BMC to restore two heritage milestones in Sion and Chunabhatti
BMC and heritage tour conductor repair Sion, Chunabhatti relics with help of skilled masons
Milestone in Chunabhatti and Restoration underway
Two historic British-era milestones, thought to be lost, are quietly being restored and will return to their original locations next month. The centuries-old basalt-cut milestones that were damaged are being repaired with the expertise of conservation architect Tapan Mittal-Deshpande.
Deshpande, who is heading the project for the BMC and works for heritage tour company, Khakhi tours, said these historic landmarks should be restored to their original glory so that they can hold together for at least another 200 years. Incidentally, the BMC decided to tie up with Khaki and Deshpande to give a facelift to the milestones after some officials attended one of their walks.
Milestone in Sion and Restoration underway
Of the two milestones, the first one, identified as Milestone VIII, was located outside Tamil Sangham, Sion. It was damaged by a lorry earlier this month. The other damaged milestone — Milestone IX — was found lying inside the Chunabhatti pump house. It was first spotted in 2013 by two former students of St Xavier's College in Mumbai, Lester Gavin Martis and Ashwini Nawathe, who at the time, were pursuing an MA in Ancient Indian Culture and Archaeology. "Locals had planned to blast the stone with the help of construction workers and convert it into a grinding stone.
Alarmed, we had asked the BMC pumping station officials to shift it inside the premises of the pumping station," Nawathe recalled. Deshpande, who identified the stone with the F-North ward officer, said it had been split into two and also required stitching. "The milestones were restored by stone-stitching using metal dowels," Deshpande said.
Bharat Gothoskar of Khaki Tours said, "These milestones are important relics. Giving them a facelift and returning them to their original locations is the least we can do."
No. of milestones in need of urgent restoration
According to state archives, these milestones belong to two categories based on the year they were commissioned. Horniman Circle's St Thomas Church built in 1817 had the Zero Mile beside it. Therefore, the first category of milestones belongs to 1817 and bear the inscription 'St Thomas's Church'. The second category belongs to 1837 when St Thomas Church was consecrated as St Thomas Cathedral. Hence, this set of milestones is inscribed with the words 'St Thomas Cathedral'. These milestones were not more than 1.30 m in height.
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