To that end, Quint Lens presents a handful of photographs from the several hundreds stored in the Tata Central Archives, Pune, of properties built, owned, rented and maintained by the rich industrial family of the Tatas between 1822 and 1965.

While most of the buildings featured are in Pune, several classic landmarks are in Mumbai and even France, meant for parties and respite from the Indian summer.

Esplanade House, Mumbai. (Photo Courtesy: Tata Central Archives)
Esplanade House, Mumbai. (Photo Courtesy: Tata Central Archives)

The Esplanade House in Mumbai, for instance, was built by Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata in the 1880s. It continued to serve the Tatas as a place of residence until the 1930s. It is built in the neoclassical style of the 20th century, complete with columns, pilasters, ivory inlays and painted ceilings.

In 2014, Esplanade House opened after being renovated over 10 years. It went on to win the UNESCO Asia Pacific Award for cultural heritage restoration.

The 130-year-old building with intricate stone-cut work in the courtyard served as the home of the founder of the Tata business empire, Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata.

It currently belongs to the RD Sethna Scholarship Fund and houses the office of the same. In fact, most heritage buildings owned by the Tatas are now used for research or archival purposes, with some housing offices and colleges.

Esplanade Courtyard. (Photo Courtesy: Tata Central Archives)
Esplanade Courtyard. (Photo Courtesy: Tata Central Archives)

These photographs and others are currently on display in Pune in an exhibition hosted by the Tata Central Archives, which term these heritage markers as “iconic representations of the architecture of city skylines across the world”.

Perhaps more relevant now, the Bombay House is a historic, privately owned building in Fort, Mumbai, that has been serving as the Tata Group’s headquarters since 1924, i.e. for the last 92 years.

Bombay House. (Photo Courtesy: Tata Central Archives)
Bombay House. (Photo Courtesy: Tata Central Archives)

Another iconic, though much more elaborate, property is Gladhurst in Pune, first purchased by Sir Dorabji Tata. Lady Meherbai and him, along with their family, often visited this palatial retreat to take a break from the heat and bustle of Bombay in cold, quaint Poona. Known as the ‘Dutch Palace’, the property had huge grounds for evening parties and weddings with elaborate interiors.

It is currently a private property owned by Edward Pereira and can be booked for weddings and events even now!

Gladhurst, Pune. (Photo Courtesy: Tata Central Archives)

Pallavi Prasad

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