UNESCO lists contrasting Art Deco and Victorian Gothic buildings of Mumbai as heritage

British and Indian styles hold onlookers in awe

Mumbai’s Art Deco buildings, which line the three-kilometer long palm-fringed Marine Drive promenade, which are also called Indian Miami, were added on Saturday to UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

>< These are believed to be the world's second largest collection of such buildings apfter Miami. The city's better-known Victorian Gothic architecture, too, is celebrated in India.

The two vastly different architectural traditions face off against each other across the popular Oval Maidan playing field, where enthusiastic young cricketers hone their skills.

Most of the Art Deco buildings are five storeys high and painted in bright colors such as yellow, pink and blue.

On one side lie imposing and rather austere 19th century buildings housing the Bombay High Court and Mumbai University, with their spires and lancet windows. On the other side stand sleeker buildings boasting curved corners, balconies, vertical lines and exotic motifs.

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They were built by wealthy Indians who sent their architects to Europe to come up with modern designs different to those of their colonial rulers.

Mumbai’s Deco buildings have always lived in the shadow of the Victorian Gothic structures built by the British but Art Deco is no less. It’s a colourful and vibrant style that represented the aspirations of a whole new class.

These Art Deco buildings house residential properties, commercial offices, hospitals and single screen movie theatres, including the popular Regal and Eros cinemas.

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