 1908 and 1914 by George Wittet, architect of the Gateway of India, the area was developed according to the strict guidelines he set, maintaining a restrained elegance in contrast to the over-ornamentation of the Victorian edifices in the Fort area. The district’s hroad pavements and neat treelined avenues are lined with stone buildings of uniform height and style giving the Estate an atmosphere of calm tranquillity, unusual in a business quarter.
A convenient point of entry into Ballard Estate is fro Shoorji Vallabadas Marg, near the imposing Marshall Building. Among the most impressive buildings on this street is the Customs House. I Designed by Wittet himself, it has a grand entrance portico in stately Renaissance style, framed by two columns rising to the height of the building. Next to it is the Bombay Port Trust also designed by George Wittet. Two striking ships in full sail are sculpted on its basalt façade. Further down the road, to the east, is the Port Trust War Memorial, honouring the memory of port officers who died in World War I. The memorial has a single, fluted column shaft in stone, surmounted by a lantern. The Grand Hotel dominates the corner of Waichand Hirachand Marg and Ram Gulam Marg. Another of George Wittet’s designs, it has a striking central atrium. The grandiose Mackinnon & Mackenzie Building lies an impressive portico, columns and statues. This, and other beautiful Edwardian buildings, such as Darabshaw House and Neville House, make Ballard Estate a uniquely elegant business district.