The Kala Ghoda Art Festival is not just a nine-day wonder of the arts but also an annual commitment to the society. The Kala Ghoda Association (KGA) was set up in order to look after the conservation and maintenance of facilities and services in the Kala Ghoda precinct and to create art spaces in the city.
Over the years, the association’s contribution to heritage conservation of Mumbai has been generous. Recently two heritage structures –Bomanjee Hormarjee Wadia Clock Tower and Seth Gangalal V Mulji Nandlal Religious & Charitable Trust Pyao –were brought to life by KGA and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). “It is not the first time we are doing the restoration of structures we have done it in the past by restoring the garden at David Sassoon Library, Elphinstone College, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) and construction of the amphitheatre on Rampat Row, among others. But it is the first time we are doing the restoration in a concentrated manner,” says Maneck Davar, Chairman of Kala Ghoda Association.
Bomanjee Hormarjee Wadia Clock Tower
Located at the junction of Bazaar Gate Street and Perin Nariman Street, Fort, the clock tower was established in 1882 in respect of Bomanjee Homarjee Wadia, a great contributor in the service of the city. Over the years, the place had become a centre for anti-social activities for drug addicts and drunkards and even the clock’s hands were stolen by goons. The decrepit structure was in immediate need of not just physical restoration but also rebuilding it.
Seth Gangalal V Mulji Nandlal Religious & Charitable Trust Pyao
In 1811, the underground well below the Horniman Circle garden was excavated. Later in 1842, Seth Gangadas Vijbhukhandas Shroff set up the pyao to provide drinking water from the adjoining well and until today the Bhatt water bearers look after the structure. The structure doesn’t have water anymore, but the restoration has helped the structure to get an entire makeover.
Mumbai houses various historical monuments and when asked Mr Davar on finalising the structures, he says, “The Wadia Clock Tower was in an eminent danger of collapse and the garden beside the pyao is used for festival purpose, and so it was decided to restore these structures on a priority basis.” When asked about their upcoming plans he says, “The restoration of the Mulji Jetha Fountain is in process. Also we have asked UDRI to invite tenders for the restoration of the Kothari Pyao opposite Metro Cinema and will begin by March 2017.”
The Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI) is associated with KGA since 12 years. “It took us six months, lot of money and team efforts to restore the structures without making any structural changes. The materials used in the project are more like original and are sourced from different parts of the country. The project was a result of collaborations of Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), Kala Ghoda Association, property owners and UDRI,” says Pankaj Joshi, Executive Director, UDRI. Though the entire expense of the restoration project is carried out by KGA, Joshi thanks MCGM for granting permission for the project in ease.
“These projects also gives us a message that if the citizens come up with such activities we our self can contribute to the society by restoring historical monuments without depending much on the government bodies,” adds Pankaj.