Heritage Education in India

Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage
 


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Heritage Alerts
April 2018

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Poster-making contest for students

The Heritage Education and Communication Service (HECS) division of INTACH is organising an all-India poster-making competition ‘Route to Roots’ for students of Classes 6 to 9. The competition will be held at 10 a.m. on March 31 at KTCT School at Kaduvapally. The national winners will be taken on a trip to New Delhi. According to a press note, posters need to be prepared on a unique heritage aspect of the participant’s family or community. The poster will have to be accompanied by a 100-word write-up. The poster and supporting write-up will have to be prepared at the venue within two-and-a-half hours. For details, call: Shaji Krishnan (98470 61989).

- http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-kerala/poster-making-contest-for-students/article23388069.ece, April 2, 2018

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Centuries old Dara Shikoh runs in ruins

Srinagar: The state government is yet to renovate centuries old Dara Shikoh Mosque, which has over the years suffered a steady damage. Situated on the foothills of Koh-e-Maran near the shrine of Makhdoom Sahib (RA) in old Srinagar, this Mughal structure was built by Dara Shikoh, son of Emperor Shah Jahan, for his tutor Akhoon Mullah Shah (RA). It was built in 1639 AD, of grey limestone. The stone lotus finial over the pulpit is the only example of its kind, but now the lotus is in ruined state while its petals lie fallen inside the mosque. Despite historic designation, the hopes and efforts to preserve and revitalize have faltered. Similar other monuments too are in ruins. The State Convener of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) claims that the Dara Shikoh Mosque and the four compartment Hamam comes under the Waqf Board. SaleemBeigh, Convener INTACH, said the Dara Shikoh Mosque was not a protected mosque “but a property that comes under Waqf board”. “It has also hamam which consists of four rooms. It is the only surviving mosque hammam from the Mughal era. The hammam was a leisure and multifunctional social place for the Mughals. Both the mosque and hammam comes under the waqf board,” he said. He claims that one portion of hammam was given to a retired chowkidar and the waqf has even failed to vacate him. “The mosque and the hamam have an institutionalized ownership,” he said. “Mullah Akhoon complex is a bigger mosque. It is a nationally protected monument by Archaeology Survey of India (ASI). There has been two damages to the monuments since 2010. The rainfall led to the fall of calligraphic stones. The mosque has a madrassa inside it, which was damaged and has not been even excavated so far,” he said. He also said the concerned departments have the responsibility to protect the historic monuments and heritages. However, an official in the Waqf Board said the preservation of historic monuments comes under the department of Archaeology. “All the historic monuments are under archaeology and it is a notified monument. It needs conservation expertise. But the religious part comes under our department. If there is a need to facilitate religious activities, then only it comes under our department,” he said. The mosque situated below the Makhdoom Sahib Shrine was constructed in 1639 AD by Dara Shikoh, son of Emperor Shah Jahan, for his tutor Akhoon Mullah Shah (RA). Therefore it is also known as Masjid Akhoon Mullah Shah. Mohammad ShafiZahid, Director, Museums and Archaeology Department in Srinagar, said it was the responsibility of people to come forward and help in restoration and preservation of the monuments. “People should help to remove the encroachments as well.” He also said that their department has restored many historic places like the HariParbhat fort.

- http://brighterkashmir.com/centuries-old-dara-shikoh-runs-in-ruins/, April 2, 2018

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The new Underground Delhi: Art, travel, food — all by the Metro

For Binod Mairta, a writer, the history of Delhi can be divided into two periods: pre-Metro and post-Metro. “Delhi was a highly staid and stratified city; it did not have the chemistry of a metropolis. But Metro changed that,” says Mairta, whose book, A Rose on The Platform, explores the role Metro plays in the matters of the heart. “Metro is the only transport mode where you can find someone from a lower middle-class neighbourhood in east Delhi travelling with someone from an elite south Delhi neighbourhood. The new metro stations look like airport terminals, greatly adding to the experience of the city.” Since its inception in 2002, Delhi Metro has come a long way – not just in terms of its reach in the sprawling city, but how its stations look and feel -- and the role they play in the lives of Delhiites. Many stations on the newly opened sections of Pink and Magenta lines such as new Netaji Subhash Place and Kalkaji Mandir boast of sleek, sophisticated interiors: baffle ceilings with an interesting play of LED lights; marbled walls with dozens of artworks; granite floors; designer panels on trackside walls. If Netaji Subhash Place station looks like a modern airport terminal, the new Azadpur station, with its high- ceiling and massive fans, exudes an old-world charm. And today, people go to the city’s slick subterranean spaces that also boast high-end food and retail outlets not just for their daily commute, but also to eat, drink, shop and socialise. “When I took a ride with my father on the inaugural day in 2002, the stations were bare whitewashed brick structures. Now many new underground stations are fine examples of interior urbanism. They have emerged as vibrant public spaces,” says Aditya Gupta, 29, an architect as he admires artworks inside the newly opened Netaji Subhash Park station. Hundreds of works of over 48 artists—both upcoming and experienced—adorn the stations on the Pink and Magenta lines. Artists say many Delhi metro station concourses are like vast art galleries. “Thousands of people can view your work in hours, which is not possible in a conventional art space. Nothing excites an artist more than the sight of people viewing her art,” says Renu Sharma, a mosaic artist, whose work will be displayed in the soon-to-be-opened Chirag Delhi, Munirika and Vasant Vihar stations. “While functionality and legibility continue to be our primary concerns, we now also focus on the aesthetics of the stations. We are creating stations with a contemporary look.” says Anuj Dayal, chief spokesperson, Delhi Metro.

Art in transit
Metro’s brush with art started in right earnest with the Mandi House station when th Mandi House- Janpath - Central Secretariat section on Line 6 opened in 2014. It has since engaged various organisations such as INTACH, ICHR , and India Habitat Centre to promote artworks at various stations. Most stations opened in the past three years have paintings, sculptures or installations. “Over the years we realised Metro can also be a vehicle to promote art and culture. We invite entries from artists to display their work at the stations,” says Dayal. Metro has collaborated with India Habitat Centre for regular exhibitions at Mandi House and Jor Bagh stations which have dedicated exhibition space under the ‘Art in the Metro’ initiative. The ongoing exhibition at Mandi House, titled The City of Waste’ has on display 42 photographs by six French researchers, exploring the role of waste workers in society. “Over the past two years, we have displayed everything from graphic novels to paintings to photographs. We showcase art that is immediate and has a strong cultural significance,” says Alka Pande, curator, Visual Arts Gallery at IHC, which is responsible for putting up exhibitions at the two stations. “Our aim is to bring aesthetics to everyday commute.” Art in Metro at Mandi House, which has an average daily footfall of about 1.9 lakh, seems to be a hit with commuters-- one can see people stopping and looking intently at exhibits throughout the day. “The new metro stations provide the right ambiance for people to engage with art,” says Manish Sharma, a graphic designer and painter. “Many people find it intimidating or don’t have the time to visit an art gallery; besides, the metro, which sees a huge rush of people from diverse backgrounds, is a perfect place to democratise art.” He believes Delhi Metro is beginning to rival the Stockholm subway system -- often referred to as ‘the world’s longest art gallery’ with stations on the 110km network displaying thousands of sculptures, mosaics, paintings, installations, engravings, and reliefs by over 150 artists.

Metro social
For many Delhiites, delightful, air-conditioned stations are also whole new unique public spaces that give them a break from the malls. Thousands of them come to metro stations such as Connaught Place to catch up with friends and family—an interesting example of how socialising can become part of the traveling experience. “Underground metro stations have a charm and energy of their own. I often meet my aunts who live in Paschim Vihar at the Rajiv Chowk station over coffee. Metro is one place where women can feel safe in the city,” says Nidhi Khanna, 23, who lives in Noida. Sitting a few seats away from her at a cafe at the Rajiv Chowk station is Rohit Wadhwa, 22, waiting for a friend. “I love to watch people waiting, meeting, rushing in getting in and out of the trains. In fact, I met my girlfriend here at Rajiv Chowk,” says Wadhwa. At times, the two of us just take a long ride in the train. It’s cool and comfortable, and people look at you just as commuters.” In fact, meeting cupid on Delhi Metro is no longer a distant possibility. According to the findings of ‘Train Of Love survey’ conducted a few years back by MetroMates, a dating website, a lot of Delhiites are looking to forge not just friendships, but also find love in the Metro. To the question, “Have you ever made friends or had a date with your fellow travelers, 23% of the respondents said ‘yes’. And to a question if Delhi Metro is good for finding new friends, date or love, 51% respondents said that the Metro is ‘good’ for finding new friends; 26% said that it is good for finding a date and 23% felt the Metro is good enough for finding love too.

A muse for writers
No wonder then Metro has become a muse for many writers, who are penning many transit love stories. “I was always fascinated by the possibilities Metro provided for young men and women to know each other and fall in love,” says Pratyush Sinha, author of Love in Metro: story of love & ego. “I wanted to explore what happens when young men and women travel everyday in the same space, at the same time in such close proximity, without attracting too much attention,” says Sinha, who is writing another love story set in the Delhi Metro. Every writer has his own favourite stations -- Mairta refers to Kashmere Gate as ‘Alpha and Omega of Metro life.’ “It’s so majestic; its four perpendicular lines running at different levels are like vessels carrying blood.” One of the reasons he likes Kashmere Gate is because it boasts of bookshops set by the Sahitya Akademi and the National Book Trust. Opened in 2016, Sahitya Akademi Metro Bookshop at Kashmere Gate has black and white pictures of Indian literary greats such as Toru Dutt, Devaki Nandan Khatri and Nagarjun. The teakwood shelves are stacked with hundreds of titles in over two dozen Indian languages, and the tastefully done interiors are illuminated by soft, low-hanging lights. The bookshop also has a club for Metro commuters. “A lot of people ask for Chetan Bhagat’s books. We also get a lot of people who appreciate serious literature that we sell,” says Darwan Singh, who manages the shop.

A foodie’s paradise
Not just restaurants, food kiosks, and bookshops, stations such as Nehru Place and Dhaula Kuan have food malls and food courts. Nehru Place is home to Epicuria, Delhi’s first ‘food mall’ with high-end bars, fine-dining restaurants that attract people from all over Delhi. “I often come here for business lunch. I get down from the train and go straight down to the basement, which has the interiors of a five-star hotel. No taxi, no auto, no traffic hassles,” says Aman Sachdeva a marketing manager with an MNC in Faridabad. Last year, Dhaula Kuan became the latest food destination on metro’s map with the opening of a food court called Palate of Delhi, which boasts of many popular Indian and international fast food and quick-serving chains. “A lot of our customers are from Delhi cantonment and students from the south campus,” says Krishan Kant, a manager at the food court, which has an American highway style drive-in and drive-out pizza outlet. Abhimanyu Dalal, a well-known architect, says Metro stations have evolved over the years in terms of architect, interiors, and social space. At the same time, he feels Metro needs to focus more on the exteriors of the elevated stations and should have more seating space. “Elevated stations need to be better designed; they are like visual clutter on the cityscape. Besides, stations need to be better integrated with the city and there has to be continuity in terms of where lifts, footpath, and stairs are placed,” says Dalal. “There are issues related to budget, but we are beginning to focus on the exterior. Many of our new elevated stations such as Sukhdev Vihar have a different look.” The Metro stations that you must be on your itinerary this summer

THE ARTS STOPS
Mandi House (Regular art exhibitions)
Metro has collaborated with IHC for displaying art at the new Mandi House and Jorbagh stations that have dedicated panels for art exhibitions under ‘Art in the Metro’ initiative. Both the stations have regular exhibitions curated by India Habitat Centre. The ongoing exhibition at Mandi House is titled The City of Waste, which has on display 42 photographs by six French researchers, exploring the role of waste workers in society.

INA (Art & crafts gallery)
The station has a crafts gallery with over 58 panels displaying paintings and handloom by national award-winning painters, craftsmen and artists from all over the country. The exhibits include Mithila paintings from Bihar, terracotta tiles from Rajasthan, Tanjore paintings from Tamil Nadu, fine straw work from Kerala and pithora painting from Gujarat. Lok Kalyan Marg (A crafts map gallery)

The station is home to a unique gallery of craft maps, such as a shawl map of Srinagar, and a map made entirely out of terracotta stars. There are 48 craft maps covering all Indian states. Conceptualized by Dastkari Haat Samiti, a national association of Indian crafts people, the maps also give information about the haats, art hubs and festivals of each state.

THE MUSEUM STOPS
Patel Chowk (Metro museum)
The Delhi Metro Museum at the Patel Chowk Metro Station showcases the genesis and history of the Delhi Metro, covering its all major milestones. Possibly the only museum in a functional Metro station worldwide, it has a rich display of photographs and models of the metro train, stations, etc; there are interactive pods that show videos and films on many technical aspects such as the working of the tunnel boring machines and segment launchers.

Udyog Bhawan Metro station (A museum replica corner)

The National Museum has set up a Museum Replica Corner and 11 displays at the Udyog Bhawan Metro station. These displays provide a glimpse into the precious collections of the National Museum and other art-related activities. The idea behind the initiative is to direct commuters to the National Museum, which is about a 5-minute walk from the Udyog Bhavan station.

THE LITERARY STOP
Kashmere Gate (Bookshops)
The station has well-stocked bookstores, one each by National Book Trust and The Sahitya Akademi. The Akademi bookstore, opened in 2016, called Sahitya Akademi Metro Bookshop, has hundreds of titles in over two dozen Indian languages. The shop has tastefully done interiors with have black and white pictures of Indian literary greats such as Toru Dutt, Devaki Nandan Khatri and Nagarjun, adorning the walls.

THE FOOD STOP
Nehru Place Metro Station (Eating out joint)
It is home to the Epicuria, perhaps Delhi’s first food mall that offers high-end café, bars fine-dining restaurants that attract people from all over Delhi. It a perfect place to connect with friends with some awesome food and drinks.

- https://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-news/the-new-underground-delhi-art-travel-food-all-by-the-metro/story-chJ2xYAHr3TbqsA5H6mfWN.html, April 2, 2018

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Protected heritage monument in decrepit state

A 400-year-old Qutub Shahi Mosque at Shaikpet had turned into an eyesore. Despite being a protected monument, the mosque is left in an awful state. Lime plaster is wiped out, minarets are almost broken, and foliage has grown inside the mosque which makes the structure almost invisible. As per the government declaration, the Mosque is a protected monument under the Andhra Pradesh ancient Historical Monuments, Historical sites and Remains act of 1960, but still remains in unprecedented state, ruining in the scars of civilisation. Qutub Shahi Mosque architecturally rich structure with a facade which features three-arches which are beautifully carved with lime plaster depicting the typical Indo-Islamic architecture. Two minarets are adorned with turquoise blue tiles arranged in symmetrical zig-zag structure with onion dome on top. The mosque also incubates ‘Shan’ or courtyard which is now enclosed by the boundary wall of the mosque. A resident of Shaikpet Maulana Saif said “The mosque is not open for public, the gates were closed years ago. Nobody takes care of the mosque. At least, if they keep it open for society, we can take care of it”. It is shocking to know that the Qutub Shahi Mosque is protected monument which no one knows about. Professor Salma Ahmed Farooqui from Maulana Azad University said, “No research was being done and no amount of work has been taken place regarding the mosque”. Department of Archaeology and Museums and Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTCH) has got no knowledge about the structure. When enquired with the officials, Caretaker of Heritage sites Rajender said, “This structure is not being renovated because of the controversies in the locality. The boundary wall was built in 2008 and we are planning to renovate the mosque since 2015. But some locals wanted to pray in the mosque while some people objected and filed a police complaint. Thereafter the mosque was left unattended and people are throwing garbage although we had cleaned the structure in 2015”.

BY Mayank Tiwari

- http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Telangana/2018-03-31/Protected-heritage-monument-in-decrepit-state/370682, April 2, 2018

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South Indian Sudoku: Archaeologists Find Magic Square Puzzle Inscribed on Temple Pillar

Archaeologists in India have discovered a rare 300-year-old inscription of a sudoku-like game on the pillar of a temple in Palani, India. When added in any direction, the numbers total 15, which is the number associated with the temple’s deity. The News Minute reports that researchers made the discovery while making repairs to a pillar in a 13 th century mandapam, a pillared outdoor pavilion used for public rituals, located in the foothills of Palani, a pilgrim town in Tamil Nadu, India. The inscription had been hidden under multiple coatings of limestone, but was revealed during the repairs on the temple. This particular mandapam is used during the Panguni Uthiram festival, which is celebrated by Hindus on the full moon day of the Tamil month of Panguni in March/April. According to News Minute, archaeologist Narayanamoorthy said the inscription is an example of a 3x3 magic square, which most likely belongs to the 17 th century. The numbers are written in Tamil, and when added together horizontally, vertically, and diagonally, total to 15. Narayanamoorthy points out that the number 15 is association with the temple deity’s Murugan / Lord Muruga, a Hindu god of war. “According to Hindu beliefs, every god has a number and Lord Muruga’s number is 6 (1+5=6),” said Narayanamoorthy [via News Minute]. “Interestingly, during festivities, the deity is placed in front of this pillar. Inscriptions of these Sudoku squares here could indicate its importance. What we gather from this is that the game's logic was used here long before it was played elsewhere in the world.”

Origins of the Magic Square
A magic square is a popular number puzzle in which the sum of every row, column and diagonal in a n x n square grid is equal. Sudoku is a particular type of magic square involving a 9 x 9 grid with nine 3 x 3 sub-grids, which first appeared in newspapers in the late 19 th century. But magic squares in general have a much longer history, dating back to at least the 7 th century BC in China. In ancient times, the puzzle was attached with magical or mythical significance. Some forms of the puzzle were used in conjunction with letters to assist Arab illusionists and magicians. The first recorded reference to a magic square is dated to 650 BC and is associated with an ancient Chinese legend. Tathaastu recounts the story: “The legend goes that one of the great emperors of China once found a tortoise shell during a flood of the river Lo. This was a highly auspicious omen as the people in those times believed that God lived inside tortoise and turtle shells. This particular tortoise shell had extraordinary markings – it contained a perfect, three-by-three square on its back. This square is known as the Lo Shu grid. This square was remarkable because every horizontal, vertical, and diagonal row added up to fifteen. Fifteen is the number of days between the new moon and the full moon. The number five was highly regarded in ancient China and this magic square contained a five in the central position.”

Magic Squares in India
The earliest known use of the magic square in India dates back to the 1 st century AD, and is found in a text called Kaksaputa, written by the alchemist Nagarjuna. Like the example found above the entrance of a temple in Khajuraho, India, all the squares mentioned by Nagarjuna are 4 x 4 magic squares. The 3 x 3 square, like the one recently revealed on the pillar in Palani, has been used in India as part of ritual and ceremony since Vedic times, and is still used today. A 10 th century medical text called Siddhayog, prescribed a 3 x 3 magic square, known as Vrnda’s square, to assist women in labour. They were also used in honor of deities, who were associated with a particular number.

- http://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/south-indian-sudoku-archaeologists-find-magic-square-puzzle-inscribed-021859, April 2, 2018

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Menhirs of Megalithic time found in Jangaon district

Menhirs related to Megalithic time were found in Jangaon district ascertaining the presence of prehistoric humans here. Menhirs also called ‘Standing stone or ‘Orthostat’ were found at Mysammagutta on the outskirts of Vadlakonda in Jangaon district. One of the Menhirs found at the village was as high as 4.5 metres with a circular opening at the top and it can be tallest Menhir to be found in State. An archaeology enthusiast R Rathnakar Reddy who stumbled upon the stones said Menhirs were constructed during different periods across prehistoric time connected with larger part of megalithic culture that flourished across the globe. Some of the stones are anthropomorphic figures which resembles human shape but in an indistinct manner. Many of the standing stones were carved only depicting human shape till shoulders with vague form of head, he told The Hans India on Friday. There are two Menhirs standing near Anam tank at Vadlakonda where several cairn circles, a spherical mound of stones covering cremations were found as a remembrance of the dead persons, Rathnakar explained. In a Menhir at the tank, the opening at the top in the form an eye is of 25x16 centimetres and looks towards the sky while the other one depicts a human form looking sideways. There is a standing stone on the other side of the village and was destroyed by locals, he noted. The local farmers are now trying to remove the Menhirs to plough the land. The archaeology department must take up a study of the site and relocate them. They can be placed at Chitakoduru reservoir area on the outskirts of Jangaon town so that they can be a tourist attraction, Rathnakar suggested. Preserving them is essential so that future generations learn about pre-historic life in the State, he added. He further informed that similar standing stones were found at Janampet in Warangal, at Gundala in Khammam district and at Vedayapalem in Nellore district. However, the Menhir found at tank Vadlakonds was the tallest and it needs to be ascertained by archaeology department, he added.

- http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Warangal-Tab/2018-03-31/Menhirs-of-Megalithic-time-found-in-Jangaon-district-/370670, April 2, 2018

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Rana presents INTACH Report to Governor for revival of heritage route to Mata Vaishno Devi

National Conference Provincial President and MLA Devender Singh Rana today presented to Governor N. N Vohra, a copy of the Detailed Project Report on revival of old heritage route to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine passing through ancient temples and worship places spread across Nagrota Assembly Constituency, originating from historic Kole Kandoli Temple. Rana apprised the Governor, who is also Chairman Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, at Raj Bhawan here this morning about the salient features and brief details of the report, prepared by Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage INTACH and strongly pleaded for adopting and developing this heritage route for bestowing spiritual bliss to the devotees thronging from across the country and even abroad. “The route, passing through serene environs and spiritual ambience, offers spiritual solace and Darshan of several revered temple which used to pre-requisite before embarking on the yatra to holy Bhawan on Trikuta Hills over seven decades ago”, Rana told the Governor, adding that it will be appropriate for the Shrine Board to explore this route optimally and undertake its all round development. He said the INTACH has prepared the exhaustive report after carrying out detailed mapping of all the important heritage assets like step-wells, ponds, sarais, wells, temples and springs along the trails, which were once used and maintained by the pilgrims. The route starts from village Jagti (Nagrota) on the National Highway 1A and passes through Jagdamba Mata Kheer Bhawani Temple – Jagti, Durga Mata Temple – Pangali, Shiv Temple – Thandapani – Drabi, Shiv Shakti Temple, Raja Mandleek Temple- and Raja Nowalgarh Temple – Marh, Drabi, Kali Mata Temple – Gundla Talab, Ram Darbar, Shiv Temple- Bamyal and Oli Temple Chhapanoo-Bamyal. By reviving this route, he said, adding the devotees could back home after paying obeisance at the Durbar of the Mata with enlightenment they have been searching all their life. He highlighted the religious, spiritual and secular characteristics of the ancient route during yesteryears, saying while it used to take off amid serene and spiritual ambience of the highly revered Kol Kandoli Mata Temple, the pilgrimage used to reach Nomain, where the Jyot (holy light) used to be carried by white turban bedecked Gujjars over their heads in true spirit of Jammu’s secular ethos. Rana informed the Chairman, SMVDSB that promotion and development of this route had been recommended by the State Administrative Council during the Governor’s rule which had encouraged in having the DPR prepared. He told the Governor that this monumental heritage route has suffered neglect for decades even though the bliss of revered shrine on Trikuta Hills had transcended continents. “We have been envisioning restoration of this route and have many expectations from the Shrine Board”,the MLA Nagrota said, adding that the opening of the route to pilgrim traffic will enable the devotees know about the rich heritage of the historic place in the footsteps of Maa Vaishno Devi.

- http://www.dailyexcelsior.com/rana-presents-intach-report-governor-revival-heritage-route-mata-vaishno-devi/, April 2, 2018

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Northeast India’s six monuments identified for World Heritage Site

As many as six monuments/historical sites in the North East have been identified tentatively for listing under World Heritage Site. The details of monuments/sites identified/placed under tentative list for listing under world heritage are:

• Apatani Cultural Landscape, Arunachal Pradesh
• Iconic Saree Weaving Clusters of India
• Moidams – the Mound – Burial System of the Ahom Dynasty, Assam
• Namdapha National Park, Arunachal Pradesh
• River Island of Majuli in midstream of Brahmaputra River in Assam
• Thembang Fortified Village, Arunachal Pradesh

This was informed by Minister of State (I/C) for Culture and Minister of State for Environment, Forest & Climate Change Dr. Mahesh Sharma in a written reply at the Lok Sabha today. Additionally, a total of 83 monuments/sites in the North East are centrally protected under the Archaeological Survey of India, Sharma added. Meanwhile, a total of Rs. 364.69 lakh was spent by the Centre on centrally protected monuments / sites in the North East during 2016-17, the Minister of State (I/C) for Culture informed. The bulk of the money was secured by Assam which received Rs. 234.92 lakh. Tripura was a distant second with Rs. 63.46 lakh while Nagaland was third with Rs. 19.28 lakh. Mizoram (Rs. 17.54 lakh), Arunachal Pradesh (Rs. 16.97 lakh), Sikkim (Rs. 11.86 lakh), and Manipur (Rs. 0.66 lakh) were the other states to receive some funds from the Centre. Meghalaya received no fund in 2016-17.

- https://thenortheasttoday.com/northeast-indias-six-monuments-identified-for-world-heritage-site/, April 3, 2018

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Taking a look at Kolkata's iconic clock towers

As they say, time is money. But can someone take it so literally that they would build myriad clock towers around the City of Joy to beautify it and, in turn, attract investors? Well, what’s happening around the city does point a finger towards such a plan. And this recent crop certainly doesn’t include Kolkata’s ‘original’ clock towers built during British rule, which have stood the test of time and are obviously steeped in history. So, when it comes to the old and beautiful clock at St John’s Church or the iconic one at the GPO or even Hogg Market, they are just beautiful examples of colonial architecture. ut on the other end of the spectrum is the massive beautification drive underway in the city that has given it its current blueand-white hue. And installing clock tower ‘replicas’ is part of the drive. And among these, the talk of the town has been the ‘little’ Big Ben at Lake Town, which often catches one’s attention on the way back from the airport. But is it really ‘beautification’? “At least it looks decent. It’s almost a replica of the original Big Ben and I must say they did a good job. But as for the other ones, artistically speaking, they are not up to the mark and are actually ugly in certain ways,” said Dipanjan Ghosh, a blogger, who writes about the heritage of Indian cities, mainly Kolkata. There are around four new clock towers in the city, apart from the Big Ben replica. “A trend of copying western architecture has emerged, but it’s being done in a haphazard way. I don’t understand what makes them do this,” rued Dipanjan. GM Kapur, convenor of INTACH Kolkata, also expressed his concern about the newly installed clock towers. “There’s nothing original in these. I don’t think they are mechanical. Most of them are electronic and not suitable to even carry forward the legacy of the old clocks,” he said. Being a heritage conservationist, he can’t think of choosing the new ones over the old colonial clocks. “New towers should definitely come up, but should at least be aesthetically appealing. The old ones are way more attractive,” he added. Tathagata Neogi, an archaeologist and the founder of Heritage Walk Calcutta, thinks building clock towers was a way by which the colonial rulers hegemonised and controlled the lives of their subjects. “The 19th century clock towers were one of the many ways in which colonialism took hold over us. Culturally, our concept of time was very different from that of the Europeans. The structures were replete with values of colonial culture,” he said. Talking about the new clock towers, he added, “The present-day clock towers, especially the Big Ben replica, are not built around the same idea. These are symbolic references to London, or broadly the West, like which we aspire to become, or at least, the government does.” Documentary maker Joydip Banerjee, who films heritage structures, said, “I have seen the new structures and I don’t get the Kolkata feel in them. They don’t representthe culture and heritage of our own land. Instead, these are installations that are easier to erect, as they don’t require any creativity,” he said.

CLOCK TOWERS, THEN & NOW
Most of these structures reflect the art and architectural heritage of the City of Joy. Here’s a look at the new and old ones. Jatindramohan Tagore modelled the Tagore Castle with a 100-foot-high centre tower in the fashion of Windsor Castle in England. The clock was imported from London. The iconic clock tower of Howrah Station and the Boro Ghori as we all know, are two examples of traditional British décor. It was opened to public in 1905. The General Post Office was designed in 1864 by Walter B Grenville. It’s notable for its imposing high-domed roof, rising over 220 feet, with a clock made in the colonial style. One of oldest markets of Kolkata, Maniktala Bazar, is easily identified by its clock tower. No one, however, is sure about when it was installed. New Market was an exclusive shopping destination for the English populace during British rule. The historic clock tower was shipped over from Huddersfield and installed in 1930. One of the first public buildings erected by East India Company is located at the northwestern corner of Raj Bhavan. The spire holds a giant clock


CITIZENS SPEAK
‘True to our CM’s promise of turning Kolkata into London, our city is going through a lot of beautification and I am quite happy. There should be more clock towers steeped in our heritage rather than replicating ones from the West’

— PIYALI CHAKRABORTY
‘Kolkata is becoming beautiful; it’s getting a makeover. I hope the government takes care of the maintenance, as installing clock towers is not the end of the work. The problem with our city is that people tend to destroy such installations. I think the government should keep an eye on that’

— BISWAJIT DAS
‘I stay in Lake Town. I think such clock towers look good, but it’s of no use if the city as a whole is not taken care of. A beautiful installation loses its charm when the surroundings remain messy’

— SANGITA DAS MONDAL
‘There’s no point in copying installations from elsewhere. We have our own culture, which we are failing to uphold. I think it’s important for us to encourage some originality when beautifying our city’

— PAROMITA BHATTACHARYA
‘I don’t know why south Kolkata is deprived of such clock towers. The Lake Town-Ultadanga side has many towers but I don’t think there is a single one down south. I think installing one in south should be next on the government’s to-do list’.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/spotlight/taking-a-look-at-kolkatas-iconic-clock-towers/articleshow/63596265.cms, April 4, 2018

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Remains of ancient civilisation unearthed

A group of archaeology enthusiasts has unearthed the remains of an ancient civilization in a village near Kamudhi in Ramanthapuram district. They urged the government archaeology department to conduct a proper exploration, believing that there may be a civilization dating back to Microlithic and Mesolithic period. The village is situated on the banks of Gundaru River. K Muniasamy, a teacher and T Shankar, an engineer by profession, searched Thidalkadu, a mound in the village, Semmankadu, Kalungu Muniappasamy temple, Sengamadairaja temple, some old temples on the outskirts of the village to unearth ancient archaeological evidences of a civilization such as pot shreds and brick structures. The duo later intimated the Ramanathapuram Archaeological Research Foundation about their findings. V Rajaguru, convener of the foundation, along with the local enthusiasts conducted a field exploration. At Sengamadairaja temple area, they found an old brick structure and the bricks with dimensions 30 X 17 X 6 cm suggesting that they could be of Sangam era between BC 300 – 300 AD. The team also found red and black pot shreds, glass beads of red and green colours, an ivory pendant, stone beads and terracotta ear-ornaments. Considering the fact there were many beads found in the area, it could be deduced that there was a bead making unit in those days, they said. At Thidalkadu – a mound in Regunatha Kavery Channel – between Peraiyur and Anaiyur, the team found black and red pot shreds, rimless bowls, spindle whorl, terracotta smoking pipe, whetstone, sling stones, iron arrow heads, terracotta pipes, iron ware and slog, perforated shreds, pyramid graffiti, ground stone, pestles, celadon and porcelain ware, spouts and knobs made of terracotta. There is also a buried temple in this place and the brick dimensions are 26 X 14 X 5.5cm which could be of 10 century AD. Studying the potsherds, it could be deduced that there was habitation from BC 10,000 of the Microlithic period.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/remains-of-ancient-civilisation-unearthed/articleshow/63603124.cms, April 4, 2018

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Qutub Minar turns blue to mark World Autism Awareness Day

Qutub Minar was lit up in blue colour on April 2 to mark World Autism Awareness Day. Every year, on April 2, which is internationally recognized as World Autism Awareness Day and marked by unique awareness raising events in an effort to increase sensitization and acceptance of autism in the society. Participants also lit up balloons to mark the day. This year too, Autism Centre for Excellence associated with ASI & National Trust, Deptt. of Empowerment of Persons with Disability, M/o SJ&E lit up Qutub Minar in blue to participate in the international #LightItUpBlue campaign. The campaign is an international movement wherein homes, communities, key installations and remarkable monuments across the world are illuminated in blue as a symbolic representation towards inclusion for disability, and a real attempt to create a shift in consciousness. The event saw attendance of the autism community including students, teachers, parents along with general public who gathered together to support the noble cause. Apart from lighting up the monument, teachers and parents were seen actively participating in several activities like a walk through the world heritage site with banners and placards. Participants during the walk organised at the world heritage site. bDuring the event, Archana Nayar, Founder of ACE, said, “We are happy and proud to light up Qutub Minar in the colour blue for the second time to spread awareness regarding Autism as a part of the international #LightItUpBlue campaign. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Archaeological Survey of India, National Trust and Department of Empowerment of Persons with disability for their support in making this event such a success."

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/remains-of-ancient-civilisation-unearthed/articleshow/63603124.cms, April 4, 2018

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Telangana government told to be proactive in reviving history

Commemorating the birth anniversary of the founder of the city Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah, history enthusiasts gathered at Dar ul Shifa, which is claimed to be the first hospital in Asia, to understand the architecture of the bygone era. The event, which included a candle light march and a walk around the former hospital premises was organised by a group called History Buffs in the city and the Indian National Trust for Art, Culture and Heritage (INTACH). Bringing into light the current state of the city, organisers pointed out that though the Shah was born in Golconda and had no qualified engineers to back him up, he built a beautiful city. “We want to remind the people how we have transformed our city with our unplanned infrastructural decisions by killing many of our monuments,” said Anuradha Reddy from INTACH. On the other hand, Mohd Safiullah from Deccan Heritage Trust said that the government should more actively participate in reviving and safeguarding monuments. “The Telangana government needs to bring the history of Kakatiyas, Qutb Shahis and Asif Jahis into the syllabus,” he said.

- http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/hyderabad/2018/apr/05/telangana-government-told-to-be-proactive-in-reviving-history-1797261.html, April 5, 2018

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Historian against new valley survey

Art historian Sa-sanka Sekhar Panda has written to L.K. Gupta, the principal director, architectural heritage division of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach), New Delhi, requesting him not to go for a fresh survey of the upper Mahanadi valley as he had already done the same survey about six years ago. Panda, who retired as additional secretary in the state information and public relations department, said he had extensively surveyed and documented more than 100 ancient temples and temple ruins in the upper Mahanadi valley of Odisha under the guidance of Pramod Chandra, an art historian with Harvard University. Before that, ancient temples and temple ruins of the upper Mahanadi valley was also surveyed by the late Prabodh Kumar Mishra, the then head of the department of history, Sambalpur University, in 1985. The survey was funded by Ford Foundation. "The temples and temple sites have already been surveyed and published. So, this new survey will be nothing but a wasteful financial exercise by Intach," Panda wrote in his letter. He claimed to have documented temples and temple ruins in the upper Mahanadi valley which is spread across Sambalpur, Balangir, Deogarh, Sundergarh, Bargarh, Jharsuguda, Sonepur, Boudh, Kalahandi, Nuapada and Angul. The outcome is a book in two volumes containing more than 600 pages and about 900 photographs. The book - Sculptural Art of the Upper Mahanadi Valley - was published by Pratibha Prakashan, New Delhi, and was released by chief minister Naveen Patnaik in 2012. This book is regarded as a magnum opus in the field of temple art and architecture and has got a place of pride in all the major universities and museums of Europe and America, he wrote in his letter. The work was widely appreciated all over the world and Panda was invited by the University of Virginia, USA, to teach temple art of India to university students there for two years between 1996 and 1998. On January 15 this year, Gupta flagged off the survey at an event near Samaleswari temple in Sambalpur town in the presence of state convenor of Intach A.B. Tripathy and Sambalpur Raseswari Panigrahi.

- https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/odisha/historian-against-new-valley-survey-220951, April 5, 2018

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Mumbai's CST railway station to soon be converted into a rail museum

The museum plan may need clearances from MTDC, and Indian Railways is in the process of getting them, said an official. Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, which was elevated in 2004 to the status of a Unesco World Heritage Site, is set to be converted into one of the first museum-cum-railway stations in India portraying the 130-year-old history of one of the busiest stations of the world. At least 13 companies have already submitted their expressions of interest (EoI) to design the first and ground floors of the CST station into a museum complex. The bids invited by Railway's subsidiary RITES got a response from top architectural conservation and building restoration companies, including Abha Narain Lambah Associates and Dronah group. “This is a Rs 250-million project for the conversion of the existing building into a museum. Though Railways runs around 34 museums across the country, this will be for the first time that a station building is being converted into a museum,” said an official close to the development. As part of the Swachh Bharat Mission, the government had initiated a project to make 100 iconic heritage, spiritual and cultural places in the country to promote “swach tourist destinations”, of which the CST station was a part. As part of this, an agency called Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) was already working on the restoration of the building. The station, built in 1887, was formerly known as Victoria Terminus. Interestingly, the museum roadmap by Railways after the SBI Foundation committed Rs 100 million for the conservation and restoration of CST over a period of three to five years, as part of the corporate social responsibility of the State Bank of India. “We are already involved in designing the new master plan for National Rail Museum. As far as CST is concerned, it already has a good footfall with great revenue generation and it will be a great move to convert part of the building into a museum,” said Shikha Jain, Director of Dronah, one of the bidders for designing the museum. Recently, the iconic building was also lit up with at least 16 million colourful lights to attract tourists, as part of a master plan to attract more tourists by Pune-based architect Kiran Kalamdani who was appointed by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC). “The museum plan may need clearances from MTDC and the local administration and Railways is in the process of doing it,” said an official. Interestingly, global giant Google through the Google Cultural Institute (GCI) is set to provide a virtual tour of the national rail museum and form a digital repository of its heritage assets for online access, free of cost. The institute was launched in 2011 to digitally preserve cultural documents. Other historic venues where one can get a 360-degree view are the Taj Mahal and Kolkata’s Indian Museum. Indian Railway maintains 34 Museums, Heritage Parks and Heritage galleries, spread all over India, for creating a unique and rich experience to visitors about Railway heritage in India. Indian Railways have also preserved 230 Steam Locomotives, 110 vintage coaches and wagons at prominent places including museums and heritage parks. It also has a large repository of built heritage like 25 bridges and 70 buildings designated as heritage assets.

- http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/mumbai-s-cst-railway-station-to-be-soon-converted-into-a-rail-museum-118040500601_1.html, April 5, 2018

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Who left these ancient sculptures of horsemen around the Pir Panjal range?

Largely unknown to the outside world, these sentinels have been around since ancient times. You must have heard of the 8,000-plus strong Terracotta Army of Xian, in China, but have you heard of the mysterious Horsemen of the Pir Panjal? The Pir Panjal is a sub-range of the Great Himalayan mountain system that stretches from Murree in Pakistan to the Rohtang Pass in Himachal Pradesh. Across the Pir Panjal were ancient trade routes connected by passes locally known as Galis. Strewn along these old trade routes through the passes, between the Kashmir Valley and Jammu, you will come across mysterious and spectacular sculptures of soldiers on horseback. Mostly unknown outside the region, these ancient sentinels are only known to trekkers and locals who make their way through here. The Horsemen of the Pir Panjal are found mostly at the foot of the Galis or on the main Gali itself and they usually have a natural water spring and accompanying pond nearby. There is no doubt that these sculptures mark important strategic points on ancient routes that connected various villages in the Pir Panjal. These were probably markers to identify milestones or resting places for weary horses and men. However, little is known about who built them and when. The sculptures are mostly of horsemen along with some other reliefs of what seem to be local Gods and Devtas. This has led to a fair bit of speculation. Locals believe that the horsemen were put here by the Pandavas from the Hindu epic Mahabharata when they visited the place millennia back. Others point to the attire of the horsemen and the unique geometric shapes, as motifs, to say that these horsemen may have Bactrian origins. In the Jammu region these are found in the Ramban area of Jammu on the Sangaldan Gool road near Gool Village and also at Gadi Nalla and Nar area of Tehsil Gool and Sildhar area of district Reasi in Jammu. This area is also referred to as the Gool Gulabgarh area and lies at the point where the Jammu region gives way to the Kashmir region and as a consequence, has a mixed population of Dogri, Gujri and Kashmiri speaking people. Out of these locations only the first is accessible by road, while the others require a hike up the mountains. The one near Gool Village is called Ghora Gali – an obvious reference to the horsemen sculptures. Locals claim that there are many other, off-the-road places where you can find such sculptures. The sculptures are very detailed and the horsemen come in different sizes even at the same site. Many of the sculptures have two or even three people astride the horse. Interestingly, all the horsemen appear to be armed and carry different kinds of weapons. They appear to be some kind of warriors of an army on a campaign and these structures are representations of that. Also, there are a few reliefs showing local deities and geometrical figures but overall, it’s the horsemen who dominate these sites. Take a look at the horsemen and you will see that they seem to be more Bactrian inspired than Indic, which is reflected in how the horsemen are dressed and the styling of the arms they carry. Even the figures of the deities etched on the stone slabs have little resemblance to contemporary deities. The geometric figures just add another element of mystique. At the Ghora Gali site itself I counted well over 200 horsemen in various sizes and conditions. Some still standing, some broken, some lying flat on the ground and still others which appeared to be buried. Further excavation of the site will probably reveal more of these horsemen that have been completely buried over a period of time. It is amazing that there is such little published material on these horsemen. Worse is the neglect. Many of the magnificent horsemen sculptures have just fallen to the ground as their locations usually receive a lot of rain and snow. Astoundingly, at the Ghora Gali site, there was no board of the Archaeological Survey of India, and these sculptures are not even listed on the ASI website. The state Directorate of Archives, Archaeology and Museums had, however, listed this as a protected site in 1986. In fact, three of these horsemen were taken and put on display at the Shri Pratap Singh Museum in Srinagar. As of today, even the Ghora Gali site, which lies right on the road head, is a picture of neglect. More and more of these horsemen are falling over and getting destroyed. Though it seems there is something being done now to fence off the site to keep grazing livestock away. There is also talk of the Tourism Department promoting the site as a tourist spot along with other destinations in the area like the hot springs at Tatapani. Hopefully, with more visitors, these wonderful sculptures will get the attention they deserve from scholars and researchers, so that we can know more about these lost horsemen of the Pir Panjal.

- https://scroll.in/magazine/872541/who-left-these-mysterious-sculptures-of-horsemen-around-the-pir-panjal-range, April 6, 2018

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INTACH starts petition against proposed Janata Bazaar demolition

According to recent media reports, the Public Works Department has trained its sights on a heritage building. The 83-year-old Janata Bazaar, which has been listed as a heritage building under the Revised Master Plan 2031, stand on premium property in Gandhi Nagar. The PWD, however, has branded it as “very dangerous” for human occupation and has proposed to bring it down. This has the heritage conservationists up in arms as the building who insist that the building can be restored to its former glory and is only suffering from neglect. The building which was inaugurated by the Yuvaraja of Mysore Narasimharaja Wodeyar in 1935 follows a colonial style of architecture with its sweeping arches, circular staircases and wide portico. In a bid change the government’s mind, the Bangalore Chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) started an online petition asking citizens to write to the PWD against it. Priya Chetty Rajagopal, of the Heritage Beku Group, which has been working on policy for preservation of Heritage also met with Chief Secretary Ratna Prabha about the matter asking the government to reconsider. The sentiment seems unanimous across the board, that the building should be restored and not demolished. To shore up public support, INTACH is asking citizens to send emails to the Secretary, PWD, Mr Lakshmi Narayan’s office and have even put out a format for them to use. “We read with concern the report in the newspapers today that the Janatha Bazaar building on KG Road, Bengaluru, may be razed and replaced with a multi-storey complex. We urge you to please stop this demolition for the following reasons:

1. The building is listed as a heritage building in the draft Revised Master Plan 2031 recently prepared and released by the BDA. Even though the Plan has not yet approved, we hope the government will still abide by regulations it has formulated.

2. If the building is considered unsafe as stated in the newspaper, heritage conservation professionals such as INTACH can be called in to restore the building to safety. 3. The building’s foundation stone was laid by the then Yuvaraja of Mysore. The building thus has strong sentimental and other associations for many people.

4. Worldwide, modern cities and their governments work to protect and preserve their heritage, recognising its importance. As a modern city, Bengaluru too must move with the times and preserve its past, not demolish it.” The letter can be sent as both email and regular post to Mr Lakshmi Narayana, Additional Chief Secretary, Room 335, 3rd Floor, Vikasa Soudha, Bangalore – 560 001. The email address listed is prs-pwd@karnataka.gov.in.

- http://bengaluru.citizenmatters.in/intach-starts-petition-against-proposed-janata-bazaar-demolition-23822, April 9, 2018

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Stone inscriptions found

Stones inscribed with the numbers of Burmese soldiers killed in the Manipur-Burma war fought in the early 19th century were discovered in Chandel district recently by a team of the Indian National Trust for Art Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Manipur Chapter. The INTACH team came across the stone inscriptions at a knoll between Purum Khullen and New Wangparel village on April 4. INTACH Manipur Chapter convenor Dr RK Ranjan who led the team said that they went to the place following information from the local villagers that stones inscribed with numbers of Burmese soldiers killed in the Manipur-Burma War, better known as Awa Lan are still present there. There are five heaps of stones which are inscribed by Burmese soldiers and it is believed that they made the inscriptions to keep a count of the fellow soldiers killed in the war, Dr Ranjan said. But there is a need for archeologists and other experts to study the inscriptions, he added.

- http://www.thesangaiexpress.com/stone-inscriptions-found/, April 9, 2018

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Rare sculpture of Rudrama Devi’s ‘last’ battle discovered

A sculptural slab carved in granite that has a life-size portrait of Kakatiya warrior queen Rudrama Devi was discovered by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in the sanctum sanctorum of Trikuta temple at Bekkallu village in Siddipet district. Stating that the discovery has unravelled the mystery of her death, the officials said Rudrama Devi was killed during a war by her own subordinate chief Kayastha King Ambadeva somewhere near Warangal. During an extensive exploration survey to ascertain the antiquity and architectural ascendancy of ancient shrines that flourished under the celebrated regime of Kakatiyas (11th to 13th century) in both the Telugu States, D. Kanna Babu, Superintending Archaeologist, Temple Survey Project (Southern Region), ASI Chennai, discovered the sculptural slab in which the portrait of Rudrama Devi is carved, a week ago. “The discovery of the portrait sculpture is a first of its kind that displays a fierce fighting scene between Rudrama Devi and Ambadeva and it stands as a supporting evidence to the recent findings in Telangana,” Mr. Babu said. He said the uniqueness of the sculpture was that it vividly shows Rudrama Devi (A.D. 1262-1289) as a commanding and imperial personality with characteristic gesticulations of a ferocious warrior. “It might answer all the questions and doubts that the historians and archaeologists had about her death since decades. Thanks to the unknown sculptor who left a credible source for us to reconstruct the life history of the queen, particularly her end,” he said. He said the sculptured panel in a rectangular frame superbly represents the imperial personality of Rudrama Devi who is riding a horse with a sword in her right hand while her left hand holds the reigns. Describing the sculpture, Mr. Babu said the queen’s arms and wrists are embellished with warrior shields. “She is wearing robes of a male warrior with a waist belt and has her left leg over the hanging pedal while a shield is securing her chest,” he explained. Ambadeva, the rebellion sub-ordinate chief, is in his war robes with a tightly-fixed lower garment, a waist belt and arm guards. “He escaped the blows of Rudrama Devi and overpowered the horse and harmed it. The horse falls on its face and Rudrama Devi is surprised of his sudden action of rebel. Finally, Ambadeva kills her and she attains viraswargam,” he said. The patron and artisan who carved the sculpture acted with far-sightedness who thought that these would serve as commemorative visual aids on Rudrama Devi for her successive generations, he said and added that the queen’s domestic help must have carved the sculpture.

- http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/rare-sculpture-of-rudrama-devis-last-battle-discovered/article23475141.ece, April 9, 2018

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Buddhist era statue found in Uri

A Buddhist era statue was found in Lachipora area of Uri during the digging of a drain by labourers for a pipeline project last month. Official sources said that a group of labours found the Buddhist era statue during the digging of drain along the line of control. Police took the statue under their custody after they were informed by the labourers about the discovery. Police said that they took statue into their custody for further verification, however, they said the stone statue around 80 kg of weight is in good condition. Police officials also said that they informed the Archaeology Survey of India (ASI) about the statue for its proper preservation. It is pertinent to mention here that Kashmir has been one of the most important centres ofBuddhism. Buddhism was an important part of the classical Kashmiri culture, as is reflected in the Nilamata Purana and the Kalhana’s Rajtarangini. Buddhism is generally believed to have become dominant in Kashmir in the time of Emperor Ashoka, although it was widespread there long before his time. It enjoyed the patronage not only of the Buddhist rulers but of Hindu and early Muslim rulers too. From Kashmir, it spread to the neighbouring Ladakh. Accounts of patronage of Buddhism by the rulers of Kashmir are found in the Rajatarangini and also in the accounts of three Chinese visitors during 630-760 CE to Kashmir. Although Buddhism declined in the Kashmir valley, it continues to flourish in the Ladakh region.

- https://kashmirreader.com/2018/04/10/buddhist-era-statue-found-in-uri/, April 9, 2018

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Temple without a name to get fresh lease of life

A two centuries-old temple in southwest Delhi would be conserved for the first time by the archaeology department of the Delhi government and Intach Delhi Chapter. The temple at Nangal Dewat village is considered a rare and beautiful building, much of which has been damaged. This is the first and only temple on the list of heritage buildings shortlisted by the government and Intach; the rest are mosques, gumbads, gardens and tombs etc. Not much is known about the temple, though it is quite revered and visited by a large number of worshippers even from far off places. “The temple appears to be an 18th or 19th-century structure. Its fine plasterwork is in the late Mughal style,” said an official. Officials say the temple interiors have many striking paintings that would be conserved. “First, the paintings will be cleaned, then consolidated. There are many points where the plaster is peeling off and that has to be carefully corrected. There are some sculptures that are damaged or dilapidated and which we will consolidate. Our part will involve only strengthening and consolidating the paintings or sculptures; we will not be recreating anything broken,” said an official. The external facade would also be cleaned and repaired wherever necessary. Nangal Dewat village has a fascinating history itself. Some say the freedom struggle began from this village and Jawaharlal Nehru himself had visited the village in the 1930s to praise the villagers for their courage. “Delhi has had urban settlements for many centuries, and is famous for its numerous fortified cities. At the same time there are many villages that often have a longer history than the urban centres. Some of these villages, which were established on the flat plain of the Yamuna, have traditionally had predominantly farming populations. Some that are on the drier and more uneven terrain might have had a more pastoralist occupation,” said an official. The project has seen three phases so far and the conservation of over 50 monuments. The temple is part of the fourth phase. A detailed project report (DPR) has been prepared with a comprehensive architectural documentation, condition analysis and archival exploration. The document would not only guide the forthcoming conservation work but also become a strong documentary record for the future.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/temple-without-a-name-to-get-fresh-lease-of-life/articleshow/63703598.cms, April 10, 2018

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Part of 15th Century Fort restored

A part of the 15th Century Fort at Chowk Bazaar is likely to be opened for people this month-end as the first phase of the conservation project has been almost completed at an expense of Rs 20 crore. Redevelopment of Chowk Bazaar Heritage Square started three years ago. It was decided by the authorities to restore, conserve and redevelop the whole area known as Chowk Bazaar Square, which includes Surat Castle and seven ancient structures. The three phase project started 30 months ago. Somani Construction Private Limited was appointed contractors for it. In the first phase, a major portion of the 15th Century Fort spread over in 41,124 sq feet of area was restored. Conservation architect Sumesh Modi looks after the restoration work. The second phase would see redevelopment of mot, a structure built to protect the fort from all four sides. The third phase would see restoration and redevelopment of external portions and seven monuments of the area. Municipal commissioner M Thennarasan told TOI, “It would be another 18 months before the second phase of work is completed at a cost of Rs32 crore. We would be opening the first phase by this month-end.” Chowk Bazaar Heritage Square, though a conservation project is expected to provide a spot for recreation where many would also find employment. It would provide the city with a 4.5km long non-motorized road along the riverbank.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/surat/part-of-15th-century-fort-restored/articleshow/63703784.cms, April 11, 2018

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Police Pigeons To send The Message Of Heritage & Culture Preservation

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Bhubaneswar Chapter is organising a programme of a flight of Homing Pigeons of the Odisha Police Pigeons Service from Bhubaneswar to Cuttack on April 14. The Carrier pigeons will carry missives with the message of preservation and conservation of heritage and culture, according to a release by Intach. The missives and the pigeons will be jointly released by Arun Kumar Ray Additional Director General of Police and Amiya Bhusan Tripathy, retired director general of police and State Convener of Intach. The Pigeons will be released from the OUAT Stadium Field at Siripur Chakk, Surya Nagar, Bhubaneswar at 9 AM, the release said. The Odisha Police Pigeon Service is the oldest and only official remaining Pigeon Service of the world. It was set up in 1946 and has rendered valuable service during emergencies. The Odisha Pigeon Service has featured many times in channels like Discovery Channel, National Geographic, BBC and other agencies. This is a historic event and will be attended by many children, it added.

- http://english.samajalive.in/police-pigeons-to-send-the-message-of-heritage-culture-preservation/, April 12, 2018

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Paintings at St. Aloysius Chapel to be restored by April 2019

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Conservation Institute will complete the ongoing conservation and restoration of ancient wall paintings and oil paintings in St. Aloysius Chapel by April 2019, Nilabh Sinha, Principal Director of the Institute, said here on Thursday. Talking to reporters, Mr. Sinha said the INTACH was restoring the paintings at the chapel for the second time. Earlier it had done so between 1991 and 1994. Following a request by church authorities, Mr. Sinha and other experts from the institute visited the chapel in 2016 and conducted a detailed study of the condition of teh paintings. A proposal was submitted in March 2017 and the work began in November 2017. “We will complete the work well within the scheduled 18-month duration,” he said. Dionysius Vaz, Rector, St. Aloysius Institutions, said the chapel was bearing ₹1.5 crore cost towards the conservation and restoration. The wall and the oil paintings on canvas in the chapel was done by Italian Jesuit Antonio Moscheni in 1899. “The wall paintings in the chapel are the rare Fresco paintings where the art is set with the cement plaster. I have not found such paintings in India so far,” Mr. Sinha said. The chapel has 600 sq. m. of wall paintings. There are oil paintings fixed on the roof of the 46 ft high chapel and also on the side walls. While the paintings have largely retained their original form, Mr. Sinha said some paintings on the lower side of the walls have been damaged because of deposits of grease and owing to the movement of articles from the chapel. Some oil paintings on the roof have suffered damage because of leakage of water. Mr. Sinha said experts from the institute have cleaned the paintings on the lower side of the walls. Scaffoldings have been placed for the conservation and restoration on the upper portion and the roof of the chapel. “Care is being taken to retain the original form. The work is being done in such a way that there is no harm to paintings for the next 50 years,” Mr. Sinha said. He said the institute was looking for local artists who can be trained in restoration and conservation work. “We are going through Curriculam Vitaes (CVs) of some artists. We are yet to get the right people,” he said.

- http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Mangalore/paintings-at-st-aloysius-chapel-to-be-restored-by-april-2019/article23517301.ece, April 12, 2018

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Minaret inside the Taj Mahal destroyed due to heavy rains and storm in Agra

A minaret inside the Taj Mahal complex was destroyed due to heavy rain and thunderstorm that hit the city last night. The 12-foot metal pillar also called the Darwaza-e-Rauza, is the entry gate of the Taj Mahal, and had crashed down as the speed of wind crossed 100 km/hr radar. Darwaza-e-Rauza is that royal gate which provides visitors the first glimpse of this gorgeous architectural marvel. The storm that hit Agra and other parts of Uttar Pradesh was extremely strong, and apart from this heavy pillar, it uprooted several trees, while also damaging the power poles inside the city too. No other casualties have been reported yet. Taj Mahal, which is amongst the Seven Wonders of the World, has been attracting travellers and tourists to India from all over the globe. The ivory-white marble mausoleum, on the banks of the River Yamuna, was built by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. This is one Mughal architecture that symbolises true love. One of the prime features of the monument is the tomb, and the main chamber has the graves of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan at a lower level. In the year 1983, the monument was listed as the UNESCO World Heritage Site for being ‘the jewel of Muslim art in India, and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage.’ The monument alone is the reason for nearly 7–8 million visitors in India a year. The rains also affected crops in myriad regions, including Vrindavan and Nandgaon of Mathura district.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/travel/things-to-do/minaret-inside-the-taj-mahal-destroyed-due-to-heavy-rains-and-storm-in-agra/as63729160.cms, April 12, 2018

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Heritage sites on Kadamba plateau await conservation

Old Goa’s historic city, on the lines of Lisbon in Portugal, lays sprawled partly on the Kadamba plateau within a 21km-long fortification wall. Extending from the southern banks of River Mandovi, the city eulogized by foreign travellers, flourished in the 16th century. It stood apart from any other city as it was protected by one of the largest fortification walls in Asia extending from Bainguinim in the north west to Daujim-Corlim in the east, and Carambolim and Azossim towards south and Gancim-Talaulim in the south west. However, as the development footprint looms over the hilly area, heritage lovers are worried about several archaeological sites. “Old Goa is not a small cluster of church monuments, as it is now, but it was much bigger than Panaji. As described by travellers, it was a labyrinth of streets, squares, magnificent palaces, hospitals, churches and convents. Most have disappeared now but there are many ruins on the plateau,” says Tomas Amansio Rodrigues, a researcher. With the inclusion of the Kadamba plateau under the Greater Panaji Planning and Development Authority (GPPDA) area, heritage lovers are trying to draw the government’s attention to the ruins that can be protected through thoughtful initiatives. A 5km-long section of the almost three metre high laterite brick wall still survives, though not as a contiguous one. It lies in partly forested and orchard land on the southern limits of Cidade Goa, as the former capital was known. “The wall, which forms a part of forts in some areas, has hidden doorways, majestic arches, buttresses-cum horse stables and other features which still exist and need to be protected,” Rodrigues says. The researcher has taken decades to document the entire length of the fortification in various places with photographs. Pedro Barreto de Resende, a Portuguese historian and statesman describes in his accounts the existence of 3,500 homes in Old Goa, of which 800 were occupied by the Portuguese. Heritage groups, especially Kadamba Vaarsa Samvardhan Samiti (KVSS), have petitioned the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the department of archives and archaeology (DAA) to protect the archaeological evidence of the true history of Goa’s heritage. “We are trying to highlight the issue of scattered heritage remains on the plateau. But many heritage monuments have already been damaged due to construction activity,” says KVSS convener Shailendra Velingkar. The ruins and archaeological remains can be preserved and showcased for tourism and posterity. “There are examples where progressive countries have preserved monuments and transformed them as tourist centres which yields revenue,” he says.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/heritage-sites-on-kadamba-plateau-await-conservation/articleshow/63738340.cms, April 13, 2018

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Single ticket entry to multiple museums in Delhi might soon be a reality

A single ticket might very soon give you the freedom to visit close to a dozen museums in Delhi. To make this a reality, the freshly revamped National Rail Museum will soon approach other museums to join hands, and work together for an implementation strategy. Referring to this plan, Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani said, ‘‘We plan to introduce a package wherein one ticket will be enough to visit all museums. We will talk to other museums in Delhi. This one ticket will be valid for multi-entries in a single day.” There are also plans for promoting night tourism in the capital city; and starting next month tourists will be able to visit rail museum till 9 pm. Museum Director Amit Saurastri said, “The rail museum is being repositioned as an evening destination in the city. The night package will be different from the day package. Visitors will be able to experience indoor gallery, musical fountains, multicolour lighting and good food.” As of now, plans are being made to strike a deal with Madame Tussauds wax museum, which was opened in Connaught Place last December. If all goes well, visitors will be able to visit both rail and Madame Tussauds museums with a single ticket. Also, as per reports, if the plan finally comes into action, the price of a single ticket might fall in the range of INR 200 for a family of four for the entry to all museums. Efforts are also being made to add sound and light show to the list of museums selected under this plan. This plan will likely increase the footfall of tourists in Delhi museums if it gets finalised.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/travel/things-to-do/single-ticket-entry-to-multiple-museums-in-delhi-might-soon-be-a-reality/as63729924.cms, April 13, 2018

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INTACH held a heritage flight of Carrier Pigeons of Odisha Police Pigeon service from Bhubaneswar to Cuttack

The Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) held a heritage flight of Carrier Pigeons of the Odisha Police Pigeon service from Bhubaneswar to Cuttack. The fifty pigeons that were flown from the OUAT Grounds carried a missive with a message on heritage conservation and preservation. Speaking on the occasion, Amiya Bhusan Tripathy, the former DGP and State Convener of INTACH, praised the Police Department for keeping the service alive and flying. He lauded the determination of the men who run India’s only police pigeon service and have guaranteed its survival into the next millennium. B.N.Das, S.P (Signal) said that Odisha was the only state in India to use carrier pigeons to communicate among police stations. He said that the Pigeon Service is still kept alive due to its rich and glorious tradition. Anil Dhir from INTACH who is also an eminent philatelist, said that this unique aspect of Odishan heritage should be highlighted. He said that nowhere else in the world is such a service still in operation officially. These Pigeongrams are cherished by collectors and philatelists all over the world. He said that maintaining the Pigeon Service is a living example of keeping tradition along with modernity. The heritage flight has generated a lot of interest in the collector’s community worldwide and that he is deluged with requests for the carried missives. The Odisha Police Pigeon service, which is more than 70 years old, remains the only one of its kind in the world.

This remarkably sophisticated unique service is a pleasant anachronism in this day of telecommunications, e-mail and networking. The Odisha Police Pigeon Service dates back to 1946 when 200 pigeons were handed over to them by the army on an experimental basis to establish communications with areas that had neither wireless nor telephone links. The service was first pioneered in the mountainous Koraput district, and its success and reliability resulted in it being introduced in almost all the districts with over 700 sturdy Belgian Homer pigeons ferrying messages to assigned destinations. The Service was headquartered in Cuttack where a breeding centre was set up. For years, these dependable birds have been a vital link between remote police stations when traditional communications failed, they have delivered messages beating storms, disasters – and birds of prey. The messages, written on a piece of paper are inserted into plastic capsule, which are tied to the feet of the pigeon. These pigeons were extensively used during floods and the Super Cyclone in 1999, as radio networks were disrupted. The Pigeon Service was the only line of communication to the marooned town of Banki during the disastrous flood in 1982, when almost all communication lines had collapsed. The Pigeons have outsmarted many criminals and helped in nabbing many crooks on the run. The most interesting anecdote of the Pigeon Service is when the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru visited Sambalpur to lay the foundation of the Hirakud Dam. Nehru, a leader of the masses, was annoyed that the public had been kept away from the place and gave instructions that at his next function, which was to happen at Cuttack, the “arrangements for the public meeting should not be such as to separate the speaker from the audience”.

On April 13, 1948, his note on a missive was sent through a Pigeon to the officials at Cuttack from Sambalpur. While the Prime Minister took seven hours to reach the Cuttack, the message was delivered in just five hours. The original note in Nehru’s handwriting and with his signature is with a Philatelist of Cuttack. Noted environmentalist Dr. Biswajit Mohanty says that “the old pigeon tradition should be kept alive. These pigeons are excluded from the Wildlife Protection Act, so they can be used. It is a vanishing art which should be protected.” According to noted ornithologist Panchami Manoo Ukil, “Carrier pigeons are by no means a recent introduction in India. Pigeon breeding is an art that goes back to Mughal days. They can be seen on Mughal paintings, carrying love messages into harems or secret military instructions to soldiers in the field. Emperor Shah Jahan was one on the greatest breeders of pigeons. This unique tradition should be preserved.”

The Belgian Homer Pigeons, which can fly 25 kms in just 15 to 25 minutes, live up to 20 years and are trained from the age of six weeks. These powerfully built birds can fly up to 500 miles at a stretch at up to 55 kms per hour, depending on the weather. They are different from traditional pigeons with larger beaks and wattles, red eyes, round heads and thicker napes. The pigeons are classified as hens, cocks, breeders and squeakers – the local name for growing young birds still not able to fly. In its initial years, the service was of three types, static or one-way, boomerang or two-way and the mobile. The mobile service was mainly used by the 6th Odisha State Armed Police (OSAP) battalion, which carried the birds with it when on the move. The Static Service was a one-way communication: pigeons accompanying a police party are sent back to their loft bearing messages in tiny metal cylinders attached to their legs. The Boomerang Service, operated by older and better-trained pigeons was a two-way exchange of messages. The birds flew to a particular police station or an outpost, fed from a wooden box stacked with grain, and then made the return journey home with their message. A few years back, the government had decided to wind up the Pigeon Service as it was redundant, but good sense prevailed and a token service is still being maintained. The heritage ceremony was attended by many people including school children, both in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. All the pigeons reached the Cuttack Loft within one hour.

- http://orissadiary.com/intach-held-heritage-flight-carrier-pigeons-odisha-police-pigeon-service-bhubaneswar-cuttack/, April 16, 2018

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INTACH to restore Delhi’s oldest British-era cemetery

Restoration of Nicholson Cemetery situated near the Kashmiri Gate Metro station is expected to begin after July. INTACH, a specialised agency with expertise in heritage conservation, will carry out the restoration work.The cemetery traces back its history to the 1857 Indian Mutiny that started in Meerut but went on to spread to Delhi.The burial ground is named after Brigadier General John Nicholson, who was instrumental in breaching the defences of the Indian rebels controlling Delhi. Nicholson had lost his life in the process. “A large area of the cemetery houses British graves, while around 25 per cent buries Indians.

Families of those British officers who got killed during the revolt come here to visit the grave of their ancestors,” said an undertaker at the cemetery.The British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia (BACSA) — an organisation that promotes the preservation of cemeteries in South Asia and records those buried there — has appointed Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) for the conservation work. “It’s a big cemetery. The Delhi Cemeteries Committee (DCC) doesn't have enough resources to completely undertake the restoration work.

So, BACSA is doing it voluntarily,” said Paul Joseph, DCC secretary. “Right now, we are just documenting the cemetery and are marking and assessing its condition,” said Kanika Dawar, INTACH’s project coordinator. Thick, tangled vegetation has swallowed headstones and grave markers in the cemetery. There is no lawn, just a patchwork — weeds, dead brown leaves, bare earth. Headstones are broken, lie askew and shattered by the forces of the Nature.INTACH is likely to submit a detailed project report by July after which the work will commence, added Dawar.

- http://www.newindianexpress.com/thesundaystandard/2018/apr/15/intach-to-restore-delhis-oldest-british-era-cemetery-1801645.html, April 16, 2018

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A card for moksha on ghats

A slice of American Express, whose card has always defined ostentatious luxury and snob appeal, lies merged with earthy Varanasi, India’s oldest city that oversees the holy end of Hindu’s spiritual journey. To curious onlookers, this unique East meet West event was almost like the blending of Ravi Shankar with George Harrison way back in 1973 under the label Dark Horse that took the world of music by surprise. The Amex entry into the land of the mystic orient happened on Wednesday, April 12, 2018, at the Balaji Ghat around the time when the financial behemoth changed its tagline to become acceptable among hoodie-wearing moguls and young tycoons, a far cry from the days when it only loved the rich and famous. The Balaji ghat, one of the 88 riverfront steps leading to the banks of the Ganges in the land of the Mystic Orient, was once popular among locals because Bismillah Khan did his daily shehnai practice every morning before sunrise, the maestro even had a glimpse of Lord Hanuman, the Hindu god of physical strength.

The ghat is also home to the Naga sadhus of Juna akhara and wrestlers and close to the oldest Harishchandra Ghat, one of the two sacred gateways to heaven. But years of neglect had – for all practical purposes – destroyed the ghat and its adjoining area. And now, renovations have turned the place as good as new, thanks to a joint venture between American Express, World Monument Fund and Indian National Trust of Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), India’s premier and largest NGO that works extensively across the country to protect, preserve and promote India’s unique architectural and cultural heritage.

I asked Ashish Nandy, India’s foremost social scientist about the Amex initiative, he said responsible cooperation minus profits could open many doors for maintenance of Indian heritage. He wanted more such efforts, including a big push from corporates in India to clean the Ganges, India’s holiest and most polluted river. Siddhartha Banerjee, a Siddhi Veena player who grew up in Varanasi, called the effort “initiatives that stem from devotion to rituals”. I have a feeling Amex wants to connect with many more, it no longer wants to hold onto the affluent fantasies. Realising snobbery is no longer appealing, the payments company has started its search to connect with the new millennials, preferably ones with decades of spending ahead of them. No wonder more than a third of its new cardholders worldwide last year were millennials. And many of them visit Varanasi, walk through the temples and ghats, watch the evening aarti, take photographs of doms, gatekeepers who tend to open ovens containing the eternal flame, without which funeral pyres cannot be lighted. Now, the visitors will also visit the refurbished Balaji ghat, a museum and an art centre, also a temple housing the old idol of Lord Hanuman. Those seeped into music, it will now see the iconic shehnai of the legendary maestro kept with care.

The new Amex campaign, Powerful Backing: Don’t Do Business / Don’t Live Life Without It, reflects on how people live and work today and celebrates the reality that life and business are becoming increasingly interconnected. The Varanasi stamp, in some ways, highlight the role American Express is playing in supporting this new reality. It has restored an iconic temple to its glory, and an iconic shehnai to its honour. “The belief of attaining moksha after death in Varanasi will remain forever, so will the urge to visit a city seeped into religious diversity.. And between these two beliefs will stay, probably forever, such restored relics of the past,” says BHU historian Premanka Chakravarty. The sun is setting on Varanasi, temple bells signalling the start of evening prayers. At the Harishchandra ghat nearby, a son has lit the pyre of his ailing father, the fire-spitting orange embers into an inky night. He has walked around the fire five times to honour the five elements — fire, water, earth, air and ether — as per Hindu custom. At an adjacent tea store that offers free Wi-Fi, foreigners take photographs of the city’s latest signage: American Express. You need it if you wish to attain moksha at Balaji ghat.

- https://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/newshound-tales/a-card-for-moksha-on-ghats/, April 16, 2018

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30 heritage sites in Karnataka to be cleaned

To mark the International World Heritage Day on April 18, the Department of Archaeology will organise a 15-day scientific cleaning programme in Hampi and Bengaluru from April 16. The department has identified 30 monuments across the state, 15 each in Hampi and around Bengaluru. The event will be organised under the theme “Heritage for Generations”. An exhibition to create awareness on the need for keeping the heritage sites intact and clean will also be organised during this period.

“The event called as ‘Swachhata Pakwada’ will be held for 15 days. We have selected the monuments for cleaning in Mini Hampi and Bengaluru circles,” K Moortheeswari, Superintending Archaeologist, Archaeological Survey of India (Hampi Mini Circle) told Express. Cleaning drive will be held at Daria Daulat in Srirangapatna, Keshava temple, Belur in Hassan, Hoysaleshwara temple in Halebeedu, group of monuments in Shravanabelagola, prehistoric site at Managondanahalli in Bengaluru rural district, Keshava temple in Somanathpura, Chitradurga fort and Harihareshwara temple at Harihara in Davangere, Kalleshwara temple in Bagli, Ramalingeshwara temple at Avani, Someshwara temple and Kolaramma temple in Kolar, Kattale Basadi at Barkur, Chandragutti fort and Renuka temple in Shivamogga district and Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace in Bengaluru.

- http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2018/apr/16/30-heritage-sites-in-karnataka-to-be-cleaned-1802127.html, April 16, 2018

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Carvings On Stone Talk About Khasi History

Tribal communities have always shared a close relationship with nature, be it for sustenance, shelter, health, aesthetics, recreation or spirituality. Monoliths, ossuaries, cairns, cromlechs and other stone monuments are found all over the world, especially in the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe. The prevalence of stone culture has no regional boundaries as memorial stones are seen in many societies. In India, such stone structures are found in the southern states, and also in the Khasi-Jaintia Hills of the state of Meghalaya where they have been intricately woven into tribal culture and traditions from time immemorial. On April 11, 2018, Martin Luther Christian University held a seminar entitled ‘Khasi History in Stone’, perhaps the first ever conference on traditional stone monuments of the Khasi and Jaintia Hills. The speakers were drawn from several academic institutions in Meghalaya to present findings from their field work. The seminar was a tribute to late Robin Laloo, a prominent conservationist and supporter of cultural projects. The keynote address was delivered by Srikumar Menon, from the Department of Heritage and Humanities, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Dr Menon is the author of the books Ancient Stone Riddles and Comets: Nomads of the Solar System.

He spoke on “The Megaliths of Prehistoric Communities in Southern India”. His presentation, full of pictures, covered many newly discovered stone structures in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. His talk, refreshingly shorn of technical jargon and academic pretensions, proved a valuable primer on different kinds of monoliths, and their unique arrangements, though much of their cultural significance lost with the passage of time. Menon is a multifaceted person: architect, archaeologist and astronomer, and he has determined the celestial alignments of some megalith groupings. Binora Marsharing, a PhD scholar at North Eastern Hill University presented her research work on “Iron Working among the Khasis” and traced the links of the old iron industry with monoliths. Her presentation included drawings and other details of the smelting of iron, highlighting the unique processes and the prominent role of women.

Marco Mitri from Union Christian College spoke on “Monumentality in Khasi-Jaintia Pre-History”. His fascinating talk described his archeological findings at various sites in Ri Bhoi, mostly in the hill slopes along the Umiam river, though sites have been excavated in other parts of the Khasi and Jaintia Hills. His work has unearthed stone tools, weapons, and debitage from the Neolithic Period, with some of the artifacts dating from about 1000 BC. His discovery of old iron implements such as fish spearheads, drilling tools and arrowheads help to date the antiquity of the iron industry in the region. Potsherds of earthenware made from red and white kaolinite indicate advanced techniques including kiln baking at temperatures up to 650 degrees celsius. His meticulous sifting of soil samples have revealed seeds and other plant remnants of a variety of species including rice (wild and domesticated strains), jujube, gooseberry, Job’s tears, millet and cotton. Mitri’s findings have begun to write the pre-history of people of this region, and provide possible links with Khasi folklore. “Ossuaries among the Khasis: a study in Ummat and Sohbar villages” was presented by Larilin Kharpuri and Gardinia Nongbri of the Department of Environment and Traditional Ecosystems of MLCU. Their field work described the mawbah, the box-like bone burial sites of 12 Khasi clans, found in close proximity, placed in a straight line in a sacred forest. The openings of these mawbah always face east, except for clans which have become extinct.

For those clans, duh-jait, the openings of the mawbah face westward. The topic “Stone structures along the royal path of Jaintia kings from Nartiang to Jaintiapur” was taken by H H Mohrmen, the well-known writer and community activist of Jowai. His pictorial presentation took us on the 73 km journey from Nartiang to Jaintiapur, now in Bangladesh but earlier the winter capital of the Jaintia kings. Along the way are many monolith assemblages, stone-arch bridges and the flat stone Thlum Uwi bridge. One of the bridges has well-hewn carvings, one of which seems to depict a mythical animal. Kitboklang Nongrum of MLCU described the rules of “Mawkorkotia: A children’s game in stone”, one of the popular pastimes of yore. The game is played by two persons or two teams, who move cowrie shells, seeds or stones along a series of cups, strategically seeking to capture these objects belonging to the opponent.

The game was played by farmers, who stayed up through the night keeping watch over the fields. Children played for fun, adults sometimes gambled for money. A video of two players was shown, though the game is hardly played anymore. Many Khasi folk tales are associated with stone structures and some of these stories were related by Evan D. Diengdoh and Ibanrilin C Basaiawmoit of MLCU. Tales of the child-eating boulder and the giant stone resembling a khoh, conical basket, at Thankarang Park in Sohra were narrated with animation graphics. Though not present, the PhD work of Danny Burke at National University, Ireland, entitled “Jingkynmaw: memories written in stone” was briefly described. Danny spoke to the audience over a speaker phone. During the inauguration, a group of students sang the ballad of U maw nguid briew, and enacted the tragic story of the mother who lost two children to a stone that swallowed them. A group of paintings by local artists depicting monoliths was exhibited at the back of the hall. (The authors are from Martin Luther Christian University)

- http://www.theshillongtimes.com/2018/04/15/carvings-on-stone-talk-about-khasi-history/, April 16, 2018

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World Heritage Day 2018: Importance, Know All About Heritage Site Status

World Heritage Day is observed on April 18 by International Council for Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). The day came into being after a suggestion that a special day should be marked and celebrated across the globe called 'International Day for Monuments and Sites'. Thereafter, UNESCO's General Conference approved the day in In 1983 and since then, April 18 is marked as the World Heritage Day. This year the theme for World Heritage Day is 'Wetlands for a sustainable urban future'. The day aims to draw attention to ancient sites around the world and raise public awareness about the diversity of cultural heritage. The day thus gives exposure to international efforts to preserve heritage sites and increase awareness of the importance of supporting such causes.

What is a World Heritage Site?
A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which holds cultural-historical, scientific or other forms of significance. The place is legally protected by international treaties. The sites are judged important and heritage status is given depending on the collective interests of humanity. There are 1,052 Heritage Sites in the world, of which 814 are cultural, 203 are natural and 35 are mixed. Fifty-five of these sites are in danger, including the birthplace of Jesus, Church of the Nativity and Pilgrimage Route in Bethlehem. Hence it is need of the hour to protect these sites from further endangerment.

In India, to mark the International World Heritage Day, the Department of Archaeology will organise a 15-day scientific cleaning programme in Hampi and Bengaluru from April 16. The event will be organised under the theme 'Heritage for Generations'. This World Heritage Day, Egypt's Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anany has decided to open all archaeological sites registered on the World Heritage List for free to Egyptian students on Wednesday, as part of the ministry’s celebration of the day.

- tps://www.latestly.com/lifestyle/festivals-events/world-heritage-day-2018-importance-know-all-about-heritage-site-status-114189.html, April 16, 2018

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American Express, WMF, INTACH complete restoration of Balaji Ghat

American Express, World Monument Fund (WMF), and the Indian National Trust of Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) on Monday announced that the restoration of Balaji Ghat, a historic landmark in Varanasi, had been completed. To commemorate the occasion, a museum and cultural centre was inaugurated at the historic site for tourists. In 2012, Balaji Ghat was nominated by INTACH for the World Monuments Watch, a program created by WMF, to call attention to the cultural importance of the site and its conservation needs. At the time, American Express announced a grant of Rs. 1.5 crore for the restoration. For the past two decades, American Express has partnered with a number of leading preservation organisations, including World Monuments Fund, to preserve and build awareness for at-risk heritage sites, and engage the public in preservation efforts around the world. To-date, American Express has granted more than USD 60 million in support of hundreds of preservation projects globally.

"As one of the leading players in the payments and travel industry, American Express recognises that no industry has a greater stake than ours in preserving the world's historic monuments, cultural heritage and environment. It is a matter of great pride for us to be associated with preservation of India's rich cultural heritage. Balaji Ghat was in urgent need of conservation and I am delighted to see that the historic site has been fully restored and a museum and cultural centre has been established," said Manoj Adlakha, SVP and CEO, American Express Banking Corp., India. Built in 1735, on the banks of the Ganges River by King Balaji Peshwa, Balaji Ghat is an important pilgrimage destination. It is culturally significant to the local community, has been a centre of study of traditional sacred music, and remains a testimony of living traditions today. Lack of maintenance and a heavy influx of tourists over the years had led to the deterioration of the Balaji Ghat. Further, the main portion of the building was damaged in 1999. Some parts of 'Naubatkhana' of centuries-old Balaji temple, where late shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan used to sit for riyaz (practice), had collapsed in September and November 2009. The restoration of the building with a museum and cultural centre will help maintain it for public use. According to Lisa Ackerman, Executive Vice President and CEO, World Monument Fund, "WMF and American Express have worked together since the mid-1990s to protect cultural heritage sites throughout the world. We are especially grateful to American Express's unwavering support for heritage conservation activities in India, which have included important sites throughout the country."

"Balaji Ghat was nominated by INTACH and was included in the 2012 World Monuments Watch to call attention to the cultural importance of the site and its conservation needs. The support of American Express provided essential support for INTACH to restore this site back so that it could once again serve the Varanasi community and visitors," she added. The WMF is a private nonprofit organisation concerned about the accelerating destruction of important artistic treasures throughout the world. Now celebrating 50 years, World Monuments Fund has orchestrated over 600 projects in 90 countries. The Worlds Monuments Watch (WMW) a global program launched in 1995 on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of World Monuments Fund aims to identify imperiled cultural heritage sites and direct financial and technical support for their preservation. The Indian National Trust of Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) is India's premier and largest non-government organisation that works extensively all over India to protect, preserve and promote India's unique architectural and cultural heritage. (NewsVoir)

- https://www.aninews.in/news/lifestyle/culture/american-express-wmf-intach-complete-restoration-of-balaji-ghat201804161810000001/, April 17, 2018

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Call To Nurture Mysuru’s Cultural Heritage

R.G. Singh, Honorary Secretary, Ramsons Kala Pratishtana (RKP), called for a concerted effort to nurture the many intangible forms of cultural heritage, especially in relation to the rich legacy of Mysuru left behind by the rulers of Wadiyar dynasty. He was speaking at the day-long National Conclave on the ‘Economic of Urban Heritage Conservation: Conservation, Hurdles and Opportunities’ organised by the Indian National Trust for Culture and Heritage (INTACH) at the World Trade Centre in Bengaluru recently. The conclave was inaugurated by Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Gupta, Chairperson, INTACH, while the keynote address was delivered by Navin Piplani, Director, Indian Heritage Academy (New Delhi).

Former bureaucrat Dr. A. Ravindra welcomed. Speakers included Riyaz Komu, co-founder of the now iconic ‘Kochi Muziris Biennale’ (KMB), Ashok Panda of INTACH-Puducherry, M. Bhaktavatsala, well-known chronicler of Bengaluru and Sanjeev Narrain of the RBANMS Trust.

- https://starofmysore.com/call-to-nurture-mysurus-cultural-heritage/, April 17, 2018

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Kolkata: March against razing of heritage buildings

On World Heritage Day, on April 18, concerned citizens of the city will take out a march to protest against “consistent razing” of heritage buildings and constructing skyscrapers in its place. The protest will be organised by Calcutta Architectural Legacies (CAL), INTACH and PUBLIC ( People united for better living in Calcutta). The march will be from Subodh Mallik Square to the offices of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation. Kolkata-based author Amit Chaudhuri first started CAL and the movement to conserve Kolkata’s heritage architecture in 2015. “The organisation emerged after I ran a campaign in 2015 in which we sent letters to the CM, the mayor, the KMC commissioner with the city’s most eminent citizens as its signatories, to preserve Kolkata’s heritage architecture,” says Chaudhuri. The march is not only to take this movement forward but to protest against the rapid de-listing of heritage buildings in the city. The de-listing of a heritage building, says Chaudhuri, is simply to make way for its subsequent demolition. “Just last month the old Kenilworth Hotel was demolished. It is to be replaced by a 35-storey residential complex,”he said. The demolition took place after the hotels heritage status was downgraded by the KMC. Located at the crossing of Middleton Street and Little Russel Street, the hotel was one of the oldest in the business.

Regional head of INTACH in Kolkata, GM Kapur says, “We want to ask the government how and why this is happening? There are a wide range of establishments, both private homes as well as public institutions, which have been affected by the government’s apathy. The Ghulam Rasul Mosque, a Grade I heritage structure, was demolished last year. The Gate to the Bishops home on Russel Street was also demolished by a developer. We put a lot of pressure on the Corporation to make sure that the gate was rebuilt. It’s the promoters who stand to gain most from the de-listing and the demolitions, apart from the owners themselves. We want to sit down with the government and talk to them, not as a confrontation, but as a discussion to see how it can be averted. And how a private owner can continue to keep and conserve his property without feeling burdened by a heritage tag.”

Chaudhuri says that while other cities like Mumbai and Delhi have designated heritage zones, like Marine Drive or Lutyens’ Zone, Kolkata had no such designated heritage precinct. “And this is something we have been demanding. Kolkata has extraordinary heritage neighbourhoods in both north and south Kolkata. There isn’t a single city in the world, whether a New York or London or Paris or Istanbul, that has not benefited from creating and maintaining heritage zones. There are ways to make these areas financially attractive. But the government right now is not even willing to acknowledge the problem,”says Chaudhuri.

-http://indianexpress.com/article/india/kolkata-march-against-razing-of-heritage-buildings-5140072/, April 17, 2018

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Maharashtra: State to get first ‘fossil park’ in Gadchiroli district

First of its kind of tourism destination in the country, state’s naxal-infested Gadchiroli district is set to get first fossil park. At present the project is at nascent stage as Maharashtra’s Directorate of Archaeology and Museums is gathering information and data from the concerned departments like Geological Survey of India (GSI). “The proposed Wadadham fossil park (nearly 950 kilometres away from Mumbai) is located in Sironcha Taluka which is at the southern tip of the Gadchiroli district. The present proposed area for the fossil park represents upper Gondwana Kota formations belonging to early Jurassic period and the scientific investigations have revealed that present area was near sea,” said Tushar Chavan, Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF), Sironcha, Gadchiroli circle. Chavan further added that two paleontologists are about to visit Gadchiroli from the USA by April end. The project, spread across 2 hectare land, would create job opportunity right from watchman to different posts which will further uplift the living standard of the local residents. The proposed fossil park would boost the state tourism industry as it is located on the NH16 that connects Nizamabad in Telangana and Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh. “We would give appropriate publicity on our website and social media.

Simultaneously, we would develop resort network around fossil park in Gadchiroli so that every tourist going there should not return in a day. Besides this we would create tourist circuit so that the tourists can visit some cultural spots, artisan’s collections, folk dances, etc. Also, we would promote regional foods in the area because in Maharashtra the taste of masala curry changes after 15 km,” Aashutosh Rathod, Joint MD, MTDC told the Free Press Journal. “For each district of the state, we are calling proposals from the collector of each district under Regional Tourism Development Scheme (RTDS). So the collector of Gadchiroli would be integrating into the project to develop the infrastructure around the proposed fossil park,” said Rathod. The fossil park will house replicas of dinosaurs and exhibits of their bones and plant fossils dating back to the pre-historic period – a rare and rich collection. State’s forest department is in touch with the GSI, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Maharashtra and other departments to shape up the project. “We will talk to the Geological Survey of India (GSI) for providing expertise. We intend to keep original objects as a lot of fossils are found in Sironcha Forest Division in Gadchiroli district which is handled by GSI,” Dr. Tejas Garge, director of Maharashtra’s Directorate of Archaeology and Museums told the Free Press Journal.

- http://www.freepressjournal.in/mumbai/maharashtra-state-to-get-first-fossil-park-in-gadchiroli-district/1258924, April 17, 2018

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11th-century stone inscription found in graveyard

A team of heritage enthusiasts has stumbled upon a stone inscription dating back to the 11th century. The relic, found in a graveyard in Kadugodi, east Bengaluru, is one of the first Tamil inscriptions discovered in city limits. It bears information on the building of Pattandur Lake (presently located behind ITPL). Udaya Kumar PL, who is spearheading the physical verification project, Inscription Stones of Bangalore, said they were surprised to find the stone inscription amid graves. “We were on project rounds and saw the inscription dating back to 1043AD a few days ago. The Tamil text mentions the name of king Rajendra Chola, who in his 32nd year of reign facilitated the building of Pattandur Lake with three sluice gates and even gifted land for the construction,” he added.

According to Udaya, the engraving says the ruler ordered installation of idols of three deities, including goddess Durga and lord Ganapathi. It also warns that those who try to damage the inscription or tank shall inherit the sins of those who have died between the Ganges and Cape Comorin (present Kanyakumari). “He (one who damages the inscription) shall be the husband of his own mother.

May the line of him who protects the inscription prosper,” Udaya said quoting the inscription. Highlighting the importance of the inscription, Udaya said, “Now we know that Pattandur Lake, located about 7km from the inscription site, is more than 1,000 years old and the village with the same name is even older. Further research on the inscription can throw more light on the history of Bengaluru,” he added. When asked whether the inscription is in its original place of installation or has been displaced to the graveyard, Udaya said site inspection shows it’s the original spot. “There is a Shiva temple right behind the graveyard and there are some stones there. The graveyard could have come up 100 to 200 years ago,” he added.

Pattandur: A lake under threat
Pattandur Agrahara Lake recently hit headlines, with the high court issuing notices to civic agencies to clear encroachments on the lakebed. Citizens living in its vicinity have been campaigning to revive the waterbody. Whitefield Rising, a citizen group, in its petition to the court has challenged the BBMP’s plan to construct an 80-feet-wide road connecting Varthur Kodi Road to ITPL Main Road as the proposal poses a threat to the lake’s buffer zone. Citizens say illegal dumping of debris and cutting of trees is rampant in the zone.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/11th-century-stone-inscription-found-in-graveyard/articleshow/63790576.cms, April 17, 2018

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Aloysius Chapel paintings to get INTACH touch

Almost 25 years after the iconic paintings at the St Aloysius Chapel were restored, the college management has re-employed INTACH Conservation Institutes to conserve and restore the century-old artefacts at a cost of Rs 1.5 crore. The project that began in November is scheduled to be completed within 18 months. An expert team from INTACH Delhi had documented the work in 2016 and sent across a proposal to the St Aloysius College management in March 2017. The paintings at the St Aloysius Chapel comprise frescos, a European-Italian technique rarely sighted in India, and oil paintings on canvas by Italian Jesuit Antonio Moscheni in 1899. According to the college management, Moscheni had taken 2.5 years to complete the work comprising 50 canvas paintings and 600sq mt of wall paintings. INTACH had undertaken the first conservation and restoration work from 1991 to 1994. "The lower parts of the work on either sides of the wall, up to seven feet in height, are damaged because of the movement of people. There is deposition of hand grease and muck on the works. There are marks left by furniture that banged into the paintings. However, tremendous efforts have been put in by the management to preserve the art work so far," said Nilabh Sinha, principal director, INTACH Conservation Institutes, New Delhi. A team from INTACH has been stationed in the city to undertake the work.

Customised mechanisms have been employed, to ensure the authenticity of the artefact remains intact. The team has also set up a mini-laboratory for the purpose. Sinha said the team has been working with locals, especiall y artists, to ensure quick support for the preservation of artefacts in future. "We have received a few portfolios. We are searching for talents who we can train and groom to undertake this momentous task. We have shortlisted some CVs. We are looking for more people," he said.

Fr Dionysius Vaz, rector, St Aloysius College Institutions, Mangaluru, said the chapel has always been an active place of worship, and will continue to be so. "We do not wish to preserve the chapel just as a monument. When people visit the chapel, some damage may happen. We are looking at options to serve both purposes in a more effective manner," he said. The chapel has been one of the prominent tourist destinations in the coastal belt. According to Fr Vaz, foreign tourists in six buses had visited the place recently.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mangaluru/aloysius-chapel-paintings-to-get-intach-touch/articleshow/63808116.cms, April 18, 2018

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On World Heritage Day, A Look At 36 Heritage Sites In India

April 18 is International Day For Monuments and Sites, also called World Heritage Day. As of 2018, India alone has 36 world heritage sites, the sixth most of any country. Italy leads with 53 sites followed by China with 52 sites. From Kaziranga in Assam, Hampi monuments in Karnataka, The Queen's step-well in Gujarat to Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks in Uttarakhand, India has a range miscellaneous range of parks, monuments, wildlife sanctuaries, religious structures and mountains in the list. On Wold Heritage Day, here's a look at all 36 world heritage sites in India, as designated by UNESCO:

1. Kaziranga in Assam
2. Manas Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam
3. Sundarbans National Park in West Bengal
4. Western Ghats. These include Agasthyamalai Sub-Cluster, Periyar Sub-Cluster, Anamalai Sub-Cluster, Nilgiri Sub-Cluster, Talakaveri Sub-Cluster, Kudremukh Sub-Cluster, Sahyadri Sub-Cluster
5. Great Himalayan National Park in Himachal Pradesh
6. Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya in Bihar
7. Churches and Convents of Goa
8. Humayun's Tomb in Delhi
9. Red Fort Complex in Delhi
10. Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park in Gujarat
11. Group of Monuments at Hampi in Karnataka
12. Group of Monuments at Pattadakal in Karnataka
13. Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh
14. Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh
15. Khajuraho Group of Monuments in Madhya Pradesh
16. Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra
17. Ellora Caves in Maharashtra
18. Elephanta Caves in Maharashtra
19. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) in Maharashtra
20. Sun Temple at Konark in Odisha
21. Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur, Rajasthan
22. Jantar Mantar in Jaipur, Rajasthan
23. Great Living Chola Temples in Tamil Nadu. They include Brihadeeswarar temple in Gangaikonda Cholapuram, Airavateshwarar Temple in Darasuram, Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur.
24. Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu
25. Agra Fort in Uttar Pradesh
26. Fatehpur Sikri in Uttar Pradesh
27. Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh
28. Rani ki vav (The Queen's Stepwell) in Patan, Gujarat
29. Mountain Railways of India. They include Darjeeling Himalayan Railway in West Bengal, Nilgiri Mountain Railway in Ooty, Tamil Nadu, Kalka-Shimla Railway in Himachal Pradesh.
30. Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand
31. Hill Forts of Rajasthan. They include Chittorgarh, Kumbhalgarh, Ranthambhore, Amber Sub-Cluster, Gagron
32. Nalanda in Bihar
33. Khangchendzonga National Park In Sikkim
34. The Architectural Work Of Le Corbusier in Chandigarh
35. Historic City of Ahmadabad in Ahmedabad, Gujarat
36. Qutb Minar in Delhi

- https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/world-heritage-day-list-of-world-heritage-sites-in-india-1839067, April 18, 2018

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Intach award eludes city monuments

On International Day for Monuments and Sites, the Hyderabad chapter of Indian National Trust for Cultural Heritage (Intach) broke its 22-year-old tradition of announcing annual awards for city monuments to draw attention to the state of heritage in the region. "The prognosis for Hyderabad's heritage is bleak. Bombay has 850 listed monuments. We have a far more glorious history, but only 160-odd monuments listed, that too without any legal protection after the scrapping of Regulation 13A," said Sajjad Shahid of Intach. Later, a few winners of awards from earlier years were honoured for taking care of the monuments in their custody. "People who were alien to our culture gave us a semblance of protection. Now, we cannot say the same.

There is an orchestrated pressure to demolish the Osmania General Hospital, otherwise why are the doctors wearing helmets?" asked Mr. Shahid. The chief guest on the occasion, Suresh Kumar, Vice-Chancellor of English and Foreign Languages University, said the government should explore the synergy between tourism and heritage to boost the income of locals as well preserve heritage. "This year's theme for International Day for Monuments and Sites is 'Heritage for Generations'. But we appear to be losing the battle as every monument and landmark is seen as real estate. We have to fight to preserve and protect our heritage," said Anuradha Reddy of Intach.

- http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/intach-award-eludes-city-monuments/article23590507.ece, April 19, 2018

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INTACH begins work to restore Bengaluru's Fort High School

Restoration work began today on the Fort High School building here, which was set up over 110 years ago by the Mysore royal family, INTACH officials said. "The restoration would be carried out over a period of one year with a cost of Rs 2.5 crore. It was constructed on a plot next to Tipu Sultan's palace here in 1907," said Meera Iyer, Bangalore Chapter's Co-convener of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar, the current scion of the royal family inaugurated the work on the school premises and recalled the contribution of his ancestors, who were patrons of art, culture, education and architecture.

"This school in a way represents the Mysorean design that were brought into the architectural vocabulary of buildings being erected in 1900s. As the restoration takes place, it will also inspire the young generation to appreciate and care for heritage," he said. "Buildings like the Fort School were built by our ancestors, but this heritage is not just our family's legacy, but people's legacy. And, we all must celebrate it together," Wadiyar told PTI. The two-storeyed building with slanting roofs and colonnaded facade is one of the oldest buildings in Bengaluru, the built heritage of which has been facing threat from the onslaught of modernity in the last few years. Over 100-year-old iconic Krumbiegel Hall in famed Lalbagh Garden was demolished last year after suffering years of neglect while the Asiatic building inaugurated in 1935 is under the shadow of the wrecking ball.

Iyer said the school's restoration work will be carried out by the Bengaluru Chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) which has raised donations for it from private entities. "Permission to restore the structure has been given by the Department of Public Instruction, government of Karnataka," she said. The 26-year-old Mysore royal family scion said he was saddened to see the current state of the building but glad to know that it would be restored to its original glory. "All the ideals, wants, aspirations of our collective ancestors, of the architects and government, were poured into making those buildings at that time. Preserving and reinvigorating them is important so that we can pass on this heritage to future generations," he said.

- http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/intach-begins-work-to-restore-bengaluru-s-fort-high-school-118041900957_1.html, April 19, 2018

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Once decrepit, Varanasi's Balaji Ghat gets a makeover

It's a city considered sacred by Hindus and is among the oldest in the world to have been continually inhabited. As the Ganges river flows past its ghats, all 88 of them, each one has a historical tale to tell—if only the walls could speak. One such is the Balaji Ghat, which is more popularly known as the abode of legendary shehnai artist Ustad Bismillah Khan for his early morning "riyaaz". It is said that the late musician would start his day from the 'naubatkhana' of the Balaji Ghat Palace and enthral listeners. Built in 1735 by Maratha king Balaji Peshwa, it is an integral part of the riverfront and forms a part of the larger Panchganga Ghat. But the place turned into a pile of debris when four floors of the building completely collapsed in 1999. And again in September 2009, the floor of the naubatkhana also collapsed. Realising the survival crisis that this culturally-rich structure was facing, INTACH carried out an initial documentation of the building in 2009. And, in 2012, INTACH nominated it for World Monuments Watch (WMW) and decided to take the initiative for renovating it—after the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) granted it permission to do so. After seven years of hard work and much effort, the building has been restored to its past glory and has also been thrown open to the public.

A bonus to this heritage building is the museum which has placed all the antique pieces for display. "We realised the need for immediate work and started off. Since it was a very vital project we involved only INTACH members for the restoration work," Bindu Manchanda of INTACH told IANS. And for the smooth functioning of the restoration project, American Express extended its helping hand towards INTACH and contributed Rs 1.5 crore for the entire work. "It is a partnership between INTACH and American Express. The hardwork has paid off and we are very happy with the outcome. It was great to be able to contribute" in the protection of a heritage monument, Manoj Adlakha, SVP and CEO, American Express Banking Corp., India, told IANS. For the past two decades, American Express has partnered with a number of leading preservation organisations, including World Monuments Fund, to preserve and build awareness for at-risk heritage sites, and engage the public in preservation efforts around the world. Till date, American Express has granted more than $60 million in support for hundreds of preservation projects globally.

"Varanasi is a spiritual place; it is deeply rooted in culture and heritage. We have been doing a lot of work related to our CSR initiatives and we will continue doing so from time to time," Adlakha added. According to INTACH, some prime reasons for the poor condition of the building were natural calamities, earthquakes, floods, lack of regular maintenance and decay of timber due to exposure to excessive moisture. But when INTACH started off, there were many obstacles it needed to overcome, some major ones being encroachment, dumped waste in and around the building, inappropriate wiring, stagnant water near the building and clogged drains, to name just a few. "Another problem that we faced was clearing the debris. We had to be very careful while doing so because many of the portions were in stable condition and we had to save and keep them intact. This was a challenge," Manchanda explained. The restoration was not easy. There was a need to be sensitive and carry it out in a manner that the integrity and authenticity of the palace were not damaged. "The choice of building materials needed to complement this historic palace. Achieving structural stability was another important component of the activity," Manchanda said. However, she lamented that some of the front portions of the building couldn't be completed as the Varanasi Development Authority (VDA) didn't grant permission to do so. "It is unfortunate that some parts have been left out; this doesn't complement the restored part. VDA should give us the permission to complete the work, because it is a piece of history. Also, we are looking for more financial cooperation from other MNCs," she added.

- https://www.theweek.in/leisure/society/2018/04/19/once-decrepit-varanasi-balaji-ghat-makeover.html, April 19, 2018

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March to save architectural heritage

A large crowd gathered outside Subodh Mallik Square on Wednesday, World Heritage Day, braving the afternoon heat, to take part in a march protesting the mindless and massive demolition of the city's architectural heritage. The march, organised by CAL, INTACH and PUBLIC, three organisations engaged in protecting the environment of the city, both built and natural, ended at the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) office, where the mayor, whom the protesters wanted to meet, remained invisible. Writer Amit Chaudhuri read from the letter, signed by eminent citizens, that was to be submitted to the CMC. He started CAL (Calcutta Architectural Legacies) to talk about the city's architectural heritage, which is not necessarily about landmark buildings. The protesters included filmmaker Aparna Sen, Jawhar Sircar, chairman, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Supriya Chaudhuri, professor emeritus, Jadavpur University, artist Chittrovanu Majumdar and writer Kalyan Ray, as well as G.M. Kapoor of INTACH, Pradip Kakkar of PUBLIC and conservation architect Manish Chakraborty. Participants held placards that said Calcutta should not turn into a city of malls; neither should its heritage be on sale. Aparna Sen said that like people, an old city also has a face. If this face is struck at continuously, it becomes disfigured, unrecognisable. Amit Chaudhuri said the letter mentioned three broad points that needed to be discussed with the CMC

1. The delisting of buildings on the CMC's heritage list should be stopped immediately

2. Documentation of buildings that require preservation

3. Authentication of the incomplete heritage list that the city has and putting together a plan that will create heritage precincts, so that Calcutta's unique neighbourhoods do not disappear in the name of development. "This is perhaps the first citizens' march on heritage in the city," Amit Chaudhuri said. Many voices emerged, including those of other citizens' initiatives. Swarnali Chattopadhyay of Purono Kolkatar Golpo, a Facebook group with 40,000 followers, spoke about how the group's timely intervention has at least temporarily put a stop to the demolition of Metropolitan Institution, the school attended by Vidyasagar. Pointing at the casual way in which the city's old buildings are being demolished, a former member of the CMC heritage committee said that an architect of a highrise that has led to the demolition of an old heritage hotel is part of the CMC heritage committee. The march ended in an unexpected way. The protesters were stopped from meeting the mayor and the municipal commissioner inside the corporation building by the police, though the letter was accepted.

- https://www.telegraphindia.com/calcutta/march-to-save-architectural-heritage-224430, April 19, 2018

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Students tune into World Heritage Day

A seminar on 'Heritage for Generation', competitions for school students, and free joy rides in toy train for children below 12 years marked World Heritage Day celebration at the railway junction here on Wednesday. The seminar was addressed by K. Balakrishnan, principal and correspondent of Bharathi Matriculation Higher Secondary School. R. Aaivu, Assistant Divisional Railway Manager, distributed prizes to winners of elocution, essay-writing and painting competitions. Around 250 students from five schools visited the Railway Museum during the day. Entry was free for visitors to the museum to mark the occasion. Focus on Darasuram. An awareness rally by students to highlight the importance of protecting monuments at Darasuram marked World Heritage Day in Kumbakonam. Organised by Archaeological Society of India, the rally saw participants carrying placards highlighting the need to protect and conserve monuments, heritage sites and artefacts.

A workshop was held at Airavatesvara temple, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and major draw for foreign tourists with its stupendous architectural marvels in the form of carved stone idols. ASI Joint Superintendent Bhagawan Sarathy presided over the workshop. KSK College of Engineering and Technology principal Latha explained the importance of preserving ancient sculptures and monuments for future generations to see and enjoy them. Tributes to Syama Sastri. In Thanjavur, Marabu Foundation and INTACH organised a function to mark World Heritage Day, which coincided with the birth anniversary of Syama Sastri of the famed Carnatic Music Trinity. Marabu Foundation Trustee and musicologist Rama Kausalya detailed Syama Sastri's contribution to Carnatic music. INTACH Thanjavur Chapter secretary S. Muthukumar stressed the need for the younger generation to know the contributions of famous personalities who enriched the culture. A Carnatic vocal music programme by Rajeswari and troupe enlivened the proceedings.

- http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/students-tune-into-world-heritage-day/article23598737.ece, April 19, 2018

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World Heritage Day celebrated

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Amritsar Chapter, organised a folk song and folk dance competition for school students on Wednesday at Cambridge International School, Loharka Road, Amritsar. The objective of the event was to create awareness about our rich cultural heritage. Students from twenty schools participated in the competition. The teams exhibited the talent, devotion and excellence of the participants giving a difficult time for the judges Prof Balwinder Kaur (Department of Dance), Prof Sharminder Kaur ( Department of Instrumental Music) and Prof Chadha (Department of Vocal Music) S R Government College for Women Amritsar. In folk dance category Springdale Senior Secondary School, Amritsar, won first prize, Pathseekers School Beas won second and MKD DAV School Attari stood third. In folk song category, Holy Heart Presidency School, Amritsar bagged first position.

- http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/amritsar/world-heritage-day-celebrated/576722.html, April 19, 2018

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World Heritage Day: Lesser known Delhi monuments that deserve attention, restoration

Delhi is one of the few cities around the world which has history seeped into its very roots. You are bound to spot at least one architectural marvel no matter where you look. However, many are in pitiable state. For instance, there is "Zafar Mahal in Mehrauli" that "needs to be restored immediately. It's the last palace built by the Mughals, and has an ornamental darwaza (entry) through which even elephants could enter. It was the summer palace for them. Today, the local boys play cricket and gamble there, and the monument in a terrible state", says author and historian Rana Safvi. And as citizens and tourists we cannot rid ourselves of the responsibility that we have towards our heritage, by saying that the government is not doing its bit. "Vijay Mandal [complex] was an inspection bastion. It's a uniquely-shaped monument located in Sarvapriya Vihar, and it's entrance is right outside the Sarvapriya Club. Yet, it's surrounded by wilderness with only a single watchman stationed there. Once I asked him about the broken beer bottles lying around there, and the guard said 'Mai akela hun, jo itne log aate hain vo toh mujhe mar dalenge'." On the International Day For Monuments and Sites (World Heritage Day), which is celebrated every year on April 18 by UNESCO, let's get to know some of our heritage monuments better, and pledge to take care of them.

Haksar ki Haveli

Haksar ki Haveli has become a commercial complex of sorts, thanks to encroachment. In 2016, this Haveli (in Old Delhi's Sitaram Bazar's by-lane of Kucha Pati Ram), was notified as a heritage property by the Government of Delhi. It was here that India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru married Kamala Nehru, on 8 February, 1916. Kamala lived in the haveli with her family. Later, it became a popular venue for mushairas and musical events.

Tomb of Mir Taqi

A beeline of cars is often seen outside the posh Delhi Golf Club in Golf Links. But that's usually of those visiting the place to catch up with acquaintances and friends over a game. The many monuments inside the complex generally remain unfrequented. One of the monuments inside Delhi Golf Club is the Tomb of Mir Taqi. Built around 1930s, this tomb is in the area which was the burial ground for the Mughal dynasty. Today, there is an element of mysteriousness around this tomb, as the grave in the central chamber is said to be missing.

Hastsal Minar

Another monument that needs immediate attention is the Hastsal Minar in Uttam Nagar. Established in 1650s, this three-storey minaret, built using red sandstone and bricks, is about 17-metres high. It's believed to have been built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, and served as a hunting tower. The name of the monument derives from 'Hast Sthal' that literally translates to the resting place of elephants. It used to be submerged in water then. Today, there is no water body around the minaret, and hunting is obviously banned. The place is difficult to reach by broken roads.

Burjs of Mansur

Built around 1750s, this heritage monument is located in Ashok Vihar near Delhi University's Satyawati College. The burj or tower is named after the ruler of the Indian state of Oudh (or Awadh) Abul Mansur, also known as Safdar-Jang. It reportedly served as a resting or recreational place for Safdar-Jang's family.

Kharbooze Ka Gumbad

This heritage marvel is in South Delhi's Sheikh Sarai. and the name will definitely bring a smile on a Hindi-speaking individual's lips. If you are also wondering, why Kharbooze? A look at the top of the tomb is the answer to the question - The dome is the shape of a muskmelon or kharbooza. Constructed in 1397, this structure is located inside the premises of Panchsheel Public School in Sadhana Enclave. It's believed that Sufi Saint Kabir-ud-din Aulia would spend the day under the dome, and night, inside a cave below it.

- https://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-news/world-heritage-day-lesser-known-delhi-monuments-that-deserve-attention-restoration/story-RoxpTECLw6V7GSOEr1yVnI.html, April 19, 2018

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World Heritage Day: Here's taking a look at 36 heritage sites in India

Celebrated annually on April 18 every year, World Heritage Day aims to preserve the human heritage and recognise the efforts of all relevant organisations in the field. In 1982, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) announced, 18 April as the "World Heritage Day", approved by the General Assembly of UNESCO in 1983, with the aim of enhancing awareness of the importance of the cultural heritage of humankind, and redouble efforts to protect and conserve the human heritage.

Here's taking a look at the 36 world heritage sites in India as stated by UNESCO

Kaziranga in Assam

Manas Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam

Sundarbans National Park in West Bengal

Western Ghats. These include Agasthyamalai Sub-Cluster, Periyar Sub-Cluster, Anamalai Sub-Cluster, Nilgiri Sub-Cluster, Talakaveri Sub-Cluster, Kudremukh Sub-Cluster, Sahyadri Sub-Cluster

Great Himalayan National Park in Himachal Pradesh

Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya in Bihar

Churches and Convents of Goa

Humayun's Tomb in Delhi

Red Fort Complex in Delhi

Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park in Gujarat

Group of Monuments at Hampi in Karnataka

Group of Monuments at Pattadakal in Karnataka

Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh

Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh

Khajuraho Group of Monuments in Madhya Pradesh

Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra

Ellora Caves in Maharashtra

Elephanta Caves in Maharashtra

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) in Maharashtra

Sun Temple at Konark in Odisha

Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur, Rajasthan

Jantar Mantar in Jaipur, Rajasthan

Great Living Chola Temples in Tamil Nadu. They include Brihadeeswarar temple in Gangaikonda Cholapuram, Airavateshwarar Temple in Darasuram, Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur.

Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu

Agra Fort in Uttar Pradesh

Fatehpur Sikri in Uttar Pradesh

Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh

Rani ki vav (The Queen's Stepwell) in Patan, Gujarat

Mountain Railways of India. They include Darjeeling Himalayan Railway in West Bengal, Nilgiri Mountain Railway in Ooty, Tamil Nadu, Kalka-Shimla Railway in Himachal Pradesh.

Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand

Hill Forts of Rajasthan. They include Chittorgarh, Kumbhalgarh, Ranthambhore, Amber Sub-Cluster, Gagron

Nalanda in Bihar

Khangchendzonga National Park In Sikkim

The Architectural Work Of Le Corbusier in Chandigarh

Historic City of Ahmadabad in Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Qutb Minar in Delhi

- https://www.deccanchronicle.com/lifestyle/travel/180418/world-heritage-day-heres-taking-a-look-at-36-heritage-sites-in-ind.html, April 19, 2018

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Ancient sculpture of saint found in Trichy

A bas-relief of a saint along with some ancient Tamil and Grantha inscriptions ranging from 5th-11th Century AD have been discovered on the back side of the famous Rock Fort hillock in Trichy. A team of researchers, headed by S Rajavelu of the department of maritime history and marine archaeology, Tamil University, found the four-line inscriptions in old Tamil and a one-line inscription in Grantha on the surface of the rock, and the bas-relief of a saint behind the Rock Fort hill on the northern side of the Tayumanavar temple. The Rock Fort hillock is famous for its Ucchipillaiyar temple, Tayumanavar temple and rock-cut temples of Pallava king Mahendravarman and the Pandyas.

The hill is famous for its epigraphical wealth with Tamil-Brahmi inscription of 2nd century AD and some label inscriptions of 5-6th century AD. However, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had documented these inscriptions.

It was while studying the inscriptions discovered earlier that the team ran across the bas- relief of the saint and other inscriptions. "We noticed a few label inscriptions which are new to the historical world. One inscription is written in early Tamil characters of transition period and it refers to the name of the individuals," said Rajavelu. "It has four lines of writing and some letters are worn out. It reads 'nan aria', 'kuna nanpan', 'akaamo', and 'teeyan'. These are probably the names of individuals," he said. Apparently, the inscriptions are in ruins due to weathering. "Based on palaeographical grounds, this inscription could be datable to 5th-6th century AD. Another inscription near the four-line Tamil is written in Pallava Grantha and the Tamil characters of the Pallava king Mahendravarman period refer to the name "Sri Maniyaraiya" in single line," said Rajavelu, a former epigraphist with the ASI. The team found the bas-relief of a saint at least 50 metres above the inscriptions.

"This bas-relief sculpture is in a dhyana posture. On the basis of the features of this figure, and the label inscription on the right top of this bas-relief sculpture which clearly indicate that he is a saint who performed dhyana in this place," he said. The saint is flanked by two devotees in standing posture. "On the right top of the bas relief, there is two-line label inscription is seen. It mentions the name of the saint as "siva panditan". Two letters are broken in the beginning of the inscription," said Rajavelu, adding that "the name "siva panditan" clearly suggests that he is a teacher of Siva sect."

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/trichy/ancient-sculpture-of-saint-found-in-trichy/articleshow/63826968.cms, April 19, 2018

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Aloysius Chapel paintings to get INTACH touch

Almost 25 years after the iconic paintings at the were restored, the college management has re-employed to conserve and restore the century-old artefacts at a cost of Rs 1.5 crore. The project that began in November is scheduled to be completed within 18 months. An expert team from INTACH Delhi had documented the work in 2016 and sent across a proposal to the management in March 2017. The paintings at the St comprise frescos, a European-Italian technique rarely sighted in India, and oil paintings on canvas by Italian Jesuit Antonio Moscheni in 1899.

According to the college management, Moscheni had taken 2.5 years to complete the work comprising 50 canvas paintings and 600sq mt of wall paintings. INTACH had undertaken the first conservation and restoration work from 1991 to 1994. "The lower parts of the work on either sides of the wall, up to seven feet in height, are damaged because of the movement of people. There is deposition of hand grease and muck on the works. There are marks left by furniture that banged into the paintings. However, tremendous efforts have been put in by the management to preserve the art work so far," said , principal director, INTACH Conservation Institutes, New Delhi. A team from INTACH has been stationed in the city to undertake the work.

Customised mechanisms have been employed, to ensure the authenticity of the artefact remains intact. The team has also set up a mini-laboratory for the purpose. Sinha said the team has been working with locals, especiall y artists, to ensure quick support for the preservation of artefacts in future. "We have received a few portfolios. We are searching for talents who we can train and groom to undertake this momentous task. We have shortlisted some CVs. We are looking for more people," he said. Fr Dionysius , rector, St Aloysius College Institutions, Mangaluru, said the chapel has always been an active place of worship, and will continue to be so. "We do not wish to preserve the chapel just as a monument. When people visit the chapel, some damage may happen. We are looking at options to serve both purposes in a more effective manner," he said. The chapel has been one of the prominent tourist destinations in the coastal belt. According to Fr Vaz, foreign tourists in six buses had visited the place recently.

- https://kaplanherald.com/2018/04/20/aloysius-chapel-paintings-to-get-intach-touch/, April 20, 2018

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BEFORE ENLIGHTENMENT

Hazaribagh district in Jharkhand is set to become a part of the existing Buddhist circuit with the discovery of the Itkhori region, which marks the last journey of Gautama Siddhartha before he became a Buddha at Bodh Gaya. The recent find was made by Buddhist historian and scholar Benoy Behl, who was invited by Bulu Imam, convener of INTACH Hazaribagh Chapter to Hazaribagh. Hidden in the middle of extremely remote fields near Bihari village, close to Itkhori, were a sprawl of Hindu, Jaina and Buddhist sculptures. Behl also found many other sculptures in other villages around. These were found in deep, old wells. He dated these sculptures, ranging from the 2nd century BCE till the 12th century CE. It is believed Gautama Siddhartha travelled from Itkhori to Bodh Gaya before he gained enlightenment. This is also very close to Kauleshwari where it is believed that the Buddha had his head shaved. Says Behl, “In India, we are living on heritage. If you were to excavate the earth under many of our dwellings, we would find cultural remains from our past. Therefore, in parts of India which are a little remote and less developed, there is still a great cultural treasure which can be found.”

The Last Journey of the Bodhisattva

Gautama Siddharth attained enlightenment and became a Buddha at Bodh Gaya. According to a tradition, his last journey as a Bodhisattva, while he was seeking the truth, was from Itkhori in Hazaribagh district to Bodh Gaya. This journey would most probably have been along the banks of the Mohana river which flows down about 30 km from Itkhori, meeting the Niranjana river and going to Bodh Gaya. Imam and Behl were alerted about this last journey of the Bodhisattva by a poem about the Buddha written by Sir Edwin Arnold, published in 1879. In the sixth book of the poem, Arnold writes:

“Thou, who would see where dawned the Light at last,
North-westwards (the direction from Itkhori to Bodh Gaya) from the “Thousand Gardens” (Hazaribagh) go…
On the green hills where those twin streamlets spring,
Nilajan and Mohana; follow them,
Winding beneath broad-leaved mahua-trees,
Till on the plain the shining sisters (rivers) meet
In Phalgu’s bed, flowing by rocky banks
To Gaya and the red Barabar hills…
Uruvela (ancient name of Bodh Gaya site) named in ancient days,”
Tradition has it that Gautama’s maasi (mother’s sister) Prajapati Gautami came looking for him during his period of meditation. When she could not find him, she said “Iti khoi”, in Pali, meaning “I have lost him”. It is said that Iti khoi became Itkhori, which remains a deeply revered site for Buddhists, Hindus, and Jainas till today. Many hundreds of sculptures have been found here and 700 such pieces are kept in a simple site museum which has been made. These sculptures belong to all three faiths and span a period of time from 2nd century BCE till the Pala-Sena period in the 12th century CE. Imam has been researching this ancient site for many decades now. Behl says that the sculptures indicate a high quality of art. About 8 km from Itkhori is the Kauleshwari temple, which is deeply revered. Many Indians and even Buddhist pilgrims from abroad come here to have their heads shaved. This is on account of the tradition that the Buddha had his head shaved at this site before he meditated at Itkhori.

Major Buddhist destination
The Government of Jharkhand is planning to develop the region around Itkhori as a major Buddhist destination. With these rich treasures being unearthed by Behl and Imam, Hazaribagh is poised to become a significant place of Buddhist art and culture. Behl has made dramatic and significant contributions to highlight India’s Buddhist art before the world.

A rare lesson in Hindu philosophy
Behl’s research in the Itkhori region, revealed a remarkable object under the dark sanctum of the Kanuniya Mai Temple, about 2 km from Itkhori. This is an ancient, carved stone slab with a unique depiction on it. The simple style of the art, as well as the turban and hairstyle of the figures made on it, date it to between the 1st and the 3rd centuries BCE. This makes it one of the oldest Hindu objects under worship in India. It is unknown to the outside world and unpublished. Even more fascinating is the Upanishadic philosophy clearly delineated in it. In the bottom section is a linga (the symbol, or ‘mark’ of the ‘Formless Eternal’). It is being worshipped by a male and a female figure, made in a very simple style. Emanating from the linga and placed above it is a depiction of the universe. The universe has the moon and the sun and above it is the Kalasha, or ‘vase of plenty’, or Purnaghata. In ancient Indian art this is the vessel from which springs forth from the numerous forms of the world, including all the living beings. This early representation is one of the clearest depictions in Indian art of the philosophic concepts of the Upanishads. The linga is the symbol of the Nirguna, from which come forth the multiplicity of the forms of the world. When you pull aside the curtains in front of the linga, there is nothing to be seen. This is the invisible, Nirguna representation of the Eternal.

- http://www.dailypioneer.com/vivacity/before-enlightenment.html, April 23, 2018

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Hardlook: Disappearing havelis of old Delhi and eroding heritage

Dotting the lanes of old Delhi are havelis that once stood out for their imposing doorways, marble arches and distinguished occupants. But that was decades ago. Ravaged by time and with no formal restoration plan in place, the grand structures are barely recognisable today. The Indian Express visits 12 mansions to understand how financial constraints and official apathy is eroding the capital's heritage. “Waqt sabka saath deta hai, waqt sabka saath chodta hai,” said Noor Jehan (70), seated inside the shambles of her home in Chandni Chowk’s Zeenat Mahal. As she said this aloud, to no one in particular, Noor Jehan probably echoed the sentiments of the palace she inhabits. Both the structure and its occupant have seen better times. Zeenat Mahal, built in 1846 by its namesake — the beloved third wife of the last Mughal ruler, Bahadur Shah Zafar — was the largest mansion in the area, with intricate murals, jharokhas with jaali work, and formidable doors. Today, only the rusting door and two balconies, from where women once peeked out to see the street, remain. Traders and vendors have set up shop, an all-girls’ school came up in 1979, and a few six-storey buildings have risen from the ground that was once the queen’s palace. The gateway of Zeenat Mahal is a notified heritage (grade I) building, as per the 2010 list of heritage sites under the jurisdiction of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi. But the heritage tag is only on paper. “People keep coming here to ask about Zeenat Mahal, its history, why I don’t get it renovated… they don’t see that I have nothing… sometimes, not even enough money and energy to cook. Who cares about the haveli in this state?” said Noor Jehan, as she tended to her 68-year-old paralysed brother, Abdul Rauf. Inside her tiny two-bedroom setup, built near the main entrance of Zeenat Mahal, plaster is peeling off the walls, grills are rusty and the structure rickety. When Noor Jehan moved here in 1953 with her parents and five siblings, living here was a thing of pride. Zeenat Mahal is one of many havelis that dot Old Delhi, or Shahjahanabad as it was once known — some dating back to the Mughal era, others built during colonial rule. And like Zeenat Mahal, many, if not most, are in such a dilapidated state that restoration is an uphill task. The Indian Express visited 12 havelis in Old Delhi and Kashmere Gate and found crumbling structures, lost to years of neglect and awaiting government intervention. While some have been privately restored, others are in trouble due to lack of finances, intent and difficult municipal and banking laws. The issue has not gone unnoticed. Earlier this month, the Delhi High Court stayed ongoing construction in Haksar Haveli in Sitaram Bazaar, from where Jawaharlal Nehru’s baraat had left to marry him off to Kamala Nehru on February 8, 1916. Today, no trace of the centuries-old haveli remains — it has become a dumping ground infested with rats, its arched doorways with Persian couplets and fish motifs now lost. In its order on April 4, the court had noted that Haksar Haveli is “on the verge of being destroyed by builders for their financial lust”. According to conservation architect and former convener of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) A G K Menon, “750 havelis have been documented by the Trust in Shahjahanabad”. “We have produced booklets on how to conserve these havelis, too, and want municipalities to urge owners to understand the process. Problems are plenty — for owners, the buildings are less important since the land has more value. They’d rather demolish it than restore. The government has to enable owners to get something out of restoring them other than pride and nostalgia. Municipal and banking laws have to change to make ‘adaptable reuse’ possible,” said Menon. Inside the lanes of Kucha Ghasi Ram in Chandni Chowk is Namak Haram Ki Haveli — a name only old-timers in the area seem to know. What was once a sprawling mansion with a baoli has been broken into pieces of land where shops and homes now coexist. “The story goes that sometime in the 19th century, the owner of the haveli, Lala Bhowani Shankar, would pass on information from the Mughals to the Britishers, and vice-versa. So the house earned this moniker, the palace of the traitor… I heard these stories while growing up from Babu Nawal Kishore and Babu Har Kishore, who inherited the haveli from their grandfather, Kunj Bihari, in the ’60s,” said Satyaprakash Goyal, who is in his 70s. Today, the only hint that the haveli ever existed is an arched doorway with floral and geometric designs, along with three tiny balconies, a deserted hall and a baoli that has been turned into a godown. “We saw snakes in the baoli while growing up… the elderly would play taash and chaupar in the hall. There was a fountain, too. Ab sab khatam ho gaya hai,” said Goyal. Walking through the lanes of Sitaram Bazaar, Kucha Ghasi Ram and Lal Kuan in Old Delhi, the kivaads (gates) reveal past stories and present miseries of the havelis, which now hold 10-20 families or have been turned into godowns. Inside one such haveli in Lal Kuan, rented out to a textile merchant, pillars and doorways have been whitewashed. “We’re told this is a pre-Mughal era building… no one knows who built it. It’s beautiful, the pillars are carved, but we have whitewashed it. The current owner, who bought this six years ago, doesn’t want to restore it and doesn’t want the MCD to give it a heritage tag… it becomes hard to sell or repair it then,” the merchant said. While the MCD has notified 700 structures in Shahjahanabad as heritage properties, and introduced building bye-laws, several residents of havelis wonder what purpose that serves. A D Biswas, chief town planner, North Corporation, said, “We are a regulatory body, we identify structures and ensure restoration happens according to building bye-laws, and no encroachment or illegal construction takes places. There is no other incentive the MCD provides.” Barely 200 metres from Haksar Haveli is Atal House in Sitaram Bazaar, where Kamala Nehru grew up. Now, close to 20 families live here while a few lawyers’ offices exist on the ground floor. Cracks punctuate the walls, and little has been done to preserve it. The same holds true for the famous Chunna Mal Ki Haveli in Chandni Chowk’s Katra Neel. “Municipal laws dictate that houses in several areas of Shahjahanabad cannot be used for commercial purposes… if the owners restore it but can’t turn it into a restaurant or a guest house, there’s nothing in it for them. Banks don’t let you mortgage a property this old… we are losing history and memory of a civilisation by losing these havelis,” said Menon. Abu Sufiyan (25), who lives in Ballimaran, and runs a blog called ‘Purani Dilli Walo ki Baatein’, said, “A lot of original Old Delhi dwellers have left the area, and immigrants don’t have that connect with the heritage here… that’s one reason too we are losing these havelis.”

When old meets new

Inside a lane opposite the Jama Masjid, past cramped shops that sell ittar and kebabs, lies The Walled City Cafe & Lounge. Open till midnight, it serves a potpourri of cultures — Mughlai, Continental and Italian dishes. Its novelty, however, lies in its history. It’s built on the top floor of the 300-year-old Nawab House, and is run by Omaiyer Fehmi (20). “I want to make heritage cool… I was in Turkey when I noticed cafes on the streets and how they were using their heritage. That’s when I realised the scope of Nawab House, which has been in our family for eight generations,” said Fehmi. In 2016, the Fehmi family began renovating the Nawab House with help from local masons and kaarigars from Jaipur. Crumbling and eaten up by termites, the structure was restored with additions to maintain the “heritage” feel. The cafe, with its colourful furniture and stained glass windows, has been functional for over a year. Since Nawab House is not notified as a heritage building by the MCD, it was easier to restore it, Fehmi said. Even as most havelis in Old Delhi slowly wither away, some are being given a new lease of life. A few lanes away is the Dharampura Haveli, owned by Union Minister Vijay Goel, which is now a heritage boutique hotel frequented by foreigners. Fourteen rooms across three floors, a courtyard with a fountain, and a terrace from where the Red Fort, Jama Masjid and Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib can be seen make up the haveli, which has been functional for three years now. Kapil Aggarwal, principal architect of the haveli, said, “It took us six years to finish, and the biggest challenge was the lack of documentation. So we first documented whatever was remaining — ornamentation, pillars, carvings — and looked at other havelis in the area to see common characteristics. There were buildings with Mughal and Jain influences.” During research, he found that while the haveli was purchased by a Jain family in 1870, it was built much before that by a Mughal noble. “As it’s a notified heritage property, we had to take permission from the urban development ministry, MCD, fire department… but because Mr Goel was involved, the process was faster. The government has done nothing to preserve these havelis. I don’t see such a restoration project taking off in the area again; It’s time consuming and requires a lot of money,” said Aggarwal. Manisha Saxena, secretary, Arts and Culture Department (Delhi government), is acutely aware of the challenges: “We have undertaken restoration of lesser-known monuments in Delhi. But we haven’t worked on havelis. It should be like Panjim, Goa, where the outside facade of old buildings cannot be harmed… a good way to start would be by giving incentives to owners.” While some, like Goel and Fehmi, have found a way to marry heritage and business, diamond merchant Rajeev Gundhi (60) has managed to routinely restore his 135-year-old, 42-room haveli, commonly called Chickoo Ki Haveli, in Chandni Chowk. “Only four of us live in the house… we don’t want to sell it because where else will you find so much space?” Once in a while, the haveli is rented out for film shoots — it has featured in Rajkumar Hirani’s PK as well as Rajat Kapoor’s Ankhon Dekhi. “We don’t want the heritage tag… then we will need permission for even whitewash. Those who have money will spend but those who don’t can’t help it… that’s when the government should help. This lane had so many havelis — all gone now,” said Gundhi’s son, Ashish (30). A few kilometres away in Chhota Bazaar in Kashmere Gate, Seth Ram Lal Khemka haveli serves as a shining example of what restoration can achieve. Spread across 1,100 gaj, with 40-plus rooms, Devkinandan Bagla’s haveli is one of the rare heritage properties in the area that have been restored recently. Along with conservation architect Archana Tipnis, Bagla (62) spent five years on the process. “I wanted to sell it but then property rates across the city are so high and I didn’t want to spend that much for less than one-third space that we enjoy now,” said Bagla. Bagla, who spent close to Rs 60 lakh, added, “I got a grade II notified heritage property tag in 2010 but no incentives. I spent two years just getting permission from the Archaeological Survey of India and MCD.” Once work began, Tipnis and her team used old material such as gur, urad dal, methi powder and lime plaster for restoration. “The verandah was built in 1840 but it’s older than that since lakhori bricks were used. My maternal grandfather, Snehi Ram, bought it from someone in 1905-10. The living room was where my ancestors once invited the Britishers on Sunday evenings… this was the dancing floor. In fact, it’s believed that emperor Humayun visited the lane when his guru died,” said Bagla. Swapna Liddle, convener of INTACH’s Delhi chapter, said the way forward is to stop looking at heritage as a luxury: “It’s a fallacy to think that a lot of money is required to restore a haveli… even minimal restoration can add many years.”

- http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/old-delhi-haveli-chandni-chowk-jama-masjid-kashmere-gate-5147800/, April 23, 2018

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10th century rare archaeological wonder unearthed in Palnadu area

A 10th century CE stone sculpture of a warrior was unearthed at Buggavagu reservoir near Dharmaram village in Durgi mandal in Guntur district on Saturday. The 1000-year-old sculpture was carved on a local shade stone and the warrior was wearing ornaments by holding a sword and a shield. Dr E Sivanagi Reddy, CEO of the Cultural Centre of Vijayawada & Amaravati (CCVA), and his team consisting of Golla Narayana Rao, secretary of Andhra Arts Academy, Dr Gumma Sambasiva Rao, Vice-Principal, Andhra Loyola College, unearthed the sculpture. As part of the scheme, ‘Preserve Heritage for Posterity’ launched by the CCVA, the team had spotted the sculpture during their exploration of ‘Oti Gullu’ (dilapidated temples) submerged in Buggavagu reservoir. Sivanagri Reddy said the drapery tied to the warrrior’s waist gives a clue on the contemporary costumes of 10th-11th centuries CE. The team has also identified a 13th century Ganesha idol submerged up to its shoulder level in the reservoir. Basing on the historical and archaeological significance of the sculpture, Dr Sivanagi Reddy appealed to the officials of the State Department of Archaeology & Museums to safeguard the sculpture representing the art style of Vengi Chalukya and Velanati Chola times. Chennupati Srinivasa Chary of Nagarjuna Silpasala and Veera Reddy from Macherla also participated in the explorations.

- http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Andhra-Pradesh/2018-04-22/10th-century-rare-archaeological-wonder-unearthed-in-Palnadu-area/375688, April 23, 2018

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Living in Haryana is the oldest civilization in the world, there are many things in the trend today.

Today Haryana has changed. Here is the confluence of prosperity and development on every side. Seeing changed Haryana, this new thing would be wrong. This is because research suggests that it is a heritage more than five thousand years old. The research done on the remains of the Harappan-carpet civilization reveals that the center of the Indus Saraswati civilization was more prosperous and larger than Rome, Mesopotamia, Egypt, China and Greece civilization was Haryana.

There are many things in the trend today.

The most important thing is that five thousand BC civilizations in other countries of the world have been lost. At the same time, the Indus Saraswati civilization of Harappan is still in existence today. Things related to this civilization in the lifestyle of Haryana are still in practice. This includes items related to utensils, paintings, makeup.

Museum recommendation

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has recommended the creation of an international level museum near Rakhi Garhi on this study of Archaeological Historian and Museum Specialist Surabhi Gupta. In this study, taking the help of many research works, we have identified those places and things that have been found at various places in Haryana.

Comparison of residues and today's lifestyle

According to this study of INTACH, the remains of the Indus Saraswati civilization have been found in 1840 places in Haryana. In these residues of the Indus Saraswati civilization, there has been a planned metropolitan planning, paintings on utensils, the use of science and technology. In the study, Surabhi has presented comparisons of residues and today's lifestyle, how things are being used in the same way in today's life in the same way. Whether there is urban structure or a thing in life style. Use of Yoga, Shivalinga worship or Swastika symbol on the walls

Research of many researchers

Suryabhi says, 'I did not do this research alone. Many researchers have taken the help of research. The oldest surviving Indus Saraswati civilization in the world is in Haryana. Historians believe that the Saraswati river had dried up four thousand BC, the lenikas have found the symbols of the civilized civilization on its side.

Remains of Indusa Saraswati civilization found at 1840

Surabhi said, 'We should not be sad that the archaeological remains of Harappa and Mohenjodaro are in Pakistan. In 1840, the remains of the Indus Saraswati civilization were found in Haryana. It was the world's most glorious, prosperous civilization. For this, an international museum needs to be made because the symbols of that civilization are still between us. It is the only living civilization in the world.

- https://www.jagran.com/delhi/new-delhi-city-ncr-the-oldest-living-civilization-in-the-world-is-alive-in-haryana-17869732.html, April 24, 2018

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One-thousand Harappan sites in Haryana to be digitized

More than 1000 Harappan sites in Haryana will be digitized so that the same may be uploaded on Internet to be viewed by lovers of heritage across the world. Because of so many Harappan sites, the archaeologists term Haryana as “cradle of Indian civilisation”. The scientists of Haryana Space Applications Centre (HarSAC) have initiated process of plotting of the sites on map, stating the work is likely to be completed by June this year. “Once we upload details of all sites in digital form, it would be easier to utilize the same in any form. The entire information can be uploaded on the government website also,” said an official associated with the project. Haryana Additional Chief Secretary (archaeology and museums) Dheera Khandelwal told The Indian Express Tuesday that the work was allotted to HarSAC in March. “Under the project, all the sites will be plotted on map through Geographical Information System (GIS),” Khandelwal said. Initially, the officially have plans to publish the work in form of a book entitled “Atlas of Harappan Sites in Haryana”. Apart from geographical location, the scientists will put photos and brief description of the such sites in the proposed Atlas. “Currently, the entire data of Harappan sites is scattered. If its complied in digital form, it may be useful for tourists and scholars also as they would be easily able to know their geographical locations. With such efforts, Haryana can be developed as an attractive destination of tourism focusing on Harappan sites,” says an official. On the basis of available literary sources, the officials have prepared a list of Harappan sites in Haryana which have been categorised in Pre-Harappan sites, Early Harappan sites, Mature Harappan sites and Late Harappan sites. Among the 1000 Harappan sites, almost a dozen are famous because of excavation work and subsequent findings. The government says that Rakhigarhi (Haryana) is the biggest known Harappan site in India. According to Haryana government, remains of the largest city of the Harappan civilisation were found during excavation in Rakhigarhi (Hisar). Archeological excavations at a pre-Harappan site almost 6000 years old, Kunal (Fatehabad), were started in 1986 and are still continuing. The latest phase of excavation here concluded in first week of April.

- http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/one-thousand-harappan-sites-in-haryana-to-be-digitized-5150746/, April 24, 2018

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An inscription waits to be deciphered

Here is a toast to the explorers and archaeologists. Lying in utter neglect at Rajeshwarapuram, 180 kms east of Hyderabad, were a fort in ruins, an ancient shrine, an inscription and a mota bavi. Albeit the standing stone inscription in the Venugopala Swamy temple did not specify the period, it is believed to be of Kakatiya times. The 10-feet stone inscription, 28 inches X 7.50 inches in width, has a bowing Garuda carved on the top flanked by Shankhu and Chakra. It is also visible that moon above the Shankhu and sun above the Chakra. It is learnt that sun and moon indicate ‘forever.’ The inscription refers to the donation of a piece of land given for the maintenance of Veeragopala Devara shrine, which currently known as Venugopala Swamy temple. The inscription has Govinda bavi, Kondapalli cheruvu, Mukundaraya cheruvu, Devarabanda, Boligunta etc. referring to the border of the donated land. Garuda is said to be king of birds and the vahana of Maha Vishnu. “The scriptures, an amalgam of Telugu and Sanskrit, on the inscription closely resemble to that of Kakatiya period,” Katta Srinivas, a government teacher working in Aswaraopet and history enthusiast, told The Hans India. It needs to be explored deep, he said. He said that there could be another inscription apart from the one at the temple. Adjacent to Venugopala Swamy shrine, there is a Shaivite temple of the same period reflecting the confluence of two Hindu sects - Shaiva and Vaishnava. Alongside these temples, there are traces of a ruined fort. The 9-feet stone-built wall that could withstand even cannons is now surrounded by thorny bushes and vegetation. A few paces away from the dilapidated fort, there is a Lord Hanuman temple. The stone pillars of the temple reflect the architectural marvel. It may be noted here that Ganapeshwaralayam and Mukkanteshwaralayam built by Kakatiya rulers in Kusumanchi is just 10 kms from Rajeshwarapuram. A furlong away from the temple, the 14 feet height stone structure in front of agriculture suggests that people then depended on mota bavi, a traditional system to drawing water. In ancient times, people used to irrigate fields through mota bavi system with the help of bullocks or even man power. Katta Srinivas said that though these structures have a lot of historical significance there was no effort to explore them. He urged the Department of Archaeology to take note of this neglected site and take up the estampage of the inscription so that it will be of immense help to those scouting for source material for developing archaeological guides. It may be mentioned here that Srinivas wrote a book on Kusumanchi Ganapeshwaralayam apart from producing several research papers.

- http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Khammam-Tab/2018-04-23/An-inscription-waits-to-be-deciphered/376036, April 24, 2018

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ASI help sought for World Heritage Site nomination

The Department of Archaeology and Museums (DAM) has sought increased cooperation of the Archaeological Survey of India so that monuments of Karnataka and Telangana can be nominated for the coveted World Heritage Site tag. The Deccani Sultanate serial nomination entails joint dossier preparation by the Telangana and Karnataka governments. Telangana nominations include Charminar, Qutb Shahi Heritage Park (QSHP) and Golconda Fort. Those from Karnataka include monuments in Vijaypura (Bijapur), Bidar and Kalaburgi (Gulbarga). In a letter addressed to the ASI Director General, department director N.R. Visalatchy requested that, apart from officials at the head office in New Delhi, the ASI also nominate superintending archaeologists of the Hyderabad and Dharwad circles so that the nomination dossier and site management plans can be chalked out.

AKTC role
While the recently extended MoU with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), which is involved in conservation of QSHP, states that the latter will assist DAM in preparing a nomination dossier, it is unclear if that will be done. Speaking to The Hindu, Ms. Visalatchy said the serial nomination process is at a preliminary stage and so, it would be difficult to comment on whether the department will prepare the dossier on its own or engage a consultant.

- http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/asi-help-sought-for-world-heritage-site-nomination/article23662597.ece, April 25, 2018

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Rediscovering the postal legacy

Gone are the days of handwritten letters and hence, runners, postcards, stamps and inland letter cards have been consigned to oblivion. But the legacy of Indian Postal Service has been well maintained by the authorities of Postal Museum and Philatelic Library. To mark World Heritage Day on April 18, INTACH Kolkata, in association with the officials of GPO, organised a heritage walk in the quite red-brick building right next to the GPO recently. Arundhaty Ghosh, Chief Postmaster General, West Bengal Circle, Joseph Lalrin, director, Postal Services (HQ), and other officials led the group through the corridors of the postal legacy of India. Apart from INTACH members and guests, career diplomats from the Consular Corps at Kolkata were keen participants. “My husband was a captain in merchant navy. In ’60s and ’70s, there was nothing but letters to communicate. I remember how eagerly we used to wait for their letters,” said Deepak Bhandari, a participant. Jonathan Ward of the US Consulate said, “I am privileged to be invited to the GPO. I encourage everyone to see the memorabilia showcased here."

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/events/kolkata/rediscovering-the-postal-legacy/articleshow/63912019.cms, April 26, 2018

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11th-century bodies near Meerut give new archaeological twist to history

An excavation by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) near Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, has unearthed 13 bodies that roughly date back to 11th century AD, according to people familiar with the developments. This has sparked interest among experts and led to calls for a deeper examination because people of the region in that period were known to cremate the dead. Historians have defined the era between the 7th century AD and the 12th century AD as the Rajput Period, and archaeologists say that this is the first time that any excavation has revealed the burial of bodies from that period in north India. “We have found extended burial of 13 persons which include a male, a female, children and a handicapped person,” said Sanjay Manjul, director at the Institute of Archaeology, who is overseeing ASI’s Barnawa excavations. “While twelve bodies were placed in a particular direction, with the head facing the North, one body was found placed in the opposite direction,” Manjul said.

He said that burial pots were recovered with the bodies, suggesting that people of that era may have believed in life after death. “Since this is the first discovery of burials which seem to be from the later Rajput period, we need to further examine it scientifically and arrive at an exact time period,” he said. Manjul feels that the discovery is significant as it will throw light on death rituals and cultural aspect of people of that era living in this area. “Since Muslim Turks, who used to follow burial practices, arrived in India after the 12th century, it would be interesting to determine who these people were and why were they not cremated,” Manjul said, adding that burials were practised in the Harappan and Later Harappan periods, and also among certain Hindu tribes before the Raput Period. Other archaeologists and historians feel that these burials might unravel some mysteries of the cultural aspect of life of people. Dr Buddha Rashmi Mani, Director General, National Museum, says that though he doesn’t have first-hand experience of the excavated materials, the recovery of burial pots suggests the body doesn’t belong to members of the Muslim community.

“The Veerashaiva community in southern India practice burying the dead, so there is a possibility of existence of a similar community at the excavation site in UP,” said Mani. “However, it is also possible that these bodies were of people who died due to some dangerous disease or some calamity and buried at one place in a group. Both possibilities require through investigation.” Noted archaeologist KK Muhammed, who is credited for discovering Mughal emperor Akbar’s Ibadat Khana (House of Worship), from where the Mughal king propounded the religion Din-i Ilahi, said that that during wars people would bury bodies due to lack of time and resources in the war field. It’s a notion that historian Kapil Kumar agreed with, but both said that it would be too early to determine the identity of these people and the reasons for such graves, and called for a thorough examination.

According to historian Makkhan Lal, “It’s a good thing that we are paying attention to the excavation of the Rajput Period sites which has not been done so far.” HT had reported earlier this month that the excavations at Barnawa, which started last December, also tried to determine the existence of the Lakshagriha episode mentioned in the epic Mahabharata. Archaeologists had said that artefacts found there bore strong a cultural resemblance to those found at sites such as Hastinapur, Indraprastha, Kurukshetra and Mathura -- places that find mention in the epic.

- https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/11th-century-bodies-near-meerut-give-new-archaeological-twist-to-history/story-ptfjSJZtWJROAf5bWVYyUJ.html, April 26, 2018

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Mumbai To Host India’s First Food Archaeology Conference

According to a report Deccan Herald a two-day food archaeology is going to be held in Mumbai in the month of May. ‘ArchaeoBroma’ is the first such conference to be held in India and will disuss the history, archaeology and sociology of food. The conference is reportedly to be held at the India Study Centre (INSTUCEN) and the Centre for Extra-Mural Studies (CEMS) of the University of Mumbai. “This is the first nationwide conference on the archaeology, anthropology and sociology of food,” said Mugdha D Karnik, director, CEMS and managing trustee, INSTUCEN Trust to Deccan Herald. Dr.

Kurush Dalal is an assistant professor at CEMS and Raamesh Gowri Raghavan is an associate at the INSTUCEN Trust. A concept note prepared by them says the following about the ‘ArchaeoBroma’ conference. “Where art, architecture and literature are easily seen as the expression of a culture and its values, food is rarely seen as such, although it is central to the mundane as well as celebratory lives of people… Food carries with it multiple associations of culture including social privilege and deprivation, wealth and poverty, conservatism and liberality.”

- https://www.hungryforever.com/mumbai-to-host-indias-first-food-archaeology-conference/, April 26, 2018

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How digital tools can help in the preservation of our languages

There are close to 7,100 living languages in the world but as many as 90% of them are spoken by less than 100,000 people in the world, according to Ethnologue, an annual publication on world languages. In India, where there are more than 780 languages, over 220 languages have died in the past 50 years and 197 others are categorized as endangered by Unesco. Despite India’s cultural, geographical and linguistic diversity, only 22 languages have the official status in India. So what happens to the rest in the next decade? Will they, too, simply vanish from the records like almost 1,500 languages did from the 1971 Census (1961 census had listed 1,652 mother tongues and the next census listed only 108 mother tongues)? Even as India’s internet users and literacy rate are growing, 30% Indians are illiterate and many more can’t read or write in English, which makes up for more than 55.7% of the content available online. Interestingly though, as of 2016, India had 409 million internet users but only 175 million of them used the internet in English. According to a recently released Google-KPMG report, Indian language user base grew at a compound annual growth rate of 41% between 2011 and 2016 to reach 234 million users at the end of 2016, surpassing the English users. With mobile penetration fast increasing in the country, Indian language internet users are expected to account for nearly 75% of India’s internet user base by 2021. Further, the high penetration of mobile phones has given them the opportunity to connect with their loved ones because speaking over the phone does not require one to know a script unlike writing letters. Ethnologue’s 21st edition indicates that as many as 3,188 languages around the world are “likely unwritten”.

It means that these languages could have no script at all or “alphabets may exist but there may not be very many people who are literate and actually using the alphabet”. J.C. Sharma, in his paper Language and Script in India: Some Challenges, notes, “There are many unwritten languages spread over various regions in the country. No state is without the unwritten languages, and no state is without the minority people groups whose languages are yet to be systematically studied and writing systems provided.” This has special relevance to India’s vast linguistic and cultural diversity.

While Sharma goes on to propose a suitable script system for unwritten languages, I think digital tools and ICT gives us the power to document a language even in the absence of a script. In a predominantly oral culture country like India, which is home to thousands of tribal communities and hundreds of languages, how do you preserve languages? How do you document languages that have only been sung in folk songs or narrated in folk stories without a script? How do you document the culture, traditions and history which are embedded in everyday life? In the absence of digital tools and the internet in the past, documentation through text was the only medium of preservation of history, culture, art and even languages. Then came digital tools, and history, culture, art and even (scripts of) languages could be photographed and preserved. And now we have audio visual formats, which eliminate the need to have a script to document or preserve a language. Linguists from National Geographic’s Enduring Voices project have already produced eight talking dictionaries to document struggling languages. Besides containing 32,000 word entries in eight endangered languages, the dictionaries hold more than 24,000 audio recordings of native speakers—many of who are among the last fluent individuals in their native tongues—pronouncing words and sentences, and photographs of cultural objects. The first project under this initiative was to initiate the documentation of Koro, a Sino-Tibetan language spoken by less than a thousand people in Arunachal Pradesh, in 2010. This wonderful initiative is not the only one; there are cross-language open source tools to orally document pronunciations. Several linguists around the world are working on other similar efforts. However, these efforts by linguists and researchers are not enough. There are far too many unwritten languages and far too few efforts to document all of them. There are thousands of endangered languages today, hundreds of them are spoken by less than 1,000 people, many are spoken by less than 100 native speakers. Ter Sami is a moribund dialect of Russia which has only two native speakers left today.

Two! This language will be lost forever if not documented soon enough. Unesco asserts that if nothing is done, half of 7,000-plus languages spoken today will disappear by the end of this century. It is thus imperative that more efforts be made to use audio-visual to document languages since this particular medium allows researchers and language enthusiasts to understand a language even if they don’t know the script. This difference in the medium of documentation (textual vs audio-visual) is what can truly preserve a language, even after its native speakers/writers are long gone. Osama Manzar is founder-director of Digital Empowerment Foundation and chair of Manthan and mBillionth awards. He is member, advisory board, at Alliance for Affordable Internet and has co-authored NetCh@kra–15 Years of Internet in India and Internet Economy of India. He tweets @osamamanzar

- https://www.livemint.com/Opinion/AEPXQP1atGhoEI2aP3AFzO/How-digital-tools-can-help-in-the-preservation-of-our-langua.html, April 27, 2018

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History resonates in this museum

As you enter G Santhosh’s house, you will come across many valuable things which were used some 100 years ago. He has been collecting precious things and decorating his house with all kinds of valuable and items used in the past, be it coins, books, newspapers, weapons. It has been more than 14 years since Santhosh has been collecting antiques and his house is a treasure trove of all kinds of antique collections. From timepieces, a steel ballot box used for the first general election after Independence to a fossil wood more than two crore years old. Everything has been treasured by Santhosh in his house ‘Puthan Veedu’ which has been transformed into a museum. Santhosh says he was always interested in collecting things. “When I was in school, I had a hobby of collecting coins and sticking it in my notebook,” he says. “When I grew up, I continued my hobby and people started contacting me through Facebook and some even came to me and gave me antiques and rare collections they had.” He has more than 2,500 antique collection which includes coins, stamps, sculptures, knives, weapons. One of the most interesting pieces in his collection is a Kuruchiya bow and arrow which is claimed to have been used by the Kuruchiya tribes against the British in the Pazhassi war. He was presented this by a ‘karnavar’ (elder person) of the tribe from Wayanad at a function at Adoor. An 1818 emblem of the East India Company, kerosene headlight of a vintage car, ‘chakra palaga’ used a long time ago in Travancore to count coins, a weighing scale of the 1800s, an array of antique locks and a measuring pot of the Chola period are some of the major attractions in his museum.

Besides these, he has an antique weaponry collection which is the Sivagangai boomerang, which the warriors from the past Ramnad Kingdom used against the British. The claim is that about 750 soldiers on the British side were killed using this weapon. The collection also has the first radio brought out by HMV, a postcard of the East India Company and a harmonica seen in the Malayalam film Neelakuyil. He has a collection from the smallest to the biggest note so far. The unique thing about his note collection is he has collected the notes based on the serial number which matches the date of birth of all presidents and vice-presidents of India. Santhosh collected some antiques by even paying people from the amount that he got from doing interior works in other houses.

He along with his friends Siby and Shine have started a museum called ‘Travancore Heritage Museum’ in Adoor which is a treasure house of old coins, sculptures, portraits and mural paintings. One such portrait is the centuries-old Queen Victoria’s portrait drawn on animal skin. The museum is open to everyone and Santhosh says, “People can come, see and learn about history. Many people have visited my museum and have done research on different antiques.” Santhosh entered the Arabia book of records because of his collection. He is also a magician by profession and is also involved in many pro-environment activities. In 10 days, Santhosh is going to start his next museum called ‘Sila Museum’ in Kottarakkara.

- http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/thiruvananthapuram/2018/apr/26/history-resonates-in-this-museum-1806835.html, April 27, 2018

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