It was a euphoric day for Mumbai on Saturday. Fourteen years after the idea was first mooted, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) finally declared the city’s Victorian and Art Deco Ensembles, straddling two heritage precincts of Fort and Marine Drive, a World Heritage Site.
The feat makes Mumbai the second city in India after Ahmedabad to be inscribed on the World Heritage List.
“We are very happy. Mumbai has always been a world city, now its got another Unesco heritage site,” said Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Maharashtra leads with five UNESCO tags:
The latest inscription gives Mumbai the distinction of having three UNESCO sites, alongside Elephanta and CSMT. Maharashtra leads the states with five UNESCO tags (including Ajanta and Ellora). India now has 37 world heritage inscriptions in all.
State urban development secretary Nitin Kareer said:
We have the third world heritage site approved for Mumbai. I have dedicated the inscription on behalf of the state government to the proud Mumbaikars, who have always put great value to their heritage and worked consistently to protect it.
Conservation architect Abha Narain Lambah announced from Bahrain:
From 2004, when I first presented this idea at the Unesco conference on representation at Chandigarh, its been 14 long years to get all stakeholders, citizen groups and government on board to make this happen. This inscription acknowledges Mumbai’s position in the world as the finest collection of 19th and 20th-century modernism; a city where heritage does not just include dead monuments but a living, breathing, dynamic urban centre with buildings in active use by citizens. This is the first case in India’s 37 world heritage sites where the nomination process was a citizen-driven initiative.
The city’s 19th-century collection of Victorian structures and 20th century Art Deco buildings includes:
- The row of public buildings of the High Court, Mumbai University
- Old Secretariat
- Elphinstone College
- David Sassoon Library
- Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya
- Western Railways headquarters
- Maharashtra Police headquarters to the east of Oval Maidan
Urging to send Mumbai’s nomination as India’s official entry to UNESCO, the CM wrote to the Centre:
Mumbai’s tourism and culture would be hugely benefited if this nomination succeeds. Mumbai will be brought on the international tourist map. Being the financial capital of our country, Mumbai attracts many businessmen like London and some European cities. It would have the unique distinction of being both a financial capital and a world heritage site.