All Mumbaikars share this one love – the Victorian buildings in South Mumbai; it’s a beautiful place with the new straddling the old, yet it is the old which sparkles like a timeless beauty. Thus it was a major victory for the city dwellers when on Saturday, its heritage landmarks bagged the prestigious tag – a UNESCO world heritage status.
The heritage structures include Mumbai’s many 19th century Victorian icons such as the public buildings of the High Court, Mumbai University, Old Secretariat, NGMA, Elphinstone College, David Sassoon Library, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Western Railways headquarters and the Maharashtra Police headquarters. Meanwhile, the 20th century Art Deco structures in the list consist of the first row of Backbay Reclamation scheme (Cricket Club of India and Ram Mahal along Dinshaw Wacha Road), the cinema halls of Eros and Regal, and the first row of buildings along Marine Drive.
But what does this mean for a person like you and me? Maybe it reiterates the beauty of the city – the jewel of Mumbai and reminds us that what the British built then is what we call our pride today.
More importantly, it brings international awareness to site, which in turn could give a boost to tourism. It also ensures that funds will come much easily for protecting and maintaining these buildings now. It has brought into focus the concept of Art Deco and see the beauty of this heritage throughout the city, which should ideally prompt us all to protect and conseve them.
For Mumbai, this is the third World Heritage Site to be recognised by UNESCO; the other two are Elephanta Caves and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT). Currently, Maharashtra features five UNESCO World Heritage Sites (others including Ajanta and Ellora), the highest for a state in the country.