'Urbs Prima In Indis' – Mumbai, India - Atlas Obscura

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'Urbs Prima In Indis'

Mumbai's angel.  


The construction of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai building, also known as the Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) building was completed in 1893.

The grand structure is a blend of Venetian Gothic and Indo-Saracenic architecture. It was designed by Frederick William Stevens, an English architectural engineer who also designed the neighboring iconic building: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus), the historic railway terminus and UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The BMC building has a fantastic frontal facade with arches, motifs, towers, turrets, and large domes. Atop the gable in the front, there stands a statue of a winged figure holding a ship in her hand.

Symbolically, this statue is Mumbai’s angel. She represents the Urbs Prima in Indis (Latin for “the First City of India”). When the building was erected, Mumbai (then Bombay) was the gateway to the west.

Below the statue is the coat of arms of the Municipal Corporation, along with its motto “Yato Dharmastato Jayah,” a quote from the Mahabharata that  means “Where there is Dharma, there will be Victory.”

The winged statue holds a ship in her hand that represents the means through which wealth came into the city. It was the era of maritime trade, commerce, and travel.

The city that was once a small group of islands was turned into a garrison town in the form of a fort and later expanded into a magnificent hub of trade and commerce.

The statue has stood here witnessing the growth of the metropolis. It watches over the grand square as thousands of people pass by the building every day. It is the angel which represents Mumbai, the First City of India.

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September 19, 2022

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