AFTER YEARS of disuse and neglect, two heritage structures were brought back to life through conservation efforts by the Kala Ghoda Association (KGA) and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta opened to public the Bomanjee Hormarjee Wadia Clock Tower at Bazaar Gate Street and Seth Gangadas Vijbhukhandas & Mulji Nandlal Religious & Charitable Trust Pyao at the Horniman Circle Garden on Thursday.
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Built in 1882, the clock tower was erected with public funds as a token of appreciation for Bomanjee Hormarjee Wadia, a reputed man in the city. Over the years the clock tower had begun to fall into disrepair and soon became a hub for anti-social activities during the night.
The clock’s hands were also stolen by miscreants sometime last year. Seeing that the tower was in a precarious condition, the KGA took it upon itself to bring the heritage structure back into shape and began restoration activities in 2016.
After roping in conservation architect Vikas Dilawari, in a span of eight months, the clock tower was brought back to its former glory.
While preserving the original Assyrian architecture and making no structural changes, the conservation has breathed fresh life into the tower. The clock was also repaired and is working.
“If it wouldn’t have received immediate attention, the clock tower would have collapsed. It was not just physical restoration but was almost like rebuilding an entire structure,” says Maneck Davar, Chairman of the KGA.
The residents are also glad to have a restored heritage structure in the area.
“The place has been shut for a long time. I have always seen the structure in a decrepit condition with drug addicts and drunkards making the gardens their haven. We knew this is a holy place and I feel privileged that I got to enter the area,” says Kalpana Bhalvekar, a resident of the area for 30 years.
Though the Pyao at the Horniman Circle Garden was better maintained, it was also in need of repairs. Built in 1873, the Pyao was made to provide drinking water from the adjoining well to travellers and their horses.
Last year, the KGA commissioned the restoration project to Urban Design Research Institute. While the Pyao doesn’t have flowing water anymore, with fresh paint and a new roof, it got a complete makeover.
“We have been quite successful with the restoration. Since we were dealing with heritage structures, we had to maintain their original aesthetics. But we have given them the much-needed repairs,” says Kayomi Engineer, administrative director of the Kala Ghoda Association (KGA).