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Mumbai is introducing a heritage walk. Pixabay

The first batch of 15 excited, wide-eyed tourists entered the hallowed portals of the iconic Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) building – the headquarters of Asia’s richest civic body which administers India’s commercial capital – for the inaugural ‘Heritage Walk’ here on Saturday.

The tourists were accorded a warm welcome with flowers by Mayor Kishori Pednekar, the first two – Archana A. Nevrekar and Sitaram N. Shetty – were presented a memento, and all in the group were gifted a copy of the BMC’s 2021 calendar.

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“This is the first municipal corporation in the country to organize such a Heritage Walk. This initiative will boost tourism and also give Mumbai an identity as a tourist destination,” said BMC Municipal Commissioner I.S. Chahal.

In an aggressive bid to boost tourism, the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation and BMC came up with a joint proposal to conduct the Heritage Walk inside the 128-year-old BMC building.

Among the most recognizable landmarks of Mumbai, the building was built in the Victorian Gothic Revival style with golden beige basalt rock stones in 1893, by architect Frederick W. Stevens – who also designed the UNESCO World Heritage site Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, just opposite the BMC headquarters – said a civic official.

The BMC building was built on a 6,600-sq metre plot of land at a cost of almost Rs 11,20,000, below the estimated costs, and the construction work of the awe-inspiring monument was completed in less than 50 months.

The building has a 235-feet-tall tower, a 68-feet-long, 32-feet-wide, and 38-feet-high conference hall, where the elected city corporators sit and deliberate on the future of the city and its estimated 1.50 crore souls, ranging from among the richest in the world living in skyscrapers to the poorest pavement dwellers.

Victoria Station is an important heritage site in Mumbai. Pixabay

“The Heritage Walk in two batches includes visits to around 17 scenic spots with an expert guide appointed by the MTDC. Some of the sites include the BMC Main Dome, the Corporation Hall, the Standing Committee Hall, Inner Dome, the Mayor’s Office chambers, the Museum Tower, the duck fountain, the offices of various political parties,” the official said.

The initiative was inaugurated by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Maharashtra Congress President and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat, state Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray, and other dignitaries on Thursday.

“The architectural jewel of Mumbai’s administration is now open for visitors/tourists on weekends. It’s the fulfillment of a dream. We are also working on similar guided tours of the Bombay High Court, Gateway of India, Wankhede Stadium, and other landmarks in the city,” Aditya Thackeray said.

“Not only the people of Mumbai, but also people from other states, and foreign nationals can now get to see the majestic municipal building of the country’s leading city, and after viewing it, it will make both them and us feel proud,” Uddhav Thackeray remarked even as Pawar and Thorat admitted it was their own maiden visit to the BMC headquarters.

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The weekend excursion – conducted by Bharat Gothoskar’s Khaki Tours – begins from BMC Gate No 2 and the tourists step inside to the main square inside the sprawling building, and from there they proceed to the landmarks hidden from public view, during the 60-90 minute Heritage Walk.

Besides the BMC building, some of the other eye-catching architectural marvels in south Mumbai built-in similar architectural styles include the University of Mumbai along with its iconic Rajabai Tower, Taj Mahal Hotel, the General Post Office, the Mahatma Jyotiba Phule (Crawford) Market, the Bombay High Court and Sessions Court, the DGP Headquarters, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Museum, St Xaviers College, Anjuman-i-Islam School, Wilson College, Elphinstone College, the Western Railway headquarters building, the David Sassoon Library, and the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum. (IANS)



Rihanna was summoned from her seat to accept the honour, with the Prime Minister.

Singer Rihanna was honoured by Prime Minister Mia Mottley at an event which marked Barbados's new status as a republic, which was attended by Prince Charles. Addressing the pop star by her real name, the PM said: "Robyn Rihanna Fenty tomorrow morning shall have conferred upon her the order of national hero of Barbados."

Rihanna was then summoned from her seat to accept the honor, with the Prime Minister managing to rouse a laugh from the singer when she referenced her 2012 hit 'Diamonds', reports She added: "On behalf of a grateful nation, but an even prouder people, we therefore present to you, the designee, for the national hero of Barbados." "And to accept on behalf of a grateful nation - you can come my dear - ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty, may you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honor to your nation." Rihanna, who was born in the St Michael parish of Barbados, found fame in 2005 after being spotted by a record producer and has since gone on to become one of the most successful female artists of all time with sales of over 250 million and recently reached billionaire status through her Fenty beauty brand.

The Prime Minister continued in her speech: "Commanding the imagination of the world through the pursuit of excellence, her creativity, her discipline, and above all else, her extraordinary commitment to the land of her birth. "Having satisfied that, Ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty has given service to Barbados which has been exemplified by visionary and pioneering leadership, extraordinary achievement and the attaining of the highest excellence to the Government of Barbados." It comes after a historic move for Barbados, which has become a republic after almost 400 years and welcomes its first president, Sandra Mason, after removing Queen Elizabeth as head of state. (IANS/ MBI)

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