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95-year-old water fountain in south Mumbai springs back to life

Nestled between two trees and an unauthorised shrine, the ‘Kothari pyaav’ adjoining GPO’s Kabutar Khana is easy to miss, even for those who frequent the Fort area.

mumbai Updated: Dec 25, 2017 09:56 IST
Eeshanpriya M S
Eeshanpriya M S
Hindustan Times
mumbai,BMC,CSMT
With the restoration work nearing completion, the pyaav is likely to be reopened to the public in four months. (Bhushan Koyande/HT photo)

A 95-year-old ‘Kothari pyaav’, or drinking water trough, which stands opposite the General Post Office (GPO) near Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) will soon be reopened for Mumbaikars with a reinstated drinking water supply.

About eight months ago, a team of heritage conservationists from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) undertook the tedious task of restoring the pyaav.

The team has restored the external walls of the pyaav, and also carried out excavations – about 6 metres deep – to reveal some attributes of the stone structure that had gotten buried under concrete over the years.

With the restoration work nearing completion, the pyaav is likely to be reopened to the public in four months.

The trough was built in 1923 from Malad stone, Porbandar limestone, and Red Agra stone. Malad stone is a kind of basalt rock, also used in the construction of the CSMT building and the BMC headquarters.

Nestled between two trees and an unauthorised shrine, the Kothari pyaav adjoining GPO’s Kabutar Khana is easy to miss, even for those who frequent the Fort area. It is yet another example of Mumbai’s rich architectural heritage that has been damaged by encroachments.

A civic official from the heritage cell said, “The pyaav has a beautiful architecture, but several parts of it have gone missing over the years. One such example is the spout in the form of a lion’s head.”

He added that when the shrine was brazed to a wall of the pyaav, all the architectural features on that wall got chopped off. “We had to sample damaged architectural features from nearby heritage structures, and recreate them in order to restore the symmetrical design of the structure. We have used modern techniques such as lime plastic repair and dutchpan repair, which includes using stone dust to recreate the lost architectural features of a heritage building.”

The civic body had to first demolish the adjoining shrine, and then removed many layers of paint that overlapped and hid the original stone structure. The entire process cost the civic body Rs30 lakh.

First Published: Dec 25, 2017 09:56 IST