BMC begins restoring two British-era milestones at Cumballa Hills in south Mumbai
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has begun to restore two British-era milestones at Cumballa Hills in South Mumbai. The five-foot milestones are at Kemp’s Corner and near Bhatia Hospital towards Tardeo, and were located by the BMC early in January. The Kemp Corner relic engraved with ‘3 Miles’ is the only milestone in the city with an English number, while the one near Bhatia Hospital has ‘III Miles’ inscribed on it.
The BMC plans to restore the basalt of the milestones to their original colour, remove the cement layers on it, put a a railing around them, and install a plaque with information about the structures.
More than 200 years old, these milestones were set up to mark the distance from St Thomas Cathedral near Kala Ghoda, which was the then centre of the city. Umesh Nagarkar, a civic official from the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee, said, “According to old maps with the BMC, there are supposed to be 16 milestones, but only 11 have been discovered.” Only one of the 11 milestones has been restored.
Vishwas Mote — assistant commissioner of D-ward who initiated the restoration of the Cumballa Hills milestones — had earlier stumbled upon another milestone inscribed with ‘V Miles’ near the KEM hospital in Parel, during a demolition drive in April 2017. He was then the assistant commissioner of F-South ward. After being transferred to D ward recently, Mote started identifying milestones in this ward as well. He said, “I had heard that D ward had two milestones so I decided to find them. One of them is marked in a Roman numeral and the other near Kemp’s Corner in an English number. This is the only one with an English Number.”
According to Mote, these milestones were built between 1812 and 1835. Mote said, “It is really unfortunate that we have put such an important part of urban Mumbai’s history in such a state. Now the restoration process is being done at the ward’s cost, with no extra funds allotted for it.”
16: Total milestones in city
11: Milestones discovered
1: Milestone at Parel restored
Trivia about markers at Cumballa:
5-foot: height of two milestones at Bhatia Hospital near Tardeo and Kemp’s Corner
The relic at Kemp’s Corner is the only milestone in the city which has an English number inscribed on it
They were built between 1812 and 1835 by the British
They were installed to mark the distance up to St Thomas Cathedral, present day Kala Ghoda, the then centre of the city
They are made of basalt