After over two years of tedious restoration work, the iconic 150-year-old “Khada Parsi” statue, a Grade I heritage monument in Mumbai, was unveiled on Friday in the presence of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackarey.
The 40-feet tall, cast-iron monument has a statue of Seth Cursetjee Manockjee (1763-1845), a nineteenth century Parsi businessman-education reformer, perched atop a Corinthian pillar with sculptures of four mermaids surrounding the base.
Standing tall at the busy Byculla flyover junction, it is the only cast-iron statue in the city and according to project consulting architect, Pankaj Joshi, one of only two such statues in the world. “The other is the statue of Cires in Chile,” he said. The estimated cost of the project, which was undertaken by the Brihanmumbai Muncipal Corporation, was just under Rs 1 Crore and Rs 6 lakh would be spent annually for maintenance, Mr. Joshi said.
Built in the 1860s, the monument was commissioned by Cursetjee’s son youngest Manockjee Cursetjee as a tribute to his father, at a cost of Rs 1 lakh. The ornamental statue was in desperate need of attention as it had acquired a reddish-brown patina of dust and had numerous parts missing or stolen over the years.
The four-feet-tall lamps were stolen in the seventies and the fountain at the base of the Corinthian column had also almost disappeared. The lamps, which had gone missing, have been replaced and the fountain – water issues from the conches being blown by the mermaids – has been repaired. The mermaid water fountain at the base has been made up of black basalt rock brought from Rajasthan.
“The statue’s base was below the ground when we started work and our main task was to integrate it with the adjoining landscape,” said Mr. Joshi. A glossy black monument will now greet passers-by. Over 400-odd pieces, which were lost from the original figure due to corrosion and impact damage, have been restored. The stones used for restoration were brought from Rajasthan, Mangalore and Nagpur.