Old is gold! But we need to preserve it before it becomes extinct and has no meaning for the future generation. Likewise every city has a past that needs to be preserved since it holds pages from a history book that is its pride.
“Heritage helps us to establish connection with our past culture. There are many unknown persons who have left their mark in history of this city which people must know. Here the past exists along with present. I hope that people get aware of this before we lose it. I wish to work for preserving the heritage of the city,” shares Kunal Ravi Tripathi, the brain behind Mumbai Heritage project, in an email conversation with me.
I first came across the project when someone had retweeted a tweet of Mumbai Heritage on my timeline. More than the beautiful Instagram picture, the associated note that spoke about the place was really very interesting. Having a keen interest in History, I browsed through the pictures on Instagram. The clicks were stunning but the associated information was well researched and useful too.
I got in touch with the engineer who loves exploring lesser known places of Mumbai and share their history through his Instagram handle @mumbaiheritage. Recently he has also started tweeting trivia about Mumbai from his Twitter handle @mumbaiheritage.
Edited excerpts of the interview have been shared below:
Prasant Naidu (PN): What is Mumbai Heritage project and how did it come into existence?
Kunal Tripathi (KT): Sometime in December last year, a colleague took me to visit “Sardar Griha” at Crawford Market. I had never heard of this place before. Lokmanya Tilak had breathed his last inside this building on 01 Aug 1920. His room today houses the office of his newspaper ‘Kesari’ and some memorabilia – photos & letters. It sparked an interest in me to explore the lesser known places of Mumbai. I also visited the temple near Crawford Market where Mahatma Jyotirao Phule was bestowed with the title “MAHATMA” on 11 May 1888. Then I visited the oldest synagogue of Mumbai, learnt about the milestones of old Bombay and so on. Eventually, I started gathering information about such places from various sources and started posting it on Instagram (@mumbaiheritage).
There are so many such places which offer a glimpse to our rich past. I am not a historian, just a learner and want to spread this and create awareness. Now I suggest people to see least visited places like the remnants of the original Bombay Fort near ST. George Hospital, the milestones of Bombay, replica of Gateway of India in Gamdevi and many such new places which I have learnt about.
PN: How do you plan your heritage moves, what kind of research is involved in it since you share a lot of trivia behind your content?
KT: I have prepared a list of places in and around Mumbai which I have to visit. I go through old books, journals, newspaper articles etc. to study the historical background. The first full account of Mumbai was published in 1863 which is still famous amongst the students learning the history of the city. The dates and figures are accurate as available in the sources. Usually I start collecting data from various sources, match the accuracy, and then only post it.
Two of my colleagues, Atul Parab and Nitin Nimbalkar have helped me in searching some of the locations. But most of the times, I work alone.
PN: You have an exciting presence on Instagram. How has social media helped Mumbai Heritage?
KT: I am a little more than a year old on Instagram. I must admit here that if not for Instagram or Twitter, I wouldn’t have ventured into exploring heritage of Mumbai. My Instagram family has supported and encouraged me well. Social media is apt to create awareness which is my only intention, and am happy to get positive response.
PN: What lessons have you learnt from social media?
KT: Social media has helped me reach my communication goals. It has helped to interact with new people and share ideas. Now more people ask me about the places which I have posted so that they can visit them.
Kunal’s wish to work for preserving the heritage of the city is inspiring and in the near future he wishes to organize some heritage walks of selected places in the city. If you love Mumbai and want to get a hold of its beautiful past then you must give Mumbai Heritage a look, you won’t be disappointed.