Cantonments in India and Colonial Architectural Styles in Bombay

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Growth of Cantonments in India

Establishment and Purpose

For the defense of their Empire, the British Government established cantonments at strategic locations. They also built cantonments on the borders of important native states to control disturbances and monitor rulers' activities.

Initiation and Expansion

In 1765, Lord Robert Clive initiated the policy of building cantonments to keep British troops"cantone" in one place, enforcing discipline and military lifestyle while maintaining a sanitized environment. During that time, there were 62 cantonments in India.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, significant cantonments were established in Lahore, Peshawar, Ferozpur, Agra, Bareilly, Jalandhar, Jhansi, Nagpur, Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, and Delhi. The newly established cantonment at Bhatinda is the largest of the 62 cantonments in the country.

Administration and Management

The Director General of Defence Estates oversees the Defence Estates organization, which manages cantonments and defense lands. Cantonments are administered by Cantonment Boards, autonomous bodies under the control of the Central Government's Ministry of Defence.

Cantonment Boards consist of elected representatives, ex-officio members, and nominated members, with the station Commander as the President. The Central Government provides financial assistance to certain cantonments to balance their budgets and fulfill civic duties such as public health, sanitation, primary education, and street lighting.

Colonial Architectural Styles in Bombay City


Derived from ancient Roman architecture, the Neo-Classical style features geometrical structures fronted with lofty pillars.


* Town Hall in Bombay * Elphinstone Circle / Horniman Circle


Originating from medieval European churches, the Neo-Gothic style is characterized by high-pitched roofs, pointed arches, and intricate decoration.


* The Secretariat * University of Bombay * High Court of Bombay * Victoria Terminus


A hybrid style combining Indian and European elements, the Indo-Saracenic style emerged as a unique architectural expression.


* The Gateway of India * The Taj Mahal Hotel

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