Kolkata may be the literary capital of India, but that doesn’t mean Mumbai lacks a rich literary heritage and legacy as well. While on one hand Mumbai has been the subject of various award-winning and historic literary works, on the other, the city has served as home to many emerging authors and given them the supportive space needed to create their works. Here we round up a list of some of the most prominent literary landmarks that you can visit in the city!
The majestic Town Hall in Fort in south Mumbai houses The Asiatic Society of Mumbai whose library has over a hundred thousand books, 15,000 of which are classified as rare and valuable in its collection. The library also has various priceless artefacts and over 3,000 ancient manuscripts in Persian, Sanskrit, and Prakrit, on paper and even on palm leaf. The rare books housed here includes one of the only two known original copies of Dante’s Divine Comedy.With its origins traceable to the Literary Society of Bombay formed in 1804 with the intention of ‘promoting useful knowledge, particularly such as is now immediately connected with India’, the society has a rich history like its prized collection.
Housed within the J.J. Institute of Applied Art campus in South Mumbai is a historic bungalow adjacent to where celebrated writer Rudyard Kipling is said to have been born in 1865. Bearing a metal plaque with the engraving ‘Rudyard Kipling, son of Lockwood Kipling, first principal of Sir J. J. School of Art, was born here on 30.12.1865’ and a bust of Kipling, the Kipling Bungalow serves as an attraction to numerous Kipling enthusiasts from around the world. Surrounded by dense greenery, the blue-green cottage is a aesthetically pleasing landmark worth visiting. Tour-guides also offer tours of places frequented by Kipling in the city.
This beautiful heritage structure in Colaba – the brainchild of Albert Sassoon, son of famous Baghdadi Jewish philanthropist, David Sassoon – is one of the oldest living library and reading rooms in use in Mumbai. Housing a collection of very rare, old books and built using yellow Malad stone with an iconic marble stone bust of David Sassoon at the entrance, this historic building is a landmark that will thrill all history and literature enthusiasts visiting the city.
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Perhaps one of the most popular books to have been written about modern Mumbai in recent times, Shantaram has a global cult following. The 2003 novel by Gregory David Roberts about a convicted Australian bank robber and heroin addict who escapes prison, flees to India and temporarily finds home in Mumbai looks at the city’s underworld and expat community’s endeavors unlike any other book set in the city. A variety of tours of all the Mumbai landmarks mentioned and frequented by the protagonist in the novel are offered by the city’s tour guides.