Bombay Diaries – A Peek into the Heritage of Mumbai

Behind every ancient building and tiny lanes of Mumbai lies a story. A story that has been carefully woven in time that has played a pivotal role in the history and in shaping the future of the city. It’s not just the entertainment and commercial hub of the country, the city of Mumbai has a story to tell. If you wish to unravel the history of this island city, go for a Heritage Walk with Alisha the founder of InHeritage Project in Mumbai and experience the story unfold.

Just like there’s so much more than what appears in a person, a city has many hidden depths and meanings that often get lost in the noise, traffic and of course the rate race. Whether you’re a resident of Mumbai or just visiting, there are places in this very city that most of us are unaware of. Take a Heritage Walk in South Mumbai and get to know the heritage and history, as that’s the only way we can be proud of our city and preserve it.

We caught up with 27-year-old Alisha Sadikot, the founder of The Inheritage Project in Mumbai. Alisha completed her Post Graduate Diploma in Heritage Education & Interpretation, International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies, Newcastle University in 2011.

How did it all begin?

Alisha’s keen interest in History and Art History led her to study History at a Bachelors level and then go on to pursue her Masters in History of Art and a Diploma in Heritage Interpretation. In particular, Mumbai’s is a fascinating story, which she wants to share with the world. Alisha recalls, “As a student of History at St. Xavier’s College, I was trained to conduct walks inside and around the Asiatic Society building as part of their bi-centenary celebrations in 2004-5. For a year, we led group tours into the Society acquainting them with its collections, work and history,  – a history closely linked with that of the city. I guess I just stayed interested!”

What makes Mumbai Heritage Walk so unique?

“Well, it’s the city I grew up in and one that – as I said – has endlessly fascinating histories, stories, myths and memories associated with and illustrated by its physical spaces and buildings, mentions Alisha. What’s significant and unfortunate at the same time is that these remain little known to most of Mumbai’s citizens. The challenge and reward lie in bringing all of it alive in a way that is engaging and tailored to each specific audience.

Why should you go for a Heritage Walk in Mumbai?

Alisha’s primary aim in conducting heritage walks is to give the people of Mumbai a fun and stimulating opportunity to engage with their own heritage. Her objective is to spark an interest in heritage that lasts, grows, or at the very least, create positive memories of a fantastic heritage experience – thus breaking the notion that history/heritage is irrelevant and boring. She feels, “This mission is grounded in the belief that heritage – tangible and intangible, cultural and physical, yours, mine and ours – matters. It matters as a vital source of pride and identity, of learning and understanding, and of fun, pleasure and inspiration. By building understanding and appreciation for heritage amongst those to whom it belongs, one-step and individual at a time, the Inheritage Project aspires to stimulate its preservation in the long run.”

Challenges faced

Alisha admits, “I think the biggest challenge is how overwhelming the amount of work involved can seem sometimes. Conducting the walks, keeping myself up to date with information and also researching new routes and themes to offer. I face this the only way I can – one day at a time. The work is so satisfying though that it makes it all worthwhile!”

Book your Walk

At the moment, the Inheritage Walks focus on the old ‘Fort’ area in Mumbai. All walks are organised on request in an effort to make them as customised, personal and flexible as possible. So in effect, you are free to pick a day and time that suits you. Groups choose whether they would like to walk for 2 or 3 hours and accordingly the fees mentioned as below:

  • For 2 hours: Rs 400 per person for groups of 3 or more / Rs 1200 in total for groups of between 1 & 3 persons
  • For 3 hours: Rs 500 per person for groups of 3 or more / Rs 1500 in total for groups of between 1 & 3 persons

What is covered in the Heritage Walk?

At the moment, the walks focus on the old ‘Fort’ area in Mumbai. Alisha offers a number of different routes across the Fort. Represented along the routes are the diverse architectural styles and traditions characteristic of this city – Neo classical, Indo-Saracenic, Bombay Gothic, Art Deco, to name the most prominent. The routes further trace the history and development of the core city of Old Bombay.

You will get in-depth inputs on the Gateway of India, Dhanraj Mahal, the gorgeous Maharashtra Police Headquarters (a must see during evenings when it is lit up so magnificently), Regal Cinema, Wellington Fountain, National Gallery of Modern Art, St. Andrew’s Churtch in the Old Dockyard Road, the famous Kala Ghoda, Elphinstone College, Army Navy Building, David Sassoon Library, the Watson Hotel, University Campus to name a few. “My aim is to highlight the many fascinating stories hidden in the physical spaces and buildings (that may seem very familiar) of Mumbai today,” adds Alisha.

Best time to visit

Alisha mentions that while one can go for a walk anytime possible, but she adds, “ Of course the winter months provide the most pleasant weather for a heritage walk in this city. However, it is something I offer all year round because the city remains a fascinating place no matter what time of year it is. In summer I’d just advise starting as early in the morning as you are able to wake up and in the monsoon time when it isn’t pouring down rain but everything is cool, green and fresh, the city is lovely to walk in.”

The tourists

Alisha’s had various kinds of people attending the walk, and so far she’s been lucky to have only really positive responses.Tourists, people with friends and family visiting from elsewhere, A LOT of people from the city – those recently moved to the city and those who’ve lived here all their lives – that are interested in knowing more about Mumbai or simply doing something they think is different and fun.

“I’ve had return walkers as well, where people bring their friends and family or coming to do a second route, which is the highest of compliments,” quips Alisha.

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