How the grand old lady gets a makeover | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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How the grand old lady gets a makeover

Along with the sun and a relentless monsoon, the façade of the majestic 123-year-old Mumbai CST building has withstood the onslaught of Mumbai’s polluted and salted air, dust and human interventions from time to time.

mumbai Updated: Apr 09, 2010 00:26 IST
Rajendra Aklekar

Behind a green curtain, Mumbai’s iconic and one of the world’s most photographed buildings is getting a spring-cleaning.

Along with the sun and a relentless monsoon, the façade of the majestic 123-year-old Mumbai CST building has withstood the onslaught of Mumbai’s polluted and salted air, dust and human interventions from time to time.

The architectural conservation plan to restore the Gothic building to its original nineteenth century glory is in a crucial stage.

For the first time, the building’s huge dome and the stained glass is being restored.

Construction of the building started in 1877and was completed by 1888.

The dome towering the structure is believed to be the first masonry dome adapted for a Gothic building in Mumbai at that time. Made of lime and sandstone blocks, the dome is a marvel of construction.

More than 50 workers are working on the building’s roof systematically scrubbing, washing and restoring the UNESCO-listed World Heritage building stone by stone.

Once the cleaning and restoration is done, the conservation team will apply a coat of chemicals that will protect it from natural elements and weather for years to come.

Cleaning and conservation of the building, fixing plumbing and leakage problems, replacing damaged artifacts and restoring the Manglorean-tiled roof with similar one are some of the key tasks.

The Rs 14.5 crore restoration project is being implemented in three phases.

“Each façade is being taken up systematically. We have selected the best for conservation of CST. The methods being used are benchmarked globally. It will get the building back to its full glory. We are careful in selecting the material so as to match and replace parts of the original damaged artifacts and gargoyles in the building. Exact dimensions are taken and replicas are then carefully carved out,” P.K. Saxena, CR’s principal chief engineer said.

Saxena’s cabin on the second floor has colonial furniture made of Burma teak and age-old dial clocks.

“The dome and the stained glass is being restored for the first time in more than 30 years. In the early 70s, the statue of progress standing on the building’s dome had been struck by lightning and the railways restored it with the help of students from the JJ School of Arts,” he added.