Mumbai’s neglected drinking fountains are getting facelifts

A study conducted by Vastu Vidhan Project found 30 such pyaus that need restoration

mumbai Updated: May 28, 2018 15:14 IST
Yesha Kotak
Yesha Kotak
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Fountains,Drinking water fountains
Keshav Naik Pyau at Masjid Bandar was one of the pyaus to be restored in the past three years.(Bhushan Koyande/HT)

With Keshavji Naik drinking water fountain at Masjid Bunder and Bai Mancooverbai Ardon Pyau having been restored in the last three years, another fountain – Kothari Pyau, a grade II heritage structure, will be inaugurated in the coming month after restoration. This comes as a part of the plan to revive heritage structures in the southern part of the city.

A study conducted by Vastu Vidhan Project found 30 such pyaus that need restoration. An official from Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said three of these pyaus have been restored and four are slated for repairs.

“Since the last two years, we are trying to restore and conserve heritage structures. A lot of these pyaus are historically significant as philanthropic street structures of our city,” said the official.

“BMC, either through their own funding or using a public private partnership module, is trying to restore as many of these pyaus because they see it as the pride of the city. It’s a pity to see them in a sorry state,” said Vikas Dilawari, conservationist architect working on Flora Fountain.

Water Fountain at Do Tanki in Grant Road. (Bhushan Koyande/HT)

The pyau at Crawford Market, which was built by traders in 1911 to commemorate the visit of Queen Mary and King George V, stands covered in rags today. Many such heritage fountains across the city lay unused and have become derelict.

Nilesh Thakkar, contractor who is working on Kothari Pyau, said that these water fountains were erected to provide a place where horses as well people could rest and have drinking water.

READ: Mumbai’s heritage drinking water fountains can help reduce use of plastic bottles: Expert

“These pyaus not only gave you insight into the building technology of those days but also into the minds of the patrons who donated for the noble cause,” said Thakkar.

Devangana Desai, whose uncle built Kothari pyau in memory of his daughter Lilavati, said her family believed in serving the people. Similarly, trustees of Shri Ananthnathji trust have been looking after Keshavji Naik Fountain after it was restored to carry forward Naik’s legacy, who was believed in providing amenities to people.

“As these places form an important part of city’s architectural culture, pyaus along with milestones are being restored,” said a BMC official from the heritage cell.

Varsha Shirgaonkar, author of the book ‘Exploring The Water Heritage of Mumbai’, said that in olden times,these pyaus were important for the economic development as they came up around tram routes of the city. “One can associate a religious aspect to it because most communities, be it Jains or Parsis, consider water charity as supreme,” said Shirgaonkar. “In our city, heritage structures have been conserved since 1990s, but lately these street urban design elements are being restored so that they can act as landmarks. One can see a similar pattern in cities like Rome, Paris and London,” Pankaj Joshi, director of Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI)

First Published: May 28, 2018 14:56 IST