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Iconic Mumbai buildings added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said this was a great recognition of Mumbai's history and heritage.

Mumbai's Art Deco buildings have been added to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) World Heritage List alongside the city's better-known Victorian Gothic architecture.

Mumbai is the second city in India after Ahmedabad to be inscribed on the World Heritage List.

The decision was approved at a UNESCO meeting in Manama, Bahrain on Saturday.

The city’s 19th century collection of Victorian structures and 20th century Art Deco buildings includes the row of public buildings of the High Court, Mumbai University, Old Secretariat, NGMA, Elphinstone College, David Sassoon Library, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Western Railways headquarters, Maharashtra Police headquarters to the east of Oval Maidan and the Art Deco buildings consisting of the first row of Backbay Reclamation scheme, buildings such as the Cricket Club of India and Ram Mahal along Dinshaw Wacha Road, the iconic cinema halls of Eros and Regal and the first row of buildings along Marine Drive.

The majority of these were built on reclaimed land between the early 1930s and early 1950s.

Marine Drive
Getty Image/ MIXA Co. Ltd

“Having become a global trading centre, the city of Mumbai implemented an ambitious urban planning project in the second half of the 19th century. It led to the construction of ensembles of public buildings bordering the Oval Maidan open space, first in the Victorian Neo-Gothic style and then, in the early 20th century, in the Art Deco idiom,” the UNESCO announced in a press statement.

“The Victorian ensemble includes Indian elements suited to the climate, including balconies and verandas. The Art Deco edifices, with their cinemas and residential buildings, blend Indian design with Art Deco imagery, creating a unique style that has been described as Indo-Deco.

“These two ensembles bear testimony to the phases of modernisation that Mumbai has undergone in the course of the 19th and 20th centuries,” the statement added.

Oval Maidan
Flickr Image/ CC BY-SA 2.0

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said this was a great recognition of Mumbai's history and heritage.

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