World Heritage Status for two Mumbai clusters
Mumbai’s Art Deco buildings are like Picasso’s paintings. People will now start taking note of these structures around them.
On Saturday June 30, 2018, two building clusters of Victorian
Gothic and Art Deco architectural styles, in Mumbai, India’s business capital and capital of Maharashtra State were jointly inscribed in the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites (WHS) List.
Historians and heritage experts of India welcomed the decision, but said that preservation would be the harder part.
Gothic architecture is an architectural style that flourished in Europe during middle Ages. It evolved from Roman architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture. It originated in 12th-century France and lasted up to the 16th century. Gothic architecture is most familiar as the architecture of many of the great cathedrals, churches of Europe. It is also the architecture of many castles, palaces, town halls, guild halls, and universities. Many of the larger churches are considered priceless works of art and are listed with UNESCO as World Heritage Sites
Art Deco, sometimes referred to as Deco, is a style of architecture and designs that first appeared in France just before World War I. Art Deco influenced the design of buildings, It took its name, short for Arts Décoratifs, from the
In the words of Archaeologist Kurush Dalal,” Apart from Mumbai, only Miami in the U.S. has Art Deco buildings in such a great number. Mumbai also has a huge variety of Gothic style buildings built in the days of British Raj. One feels that he is walking on a London Street when one walks in Fort area.
Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts) held in Paris in 1925. The Gothic and Art Deco clusters, which were given the UNESCO WHS status include, buildings such as the University of Mumbai, Bombay High Court, and David Sassoon Library, Elphinstone College and Maharashtra Police headquarters and the like Art Deco buildings along Oval Maidan and Marine Drive, and the Eros and Regal cinema halls.
Mumbai’s Art Deco buildings listed above are like Picasso’s paintings. People will now start taking note of these structures around them. The Fort area of South Mumbai, where these buildings are located, was once part of the fortified city of Bombay, now Mumbai .Though its walls were torn down in the 1860s, the name 'Fort' persists on. In the words of Archaeologist Kurush Dalal,” Apart from Mumbai, only Miami in the U.S. has Art Deco buildings in such a great number. Mumbai also has a huge variety of Gothic style buildings built in the days of British Raj. One feels that he is walking on a London Street when one walks in Fort area.
However, many of these monuments are owned by trusts that don’t have enough resources to maintain them in their
original condition. They are in poor condition. The government should now prepare a plan to maintain them in their original condition. Once a building is listed as a heritage monument; there cannot be any changes to the structure. Owners should be compensated by Government in some way or other to maintain them in their original condition or the Government should maintain them” He further added.
This is the third such honour for Mumbai after the Elephanta Caves and the majestic Victoria Terminus now called Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), Head Quarters of Great Indian Peninsula (GIP) Railway, now Central Railway, which earned the coveted status in 1987 and 2004, respectively.
What is Heritage?
Heritage is the full range of our inherited traditions, monuments, objects, and culture. Heritage includes, but is much more than preserving, excavating, displaying, or restoring a collection of old things. Preserving heritage is an activity with far-reaching effects. It is both local and global. India’s first two sites inscribed on the list at the Seventh Session of the World Heritage held in
1983 were the Agra Fort and the Ajanta Caves. Over the years, 37 sites have been inscribed. The latest site Mumbai art deco and
Gothic buildings inscribed in 2018 became the 37th site. Of these 30 are cultural sites and six are natural sites while one is a mixed.
Worldwide there are 1092 sites of which 845 are cultural and 209 are natural, the remaining being mixed. The idea of creating an international movement for protecting heritage emerged after World War I and II. The 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage developed from the merging of two separate movements: the first focusing on the preservation of cultural sites, and the other dealing with the conservation of nature. The event that aroused particular international concern was the decision to build the Aswan High Dam in Egypt, which would have flooded the valley containing the Abu Simbel temples, a treasure of ancient Egyptian civilisation. Consequently, UNESCO initiated, with the
help of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the preparation of a draft convention on the protection of cultural heritage. The idea of combining conservation of cultural sites with those of nature comes from the United States of America.
The Convention concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO on 16 November 1972. The inscription of a site on the World Heritage List brings an increase in public awareness of the site and of its outstanding values, thus also increasing the tourist activities at the site. When these are well planned for and organized respecting sustainable tourism principles, they can bring important funds to the site and to the local economy.
To be included on the World Heritage List, a site must satisfy the selection criteria adopted by the Committee. As defined by Bernard M Fielden and Jukka Jokiletho, a cultural monument should be a masterpiece of creative genius. It must have exerted great architectural influence and be associated with ideas or beliefs of universal significance, or it may be an outstanding example of a traditional way of life that represents a certain culture. A natural site may represent major stages of the earth's history, be a symbol of ongoing ecological and biological processes, and contain the most important natural habitats for conservation of globally significant biodiversity, or it may be a setting of exceptional beauty. In short, it is a place of outstanding cultural value.
When a site on the
World Heritage List is seriously threatened, it may be added to the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger, which entitles it to special attention and international assistance. When a site is added to the list, the government of the country should send regular reports on the condition of their sites, on measures taken to preserve them, and A natural site may represent major stages of the earth's history, be a symbol of ongoing ecological and biological processes, and contain the most important natural habitats for conservation of globally significant biodiversity, or it may be a setting of exceptional beauty. In short, it is a place of outstanding cultural value.
When a site on the World Heritage List is seriously threatened, it may be added to the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger. on their efforts to raise public awareness of cultural and natural heritage. These requirements are taken seriously by most of the countries since the World Heritage Committee could be alerted - by individuals, non-governmental organisations, or other groups - if mismanagement occurs.
If the alert is justified, and the problem serious enough, the site will be placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger. This list is designed to call the world's attention to natural or human-made conditions, which threaten the characteristics for which the site was originally inscribed on the World Heritage List. Endangered sites on this list are entitled to particular attention and emergency action. In urgent cases, such as outbreak of war, the Committee will make the listing itself without having received a formal request. This is what happened with the Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley at Afghanistan. The World Heritage status can be removed from a site if the country is not fulfilling its obligations under the Convention.
Bombay High Court (Victorian Gothic).
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in night.