The next time you visit South Mumbai, go to Churchgate, admire the beautiful Art Deco style façade of the Eros Cinema, an architectural landmark, which marks the beginning of the Art Deco district of Oval Precinct; and start walking southwards down Maharshi Karve Road, passing Eros, Sundance cafe to your right, the verdant Oval Maidan across the road to your left.
Keep walking past splendid Art Deco buildings like Court View, Queens Court, Greenfield, Windsor, Rajesh Mansion; stop at the T-junction with Dinsha Vachha Road, look across the road and you will see the most magnificent of them all – Empress Court.
Pause for a moment to appreciate the splendid pista green building with its exquisite façade. Then cross the road, walk through the elegant entrance, climb up the wooden spiral staircase to the second floor and ring the doorbell. If you had come just a few days earlier, I would have opened the door – for this is the place where I spent the six best years of my life. Oh yes! How can I ever forget Empress Court – the best house I have ever lived in!
Let’s go in. A huge hall, dining room to the left, drawing room to the right, airy windows and a cute circular balcony. Stand in the balcony and admire Mumbai University’s Rajabai Clock Tower right in front of you across the Oval, the High Court to its left and Old Secretariat to the right; all Gothic style majestic structures in stone.
Walk through the airy cool rooms, each with a balcony with excellent views. Open the doors and windows and enjoy the refreshing sea breeze. It’s heavenly. Words cannot describe the blissful delight I felt when I lived here. Close your eyes and think of GB Mhatre, the architect who crafted and designed this elegant apartment house.
Empress Court, facing the Rajabai Clock Tower, on the western side of the Oval, is a part of the heritage Fort precinct. The lush green Oval Maidan, a Heritage Grade I precinct, an open space colonial pattern esplanada of scenic beauty, acting as a buffer between two architectural period styles – the Gothic buildings of the Mumbai University, Bombay High Court and Old Secretariat to the east and Art Deco district to its west.
The location of Empress Court is ideal. There is the Oxford Bookstore next door where I spent delightful hours browsing books on elegant orange rocking chairs, refreshing myself with delicious cups of invigorating teas in the Cha Bar. Just a short walk and you are at Marine Drive. The Business and Art districts, education, museums, sightseeing, shopping, good food, entertainment, night life, clubs, sports, bus and railway stations – everything is so nearby. You’re right in the centre of everything that’s happening in Mumbai.
I shall never forget the clock atop Rajabai Tower which woke me up at six every morning, the metamorphosis at sunrise as the sun rose every morning between the tall BSE building and the Clock Tower, the soothing green Oval maidan, football matches at the Cooperage, and the calm tranquil sunsets on Marine Drive.
Thank you Empress Court. I shall always cherish the six years I spent with you - the best years of my life in the best place I have ever lived in.