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From October, take a sip of water from this heritage fountain in south Mumbai

In October this year, a 95-year-old fountain with drinking water, in the heart of Mumbai’s Fort area, will spring back to life after falling into disrepair more than 50 years ago

mumbai Updated: Sep 26, 2018 19:49 IST
Sagar Pillai
Sagar Pillai
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Heritage structures,Heritage fountain
The restored Kothari Pyau at Fort will be opened to the public next month.(Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)

In October this year, a 95-year-old fountain with drinking water, in the heart of Mumbai’s Fort area, will spring back to life after falling into disrepair more than 50 years ago.

The Kothari Pyau, located right opposite the General Post Office, is an iconic heritage structure but its maintenance has long been neglected.

The fountain was built in 1923 by businessman Madhavdas Laxmidas Kothari in memory of his daughter Lilavati.

Conservationists said Kothari built the fountain to provide free drinking water to citizens and horses, and to give them a place to rest on hot days. People stopped using the fountain sometime in the 1960s, experts said.

And, over time, the area around it was encroached upon — before the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee began the fountain’s restoration, a paan seller had set up shop, a police beat chowky had been built nearby, and makeshift grills had been erected around it.

While carrying out the restoration work, the civic body removed the encroachments, and replaced the grills with ones that match the structure’s style.

Experts used photos to recreate portions of the fountain that were damaged. The restoration was part of the BMC’s plan to revive such heritage structures and fountains across south Mumbai.

“The old basin in the middle was removed and replaced with a low height drinking water basin. There were a lot of encroachments and the pyau was in poor condition,” said a senior civic official from the heritage department. “It has now been properly restored and will soon be opened for the public. There are several such pyaus across the city that have great historic significance and are being restored, along with milestones,” the official said.

Kiran Dighavkar, the assistant municipal commissioner of A ward (Fort, Colaba), said the pyau’s restoration was part of a larger heritage conservation initiative in A ward. “In all, 17 structures have been restored and this (Kothari Pyau) is one of them. The idea is to give back Mumbaiites their heritage and culture,” Dighavkar said.

Rahul Chemburkar, of Vaastu Vidhaan Projects and a conservation architect who worked on the pyau’s restoration, said, “The fountain is a unique concept of philanthropy as it is a confluence of two interesting facets — the drinking water fountain is a European concept, while water charity in memory of a loved one is more of an Indian one. The pyau is an interesting architectural experience that provides drinking water to people and animals. It is always intriguing to restore such fountains.”

The restored water fountain will be inaugurated by Shiv Sena’s youth wing chief Aaditya Thackeray in October, said civic officials.

First Published: Sep 26, 2018 00:39 IST