It’s very attainable that you can have walked out of Chitra Cinemas in Dadar and by no means seen it. In black basalt stone, barely two ft above the bottom, you’d see a triangle-top, obelisk that reads ‘V Miles from St Thomas’s Church’. In nearly fading Roman lettering, there may be one other milestone reverse the S P Jain Centre for Administration, which is barely a foot above the bottom, and says ‘I Mile’.
These milestones dot Mumbai’s streets and have been a part of its progress for hundreds of years. At present, Mumbai’s Vaastu Vidhaan Tasks, a heritage conservation agency, together with BMC, is making a heritage circuit to map the 16 milestones that had been as soon as highway markers in British India.
Rahul Chemburkar, who helms the challenge and is co-founder of Vaastu Vidhaan, sees this as a chance to inform the histories of the town. Chemburkar and his group are additionally engaged on the conservation of consuming water fountains of Mumbai. This milestone heritage challenge, which was initiated in 2017, has not too long ago obtained all approvals to start work.
“Such milestones had been current all throughout India on the time when transport was restricted to strolling or travelling by horse or bullock carts. In Mumbai, the zero mile was counted from the St Thomas Cathedral Church in Fort, which, three centuries in the past, was the centre of the town. Town has grown linearly, from south to north ever since. The Bombay Fort partitions couldn’t accommodate folks and wishes, and had been introduced down through the years. Town limits had been until Sion Fort and we see these milestones until Sion,” says Chemburkar.
A stone pill at zero level – St Thomas Cathedral – information that it was inbuilt 1718 and milestones had been commissioned in 1817. These milestones are documented as “Grade I heritage constructions of the erstwhile Bombay island metropolis”.
Within the guide Bombay: The Cities Inside Bombay (India E book Home, 1995), authors Rahul Mehrotra and Sharada Dwivedi write: “In 1794, beneath the Governor George Dick, the Metropolis Civil Architect Lt. John Cunliffe was directed to arrange stone markers in chosen areas that marked the boundaries of the city of Bombay. These had been constructed 18” above the bottom degree.”
The Milestone Society, UK, which recommended Chemburkar on the challenge, information the historical past of milestones as markers approach again throughout Roman instances, once they needed to transfer troopers throughout metalled roads. After the Romans, native church buildings had been boundary keepers. As commerce grew and roads developed, milestones not solely instructed travellers about route and distance, however helped horse coaches to maintain schedule and cost for change of horses at inns. These distances additionally helped calculate postal fees. Quickly, with rail transport and automobiles on the highway, these milestones misplaced their significance.
Chemburkar and his group visited 5 areas of those milestones, which incorporates I mile in Kalbadevi, and VI and VII Mile in Dadar. Engraved on monolith stones, these obelisk-kind of markers are six ft in top and normally are two ft underground. With a triangular pyramidal cap and Roman numerals, these milestones in lots of locations within the metropolis are nearly vanishing.
“In India, we think about solely massive constructions as heritage. The small ones, what I wish to name dew drops, are sometimes uncared for. For example, most of those milestones have both been demolished or constructed over. With highway widening and plinth top of pavements rising, generally, a milestone is barely a foot above the bottom,” says Chemburkar.
Up to now, a few of the milestones have been regionally restored by people or organisations on the ward degree. Vaastu Vidhaan, in its report back to the heritage committee, has instructed that in restoring these milestones, they may very well be given a standard identification.
“There could be a plaque subsequent to the obelisk to inform about its temporary historical past, have it laid round a cobble stone paving. We now have a QR code to mark the milestone, and this creates a heritage circuit for vacationers. There may very well be heritage walks or cycle trails as nicely,” says Chemburkar.
“It should want neighborhood participation, we solely wish to be facilitators. It’s about integrating heritage into as we speak’s context. The thought of oral storytelling is vital to the increase of the town’s narrative. On board, we’ve Nilesh Thakkar of Jeernodhar Conservators Personal Restricted to assist us with the challenge. Right now, if you wish to dig up the milestone and provides it a basis, it’s a must to be aware of the cables and repair wires beneath the bottom. Retaining all this in thoughts, we see this challenge taking at the very least six to eight months to be accomplished.”