Heritage Education in India

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Heritage Alerts
December 2017

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Revisiting World of Philately

That outmoded thumb size piece of paper at the top right of the envelope has been intriguing people since the time of its birth in 1840. In India, however, stamp was born in 1947. The fascination over stamps has given rise to that interesting hobby which came to be known as the ‘King of hobbies and the hobby of kings’-Philately. The term Philately has been derived from the combination of the Greek words ‘philos’ meaning ‘love of’ and ‘ateles’ meaning ‘exemption from tax’. In simple words it’s the collection and study of stamps. There is no doubt, in fact, these colourful bits of paper are collected because of their worth. Apart for it, what else attract the collectors are the designs, stories that are engraved and the events or people they commemorate.

Each stamp reflects a region’s trade, history, flora-fauna, culture and the heritage. In conversation with Northeast Today, Nandita Chowdhury, Deputy Post Master- I, GPO (Guwahati), who is also the supervisor of the Guwahati GPO Philately Bureau informed that the Philately Bureau of the Guwahati GPO is the main branch in Assam, catering the requirements of many philatelist and stamp enthusiasts. “Philatelic stamps are different from regular stamps as they are printed only once unlike the regular ones and hence their value increases in the long run. After the stamps are supplied to the main bureau, they are transported to every head office. After a period of six months from the time of their release, if any stamps remain unsold, we sell them at the counters,” she said.

She further informed that enthusiasts and collectors can open a Philatelic Deposit Account (PD) which can be useful for children and students. “I have opened one for my elder daughter, so whenever she receives a stamp she becomes very excited. It’s a good way of teaching young children as the stamps are released under different themes,” she concluded. “Legacy of letters has died with the advent of internet and social media. The younger generation is not aware of that thumb size paper. To spread awareness India introduced My Stamp in 2011. Through this scheme, one can personalisethe postal stamp according to their choice and preferences.

Be it your own photo or the pictures/logos of your institution, organization or heritage buildings- a personalized thumbnail photograph of the image can be achieved through My Stamp. We are also visiting schools to spread more awareness,” informed Surnika Gogoi, PA at Philatelic Bureau. From a Philatelist’s Pen- Speaking to Northeast Today about philately as a hobby, treasurer of Guwahati Philatelic Society Vishal Sanganeria said, “If taken seriously, philately can be absorbing, informative as well as expensive. Roots of this ‘King of Hobbies’, date back to the times when letters were in reign. Children and even adults used to take out the stamps from the envelopes and keep it in their stock books.

Most of them started off like this. However, keeping the stamps in a stock book is not philately. There lies a lot of research and study on the stamps which can even take one to state, national and International level championships. On a personal level, it can be a break of relief in your mundane routine.” b“In India, Northeast related stamps are comparatively less in number. The latest among them are the four stamps on Caves of Meghalaya that have been released in August 15, 2017,” he further added. “For new designs, time and again painting and art contests are held all over India where the winners’ designs are picked and released as a stamp. Moreover, in September 2017, India and Belarus issued a joint stamp issue to commemorate 25 Years of diplomatic relations between both the countries. Similar events and programmes have been keeping us motivated as philatelists and paving the path for many others to follow,” added Sanganeria.

- https://www.northeasttoday.in/revisiting-world-of-philately/, Dec 1, 2017

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INTACH Museum to continue running on HDMC premises

Here is good news for the admirers of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Museum situated on the premises of the Hubballi-Dharwad Municipal Corporation (HDMC). The civic body has renewed the agreement with INTACH for the next three years. Mayor D K Chavan told TOI that recognizing the museum's contribution to protect the culture and heritage of the region, the HDMC has decided to allow the museum to run in its building for the next three years. "We are not charging INTACH to run the museum on the HDMC premises," he said. Convener of INTACH Dharwad, N P Bhat, expressed his happiness for renewing the agreement.

"The museum has many valuable articles. This includes stamps, coins, manuscripts, original certificates of many writers, paintings of Indian painters and many ancient articles," he said. Bhat is planning to request the authorities for a lease, allowing the museum to run for many years. The museum is a treasure of photographs and information on the achievements of prominent personalities in the field of literature, music and social service. It also has awards and citations of those personalities. Original scripts of many writers are also kept for the public view. Art works of various artists can also be seen. The museum also has toys that well-known writer Shantinath Desai had played in his childhood.

The articles kept in the museum are all donated. The museum is being run successfully due to the financial assistance from the state government, HDMC, Infosys Foundation's Sudha Murty and other donors. The museum is open from 10.30am to 5.30am all day except Sunday. INTACH was set up in 1984 with a mandate to protect and conserve the country's vast natural, built and cultural heritage. Its Dharwad chapter was started on the HDMC premises in 2012. It shifted to a heritage building of the HDMC in October 2014.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hubballi/intach-museum-to-continue-running-on-hdmc-premises/articleshow/61870325.cms, Dec 1, 2017

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Cine Museum, a first of its kind in south India, opens to public

Udhagamandalam: In the era of digital cinema, use of reels and projectors has faded into oblivion. A museum has been opened for the public in the town displaying these priceless old equipment. Christened as 'Assems Cine Museum', the museum was dedicated to the public on Wednesday by the district collector J Innocent Diyva. The museum is housed in Assembly Rooms, a heritage building and an iconic landmark cine hall in the town. The museum showcases two 60-year-old Bauer projectors made in Germany, film reels, spool, film rewinding table among other accessories of a movie theatre. Inaugurating the museum, the collector said, "The theatre and the museum are pride of Ooty. It is a privilege maintaining the heritage founded by Lady Willingdon and Lord Willingdon."

She said, "Cine Museum is a gift to the future generation for they would get to know the history of old cinema." Geetha Srinivasan, a trustee of the Assembly Rooms, said, "As the convener of INTACH-Nilgiris chapter, I am sentimentally attached to the heritage building of the cinema hall." She added, "When the theatre was digitalized in 2015, we thought the priceless old equipment to be preserved for posterity. The idea of opening a cine museum cropped up." Geetha said the 'Cine Museum' is one of its kind in the country as it has been situated in a heritage building. Stating that the museum has been planted in a best possible place of the theatre, D Radhakrishnan, honorary secretary of Assembly Rooms, said, "The museum is nothing but a gathered history of technology of old cinema.

And the old theatre accessories are safe." According to him, the museum will be extended further inside the hall. And portraits of all icons of Hollywood, Bollywood, Kollywood among other state film icons will be displayed as an added attraction. The museum developed at the cost of Rs 6 lakh displays old film slides, old gramophone records, carbon rods, and old photographs, including those of Lord and Lady Willingdon. Also, one of halls in the theatre has been named after Lady Willingdon.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/coimbatore/cine-museum-a-first-of-its-kind-in-south-india-opens-to-public/articleshow/61954858.cms, Dec 6, 2017

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Museum dept seeks relief from govt to restore Roerich paintings

The department of museum has sought a 4G exemption under Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement Act to expedite restoration of nearly 250 Svetoslav Roerich paintings languishing in a dank room for several years. The Department of Archeology, Museums and Heritage plans to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Intach Chitrakala Parishath Art Conservation Centre (ICKPAC) to also restore and conserve the paintings at Venkatappa Art Gallery (VAG).

The department is currently awaiting clearance from the Finance Department for the revised estimate for restoration. According to the earlier proposal, ICKPAC, a not-for-profit organisation, was to take up the project for Rs 65 lakh. Preparing MoU. With the department even preparing an MoU to this effect, the project cost has been revised to Rs 1 crore. "We are forced to submit a revised estimate after the GST (implementation)," Commissioner for Archeology, Museums and Heritage T Venkatesh said. "When 18% GST is applied, the cost goes up by more than Rs 1 crore. We have also asked for 4G exemption to expedite the project and are currently waiting for the Finance Department's approval," Venkatesh added.

The paintings have been in the custody of Central Crime Branch (CCB), following a legal battle over Roerich and his wife Devika Rani's property at Tataguni Estate on Kanakapura Road. Though the paintings were restored six years ago by the Regional Conservation Laboratory (RCL), Mysuru, they began to deteriorate again having been kept in a closed dank room. The department has asked ICKPAC to also restore as many as 32 paintings displayed at VAG and also 80 paintings displayed at the Government Museum, flanking the gallery.

- http://www.deccanherald.com/content/646750/museum-dept-seeks-relief-govt.html, Dec 6, 2017

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Singapore Exhibits 140 Rare Artefacts Of Indian Traditional Craft

An exhibition of around 140 Indian rare traditional artefacts, some dating back to 5,000 years, opened in here today with a minister urging Singaporeans to visit it and witness the evolution of artistic and crafting traditions across generations. The highlight of the exhibition is a collection of rare artefacts from the Indus Valley Civilisation loaned by the National Museum of India. Each piece tells a story and will fascinate with its exquisite designs, including elaborate ancient Indus and Brahmi scripts and familiar motifs in Indian crafts such as the lotus and the mango, said the Indian Heritage Centre (IHC) which is hosting the exhibition till June 30. The IHC has engaged 15 expert craftspeople from India to offer visitors an opportunity to witness ancient crafts being practiced up close, through fortnightly demonstrations.

Some of the ancient craft traditions include bidri - a craft that has its beginnings in the 14th and 15th centuries - where artists etch intricate designs and calligraphy on metal surfaces before filling them in with fine silver wires. They will also demonstrate ancient skill of leather puppet making, which are then used in shadow puppetry performances of great Indian epics such as the Ramanyana. The annual exhibition is themed: Symbols and Scripts: The Language of Craft. The IHC CultureFest 2017, being held along the exhibition, explores the theme of Rasa, or aesthetics, in Indian tradition. "Traditional craftsmanship embodies practices that have been passed down from our ancestors.

This special exhibition at the Indian Heritage Centre showcases rare artefacts that represent the evolution of artistic and crafting traditions across generations," Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, said yesterday during the launch of the exhibition. "I encourage Singaporeans to visit this exhibition and learn more about this important part of our intangible cultural heritage," said Fu. "Through the artefacts featured in the exhibition, we celebrate the rich and diverse heritage of the Indian community in Singapore, as well as that of the larger global Indian diaspora," elaborated Trudy Loh, Director of Heritage Institutions at the National Heritage Board, parent group of IHC.

- https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/singapore-exhibits-140-rare-artefacts-of-indian-traditional-craft-1784842, Dec 6, 2017

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UNESCO recognises Kumbh Mela as India's cultural heritage

The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage under UNESCO has inscribed ´KumbhMela´ on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity during its 12th session being held at Jeju, South Korea from 4-9 December. This inscription is the third in two years following the inscriptions of ´Yoga´ and ´Nouroz´ in December. The inscription of ´KumbhMela´ was recommended by the expert body which examines in detail the nominations submitted by Member States, according to a MEA note. The Committee observed that ´KumbhMela´ is the largest peaceful congregation of pilgrims on earth. The festival, held in Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik, represents a syncretic set of rituals related to worship and ritual cleansing in holy rivers in India.

"The element is compatible with existing international human rights instruments since people from all walks of life, without any discrimination participate in the festival with equal fervor. As a religious festival, the tolerance and inclusiveness that KumbhMela demonstrates are especially valuable for the contemporary world," the MEA note commented. The Committee also took note of the fact that knowledge and skills related to ´KumbhMela´ are transmitted through the Guru-Shishyaparampara (teacher-student relationship) by way of saints and sadhus teaching their disciples about traditional rituals and chants. This would ensure the continuity and viability of this festival in perpetuity.

In 2003, the UNESCO General Conference adopted the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage as an international treaty acknowledging that cultural heritage is more than tangible places, monuments and objects; it also encompasses traditions and living expressions. Intangible cultural heritage means the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated with them that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as a part of their cultural heritage.

"This intangible cultural heritage is constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history, and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity. It is not valued because it is unique but rather because it is relevant for the community practicing it. Furthermore, its importance is not in the cultural manifestation itself, but in the wealth of knowledge, know-how and skills that are transmitted from one generation to the next," read the MEA note after UNESCO decision.

- https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/unesco-recognises-kumbh-mela-as-indias-cultural-heritage/articleshow/61964094.cms, Dec 6, 2017

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A museum of folk traditions

Spread over 10 acres on a rocky outcrop in northwestern India’s Jodhpur town, Arna Jhana celebrates the open spaces of the desert, including its flora and fauna. Two childhood friends of Jodhpur in northwestern Indian state of Rajasthan began an effort in 1960 to conserve the indigenous traditions of the desert. Komal Kothari and Vijaydan Detha formed Rupayan Sansthan, an institute to document the state’s folklore, arts and music, and began developing a conceptual basis to explain its traditions. Detha turned an author and adapted folk stories into his critically acclaimed literary works, and Kothari focused on documenting the numerous living traditions of the desert state. Through his efforts, Kothari offered an alternative model of development and helped internationalise many of the Rajasthani folk practices. When Detha, who is widely regarded as a folklore socialist for his anti-feudal writings, was writing short stories, Kothari was trying to explain the tense balance between the ecology and culture, where the material and the performative aspect could only survive in harmonious relation to its environment. But by the 1990s, Rupayan Sansthan was becoming defunct.

In 30 years, Detha had written more than 800 short stories, some of which have been adapted into popular Hindi films, and Kothari had traversed 29,000 villages to document people’s traditional knowledge. Kothari had long envisaged a space to exhibit and bring about public engagement with the folk culture and oral traditions he had spent his life documenting. In 1999, his son, Kuldeep Kothari, joined Rupayan Sansthan and began the revival process.

Top of his priority was to fulfill his father’s dream of setting up a museum of folk traditions. And that’s how Arna Jharna desert museum at Moklawas village, 15 kilometres from Jodhpur city on the Jaisalmer road, came about. Arna Jharna (Hindi words for forest and spring) encompasses a rocky outcrop and a ravine, which includes an old stone quarry turned watershed, and commands breathtaking views of the rocky plains of the scrubland, showcasing the harsh beauty of the Marwar region of Rajasthan. Spread over 10 acres, the museum is a haven for desert flora and fauna apart from being the repository of living traditions documented through hours of ethnographical interviews on the folk practices of the state. “It is marked by a devotion to the natural and organic resources of Rajasthan, the local communities and their local forms of knowledge, art and culture,” says Kuldeep Kothari.

Arna Jharna has 30 different varieties of trees and shrubs and is laid with a variegated carpet of several types of grass. The air is filled with sounds of birds and deer and peacock are regular visitors to an old stone quarry turned into a watershed. Komal Da, as the elder Kothari was popularly referred to, showed how musical traditions were endemic to three distinct agrarian zones as they were dependent on the available flora and fauna. For this study, Kothari divided the state into three food zones – pearl millet, sorghum and maize. Arna Jharna has a gallery of rare musical instruments. Many of them are not in use any more but their sounds and style are part of the audiovisual archive at the museum, which contains up to 8,000 hours of recordings Kothari carried out over several decades. There are fields of all three crops at Arna Jharna where schoolchildren visit in groups to know about them. There are more than 250 plants here, many of which have traditional medicinal value. “My father wanted people to remember what nature had given to the state and keep using this wealth,” says Kuldeep, adding that visitors are told about medicinal plants and encouraged to grow them so that they don’t become extinct.

There are open wells and mud bunds to conserve rainwater. “We have tried to keep everything natural,” Kuldeep adds. Arna Jharna also has a broom museum, which offers a brief history of broom-making techniques and displays more than 200 types of brooms made from a variety of shrubs and plants in different parts of the state. There are different sections for brooms used to sweep the outdoors and the ones used inside. “As one goes around the broom museum, interviews with broom-makers run on a television screen for visitors to get a better insight into how this object of daily use can be used to learn about balance between ecology and culture,” says Prof Sanjeev Bhanawat, head of Centre for Mass Communication at the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, who recently took a group of journalists to the museum on a field visit for a workshop on development journalism. “In most museums, you find objects which are related to dead traditions. But my father wanted to exhibit living traditions so we collected brooms from different parts of the state for this exhibition. People come here wondering what they need to know about this object of daily use and go back informed about our traditions. The brooms are specific to areas and communities,” says Kuldeep. The Rupayan Sansthan, he adds, continues to work with communities to help them conserve their tradition knowledge. “Our collaboration with engineers of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Jodhpur, is one such initiative. They have designed a ceramic water filter through traditional pottery techniques and are training potters to make it so that every village can have access to clean drinking water without depending on government’s piped water,” he adds. “The GenNext of potters were not interested in pottery. This technological intervention has revived their interest in this traditional work,” says Anand Plappali of department of mechanical engineering, who worked on the project.

Though Komal Kothari passed away in 2004 soon after the opening of the museum, his vision and legacy continues to inspire the members of Rupayan Sansthan, who are working on digitising the musical archive at Arna Jharna. The enormous archive contains rich ethnographical interviews with artisans, potters, musicians and practitioners of indigenous medicine over more than 40 years. Komal Kothari endeavoured to give a platform to caste musicians such as Langas, Manganiars and Kalbelias, making sure, at the same time, that the intellectual property of these musicians was protected. Many artistes in Rajasthan swear by Komal Da’s contribution in taking these musicians to international stages and popularising them in India as well. Kothari died in 2004, the year he was awarded India’s second highest civilian award, the Padma Bhushan. Detha received the fourth highest civilian honour, the Padma Shree in 2007. He passed away in 2013. Rupayan Sansthan conducts workshops with stakeholders in the folk and cultural sphere. Some prominent professors of religion and anthropology are associated with these events.

Emeritus reader of Sanskrit at Cambridge University, John Smith researched for his monumental monograph, The Epic of Pabuji, using the transcripts and recordings of the Rupayan Sansthan. Other scholars who have been closely associated with the Rupayan Sansthan through workshops, seminars and research are Ford-Maxwell Professor of South Asian Studies and Director, South Asia Center, Syracruse University, Prof. Susan Wadley; and Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion and Professor of Anthropology at Syracruse University Prof. Ann Gridzen Gold. Rakesh Kumar is a writer based in Jaipur, India.

- http://gulfnews.com/culture/arts/a-museum-of-folk-traditions-1.2136349, Dec 6, 2017

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Jaipur's new sculpture park is the first of its kind in India

Eight months ago, Peter Nagy and Aparajita Jain of Delhi’s experimental art gallery Nature Morte visited Jaipur’s Nahargarh Fort, and began planning the creation of India’s first sculpture park for contemporary art. They collaborated with the government of Rajasthan and corporate sponsors like Shreyasi Goenka (content advisor, DNA) to launch The Sculpture Park at Madhavendra Palace, inside the 18th century fort that overlooks the Pink City. Jain is also the founder-director of Saat Saath Arts, the non- pro t foundation that is funding the project, which will open to the public on December 10. “Peter and I had been speaking about the need for public art venues, and he suggested the use of heritage spaces in India for contemporary sculptures,” says Jain.

Curated by Nagy, the year-long exhibition will showcase the works of eight international and several Indian artists, including Bharti Kher, Subodh Gupta, Huma Bhabha and Thukral & Tagra. The Maharaja’s apartment inside the palace will feature sculptures by the late French-American artist Fernandez Arman for the first time in India. The current show will continue till December 2018, after which Saat Saath Arts will organise the next year-long exhibition in collaboration with new artists. Talking about his curatorial process, Nagy says, “The palace, as one experiences it now, is an empty monument. It was built to be a site of luxury, eroticism and intrigue. I wanted to bring some of this back.”

To give it life, Nagy chose works that use domesticity as a theme. Visitors will be treated to Jitish Kallat’s Annexation, Kher’s Impossible Triangle and Thukral & Tagra’s Memorial series, all of which recall household objects, such as clothing and furniture, among other diverse subjects. For Thukral & Tagra, The Sculpture Park is a step in the right direction. “We always complain about the lack of museums in India. [But we] don’t have to build new ones; we should use the spaces we already have,” they say. The objective of the initiative is not to only draw attention to contemporary art, but to also enable the masses to engage with the artworks. Malvika Singh, a member of Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje’s advisory council, who also worked on the project, believes that partnerships between the government and private enterprises are key to popularising public art venues. “Public art does not demand a membership card. It is, fundamentally, a great leveller,” she says.

- http://elle.in/culture/world-youngest-queen-jetsun-pema/, Dec 6, 2017

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Google To Showcase India's Cultural Heritage At Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus

Passengers at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus can now watch informative videos while waiting for their train, thanks to a partnership between Indian Railways and Google. The tech company will bring commuters rich cultural stories via video installations for the next two months. The videos are from the Google Arts and Culture platform, Google's online platform for the world's culture. The screens invite daily commuters and long-distance travellers to explore India's cultural heritage, its beauty and treasures, such as miniature paintings, bronze sculptures and Rabindranath Tagore's paintings.

This immersive technology also enables travellers to get a glimpse of some of India's greatest monuments in 360 degrees, like the Red Fort, the Ajanta Caves, and the highlight -- a never-available-before vista from atop the Taj Mahal's Minar. The initiative was unveiled by SDK Sharma, General Manager, Central Railway; RK Verma, Secretary, Railway Board; Ben Gomes, Vice President (Search), Google and Patron of Google Arts and Culture; Principal Heads of Departments of Central Railway; Subrata Nath, Executive Director (Heritage) and other officials.

- https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/mumbai/other/google-to-showcase-indias-cultural-heritage-at-chhatrapati-shivaji-maharaj-terminus/articleshow/61971164.cms, Dec 7, 2017

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INTACH opens Mangaluru chapter with exhibition

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) launched its Mangaluru chapter by hosting an exhibition on ‘splendours of Indian architecture’ at heritage structure Kodial Guthu West here on Saturday. The exhibition, which will be on till December 17, begins with a section of India’s achievement in the first millennium A.D. that includes a pre-historic city, ancient cave architecture, forts and abandoned cities. It then flows into the time of Islamic Encounters. Waves of Islamic forces invaded India from the 7th century onwards. Around the 10th century, Delhi came under Islamic rule.

It was a violent encounter but a very fruitful one in the arts. The following centuries saw Islamic buildings in Delhi, Gujarat and the Deccan. Examples of such monuments are included exemplifying the syncretic elements. The visitor then is led to experience India’s European Encounter. The final section of the exhibition showcases the Encounter with Modernism. During the 1930s, the Art Deco Style from Europe became very popular in the city of Bombay, now Mumbai, and is apparent in residential buildings and cinema halls. A new style was introduced by Le Corbusier when he designed the city of Chandigarh, an INTACH release said. People can visit the exhibition between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., the release added.

- http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/intach-opens-mangaluru-chapter-with-exhibition/article21382506.ece, Dec 11, 2017

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Museum showcases invaluable old film technology

In the era of digital cinema, use of reels and projectors has faded into oblivion. A museum has been opened for the public in the town displaying these priceless old equipment. Christened 'Assems Cine Museum', the museum was dedicated to the public on Wednesday by the district collector, J Innocent Diyva. The museum is housed in Assembly Rooms, a heritage building and an iconic landmark cine hall in the town. The museum showcases two 60-year-old Bauer projectors made in Germany, film reels, spool, film rewinding table among other accessories of a movie theatre. Inaugurating the museum, the collector said, "The theatre and the museum are pride of Ooty.

It is a privilege maintaining the heritage founded by Lady Willingdon and Lord Willingdon." She said, "Cine Museum is a gift to the future generation for they would get to know the history of old cinema." Geetha Srinivasan, a trustee of the Assembly Rooms, said, "As the convener of INTACH-Nilgiris chapter, I am sentimentally attached to the heritage building of the cinema hall." She added, "When the theatre was digitalised in 2015, we thought the priceless old equipment to be preserved for posterity.

The idea of opening a cine museum cropped up." Geetha said the 'Cine Museum' is one of its kind in the country as it has been situated in a heritage building.Stating that the museum has been planted in a best possible place of the theatre, D Radhakrishnan, honorary secretary of Assembly Rooms, said, "The museum is nothing but a gathered history of technology of old cinema. And the old theatre accessories are safe." According to him, the museum will be extended further inside the hall. And portraits of all icons of Hollywood, Bollywood, Kollywood among other state film icons will be displayed as an added attraction. The museum developed at the cost of Rs 6 lakh displays old film slides, old gramophone records, carbon rods, and old photographs, including those of Lord and Lady Willingdon. Also, one of halls in the theatre has been named after Lady Willingdon.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/museum-showcases-invaluable-old-film-technology/articleshow/62015336.cms, Dec 11, 2017

Top
Museum showcases invaluable old film technology

In the era of digital cinema, use of reels and projectors has faded into oblivion. A museum has been opened for the public in the town displaying these priceless old equipment. Christened 'Assems Cine Museum', the museum was dedicated to the public on Wednesday by the district collector, J Innocent Diyva. The museum is housed in Assembly Rooms, a heritage building and an iconic landmark cine hall in the town. The museum showcases two 60-year-old Bauer projectors made in Germany, film reels, spool, film rewinding table among other accessories of a movie theatre. Inaugurating the museum, the collector said, "The theatre and the museum are pride of Ooty.

It is a privilege maintaining the heritage founded by Lady Willingdon and Lord Willingdon." She said, "Cine Museum is a gift to the future generation for they would get to know the history of old cinema." Geetha Srinivasan, a trustee of the Assembly Rooms, said, "As the convener of INTACH-Nilgiris chapter, I am sentimentally attached to the heritage building of the cinema hall." She added, "When the theatre was digitalised in 2015, we thought the priceless old equipment to be preserved for posterity.

The idea of opening a cine museum cropped up." Geetha said the 'Cine Museum' is one of its kind in the country as it has been situated in a heritage building.Stating that the museum has been planted in a best possible place of the theatre, D Radhakrishnan, honorary secretary of Assembly Rooms, said, "The museum is nothing but a gathered history of technology of old cinema. And the old theatre accessories are safe." According to him, the museum will be extended further inside the hall. And portraits of all icons of Hollywood, Bollywood, Kollywood among other state film icons will be displayed as an added attraction. The museum developed at the cost of Rs 6 lakh displays old film slides, old gramophone records, carbon rods, and old photographs, including those of Lord and Lady Willingdon. Also, one of halls in the theatre has been named after Lady Willingdon.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/museum-showcases-invaluable-old-film-technology/articleshow/62015336.cms, Dec 11, 2017

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New Delhi's 106th anniversary: Coronation Pillar wears defaced look

On this day New Delhi came into being in 1911, a monumental obelisk that commemorates the Coronation Durbar wears a defaced look and an interpretation centre planned years ago is yet to see light of the day. A group of boys were seen playing cricket near the Coronation Pillar as decaying marble statues of King George V and four famous Viceroys stonily looked on. Local residents oblivious to the importance of the place, let alone the day (106th anniversary of New Delhi), wandered about in the park, while graffiti scrawled up on the iconic pillar that marks the site of the Durbar only added to the overwhelming irony.

The historic ground is now part of the Coronation Park, located in Burari area near Kingsway Camp. In the 1911 Delhi Durbar, King George V and Queen Mary were coronated as the Emperor and Empress of India with the monarch announcing the shifting of the capital from Calcutta to Delhi.

The heritage site falling under the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) saw decades of neglect, until it was taken up by Sheila Dikshit regime to be redeveloped as a Coronation Park, and work was to be completed by 2011, to coincide with New Delhi's 100th anniversary. But the DDA after missing several deadlines since then, has only managed to landscape the area, even though the grass has lost its sheen, while the history walls erected in front of the four statues of Viceroys, lie neglected, incomplete and defaced. Convener of INTACH's Delhi Chapter and author Swapna Liddle, is saddened to know about the fate the iconic landmark has met with. "It just has been lying underutilised. And any place that lies in such a condition ends up being subjected to defacement. It of course means, we need to impart more eduction to our youth, who think by scrawling their names on public structures, they are achieving something," she told PTI.

"We saw the pillar and the walls being defaced and scribbled with graffiti. So much history and stories connected to the place. And, after all, it is the birthplace of New Delhi. We all should celebrate it for that reason alone," she said. Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) was chosen by the DDA as a consultant for the ambitious project. Ex-INTACH Delhi Convener A G K Menon, had on 104th anniversary of New Delhi, said, "It was a sad commentary that DDA can't look after its own asset." Liddle says perhaps one of the reasons, such British-era landmarks have not received the due attention, is because, "Many people think colonial history should not be promoted.

But studying and knowing about the Raj era through exhibition and other means do not mean we are celebrating imperialism." "On this very ground two other Delhi Durbars were held, the first in 1877 and the second one in 1903, both being also filled with grandeur and splendour, the royal tents and the other paraphernalia. "The Durbars also celebrated art, craftsmanship, photography and films. The 'Interpretation Centre' can tell a fascinating tale," she said. The 'Interpretation Centre' is part of the redevelopment plan. Though its buildings ready, the centre is yet to see the light of day.

A senior DDA official when contacted, said, "I am not aware of the status of the redevelopment project." The official, however, declined to comment on the defacement carried out in the park premises. The statues tell their own tale of decay. King George V in gleaming marble, once adorned the canopy opposite the India Gate, but was dumped at this site post the 1960s. Other statue were shifted later, from different public places over different periods of time. Today, the King's face lie disfigured while the statue of Lord Hardinge, under whose Viceroyalty the capital was shifted to Delhi, has lost its sheen. Lord Chelmsford is in a better off condition while damaged statue of Lord Irwin gives appearance of an apparition. "I came here today for the first time, but had no idea about the historic value of this place, and these big statues. We haven't been taught about the place," said Nikhil, a class 10 student.

- https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/new-delhis-106th-anniversary-coronation-pillar-wears-defaced-look/articleshow/62041742.cms, Dec 12, 2017

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64 coins treasure trove to shine at WTC

A handpicked collection of 64 ancient coins from the huge repository in possession of the State is to be showcased at the World Telugu Conference, N R Visalatchy, Director, Department of Archaeology and Museums said. The department which has a huge treasure trove of more than 200,000 ancient coins had last year started the work of sifting through the coins according to the historical era they belonged, with the help of experts “We have coins dating all the way back to the pre-Mauryan era as well as coins belonging to the Roman Empire. Trade between Romans and people of Telangana was vibrant, and hence, we have coins from the foreign dynasty.

We have finalised a total of 64 coins to be displayed at the conference. Two or three other kinds of artefacts from our collection may also be shown, depending on feasibility,” said Visalatchy. The coins will be placed at a special stall at the main venue and guides trained in the care of these coins will regale delegates with historical perspectives on the coins. Karshapana, among the oldest coins discovered in India, are from the pre-Mauryan era of 7th century BCE. These coins are stamped pieces of silver, with one to six ‘rupas’ marked on them, apart from other tiny marks to testify their legitimacy.

They are considered to be among the earliest currency coins used for trade in the country, and are mentioned in ancient Sanskrit, Buddhist and Persian texts and believed to be issued by the rulers of the Mahajanapada kingdom. Other historical kingdoms contributing to the 64-coin collection are from the dynasties of Ikshvaku (6th century BCE), Nanda (4th century BCE), Satavahana (1st century BCE), Kakatiya (12th century AD), and the Bahmani Sultanate (14th century AD).

- https://telanganatoday.com/64-coins-treasure-trove-shine-wtc, Dec 12, 2017

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Heritage here, there and everywhere

Heritage structures need not necessarily be buildings alone. Markets, parks, clubs, temple tanks and cemeteries have found their way into the list of heritage structures being compiled by the Building Centre and Conservation Division of the Public Works Department. Besides the structures compiled in the Justice E. Padmanabhan Committee report, the division is in the process of collating details of structures belonging to various departments across the State. The idea behind communicating to the departments is to create a database of the structures of heritage value across the State. There is no comprehensive database on heritage structures in the State right now. “This is the first step towards conserving the rich heritage resources. We have got a list of over 450 structures in Chennai.

The State Archaeology Department and the Archaeological Survey of India too have provided a list of nearly 520 old structures that are being maintained by them in many districts,” said an official. The division would identify the heritage structures and prevent them from further deterioration by collaborating with the district authorities concerned. While the PWD has come under criticism for its approach towards Kalas Mahal, the division plans to enhance its skills towards preserving heritage buildings. Expert opinion. Welcoming the PWD’s efforts to carve out a special division towards conserving historical structures, conservation architects and experts suggest that the initiatives to restore buildings must be done without destroying their charm as each of them reflect a piece of history. Tahaer Zoyab, one of the founding members of Houses of Mylapore, an initiative to document and preserve heritage, said “We must be sensitive towards the approach of conserving heritage buildings and respect the labour gone into creating the aesthetic appeal.

The structures must be renovated without changing the vibe of the place and not just look into structural stability alone. The purpose of renovated structures should also be debated instead of converting them into office spaces alone. They could be used to promote tourism in the State."

- http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/heritage-here-there-and-everywhere/article21559906.ece, Dec 13, 2017

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Now, a digital touch to Hampi

Steps are afoot by the Union Ministry of Culture in association with the Indian Institute of Technology New Delhi and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), a Union government undertaking, to give a digital touch in a bid to make Hampi, the erstwhile seat of the Vijayanagar empire, more tourist-friendly. If things go as planned, very soon tourists will be able to know more about Hampi, the monuments, history, art and architecture with the help of digital technology, and they can return happily with an evergreen memory. There are also plans to enable tourists to have a feel of some of the monuments and remote places at the world heritage site, which they find it difficult to access (Matanga hills is one such place), with the help of digital technology.

To start with, there are plans to upgrade the museum at Kamalapur with the help of digital technology and a couple of monuments and gradually, cover the other monuments in a phased manner. A team of officials, including P.L. Sahu, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Culture and Chief Executive Officer National Cultural Fund, New Delhi, Anupama Mallik from the IIT New Delhi, K.M.

Shivakumaran, General Manager (HR) BEL, K. Moortheshwari, Superintending Archaeologist, Archaeological Survey of India Mini Circle Hampi, went round Hampi to identify the monuments to be covered in the first phase. “We will prepare a project report and submit it to the Union Ministry of Culture. Once it is approved, IIT will execute the work of adding digital touch to some of the monuments and up-gradation of the museum in a year. The funding for the digitisation project is being done by BEL as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility,” Mr. Sahu told The Hindu. Ms. Anupama Mallik said that the Department of Science and Technology has done the spade work of digitisation which is being used for the proposed project. K.P. Garg, Deputy General Manager BEL (CSR), and Thejasvi, Assistant Superintendent, were present.

- http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/now-a-digital-touch-to-hampi/article21558682.ece, Dec 13, 2017

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Virtual museum in the offing in Varanasiy

A virtual museum is in the offing in the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Kashi to enable people for online viewing of the city's antiquities and art objects. The virtual museum is likely to come up at the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) protected Man Mahal observatory, a beautiful example of Mughal-Rajput architecture with stone balconied windows and painted ceiling on the bank of Ganga. During his visit to the city on November 19, the union minister of state for Tourism and Culture (independent charge) Mahesh Sharma had also visited the Man Mahal observatory and asked to start a virtual museum to showcase the monuments and culture of the city, said the superintending archaeologist of Sarnath circle of ASI Neeraj Kumar Sinha adding that the ASI director general Usha Sharma and secretary, union ministry of culture, Raghvendra Singh arrived here on Wednesday to make a spot visit for this purpose.

"During their two-day stay they will visit the archaeological sites and museum at Sarnath and Man Mahal observatory at Ganga ghat to take stock of the condition and facilities," Sinha told TOI adding that the Man Mahal observatory is the best suitable place for the proposed virtual museum. According to ASI records, the palace was built by Man Singh, the Raja of Amber and a celebrated general of the Great Mughal Emperor Akbar in around 1600AD, while the observatory was added to it around 1737 AD by Sawai Jai Singh II (1686-1745 AD), who himself was a great astronomer, the founder of Jaipur city and a descendant of Raja Man Singh.

The ministry of culture has embarked upon an ambitious project of the digitization of the collections of museums to bring these collections closer to the public by making them available for online viewing. According to the ministry records, through the technical expertise of Pune based Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) and the Art Institute of Chicago the ministry got standardized a software - JATAN for implementation of the project.

The JATAN Virtual Museum builder software with 3 dimensional/2 dimensional photography for documentation and digitization of antiquities has been designed with a vision to enable museums across the nation, to digitize their collection and curate online galleries for public viewing. In the first phase of digitization project the JATAN software has been implemented in 10 selected museums including National Museum, New Delhi, Indian Museum, Kolkata, Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata, National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai, National Gallery of Modern Art, Bengaluru, Allahabad Museum, Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, Nagarjunakonda Museum, and Goa Museum.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/varanasi/virtual-museum-in-the-offing-in-varanasi/articleshow/62054374.cms, Dec 14, 2017

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Semi-precious stone beads found at Polavaram area

For the first time in South India, archaeological authorities have found rare multi-colour semi-precious stone beads in large quantities during ongoing excavations at a megalithic burial site at Rayannapeta of Yetapaka mandal in East Godavari. As many as 69 beads of crystal, carnelian and chalcedony with red, white and blue-brown colour combination were found and they were dated back to fourth or fifth century BC. Each bead is six mm in diameter with three mm thickness. Carrying out excavation at the disturbed burial site, the authorities have found a good number of beads just 20 to 30 cm below the earth’s surface.

According to the authorities, discovering semi-precious stone beads belonging to neolithic period in such a large number and that too at one place is very rare, though beads in small number were found earlier in other places. As many as 63 crystal beads, four chalcedony beads and two carnelian beads have been found so far. The beads were made into chains to use them as ornaments to be worn by the women. The archaeological authorities have been carrying out excavations at mega-lithic burials dated between 1,000 BC to third century AD in the Polavaram project affected areas in order to relocate, restore and preserve the stone inscriptions, idols of local deities and historically significant artefacts for the benefit of the people.

In the process of doing so, they have found a rare collection of beads and have secured them. Archaeology deputy director Mr K. Sai Bhakta Kesav said, “We have found a good collection of multi-coloured semi-precious stone beads of neolithic period during excavations at megalithic burial site. It is rare to find beads in such large number at one place. We will preserve them in the upcoming archaeological museum at Polavaram project site for the benefit of visitors.

- https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/141217/semi-precious-stone-beads-found-at-polavaram-area.html, Dec 14, 2017

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INTACH team visits Sambalpur

Divey Gupta, Head of Architectural conservation, INTACH Delhi, visited the Bezbaroa House at Sambalpur this morning and examined the pilot copy of the detailed project report (DPR) and studied the structure from all angles.Mallika Mitra, Head of Conservation, INTACH, Odisha, who had prepared the DPR draft, was present and had a detailed discussion with Gupta. This was necessary prior to finalizing and submitting the DPR to the Odisha Tourism and Culture Department. Along with office-bearers of the Sambalpur chapter of INTACH, they met Samarth Verma, Collector, Sambalpur and discussed the matter.

Tarini Panda, convenor, Sashanka Purohit, joint convenor, Deepak Kumar Panda, resource person, INTACH and convenor, Laxminath Bezbaroa Smruti Sadan, Sambalpur were present. The construction work of a rotary or the expansion of the Chowk (where Bezbaroa house is situated) has also being started.

The new bridge on river Mahanadi at the back side of Bezbaroa house along with the rotary is scheduled to be inaugurated by Odisha Chief Minister on March 31, 2018. On that day, he is likely to lay the foundation for the conservation work of Bezbaroa house and work will commence from that day.

- http://www.assamtribune.com/scripts/detailsnew.asp?id=dec1517/at061, Dec 15, 2017

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Jama Masjid damage: ASI, disaster body teams inspect structure after HT report

Teams from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) and the Delhi Wakf Board (DWB) carried out an inspection at the Jama Masjid on Thursday, hours after the Hindustan Times highlighted how cracks caused by water seepage were threatening the iconic 361-year-old mosque in old Delhi. The four-member ASI team -- the national watchdog of heritage monuments – was led by Rajendra Dehori, deputy superintendent (archaeology) at the agency’s Delhi division. He said that the team made a preliminary assessment of the damage to the monument.

“We will take stock of the cracks and crumbling walls in the monument. It will be followed by a proper survey by a team of officials from the director general (north division), which is the final decision-making authority.

They will decide when the restoration work can be initiated,” Dehori told Hindustan Times. In a front-page report capturing the damage to the Mughal-era mosque, HT had highlighted how the Jama Masjid was in urgent need of repair because parts of its external facade and internal structure were crumbling.

The custodians of the mosque, including its Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari, said that the monument was plagued by rampant water seepage that was damaging the central dome and parapet carvings.

They also said that they had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking his intervention, and made several appeals to the ASI to help with restoration work. Restoration work was last carried out at the Jama Masjid 10 years ago by the ASI after a report prepared by conservation architect Naveen Piplani. The Masjid is not an ASI-protected monument and its custodian is the Delhi Wakf Board, which says it neither has the funds nor the expertise to get repair work done. The four-member DDMA team led by district project officer Neelofar Nizami, took photographs of damaged portions. “A preliminary report would be prepared based on the inspection, which will be handed over to the district magistrate. Since the masjid witnesses a heavy footfall, especially during the Friday prayers, efforts were needed to keep a check on the damage and ensure proper monitoring to avoid any mishap,” said an official accompanying the group.

Nidhi Srivastava, district magistrate (central district), said a team of officials was sent following the directions from divisional commissioner Manisha Saxena to evaluate the extent of damage. It will submit a report on Friday. “Cracks in domes, pillars, and arches are clearly visible. Stones at some places have left their original positions. The structure requires major renovation, which may take years,” said a member of the visiting team who asked not to be named.

- http://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-news/jama-masjid-damage-asi-disaster-body-teams-inspect-structure-after-ht-report/story-5VDEx5vmeelYprdY7dU3uI.html, Dec 15, 2017

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60 people take part in heritage walk

The Indian National Trust for Art and Culture Heritage (INTACH), Chandigarh Chapter, organised a heritage walk at the Capitol Complex here today to create awareness about this recently nominated world heritage site. Around 60 people from all walks of life attended the walk conducted by Deepika Gandhi, co-convener, INTACH, Chandigarh, and Director, Le Corbusier Centre. The participants ranged from heritage experts like former Chief Architect Sumit Kaur and Prof Rajnish Wattas, former Principal CCA, faculty of IBS-Mohali to enthusiastic students of architecture colleges.

The chief guests of the event Justice Vinod Sharma and Justice RK Nehru praised VK Kapoor, convener, and Vivek Atray, co-convener, INTACH, Chandigarh, for the efforts of INTACH in organising the event. The walk saw an enthusiastic response from the group comprising architects, retired professors to young children with a demand for more such walks. Gandhi explained the philosophy of Corbusier behind each of his creations here. The main aspects of the design of the buildings and monuments of various components were a revelation to most of the visitors many of whom confessed to visiting the Complex for the first time. The tour ended with tea and discussions at the canteen of the Secretariat, the highest built point of Chandigarh.

- http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/chandigarh/60-people-take-part-in-heritage-walk/514587.html, Dec 18, 2017

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Delhi government to put 1857 uprising on city’s tourist map

During the 1857 uprising, families of the British officers and others associated with the British rulers huddled at the Flag Staff Tower, located at an elevated point in the middle of the northern ridge near Delhi University, to escape the wrath of Indian sepoys. They stayed put there for months, despite frequent attacked by mutineers, before fleeing to Karnal. A stone’s throw away is a lake, called Khooni Khan Jheel (Blood Lake). The name was given because of the water turned red after bodies of several British troops, Indian sepoys, women, children, and dead horses were dumped there, following repeated skirmishes between the rebels and English soldiers. The Delhi government is planning to frame a policy to highlight and popularise the tower, the lake and several other such monuments which are landmarks in the history of the 1857 uprising — what is also often called the first war for India’s Independence. The tourist department, which will anchor the policy, believes that it would add to Delhi’s tourist map, which is already rich with globally popular historical monuments, said an official.

“The department is of the opinion that tourism in Delhi is not only about the Red Fort or the Qutub Minar but it has much more to offer to the visitors, especially such not-so-popular locations,” he said. The department plans to set up several themes, creating a circuit, which would tentatively be named Delhi in 1857 – first independence struggle and Heritage Havelis in Delhi, among others. Officials say that once the themes are finalised, the places will be highlighted by organising promotional events or screening of short films at popular tourist places such as Dilli Haat and the Garden of Five Senses. Managing director of Delhi Tourism and Transport Development Corporation (DTTDC), Shurbir Singh said discussions were going on to shape the scheme.

“We are working on various themes to highlight several lesser known places related to Delhi’s cultural heritage. Currently, presentations are going on to finalise the themes in which these monuments would be included to give tourists a wholesome experience of our city’s history,” Singh told Hindustan Times. He said once a detailed plan is in place, it will be sent to the government for its approval. Swapna Liddle, convener of Delhi chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), said it was a good plan, “if crafted and implemented well”. She counted Coronation Park in north Delhi, Mutiny Memorial at northern ridge, Bhuli Bhatiyari ka Mahal at central ridge and Shalimar Bagh in west Delhi among places which are yet to be explored fully for their tourist potential.

“Open spaces are shrinking now and such places can easily be developed for recreational activities. The government will just to have to clean the places and provide basic facilities such as washrooms and drinking water to make them tourist friendly,” Liddle told Hindustan Times. She added that the government had been doing a lot for the restoration of historical monuments but maintaining them was equally important. Another historian Navina Jafa, vice-president of Centre for New Perspective, said heritage was not only about historical buildings but about the development of the creative community. “It is important to highlight heritage buildings but the most important factor is how the creative community, who live on the margin and are repositories of intangible heritage and heritage skills, are provided sustainable livelihood,” Jafa said.

- http://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-news/delhi-government-to-put-1857-uprising-on-city-s-tourist-map/story-QYXuMWoxv6q5p0e1Lhen2M.html, Dec 18, 2017

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Twin Pallava-era pillars lie forgotten

The monuments at Mamallapuram, a Unesco-declared heritage site, are famous world over for the architectural skills of the Pallavas, but just 55km west of the shore town lie two pillars, also linked to the Pallavas, that even the locals are unaware of. The bajanai temple at Manimangalam on the state highway linking Tambaram and Sriperumbudur is home to the pillars with 'couched lions' images traced to the Pallavas. Interestingly, the twin pillars were discovered three years ago by a temple enthusiast on a mission to locate a disappeared Vishnu temple in the village.

"As I was taking a stroll on a street at Manimangalam, the bajanai temple attracted me, thanks to the twin pillars with lions that distinguished it from the modern temple," said. T K Krishnakumar. Further research through multiple sources revealed that the pillars belonged to the Pallava period of the seventh century AD. Noting that former Madras Christian College professor Gift Siromoney had recorded the pillars, Krishnakumar said Manimangalam was the site of a battle between the Pallavas and the Chalukya kings. "The source of the twin pillars made of granite is a mystery because they were not part of the bajanai temple during its inception in 1935. A local discovered the two pillars from elsewhere in the village and attached it to the temple later, probably in 1980s," he said.

But, the villagers remain ignorant about the history of the pillars. C Santhalingam, who had served in the state archaeology department and researched on historical geography of the Thondaimandalam region, said 'couched lions' are the symbols of the Pallavas. "These pillars may belong to 650AD when Narasimhavarman I ruled," he said adding that Manimangalam was an important place during the Pallava period. It now has 10 temples, four of which were built during the Chola era. The pillars, Krishnakumar added, were the only structures in the village related to the Pallavas.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/twin-pallava-era-pillars-lie-forgotten/articleshow/62125993.cms, Dec 18, 2017

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On 106th anniv of New Delhi, Coronation Pillar stands defaced

A monument that marks the Coronation Durbar held in Delhi in 1911 wears a defaced look today, while a centre that was to showcase the city's history on its ground is yet to see the light of day. On December 12, 106 years ago, at this very imperial gathering, British monarch King George V had announced the shifting of India's capital from Calcutta to Delhi. The historic ground is now part of the Coronation Park, located in Burari near Kingsway Camp, a name that harks back to the regal assembly which had turned the area into a royal tent city, memories of which have survived in old monochrome and sepia-toned images and grainy footage. In the 1911 Delhi Durbar, King George V and Queen Mary were coronated as the Emperor and Empress of India. It signalled the birth of a new imperial capital.

Designed by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, the city was christened 'New Delhi' on December 31, 1926. The heritage site, owned by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), saw decades of neglect, until it was taken up by the Sheila Dikshit regime to be redeveloped as a Coronation Park. Work was to be completed by 2011, to coincide with the 100th anniversary. But the DDA, after missing several deadlines, has only managed to landscape the area, even though the grass has lost its sheen, while the history walls erected in front of the four statues of Viceroys, lie incomplete and defaced. "It just has been lying underutilised. And any place that lies in such a condition ends up being subjected to defacement," said the convener of heritage body INTACH's Delhi Chapter, Swapna Liddle. Liddle, who recently led a heritage walk at the park, said she had seen the pillar and the walls being scribbled with graffiti.

"It of course means we need to impart more eduction to our youth, who think by scrawling their names on public structures they are achieving something," Liddle told PTI. The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) was chosen by the DDA as a consultant for the ambitious project. History records that on this ground, two other Delhi Durbars were held -- in 1877 and 1903 -- "both also filled with grandeur and splendour, the royal tents and the other paraphernalia", she said. "The Durbars also celebrated art, craftsmanship, photography and films. The 'Interpretation Centre' can tell a fascinating tale," she said. The 'Interpretation Centre' is part of the redevelopment plan. The building is ready, but the centre, which will showcase Delhi's history, is yet to come up. A senior DDA official, when contacted, said, "I am not aware of the status of the redevelopment project." The official declined to comment on the defacement. On anniversary day, there was little to remind the people of the city's history. A group of boys played cricket near the Coronation Pillar, as decaying marble statues of King George V and four Viceroys looked stonily on.

The statues tell their own tale of decay. King George V in gleaming marble, once adorned the canopy opposite the India Gate, but was dumped at this site many years ago. Other statues were shifted later, from different public places over different periods of time. Today, the King's face lie disfigured while the statue of Lord Hardinge, under whose Viceroyalty the capital was shifted to Delhi, has no shine. Lord Chelmsford is in a better off condition but the damaged statue of Lord Irwin gives the appearance of an apparition. Lord Willingdon stands in a solitary pose in a corner. Local residents, oblivious of the importance of the place, or that it was the 106th anniversary of New Delhi, strolled in the park. "I came here today for the first time, but had no idea about the historic value of this place. We haven't been taught about the place," said Nikhil, a class 10 student. Liddle said one possible reason for the neglect of such British-era landmarks was the sentiment against the Raj. "Many people think colonial history should not be promoted. But studying and knowing about the Raj era through exhibition and other means do not mean we are celebrating imperialism," she said. Liddle underlined that there was history and stories connected to the place. "It is, after all, the birthplace of New Delhi. We all should celebrate it for that reason alone," she said.

- https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/on-106th-anniv-of-new-delhi-coronation-pillar-stands-defaced/1211299, Dec 18, 2017

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Chilika May Soon Be Tagged World Heritage Site

The Odisha government is preparing a detailed project report (DPR) to develop Chilika, the largest brackish water lagoon in the country, into a World Heritage Site with the tripartite collaboration of UNESCO and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC). Forest and Environment Secretary Suresh Mohapatra after a meeting with Shigeru Aoyagi, Director and UNESCO Chief Representative to India and ONGC Human Resources Director said the government is preparing a project plan to ensure conservation and sustainable development of the lake. “The ONGC proposed to provide the necessary funds required in this regard.

Preparations to finalise the plan might take a year as we have to hold consultations with all the stakeholders associated with the ecosystem after which strategy and implementation will be decided upon,” Mohapatra said. As per sources, the ONGC has already funded Rs 5 crore for the initial stage of the project preparation. UNESCO DG, Shigeru Aoyagi also assured that they would be very happy to declare Chilika Lake as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Efforts are on to initiate process of taking short and long-term measures to conserve Chilika lake and nominate it for the UNESCO natural heritage tag. The UNESCO has also proposed to set up a world class conservation centre with climate change observatory and state-of-the-art data and monitoring facilities.

It is to be noted that measures including income generation and welfare activities in the lake area, improvement in the livelihood of fishing community, protection of ecosystem and sustainable development have to be efficiently taken to earn the label of the heritage tag. Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had earlier written a letter seeking mentorship and guidance of the state government in making the project successful. Chilika lake is one of the most important natural ecosystem filled with rich bio-diversity including fisheries, birds, reptiles and several other species of flora and fauna. It is not only the second largest brackish water lagoon in the world but also the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian sub-continent. Besides, it is also the first Indian wetland of international importance to be included under the Ramsar Convention in 1981.

- http://odishatv.in/odisha/body-slider/chilika-may-soon-be-tagged-world-heritage-site-261841, Dec 18, 2017

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Samsung India partners with UNESCO to showcase Indian heritage with VR content and 360-degree videos

Samsung India has entered into a partnership with UNESCO MGIEP (Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development) to launch 360 video and Virtual Reality (VR) content of two magnificent Indian heritage sites, the Sun Temple in Konark, Odisha and Taj Mahal in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. The first of the two 360 video and VR content, on the Sun Temple in Konark, was unveiled today at the Transforming Education Conference for Humanity (TECH) 2017 in Visakhapatnam, organized by UNESCO MGIEP. The 360 video and VR content showcasing the grandeur, heritage and splendour of the architectural marvel Sun Temple in Konark was shown to students and dignitaries at a specially set up Samsung Smart Class at the conference venue. The project will provide experiential educational content to students across the country. The immersive content will also be available to students at Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV), where Samsung Smart Class have been set up in over 500 schools since 2013.

This effort to use VR for educating students will go a long way in taking forward Government of India’s vision of digital India. There are 36 UNESCO Heritage Sites in India today. Samsung India may take up more sites to develop 360 video and VR content in future. Samsung Smart Class program has so far benefitted over 2.5 lakh students and has trained over 8,000 teachers on how to effectively use interactive technology in the Samsung Smart Class to teach students. The program aims to bridge the digital gap between rural and urban India and provide equal opportunities for quality education to children from all backgrounds.

Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya schools are run by the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the content was signed between Samsung India and UNESCO MGIEP in the presence of Shri Satya Pal Singh, Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Shri N. Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and Shri Ganta Srinivasa Rao, Minister of Human Resources Development, Government of Andhra Pradesh. The content on Indian heritage sites will be available freely across all social media channels in both 360 and VR formats. VR content will also be provided to the Union Ministry of Tourism and State Tourism Boards to be used for tourism promotion in India and across the world.

- https://cio.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/consumer-tech/samsung-india-partners-with-unesco-to-showcase-indian-heritage-with-vr-content-and-360-degree-videos/62116001, Dec 19, 2017

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Qutub-Shahi era structure forgotten

A listed heritage structure, the Aliabad Sarai, located on the Charminar-Falaknuma road of Old City is crying for attention. Its once architectural grandeur has been reduced to nothing with many people even finding it tough to identify the monument that was built during the Qutub Shahi era. Apart from locals, even authorities responsible for its upkeep seem to be unaware of its existence - thanks to its dilapidated state. Records suggest the Sarai (guest house in Urdu) was constructed to cater to the needs of travellers visiting the city. The 60-odd rooms within it have turned into mechanic workshops, ready-made garment stores and other such small business outlets. "We have been running our business from here, since my grandfather's time. We pay a rent of Rs 500 per month for this shop," said Mohammed Irshad, a garment shop owner. "Most shops and also the Aliabad darwaza were demolished as part of road-widening works.

No efforts have been made by the authorities to protect this historic structure," Irshad added. Incidentally, the Sarai continues to be listed as a Grade 1 (buildings of exceptional interest) heritage structure as per the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority's list. "Forget about restoring it, the authorities were planning to demolish the structure entirely to take up road-widening works. They couldn't go ahead after facing resistance from shop owners and heritage activists," said Hussain Shah, a mechanic shop owner. Demanding that its custodian — the department of archaeology and museums — takes up restoration of the structure immediately, M Veda Kumar, convener of Intach, said, "The Sarai is in a very bad shape. Repair works must be taken up urgently before it crumbles." However, the official body appears to be in no mood to take any such measures. Director of the department, N R Visalatchy, said, "There are no plans of repairing the structure as of now."

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/qutub-shahi-era-structure-forgotten/articleshow/62144246.cms, Dec 20, 2017

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Playing it big with Silambam

Just 15 minutes before Sangeetha Nagarajan, a student of Lady Doak College, was scheduled to give a Silambam performance before the Madurai District Collector K.Veera Raghava Rao and other dignitaries, her stick broke. "For a change, I did not panic. My coach asked me to remain calm and go on the stage with a positive mind using another team member's stick." She began her drill twirling the kambu as beads of sweat appeared on her forehead. But soon the 19-year-old national champion who led her team to a glorious victory (26 gold medals and six silver medals) at the recently concluded national silambattam competition in Jalandhar, found her feet and moved on with dynamic elegance to complete the show. This is what Silambam -- the South Indian martial art of stick fighting – has done to her. "From a timid and shy person, I have emerged into a bold, confident and not-to lose-my-calm-or-nerve kind of a person," says Sangeetha, who is a three-times State champion and winner of several private tournaments. After nine years of training and completing the three stages of basic and intermediary level, Sangeetha says, Silambam today is a part of her.

So much so that she is now off to the US to promote the ancient martial art of Tamil Nadu. She has won a five-month scholarship at Mary Baldwin University, Virginia, and leaves post-Christmas to exhibit not only her skills and talent in the traditional folk art form (now recognised by the Tamil Nadu Government as a sport) but also promote and create awareness among the Indian and American population.

It is a moment of great pride for her parents, who never stopped Sangeetha from chasing her dreams, and her coach Dr. Shahul Hameed, who believed in her. Her coach took it up as a challenge when another trainer rejected her for being an emotionally soft person. "It is a warrior's game I was told," she says and recalls how Dr.Hameed gave her the courage and confidence to take a plunge. If you want to learn self-defence techniques, why not internationally recognised taekwondo or boxing, many people asked her when she revealed her desire to learn Silambam, after she watched a demo by Dr.Hameed when she was in class VI. "I was extremely impressed with the moves and my parents were totally behind me," she says, about her joining the Shimshan Institute of Martial Arts at the age of 10. Rigorous hours of training along with her regular classes of Bharatanatyam and participation in every creative competition from drawing to clay modelling, debates and elocutions, may have got her physically exhausted but it never shifted her focus from studies. Sangeetha scored well in her class X and XII boards as well and she says she owes her level of concentration and energy to learning of Silambam. Her proficiency in handling the different weapons of Silambam from the bamboo staff to the flexible sword and weighted chains or native push daggers along with her body language and the attitude that she has perfected in her movements, her nimble footwork and deft wrist work make her one of the best Silambam artistes in the city today. The Jalandhar tournament was her first national event and she says how because of her Silambam training she was able to use her smarts against some big bullies at the railway station of a town she was visiting for the first time. Another 35 students in her team trained by Dr.Hameed also showed their prowess in various individual and group events at the competition and practically everybody returned with a medal. "Despite their achievements over the years, there is little recognition for the sport," rues Dr.Hameed. The students of Shimshan Institute drawn from six schools and four colleges in the city had gathered for a felicitation function jointly organised by the Heritage Foundation and Intach Madurai Chapter.

It was here that an appeal was made to the District Collector, who witnessed the silambam performance by the medal winners, to get the Centre's support in listing Silambam as a national sport. "If we do not promote our distinct heritage games, then who will?" asks Sangeetha, taking on her overseas trip with a determination. "It is my and my master's dream to promote Silambam all over the world," she says, "and I will put in every effort required." At her level, the youngster has been silently doing a great service. Ever since she started bagging prize money from her competitive events, she has used it on the underprivileged and sponsored benches in the maternity ward of Government Hospital, donates food in old age home in Tiruparankundram and supports 77 girl children at Balar Illam. She teaches them Silambam to help them to conquer fear and regularly conducts competitions and events for them to keep them engaged.

- http://www.thehindu.com/society/buoyed-by-the-rich-haul-of-medals-at-a-recent-competition-in-jalandhar-a-national-champion-her-coach-along-with-other-students-and-supporters-of-silambattam-in-madurai-are-pushing-for-the-recognition-of-the-ancient-martial-art-as-a-/article22025101.ece, Dec 21, 2017

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HINDU ROOTS OF ARUNACHAL PRADESH

Archaeological explorations have established the presence of Hindu culture in Arunachal Pradesh. Concerted efforts are needed to historically evaluate the ancient history of the State Arunachal Pradesh, the abode of the sun god, has a long international boundary, which it shares with Bhutan on the west, China on the north and north-east and Myanmar on the south-east side. The history of Arunachal Pradesh goes back to hundreds of years in time into the mist of traditions and myths. The limited ethno-historical and ethno-archaeological works undertaken in the State hamper the reconstruction of the history and culture of the State in a strict chronological order. Although the history of pre-modern Arunachal Pradesh remains shrouded in mystery, the historiography of religion in the State is overwhelmed primarily with discussion on tribal religion and partially, on Buddhism. Historians have recorded the existence of the Hindu culture and religious motifs in the State from the times of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata (c 500-400 BC). Puranic literatures strengthen this evidence as well. The Lohit River, which feeds into the Parshuram Kund, was known as Lauhitya in Puranic times. Various places in Arunachal Pradesh find mention in the Hindu epics. Kalika Purana describes upper Lohit valley as prabhu kutar and Subansiri valley as prabhu parbat. The present ruins of Bhismaknagar near Sadiya are said to represent the palace of King Bhismaka, alluded to in the Bhagavata Purana. Two copper plates with Sanskrit inscriptions have been discovered from the copper temple near Bhismaknagar. Various tribes of Arunachal Pradesh, such as the Karbi, consider themselves as the descendants of Bali and Sugriva (from Ramayana).

The Tiwas are proud of being the descendants of Devi Sita. The Mishmis trace their ancestry to the legendary king Bhismak and through him to his daughter Rukmini and Lord Krishna. The presence of Shaivism influence with phallic worship in the sub-hills bordering the Brahamaputra valley and remote areas of Tawang is also evident. During the 19th century, British administrators and scholars recorded oral history of various tribes and also explored Bhismaknagar, Tameshwari temple, Bhalukpong, Rukmini nagar, Ita fort among others. The archaeological section of the Directorate of Research in the State conducted excavations and explorations towards the later decades of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st century. A large Shiva Lingam was unearthed in Lohit district during excavations during 1965-67.

A series of excavations followed in Bhismaknagar, Malinithan, Vijaynagar, Rukmininagar and Naksa Parbat over the next decades. The inscriptions found at Tamresari temple and Bhismaknagar fort was written in Sanskrit, Assamese and Bengali script. One of the inscriptions is translated to 'Sri Sri Lakshmi Narayan Japa'. Parshuram Kund, located near Tezu in the Lohit district, has been visited by Hindu devotees since long. The legend described in the Kalika Purana of the eighth century mentions that Lord Parasurama washed off his sin of matricide by taking bath at this place. Bhismaknagar, located near Roing in the lower Dibang valley district, also finds mention in Kalika Purana. The place was ruled by King Bhismaka, father of Rukmini, wife of Lord Krishna. Malinithan is a complex of temple ruins located in the foothills of west Siang district.

Excavations conducted over the years have unearthed four separate temple bases and a large number of sculptures and idols of Hindu gods and goddesses. Well carved and decorated stone structures speak volumes about the glorious past of the temple complex. The place is associated with the legend of Lord Krishna who rested at this place with his wife Rukmini on their way back from Bhismaknagar as described in Kalika Purana. They were welcomed by Lord Shiva and his consort goddess Parvati with garlands and flowers. Lord Krishna addressed the goddess Parvati as 'Malini' and said that she would be worshipped at this place with this new name and the place has since become famous as Malinithan or the 'abode of Malini'. The temple complex dates back to ninth to 13th century AD and the influence of earlier period rulers of Assam dating back to 700 to 950 AD cannot be ruled out. Directorate of Research has extensively studied and recorded these excavations. Many sculptures/stone structures are either lying in the open or are preserved in the site museum, including temple parts, idols of gods/deities, rishis and sages, gandharvas, apasaras and other human and animal figures. The presiding deity of the temple is Durga (Malini).

The present image of the goddess was reconstructed from broken pieces found during the excavation. Besides Durga, idols of Nandi, Indra, Surya, Brahama, Ganesha, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Varaha, Radha, Krishna, Shiva Linga and numerous other stone figures can be seen in the temple complex. Akashiganga, located near Malinithan, is considered as one of the 51 sacred shakti peethas associated with the legend of goddess Parvati. The legend says that the head of the sati had fallen at this place. Malinithan and Akashiganga draw huge number of pilgrims and tourists from different parts of the country. The latest surface discovery in the State is that of the tallest Shiva Linga in the world at Ziro in the Lower Subansiri district. The miraculous discovery of Shiva Linga happened in the holy month of Shravan in the year 2004 in the deep forest.

It is believed that the appearance of the Linga at this place finds mention in chapter 17 of Rudra Khand of the Shiva Purana. The natural rock mass Shiva Linga is 25 feet high and 22 feet in circumference. A constant stream of water flows beneath the Linga which is surrounded by other members of the Shiva parivar. The trunk of Lord Ganesha is in the front side while the goddess Parvati and Lord Kartikeya are on the back side in the form of smaller Lingas. Sources have reported unearthing and discovery of idols and images of Hindu gods and goddesses in the fields and at various construction sites in the State. Some of the idols have been installed in the newly-built temples while local people worship the others at their homes. Archeological evidence corroborates the mythological legends and beliefs prevalent over the centuries.

The 'Nehruvian policy' in post-independent India encouraged various tribes in the State to grow as per their own genius and tradition overlooking the danger of complete annihilation of the existing cultural ethos. Subsequent decades witnessed intensive studies of various ethnic groups/tribes by the historians and scholars to the extent of projecting tribal religion as the only authentic form of religion in Arunachal Pradesh. However, archaeological evidence and explorationsin in the recent past have established the presence of Hindu religion in Arunachal Pradesh dating back to many centuries. Concerted efforts are needed to historically evaluate and appropriately integrate these findings to reconstitute the ancient history of the State. (The writer is a doctor with deep interest in the history and culture of India and is author of, 'Arunachal Pradesh- Rediscovering Hinduism in the Himalayas')

- http://www.dailypioneer.com/columnists/oped/hindu-roots-of-arunachal-pradesh.html, Dec 21, 2017

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Central govt sanctions over Rs 15 crore for Warangal Fort revival under HRIDAY scheme

The amount has been sanctioned under the Ministry's National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY). The scheme aims to preserve the heritage city to reflect its unique character by encouraging an aesthetically appealing, accessible, informative and secured environment.

Warangal is a city in south-eastern India and the administrative headquarters of Warangal district in the state of Telangana. One of the key attractions of this architecturally and culturally rich city is the Warangal Fort, an impressive fort constructed in 13th century by Kakatiyas and famous for its beautiful carved four 'Kirthi Stambhas" facing the four cardinal points.

- https://indiablooms.com/travel-details/N/647/central-govt-sanctions-over-rs-15-crore-for-warangal-fort-revival-under-hriday-scheme.html, Dec 22, 2017

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Mesmerizing Meghalaya Of The North East

An amazing mix of tradition­al and modern lifestyles is found in the state of Megha­laya, also known as the 'Abode of Clouds'. This is one of the eight states that make-up the North East India re­gion diversely multi-cultural, multi ethnic and multi religious. It also claims a great scenic beauty with undulating rivers, waterfalls, sparkling mountain streams, emer­ald green lakes, gorges, precipitous ravines and panoramic views from higher altitudes.

Exploring Meghalaya
It has seven districts with Shillong as its capital, situated at an altitude of 1496 meters and is frequently visited by globe trotters including India's domestic tourists. The climatic phenomenon brings torrential rainfall to this region, but Shillong is a hill station with a picturesque setting and salubrious climate all year round situated at an altitude of 1496 metres above sea level, sitting pretty in the lush folds of the eastern Himalayas. One of the iconic skywalk build­ings in the city is the Don Bosco Museum (Centre for Indigenous Culture) in Mawlai dubbed as the largest cultural museum in Asia as far as NE India culture is con­cerned. History, galleries, weapons, at­tire and amazing collections are at home at the world class seven-sto­rey museum showing cultural ar­tefacts from the eight states of NE India under one roof. It was opened in 2010 as a premier academic insti­tution. Director Father Manoj Churuliyil, said, "every visit to DBCIC should result in increased cultural intel­ligence and cultural transforma­tion." "We hope that DBCIC will pro­vide an ongoing education so that it becomes a powerful catalyst for strengthening the bonds that unites people."

Remarkable sight-seeing
There is huge sight-seeing destina­tions in this part of India that will definitely blow minds away. This includes the Umiam Lake (Barapani), which is popular for wa­ter sports activities where families visit for picnic or travel on boats to the other island to be all alone from the rest of the world. Cherapunjee (Sohra) is dubbed as the wettest place on Earth. It is home to the Arwah-Lumshynna Cave in Pdeng Shnong which lies on the slope of U Lum Lawshynna Hill approximately one kilometre in length and adorned with different types of carving and formation of stalactite and fossils that stood the test of time. Interestingly a stream runs through the cave from the begin­ning till the end, making it feel like a walk in a stream. The height is very high and the breadth is very wide, but it gets nar­rower and narrower as we move fur­ther. The trek towards the cave, has a majestic viewpoint, from where we can see the beautiful Wahkaba Falls. Nohkalikai Falls (5km from Sohra) dubbed as one of the tallest water falls in Asia – impressively – beau­tiful water gushing down from the top of the gorge to the mystical deep green pool below that is asso­ciated with a legend. There are heaps of Living Root Bridge in this state where we visited one at Dorbar, Shnong. Mawkyrnot is testimony of man's ingenuity. Bridges can be found at the foot of the mountain plains where the lo­cals coax nearby trees to grow into natural bridges from their ability to keep on growing, bearing and shredding leaves as the seasons un­fold. River rafting can be done at the river valley Eco Park in Shnong Pdeng where we travelled on a wooden canoe from one side to the other over the crystal clear river enjoying a hearty lunch on a dried banana bark. For rural/eco-tourism the Mawphlang Sacred Grove, adjacent to the Khasi Heritage village is the best preserved forest. "This has been in existence for over 800 years and it is connected to the other forests as well," said McDuff Blah, 28. Mr Blah was our tour guide in the forest. "The community does protect these forests and considers that deities lived here where sacrifices were hosted," he said. Near Dawki an international bor­der between India and Bangladesh exists, that's a tourism sightseeing area as well.

Annual festival
The group witnessed the Nong­krem Dance, still practised during an annual thanksgiving festival held at Smit in the second week of December. It is a unique traditional festi­val of the Khasis (one of the three tribes in the state) displaying piped music, drum beats and dancers in­termingling with ritualistic cer­emonies. Prince Habapan Sing Syiem, doc­tor by profession took us inside the Ing Sad (chiefly residence) which was constructed in 1928 by Olim Sing Syiem, King of Hima Khyrim. "It was built entirely of stone, wood, bamboo, and covered by thatched grass without using any steel or iron or even nails. This shows our traditional carpentry passed on from generation," he said. His uncle is the King of the tribe and dwells in the Ing Sad, during the festival they clear the inside of the residence for locals to enter and view the building. Large architectural wonders, mon­uments and parks are also found in this state. Meanwhile, there are many re­sorts being built to cater for the up­coming demand of tourists in this part of the world, which includes the Baemari Resort and Jive Resort.
Edited by Percy Kean

- https://fijisun.com.fj/2017/12/22/mesmerizing-meghalaya-of-the-north-east/, Dec 22, 2017

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State seeks INTACH?help to restore ‘Khajuraho of Rajasthan’

Rajasthan tourism department has asked Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH)?to furnish it with a detailed report of restoration work of the ancient dilapidated structure of Bhand Deora Shiva temple of Baran, also known as ‘Khajuraho of Rajasthan’. Convener of INTACH, Baran, Jitendra Kumar Sharma said that the temple, constructed around 1,000 years back, has already faced the wrath of natural calamities and may collapse anytime, if not conserved. INTACH is collaborating with State Archaeology department, tourism department and State government to undertake the work.

"INTACH has also proposed technical assistance for the restoration work," said Sharma. “INTACH has sought permission from the state department of Archaeology and Museum (A&M) for the preparation of detailed report on Bhand Deora. It is a protected monument of State Department of Archaeology and Museum and INTACH is yet to receive an NOC”, said Sharma. Sharma added that Rs 7 crore was set aside for restoration work in 2011 but the funds lapsed when the contractor failed to continue with the work. No restoration work has been done since. Deputy director, state department of Archaeology and Museum, Virendra Kaviya said, “State department of Archaeology and Museum along with Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) will be carrying out the restoration of Bhand Deora”. Tourism promoter, Abdul Haneef Zaidi said that the Bhand Deora Shiv temple was constructed by a ruler from Malwa, Malaya Verma in 11th century. It has several erotic sculptures and carvings resembling the famous Khajuraho Temples of Madhya Pradesh

- http://www.hindustantimes.com/jaipur/state-seeks-intach-help-to-restore-khajuraho-of-rajasthan/story-DOKMbnR2tbAsAx0Or1scxM.html, Dec 26, 2017

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Intach furious as firm ruins Pondy heritage building

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) has expressed serious concern over the reported demolition of a heritage warehouse building in the Union territory of Puducherry by a private firm to host a New Year eve party on December 31. Intach coordinator Ashok Panda in a letter addressed to Puducherry planning authority (PPA) member secretary dated December 20 said the heritage building has been demolished from the rear side. He questioned whether the PPA had accorded permission to the Chamber de Commerce, which manages the property, to demolish portions of the heritage structure to hold the New Year bash.

"Suitable action should be initiated to rebuild the demolished portions," Panda pleaded to the PPA. He also submitted photographs of demolished portions of the heritage structure. Outlining the significance, Panda said the warehouse has been listed as 'grade II B' heritage building. "In our opinion demolition of these structures should not be allowed. These warehouses are an important part of Pondicherry's history," he said while furnishing complete information on the history of the heritage structures. Intach sought the PPA to direct the Chamber de Commerce to restore these buildings to their original state and put them to use. "We can have trade fairs in these halls. It will be more in line with the historic character of the town. There are many examples of such adaptive reuse," he said. The forest and wildlife officials, who inspected the venue after complaints of tree felling, observed that rain trees have been chopped and transported and declared that tree felling and transporting without permission is an offence as per the 'Pondicherry timber transit rule, 1983'. Chamber de Commerce president K A Shenbakarajan said the venue has been leased out to an event management firm for holding the New Year event.

He maintained that the firm had cleaned the overgrown bushes and cleaned the entrance and exit points of the venue, which was not utilized for several years. "They have not demolished any portion of the building. The officials from the concerned department visited the spot and made an assessment. There were several tenants in the building who had been directed by the court to vacate the place. The tenants, irked by the court order, might have launched a false propaganda," said Shenbakarajan. A senior citizen residing near the venue said the event management firm, which has been selling tickets for New Year party for people above 16 years, serves liquor and has announced binge drinking contest for the participants.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/puducherry/intach-furious-as-firm-ruins-pondy-heritage-building/articleshow/62226069.cms?, Dec 26, 2017

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Gateway beautification project delayed

The beautification of the Gateway of India has been further delayed as the Standing Committee of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s has decided to sanction the work only after visiting the premises. Standing Committee Chairman Ramesh Korgaonkar said the beautification project was sanctioned in 2007 at Rs. 4.99 crore. It has now been raised to Rs. 6.29 crore. The work was to be completed within six months, excluding the monsoon. New amendments.

According to the BMC proposal INTACH, which was commissioned as an consultant for the project, introduced new amendments to the original plan. It decided to build an underground tank to water the lawns, add Malad stones for stairs leading up to Chhatrapati Shivaji statue, set up a plaza, a police chowky and a facility to supply electricity for the functions. Even after 80% work was completed, the consultant made further changes. The consultant has increased his charges from Rs. 38 lakh to Rs. 50 lakh and sought approval.

Rakhee Jadhav, Nationalist Congress Party leader, has demanded action against officials. Ashish Chemburkar, Shiv Sena corporator, said wrong advice by consultants delayed the project. He questioned the need for consultants when civic engineers could have executed the project. Sanjay Ghadi, Sena leader, said the entrance gate has been lying damaged for long. The leaders said that the ongoing work was shoddy. Makarand Narvekar, corporator of Colaba, said less than 90% of new lights were functioning and stone slabs were damaged. Mr. Korgaonkar said a decision on whether or not to go ahead with the proposal will be taken after a visit to Gateway of India.

- http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-miscellaneous/tp-others/gateway-beautification-project-delayed/article22269811.ece, Dec 26, 2017

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As church bells peal, sounds of history echo in air

The spirit for revelry and celebrations pervades the air as churches get set to usher in Christmas. Some of these churches, which are among the oldest, are full of rich tales. Tucked in the midst of Sarojini Devi Road is the Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption, popular as St Mary's Church. The church, which celebrated its 175th year in 2016, is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and was built to honour her as the Queen of Heaven and Earth. Formerly called the Cathedral of Archdiocese of Hyderabad, it ceased to be a cathedral in 1886. It was awarded the minor Basilica decree in November 2008.

The church has a statue of Blessed Virigin Mary, made of a single piece of pine wood. A typical example of Gothic architecture, the church has an arresting facade, curved arches and domineering tall tower crested by a crucifix. Among the other church that boasts of a rich history is the 157-year-old All Saints' Church. A classic representation of fine Gothic architecture, it was built in 1860 to serve the British Army officers in Secunderabad cantonment. Initially a Garrison Church controlled by the Army Chaplains, it was passed on to the Church of South India (CSI) after independence. Located opposite Military Hospital in Trimulgherry, the church has a pipe organ believed to be the biggest in the state. The interiors include the tiled roof laid with teak ceiling, stained glass window depicting Christ carrying his Cross and 15-feet tall massive doors. With less than 24 hours to go for Christmas, another church that will reverberate with sounds of bells and carols is St John the Baptist Church. It was built in 1813 for the British Forces stationed at Lancer's Line. Presently under the auspices of CSI, the church serves a large congregation of Anglicans in Secunderabad. Designed in cruciform shape, it has Rangoon teakwood ceiling depicting the Tuscan architecture.

The church, which also houses a rare pipe organ, was awarded with INTACH Heritage Award in 1998. Another big draw is Wesley Church, located in front of the clock tower in Secunderabad. Unlike other churches, it doesn't have the tradition of holding the midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Instead, the Christmas worship starts at 5am on December 25. The church is believed to have been formed in 1916. Pastorate Steward said, "William Burgess, a British Methodist missionary from Madras along with the Indian Evangelist Benjamin Wesley and Benjamin Pratt, laid the foundation of the church in Secunderabad." Known to be among the oldest in Secunderabad, Garrison Wesley Church whose foundation was laid in 1853 and was completed in 1881. The church was meant only for British personnel.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/as-church-bells-peal-sounds-of-history-echo-in-air/articleshow/62227370.cms, Dec 26, 2017

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10th century sculptures discovered

In a survey conducted by noted archaeologist in the state, Dr E Sivanagi Reddy, sculptures belonging to 10th century AD have been discovered in Krishna district. The survey was conducted under the Preserve Heritage for Posterity scheme launched by The Cultural Centre of Vijayawada & Amaravati (CCVA). Based on information received from villages of Korlagunta in Agiripalli Mandal, Krishna District, Reddy examined the sculptures.

Sculptures of Mahishasura Mardini, Chandi, Chamundi, Nandi, and Dwarapalika surfaced from these sculptures can be dated back to the Vengi Chalukyan period (10th century AD). They have lot of historical significance in terms of art and iconography, as Goddess Durga is depicted standing on the head of buffalo demon.

This sculpture has Chola influence. Reddy sensitized the villagers on the archaeological significance of the sculptures, and the need to protect them. He also appealed to the department of archaeology and museums to take care of these Sculptures, and safeguard them. Golla Narayana Rao, secretary, Andhra Arts Academy, Dr. Venna Vallabha Rao, recipient of Kendra Sahithya Academy Award, and Dr Gumma Samba Siva Rao, vice-principal of Andhra Loyola College participated in the survey, said Sivanagi Reddy.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vijayawada/10th-century-sculptures-discovered/articleshow/62226168.cms, Dec 26, 2017

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HERITAGE QUIZ AT MAULANA AZAD CENTRAL LIBRARY

To test the knowledge of the school children about country’s heritage, a heritage quiz is organised at Maulana Azad Central Library here on Sunday. It is to be noted that the quiz is organized every year by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, with the aim of introducing schoolchildren to the country's cultural heritage. A total of 48 teams participated in this quiz organized at 11 o'clock this morning. Sikandar Malik, founder of the famous Heritage Activist and Bhopal Heritage Walk, was a quiz master of the quiz. Madan Mohan Upadhyaya, the former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh and the convenor of Intech Bhopal, was the chief guest in the program. The quiz started with a screening round in which all the 48 teams faced 20 questions, out of which nine questions were answered correctly, the Delhi Public School team topped it in this round. The final quiz was held between the selected four teams from the screening round, in which 4 rounds were organized. In the first round, there were questions on the major historical sites of Bhopal, and in the second round, students were asked to identify them with the clue about the historical figures of the state.

In the third round, some pictures of Bhopal's 100-year-old buildings and streets were shown to the participants and were asked about the event related to it. The quiz culminated with the Rational History round in which each team had to make a choice of a city and then that team was asked questions from that respective city. Showcasing a wonderful performance at the contest, the first prize was bagged by Chinmay Jain and Hardik Pathak from Delhi Public School, second prize was won by Saurabh Kumar and Anshul Mishra of Xavier's School and the third prize was bagged by Khushi Yadav and Ayushi Singh of St. Joseph's Convent.

- http://www.dailypioneer.com/state-editions/bhopal/heritage-quiz-at-maulana-azad-central-library.html, Dec 26, 2017

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150-yr old dispensary in old city to be preserved, DC promises conservation

Chief Minster’s Grievance Cell on Tuesday took cognisance of proposed demolition of 150-year-old dispensary, constructed by Maharaja Ranbir Singh in 1865, in old city without the knowledge of the department of archives, archaeology and museums, and the health department. The report about the dispensary was carried by Kashmir Reader. Following the cognisance of CM’s grievance cell Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Syed Abid Rasheed Shah, along with the officials of the Roads and Buildings (R&B), Archives, Archaeology & Museums, and the Health departments visited the site to know the status of the depilated building. Two members of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) constituted by the Deputy Commissioner to sketched the building. Shah, in his surprise visit, ordered INTACH to finish the sketching process in a week based on the previous architect of the building constructed by Maharaja Ranbir Singh.

“INTACH will sketch the design of the building within a week. The outer design of the building shall remain same in order to preserve the architecture of the building,” Shah directed INTACH members in presence of the members of Beopaar Mandal of Maharaj Gunj, adding, “You (INTACH) will submit the designs to R&B department so that they execute the revival work.” The reconstructed dispensary would serve a ten bed health centre for the residents of downtown. The building was declared unsafe after 2014 floods by R&B Department and the dispensary was made functional in makeshift tin-rooms in a local park nearby. Earlier during officials of Archives, Archaeology & Museums and INTACH team visited the site and requested the local residents to halt the demolition, but local residents did not allow them to stop knocking down of the heritage building. Local residents, due to miscommunication, lead to the apprehension that government might not reconstruct the 150 year old dispensary but will preserve the depilated structure that lead to the exchange of heating arguments with INTACH members.

However, the deputy commissioner informed the people that government was not going to stop the construction but will reconstruct it. “It is my dream that the project gets completed in my tenure as the District Magistrate of Srinagar as I want to inaugurate the heritage health centre as I have grown here in downtown,” he told them adding, “I’m ready to give my blood to you people and it is my word.” Shah then conducted the meeting with the Beopaar Mandal to know the status of the area and business. He informed Nazir Ahmad Shah, Chairman Beopaar Mandal Maharaj Gunj that there was a gap between government authorities and the residents of the old city. “I’m here to bridge that gap so that the area witnesses development,” he said. The DC said the district administration was keen on offering all possible support to the old city and called on the representatives to help bridge the gap between them and the administration. Shah also visited the surrounding areas of this historic centre of trade in Srinagar. The visit was highly appreciated by the locals who assured the DC of offering their full support to the administration for the development of the area.

- https://kashmirreader.com/2017/12/27/150-yr-old-dispensary-in-old-city-to-be-preserved-dc-promises-conservation/, Dec 27, 2017

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Bengal’s folk-art museum faces closure

Gurusaday Museum at Joka, the finest and biggest folk-art museum in Asia, faces an imminent closure. The Union ministry of textile has suddenly "revoked" the financial assistance, the museum's only source of sustenance. The museum, which has exquisite artefacts and crafts from Bengal and across rural India, is already witnessing huge losses due to the absence of conservation work. "Most of the artefacts in our museum have no second edition available anywhere the world. The decay and losses are irreversible," said Dr Bijan Kumar Mandal, executive secretary of the museum. It is now an uphill task for the museum to arrange a tiny sum of Rs 2 lakh for carrying out basic minimum conservation of artefacts, which, thanks to their organic elements, are prone to degradation.

The letter dated November 29 — "revoking financial assistance to the museum" — came as a shocker for the museum. Written by the deputy director (H) MPrabhakaran from the office of the development commissioner (handicraft) of the ministry of textile, the letter summarily revoked the agreement signed between the development commissioner (H) and president of Bengal Bratachari in 1984. "This means the museum will not receive fund any further," said Sachindrnath Bhattacharya, former board of trustee (BoT) member of Indian museum and former head of the department of Museology, Calcutta University. Bhattacharya said that the ministry of textile wrongly construed the museum as a 'private body'.

But the museum was constituted by the President of India under the ministry of textile way back in 1984. "I have seen the ministry had sanctioned Rs 41 lakh in the last financial year, which is a peanut for sustenance of a museum," said Bhattacharya. But the agreement clearly says the ministry of textile will "give all financial assistance to carry on day-to-day work of the museum, payment of the staff salary, development and maintenance of the museum, purchase of equipment". The museum was built with personal scollection of Sir Gurusaday Dutt (1882-1941), a top bureaucrat of British India, who single-handedly spearheaded the movement for preservation of Bengal's folk-traditions and folk-culture. "The 3300 exhibits reflects the vigour and vitality of the rural life, numerous social traditions, religious beliefs, practices and motifs, aesthetics assimilation and cultural influences in Bengal," said S S Biswas, former director general of National Museum. The letter from the ministry urged the society to look for sustainable revenue model. Despite several attempts, none from development commissioner's office or ministry of textile could be contacted.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/bengals-folk-art-museum-faces-closure/articleshow/62261091.cms, Dec 27, 2017

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Visit These Places in Delhi to Remember Mirza Ghalib on His 220th Birth Anniversary

On this day 220 years ago, Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan was born in Kala Mahal, Agra to a family that descended from Aibak Turks in Samarkand. Most of us know him as Mirza Ghalib or simply Ghalib, a prominent Persian and Urdu language poet in the waning years of the Mughal Empire. In a time when the British were overtaking the country and the sun was setting on the Mughals, Ghalib made his mark as the last great poet of a great chapter in Indian history. Google has celebrated his birth anniversary with a doodle, and we are doing the same by shining light on three places within Delhi dedicated to Ghalib and his legacy. The Ghalib Museum is part of a larger cultural institution founded in 1969 in honor of the 19th century poet, the Ghalib Academy. The academy includes a calligraphy training center, art gallery, research library and a museum dedicated to Ghalib himself. Here, you can find his clothes and pictures of his homes over the years, along with coins and seals that date back to the later Mughal era, when Ghalib lived. You’ll also find paintings by eminent artists like Anis Farooqui and MF Hussain.

Located next to the Ghalib Academy, the mausoleum of Mirza Ghalib is placed in the vicinity of the Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah. The tomb itself is rather small, especially when compared to the mausoleums of other royal court members in the region. There is a small courtyard around the grave, and a tablet with engravings of Ghalib’s words at its entrance. The grave lies within a small but beautiful marble structure, and there are a few other graves around the courtyard as well, said to be that of other members from Ghalib’s family. Humayun’s Tomb lies within walking distance from the mausoleum and museum.

Finally, away in Ballimaran, Old Delhi, the final residence of Mirza Ghalib is now a heritage site and a museum. It is called Ghalib ki Haveli, and it lies in Gali Qasim Jan. The structure of the house and its layout are a reminder of the opulence of the Mughal days. Ghalib’s couplets have been hung on the side walls, and the memorial inside features objects associated with the poet and the times in which he lived. It has his handwritten poets and books, a life-sized replica of Ghalib in the attire and lifestyle he would have had at the time, and a sculpture by Bhagwan Rampure. NOW READ: Mario Miranda: Google doodle pays tribute to the legendary Indian cartoonist. Mirza Ghalib lived as a poet, a royal tutor and a royal historian in the court of the Mughals. He was granted the title Dabir-ul-Mulk for his contributions, but his prose and poetry was fully recognized and honored only after his death.

- http://www.india.com/travel/articles/visit-these-places-in-delhi-to-remember-mirza-ghalib-on-his-220th-birth-anniversary/, Dec 27, 2017

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A village where every home is an artist’s studio

Even as India is gearing up to make its cities smart, Raghurajpur, in Odisha’s Puri district already boasts of a village that has a ‘smart’ tag attached to it. Referred to as the ‘heritage village’, this unique village occupies a prominent position in the cultural map of the country, drawing both national and international tourists who visit the place to enjoy the rich traditions of Odishi arts and crafts at one place. Raghurajpur provides a glimpse into the world where Pattachitra — the traditional art of painting and carving — is the preferred profession of most families residing here. More than 500 members of the total 145 families are engaged in one craft or the other. Some of them are winners of National Awards. About 50 km away from Bhubaneswar, Raghurajpur is situated on the southern bank of River Bhargavi, on National Highway 203. The entrance to the village is marked prominently by a signboard flanked by lion sculptures on either side. Surrounded by coconut, palm and mango groves, the scenic beauty of the entire stretch adds to the charm, making it one of its kind tourist destination of the country. The houses are built in two symmetrical rows facing each other and a series of small temples dedicated to local deities occupy the lane between the homes. Keeping alive the vibrant art and crafts, the skilled villagers have decorated the outer walls of their modest houses by painting them in varied hues including parrot green, bright blue, saturated orange and deep ochre.

These are decorated with murals of mythological scenes from the Hindu scriptures — the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Some adorn variety of pattachitra paintings, etchings and figurines. Bhaskar Mohapatra, who has practised the art since childhood, says, “I was only four-year-old when I began taking interest in painting. I was very naughty and would not attend school. Instead, I hovered around my father and grandfather while they painted. Seeing no way out, at the age of 10, I was sent to receive training in the traditional art of pattachitra from shilpi guru Jagannath Mohapatra during the 1980s.” Bhaskar came into the limelight when Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose to gift his pattachitra painting entitled Tree of Life to French president Francois Hollande during his visit to France in 2015. Bhaskar proudly declares, “For us, pattachitra is not merely a profession but a way of life."

A Lalit Kala Akademi award-winning artist, he has won many accolades for his expertise in palm leaf painting, commonly known as pattachitra in Odisha. His compositions are also created on paper, cloth and canvas. Giving an insight into the Tree of Life, he said, “It was done using pigments on silk. I was overwhelmed when I found out from a national television channel that [the] prime minister had chosen my painting to gift to the French president. In fact, I had completed this pattachitra in 2014. Tourists and art lovers from France and Belgium had come to our village with a local contact searching for me. They had bought some of my paintings and requested me to draw the Tree of Life. I painted it with multiple roots and branches, much like a banyan tree. The tree is a motif for benevolence. Usually, pattachitra artworks are created using tribal and traditional painting styles.

I included a lot of motifs and drew it in a manner that made it look like a tree.” The choice made by the prime minister from among hundreds of different varieties of traditional art forms that exist in the country itself speaks for the uniqueness of pattachitra. Going into the nuances of this art, Bhaskar explained that pattachitra is a combination of two words patta and chitra. In local parlance, patta means canvas or cloth and chitra means picture — meaning painting on canvas. Scholars suggest that pattachitra dates back to the 2nd century BCE to the mural art found inside Khandagiri and Udayagiri caves of Bhubaneshwar and in the Ganjam district of Odisha. It is said that the modern day version of pattachitra dates back to the time of construction of Lord Jagannath Temple in 12th century AD and it grew hand-in-hand with the worship of the Hindu deity Lord Jagannath (Lord of the Universe), whose temples abound in the state’s Puri district. The themes depicted in pattachitra are mostly mythological, religious stories and folklore. While there are other centres of patta paintings in Odisha, the patta painters, known as chitrakars, have made Raghurajpur the most famous for this unique art. “Unlike other Indian villages where youth prefer government or private jobs, our children prefer to join elders in artwork. My family has been involved in this art form for five generations. The fifth generation includes my daughters, who are interested both in pattachitra and tribal paintings. As for myself, other than pattachitra, I do not have any other interest or option to earn a living,” Bhaskar says. Having produced some of the finest artworks, he provided a glimpse into the techniques and procedures.

"The specially prepared cloth is coated with a mixture of gum and chalk and polished before applying natural colours to it. The preparation of canvas for painting involves binding two layers of cotton fabric with a gum prepared from tamarind seeds and thereafter coating it with a white paste made of a powdered limestone and tamarind seeds. This is done to make it stone hard, so that it does not crack. Once it gets dried, the cloth is polished to make it smooth and perfect for painting. The painter sketches the bare outlines of the painting with charcoal or limestone. This is usually done from memory, though decorative motifs like borders and certain geometric forms are copied from pre-cut stencils to save time,” he detailed. The colours used — white, black, red, yellow, blue and green — are prepared from natural ingredients. White is prepared from powder of conch-shell, black from the soot of oil lamps, red from geru (red oxide stone), yellow from harital stone, blue from indigo and green from leaves. These apart, the leaves of plants, flower petals, fruits, ground rocks and even the urine of domesticated animals contribute to the production of a variety of shades and hues. To ensure fastness of colours, natural gum of a fruit called kaitha is mixed with the colours along with water in coconut shells while painting. For mass production though, artists now use chemical-based dyes and paints.

“However, these do not last long, whereas natural colours can look fresh even after 500 years! The painting may fade, but the colours stay the same,” explains Bhaskar, who has travelled to the US, the UK and several Indian states to take part in exhibitions. In earlier times, pattachitra was restricted to temple premises. Artists would line up on either side of the Jagannath temple and paint on the spot. By evening they would sell their paintings that solely comprised mythological subjects. But over the years, themes changed. Village atmosphere, jungle scenes and other designs took over and pattachitra began to be displayed on the walls of living rooms and became a collectors’ item. The difference in paintings then and now has also undergone a sea change. Buyers now ask for works that are intricately done. So works that could earlier be accomplished in a day or two, now take weeks to be completed, another artist says.

Devdutt, 36, has been in the profession for three decades. Like many others in the village, he too began painting as a child. “I was fascinated by the paintings but was able to make sense of the works only after I completed my training. Presently, I run a school that provides training to young boys and girls who become accomplished artists, earning and supporting their families.” Impressed by the work of artisans, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) had selected Raghurajpur village to revive the ancient wall painting in 2000. With intervention from other such arts and cultural organisations, the skills of artists and artisans got a boost. And as more artists bagged awards and accolades, officials said, it not only improved the economic standards of the villagers, but efforts were also made to link them to wider markets in India and abroad. As part of the development initiatives, the state government planned to design doors of every house and improve sanitation and other facilities in the village. However, Devdutt says, “Despite claims made by the government agencies, most of us are yet to see any change. Since there has been no monetary gain, our living conditions remain pathetic. Instead of just promising schemes for the benefit of the artists, the government needs to send emissaries to focus on ground realities and promote the works of those dedicated to the art, rather than people who are bent upon making money by selling their art.” Janaki and Babita are among scores of students who attend workshops held by Devdutt.

Apart from drawing on canvas, the two are keen on producing designs on sarees. “We get orders for four to five sarees a month and that helps us add to the family income,” Babita says. There are also those, like 26-year-old Deepti whose father is a farmer. “I was keen on studies and began painting seriously only after completing graduation. Seeing most of my friends involved in pattachitra, my interest grew. Today, I am able to interact directly with customers and that has increased the sale of my paintings. I have decided to continue with this art even after I get married.” Such enthusiasm has added to Raghurajpur becoming a place where every villager is an artist and every house an artist’s studio. It is the first village which has been developed as part of the rural tourism promotion project. Each house has a dedicated front room that serves as a studio-cum-exhibition space and both parents and children feel proud to display their works. All pattachitra artists follow a similar technique and a similar method of drawing and decoration. But just as no two people’s handwriting is the same, each artist comes up with a product that has its own distinct style. While some focus only on two colours (black and white), others make multi-coloured designs that are much in vogue. There is an informal division of work as the entire family is engaged in shouldering some of the responsibilities related to paintings. Earlier, women prepared the canvas, boiled the gum and powdered the stones and men worked on the paintings.

But as times changed, both men and women became all-rounders, putting their artistic skills on display. While some artists including Biswanath Swain and Laxmidhar Subudhi proudly put on view the national awards bagged by them for their workmanship, there do exist others who feel that like most Indian folk arts, pattachitra is seeing fewer practitioners. “Unlike us, young people do not have the patience to sit for hours and work painstakingly. So, chitrakars like us prefer to send their children out for education. Later, it is up to them to either take up a job or pursue the family’s art tradition,” Bijoy remarked. Still, as tourists frequent the village, and sales have been rising, many young girls and women are now training to learn the art of pattachitra, with a considerable number coming from outside the village. Raghurajpur is also famous for crafts other than pattachitra. Those not involved in this art form produce different varieties of handicrafts including palm leaf engravings. The illustrations are executed on the oblong palm leaf. The pictures are etched in black with cutouts. When these are done for a manuscript, they are bound together with a thread, passing just through the middle of the leaves. Another form is to join the leaves with the help of the thread to form a rectangular or square format.

Other interesting items include stone and wood carvings and delicate brushwork on tussar silk. The stories are numerous and ubiquitous, revealed in colourfully painted coconuts, papier-mache toys, masks and painted boxes. Possessing unique beauty and charm, they add colour to Raghurajpur’s lustre. Nilima Pathak is a journalist based in New Delhi.

- http://gulfnews.com/culture/arts/a-village-where-every-home-is-an-artist-s-studio-1.2147764, Dec 28, 2017

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Murshidabad can teach the rest of India how to restore heritage and market the past

In the eighteenth century, it accounted for 5% of the world’s gross domestic product. Legendary for its opulence and Nawabi culture, it was once renowned for fine muslin, ivory carvings, silk, trade and banking opportunities, and rich agricultural produce. A city on the banks of the Bhagirathi River, Murshidabad was also the capital of Bengal province (which included Bihar and Orissa) in 1704. This is just some of the history that the Resurgence Festival 2017 – which was held on December 6-7 – aims to share, as part of an ongoing and sustained effort by the Murshidabad Heritage Development Society to restore the rich, diverse heritage and culture of Murshidabad, which was also known as Gour in ancient times.

A rich and chequered past
The city’s great wealth attracted bankers and merchants from India and beyond as it was the one of the richest of the Mughal subahs. The community of Oswal Jains from Rajasthan was especially prominent for the great fortunes they accumulated as bankers. Also known as Sheherwali Jains, they lived in magnificent homes in the twin-towns of Azimganj and Jiaganj, upriver from Murshidabad. Perhaps the most well-known from this community is the Jagat Seth family, considered among the wealthiest in northern India. They were bankers and financiers to the administrators, merchants and traders, the nawabs and nobility as well as to the British, French, Armenian and Dutch. They financed Murshid Quli Khan, the first nawab of Bengal, and the successive nawabs as well as the English East India Company.

In fact, Jagat Seth was considered a co-conspirator of Major General Robert Clive, commander-in-chief of British India, in his successful plan to defeat Nawab Siraj ud Daula, the last independent nawab of Bengal. The Seth family had accumulated their vast fortune through controlling the mint and through their moneylending activities. When the East India Company was victorious in the Battle of Plassey, the Seths emerged as the major power in the region. Mir Jafar, who also conspired with Clive, was made the ruler of Bengal with the support of East India Company support. And unfortunately, several members of the Jagat Seth family were beheaded in 1763. While the family continued to stay in their palatial mansion on the river bank in Mahimapur, a century later, the entire house was devoured by the changing course of the river. Only a few rooms of the house and a temple have survived.

The Murshidabad Heritage Society, composed of a group with their roots in the region, is dedicated to reviving the region’s past glory through restoration, conservation and educational outreach to promote heritage and spiritual tourism. It engages with conservation partners around the world to learn how best to maintain the architectural heritage, and since 2010, has been holding a two-day festival each winter to showcase heritage sites and conduct heritage seminars. Several of the homes in the Jain area of Azimganj are being restored, and one of these is what remains of the Nowlakha Bhavan, a house owned by the Heritage Society member Sandip Nowlakha. Some other homes, such as the Bari Kothi, belonging to Sudip and Darshan Dudhoria, were opened to visitors wishing to explore the area. Several festival events were held at their residence. The Azimganj Rajbati, with a wonderful river view and retaining its authenticity, was probably the most beautiful of the stately Sheherwali homes. It is a private residence maintained by Sidharth and Sangeeta Dudhoria, and while it is open to their personal guests, it is closed to the public. Azimganj and Jiaganj are also home to some 14 Jain temples, including the Chintamani Parshwanath temple and Neminath temple. And there still remain a few well-maintained lime stone and mortar and terracotta temples that were built by Rani Bhabani from the royal family of Natore.

The Panchanan Shiva temple, also called the Bhavianisvar temple, is still in good condition, and you can still see a unique black stone lingam in the inner sanctum that has five heads of Shiva carved into it. The Char Bangla temple complex is in good condition, too. Here, four temples, three of terracotta tiles, enclose a small courtyard. Each of them is richly decorated and draws on themes from Hindu epics and the Puranas. Both were built in the 1750s or 1760s.

Witnesses to history
Murshidabad is home to the well-known and much-visited Hazarduari palace and museum. It took 12 years to build and was completed by 1838 during the reign of Nawab Nazim Humayun Jah. Of the 1,000 doors, 100 are fake and were built to confuse potential enemies. The palace was primarily used to stage durbars and to conduct official work between the British and the Nawabs, and it also housed senior British officers. Within the palace is a museum with an impressive array of items – antiques, paintings, documents and furniture belonging to the family of the Nawab of Murshidabad. The Kathgola palace, which belongs to the Doogar family, another notable Sheherwali family, is opened for tours and the temple, expansive grounds, house and furnishings have been restored. It is a popular attraction.

On the same side of the river is the Raj Bari at Cossimbazaar. The Roy zamindari family has restored much of their sprawling and stately palace and opened a guesthouse for visitors and a museum with furniture, documents and artifacts belonging to their family. During this festival, they welcomed guests to the palace after 60 years. School children from the community performed songs and dances, a tour of the restored bari was conducted and a wonderful Bengali lunch was organised on their grounds.

A cosmopolitan city
Though not included in this heritage tour, the Armenian Church and the Dutch cemetery both recall the cosmopolitan past of Murshidabad. There were several important Armenian traders in Cossimbazar and a royal order passed in 1655 by Aurangzeb granted them land. The church, built in 1758 by Khojah Petrus Arathoon, was made in memory of his parents. The last service was conducted in 1860 and then it was closed for almost a century. Surrounded by high walls and a sprawling compound, the church has been wonderfully restored by the Church Committee of the Armenian Church of Holy Nazareth of Calcutta. It built a new bell tower in 2006, the 1455th year of the Armenian era.

The Dutch factory, located in Kalakpur, was established in 1666 and employed 700 to 800 men. While there are no remains of the factory, the cemetery has 43 graves dating from 1721-1792. The Katra Masjid, which is also the tomb of Nawab Murshid Quli Khan, built in 1723, is impressive even in ruins. The 1897 earthquake destroyed some of the impressive domes that covered the mosque. The main hall is now open to the sky, like an open courtyard. Cells that housed the Koran readers surround the mosque. Two of the imposing minars remaining on the corners of the masjid complex still stand 70 feet high and 25 feet in diameter.

- https://scroll.in/magazine/862281/murshidabad-can-teach-the-rest-of-india-a-lot-on-how-to-restore-heritage-and-market-the-past, Dec 28, 2017

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Sahapedia invites entries for online film festival

It is good news for filmmakers, amateur or professional, as they can now send in their works which, if chosen, will be screened at an upcoming film festival in February next year. Organised by Sahapedia, an online encyclopedia on Indian art and culture, in partnership with YES Bank, the film screenings will be hosted as part of the India Heritage Walk Festival (IHWF). The films, selected by a jury comprising of notable practitioners of arts and culture including renowned dancer and former CBFC head Leela Samson, will also be showcased on Sahapedias YouTube channel. "To reach out to the audience who cannot attend the festival physically, we are also organising the online film festival. This will both engage the audience from different regions and bring in the diversity that we are hoping for," Vaibhav Chauhan, Secretary, Sahapedia, said.

Besides the film festival, IHWF, a month-long and multi- city event, aims to introduce people to the tangible and intangible culture and heritage of their cities. With host of heritage walks, baithaks (talks), workshops, exhibitions and instameets lined up, it will focus on diverse aspects such as architecture, food, heritage, crafts, nature, and art that make up the cultural fabric of the country. PTI CORR TRS TRS

- http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/sahapedia-invites-entries-for-online-film-festival/1/1119417.html, Dec 28, 2017

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Bead workshop found at Haryana’s Harappan site

indings at the pre-Harappan archaeological excavation site in Kunal have pointed to the existence of a steatite bead-making workshop at the location, and support the theory that this was an early trading centre with skilled artisans and outside links possibly stretching to as far as Mesopotamia in West Asia. Scores of beads were found at the excavation site earlier this year. Kunal is a pre-Harappan or early Harappan site, and is said to the oldest site so far found in Haryana. “Earlier, it was believed that the manufactured beads were brought to Kunal from other places but now we have enough evidences including discovery of an article probably used for modifications of the raw mineral which suggest that these were manufactured here,” said Dr BR Mani, Director General of the National Museum while speaking to The Indian Express. According to Mani, the beads found from Kunal site belong to 3,000 BC to 2,500 BC. The excavation of the ancient site at Kunal was conducted jointly by Haryana Archaeology Department, Indian Archaeological Society, New Delhi and the National Museum, New Delhi during from February to April. “The study suggests that Kunal was a Centre of trade during the era having probable trade links up to West Asia also. The raw material for the said workshop or industry was brought to Kunal most probably from Rajasthan.

It is possible that the manufactured beads were transported to other parts during that era,” said an official of the Haryana Archaeology Department. A dig in the 1990s had yielded a copper smelting zone. The metal is believed to have come from Khetri in Rajasthan, the nearest place with copper deposits. On the basis of the findings of the Haryana archaeologists, National Museum and Indian Archaeological Society, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has given the go ahead for another phase of the excavation at Kunal village for the season of 2017-18. During the excavation carried out in February to April this year, large number of micro beads were found which is evidence of very skilled manpower during this era of civilization. The archaeologists believe that raw material for beads came from present day Rajasthan and Gujarat.”Steatite beads of different colours and some of them with hair-size thickness were also found. Evidence of copper smelting zone was already found here.

Minerals like copper, gold and even silver, material for bead such as carnelians, agate, jasper, lapislazuli were believed to be brought from other states. We have found amazing paintings and designs on ceramics,” said an archaeologist associated with the study. “Shell rings have already been discovered. During the old times, sophisticated or high class people opted for precious stones, carnelians, agate, jasper, lapislazuli while the common man might have used terracotta ornaments, including its bangles,” added the archaeologist. The experts are also trying to understand food habits of the people and environment during the oldest era of the civilization in this region. Preliminary study has suggested that people of the era had even brought a water channel to this region which had low density flow of the water. “It was a fertile area. We have found evidences of multi cropping like of rice, ragi and oat here,” said an archeologist.

- http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/bead-harappa-excavation-haryanas-5003019/, Dec 28, 2017

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ASI FOURTH EXCAVATION ON IN PURANA QUILA

In its quest to find out ‘latest spotting connection to the historical settlement’, the Archaeological survey of India (ASI) carried out its fourth consecutive excavation in Purana Quila on Wednesday. The fourth excavation is progressing well in the ramparts of the site. Earlier, ASI had carried out three excavations at purana qila in 1954-55,1969 to 1973 and its findings and artifacts are exhibited at the Archaeological Museum, Purana Qila.

Taking to The Pioneer, Site Superintending Engineer, Vasant kumar Swarnkar said “We are doing this excavation to find some historical evidence which are important in archaeology point of view, adding, “The work will be moving on for two or three months. The public will be allowed to view the site. Some precious coins and antiquities had discovered during the excavations,” ASI officer said. Explaining about findings, the officials said that Painted grey ware, dating 1500 BC, and various objects and pottery signifying continuous habitation from Maurya to Shunga, Kushana, Gupta, Rajput, Sultanates and Mughal periods were the major findings from the three excavations.” said, “A ring well of 4.4 meters below the earth was also discovered in the last excavation, he added. The engineer also said that since quila is one of the oldest there is still unrevealed tales behind it.

Its present form was built by Sher Shah Suri, the founder of the Sur Empire. Sher Shah raised the citadel of Purana Quila with an extensive city-area sprawling around it. According to historians, it is believed that the Purana Quila was still incomplete at Sher Shah's death in 1545, and was perhaps completed by his Islam Shah although it is not certain which parts were built by whom. “It may be noted that Purana Quila attracts thousands of visitor every day. Number of visitors are increasing day by day in this beautiful place, the excavation taking now will surely increase the heartfelt connection to this place, that history still alive” said Shivnath Yadav, the in charge of sound and light show conducted by India Tourism Development Cooperation (ITDC). Purana Quila is the venue for the spectacular sound and light show held every evening in capital, Yadav said.

- http://www.dailypioneer.com/city/asi-fourth-excavation-on-in-purana-quila.html, Dec 28, 2017

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Archaeological finds map life and times of ancient Tamils

If the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) discovery of the remains of the Sangam era at Keezhadi in Sivagangai district in Tamil Nadu that could perhaps rival the Mohenja-Daro, place the state on the global civilisation map, 2017 also saw the American archaeologists - though vindicating the age-old belief of Hindus that Lord Ram had built the bridge in Rameswaram - make the state a treasure house of archaeological findings. Also, the year saw the Tamil Nadu archaeology department unearth about 13,000 artefacts at Azhagankulam (Ramanathapuram district) clearly pointing out to the Sangam age site.

Although it had previously received little attention, archaeological excavations in the past few months focused on discovering the grandeur of the past, and the rich finds help to map the life and times of the ancient Tamils. The state archaeology department, which completed the eighth season of excavation at Azhagankulam in September unearthed about 13,000 artefacts and found evidence to show that the site could date back to Sangam age. The antiquities and vestiges obtained from the site include ivory objects, semi-precious stone beads, copper coins, silver punch-marked coins, carnelian, quartz and crystals, and they throw light on the lifestyle and socio-cultural activities of the ancient Tamils. The broken Roman amphora jars, Mediterranean pottery, embossed Roman potsherds, copper coins, Chinese Celadon ware, rouletted ware, black, red and grey potsherds and terracotta plates obtained from the site indicate that the coastal village once functioned as an important trading post between the Pandyas and the Romans. Like Keezhadi, this site too could date back to the Sangam age.

One of the biggest discoveries in the recent times is the Keezhadi excavation that points out to the ancient civilisation on the banks of Vaigai river. The carbon dating of charcoal found at the Keezhadi site in February 2017 established that this settlement belonged to 200 BC and the excavations proved urban civilisation had existed in TN since the Sangam age. The Union culture ministry had even announced that third phase excavation for a three year period would begin soon and sanctioned ` 40 lakh for the purpose. The ASI in 2013-14, carried out explorations at 293 sites along the Vaigai river valley in Theni, Dindigul, Madurai, Sivagangai and Ramanathapuram districts but Keezhadi in Sivagangai district was chosen for excavation. The artefacts unearthed by ASI in the second phase excavation at Pallichanthai Thidal of Keezhadi pointed to an ancient civilisation. Samples sent from Keezhadi have been identified as nearly 2,200-year-old. The remains of brick homes and a deep terracotta ring well with 13 steps - indicate overwhelming evidence of a very civilised society where urban planning mattered most. And as the year comes to an end, the most interesting conclusion on TN's rich 'living' heritage comes from the Science Channel, owned by Discovery Communications, which claims Ram Setu is not a natural formation but a man-made structure. Chelsea Rose, an American archaeologist, is seen saying: “The rocks on top of the sand actually pre-date the sand. So there is more to the story.”

- https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/281217/archaeological-finds-map-life-and-times-of-ancient-tamils.html, Dec 28, 2017

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Hoysala era inscription found in Jakkur

One of the researchers, Professor KR Narasimhan, reveals the Hoysala era inscription found in a garden of a private property in Jakkur. Four months into its research, a team of historians, archaeologists and epigraphists, which is on the job of uncovering inscriptions that define the rich history of Bengaluru, has found two inscriptions dating back to the Hoysala and Ganga-Rashtrakuta dynasties in the city. One of the researchers, Professor KR Narasimhan, reveals the Hoysala era inscription found in a garden of a private property in Jakkur talks about the grant of Jakkur village as a gift to the “nadasenabhova” or village administrator, Alala.

“This Hoysala period inscription dates back to 1342 AD and was mentioned in BL Rice’s book of epigraphy in 1905,” he explains, adding that it has been taken to the Byregowda Ranga Mantapa for safe- keeping. The 10th century Ganga-Rashtrakuta inscription found in the same garden of a private property at Jakkur is still being studied as it has not been mentioned in any of the books on epigraphy. It talks about a war without going into the details of it and mentions a ruler, Balavapatiraya, the professor discloses. Mr K Dhanapal, who is studying the inscriptions, reveals that the researchers have also found a part of a temple in Jakkur, which needs to be excavated and studied.

“Besides a section of a temple, we have found a sculpture at Jakkur that talks about the three stages of life. We will do an in-depth study of both soon,” he adds. Mr R Gopal, director of archaeology (museums), Archaeology Survey of India (ASI) , Mr Uday Kumar, a history buff, and villagers are also involved in the process of unearthing ancient inscriptions around the city that could tell its story from the pages of history.

- https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/291217/hoysala-era-inscription-found-in-jakkur.html, Dec 28, 2017

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WiFi connectivity for Shravanabelagola visitors by February

The tallest in the world at 58.8 in Shravanabelagola have been included in the list of model monuments of the country. Now that the ancient temples of Belur and the rock inscriptions and the monolitihic granite statue of Bahubali, the tallest in the world at 58.8 in Shravanabelagola have been included in the list of model monuments of the country by the Union Ministry of Culture under the Adarsh Samarak Yojana, these centre of tourism attraction could soon get better facilities, including Wi-Fi connectivity for visitors. Located about 50 kms from Hassan, Shravanabelagola is also home to the twin hills of Vindhyagiri and Chandragiri besides numerous bastis and stone inscriptions pertaining to Jainism. Belur, on the other hand, is famous for its temple of Lord Chennakeshava dating back to the Hoysala era, which is a major tourist attraction along with the Hoysaleshwara temple at Halebeedu, once the capital of the Hoysala dynasty.

With their monuments given the Adarsh Smarak tag, the two centres could soon have a cafeteria, better illumination, a sound and light show and an interpretation centre, according to Archaelogical Survey of India ( ASI) sources. Once the Centre approves the idea, work will begin on providing Wi-Fi connectivity at Shravanabelagola too and it could have it in time for the Mahamastakabhisheka of Bahubali in February, they reveal. Shravanabelagola has already been provided drinking water under the scheme and will soon have a cafeteria too, they add. Some of the other tourist sites that have received the Adarsh Smarak tag in the state include the World Heritage site of Hampi, Daria Daulat Bagh in Sriranagapatna, famous for Tipu Sultan’s summer palace, the World Heritage sites of Pattadakallu and Aihole and the monuments of Bidar.

- https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/291217/wi-fi-connectivity-for-shravanabelagola-visitors-by-february.html, Dec 28, 2017

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1,000-yr-old sculptures surfaced at Korlagunta

Under the scheme ‘Preserve Heritage for Posterity’, launched by the Cultural Centre of Vijayawada and Amaravati (CCVA), its CEO and archaeologist Dr E Sivanagi Reddy discovered a group of historical stone sculptures during a survey. Basing on the information received from the villages of Korlagunta in Agiripalli mandal, Krishna district, Dr Reddy examined the sculptures, Mahishasura Mardhini, Chandi, Chamundi, Nandi, Dwarapalika dated back to Vengi Chalukyan period (10th century AD). The sculptures bear a lot of historical significance in terms of art and iconography as the Goddess Durga is depicted standing on the head of buffalo demon.

Dr Sivanagi Reddy sensitised the villagers on the archaeological significance of the sculptures and the need to protect them for posterity. He also appealed to the department of archaeology and museums to take care of these sculptures and safeguard them. Golla Narayana Rao, secretary, Andhra Arts Academy, Dr Venna Vallabha Rao, recipient of Kendra Sahithya Academy award and Dr Gumma Samba Siva Rao, vice-principal, Andhra Loyola College participated in the survey, said Sivanagi Reddy.

- http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Andhra-Pradesh/2017-12-28/1000-yr-old-sculptures-surfaced-at-Korlagunta/348430, Dec 28, 2017

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Treasures of India: The Kailasha Temple in Ellora

This Republic Day, in the 70th year of our Independence, takes you on a Discovery of India as well known Indians highlight our great nation‘s finest treasures. Part 1: Architect Aman Nath, co-founder and chairman of the Neemrana hotels, which restores ruins and transforms them into heritage properties, briefs ‘s Archana Masih about what he treasures most. IMAGE: 400,000 tonnes were hand chipped over 800 years to carve the Kailash Temple in Ellora. The Kailasha Temple in Ellora is India‘s Treasure No 1. A whole temple is conceived from the peak of a mountain and carved downwards! 400,000 tons of stone hand chipped over some 800 years. You cannot imagine that human beings could have made it! It is unbelievable. Every detail is perfect. It is so unfortunate that this was desecrated by Islamic armies and the amazing elephant friezes lost their trunks and more. I went only once to the Kailash temple and the love affair began then. I walked 400 km to the Kailash mountain, which inspired this, apparently. There can‘t be a place like this on earth. We don‘t know about our own treasures because we are a colonised people. We are unable to break away from a colonised mindset because it is designed as a mouse trap — and colonised people become pygmies/mice on their own soil. We have lost the eyes to appreciate ourselves. Everything has to be fair and lovely; our buildings have to look like churches. Now colonies are being built in Gurgaon which look Spanish, or Egyptian. Why doesn‘t any colony look like Padmanabhapuram in Kerala? It is a great, great, treasure of India that nobody knows about. Then there is Bharmour near Chamba in Himachal Pradesh. I think it is the oldest wooden temple in the world.

When I reached there, I said ‘OH-MY-GOD!‘ If it was anywhere else, the world would have known about it. We suffer because of the ghar ki murgi factor and the colonising of a people stands their values and tastes on their head. Only those who are evolved or exposed enough to go the full cycle return fully integrated, to shed their complexes along the way. Others just get beaten and churned into becoming half baked. We are dying to be on the UNESCO list, why can‘t we be on our own list for a change? UNESCO has made a comprehensive list by now. But Nalanda, as the best university, just made it to the list! We lack a sense of history, and with that we lose stature in the world. Dumb people like Edwin Lutyens can ridicule our architecture, and even dumber people in government call an area in Delhi ‘Lutyens‘ Bungalow Zone‘ — where not even one bungalow is made by him (Edwin Lutyens, the British architect)! Aman Nath was the youngest founder member of Intach and the first to restore buildings which didn‘t belong to his family. He co-founded the Neemrana ‘non’ Hotels along with the late Francis Wacziarg, a Frenchman who took Indian citizenship. People flock to the Taj Mahal which is fabulous, but if the world knew what Ellora was, they wouldn‘t even look at the Taj Mahal. There should be compulsory Bharat Darshan for kids who are taken across the world to learn about the world war. They should be taken for some Indian grounding.

I was once lecturing 700 architecture students in Aurangabad. I was telling them why don‘t you 700 make a rock cut hotel and it will be the only one in the world. When they (the builders of Ellora) could do it, then why can‘t you not do it now? What is our intrinsic wealth? It is not about the Kohinoor or something physical. There are so many non tangible things. The reverence for a guru, a parent, a textbook which we put to our head when it falls — that and much more is what makes India the only continuously alive civilisation in the world.

- http://jacksonobserver.com/treasures-of-india-the-kailasha-temple-in-ellora/, Dec 29, 2017

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Govt to clean up 10 heritage places under Swachch Bharat

The government will carry out a drive to clean ten iconic places in the country, including Taj Mahal, Vaishno Devi temple and Ajmer Sharif, as part of a pilot project under the Swachh Bharat mission, said Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar. Under the Swachh Bharat Mission, it has been decided to undertake a special clean-up initiative focused on 100 iconic heritage, spiritual and cultural places in the country. The initiative has been undertaken under the guidance of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation will be the coordinating Ministry for this initiative, in association with the Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Tourism and the concerned State governments, said a government release. The aim of this initiative is to make these 100 places model ‘Swachh Tourist Destinations’, that will enhance the experience for visitors from India and abroad. The lessons and experiences from Phase 1 will be integrated into the clean-up campaign for the remaining 90 sites. Under Phase 1 of this initiative, the following iconic places have been selected for an intensive clean up:

1. Vaishno Devi (Jammu and Kashmir)
2. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Maharashtra)
3. Taj Mahal (Uttar Pradesh)
4. Tirupati Temple (Andhra Pradesh)
5. Golden Temple (Punjab)
6. Manikarnika Ghat (Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh)
7. Ajmer Sharif Dargah (Rajasthan)
8. Meenakshi Temple (Tamil Nadu)
9. Kamakhya Temple (Assam)
10. Jagannath Puri (Odisha)

- http://mirrornow.timesnownews.com/mirror-now/article/govt-to-clean-up-10-heritage-places-under-swachch-bharat/168683, Dec 29, 2017

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