Heritage Education in India

Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage

Youngintach Forum

Heritage Alerts
February 2019


Qutab Road: An Old Delhi route that took many to second homes

According to INTACH convenor Dr Swapna Liddle, before the creation of New Delhi in the 20th Century, this was part of a long and frequently plied road extending to Mehrauli. Around 15 km from the Qutub Complex in Mehrauli is a road in Old Delhi’s Sadar Bazar popularly known as Qutab Road, which was part of a stretch that once connected Shahjahanabad to Mehrauli. The old city of Shahjahanabad — the 17th Century Mughal capital under Emperor Shah Jahan — lies to the west of the present day Qutab Road. According to INTACH convenor Dr Swapna Liddle, before the creation of New Delhi in the 20th Century, this was part of a long and frequently plied road extending to Mehrauli, which was the rst capital of the Delhi Sultanate under the 13th Century Mamluk dynasty’s founder Qutb-ud-din Aibak. “After New Delhi came up, there was a slight change in the alignment of the road with the addition of Connaught Place. As it exists today, the road moves southwards and becomes Chelmsford Road. It meets at Connaught Place and moves down to Janpath and later Aurobindo Marg before eventually leading to the Qutub Complex,” said Dr Liddle. Historian Sohail Hashmi said that he remembers a time when Aurobindo Marg was also known as Qutab Marg. “When I was in college, some deep sewer work was carried out in central Delhi’s Shahjahan Road, which led to the discovery of a medieval road running parallel to it,” Hashmi said. He added that close to this medieval road, there probably owed a perennial stream — a tributary of the Yamuna — which owed through Lodhi Garden to where Dyal Singh College is currently located. According to Dr Liddle, while the route of the old road took on more modern names over the years like Chelmsford Road, Janpath and Aurobindo Marg, the section in Old Delhi continues to be popularly known as Qutab Road — even though its name too has ocially been changed to Babu Ram Solanki Marg. “This road would have seen a lot of trac until the 18th and 19th Centuries. A lot of people living in Old Delhi had second homes in Mehrauli, and they would move there during monsoon and when diseases would break out in the city,” she said.

- https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/qutab-road-an-old-delhi-route-that-took-many-to-second-homes-5563694, Feb 1, 2019

Flora Fountain to reopen soon as water leakages fixed

The iconic Flora Fountain in South Mumbai, which was shut down soon after it was unveiled last week due to water leakages, will reopen soon as the problem has been fixed, a civic official said Thursday. The heritage structure was unveiled last Thursday after completion of the restoration work. The senior official from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), who supervised restoration work of the Grade-I heritage structure, said the site was closed after leakages were found in its water troughs. "Our team immediately undertook the repair work. Now, the leakages have been fixed. The water supply system was very old and the valve was not properly fit into the system. But we have now installed a new plate, so there would be no leakages," he said. "The structure can be reopened soon, maybe by today evening or tomorrow morning," he said. The Flora Fountain currently receives water through a 200-mm pipeline that is quite old, the official noted. After its first phase of restoration work was completed, this 150-year-old structure was inaugurated on January 24 by Yuva Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray and Mumbai Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar. Civic officials said the second phase of the restoration work will take another few months to complete. The work to renovate the 153-year-old Gothic Revival architecture was given to the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) by the BMC in September 2016. However, the organisation had stopped the work towards the end of 2017 due to paucity of funds. The restoration work had resumed in March 2018. Flora Fountain is an ornamentally and exquisitely sculpted architectural heritage monument located in the Fort business district in South Mumbai. Built in 1864, the decorated structure is a fusion of water, architecture and sculpture depicting the Roman goddess Flora.

- https://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/flora-fountain-to-reopen-soon-as-water-leakages-fixed-119013100993_1.html, Feb 1, 2019

A rundown Kumbakonam college, where Ramanujan studied briefly, will get a makeover

Sunlight peeps through the latticed walls along the dark corridors of the chemistry lab. Bats flit about beneath the high ceiling of the physics lab. The plaster has peeled off the classroom walls, wooden beams are decaying, and the musty smell is overpowering. Wild vegetation grows all over the narrow corridors that connect rooms on either side of open courtyards. And I spot a large snake coiled on the debris of a partially collapsed roof. The eeriness of the abandoned building can’t stop me visualising what must have been among the most scenic college campuses in the mid-1800s, and one of the most reputed academic institutions of the Madras Presidency during the Raj. History and art are still infused in every corner of the ruins of the government college on the banks of the Cauvery in the temple town of Kumbakonam. There are old photographs and paintings that show students punting down from the other bank to attend classes. By 1943 they could cycle or walk across the narrow Aranmanai Rama Iyer wooden bridge. The bridge was pulled down in 2006 and replaced with a modern 75-metre long pedestrian bridge, but you can get a glimpse of the old bridge in the Tamil film Sethu.

Started as a school

The 22-acre campus was undoubtedly stunning in 1854 when it was established as a provincial school, with the river as picturesque backdrop. There is a quaint simplicity to the single-storey flat-roofed structures that go on for almost a kilometre along the river. An 1880 bell from C.S. Bell & Co, Hillsboro, Ohio, still rings every hour to beckon students to class in the new buildings constructed in 1975. Until the 1970s, the college had a canoe club that conducted the annual regatta. “The inter-college Thiruvaiyaru boat race competition was revived briefly in 1999 for three years. We still have six of the old canoes,” says A. Gunasekaran, controller of examinations. Tagore, Raman et al Through the sepia photos, old letters, journals and souvenirs, memoirs and stories handed down over generations orally, or penned by alumni, you get a sense of the institution’s history: Rabindranath Tagore visited in 1918, C.V. Raman in 1940; you learn that Srinivasa Ramanujan was offered a scholarship to study here after his headmaster introduced him as an outstanding student who deserved scores higher than the maximum. Ramanujan studied for a year between 1904 and 1905, but intent on mathematics, he failed in most other subjects, and lost the scholarship. “I tell every batch of students that I am a privileged junior of Ramanujan and so are they,” says the head of the maths department, K. Gunasekaran. The college has a list of prominent alumni, including the statesman Srinivasa Sastri, and the scholars Thyagaraja Chettiar and U.Ve. Swaminatha Iyer. With visible pride, Gunasekaran opens the lock to the classroom where Ramanujan attended maths classes more than a century ago. “You will find here stories that wow generations of students,” he says, as we remove our sandals and enter the dust-laden room. Long wooden benches with attached desks are propped up by elaborately carved iron legs. Sunlight pours in through a broken glass pane in the high ceiling. An explosion of weeds knocks against two large, locked windows. In fact, uncontrolled vegetation has colonised most empty spaces and even burst through the roof and ceilings dislodging frames and creating cracks in columns and walls.

River view

“You can imagine how the students sitting in these classrooms would have had a magnificent view of the river through these windows,” says R. S. Sundararajan, the head of physics department and the man who played Ramanujan’s father in a Tamil biopic on the genius. “This institution has produced great scholars and it will be a tribute to all of them if we are able to restore the college to its old glory,” he says. Founded by Dewan Bahadur R. Raghunatha Rao in a mansion donated by the senior Rani of Tanjore of the time, the school first taught English to the children of the rich. Nicknamed ‘Cambridge of South India’, it introduced undergraduate courses in physics, chemistry, maths, geography in 1864. At that time, there were only four other colleges in South India: Madras Christian College, St. Joseph’s College, Trichinopoly; Presidency College, Madras, and Noble College Masulipatnam. More than a hundred years later, new buildings were added to make room for more departments. The entire college shifted to the new campus. In 2016 the renovation project was set rolling when INTACH (Kodaikanal) member Girija Viraraghavan visited. “My grandfather D.S. Sarma taught here in the early 1900s. Three years ago I visited the place with my brother and found it in a shambles,” she says. A team of heritage restoration architects joined Sakthi Murugan of Intach (Tanjore) to study the extent of damage and submitted a preliminary report in December 2017 based on which the State government sanctioned ?16 crore. Last December a detailed project report was finalised, paving the way for the Public Works Department to invite quotations for the restoration work. Says Chennai INTACH co-convener Tara Murali: “People need to understand that restoration does not mean just breaking and rebuilding. It means understanding the building, the purpose it served during a different time period, retrieving the artisanal work, and traditional building materials. We hope the PWD upholds this spirit and restores it for adaptive use.” It is not easy to patch up a building that’s more than 100 years old. There’s still a long way to go, but a piece of history has for the moment been saved from being lost for ever.

- https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/a-rundown-kumbakonam-college-where-ramanujan-studied-briefly-will-get-a-makeover/article26151560.ece, Feb 4, 2019

A heritage walk through the Madras High Court

Its tree-lined squares and red-brick buildings have witnessed many important moments in Indian legal history. Yet, the 127-year-old Madras High Court complex remains a relatively unexplored part of the city. Designed by JW Brassington, then consulting architect to the Government, its grand Indo-Saracenic structure was completed by Henry Irwin in 1892. Home to two of the city’s early lighthouses, one a Doric column of Pallavaram granite, the other atop a dome on the main building fuelled by kerosene and visible 32 miles out at sea, the complex’s turreted magnificence was what many first saw of Madras when they came in by masula boats from the bay. The sturdy gates that guard the complex were opened to a group of nearly 200 heritage enthusiasts who were part of a walk led by Sujatha Shankar, convenor, INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage), Chennai chapter, and NL Rajah, senior advocate and author of books on Law and the history of the Madras High Court. The talk began at the High Court Museum, a first floor of a modern building chock-a-block with colonial exhibits and handwritten oaths of allegiance. Rajah’s hour-long talk, laced with humour, wove its way through the founding of the Madras High Court by a Victorian charter in 1862, move from a decentralised to a centralised justice system under the British, contributions of Sir Thomas Strange, first Chief Justice of the Madras Presidency, and how no plaque but only a grainy black-and-white photograph of legal luminaries, a bishop, and bureaucrats marked the inauguration of the High Court, whose jurisdiction then extended to what is now Odisha. Rajah said that in its 157-year history the Court has seen more years under the British than it has under independent India and how this continues to influence its traditions. He highlighted interesting cases such as the Lakshmikanthan murder case which led to celluloid heroes NS Krishnan and MK Thyagaraja Bhagvathar spending time in prison, work of legal luminaries such as T Muthuswami Iyer and PV Rajamannar, and the contribution of lawyers-turned-freedom fighters — VL Ethiraj, VO Chidambaram and C Rajagopalachari. The visiting group included was a curious mix of students of architecture, furiously sketching the cusps and domes, law students, children and descendants of architect Irwin; T Namberumal Chetty, the contractor who executed the buildings; and Raja T Rama Rao, the first vakil to be enrolled in the Madras High Court. Photographs of the three were unveiled in a room adjacent to the model courtroom. The talk then wound its way outdoors, past cannonball and silk cotton trees, and polite CISF staff who man the campus, to the front of the main building where Sujatha took over. Interspersed with bird calls and the whoosh of trains that run past Beach Station opposite it, Sujatha drew attention to the minarets and domes with a relief of snakes, stone brackets and exquisite stained glass, chamfered bricks, metal and stone fretwork, and floral reliefs that make it a curious amalgam of Mughal, Hindu, and Gothic traditions. The arches, some of them covered with khus khus thatties, call for a longer, closer look at their sheer variety. The corridors of the three-storeyed building stand beyond the Sheriff’s gate, beautifully hinged into the stone and once opened to showcase pageantry. The Madras High Court also has the distinction of surviving two World Wars — during the First, it was bombed by the German ship SS Emden (a plaque on the compound wall commemorates this) and escaped unscathed, and during the Second, the bombs dropped by the Japanese did no damage. Past the statue of Bashyam Iyengar “who died in his robes as he wished”, the group then visited the office of the Bar Association with its glass cabinets of leather-bound books. It moved on past beautiful Minton tiles and the portrait gallery to a court room with its engraved cardboard ceiling and intriguing trap door set in the floor through which the accused made his appearance. Finally, the group climbed the spiral staircase, arriving breathless at the dome that overlooks the campus. The copper finials with their patina lance into a cloudless sky. Across the road stands Chennai Port, its cranes and steel framework dotting the skyline. Further, the Bay of Bengal glints in the sun; from its foam-peaked waves, the Madras High Court would’ve once seemed like a scene from the Arabian Nights.

- https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/a-heritage-walk-through-the-madras-high-court/article26174840.ece, Feb 5, 2019

Another pre-Harappan site ruins found in Kutch

After two weeks of excavation, archaeologists have found remains of another pre-Harappan site that strongly indicates a thriving human settlement in Kutch. A team of archaeologists from Kutch University and Kerala University unearthed the site near Nani Khatia village in Lakhpat taluka, around 102 km from Bhuj. The area of excavation spans around five square km. Archaeologists say the structure found suggests a cemetery and the stones strongly indicate the presence of over 100 burial sites in the area. “This settlement existed at the same time when Dholavira, the most prominent Indus Valley Civilization site, was thriving,” said Subhash Bhandari, head of Department of Archaeology, Kutch University. “We have found pottery shards, beads and broken bangles also at this site. In Dholavira, these items were placed beside the dead bodies before burial. We believe that there are more than 100 burial sites in the area and now we will dig 10 to 15 trenches for further excavation,” said Bhandari. The possibility of a human settlement has got stronger as there is a river flowing nearby. The archaeologists have also found some bricks and some other items which are being analysed to ascertain their era. The departments of archaeology of both universities had initiated a preliminary survey of the area in 2016 using differential geographic positioning system (DGPS) and drone to get details of the geomorphology and topography of the area. “We learnt that in ancient times, round stones were placed around the burial site. Since we found such stones, it lends further credence to the possibility of finding a burial site here,” Bhandari added..

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/rajkot/archaeologists-find-remains-of-another-pre-harappan-site-in-kutch/articleshow/67858503.cms, Feb 6, 2019

Who is Backward? NagaTribe’s 100% Biodegradable Festival Has Lessons For All of Us by Rinchen Norbu Wangchuk

The Mon district, which lies in the northernmost reaches of Nagaland bordering Myanmar, is home to the Konyak Nagas. This is a tribe whose members once adorned distinctive facial tattoos and were feared for their practice of headhunting—decapitating members of rival tribes. “The Konyak belief was that the skull of a person has all the soul force of that being. This soul force is strongly affiliated with prosperity and fertility and is used for the benefit of the village, personal life, and crops,” explains Phejin Konyak, in a book titled ‘The Konyaks: Last of the Tattooed Headhunters.’ All that began to change in the 1870s with the arrival of British missionaries. By 1935, the British banned headhunting and began actively discouraging their ancient customs and traditions. Eventually, by the 1960s, even their distinctive tattooing practices began to fade away. Today, Mon is considered to be one of the most “backward” districts in India with infrastructure in a pitiable state and connectivity concerns galore. If the Konyaks can serve a sumptuous feast to hundreds without generating any non-biodegradable waste, then why can’t we? Yes, in the conventional sense of the word, the district is “backward”—poor infrastructure, connectivity and literacy levels below 60%. However, Vrinda Shukla, the Sub-Divisional Police Officer, stationed in Mon district for the past year, has a rather distinctive story to tell about the Konyak Nagas after witnessing ‘Lao-ong Mo,’ a significant festival celebrated after the completion of harvest. It is traditionally observed by every Konyak household around late September. In a recent column for The Indian Express, the IPS officer articulated why the Konyak Nagas have questioned her ideas of ‘modernity’ and ‘progress.’ Typically, all societies, tribal or otherwise, have two festivals a year pertaining to the sowing of the crops and harvesting. For the Konyak Nagas, Aoling (Aoleang Monyu) is a festival held in the first week of April, when the rice crop is planted. The festival celebrates the arrival of spring, and the people pray for a good outcome of the upcoming harvest. ‘Lao-ong Mo’ is celebrated after the completion of harvest. “Every family celebrates it on their own scale, but the festival I attended was conducted at the district headquarters by the Women’s Union and Konyak Students’ Union. This was a massive district-wide celebration of the festival,” says Vrinda, in a conversation with The Better India. “At this particular feast, I got to see and taste things I had never seen before. There were at least ten different forms of rice—all of them different in colour and texture. Similarly, I had the chance to partake in various kinds of millets in different shades— red, yellow and greenish,” she adds. Mon is very famous for its yams. It produces the best yams in all of Nagaland, according to her. “The organisers there made this absolutely delicious yam curry with an array of different meats in it. This is the speciality that goes with rice and millets. All sorts of fresh leaves are steamed and eaten. You will also nd vegetables like pumpkin, squash, and other meat-related items made of beef. It’s a very colourful cuisine,” she says. Remarkably, Vrinda describes the festivities she partook as 100% biodegradable. Even the extensive decorations set up were 100% plastic free. They only use bamboo and fresh produce for the decoration. “It was stunning and breathtaking. We eat with the hands there, so there is very little question of cutlery, but they did have these trays that were made of bamboo. So, they were just like shallow plates. They use fresh green leaves extensively for packing and lining the plates. They were beautifully lined. You barely had to upturn the tray into a large waste bin made of bamboo. The waste fell into the bin as a neat little packet with all the waste food secured inside, without any of it dirtying the tray, and without the cleaner having to touch any leftovers. The trays were being collected for sunning and reuse,” said Vrinda. She also mentioned that the plates were made of bamboo, and the cups were carved out of bamboo stems. Barely any tissue paper was used because fresh water is freely available. “Moreover, they have a wonderful mechanism of setting up piped water supply. They create various outlets for washing hands. That entire piped system is also made of bamboo,” she adds. Speaking to the members of the Women’s Union, Vrinda found out that the attempt is to make their harvest festivals 100% biodegradable in memory of their ancestors who lived off the earth. With the conclusion of the feast, Vrinda scanned the entire premises, and found that there wasn’t a single trace of any refuse, leaving her to reconfigure her notions of what constituted ‘backwardness.’ What she did witness was a real sensitivity among the Konyaks to their environment marked by a pattern of consumption that generates very little waste. As per Konyak tradition, an anti-oxidant healthy black tea called Phiku is served after the feast concludes. “There is some version of this tea served by every tribe, but the difference lies in their intensity. In Western Nagaland, a milder version is consumed, whereas the Konyaks drink a very stiff version of this tea which is quite bitter. The Konyaks call it ‘Phika’ while in some parts it’s called ‘Lalcha.’ There is no concept of dessert among these tribes. Drinking Phika is a huge part of the culture, and they have it after nearly every meal. It is an acquired taste for outsiders. I have come to love it very much. In fact, in my office, I serve Phika to everyone,” chuckles Vrinda. So, what are the fundamental lessons learnt from witnessing the Konyaks celebrating Lao-ong Mo? “Formal education and an abundance of resources are not necessary to have the right kind of sensitivity towards the environment. People from mainland India ought to internalise the attitude. If these people have the kind of access to resources, infrastructure and connectivity that the rest of the country does possess, there’s no saying where they would be. Shortage of resources and the lack of connectivity don’t stand in the way of that sensitivity,” she says. The Konyak Nagas certainly have a thing or two to teach urban communities in India, who are having trouble managing the unnecessary and excess nonbiodegradable waste they generate Abiding by their traditional practices, the members of this tribal community have shown that festivals can be celebrated without generating any non-biodegradable waste. Thus, in some ways, they have subverted the notion of “backwardness” often attached to them. So, the next time you host a party or get together, remember the costs you’re inflicting on the environment and figure out a way to make it a more sustainable affair. If the Konyaks can do it, why can’t you?

- https://www.thebetterindia.com/171698/nagaland-zero-waste-konyak-mon-ips-festival/, Feb 6, 2019

A Mughal-era sarai, contested history and murmurs of a curse

A small detour from the main road between Naurangpur and Tauru road leads to a nondescript village called Sarai, which derives its name from a Mughal-era resthouse or sarai; its antiquity can be traced back through an inscription on the gateway. As the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway cuts through Naurangpur, some 20 kilometres from the heart of Gurugram, one lands at a maze of under-construction buildings that are fast sprouting across the skyline of South Haryana. Products of rampant construction, these buildings punctuate the roads on both sides — some frozen with partially completed structures, some waiting to be sold, and others with their absentee flat owners. Cranes dangle in the air even as dust bellows from the mounds of construction material dumped on the ground floors of these buildings. Skirting the northern foothills of the Aravalli mountain range, these buildings make way for the sun-kissed mustard fields as one heads toward Tauru in Nuh (erstwhile Mewat). The landscape changes and animal herders can be seen leading their cattle into the fields that flank both sides of the road from Naurangpur to Tauru road. The trail is largely innocuous and is unlikely to attract any spectacular attention. However, it’s from here that a small detour off the main road leads one to a nondescript village called Sarai — which is imbued in history but whose past has largely been forgotten. The village Sarai derives its name from a Mughal-era Sarai Mirza that has existed here for the past 323 years. The village, in fact, seems to have grown around the sarai. Centuries ago, sarais used to serve as temporary halting stations for civilians as well as the troops. “A sarai is a historic wayside inn or halting station where travellers would rest at the end of a day’s journey. They can be found all across the country, along major movement corridors. Sarais were used both by common people as well as transiting army troops. Emperors and rich landlords got them constructed,” said Swapna Liddle, author-historian and convener of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Delhi.

Sarai Mirza

A vortex of streets - interspersed with hookah-smoking men at every few metres - leads to the Sarai Mirza, the presence of which is signalled by a towering arched gateway, which casts its shadow over the houses in the vicinity. The antiquity of the Sarai Mirza can be traced back through a valuable inscription - surprisingly in a fairly good condition - that has managed to survive all these years. The inscription is placed on the grand entrance gateway of the Sarai Mirza whose alcoves are now a busy hideout for pigeons. The survival of the inscription for over three centuries is enough to indicate the prowess of the constructor and the structure. The inscription — penned in classical Persian on a marble slate — mentions its year of construction as 1696 CE, according to experts. Siddique Ahmed Meo, community historian and author of books on Mewat’s history, visited Sarai Mirza a few years ago, took a picture of the inscription and got it translated with the help of a renowned Persian expert. “The inscription reads: During the reign of Badshah Alamgir Ghazi Mahiuddin, Mohammad Lashkari son of Khan Feroz (may his legacy survive in Mewat) acting out of generosity, wisdom, and justice laid the foundation of the sarai Lashakarbad in the year 1107 (hijri) (sic),” Meo maintained. “The title of Alamgir was bestowed on Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. His army would pass through the region while going to Jaipur. It is likely that Sarai Mirza came up as a place of halt for the army. Later, as time progressed and population multiplied, more humans must have started settling around the Sarai Mirza. In a way, the village came up gradually in the vicinity of the sarai,” he said. A careful exploration of the area reveals that the portion of the village that has newer houses was once a part of the Sarai Mirza premises and reeks of Mughal architecture. A mosque from the same time period can also be located opposite. The mosque, which shows traces of red and blue, is now used as living quarters and a shelter house for buffaloes. “This mosque is as old as the Sarai Mirza but we don’t know who got it made. Some say that a king by the name of Alamgir got it constructed,” said an old woman, who lives next to the mosque. Today, Sarai Mirza, too, can easily pass off as a large storehouse of cow dung cakes, or even an animal shelter house. A cursory glance across Sarai Mirza, in all possible directions, reveals only one thing — mounds and mounds of cow dung cakes. Plastered on the ground, the walls, and within the alcoves and arches, they are to be found everywhere. One could wander within Sarai Mirza, get lost, and yet come back to find a wall of cow dung cakes in the vicinity. Occasionally, one can also spot women within Sarai Mirza, at different corners, dumping cow dung cakes or leading cows back into their shelters. They negotiate their ways amid these mounds of cow dung cakes that spill over every nook and corner. “Many Muslims used to reside here before the Partition of the country. However, only Meo Muslims continued to live here after the Partition,” said Rajindar Bhadana, as she collected cow dung cakes from her family’s portion of the Sarai Mirza. “The entire expanse is used like a collective village area where different families use the area for keeping their cattle, and storing cow dung cakes,” she said.

‘A curse’

Some locals occasionally call it by the name of qila (fort), a usage that possibly stems from the vast expanse. One can also spot a handful of houses within the premises of Sarai Mirza. However, none of them are inhabited by humans — a fact best explained by a belief that gained strong currency in the region over the past few years. Locals believe that if humans start using the space within Sarai Mirza as a residential property, they would be cursed. “Anyone who dares to live within Sarai Mirza invites a curse and misfortune. Our ancestors had started living here, but soon after moving in, there were a series of deaths in our family. In another case, a person fell off the terrace of his house and died. No one lives here at night. The few houses that have been constructed are used for storing cattle fodder,” said Deshraj Bhadana, a resident. Some people also believe the famous Dilli gate at Farrukhnagar was once a part of Sarai Mirza, and was dislodged by the warring king of Farrukhnagar who took away the gate as a souvenir. “We have heard from our ancestors that the huge wooden gate in Farrukhnagar was originally a part of Sarai Mirza in our village. The king of Farrukhnagar and Badshah Alamgir had locked horns in a battle and, Alamgir had to bite the dust. The king of Farrukhnagar got the gate removed and took it away as a prized memento of his victory,” added Bhadana. This information could not be verified since there is no mention of the monument in the Haryana State Gazetteer, and historians had little information about it. Spread over more than 10 acres of area, Sarai Mirza demonstrates Mughal architecture with Rajput influence. “It has traditional cusped arches which are often called Shahjahani arches.this style was prevalent in northern region in areas like Rajasthan and Haryana during the Mughal period. The Shahjahani arches, especially, came around towards the 17th century,” said Shikha Jain, convener, INTACH, Haryana chapter. Sarai Mirza, which, at one point, was the halting point for Mughal armies, now stands desolate. While the outer façade of the haveli is intact, the structure is in desperate need of repairs. Locals said that there was potential that the structure could be developed as a tourist area. “It would be good if the place is converted into a playground or a place for people to visit. Right now, it looks like an animal shelter and is a complete mess. There is potential for the area to be developed into a good tourist spot. We also have two hotels in close proximity,” said Deshraj Bhadana. However, with multiple stakeholders of the property, many were sceptical about any such plan becoming a reality. “If the department of archaeology or any other agency puts pressure on the villagers to vacate the premises of Sarai Mirza or remove their animal shelters, they’ll approach politicians. Eventually, nothing will come out of the whole exercise. Sarai Mirza will continue to stand as it stands today—an animal shelter and storehouse of cow dung cakes. However, it will be better for all if one makes efforts towards repairing the monument. It is a part of our history, after all,” said Budhran Bhadana, 65, a former sarpanch of the village. Officials from the state Department of Archaeology and Museums said that the monument was not listed but the department was aware about its presence. “The structure is spread over a large area — roughly 10 acres — but it is completely encroached. There are some major and minor cracks in the structure. The structure is among those monuments which were discovered during a survey in 2017. The department is aware about its presence but there are no immediate plans of taking it under protection. It’s on the list of unlisted monuments,” said Banani Bhattacharyya, deputy director of the Department of Archaeology & Museums.

- https://www.hindustantimes.com/gurugram/a-mughal-era-sarai-contested-history-and-murmurs-of-a-curse/story-OcHDyq13LFNCDvMf1AcczO.html, Feb 7, 2019

Archaeologists discover pre-Harappan site ruins in Kutch

The archaeologists in Kutch have found remains of another pre-Harappan site that is evident of a flourishing human settlement in the region. The archaeologists believe that the structure they unearthed resembles a cemetery belonging to the Harappan times indicating the presence of human settlement in the area. The ruins were discovered by a team of archaeologists from Kutch University and Kerala University after two weeks of excavation at the site near Nani Khatia village in Lakhpat taluka, about 102 KM away from Bhuj. The area of excavation stretches around five square km. The stones found from the site strongly suggest a presence of over 100 burial sites in the area. The head of the Department of Archaeology of Kutch University, Subash Bhandari believes that this settlement at Dholavira existed at the same time when the most distinguished Indus Valley Civilization site, was blossoming. Bhandari further added that his team has founded pottery shards, beads and broken bangles from the site. Similar shards and beads were excavated from the burial sites at the Harappa as well. Bhandari mentioned that the finding of similar stones from this site lends greater credence to a presence of more burial sites in the environs. Bhandari says that there are more than 100 burial sites in the area and now they will dig 10 to 15 trenches for further excavation. Bricks and some other items excavated are examined to determine the era to which they belong. A preliminary survey of the area was started by both the universities in 2016 using differential geographic positioning system (DGPS) and drones to get details of the geomorphology and topography of the landscape. A few days back, archaeologists discovered a couple’s skeleton in the same grave in Haryana, which according to them is the first anthropologically confirmed joint burial of a couple in any Harappan cemetery. The grave was excavated from the Harappan settlements at Rakhigarhi in Haryana, 150km northwest of Delhi. Even with this grave, pottery and bowls were found buttressing the claim that the Harappans believed in life after death.

- https://www.opindia.com/2019/02/archaeologists-discover-pre-harappan-site-ruins-in-kutch/, Feb 7, 2019

New committee sought to decide fate of heritage buildings in Mysuru

Even as it looks like the buck stops with Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy on the fate of Devaraja Market and Lansdowne Building, two important heritage properties in Mysuru identified for demolition, civil society groups have called for the constitution of a new committee comprising experts in the field of civil engineering and heritage conservation, including those from INTACH and IHCNF, to decide on the future course of action. Mysuru Grahakara Parishat (MGP), which has been opposing demolition of the two buildings, on Thursday urged district in-charge Minister G.T. Deve Gowda to request the Chief Minister to constitute the committee and have it give its recommendation within a short time. “An approach based on technical factors rather than political considerations should guide us in shaping the future course of action. If we delay the decision, as we have been doing for years, the two heritage gems will be lost forever,” said Bhamy V. Shenoy of the MGP. “If we continue to demolish our heritage buildings and sites, all in the name of modernisation, we will end up altering the basic character of the city. Why will any tourist be interested in visiting Mysuru to see modern gleaming buildings? Agraharas or crowded back streets of Devaraj Urs Road are far more attractive to tourists,” he said. Dr. Shenoy said that Mysuru City Corporation wants to demolish the two heritage structures ignoring the advice of heritage experts. “If we analyse the findings of these supposedly conflicting reports, it is possible to find a solution to convert the current zero-sum game into a win-win situation,” he said. The consumer activist said all experts with competence in preserving heritage buildings have fully supported restoration of the two heritage sites. A task force, mostly consisting of Mysuru engineers with expertise in civil engineering, have submitted a report that looks like it is recommending “total demolition” of the buildings. The task force has found that while the foundation and walls are sound, the roofs require major work. The task force was also critical of shop owners who have done repair work without taking expert advice, Dr. Shenoy said in a release. He said the MGP had suggested that the collapse of some portions of Devaraja Market a few years ago was because of inadequate engineering maintenance. “This view was supported subsequently by experts. The MGP had recommended immediate restoration work,” he recalled.

- https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/new-committee-sought-to-decide-fate-of-heritage-buildings-in-mysuru/article26207511.ece, Feb 8, 2019

‘Need for long-term action plan to rejuvenate Kanagan Eri’

In a bid aimed at creating awareness among children on the need to conserve Kanagan Eri, a waterbody located in the middle of the town, a painting competition was organised by the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP), Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) and PondyCan on the banks of the waterbody on Sunday. The objective was to create widespread awareness among students and sensitise them towards protection of water resources, its augmentation, conservation and reuse.

More participation

As many as 47 children from schools located near Kanagan Eri participated in the event organised as part of the Pondicherry Heritage Festival. Frederic Landy, Director of the French Institute of Pondicherry, said that all lakes and tanks in South India were created for bringing surface water to the farmers. Now the farmers neither use groundwater or surface water and there is no agriculture. Kanagan Eri is now a fully urban tank without any agricultural field and this posed a big danger. The idea is to make people more aware of the use of Kanagan Eri. Cities need green spaces and must preserve the natural habitat in order to attract tourists and investments. Keeping such lakes alive is necessary in the whole of Puducherry, he said.

Action plan

Stressing the need for a long-term action plan to rejuvenate the Kanagan Eri, Mr. Landy said that a similar cleaning exercise was taken up last year. Though the water hyacinth was removed it has now reappeared. This lake is a unique heritage and it should be maintained, he added. A concerted long-term action plan involving the territorial administration, companies and local associations was necessary to rejuvenate the tank, he said.

- https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/need-for-long-term-action-plan-to-rejuvenate-kanagan-eri/article26231870.ece, Feb 11, 2019

Rare coins to be displayed at exhibition

Rare coins of the ancient era with Tamil inscriptions, collection of postal stamps and currencies of more than 150 countries together offering insight into history of various countries , and ancient Tamil Nadu will be exhibited on three days exhibition organized by Numismatic & Philatelic Association of Vellore Fort here at town hall from Friday. The three-day exhibition commencing from Friday aims to attract large crowds of enthusiasts and aficionados on all three days. An invite to school and college students for their active participation by exhibiting their collections is also planned by the event organizers . C Tamilvanan 45, Secretary of Numismatic & Philatelic Association of Vellore Fort and one of the organizer said, the association was founded before a decade in 2009 with a motive to offer insight into history of our nation especially an insight to coins introduced by kings who ruled ancient Tamil Nadu and to protect the historic monuments in Vellore district which is on the verge of destruction . Rare Taxila coins dating back to 200 BC and coins introduced by tamil rulers of various dynasties including Cheras , Arcot Nawabs and Tanjore Nayaks would be kept for display. Specially the coins released by the rulers of Tamil Nadu to celebrate commemorations and those released challenging the coins introduced by the Britishers is bound to be a real crowd puller. Also stamps and currencies of more than 150 countries and a series of world' s longest stamps released by Thailand to mark the 70th anniversary of Late King Rama's accession to the throne would be exhibited in the exhibition.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/puducherry/rare-coins-to-be-displayed-at-exhibition/articleshow/67940085.cms, Feb 11, 2019

Mizoram: Vangchhia’s ancient art of holding water in rock decoded

As the climate change has been termed as the ‘greatest moral crisis of our time’ and conflicts over water continue across the world, a lost civilisation in Mizoram that turned rocks into hidden reservoirs, could hold the key to water conservation in extreme conditions. In January 2016, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) announced discovery of a “living history museum” at Vangchhia village in Champhai district of Mizoram, bordering Myanmar. The site, measuring about 45 sq km and located 260 km from Aizawl, the state capital of Mizoram, has yielded pictographs etched on large stone slabs, menhirs — large standing stones — and a necropolis — a large cemetery — among other artefacts, reports The Hindu. It has been reported that the area is part of the Lower Himalayas, and has rows of steep hills largely made up of various kind of sandstone shading from light grey to blackish. The ancient villagers of Vangchhia carved terraces on these rocks for their settlement. The main excavated site consists of 15 such terraces. There’s is a water pavilion and strategically drilled holes — between one feet and one metre across — spread over several sandstone slopes in this village which drew attention of the archaeologists. The report quoted ASI researchers as saying that the grey sandstone is softer and home to the holes while the harder black rock is used for menhirs. The researchers within two years of study since the discovery of the Vangchhia site reportedly arrived at some theories behind the “seemingly simple science” of water harvesting, perfected several centuries ago, which could sustain local populations for at least a year. The report quoted Sujeet Nayan, the head of ASI’s Aizawl Circle, as saying: “It is remarkable how they trapped rainwater flowing down the slopes by making holes to let the water flow in and be stored in the fissures and veins of the rocks. When we began excavating in 2015-2016, we wondered why the people who lived in and around Vangchhia did not make water tanks which they appeared capable of.” Nayan also said most of the ethnic groups that inhabited these areas were at war, and the possibility of raiders poisoning water reservoirs or stealing water could have made locals devise this strategy to dissuade those not familiar with the topography. It seems water harvesting to be at the heart of the activity with the nearest river, the Tlau, located 12 km away. The archaeologists, however, have not been able to accurately date the Vangchhia settlement. Nayan said: “When we excavated the place three years ago, we thought the ruins were of the 15th century. However, the Birbal Sahni Institute later said the place dates back to the 6th century.” An ASI team recently discovered Neolithic caves near Vangchhia which indicates that the lost civilisation could be much older. The report quoted P. Rohmingthanga, convener of the Mizoram Chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), as saying: “These archaeological relics are not confined to Vangchhia and are found all over Champhai district. There are at least four more major sites — Farkawn, Dungtlang, Lianpui and Lunghunlian — that are yet to be excavated extensively with hundreds of menhirs and pictographs that tell stories of a forgotten past.”

- https://nenow.in/north-east-news/mizoram-vangchhias-ancient-art-of-holding-water-in-rock-decoded.html, Feb 12, 2019

Excavation to be conducted at 350 sites of Raigad Fort

The historic Raigad Fort, where the coronation of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was held in the year 1674, initially had more than 350 structures which have been buried in the last 300 years. An excavation drive will be conducted at these 350 sites to find remains of the buried structures. Raigad Development Authority (RDA) Chairman and Rajya Sabha MP Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati said that one of the sites will be opened soon. He further said that excavation has already been carried out at this site but, it is closed for reconstruction work. The RDA has resorted to data collated from remote sensing satellites of the National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA). It has also sought help from historians and architects. Varun Bhamare, the conservation architect of the Raigad Development Authority, said that the excavation at the first site has resulted in the discovery of stone pieces and remains of bones, which have been sent to archaeology experts for the purpose of dating. Chhatrapati further said that the Raigad Fort is the biggest fort spread over an area of 1,250 acre. He said, “that is the reason for the fort to be referred to as Gibraltar of the East. It had many structures as Shivaji Maharaj himself constructed it as the capital of his empire and architect Hirolji Indulkar built the structures keeping in mind the activities that were performed in those days.” Chhatrapati said that while developing the Raigad Fort as a model fort, 21 villages that fall within its seven-kilometer-radius will also be developed. He added that a tender of Rs 7 crore for construction of roads inside these 21 villages has been already floated. Bhamare said that Raigad Fort conservation and restoration will be done by using material from the local area and without disturbing the old structure.


Minister for tourism Jaikumar Rawal informed that the state government will provide employment opportunities with regard to restoration of historic forts. He informed that various types of voluntary work undertaken by NGOs can be included under the Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. He brought out a government resolution (GR) and handed it over to Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati during a one-day fort conference at the Raigad Fort on Monday.

- https://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-excavation-to-be-conducted-at-350-sites-of-raigad-fort-2719275, Feb 12, 2019

India’s Jogulamba temple to become new tourist hotspot

The Jogulamba Gadwal district plans to give the ancient site a complete makeover and attract more visitors With the beauty of Taj Mahal, the neverending beaches of Goa, and the vibrant energy of the Holi festival, India has many reasons to welcome millions of tourists every year. And soon, the subcontinent will provide its visitors with yet another impressive hotspot. The ancient Jogulamba temple in the Telangana state’s city of Alampur has already been a sacred site attracting pilgrims across India as well as from foreign countries. Now, the local authorities have decided to invest in its renovation as well as in the improvement of the city’s infrastructure and facilities to turn the location into a new hub. The administration of Jogulamba Gadwal district — where the temple is located — plans a huge makeover of the ancient site. To provide the visitors with comfortable conditions for their stay, the district will also set up new restaurants and parking lots, lay out new roads, and renovate bus stops. In addition, the district will build an auditorium for cultural programmes and other basic facilities allowing the tourist to spend more time there. In Sanghameshwara — a nearby city on the Srisalaim dam — new bathing ghats will be established. The proposals were prepared by the Telangana Tourism Development Corporation and have to be approved by the Union ministry of tourism. The Jogulamba temple is part of the Alampur Navabhrama Temples and it is listed by the Archaeological Survey of India under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act. It is considered one of the country’s Shakti Peethas — significant shrines and pilgrimage destinations in Shaktism, the goddess-focused Hindu tradition. The uniqueness of the Alampur group of temples lies mainly in their plan and design in the northern architectural style introduced by the Chalukyas of Badami between 650 CE and 750 CE. Alampur is also easily accessible to foreign visitors. The city lies around 220 km from Hyderabad and is connected by the Hyderabad–Bangalore highway.

- https://www.kiwi.com/stories/indias-jogulamba-temple-become-new-tourist-hotspot/, Feb 13, 2019

Demolition of Osmania Hospital is no solution, cry heritage activists

The heritage activists in the city are up in arms after hearing about the public interest petition filed in the Telangana High Court seeking direction to the State government for the construction of a new multi-storied building. “The doctors protested by wearing helmets when chips from the roof kept falling but why are they not questioning the government for not taking up conservation work. Demolition is no answer,” says R Dev, a resident of Nampally. It is a U-turn by the medical fraternity. Initially they urged the government to construct new buildings in the six acres land that is available, said Ram, a social activist. The 150-year-old hospital is spread over 26.35 acres. Mohammed Safiullah, managing trustee, Deccan Heritage Trust says, “The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) in its inspection mentioned about the strong structural stability. Where is the need to demolish?” Speaking to The Hans India, Dr K Mahesh, the petitioner contends that eight of the 11 blocks are not fit for use and there is a need to construct new buildings. Dr P S Vijayender, chairman, Telangana Junior Doctors Association, says, “The government has failed in taking steps. It is sheer luck that no one has been injured. Patients, doctors and all concerned live in perpetual fear. The government needs to take swift action.” Nawab Najaf Ali Khan, grandson of late Nizam VII of Hyderabad Mir Osman Ali Khan says, “We have already submitted a representation and are waiting for a new minister. We would once again approach the government. Osmania General Hospital, like the historic Charminar is synonymous to Hyderabad."

- https://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Telangana/2019-02-19/Demolition-of-Osmania-Hospital-is-no-solution-cry-heritage-activists/497806, Feb 19, 2019

Harappan site turning into dump yard

Rampant encroachment is slowly ravaging the 5,000- year-old Harappan site at Rakhigarhi village, as it has turned into a garbage dump. The ancient habitation, spreading over 550 hectares, is being used to bake cow- dung cakes, which is used as domestic fuel by villagers. Crucial artefacts and evidence of human and animal bones, capable of shedding light on the life and times of dwellers 5,000 years ago in the region known as the Indus Valley Civilisation, were discovered during the excavation carried out by the Deccan College, Pune, in association with the Archaeology Department of Haryana from 2013 to 2016.

The excavation revealed that this place was the hub of trade and administration during the Harappan era. The archaeologists also recovered human skeletons, which are being scientifically examined after extracting their DNA to establish their origin and link with the people of modern times. A team of the Indian National Trust for Act and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) that visited the site on Sunday, found that the mounds which are the treasure trove of ancient times, need to be preserved and protected in a better way. Shivang Tayal, a member of the Hisar chapter of INTACH, said despite the fact that the site has drawn the attention of archaeologists and historians from all over the world, the authorities have not been able to preserve the site property. “Villagers have encroached upon the mounds. Several parts of the site have turned into garbage dumping sites. It needs more funds from the authorities to preserve this historically important site," he said. Dharampal Dhull, an artefacts lover who visited the site, said government agencies need to carry out excavation at a large scale for scientific evidence and analysis.

"Private players have their vested interests. The site carries invaluable evidence and artefacts, so it should be maintained and kept by government agencies like the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI),” he said, adding that villagers who have constructed houses or owns land on these mounds must also be adequately compensated and rehabilitated. Prof Vasant Shinde, Vice-Chancellor of Deccan College, Pune, who headed the excavation team, said the site is extremely important from archaeology point of view, as is clear from the research carried out before by scholars and by the present team.

"The major part is under modern habitation and slowly the site is being encroached upon. The destruction and encroachment need to be stopped immediately to save the greatest Harappan site in the country,” he said, adding that the mound numbers 1,2,3 and 5 are protected by the ASI, while mound numbers 4, 6 and 7 were in private land.

Need to protect ancient heritage
INTACH team visited the site and said it should be preserved and protected in a better way. It suggested carrying out excavation at a large scale for scientific evidence and analysis Mound nos. 1,2,3 and 5 protected by the ASI, while mound nos. 4, 6 and 7 is in private land. Experts believe villagers, who have land on these mounds, must be adequately compensated and rehabilitated to preserve the ASI site

- https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/harappan-site-turning-into-dump-yard/731689.html, Feb 20, 2019

Archaeological department confirms megalithic sites in Sivagalai

The Tamil Nadu government’s department of archaeology has found evidences of megalithic archaeological remains in Sivagalai in Tuticorin district, 20km from Adichanallur, where the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) unearthed iron-age burial sites in 2004. The department told the Madurai bench of the Madras high court that a detailed survey will be conducted in Sivagalai in response to a petition which sought ASI excavation at the site. In essence, the department has confirmed what a school teacher from the region unearthed a little over a year ago.

In September 2018, an expert appointed by the commissioner of state archaeology department inspected the site after repeated petitions to the chief minister’s cell from A Manickam, 44, of Sivagalai village about historical evidences found in Sivagalai, which are older than Adichanallur. Manickam, a history teacher at a private school in Srivaikundam town developed self-interest about the history of his village. He stumbled upon mounds while taking his students for a field visit about four years ago.

Manickam’s curiosity, ably complemented by his post-graduation in history and well-wishers in both the state archaeological department and in ASI helped him. Manickam unearthed several artefacts, which he believes to be at least 10,000 years old. “Most of them are either water canals or irrigation lands now and hence was hidden in plain sight,” Manickam told TOI. Recommended By Colombia The expert appointed by the department too concurred with Manickam’s assessment and submitted that about 1,000 acres of burial urns are found underneath.

"Terracotta potteries, knife, sword, horse stable rings made of iron and bones were found in the area and hence this might have been a burial site,” the expert had stated, according to the submission before the court by K Sakthivel, assistant director (in charge) of archaeology, Madurai. The assistant director’s submission also stated that no evidences, however were found near and around the area for habitation site and it could have been a megalithic burial site. “The department will take a detailed survey in the area and excavation will be done in the priority,” Sakthivel said. Apart from Sivagalai, the state archaeological department has also plans to undertake excavations at selected sites from Kanchipuram, Tiruvallur, Vellore and Dharmapuri districts.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/archaeological-dept-confirms-megalithic-sites-in-sivagalai/articleshow/68071305.cms, Feb 20, 2019

A unique step well and a temple

The step well is believed to be from the Bhonsla period Kelzar continues to throw up surprises as NU’s Archaeology Department digs deep into the past Nagpur: That Kelzar is sitting on a volcano of history was well known and documented too. But a deep dig by archaeology students has lend credence that this hamlet was originally a well-planned temple town, built around 13-14th century, during the Yadav dynasty. Since their last dig in March last year which unearthed a medieval fort dated from the 14-15th century, the next batch of students from Nagpur University’s Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology department continued excavation near the same site in Kelzar, which comes under Wardha district and is about 50 kilometres from Nagpur. It was during one of their foot surveys when a heap of stones inside caught their eyes.

What lied beneath the spread-over debris was nothing short of an architectural splendour — one out of the numerous primeval temples which once dotted Kelzar, a place that witnessed rise and fall of many empires. The headless ‘Nandi’ idol, the faceless deities and the temple’s ruins tell the tale of foreign invasions that probably wrecked the temples. “One of the first invasions in Kelzar were by Malik Kafur under the forces of Alauddin Khalji. After the dynasty collapsed, the town was rules by Bahamanis and other empires,” said Preety Trivedi, the head of the department under whose guidance the excavation are being done. Bahamani coins as well ancient idols are found in abundance all over the village. “Most of the temples have disappeared but we were fortunate to find one which had its foundation in tact.

The land beneath the temple seems virgin, indicating that Kelzar was planned to be developed as a temple town,” said Trivedi. As per the District Gazetteer of Wardha (1974), Kelzar was included in the kingdom of the Yadavas of Devagiri during the 13-14th century CE. The architectural style of the discovered temple is Hemadpanti, named after its founder Hemadpant, a minister during the Yadav dynasty. “A typical feature of these temples is that they are built without using any binding substances like limestone between the stones. Initially, only the tomb was exposed. After removing the debris, we found the sanctum sanctorum, the Shiva Linga and idol of Nandi,” said Trivedi. The land where the temple was found is close to the Shri Siddhivinayak Ganpati temple. In March last year, Trivedi’s students had excavated a medieval fort inside the temple's huge property. In yet another “chance discovery”, the students have also stumbled upon a unique step well believed to be from the Bhonsla period.

“Our foot survey is going on since last few years. After finishing our excavation last year, we covered the fort to ensure it remains protected. However, few meters away from the site, we had found certain indications of another structure,” said Trivedi. This year, the group decided to explore it and started scraping some visible stones. “After doing a trench excavation, we discovered a big step well which was mostly connected to the fort.

While building step wells was a usual practice in the region, this one is unique as it has two flights of stairs,” said Trivedi. The authorities of the temple are planning to preserve the step well and use it for water conservation. “As water is a problem in Kelzar, discovery of this step well will prove to be quite helpful for locals. Using it for storing water will also keep the structure protected,” said M Kapse, secretary of the temple trust. However just like the fort, the fate of the Hemadpanti temple remains to be uncertain. “We are preparing a proposal to preserve the temple and develop the area as a tourist spot. Discovery of such ancient temple remains and step well is very important, especially in the light of loss of heritage structures. We hope the government sanctions funds to preserve our heritage,” said Trivedi.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/a-unique-step-well-and-a-temple/articleshow/68087221.cms, Feb 20, 2019

Prime Minister Inaugurates VEM At Man – Mahal In Varanasi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated the newly established Virtual Experiential Museum (VEM) in a Centrally Protected Monument under Archeological Survey of India, Man – Mahal, situated on the bank of the Ganges near holy Dashashwamedh Ghat at Varanasi today. Virtual Experiential Museum has been established by the National Council of Science Museum (NCSM) working under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. NCSM has worked hard to show a glimpse of various cultural aspects, tangible and intangible, of Varanasi through the use of modern and sophisticated virtual reality technology in this museum.

Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) helped in designing and curation of this Virtual Experiential Museum and also in preparing of script for various documentaries to be shown in this VEM. A tour of VEM will be a unique experience for the visitors where they will get the experience of the holy ghats, classical music, weaving of sari, Ram Leela, 3D view of monuments, narrow lanes and betel shop etc. of Varanasi in an interesting way with the help of curved T.V. screen, paintings, touch screens and projectors etc. The story of the descent of the holy Ganga on earth will also be shown to the visitors in a most interesting manner.

Before the setting up of VEM, the centrally protected monument observatory of Man – Mahal was conserved scientifically as this building was constructed by Raja Man – Singh in 1600 A.D., a close associate of Mughal Emperor Akbar. Later, in 1734, an observatory was constructed on the roof of this monument by Sawai Jai Singh II of Jaipur, which was planned by Samarath Jagannath to calculate time, prepare lunar and solar calendar, study movement & angles of star and planet.

Entry ticket for this museum with monument is Rs. 25/- for Indian and visitor from SAARC and BIMSTEC countries while for other foreign visitors, Rs. 300/- will be charged. The VEM will remain open from sun rise to sun set. The entry of children below 15 years is free.

- https://www.traveltrendstoday.in/news/india-tourism/item/6772-prime-minister-inaugurates-vem-at-man-mahal-in-varanasi, Feb 21, 2019

Mother tongue is carrier of values and knowledge

We communicate with different languages but the first language which we learn is also our mother tongue or mother language. One may speak many languages but the first language is important as it is learnt initially. Languages, with their complex implications for identity, communication, social integration, education and development, are of strategic importance for people and this planet. We should be aware that at least 43% of the estimated 6,000 languages spoken in the world are endangered. Only a few hundred languages have genuinely been given a place in education systems and the public domain, and less than a hundred are used in the digital world. Linguistic diversity is increasingly threatened as more and more languages disappear.

Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue. Due to globalization and many other reasons many languages are under threat. When languages fade, so does the world's rich tapestry of cultural diversity.

One of the global initiatives related to mother language is the celebration of International Mother Language Day which has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. Multilingual and multicultural societies exist through their languages which transmit and preserve traditional knowledge and cultures in a sustainable way. International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 1999 (30C/62) which is observed on 21st February. The UN General Assembly welcomed the proclamation of the day in its resolution A/RES/56/262 of 2002. On 16 May 2007 the UN General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/61/266 called upon Member States “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world”.

By the same resolution, the General Assembly proclaimed 2008 as the International Year of Languages, to promote unity in diversity and international understanding, through multilingualism and multiculturalism and named the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to serve as the lead agency for the Year. The idea to celebrate International Mother Language Day was the initiative of Bangladesh. It was approved at the 1999 UNESCO General Conference and has been observed throughout the world since 2000.UNESCO believes in the importance of cultural and linguistic diversity for sustainable societies. It is within its mandate for peace that it works to preserve the differences in cultures and languages that foster tolerance and respect for others. There is no doubt that there is growing awareness that languages play a vital role in development, in ensuring cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue, but also in strengthening co-operation and attaining quality education for all, in building inclusive knowledge societies and preserving cultural heritage, and in mobilizing political will for applying the benefits of science and technology to sustainable development. Language connects individuals and communities. India is a country with linguistic diversity and we must preserve different languages of the country.

Strong global language like English is a threat to many native languages of India but it is possible to preserve the native languages for which governments and civil society and other stake holders must take action. Mother language is a fragile resource and all of must take active role for the preservation of this fragile resources especially in the digital age. Technological innovation is also needed apart from traditional mediums to preserve and promote our languages. The International Mother Language Day reminds us about our roles and we must take action to safeguard our mother languages.

- https://www.sentinelassam.com/news/mother-tongue-is-carrier-of-values-and-knowledge/, Feb 21, 2019

Historical monuments in Mahendragarh neglected

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has expressed concern over the ‘lethargic attitude’ of the Mahendragarh district authorities in the upkeep of historical monuments in Narnaul city and the manner in which funds allocated for their conservation are being utilised. It has also expressed displeasure over encroachments around the monuments. Major General LK Gupta (retd), chairman of INTACH, is unhappy with the efforts made by the authorities concerned as well as the state government to preserve the monuments and the cultural heritage of Narnaul. He also called on Deputy Commissioner Garima Mittal and urged her to get encroachments removed from around the monuments and ensure cleanliness there.

“Mahendragarh is rich in terms of historical monuments and cultural heritage, but unfortunately neither the district authorities nor the state government is taking much interest in their upkeep and preservation. The Central Government had recently released funds for the preservation of the monuments in Narnaul and Rewari but surprisingly, a major portion of the grant is being utilised only in Mahendragarh city for political reasons,” alleges Rattan Lal Saini, convener of INTACH, Mahendragarh. Saini says areas around Moti Mahal and Chhatta Rai Mukand, a spacious five-storey building with several halls, rooms and pavilions constructed by Ray-i-Rayan Mukand Das, have been encroached upon.

The authorities concerned are not removing encroachments despite repeated complaints. No proper arrangements have been made to ensure regular cleanliness at the monuments, he adds. “The region having many ancient monuments and heritage sites has the potential to attract tourists but the lack of road connectivity is the major hindrance. The authorities concerned should construct roads to provide an easy access to the historical sites to tourists,” says Saini. The Deputy Commissioner has assured us of getting encroachments removed and ensuring cleanliness at the monuments. Mahendragarh, located on the Rajasthan border, is among those districts in Haryana that have several historical monuments and heritage sites but most of these are in a bad shape.

Jal Mahal, Dhosi Hill, the tomb of Ibrahim Khan, Chor Gumbad, Chhatta Rai Mukand, and Takht Baoli are some of the prominent monuments and cultural heritage sites in Narnaul city. “Half-hearted efforts were made in the past to conserve and revitalise these monuments to give them the original shape,” says Anil Kaushik, a local resident. Sources say the state government is working to transform the historical monuments and heritage sites of Mahendragarh and Rewari districts into a ‘Tourism Infrastructure Heritage Circuit’ in order to preserve their identity and promote them as a tourist destination to generate employment avenues. The heritage circuit will have an entry point in Rewari and an exit at Madhogarh village in Mahendragarh district. The Mahendragarh Fort, Madhogarh Fort, Chhatta Rai Mukund, Takht Baoli, and Dhosi Hill in Mahendragarh district and Bada Talab and Sola Rahi Shiv Dharohar in Rewari will be part of it.

Saini says the historical ‘Alijaan ki Bawdi’ located near the Nizampur road in Narnaul city is also bearing the brunt of the apathy of the administration. “Garbage and dirty water have covered the entrance of the Bawdi, which was constructed in the era of Akbar. No efforts are being made for the proper upkeep of the interiors of the historical monument even though the administration has been requested to ensure cleanliness there,” says Saini.

- https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/weekly-pullouts/haryana-tribune/historical-monuments-in-mahendragarh-neglected/733644.html, Feb 22, 2019

Renovation of Victoria hall to be over by April

Renovation of Victoria Town Hall will be completed by April. The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) is executing the project at an estimated cost of Rs 1.24 crore. “The building was in a dilapidated condition when the work started in May 2017. Its roof was leaking at different spots. Condition of the walls was very bad. Now plastering of the inner and outer walls is over and interior designing work is underway,” said member of INTACH, Samabalpur chapter, Deepak Panda. Panda said a museum would be developed in the century-old Victoria Town Hall after the renovation. “INTACH will provide support for the development of the museum, where the custom, tradition and history of this region will be showcased,” he added.

The foundation stone of the building was laid in 1902. The then superintending engineer of the central province, J.B Leven Thorpey, had prepared the design and it was built with Rs 9,417 contributed by the kings, zamindars and businessmen of the time. Chief commissioner of the central province J P Hewety had inaugurated the building in 1904. The building was named as Victoria Hall after completion of construction.

“The zamindar of Phuljhar, which is now in Chhatisgarh, had contributed Rs 1,200, the highest amount. Similarly, the zamindar of Barpali had contributed Rs 1,000,” said Panda. The office of Sambalpur Development Authority (SDA), women’s college and Trust Fund College had once operated from this building.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhubaneswar/renovation-of-victoria-hall-to-be-over-by-april/articleshow/68118444.cms, Feb 22, 2019

Delhi: How Deputy Commissioner Mr Young gave Jangpura its name

Jangpura was called ‘Young-pura’ in documents as early as 1927. An old naming tradition, land acquisition and resettlement for the construction of New Delhi, and “corruption” by local tongues coalesced to give us Jangpura — named after Delhi’s Deputy Commissioner in the early 20th Century, Mr Young. Before the construction of the new British capital in Delhi could begin, a crucial step was acquiring land.

The centre of this newly acquired land was over 13,000 acres — today’s Lutyens’ Delhi — where government buildings would be constructed. This expanse of land included semi-urban areas, cultivated land and scattered ruins, writes Dr Swapna Liddle, convenor, INTACH, in her book Connaught Place and the Making of New Delhi. Some of those who were displaced by this acquisition were given plots in new resettlement enclaves to build houses. One of these was located to the southeast of the upcoming capital and named after Mr Young. According to Dr Narayani Gupta, a historian, settlements with the suffix ‘pur’ help identify those settlements which derived their names from nobles who received land as revenue units from rulers. She writes that many of these go back to the 15th Century, when the Lodhi rulers gave such land grants to a large number of nobles. This practice reflects in the names of places like Badarpur and Mahipalpur, named after persons, or Wazirpur or Ghazipur, named after official positions.

Naming a ‘pur’ after Mr Young, an active agent in the creation of the settlement in question, is a 20th Century adaptation of that practice – somewhere between the western modern concept of naming roads in commemoration of persons and an older practice of naming roads after people who had a direct relationship with them.

Young-pura eventually morphed into Jangpura in the tongues of locals. According to Dr Liddle, this “corruption” and change took place early in the life of the settlements. “In some documents dating as early as 1927 that I was looking through, I found that some referred to it as Young-pura and some as Jangpura,” she said.

- https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/delhi-how-deputy-commissioner-mr-young-gave-jangpura-its-name-5595542/, Feb 22, 2019

International Mother Language Day: Indigenous Languages as a Factor in Development, Peace and Reconciliation

International Mother Language Day is observed on February 21 around the world. It’s a day to celebrate linguistic and cultural diversity. The world has more than 7,000 languages and the multilingualism is celebrated through this day. International Mother Language Day reminds us how words connect us, empower us and help us communicate our feelings to others. India alone has about 22 officially recognised languages, 1635 rationalised mother tongues, 234 identifiable mother tongues, according to Census 2001. International Mother Language Day was first observed in 1999 by UNESCO, a specialized agency of the United Nations that stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

UNESCO has been celebrating International Mother Language Day for nearly 20 years and aims to promote mother tongue-based multilingual education. Every year, there are different themes to celebrate International Mother Language Day. Since 2019 is the International Year of Indigenous Languages, the theme of this year’s International Mother Language Day will be indigenous languages as a factor in development, peace and reconciliation. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, said, "Indigenous peoples number some 370 million and their languages account for the majority of the approximately 7,000 living languages on Earth. Many indigenous peoples continue to suffer from marginalization, discrimination and extreme poverty, and are the victims of human rights violations.” On the need to preserve mother-tongue language, UNESCO said, “Linguistic diversity is increasingly threatened as more and more languages disappear.

Globally 40 per cent of the population does not have access to an education in a language they speak or understand,” The multilingual and multicultural societies exist through their languages which transmit and preserve traditional knowledge and cultures in a sustainable way, it added.

- https://www.northeasttoday.in/international-mother-language-day-indigenous-languages-as-a-factor-in-development-peace-and-reconciliation/, Feb 22, 2019

INTACH Rajasthan Heritage visit by students of GD Goenka

Students of G D Goenka International School, Udaipur visited The Rajasthan Heritage Photography Exhibition – 2019, and Ahar Archaeological Museum to witness the heritage and various architectural features and sculptures pieces date back to 1700 BC. To popularize the lesser known heritage of Rajasthan and Udaipur region, a photographic competition-cum-exhibition was organized by the Udaipur Chapter of INTACH in association with Hindustan Zinc Ltd., and Ahar Museum, Udaipur.

- https://udaipurtimes.com/junior/school-news/intach-rajasthan-heritage-visit-by-students-of-gd-goenka/, Feb 25, 2019

Seedlites bring honors to school and Udaipur – Excel at competitions

Students from Seedling Modern Public School have been participating enthusiastically in competitions both academic and non academic at the regional and national level. Their performance and success has brought laurels both to the school as well as Udaipur. Aastha Bathija of VII A participated in 20th International Child Art Exhibition and won the GOLD MEDAL and a MERIT CERTIFICATE. Rituja Sharma of class X has been declared the State Champion in Category A (seniors) in the Handwriting Olympiad 2019 which was organised by Extra marks with a mission towards good handwriting.

The Heritage Club of Seedling Modern Public School participated in the PHOTO COMPETITION 2019 organized by INTACH, Udaipur Chapter, at Ayad Museum of the Department of Archaeology and Museum on 19th February. Harsh Suthar of Class VIII won the consolation prize ( ?500 and a Merit Certificate) There were more than 150 entries and Harsh Suthar was the youngest participant and the winner. Management and staff of Seedling congratulated all students for their performance.

-https://udaipurtimes.com/junior/school-news/seedlites-bring-honors-to-school-and-udaipur-excel-at-competitions/, Feb 25, 2019

Petroglyphs of prehistoric importance found near Kollur

Close on heels of making public the discovery of ancient edicts in Tulu script at Sri Veeranarayana Temple at Kulshekar that Alupa King Kulashekara I is believed to have issued, researcher T Murugeshi has announced discovery of petroglyphs of prehistoric importance near Kollur. Petroglyphs are images created by removing part of a rock surface by incising, picking, carving, or abrading, as a form of rock art. Murugeshi, associate professor of ancient history and archaeology at MSRS College, Shirva, said the petroglyphs were discovered at a rare rock art site at Avalakki Pare on February 17. It is located in about 15-20 acres of grazing land in the wildlife reserve forest. A team headed by Murugeshi noticed 19 rock bruising.

Among the engravings, there are 10 human figures including that of a baby, Murugeshi said. All figures were shown in a motion of hunting mood. Bull hunting, boar hunting, bird hunting and hunting the deer is the predominant theme at this rock art site. One of the bulls resembles the Harappan petroglyphs in its style. All figures are engraved in double-line style.

Among the figures, outstanding figure is of a female that has been engraved with special interest and care and on the right side of the belly a cup-mark has been done. On the left side over the head, a rectangular cup-mark has been created. This forced the team to believe that the figure must have been of a religious significance, Murugeshi said, adding to west of the site, heaps of microlith deposit is found. Spear heads, arrow heads, scrapers, blades, stone sling balls and other types of microliths like lunates, points and cores were discovered in plenty.

There are no domestication and agricultural tools, he said. Majority of tools made are of dolerite and small flake-tools. Hunting scenes and associated assemblages found at the site indicate the site must have been connected to hunter and gatherer culture of Mesolithic period. K B Shivatarak, L S Rao and P Rajendran have reported large number of Mesolithic sites from coastal region. But for the first time, in the west coast of India, petroglyphs of Mesolithic age have been found, he said. Dating of the rock art is difficult.

A Sundara, expert, has suggested a time scale for Mesolithic age from 10000-3000 BC, Murugeshi said, adding the team that discovered this rock site tentatively considers the same time scale for the rock engravings of Avalakki Pare. Murugeshi thanked Naresh, RFO (Wildlife Kollur), Gangadhar, Siddeshwar, Anand, Janardhan, Sanjeev Shetty, Murlidhar Hegade for their support in this discovery.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mangaluru/petroglyphs-of-prehistoric-importance-found-near-kollur/articleshow/68158889.cms, Feb 25, 2019

Efforts on to get Heritage tag for 1000-Pillar temple in Warangal

As part of an effort to get World Heritage tag to historical thousand pillar temple built in 1163 AD by Kakatiya king Rudra Deva, Kakatiya Urban Development Authority (KUDA) had undertaken a task to remove all the structures which has come around it and take up beautification works around. As per the regulations of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and national heritage rules to achieve the World Heritage tag there was a need to create a 100-metre prohibited and 200-metre restricted zones at the temple site. Realising that until, the entire temple area, which is presently surrounded by houses and commercial buildings, is removed there is no possibility of the temple getting world heritage tag, hence, KUDA acquired as many as 50 properties at a cost of Rs 20 crore to take up development works. The KUDA had also acquired 2 acres of land to take up development and beautification works at historical Thousand Pillar temple under Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) scheme.

They are contemplating to develop a beautiful landscape garden on the premises of the temple. The authorities had already spent Rs 40 lakh on landscaping, illumination and parking facilities. “World Heritage tag to 1000 pillar temple will help in attracting international tourists to Warangal. Even the local tourist footfall to the historic area will increase four fold,”claimed KUDA chairman Marri Yadava Reddy. The 1000 pillar temple and two other sites, Swayambhu temple and Keerthi Thoranas, Warangal Fort and Ramappa temple, which were sent in cultural category for inclusion in Unesco list were dropped by the ASI last November.

The state does not have a single site despite there being representations from the year 2010 to Unesco. Reconstruction and conservation work of the ‘Kalyana Mandapam’ at Thousand Pillar Temple is underway. ‘Kalyana Mandapam’ was dismantled in 2005, several deadlines for finishing the works had not been met. Now the authorities claim that 80 percent work is over and soon it would be completed. The 1000 pillar temple reflects the magnificence of the Chalukya kings.

The temple is built in the shape of a star and constitutes of three shrines, where the presiding deities are Shiva, Vishnu and Surya. As the name of the temple reflects there are one thousand intricately carved pillars. The sculpture of ‘Nandi’ Shiva’s vehicle, carved out of monolithic black basalt stone has a glossy finish which is a splendid example of the expertise of the artisans. The Thousand Pillar Temple is constructed on the slopes of the Hanumakonda hill, on a 1 metre high platform. Many small shrines dedicated to Shiva encircle the garden of the temple. Criteria for World Heritage Site
Historical and cultural significance
No encroachments inside or near the site
Accessible to tourists and facilities like toilets
An area around the site for landscaping
Title of the site should be clear

- http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2019/feb/26/efforts-on-to-get-heritage-tag-for-1000-pillar-temple-in-warangal-1943793.html, Feb 26, 2019

Philatelists, You Need to See This Nizami Collection

At a time when the electronic medium has relegated the postal system to the back benches, when youngsters wonder about the utility of postage stamps, the philatelic exhibition titled ‘Property of a Gentleman, Stamps from the Nizam of Hyderabad’s Dominion’, organised at the Bikaner House in New Delhi between March 9 and 24, is a timely reminder of how postage stamps were an important part of everyday life. Postage stamps played an essential role in a complex and vast communication network that spread across the world. From their original role as payments to help transfer messages, stamps were also used to facilitate revenue collection, taxation and served other fiscal purposes. Apart from their practical usage several states utilised stamps as a way of celebrating the material heritage and culture of the issuing region. Presented by the Gujral Foundation and curated by Pramod Kumar KG, Managing Director of Eka Archiving, the exhibition presents rare stamps from the Ewari Collection.

US based collector Hanut Ewari inherited the kernel of the collection being exhibited in Delhi from his grandfather, Nawab Iqbal Hussain Khan, who was the Postmaster General of Hyderabad under the reign of the seventh and last ruling Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan. Ewari expanded the collection with a plethora of stamps from across India and the world. The princely state of Hyderabad from southern India printed its own stamps from 1869 onward until it became a part of the Indian Union in 1949. The use of exquisite calligraphy, multifarious languages and architectural tropes demonstrate the far reaching influence of the erstwhile state of Hyderabad.

The objects on display at the ‘Property of a Gentleman, Stamps from the Nizam of Hyderabad’s Dominion’ include rare examples of original postage stamps from Hyderabad ranging from individual stamps to entire stamp sheets, as well as valuable and related ephemera such as original letters, postcards, revenue stamps of the region, erroneous stamps, seals and monograms. While King George VI India Postage stamps were issued during the British Rule in India, those from Hyderabad were unique because they featured the value of the stamp in four different languages --Marathi, Telugu, English and Persian and later in Urdu. Particular highlights in the exhibition include the first stamp issued by the Nizam’s government in Hyderabad; a wide range of postage stamps that evolved over a period of time in different colours, values, inscriptions and sizes; stamps featuring monuments from across the Nizam’s dominion as well as the last stamp issued by the princely state of Hyderabad. Other displays will include the extraordinary Penny Black (the first adhesive postage stamp in the world), and a remarkable King George VI series of Indian postage stamps depicting different modes of transportation used to deliver mail.

The collection also includes exceptional stamps issued in Hyderabad to commemorate the victory of the Allied Powers in the Second World War. According to Pramod Kumar KG, Curator, “This exhibition looks at early forms of modernity as projected by one of India’s leading princely states, Hyderabad, under the reign of the Nizams. The iconography projected in these stamps highlighted the erstwhile state’s diverse architectural and natural wonders and reflected the forward thinking nature of its rulers."

- https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/travelnews/story/69303/stamps-from-the-nizam-of-hyderabads-dominions-comes-to-delhi, Feb 27, 2019

National Museum puts Nizam’s heritage in limelight

Priceless royal jewels which once adorned some of the most powerful Hyderabad Nizams bear testimony to the sheer grandeur of the Asaf Jahi dynasty rulers. Open in Delhi third time now, a public exhibition has displayed 173 dazzling pieces of jewellery, including one of the world’s biggest diamonds -- the Jacob Diamond. “Jewels of India: The Nizam’s Jewellery Collection”, a temporary exhibition at the National Museum, has the Jacob (or Imperial) Diamond as its centerpiece, amid panels of richly-studded crown jewels, "sarpechs", headbands, waistbands, necklaces, rings, earrings and other jewellery. The collection of jewels has come to the museum after 2001 and 2007. They were purchased in 1995 by the Indian government for Rs 218 crore from the last Nizam’s trusts, the National Museum said. The Jacob Diamond is deemed as the seventh largest in the world, it said. Mined from South Africa in the late 1800s, the oval diamond was cut and polished to its present weight of 184.5 carats.

As the legend goes, jeweler Alexander Malcolm Jacob, after whom the invaluable stone is named, sold it to the sixth Nizam, Mahboob Ali Khan -- a deal which ended up in a criminal lawsuit. Having brought much conflict to the Nizam, the diamond was tossed in an old rag. It was found stashed in an old slipper and used as a paperweight by the last Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, who continued to rule Hyderabad till he signed the Instrument of Accession in 1948. The state merged with the Union of India after over 200 years of rule by a single dynasty. Such was the splendour of the Nizams that jewellery worn by royal men and women now represents some of the finest jewels and cultural heritage globally.

Now temporarily housed in a highly-protected chamber of the Museum, the studded rubies, emeralds, diamonds and pearls dating back to 18th-20th centuries, glitter in dim light. As one walks through the chamber wowed, the fine “navratna” bracelets or exceptionally large turban ornaments only add to the surprise. “These are not just examples of opulence, but of the fine artistry and rich craftsmanship we’ve had since the very beginning. It's a matter of pride that India's rich heritage is being displayed,” a US-based IT professional Sridhara Sen, who was visiting with her mother, told IANS. A work to particularly look for is the “Padak Almas Kanval”, a 95-gram gold and silver pendant set with diamonds and rubies. Styled as a large diamond surrounded by smaller ones, the pendant has two parrot-like bird motifs with ruby-diamond beaks perched atop.

A mesmerising “Kanthi” necklace, comprising three rows of around 57 pearls and as many diamonds is also on display. What also interests visitors is early photographs of the royal Nizam families, posing with their fine jewellery and costumes that we see replicated in films, television and theatre. The people are long gone after the last Nizam died in 1967, but have left a rich legacy for the country. On view till May 5 here, the precious exhibits tell tales about rich Indian artistry and a lifestyle unmatched. The entry fee for exhibition costs Rs. 50 and it the show remains open all days except Mondays and national holidays, and the timings of the exhibition are 10 am-6 pm.

- https://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/National/2019-02-27/National-Museum-puts-Nizams-heritage-in-limelight/503002, Feb 27, 2019

Museum on folk culture at Sambalpur on cards

The Sambalpur administration is planning to establish a museum on folk culture in the Veer Surendra Sai Town Hall by May this year. The museum will showcase culture and tradition of entire Western Odisha region. The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), currently undertaking renovation of the Town Hall, would extend support for developing the museum. Work on the museum will begin after completion of the renovation work. The Tourism department had sanctioned `1.24 crore for renovation work of the hall which was inaugurated in 1904 by the then Chief Commissioner of the Central Province J P Hewety. The British Government, the kings, landlords and businessmen of the region had contributed funds for construction of the heritage building. It was named as Victoria Hall and renamed as VSS Town Hall after Independence.

The then Superintending Engineer of the Central Province JB Leven Thorpey had designed the imposing structure. Similarly, work on the mini sports complex on the premises of Gangadhar Meher University (GMU) is likely to begin shortly. The State Government has accepted GMU’s proposal to set up the complex and sanctioned `5 crore for the work. Deputy Registrar of GMU Uma Charan Pati said six acre land has already been identified near the girls’ hostels on the campus. He said the total estimated cost of the project is estimated at `14.03 crore. The State Government will sanction the remaining amount in the subsequent phases. Work is likely to begin by June this year, he said. The sports complex will house a swimming pool of Olympics standards, hockey turf, lawn tennis court, volleyball court and badminton court.

It will have spectator galleries along with indoor games facilities. A gymnasium, yoga centre and rest room for players will also be developed. Since the construction of the sports complex will coincide with the institution’s platinum jubilee, university authorities have decided to name it as Platinum Jubilee Memorial Sports Complex. Pati said many students of the institution had brought laurels to the institute by participating in National and State level championships in the past. However, sports activities in the university have decreased remarkably due to lack of infrastructure.

Heritage Town Hall, which will house the museum, undergoing renovation
Work on sports complex Gangadhar Meher University likely to begin soon
Sports complex will house a swimming pool of Olympics standards, hockey turf, lawn tennis court,
volleyball court and badminton court

- http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2019/feb/28/museum-on-folk-culture-at-sambalpur-on-cards-1944777.html, Feb 28, 2019