Gilbert Hill, the ancient monolithic rock in Andheri, will soon be a buzzing tourist spot if the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) is to be believed. The tourism body has just approved a makeover project of Rs 100 crore for the site, which will soon have a restaurant and adventure sports facilities.
Gilbert Hill is said to have formed out of molten magma rising up from the Earth’s crust. There is a Durgamata temple atop it currently. Pic/Kaushik Thanekar
Located behind Bhavan’s College, the hill is said to have formed out of molten magma rising up from the earth and dates back to the Mesozoic Era, about 66 million years old. It is primarily composed of basalt rock and was declared a Grade-II heritage structure by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation in February 2008.
The proposal endeavours to develop facilities for bungee jumping and paragliding upon its 2,000 square feet of tabletop area, which currently has a Durga temple. At the base of the hill, the plan proposes to construct a restaurant. MTDC expects visitors from foreign countries to flock to the spot. “Efforts to make the hill and the nearby area a tourist and leisure spot are underway. Approvals for financing the project are being sought,” said Ashok Jadhav, the local MLA.
Activist Sundari Thakur credits Jadhav for campaigning for the project, which, she says, took five years to secure an approval from MTDC.
Making it safe
The 200-feet high hill has been notorious for incidences of crime, with drug addicts and goons causing problems. 19 suicides have also been reported in the past four years from the hill. The plan also includes a possible solution to this – setting up a beat chowky under the D N Nagar police station at the foothill, to make it safer for tourists.
The structure has taken a beating from unmitigated development and encroachments around it, causing it to develop cracks. Locals regularly complain of soil and loose stones falling onto their homes. “Every monsoon, small stones fall on our windowpanes and cars and damage them,” said Rushabh Acharya, who stays near the hill.
Jamil Haider, a resident of a nearby chawl, added, “Apart from safety, steps must be taken to protect the hill itself. If the authorities do not take timely action, we will lose this unique structure.”
The civic body has promised to survey the hill and cover the dangerous spots with wire mesh to prevent debris from falling onto houses below. On top, fencing will prevent any further untoward incidents. CM Prithviraj Chavan, too, has taken cognisance of the matter and has asked officials to check on the possibility of beautifying the hill and its surrounding areas. The assistant commissioner of the ward has also been directed to ensure no further encroachment occurs.
The proposal has been sent to the MMRDA, which has forwarded it to the CM. A joint meeting between MMRDA, CM and MTDC will be held in the coming weeks to chart out a way forward for the project.
“Mumbaikars can expect a facelift to Gilbert Hill. We have received the proposal from the MLA (Ashok Jadhav) and we will sit with an architect to chalk out a plan to see how to carry out these modifications,” said a senior official from MTDC.