HERITAGE WALK INSIDE THE BMC HEADQUARTERS

The Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC) Building aka the MCGM Headquarters is located in the Fort area of Mumbai, opposite to the CSMT railway station – which is a UNESCO world heritage site. Both these iconic landmarks were designed by the British architect Frederick William Stevens, who worked for the British colonial government in India.

The 128-year-old BMC building represents a blend of Venetian Gothic and Indo-Saracenic style of architecture. The project was commenced in the year 1884, and was completed in 1893.

About the Guided Tour:

The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has empanelled Khaki Tours, a tourism agency, to conduct guided heritage walks inside the BMC headquarters. At the top of the BMC building, there is a huge winged statue with a Latin phrase carved in stone that reads ‘urbs prima in Indis’, the first city of India. Hence, the organizers have named the walk ‘Urbs Prima’.

Packed inside 90 minutes, the tour covers the city’s history and the architecture of the building with lesser known stories told by a guide. The main features of the walk are – The Gilded Dome, A Duck Fountain, Lions from Italy, Floating Staircase, a Museum and a sneak peak inside the Corporation Hall and Meeting Room. My best moment in the walk was when we arrived at the 1st floor gallery and that offered a grand view of the glorious CSMT station. Access to the top Dome was another astounding highlight.

Take a Video Tour:

Few facts about the BMC Headquarters:

  1. The estimated cost sanctioned was Rs. 11,88,082, while the actual cost incurred was Rs. 11,19,962 – a savings of 5.7%.
  2. In its formation years, the BMC operated from a office inside a modest building at the terminus of Girgaum Road. In 1870, it was shifted to Esplanade, and finally in 1884, the foundation stone was laid opposite to the CSMT station.
  3. Sir Pherozeshah Merwanjee Mehta (KCIE – Knight Commander of the Indian Empire) was a Parsi politician and a lawyer. He became the Municipal commissioner of Bombay and President 4 times. His statue firmly stands at the entrance of the BMC headquarters.
  4. There are two water tanks between the lower Dome and the Upper Dome, both of which are now concealed to protect the structure.
  5. The tall and imposing feature of the building, its souring tower surmounted by the massive dome rises to a height of about 235 feet, about 20 metres taller than the CSMT station building.

How to book the Urbs Prima Heritage Walk:

The guided tour is conducted only on the weekends. The group size is kept small due to the ongoing pandemic situation. Visitors can book tickets through bookmyshow.com at a cost of Rs. 300/- per person. Mobile photography is free, for professional photography with a DSLR camera, visitors will have to buy an add-on ticket. Carry a valid Government photo identity-card for security clearance.

Night view of the CSMT Railway Station and the BMC headquarters recorded in my previous visit:

Photographs taken during the walk inside the BMC headquarters:

Floating Staircase.
View from the Gallery.

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Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai

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