Once a Jesuit
monastery, the magnificent mansion at Parel was built on the ruins of
the old Vaijanath Temple. A traveller, Carsten Neibur had suggested
the villa at Parel be called ‘Sans Pareil’ (The Peerless) since
nothing could compare with it in all of India.
Mr. W. Hornby
(1771-1784) was the first Governor to take up residence at Parel.
Melody and mellifluous voices filled the Durbar Hall. During these
gala evening, china and crystal would glitter under the chandeliers in
the banquet hall. In 1804, diners raised their glasses at a banquet
hosted by Gov. Jonathan Duncan to toast the launch of ‘The Literary
Society of Bombay.’
Meanwhile in Parel,
industrialisation was asserting its noxious effect. The population had
burgeoned. Pollutants fouled the air, creating conditions favoured by
wind and water borne diseases.
Governor Richard Temple
transferred his residence to Malabar Point. In 1883 Lady Fergusson,
wife of the Governor died of cholera in the Parel House. Following her
death, Government House officially shifted to Malabar Point.
The Parel Residence was
converted into a plague hospital where thousands received treatment
for the plague that struck Bombay in 1897-98.
Dr Waldemar Haffkine
entered the portals and developed the Plague and Cholera vaccines.
Since 1925, this Government House is now known as ‘The Haffkine
Institute’, in memory of the man who transformed a fortress into a
citadel of science.