Nariman House, the centre for the Jewish Chabad-Lubavitch movement in Mumbai, which was one of the main targets during the 26/11 terror attacks, is a far more fortified place today. The building, which houses the Chabad House that re-opened after six years Tuesday, has been restored using interwoven fabric of kevlar and glass.
Known for its strength, the technology is extensively used for manufacturing defence equipment, such as bullet-proof jackets, helmets and bunkers. “It will not let the building fragment and fall in case of an attack similar to 26/11,” says Shailesh Mahimtura of Mahimtura Consultants, the Mumbai-based architecture firm that restored the building.
“Parts of Nariman House had suffered severe structural damage, especially the columns on the ground floor and the fifth and sixth floors where the blasts occurred. Carbon kevlar, along with concrete and steel, has helped upgrade the beam strength by 50 per cent. The other option would have been to pull down the structure, but the leaders of the Jewish community were keen on restoring the place for its symbolic importance,” said Shailesh.
The six-storey structure wore a festive look Tuesday afternoon. However, beneath the layers of flowers and satin was visible the damage suffered due to the gunfire and blasts.
The centre, committed to the service of Jews in India and abroad, will also house a museum dedicated to Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and wife Rivka who lost their lives in the attack. The walls on the fifth and sixth floors retain the damage with numerous bullet holes intact. The spot where Rabbi Holtzberg was shot dead also stands untouched on the second floor. “We do not want to whitewash history. We want to keep certain parts the way the terrorists had left it. Our aim is to provide the world a perspective that there is hope,” says Rabbi Israel Kozlovsky, who is continuing Rabbi Holtzberg’s work in Mumbai.