Take a walk down heritage lane

Sep 21, 2011, 07:08 IST | Soma Das

Sign up for Heritage Week 2011, an eight-day event that includes guided tours, a documentary screening and a concert, to get a brand new perspective on the city and its history

Sign up for Heritage Week 2011, an eight-day event that includes guided tours, a documentary screening and a concert, to get a brand new perspective on the city and its history

In 1984, France hosted its first Open Doors Day, allowing visitors to roam through historic palaces and buildings, that were off-limits earlier. The event's success spurred the Council of Europe in 1991 to launch the European Heritage Days. Since then, heritage sites across Europe are made accessible to everyone for a few days in September every year. In its second edition, Heritage Week 2011 seeks to celebrate Mumbai in a similar manner. Spread across seven days, the event will include presentations, guided tours and trails, a concert and a documentary screening.

"We exported the concept to get Mumbaikars acquainted to their city's hidden treasures. People often pass through these historic areas on their way to work but few know of their significance. Heritage Week will show the city in a new light and help people develop a sense of collective identity through their heritage," says Ariane Tricaud, cultural coordinator at Alliance Francaise.

Check out the impressive architecture during the guided tours from
Kala Ghoda to Horniman Circle.

A lesson back in time
History buffs can enjoy social activist Anita Garware's presentation on Mumbai's history. Garware, the chairperson of the Indian Heritage Society, will shed light on how national events impacted Mumbai, from the times of Emperor Ashoka to the Independence Movement. "I am not a historian, so this will be an interactive discussion rather than a history lesson," admits Garware. Over a 45-minute presentation, she will delve into the history of areas such as Walkeshwar, Pydhonie and Banganga. "Mumbai is often considered as a creation of the British but it has a rich history that goes back to the 3rd century BC," adds Garware.

Quartet Diotima play contemporary music as well as late 20th century
classics within a string quartet repertoire, from Haydn to Bartok.

Lights, camera, action
Mumbai is synonymous with movie-making and Bollywood but few know much about its fascinating film history. Historian, film theorist and curator Amrit Gangar's talk on Cinematic City: Bombay/ Mumbai will take you through the history of films, film studios and theatres as well as share stories about the emergence of early films and moving images.

Go on an Irani cafe trail from Kyani Cafe to Britannia Cafe and Cafe
Military and watch a documentary on the cafes.

"Once films began to be imported into the city or made in its studios, most of the city's play or opera houses were gradually turned into cinema houses. In the vicinity of the city's red-light area of Falkland Road, there are, within a radius of barely a kilometer, about half a dozen such play-houses which were converted to film-houses, and they bear witness to the city's former ways of entertainment.
Even today, people call this area Pilla (Play) House," says Gangar. Interestingly, some of the Pilla House theatres have retained tombs in their basements, tracing their past back to Arab and other traders who would camp on the open grounds  here.

What's more
Apart from these lectures, you can listen to the Quartet Diotima, a musical outfit that plays contemporary music along with classical compositions. Don't miss Khalid Mohamed's documentary, The Last Irani Chai, which re-visits Irani chai shops that are on the verge of extinction.

You can also go along for guided tours and wander through Kanheri Caves learning about how the rock cut caves were carved by Buddhist monks in the 11th century AD. Writer and researcher Rafique Baghdadi will take you through three Irani cafes to taste their specialities.

From: September 22 to 29
Call: 22035993

September 22
Conference: A history of Mumbai
by Anita Garware
At: Alliance Francaise auditorium.
September 23
Guided tour to Kanheri caves
September 24
Guided tour from Kala Ghoda to Horniman Circle, The Asiatic Society
September 26
Conference: Cinematic City:
Bombay / Mumbai by Amrit Gangar
At: Alliance Francaise Auditorium.
September 27
Concert by Quartet Diotima
At: Experimental Theatre, NCPA.
September 28
Guided tour of Irani cafes with Rafique Baghdadi
September 29
Screening of The Last of the
Irani cafes
At: Alliance Francaise Auditorium.

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