Asiatic Society Mumbai Town Hall, History, Library, Entry Fee

When it comes to heritage buildings and structures, Mumbai as a city is a hub to explore. You will find grand structures here and these structures often reflect the history of the construction as well. One such location in the city of Mumbai is the Asiatic Society MumbaiThe Asiatic Society Mumbai is undoubtedly one of the heritage structures that reflect the colonial past till today. The architecture as well as the structure reflects the rich past of the days long gone. With a library and a museum here it is one of the popular places to visit in Mumbai. So keep on reading this article as I will mention everything that you need to know about the Asiatic Society. It will be a helpful read for you if you are planning a trip to this location soon.

Asiatic Society Mumbai

Location: Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, Town Hall, Fort Road, Mumbai, Maharashtra

Location on Map :

Timings: The timings from Asiatic Society are from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm on all days from Monday to Saturday. Sunday is closed.

Entry fee and Membership: There is no entry fee exactly, but subscription fee here. For Reader Members the fee is Rs. 60 and for Annual Subscription it is Rs. 500. There is a Resident Membership as well which has an annual fee of Rs. 1500. And there is a lifetime Resident Membership for Rs. 15, 000. To enter the Town Hall or to get access to the library you will have to opt for any of these memberships here.

Also if someone donates a sum of Rs. 1, 50,000 then the authority invites them to be a patron life member here. And if someone donates a sum of Rs. 5,00,000 here they can become a donor life member at the Asiatic Society Mumbai.

How to reach

By air

If you are travelling by air then the nearest airport to reach the Asiatic Society is the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. From the airport Asiatic Society is located at a distance of 23.4 km. You can easily reach there in about a little less than an hour. It would be convenient to take a cab from the airport to reach the society.

By train

While travelling in a train the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is the nearest railway station to reach the Asiatic Society Mumbai. From the railway station Asiatic Society is located only 1.2 km away. You can take autos to reach the society from there in about 5 minutes. Or else you can even walk for 15 minutes to reach there as well. Another major railway station to reach Asiatic Society is the Mumbai Central Railway Station. From Mumbai Central railway station the Asiatic Society is only 5.6 km away and you can reach there in about 25 minutes. You can easily take a taxi or a cab from the railway station to reach there.

In terms of local buses the Churchgate Railway Station is the nearest railway station to reach the Society. The Churchgate railway station is located at a distance of 2.1 km from the Asiatic Society Mumbai and you can reach there in about 11 minutes. You can also walk for about 25 minutes from the station to reach there as well.

By road

While travelling by road you can get buses to reach the CST bus stop or the Mumbai Central Bus Stand. If you are travelling from the nearby cities or towns then the major bus stop to reach Asiatic Society is the Mumbai Central Bus Stop. The CST bus stop is located at a distance of 1.4 km from the location. It would take you around 7 minutes to reach the location from the bus stop. The Mumbai Central bus depot is 5.3 km away and it would take you around 24 minutes to reach there. You can also opt for the city buses as well if you are travelling within the city. 

Asiatic Society Mumbai photo
Image Source : Flickr

Overview of Asiatic Society

The Asiatic Society Mumbai is one of the popular heritage buildings that is like a symbol of the ancient colonial times. This is one such building in the city that is related to the British era as well. Initially the creation of the Asiatic Society Mumbai was the development of a cultural centre. The British officials residing in Bombay created this society. The Town Hall here was a location for all sorts of announcements as well as live performances from 1833, just after its completion. At present there is the Asiatic Society Mumbai library, Head Office of Directorate of Libraries, the State Central Library, Additional Controller of Stamps Office, Post Office and Maharashtra State Women’s Council. This building is located at the Fort Area overlooking the Horniman Circle. Also the area has always been a prominent location for shootings as well. You need to visit the Asiatic Society in Mumbai.

History of Asiatic Society

The Literary Society of Bombay first conceived the idea of building a Town Hall in Bombay. The main idea behind this was to conserve the artefacts, literature, and cultural as well as oriental arts here. However the task became tough as the society could only raise an amount of Rs. 10,000. There were lotteries as well as some collection of funds which was not sufficient enough for the construction of both the library and the museum. Therefore they put the construction on hold and also had to wait until they received some government funding. Finally in 1833 the construction of Town Hall in Mumbai was completed.

However there is a long history of the formation of the Asiatic Society in Mumbai as well. At first Sir James Mackintosh founded the Literary Society of Bombay in 1804. He was a public figure and a distinguished lawyer from England. His main aim behind the formation of this society was the promotion of useful knowledge. However the main inspiration behind forming the Literary Society of Bombay was taken from the Asiatic Society of Bengal Presidency. Later in time they renamed it as the Bombay Branch of Royal Asiatic Society in 1826. It was then that the society also merged with the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. From 1841 the membership of the society started for Indians. They also published their first journal with the name Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society.

What’s more?

After the independence of India the Bombay Branch of Asiatic Society got itself separated from the Royal Asiatic society of Great Britain in 1954. It was then that it was renamed as the Asiatic Society of Bombay. Later however in 2002 it was again renamed as the Asiatic Society of Mumbai according to the new name of the city.

Architecture of Asiatic Society

The Asiatic Society Mumbai is a heritage building and one of the ancient structures in Mumbai that is still surviving. One of the finest engineers of the then Bombay, Colonel Thomas Cowper was in charge of this construction. The architecture style here followed an amalgamation of Neo Classical style mixed with Greek and Roman styles of architecture. The whole structure sprawls across 200 feet and has a majestic height of about 100 feet. It is a structure that reflects the old colonial charm. With Doric columns and a flight of 30 stairs the entrance looks beautiful. Also you will spot a Grecian Portico here just at the entrance. From all the way to England they shipped the stones which they used in making the structure.

Furthermore teak woods cover the floor and the same material is used for making the bookshelves that were brought from Myanmar. There is a spiral staircase here as well that leads to the terrace of the Town Hall. Moreover on the top of the building there is a flagpole where they hoist the National Flag on special days like 15th August and 26th January.

Image Source : Wikimedia Commons

 Asiatic Society Mumbai Library

The Asiatic Society Mumbai Library is a popular library that has a huge collection of more than 8 lakh books, manuscripts as well as journals. From the 16th century manuscripts of Mahabharata in Sanskrit to 14th century manuscripts of Dante’s poem, the collection here is huge and exceptional. You will also find about 3000 manuscripts here from different languages like Prakrit, Persian, Urdu and Sanskit. The library is also a treasure trove housing maps, periodicals, print and painted folios etc. But the best part of the library is that the entire collection here is digitized. Because of this, anything that you are looking for can be found on the official website of the society.

However the original backbone of the collection in this library goes back to the Literary Society of 1804. At present there are two libraries here, at the North and the South Wing. The North Wing of the library is the one which the Asiatic Society of Mumbai has been running since the completion of the Town Hall. This part of the library gives access to only the members of the society. However the South Wing of the library is the one that the State Central Library runs. It is moreover the library that gives access to readers at a very minimal fee of subscription.

Museum at Asiatic Society

The Asiatic Society Mumbai museum is another major attraction here. You will find artefacts here which are ancient and reflect the older times. There are marble statues here that look mesmerizing. Along with that you will find portraits of the patrons of Asiatic Society here as well along the Durbar Hall of the Town Hall Museum and the hallway. They also house a great collection of Mohurs which are gold coins belonging from the Mughal era. Among all the Mohurs the museum also houses a special one that belonged to Emperor Akbar at one point of time.

Wrapping Up!

Locations like Asiatic Society truly reflect the rich heritage and culture of the land. Furthermore the long history attached to this society is something that makes this site even more interesting. For book lovers and nerds this would be the ideal location to visit. Also the huge collection of books here would be helpful if you are a student, scholar or researcher. So you must take a membership here if you are looking to get access to a library. The Asiatic Society in Mumbai will be a perfect location for you to consider. So let me know if this article on the Asiatic Society is helpful for you in knowing everything about the location. 

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