Mumbai: The 150-year-old Horniman Garden in South Mumbai is set to get a major face-lift starting next month, as the heritage cell of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has taken up restoration of the Grade-1 heritage structure located in the heart of Mumbai’s Fort area.
The tenders are in the approval stage and the restoration, expected to start by February, will take 24 months to complete.
Conservation-architect Pankaj Joshi, who is a consultant on this project, said that one of the key aspect of this project will also be to restore the cast-iron fence and the gates of the garden that date back to the Victorian era.
To restore the gates, Joshi said that the composition of the metal will be identified in a laboratory to create ingots with a similar material.
“After identifying the composition of the metal. We will create ingots with a matching metal. These molten ingots will be poured into the cast to make replicas of the missing pieces, which will then be fixed at the panel,” Joshi said.
Senior officials of the civic body said that as portions of the garden’s walkways have caved-in, restoration of the garden will include bringing them to the same level as the footpaths outside the garden.
“Inside the garden we will create green pathways and install heritage style benches and furniture and all the dilapidated structures will be refurbished to restore their original look. The present day electric poles will be replaced with new poles that will have a unique vintage design. There is also a fountain inside the park that is lying defunct and we will transform it into a modern programmable fountain with new design pattern,” an official from the department said.
“The restoration works were due for many years and there was an ambiguity on whether the garden cell will carry out the work or the heritage cell. The ‘A’ ward office had been following on this issue since many years,” said Shivadas Gurav, assistant municipal commissioner, A-Ward.
The garden, which has a circumference of 1.1 km, dates back to the 1860s. According to Shekhar Krishnan, a historian, archivist and advisor to the heritage cell, the idea of having an organised open space was conceived by the city’s first police chief Superintendent Charles Forjett.
“This place was developed after the Fort walls came down and was known as Elphinstone Circle back then. Later with time, this place started to became a major business hub, with several offices and commercial establishments setting up their base here. Post-Independence, the garden and the area was renamed after eminent British journalist, Benjamin Horniman who was a well-known crusader of the Indian Freedom Movement,” said Krishnan.
The garden also once operated as a ground where the city’s first stock trading activity — in cotton and other commodities — first started. “This garden was a trading hub of cottons during the Big Cotton Boom in the 1860s,” said Krishnan.
BMC officials said that a water-storage chamber beneath the pyau (drinking water fountain) outside the garden as well as the staircase leading to it, will also be restored.
“There’s a staircase adjacent to the Pyau that goes to the main water storage chamber. This chamber is situated 12-15 feet below the surface of the garden. We will be restoring that staircase and chamber and after that we will take a call on whether it should be opened for public viewing,” the official quoted above said.
Doonited Affiliated: Syndicate News Hunt