The Kala Ghoda Association was founded primarily for the maintenance, co-ordination and upkeep of the architectural and cultural heritage and various facilities and services in the Kala Ghoda precinct. While the eponymous arts festival, the largest multi-cultural festival probably in Asia, has become the calling card of the Association, KGA’s contribution to heritage conservation has been substantial. The Kala Ghoda Association, thus is not just a nine-day annual wonder of the arts festival, but a year-round commitment to the physical environment of not only the immediate Kala Ghoda, but also the neighbouring Fort area.
The first efforts were modest due to financial constraints and involved cleaning the precinct, introduction of street furniture, the construction of the amphitheater on Rampart Row (Kaikashru Dubash Marg,Kalaghoda Fort) and ridding the area of undesirable criminal elements, including drug peddlers, with the help of the local police. This was the period when the Association was gradually establishing its credentials both with the state authorities and the area’s property owners and users.
The Association’s first major initiative was the restoration of the façade of the Elphinstone College, one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the country.
In recent years the KGA has accelerated the pace of its restoration projects. One of the major beneficiaries has been the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), formerly the Prince of Wales Museum. Not only has the KGA spent on upgrading the Museum Library but has provided a further funds for the restoration of the center dome and repairs of the main building. This commitment of the KGA is on a continuous, yearly basis to CSMVS.
The KGA has also restored and landscaped the garden of the David Sassoon Library. This is the venue of the literature segment of the Festival and KGA further provides an annual maintenance grant for this. The KGA has also contributed towards repairs to the building housing the Bombay Natural History Society.
The KGA contributes regularly towards The Oval Trust, which maintains the Cross Maidan as well. The Horniman Circle Garden has also benefitted from the Association.
The heritage facade of the Kala Ghoda Bhadekaru building 1 & 2, with the iconic Rhythm House on the ground floor has been restored and beautified with an art mural representation of a horse.
In 2016 , KGA has embarked on a slew of heritage restoration projects. These included the Bomanjee Hormarjee Wadia Clock Tower at Bazaar Gate Street, Ruttonsee Mulji Jetha Fountain at the junction of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Road and Mint Road, Fort (site currently under restoration by Conservation architect Vikas Dilawari, is being funded by the KGA) and Seth Gangadas Vijbhukhandas & Mulji Nandlal Religious & Charitable Trust Pyao at the Horniman Circle Garden. Permissions for these were secured from the Heritage Committee and from the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai.
The Kala Ghoda Association mandate is also to motivate the spread and dissemination of cultural knowledge. To this effect, it has provided grants to the Urban Development Research Institute for the preparation of a presentation to UNESCO to declare the Fort precinct as a UNESCO heritage site.
Bomanjee Hormarjee Wadia Clock Tower, 1882
Bomanjee Hormarjee Wadia Clock Tower, located at the junction of Bazaar Gate Street and Perin Nariman Street, Fort Mumbai was erected in 1882. It was a commemorative fountain erected in honour of Bomanjee Homarjee Wadia who died on 3rd July 1862 and who had contributed largely in the service of the city. The KGA funded and completed restoration work on this structure with the expertise of conservation architect Vikas Dilawari in December 2016. “No one had ever gone up on the top of the clock tower. We could not suvey it because it was so precarious. All the slabs were in a very rickety condition. If someone would have stepped on the terrace it would have collapsed. We repaired it right from scratch. The top of the tower was structurally consolidated & the rest of it was cleaned. There was a lot of engineering work that needed to be done to this structure. The two main difficulties were the fact that the clock tower is bang in the middle of the road & secondly that it was in very poor condition. So we had to be very careful that no debri fell on any passerbys. KGA will maintain the structure post its restoration.” Mr Dilawari commented.
The restored structure was inaugurated by the Municipal Commissioner of Greater Mumbai, Shri Ajoy Mehta today.
Seth Gangadas Vijbhukhandas & Mulji Nandlal Religious & Charitable Trust Pyao, Horniman Circle Garden, 1873.
The existing underground well located below the Horniman Circle garden, was excavated in 1811. Subsequently, Seth Gangadas Vijbhukhandas Shroff, funded the establishment of the public water drinking Pyao. The Bhatt water bearers, and their subsequent generations, have looked after the Pyao, as care takers even until today. The KGA funded and completed restoration work with the Urban Design Research Institute as appointed architects, in December 2016. KGA will maintain the structure post its restoration. The structure was inaugurated by the Municipal Commissioner of Greater Mumbai, Shri Ajoy Mehta on Thursday 05 January 2017.