One of the largest suburbs of Mumbai, Andheri is a maze of commercial as well as residential areas. It is a home to some of the finest Bollywood actors, media folks as well as to sprawling slum areas. And amidst all this cacophony of the suburbs silently and almost in oblivion stands a fascinating geological monument called ‘Gilbert Hill’.
This 200 ft tall monolith structure of predominantly basalt rock is 66 million years old. It was formed during the Mesozoic era. This era is called as the age of reptiles. Interestingly, during this era there was a huge volcanic explosion in which ‘Gilbert Hill’ was squeezed out of the surface of the earth. Gilbert Hill is one of the two such structures found in the entire world. The another such structure is found in Wyoming, USA and is called ‘Devil’s Tower’.
How it got its name
The name ‘Gilbert Hill’ was coined by the Britishers and since then it is known by it. At the foot of the hill is a staircase carved inside the rock, which has to be negotiated carefully to reach the top. One can witness the panoramic view of the entire Andheri area from the top, Bhavan’s college can be seen from its East, Juhu to its West, Versova to its North and Chandivali to its South.
There is also a Hindu temple of Gaodevi Durgamata at the top of the hill. Every year during the festival of Hunuman Jayanti the temple organizes a huge procession across Andheri. Hundreds of devotees visit the temple during that time.
In 2007, Gilbert Hill was declared as the Grade II Heritage structure by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai Region (MCGM). Yet the condition of the hill is deplorable. This monumental structure has now been engulfed on all four sides by a concrete jungle. Barely 11 meters away from the foot of the hill there are sprawling slums and residential complexes. Due to the construction activity around Gilbert Hill it is subjected to erosion. The hill is slowly crumbling as huge chunks of rock fall apart. There have been petitions urging UNESCO to declare the site a world heritage site.
Although the hill is barely a few kilometres from Andheri West station it is not known by many residents of Andheri. The reasons for this could be many. Gilbert hill is at walking distance from Andheri’s very famous Bhavan’s college. Yet there is not a single signboard on that stretch announcing the way to the Gilbert Hill. The dusty and unkempt lanes lead one to the foot of the Gilbert Hill. The roads are badly maintained and are usually strewn with heaps of garbage on both the sides.
It’s time that authorities pay attention to this forgotten jewel of the city before it is reduced to rubble and dust.
How to reach Gilbert Hill
From Andheri station (W) you can take BEST Bus 250 to reach Gilbert Hill. There are also shared autos which will drop you at Bhavan’s college and from there Gilbert Hill is at 5 minutes walking distance. Non-shared auto fare will come between Rs 25 to Rs 30 from Andheri Station (W).