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Did you know that CST, BMC building were built by Freemasons?

mumbai Updated: Jun 10, 2019 17:26 IST
Yesha Kotak
Yesha Kotak
Hindustan Times

A page in the diary of Silurian Lodge in South Wales has the name of Frederick William Steven, the architect of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) building, who was initiated into Freemasonry in 1875. The District Grand Lodge of Bombay, the city’s masonic centre, organised a heritage walk on Sunday show Mumbaiites the connection between Freemasonry and Mumbai’s heritage structures.

Freemasonry began in the late 16th and early 17th centuries in England and Scotland and entered India in the early 18th century. It is considered to be the world’s largest closed-door fraternity of stonemasons.

“There are many heritage structures in south Mumbai that have connections with Freemasonry. For example, the initiation for first lodge to admit Indians into Freemasonry took place at the Town Hall. However, not much is known about this history and its connection to Mumbai,” R Ventakesh of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).

According to Venkatraman P, the deputy district grandmaster, District Grand Lodge of Bombay, as the north-east corner of a house or any building is auspicious in vaastu, similarly, according to the tenets of Freemasonry, the foundation stone is laid in the north-east direction. “The pattern has been found at TCS headquarters in town and even at Freemasons’ Hall [in Fort],” said Venkatraman.

Speaking about the contributions of Freemasons, Ventakesh added that even as the trend during the time Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) headquarters were built was to follow Victorian gothic architecture, this building have been built in Indo-Saracenic architectural form.

“What we see is that freemasons have expanded their horizon beyond politics and religion, among other aspects, to follow their principles of being fair and square. You can see this in the way they have meticulously handled their tasks, just like how Pherozeshah Mehta has been instrumental in making BMC what it is today,” said Ventakesh.

Speaking about other Freemasons who have contributed towards betterment of the country, Venkatraman mentioned former Viceroy Lord Ripon, after whom Ripon Club at Fort is named.

“During his period, Lord Ripon introduced a bill whereby Indian judges could judge Europeans, a distinct impossibility until then,” said Venkatraman. “Freemasons believe that it is important to be upright and be within limits, and that is evident in the harmony experienced in early days of Bombay, where there was no greed. Now, morals have declined in public life.”

First Published: Jun 10, 2019 17:26 IST