A walk down the heritage lane in Mumbai

20 Jan

As part of my “Mumbai Local” series, I am always on a look-out for Mumbai’s hidden nooks and corners, often the non-touristy parts of the city which we as residents either take for granted or don’t notice while going about our everyday lives. Recently I came across Raconteur Walks, a group of Mumbai enthusiasts who organize theme based walking tours around Mumbai and show people a new side of this city, that we call home.

The iconic VT Station, Mumbai

The iconic VT Station, Mumbai

Priyanka, another fellow traveler and a hard-core Mumbai-ite, and I saw the website of Raconteur Walks and decided to try one of their walks. They had 5  to choose from (each covered a different part of the city), but we decided to go for “Churchgate-Heritage Mile walk”, after all who wants to miss an opportunity to see the old and best part of Mumbai’s history and architecture. The meeting point for this was at the Aaram vada-pav stall near Capitol Theatre and we just couldn’t resist grabbing a bite of this really tasty snack early morning. We also met Viraat and Zui here and received a Ranconteur branded cap, a bottle of Nimbooz and a Nature Valley granola bar. All of which was extremely useful during the entire walk. 🙂

The BMC Building, Mumbai

The BMC Building, Mumbai

 A stunningly carved peacock at the VT station

A stunningly carved peacock at the VT station

We started the walk opposite the Victoria Terminus (VT) station (one of most iconic and beautiful  buildings in Mumbai) and the BMC building. Viraat quickly gave us a brief snapshot into Mumbai’s history starting from its earliest recording as Heptanesia to its transformation into the present day bustling metropolis of Mumbai. We also got a quick insight into how the VT station and the BMC buildings were commissioned and stories associated with their design, execution and salient features. A lot of these facts were familiar but many were quite new to us too. He also had a set of laminated old photographs of the city and the maps, that he kept showing us during the entire walk. This was actually quite useful in helping us understand how the city and the buildings originally stood and the massive changes that the city has undergone all around it.

Viraat with the laminated pics and maps :)

Viraat with the laminated pics and maps 🙂

Walked by this plaque so many times, but never noticed this before :)

Walked by this plaque so many times, but never noticed this before 🙂

We then walked down DN road towards Flora Fountain and kept stopping at various buildings to get a glimpse of interesting sculptures, discuss the designs and at times to generally stand and admire these masterpieces that still stand tall despite age, harsh Mumbai weather and the atrocious changes that are made in some of these buildings. We continued our walk and reached Flora Fountain and I got answers to quite a few queries that I always had about this fountain and the area around it. I finally also got to know why this fountain was made and was called “Flora”. And no, it had nothing to do with any woman named “Flora”. We also stared sadly at the ugly parking lot that now is the background for this beautiful fountain.

A beautiful sculpture on one of the buildings at DN Road

A beautiful sculpture on one of the buildings at DN Road

A stunning balcony at DN Road

A stunning balcony at DN Road

The Oriental Building with faces of the Governor Generals

The Oriental Building with faces of the Governor Generals

We then continued our walk towards Kala Ghoda, where there used to be a Black Horse :), got to know the stories behind the different buildings around here such as the Army Navy Building, the Sassoon Library and I finally saw the once famous and now in shambles Watson hotel.

Hutatma Chowk, Mumbai

Hutatma Chowk, Mumbai

Flora Fountain and the reason why Churchgate got that name :)

Flora Fountain and the reason why Churchgate got that name 🙂

From here we turned and continued our walk towards the beautiful buildings of Mumbai Sessions Court, the Mumbai University, the Rajabai Tower and the Mumbai High Court. Now I am so intrigued by the designs of many of these buildings from the outside that I also want to see them from inside. Like the convocation Hall of the Mumbai University building seemed to have some stunning stain glass that I would love to see. And the Mumbai High Court has some carvings of some cheeky animals with imparting some unusual messages.

A glimpse of the Mumbai University Building

A glimpse of the Mumbai University Building

Post that we walked along the Oval Maidan and ended our tour near Eros Theater.

A Happy group at the end of the walk :)

A Happy group at the end of the walk 🙂

This entire walk took around 2.5 hours and overall I had a very good experience. This tour are made very interesting by many anecdotes and gossip (some actual and some lore) along with the actual history and architecture. I learnt many new things that I was otherwise oblivious to about the city of Mumbai. Walking along this trail I also noticed many small things about these old buildings that I had not seen or noticed before. This walk also made me realize that what we have here is a part of history that needs to be preserved and cherished.

By design, I am not sharing the stories and anecdotes that were shared during this walk, as I would like you to hear them first hand. But just as a sneak peak, you will get an answer to the following questions – Where was Phassi (hanging) talao in Mumbai? Why are Churchgate and Flora Fountain named as they are? Why the stark contrast in design of buildings on either side of the Oval Maidan? Did Mumbai have a Fort, for that area to be called so? Why one side of DN road is very congested while the other side is better planned? Why did the Rajabai Tower ring 15 minutes before sunset everyday? and very many more 🙂

Even Raconteur Tours believes that Heritage preservation is losing its color due to loss of awareness at some level. Hence  in a small endeavor to promote, preserve and create awareness of heritage in the city , Raconteur Walks  plans to do a special walking tour this Republic Day (26 January 2014) to give us residents of Mumbai a chance to discover and re-discover this beautiful city. You can check this link for additional information on the Republic Day walk and they are also giving a 50% discount. 🙂 So don’t waste this Republic Day morning by just sleeping in or sitting in front of the TV, but grab those walking shoes languishing in some corner, step out and discover your own hidden secret corner and story in this beautifully historic city.

 This walk was sponsored by Raconteur walks but experience that we had and views that I have shared, are my own 🙂 

Advertisements

21 Responses to “A walk down the heritage lane in Mumbai”

  1. sougat818 January 20, 2014 at 00:54 #

    I wasn’t even aware such walks exist in India 🙂 will certainly take this up when I visit Mumbai

    Like

    • getsetandgo January 22, 2014 at 20:51 #

      Actually quite a few of such walks now exist in major cities of India…. I have done one in Ahmedabad too 🙂

      Like

      • sougat818 February 4, 2014 at 17:32 #

        Interesting. Let me see if there are any in Bangalore!

        Like

      • getsetandgo February 19, 2014 at 22:34 #

        Do share your story if you do find such sights in Bangalore 🙂

        Like

  2. Niranjan January 20, 2014 at 12:22 #

    These heritage walks gives an wholesome insight into history of these lovely cities. Nice one!

    Like

    • getsetandgo January 22, 2014 at 20:52 #

      Thanks Niranjan…. This is one of my favorite ways of exploring any new place 🙂

      Like

  3. renucas January 20, 2014 at 14:01 #

    Mumbai has great architecture! I also wandered through south Mumbai and caught many beautiful glimpses.

    Like

    • getsetandgo January 22, 2014 at 20:58 #

      I only hope we are able to maintain and retain this architecture 🙂

      Like

  4. psychologistmimi January 22, 2014 at 20:24 #

    its so fabulous to “rediscover” one’s own city/town.

    Like

  5. Anu @ Country Hopping Couple January 27, 2014 at 17:05 #

    There’s so much of detail and intricacy in every architecture….Lovely!

    Like

  6. Charles February 3, 2014 at 09:13 #

    lovely! really looking forward to being in Mumbai in a few days!

    Like

    • getsetandgo February 19, 2014 at 22:36 #

      Thanks and feel free to write if you need any help with this.

      Like

  7. SK Srinivas May 14, 2014 at 13:06 #

    Very nice pictures and write-up. Made me feel terribly nostalgic about the city I grew up in. I’d suggest you put your copyright and name at the bottom of the image. Cheers … Srini.

    Like

  8. Every Day Adventures in Asia November 17, 2014 at 22:03 #

    One of my favourite parts of Mumbai! Great pics and thanks for sharing your day. 🙂

    Like

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Mumbai Diaries: Part 1 | Kat Pegi Mana - October 28, 2014

    […] at 9am was The Churchgate and Heritage Mile Walk. I came across their tour through another blogger GetSetAndGo who posted her experience on the same heritage walk in Jan 2014. Racounteur Walks Mumbai has been […]

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: