Mumbai now has its third UNESCO World Heritage Site with the Victorian and Art Deco Ensembles being added to the list.
The site was inscribed in UNESCO’s prestigious World Heritage Sites list in Manama, Bahrain, at the 42nd Session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee on Saturday. It joins the Elephanta Caves and the Chhattrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus on the list of sites in the city that enjoy this distinction.
Located in South Mumbai, this site is made up of urban structures located between the Fort Precinct and the Marine Drive Precinct. It comprises a 19th century collection of Victorian structures and a set of 20th century Art Deco buildings.
It includes buildings such as the High Court, Mumbai University, Old Secretariat, NGMA, Elphinstone College, David Sassoon Library, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Western Railways Headquarters, Maharashtra Police Headquarters, and the Art Deco buildings— the Cricket Club of India, Ram Mahal, and the first row of buildings along Marine Drive, among others.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis wrote to the Ministry of Culture asking to make the site India’s official UNESCO entry. He said, “Mumbai’s tourism and culture would be hugely benefitted if this nomination succeeds. Mumbai will be brought on the international Tourist map.”
Conservation architect Abha Narain Lambah has spent 14 years working on the nomination dossier for the site, finding support from local citizen groups such as the Kala Ghoda Association and the OVAL Trust.
Speaking about her interest in conserving Mumbai’s heritage and specifically this site, she says, “These buildings are unique in the fact that Mumbaikars continues to have an integral connect with these historic structures as they are not dead monuments but active public buildings in use – we citizens use these structures in our daily lives as our courts, universities, libraries, cinema halls and cricketing grounds.”
This is the 37th UNESCO World Heritage Site in India. There are 29 sites under the Cultural category, including the Taj Mahal, Mountain Railways of India, the Hill Forts of Rajasthan, Konark Sun Temple, and the Qutb Minar.
There are seven Natural sites, including the Western Ghats, and one Mixed entry on the UNESCO list.
Other sites inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list during this year’s session include the Ancient City of Qalhat, Oman, the Al-Ahsa Oasis, Saudi Arabia, and the Thimlich Ohinga archaeological site, Kenya.