India, a country resplendent with rich heritage and culture, is home to a large number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In fact, it ranks sixth overall in the world and is only behind China in the Asia and Pacific region. In yet another landmark achievement, India’s nomination of the “Victorian and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai” has been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
The decision was taken on Jun. 30, 2018, at the 42nd session of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO at Manama, Bahrain. This tag makes Mumbai the second city in India after Ahmedabad to be inscribed on the World Heritage List.
According to a report from TOI, India has been successful in securing the inscription of the “Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai” on UNESCO’s World Heritage List under Criteria (ii) and (iv) as defined in the UNESCO’s Operational Guidelines.
The ensembles include the structures that line the city’s Oval Maidan—a row of 19th-century Victorian structures characterised by Gothic spires and gargoyles on one side, and the 20th-century Art Deco buildings on the other. Together, this architectural ensemble constitutes the most remarkable collection of Victorian and Art Deco buildings in the world which forms the unique character of this urban setting, unparalleled in the world.
Speaking to the Hindustan Times, conservation architect Abha Narain Lambah says: “These historic buildings are unique because they’re not dead monuments but active public buildings in use as courts, libraries and cinema halls. This tag means an international acknowledgement of Mumbai’s pioneering role in managing historic urban heritage that is in living use.”
The Union minister of state for culture Mahesh Sharma has congratulated the residents of Mumbai and the entire country for this landmark achievement. A report from India Today quoted Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis as saying: “We are very happy. Mumbai has always been a world city, now its got another Unesco heritage site.”
India now has overall 37 World Heritage Inscriptions with 29 Cultural, seven Natural and one Mixed sites. Maharashtra leads the states with five UNESCO tags and the latest inscription gives Mumbai the distinction of having three UNESCO sites, alongside Elephanta and CSMT.