Anita Garware, Chairperson, Indian Heritage Society, Talks About Saving Mumbai’s Heritage Sites

Anita Garware, Chairperson, Indian Heritage Society, Talks About Saving Mumbai’s Heritage Sites

The society is hosting an Indian Classical Music Fest today at the steps of the city's Town Hall

Shruti PanditUpdated: Saturday, January 13, 2024, 07:32 PM IST
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Anita Garware |

Anita Garware, daughter-in-law of industrialist Abasaheb Garware, has had her share of ups and downs in life. However, each time she emerged stronger with a grit to serve the society better.

Indian Heritage Society (IHS), which is hosting an Indian Classical Music Fest on the streets of Mumbai over the weekend, is Garware’s baby. She has been on a mission to save Mumbai’s heritage sites long before IHS. Her first cause was the Banganga Lake. “I stay at Malabar Hill. For me, Banganga was a part of my life for quite a few years,” Garware says. “When I heard that they are planning to fill that up as well, along with the other lakes that were already reclaimed, it hit me bad. Banganga was the only fresh water lake in the city… and that too in the vicinity of the sea. It was unique and had a history. It was built by the Lakshman Prabhu in 12th century. How could one just decide to obliterate it?”

The passion in Garware’s voice is quite obvious. “It took an effort to stop the Banganga from being destroyed,” she shares. “I was lucky that the then municipal commissioner was on my side. The festival was organised to enlighten the residents of Malabar Hill and the rest of Mumbai about the history and importance of Banganga Festival. Biggies of the Hindustani Classical music world cooperated, and we had sponsorships as well. We managed to save Banganga.”

A Mumbai Sanskriti performance in progress in front of the Asiatic Society

A Mumbai Sanskriti performance in progress in front of the Asiatic Society |

This was just the beginning. Soon, Garware realised that it was not just Banganga, but lot of historical and heritage sites in Mumbai were falling prey to modernisation. “It was heart breaking,” she reveals. “There was a time when I didn’t know what will be next in the list of demolition under the name of modernisation or redevelopment.”

She worked relentlessly to save heritage buildings and that led to the formation of the Indian Heritage Society, Mumbai. She, along with other enthusiasts, refurbished the Mumbai University campus in Fort and the Rajabai Tower next to it. Their efforts were recognised by UNESCO. Banganga festival was soon attached to the IHS. However, it had to be discontinued soon after because of the restrictions on sound decibels and timings.

Garware’s yen to serve the society was first seen when she assisted her father-in-law, Abasaheb Garware, in creating an institution, Fellowship of Physically Handicapped (FPH), to serve the physically challenged of the city. “It was the brainchild and dream of my father-in-law. He was ably assisted by Fathema Ismail in the endevour.”

What started as one institution in a room to help the physically challenged, soon was a building helping them and assisting children with orthopedic issues. “It was developed into an orthopedic hospital for children along with a place that helped elders with a physical handicap as well.” Garware helped raise funds by initiating the start of an auditorium — Garware Sabhagriha — in the premises. The proceeds from the auditorium were used to fund the FPH and the children hospital.

“I am glad that the tourism department of Maharashtra and the BMC has supported my attempts to make the citizens of Mumbai aware of the rich heritage of the city. They allow me to hold the festival every year on the streets of Mumbai outside the historic steps of Asiatic Library in the purlieu of Horniman Circle, Town Hall. I am also thankful to my sponsors, TCS, who diligently help.”

Look forward to a classical bonanza today evening at the steps of Town Hall.

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