The Banganga tank, one of the oldest heritage precincts located in the heart of Mumbai, and presently in a battered situation, is soon to get a facelift.
With mossy green broken steps, chipped walls, defaced deepstambhas surrounded by encroachments and the water tank whose natural water springs are blocked, the 600-year-old structure if far from what it represents — a tributary of the Ganges.
But the Rs 5.5-crore Banganga makeover project, initiated by the archaeology department and due to take off in October 2011 promises to change this and make the site more tourist friendly with a clean tank, restored steps and signs.
Last week, Mumbai guardian minister Jayant Patil visited the precinct and got the machinery moving. “The tank was in a very dirty state and the area that is a heritage precinct is in urgent need of an upgrade. The collector will be clearing the encroachments soon and the makeover will take off after that,” Patil said.
Sanjay Patil, director of the archaeology department, confirms the development. “We will be signing the MOU with the Gaud Saraswat Brahmin temple trust next month. The first Rs 2.5 crore of the funds has been given by the Jindal group. We will ask the state government to give the rest,” he said.
The archaeology department had spent more than Rs 2 crore in upgrading the structure before but the haphazard job, which was not done as per heritage norms, attracted much criticism. “We have now appointed a heritage architect Abha Lambah to restore the place,” Patil said.
Lambah said she was approached about a year ago to chart out a restoration plan (SEE GRAPHIC), which is now ready to be implemented. “We have put in place every detail including steps, tile, stone, its condition and how it needs to be handled. The idea is to restore Banganga to its original grandeur and make it tourist friendly with signs on walking paths and plaques giving information about the site,” said Lambah.
City historian Sharada Dwivedi who has written a book on the Banganga feels it is sad to see such an important heritage site in such a bad state and said the news of the restoration brings some hope for its conservation. “This place has the potential to become a centre for culture and heritage, not only for the tourists but also for locals,” she said.