Mumbai: City loses one of its earliest heritage policymakers

Updated: Jul 14, 2019, 07:25 IST | Fiona Fernandez | Mumbai

Sadashiv Gorakshkar, former director of CSMVS, who crafted Mumbai's earliest heritage regulations, passes away

Sadashiv Gorakshkar. Pic courtesy/Wikimedia commons
Sadashiv Gorakshkar. Pic courtesy/Wikimedia commons

As news of the passing of Sadashiv Gorakshkar, former director of Prince of Wales Museum (now Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, CSMVS), started trickling in yesterday, words like 'mentor' and 'guide' could be spotted in social media tributes by Mumbai's heritage voices, as they reminisced his contribution.

The author, art critic and museologist represented all these tags, as he championed the cause of heritage awareness in the city. The 86-year-old left behind a legacy that resonates among those who worked alongside him or benefitted from his knowledge of the city. "Late Sadashiv Gorakshkar was my friend and mentor until his death. He was considered one of the architects of the modern museum movement," recalls Sabyasachi Mukherjee, director of CSMVS. Gorakshkar, he shares, was the first voice to speak up about the need for a heritage management programme in India. "Few will remember that the city's heritage movement was actually started from Coomaraswamy Hall, and he was one of the key contributors in shaping the present heritage regulations." In recognition of his contribution towards art and culture, Gorakshkar was conferred the Padma Shri.

He was a prolific writer who documented the state's history, art and culture. Some of his works include Raj Bhavans in Maharashtra, Animals in Indian Art and The Maritime Heritage of India. Anita Garware, chairperson of the Indian Heritage Society, remembers how the then governor of Maharashtra, late PC Alexander had offered him residence inside the serene environs of the Raj Bhavan to offer access during his research.

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"We worked closely on that book. In the early 1990s, while I was trying to save Banganga [Garware was the brains behind the now-defunct Banganga Festival], he was on the committee under the chairmanship set up by the then BMC commissioner. I have the greatest respect for his in-depth knowledge of the city. His door was always open to share wisdom, even though he had duties as director of the museum," she recalls, adding, "He was my guide and mentor since 1991." This view is echoed by conservation architect Vikas Dilawari, "Gorakshkar was responsible for encouraging youngsters like us in those days to join the heritage movement."

Mukherjee puts his passing in the right perspective: "He was a proud nationalist, but also a preacher of liberal education and international understanding. His demise is a huge loss to the museum movement of India and the city, which is now struggling to protect its multi-layered cultural fabric."

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