Public viewing of our heritage

Jun 27, 2015, 09:06 IST | The Guide Team

Most global cities that rank high on tourist maps are those that showcase their public buildings with pride

The interiors of the BMC Building offer a stunning panorama of the city’s growth and architectural finesse. Pic/Rane Ashish

Most global cities that rank high on tourist maps are those that showcase their public buildings with pride. Sadly, ours doesn’t. How many of us have actually seen the interiors of the BMC building or the General Post Office? For our city to stand out as a buzzing, thriving tourist hub, this vital cog must be addressed and accounted for. Tourist itineraries miss out on our historic landmarks -- from the ones we’ve spelt above to the Town Hall, the Fort University complex, the David Sassoon Reading Library or the St Andrew’s Church opposite Lion Gate. The list is endless. And we continue to miss out on highlighting our rich architecture --that’s easily one of the most diverse celebrations of styles among Asian cities, if not the world.

Better signage, please

Information boards will add value and pride to our city’s local history. Pic/Bipin Kokate

How often have you spotted an old, classic-styled building tucked in one of Fort’s bylanes, and wished that there was some signage around to give you a background about the imperial staircase or its archaic elevator? The case is the same for most of our tourist attractions and historic places of interest. We draw a blank when it comes to offering the public a glimpse into our fabulous history, thereby losing a chance to inform, educate, and hopefully, create a positive impression that the citizen and the visitor might have for the city’s repository of long-forgotten landmarks. 

More cultural and themed festivals

Elephanta Festival must be held on the island to retain its importance on the city’s tourist itinerary. Kathak danseuse Prachee Shah performs at an earlier edition of the festival when it was held on the Elephanta Island. Pic/Atul Kamble

Whatever happened to the Banganga Festival? The Elephanta Festival is now held at the Gateway of India, while many others like Jazz Yatra and more recently, the Horniman Circle Festival have faded away. The city was once a buzzing hub of cultural activity. While neighboruhood initiatives manage to hold their own in places like Bandra, Andheri and South Mumbai, thanks to generous funding, a larger part of the city remains devoid of such fervour, and celebration -- that must be reflective of a dynamic, culturally active metropolis. This, in turn, should be the essence and the ethos of a tourist-friendly city.

Trusted and informed guides

Official guides will make tourists feel reassured in Mumbai. Pic/Sameer Markande

‘We were taken for a ride!’ This line echoes ever so often as we see out-of-towners throw their arms up in the air after a forgettable Mumbai Darshan. It’s a constant concern for the Indian or the international tourist. What stops our state tourism department from having strict regulations where only trained guides operate at our landmarks and places of interest? If Mumbai wishes to woo the tourist, this is a small, but crucial indicator and a positive step so that can go a long way to make tourists feel safe, and in good hands as they discover the city.

Youth power

The earlier children are exposed to our treasures, the better

Start ‘em young, as the adage goes. A great way to make the city respect and be aware of its fine heritage and landmarks is by getting the young involved. Our school curriculum is woefully inadequate and barely touches upon the fascinating history and geography of Mumbai (and Bombay). The sooner this changes, the easier it will be for the next generation to take an interest in our city’s tourist attractions. Civic sense can also become a key area to touch upon.

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