In Mumbai, BMC begins restoration of British era heritage milestones

After a delay of about two years since it was first planned, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Tuesday started work on restoration of 11 British era heritage milestone markers of the city. These milestones are approximately 200 years old, according to information from BMC, and were installed to mark the distance from St Thomas Cathedral near Horniman Circle in Fort, which is considered the zero milestone. There are supposed to be 15 or 16 such milestones in the city limits, of which 11 have been traced so far.

The restoration process includes excavating buried milestones, cleaning and polishing the surface, reinstalling them in the original location on a raised platform, with an information plaque next to the stone. Each milestone will have a QR Code tag as well, that tourists can scan on their mobile phones to view the entire milestone heritage circuit. While those 11 that have been traced will be restored as per this plan, BMC plans to install replicas in place of those that have not been traced to commemorate a heritage spot.

Rahul Chemburkar from Vaastuvidhaan, which has been appointed as the conservation architect consultant for the project said, “The unique selling point of this project is the QR code, that will enable us to create a heritage circuit of all milestones, tying up the circuit together digitally.” If a tourist comes across any one milestone, they can scan the QR code, and will be able to access map showing the entire heritage circuit, the distance and directions to the next milestone from the tourist’s present location, and more information about the history and relevance of each milestone. The Cooperage Bandstand, and the Kothari Pyau also have similar QR codes, and both were restored by Vaastuvidhaan. These are also part of heritage circuits, for example the Kothari Pyau will be part of a circuit of 22 such pyaus, that will be restored by the civic body over the next few months.

Chemburkar said, “We need to give these distance markers their due importance. Its relevance today is a history marker, even though in those times it was used to measure the distance in the city limits which were quite limited.”

In the past three years various initiatives have been taken up by different stakeholders to reinstate a few milestones in the city, at the BMC ward level. This project will cost an estimated Rs 26 lakh, and will take about three months to complete.

The project was first pitched in 2018 before BMC’s Heritage Committee and has been in the pipeline due to cost and design revisions.

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