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COME DECEMBER, Mumbaikars can experience a part of the city’s history as the University of Mumbai’s Centre for Extra-Mural Studies (CEMS) holds its annual exhibition on geology and archaeology. The annual event is all the more special this year as it will allow visitors to touch the relics, some of which trace their history to the Shilahara period. “For the first time, the people of Mumbai can see proof of their beloved city’s history. One of the relics on display is from the 12th century. We are offering people a chance to actually see it,” said Mugdha Karnik, director, CEMS.
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The relic is a land grant stone, recovered from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, that has clear inscriptions. Dating back to Kartika Shuddha Dwadashi, Samvat 1290 (i.e. CE 1368), the inscriptions refer to the Delhi Sultan Feroz Shah Tughlaq and his local vassal Hambirrao from the Bimba Dynasty.
“The place referred to in the inscription is Konkan-Bimbasthana and there are names of villages identifiable today, such as Marol, Nanale, Devnare (Devnar),” said Karnik.
While the Portuguese history of Mumbai is well-known, not many are aware of the city’s medieval period, and the exhibition, to be held between December 15 and 18, is a good opportunity to change that.
Visitors will also get a glimpse into what lies underneath the city, with an installation that has been playfully dubbed ‘Journey To The Centre of Mumbai’.
A 35-metre long cylindrical core excavated from the Metro III project site will show visitors the layers of soil that make up Mumbai’s topography.
“Seven kinds of lava flowed in Mumbai, helping form the its soil composition. This can be seen in the different layers of the monolithic core,” said Kurush Dalal, an archaeologist from the CEMS.
The exhibition, which is one of the community outreach programmes of the CEMS, will have something to offer to all kinds of visitors. For example, those looking for adventure can engage in a hunt for relics in a mock trench imitating an archaeological site. An installation of megalithic burials will give a glimpse of how our ancestors laid their dead to rest.
For those fascinated with matters from outside the world, a meteorite of around 20kg will be on display. Visitors can not only appreciate its beauty, but also touch the stone. The meteorite is the star of a mineral stone dealer’s collection. His collection will include an array of stones, including titanium, quartz and scolecite. Amid a display of weapons from all ages, flintknappers will make ancient weapons using stones.
“The exhibition aims to bring the Mumbaikars closer to their city’s history,” said Karnik.