Saturday, 24 December 2011

Exchanging Times: Cotton Green

There still exists a Bombay that is distinct from today's Mumbai. No cars honk there and the sidewalks are as wide as today's suburban roads. Alongside the entire eastern stretch of our great city lies a deserted Bombay that has no nightclubs, no multiplexes, no shopping malls, no tall high-rises. Not yet, at least. A walk down its carefully planned avenues will make you eventually wonder at the level of city planning employed by the British rulers over a century ago.

The Cotton Exchange is a a relatively unknown heritage structure in Mumbai. The Cotton Exchange was constructed in 1844 and is located just a stone's throw away from Cotton Green station on the Harbour Line, which incidentally gets its name from the iconic building. The Cotton Exchange remains well-concealed in Cotton Green. The original name of Cotton Green derives its name from the Cotton Exchange and because of a series of warehouses which used to store grains. Hence, the name "Cotton Green" is derived from the two words: Cotton and Grains. 

The first Cotton Exchange in the world was created in Mumbai. Mumbai was once the cotton capital of the world since it used to export cotton to Europe thereby meeting the gap in supply created by the Civil War in America when the Union Navy blockaded Confederate ports in the South cutting off their ability to export plantation grown cotton to Europe. 

The Cotton Exchange in Cotton Green is an excellent example of Art Noveau architecture and is a sight to behold even today. It is washed in a pastel green shade and is three storeys tall with large windows and high ceilings, it towers over the neighbourhood. It also sports a V-shaped design--one arm stretches over 100 metres in length while the other is 50 metres long. 

The building is nearly intact as it is not such a well-known building but nevertheless remains as an integral part of Mumbai's heritage. There are a few broken windows which are generally caused by local boys who play cricket near the open spaces near the Cotton Exchange. There is an immense sense of silence and peace in and around the Exchange since the roads at the back come under the jurisdiction of the Mumbai Port Trust. Looking for an angle to get an image of the Exchange, I bumped into 16 year old Manoj who told me that he regularly comes there to study at night under the light of the neon street lamps since it offers a very serene atmosphere. No matter the time of the day, you will always tend to find kids on the footpath with books in hand.

5 comments:

magiceye said...

very interesting

Jaya said...

this one is brilliant! very informative, i wasnt aware of this! good one akshay :)

ArtFeat said...

Was like being taken down memory lane!!. A Mumbai that perhaps was!!?...and to know that it co-exists even now!!...thanks for the very interesting and insightful article. Congratulations!!..and many wishes for new re-discoveries!!

ArtFeat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ArtFeat said...

...Very interesting...like being taken down memory lane!!...of knowing how Mumbai was and perhaps is??!!..thanks!!...congratulations..illuminating and insightful article... and wishing many more re-discoveries!!