For years, it has been home to deans of the JJ School of Art
MUMBAI: Few know that Rudyard Kipling, the English author whose wolf-boy Mowgli of Jungle Book epitomised his love for India, was born in a large two-storeyed bungalow here. The bungalow has for years been home to deans of the city's one of the most prestigious institutes, the JJ School of Art.
If discussions with authorities bear fruit, Rudyard's birthplace may end up being transformed into a museum, exactly 100 years after he received the Nobel Prize for literature.
Even though officials are tight-lipped about the issue, several alumni and artists have been pressing for the establishment of a museum in the bungalow, nestling in the lush green surrounding the art school.
The large, leafy house has an ornate metal plaque at the entrance that reads: "Rudyard Kipling, son of Lockwood Kipling, first principal, was born here on 30.12.1865." Its porch bears a bust of the great author. The 140-year-old wood and stone structure was once home to his father Lockwood Kipling (1837-1911).
Although Rudyard and his sister left India when he was just six, his love for the city was evident when he wrote of Mumbai: "Mother of cities to me; for I was born in her gate. Between the palms and the sea; where the world-end steamers wait."
Lockwood was an art teacher, illustrator and museum curator and moved to India in 1865 as instructor at JJ School. Later he illustrated many of Rudyard's books and also worked on the decorations for the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and friezes on the Crawford Market in Mumbai. The bungalow was built during his tenure at the school.
The school is itself into its 150th year with celebrations that began on Saturday. Programmes include Bollywood actor Shashi Kapoor posing as a "model" for a group of 17 artists, working in various media from pencil to clay.
The school was set up in 1857, the year of the Sepoy Mutiny, and boasts of an elite alumni list that includes art world luminaries such as V.S. Gaitonde, M.R. Achrekar, S.H. Raza and M.V. Dhurandhar. PTI