Oldest Skyscraper in India

Oldest Skyscraper in India

India typically does not have a lot of skyscrapers like other countries. But India has seen the rise of some spectacularly tall buildings throughout history. One of the earliest and tallest buildings in India was built over a decade after the independence from British rule. While these buildings are modest compared to today’s global giants, these were actually major milestones in modern Indian architecture. 

Today, buildings over 150 meters tall are considered skyscrapers in India. This was not always the case. While the buildings mentioned below might not meet this criteria, some of them were once one of the tallest buildings in the country. 

So, let us look at 6 of the oldest skyscrapers in India. 

6. Planet Godrej, Mumbai (2009)

Year Built: 2009
Location: Mahalakshmi, Mumbai
Still Used Today:
Yes

Planet Godrej, Mumbai (2009)Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

After nearly 40 years, Planet Godrej became the tallest building in India after the World Trade Center in 2009. While the construction started in 2006, it was only finished around 2009. Planet Godrej is 181 meters high, with 300 luxury apartments. 

This upscale residential tower is eco-friendly, has a sustainable design, and won the PINNACLE Award in 2006 by Zee Business. The Singapore-based DP architects are the designers of the building. The building has 51 floors and 15 elevators and was the tallest in India in 2008 and 2009. 

Did you know?

Apart from the height records, they actually started residential amenities such as infinity pools and responsive home automation.


5. Shreepati Arcade, Mumbai (2002)

Year Built: 2002
Location: Mumbai
Still Used Today: Yes

Shreepati Arcade, Mumbai (2002)Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Shreepati Arcade in Mumbai has 45 floors and is 160 meters tall. This building surpassed Usha Kiran’s height in the 1960s after 4 decades. The Shreepati Arcade stood empty for almost 15 years due to the construction being tied up because of disputes. 

The building finally opened in 2002 and claimed Mumbai’s tallest title.  This building has advanced earthquake resistance. 

At the time of completion, Shreepati Arcade was the world’s tallest all-residential tower.  The main attraction of the building is that it has luxury apartments with panoramic sea views. The place is full of exquisite chandeliers and interior design. The building has a multi-wing plan and hence has maximum natural light and an outside view through large windows. 

Did you know?

The Shreepati Arcade has an observation deck on the 45th level.


4. World Trade Centre, Mumbai (1978)

Year Built: 1978
Location: Cuffe Parade, Mumbai
Still Used Today: Yes

World Trade Centre, Mumbai (1978)Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

The World Trade Center in Mumbai is 156 meters tall, with 35 stories. This building had the title of India’s tallest building from 1970, when the concept was born, until the 21st century. Its pair of towers are built by the Shapoorji Pallonji Group. They focus on commerce and hospitality. 

In 1978, the World Trade Center was inaugurated by the then-prime minister of India, Shri Morarjee Desai. Over 50 years later, the World Trade Center in Mumbai still hosts offices of major corporations and trade organizations across the world. Shri S.K. Wankhede was the founder president in 1978. 

Did you know?

This building has a 360° view of the Arabian Sea. This is to provide a world-class exhibition space.


3. Express Towers, Mumbai (1972)

Year Built: 1972
Location: Nariman Point, Mumbai
Still Used Today: Yes

Express Towers, Mumbai (1972)Photo Source: Alchetron

In 1972, the Express Towers in Mumbai surpassed Usha Kiran as India’s tallest building. The Express Towers is 105 meters tall, and the visionary newspaper owner Ramnath Goenka commissioned the tower to be taller than the LIC building and Usha Kiran. 

Joseph Allen Stein, an American Indian architect, designed the Express Towers in a sustainable and future-forward style.  Today, high-rise workspaces are pretty common in India, but way before that, the Express Towers started the concept of glassy corporate towers in India.

Did you know?

The Express Towers is a very ventilated space. It has terraced gardens and huge windows to maximize the light and outdoor views.


2. Usha Kiran Building, Mumbai (1961)

Year Built: 1961
Location: Carmichael Road, Mumbai
Still Used Today: Yes

Usha Kiran Building, Mumbai (1961)Photo Source: Pinimg

The Usha Kiran building of Mumbai has 25 floors and is 80 meters tall.  At the time of opening, it surpassed the LIC building’s 2-year title of the “tallest in India.” It is 7 stories higher than the LIC building set. 

Usha Kiran is also the first skyscraper in Mumbai. This building was designed by local architect Dilawar Noorani. One of the main featured attractions of the Usha Kiran building was its rooftop swimming pool. The exact location is on Carmichael Road in the Tardeo neighbourhood. For over a decade, the building had unobstructed views since no other buildings were as tall. 

Even after 60 years, the Usha Kiran building is one of the prime real estate in Mumbai. 

Did you know?

In 2020, the Usha Kiran building caught fire. Fortunately,  there were no casualties in the fire.


1. LIC Building, Chennai (1959)

Year Built: 1959
Location: Anna Salai, Chennai
Still Used Today: Yes

LIC Building, Chennai (1959)Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

In 1959, India got its very first skyscraper, the LIC building in Chennai. It is 12 stories and 54 meters tall and houses the Life Insurance Corporation of India. The whole building is constructed with reinforced concrete and glass. This LIC building featured air conditioning and high-speed elevators, which were rare in India at the time. 

The building has a modernist style with architectural influences from around the world, which was not common in 1959. This building remained the tallest building in India until 1961, when the Usha Kiran building of Mumbai was opened. Though not the tallest building anymore, it is still a top spot and is considered the oldest skyscraper in India. 

Did you know?

After the LIC Building came to be, there was a famous catchphrase referring to its height going around: “As tall as the LIC.”


Conclusion 

While these buildings might not fit today’s skyscraper standards, some of them were the tallest and most advanced buildings of the time.  Constructing buildings that are tall in a country with high seismic activity, frequent monsoons, dense city populations, and limited access to heavy machinery is a challenge. This is why even today, India does not have as many skyscrapers as similar countries. 

These buildings are the result of the visions of great builders, architects, and engineers. Today, many other towers outrank the mentioned buildings in height, but these buildings were actually the beginning steps of change and modernization in India. 

Here is to taller buildings and more sustainability!

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