Mumbai's Art Deco buildings get World Heritage tag

Mumbai's Art Deco buildings get World Heritage tag

This is the third such honour for the metropolis after the Elephanta Caves and the majestic Victoria Terminus, rechristened Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus railway station. (DH file photo)

Mumbai’s Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles has been inscribed as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

This was announced at the world heritage committee meeting of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in Bahrain on Saturday.

“Just inscribed as @UNESCO #WorldHeritage site: Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai, #India. Congratulations!,” Unesco tweeted.



Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted: “Great news! Great day for Mumbai & Maharashtra! Mumbai has always been a world city and now structures & monuments are being listed in the @UNESCO #WorldHeritage site! Sincere thanks to all who have worked hard for this achievement! Congratulations Maharashtra! @IndiaatUNESCO.”

Over the last few years, the Maharashtra Government, BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority and various NGOs are supporting the initiative. The Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC), too, has supported the move.

The Oval Maidan in south Mumbai is unique in many respects - the legendary cricketing ground separates two radically different genres of Mumbai's architectural evolution.

It forms a spectacular and unique urban scenario, with an expanse of open space between the 19th century Victorian Gothic buildings of the Bombay High Court, University and Old Secretariat to its east and the 20th-century development of the Art Deco of the Backbay Reclamation Scheme and Marine Drive to the west.

The Oval Maidan is at a walking distance from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and Churchgate stations.

This conglomeration of Gothic Revival stone structures is among the finest group of Victorian Gothic buildings in the world. It perhaps is one of the most spectacular compositions of 19th-century architecture, undoubtedly the finest Victorian ensemble In Asia.

Designed by Sir Gilbert Scott, James Trubshaw and Lt Col James Fuller, the Victorian structures were built in between 1871 and 1878 after the demolitions of the old walls of Bombay Fort.

The later Art Deco development was built to the plans of W R Davidge in the 1930s and represent among the largest collection of Art Deco buildings in the world.

No other city in the world, however, has both these large ensembles of emblematic 19th and 20th-century styles facing each other in one grand gesture of urban design.

Some of the prominent Art Deco structures that stand majestically include the Regal Cinema, Rajab Mahal, India Assurance Building, New Empire Cinema, Fairlawns Building, Eros Cinema, several residential buildings on Marine Drive and a few in the northern parts of the island city.

Third for Mumbai region!

When the Oval Maidan and its neighbouring building complexes got a World Heritage Site tag, this was the third for Mumbai. The two other being the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, the iconic railway terminus and the Elephanta Caves, the rock-cut architecture of the caves - located across the Mumbai harbour.