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January 2018

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Stamps released on India’s 16 stepwells, 6 are from Rajasthan

Amid the state government's apathy to keep its architectural heritage spick and span, especially the stepwells, that are wonderful structures of ancient water conservation techniques and that are gradually inching towards oblivion, the postal department has taken a step to keep them alive, at least in the hearts of the people. In an initiative, the postal department has released stamps featuring 16 stepwells of the country as a gesture of its concern for their steadily deteriorating state. The price of these stamps has a range of Rs 5 to Rs 15, which will soon be available for sale through all the philatelic bureaus. Of these 16 stepwells chosen for making them eternal by way of postal stamps, six are from Rajasthan. These include Turji ka Jhalra of Jodhpur, Pamma, Iyan ki Baori of Jaipur, Chand Baori of Abhaneri, Raniji ki Baori and Nagar Sagar Kund of Bundi and Neemrana Baori of Alwar. Director (Postal, Jodhpur Zone) K K Yadav said that these step wells have an indelible contribution in addressing the water needs by way of their unique water conservation technique. "Considering their importance, we have tried to enliven these marvelous structures and sensitise the people about their importance," Yadav said. These step wells have been drawing the attention of the tourists since years but the state of gross neglect, these structures have been subjected to by both the people and the governments, have posed a threat to their existence. In Jodhpur, which has about two dozen small and big stepwells, the Jodhpur Municipal Corporation had struck upon an idea of offering adoption of these stepwells but except one of them, none came forward to adopt them for their restoration. But the concern for their architecture and core value has always been put at stake even by its custodians like the JMC, which had issued tenders of restoration of 10 of such step wells some time back and the work was given to the civil contractors, who had no idea at all about restoration of an architectural master peace of yesteryears. The INTACH had then intervened and had taken up the work of restoration of two such step wells with the help of the experts.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/stamps-released-on-indias-16-stepwells-6-are-from-raj/articleshow/62330413.cms, Jan 2, 2018

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Mumbai to get first textile museum

To document, archive and represent Mumbai’s textile legacy, the Indian megalopolis by the Arabian Sea, home to 20 million people, give or take a few, is all set to get its first textile museum. More than eight years after the initial proposal, the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation), Mumbai's governing civic body, will start with construction in February of this year. Apart from a museum celebrating the city’s mill legacy, the proposed structure includes a live, functioning mini-textile mill and a representation of the past chawl life - the city's former housing units for the working class, designed to provide cheap accommodation for the stream of migrants coming to the city since the early 1900s, many of them to work in the city's textile mills. In addition, landscaping is planned around a lake inside the compound as well as an amphitheatre and a musical fountain. The whole complex will be spread over 16.3 acres (61,000 square metres) of land at the defunct United Mill compound in the Kalachowki neighborhood in the city's eastern suburbs, of which 14 acres will be used for construction and the rest for beautification.“My note to the planning committee is to make the museum interactive for the public, accessible which is enjoyed by all the citizens of the city,” said municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta as quoted by Hindustan Times. Part of the United Mills compound are three ring and spinning structures, a chimney, a semi-automatic loom and a pond, all of which are protected by varying heritage status levels. Restoration work on some of the structures has already begun. “All the heritage structures will be restored to its past glory. I have asked the committee to restore the mills, the water body in the compound,”added Mehta. The BMC has appointed JJ School of Arts, Mumbai's premier art institute established in 1857, to prepare a vision document for the museum and to design its architecture. The new museum will include fashion galleries that display traditional Indian textiles as well as the life and culture of the mill worker communities over the ages and education about India's and specifically Mumbai's once thriving textile industry. Rather than catering to a small elite, Mumbai's new textile museum is meant for everyone - the descendants of the former mill workers and the average citizen. “The JJ School of Architecture, along with Fine Arts and Applied Arts, is working to give this museum to the citizens of Mumbai. Most museums tend to be elitist and are frequented only by the rich. We want this museum to be accessible to the public at large,” said Rajiv Mishra, principal of Sir JJ College of Architecture, director at the State Directorate of Art, Maharashtra and member of the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC), according to the Indian Express. Mishra is currently leading a team of 15 experts from the school in planning the project. New graduate students will get a chance to showcase their art works as the new museum will also have a dedicated exhibition space for them. “The space will be allocated to new graduates, from painters to sculptors, who will be able to rent the space for six months to one year, showcase their art and also sell it. After a year, their place will be taken by new graduates. The space will not be given to boutique stores,” said Mehta. A separate exhibition area is also planned. Given the heritage structure of the mill site, the project had to clear hurdles when getting the necessary clearances, initially facing non-approval of the plan by the MHCC and lack of funding. However, on 19th December 2017, the BMC held a pre-bid meeting for the first phase of the museum and the begin of construction is slated for February. The musical water fountain, as a technical project, is not included in the current tenders but an expression of interest will be invited during this month itself. The first cotton mill was set up in Mumbai by The Bombay Spinning and Weaving Company in the Tardeo neighbourhood in 1856. Ten more mills followed until 1865, employing over 6,500 workers. By 1900, the city already boasted 136 mills and was soon known as the “Manchester of the East”, employing hundreds of thousands of workers at its peak. However, the recession of the 1920s did not leave Mumbai's textile mills unaffected and led to stagnation. In 1925, there were only 81 active mills in the city and the number further declined after World War II, leading to permanent closure after the Great Bombay Textile Strike of 1982. In recent years, some of the mills have been redeveloped; the most popular being Phoenix Mills in Lower Parel, which is now a shopping mall. Under conservation efforts, more are planned to be turned into museums with one successful project completed, which is United Mills in Lalbaug. Photos: United India Mills No. 1 by Rohidas Gaonkar; abandoned Madhusudhan Mill by Kunal Ghevaria; Phoenix Mills by Rakesh Krishna Kumar; all mills located in Lower Parel, all images via Wikipedia.

- https://fashionunited.in/news/culture/mumbai-to-get-first-textile-museum/2018010216423, Jan 2, 2018

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Mumbai to get first textile museum

To document, archive and represent Mumbai’s textile legacy, the Indian megalopolis by the Arabian Sea, home to 20 million people, give or take a few, is all set to get its first textile museum. More than eight years after the initial proposal, the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation), Mumbai's governing civic body, will start with construction in February of this year. Apart from a museum celebrating the city’s mill legacy, the proposed structure includes a live, functioning mini-textile mill and a representation of the past chawl life - the city's former housing units for the working class, designed to provide cheap accommodation for the stream of migrants coming to the city since the early 1900s, many of them to work in the city's textile mills. In addition, landscaping is planned around a lake inside the compound as well as an amphitheatre and a musical fountain. The whole complex will be spread over 16.3 acres (61,000 square metres) of land at the defunct United Mill compound in the Kalachowki neighborhood in the city's eastern suburbs, of which 14 acres will be used for construction and the rest for beautification.“My note to the planning committee is to make the museum interactive for the public, accessible which is enjoyed by all the citizens of the city,” said municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta as quoted by Hindustan Times. Part of the United Mills compound are three ring and spinning structures, a chimney, a semi-automatic loom and a pond, all of which are protected by varying heritage status levels. Restoration work on some of the structures has already begun. “All the heritage structures will be restored to its past glory. I have asked the committee to restore the mills, the water body in the compound,”added Mehta. The BMC has appointed JJ School of Arts, Mumbai's premier art institute established in 1857, to prepare a vision document for the museum and to design its architecture. The new museum will include fashion galleries that display traditional Indian textiles as well as the life and culture of the mill worker communities over the ages and education about India's and specifically Mumbai's once thriving textile industry. Rather than catering to a small elite, Mumbai's new textile museum is meant for everyone - the descendants of the former mill workers and the average citizen. “The JJ School of Architecture, along with Fine Arts and Applied Arts, is working to give this museum to the citizens of Mumbai. Most museums tend to be elitist and are frequented only by the rich. We want this museum to be accessible to the public at large,” said Rajiv Mishra, principal of Sir JJ College of Architecture, director at the State Directorate of Art, Maharashtra and member of the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC), according to the Indian Express. Mishra is currently leading a team of 15 experts from the school in planning the project. New graduate students will get a chance to showcase their art works as the new museum will also have a dedicated exhibition space for them. “The space will be allocated to new graduates, from painters to sculptors, who will be able to rent the space for six months to one year, showcase their art and also sell it. After a year, their place will be taken by new graduates. The space will not be given to boutique stores,” said Mehta. A separate exhibition area is also planned. Given the heritage structure of the mill site, the project had to clear hurdles when getting the necessary clearances, initially facing non-approval of the plan by the MHCC and lack of funding. However, on 19th December 2017, the BMC held a pre-bid meeting for the first phase of the museum and the begin of construction is slated for February. The musical water fountain, as a technical project, is not included in the current tenders but an expression of interest will be invited during this month itself. The first cotton mill was set up in Mumbai by The Bombay Spinning and Weaving Company in the Tardeo neighbourhood in 1856. Ten more mills followed until 1865, employing over 6,500 workers. By 1900, the city already boasted 136 mills and was soon known as the “Manchester of the East”, employing hundreds of thousands of workers at its peak. However, the recession of the 1920s did not leave Mumbai's textile mills unaffected and led to stagnation. In 1925, there were only 81 active mills in the city and the number further declined after World War II, leading to permanent closure after the Great Bombay Textile Strike of 1982. In recent years, some of the mills have been redeveloped; the most popular being Phoenix Mills in Lower Parel, which is now a shopping mall. Under conservation efforts, more are planned to be turned into museums with one successful project completed, which is United Mills in Lalbaug. Photos: United India Mills No. 1 by Rohidas Gaonkar; abandoned Madhusudhan Mill by Kunal Ghevaria; Phoenix Mills by Rakesh Krishna Kumar; all mills located in Lower Parel, all images via Wikipedia.

- https://fashionunited.in/news/culture/mumbai-to-get-first-textile-museum/2018010216423, Jan 2, 2018

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New Year promises new finds at Harappan site

More than eight months after evidence was found of a bead workshop in Kunal, Fatehabad, a team of archaeologists will be setting out for the site in January for what they hope will be fresh discoveries. This site, three hours out of Gurgaon, is known to date back to the early Harappan era, though it has been speculated that it goes even further back. It is the oldest site to have been discovered in Haryana. The team, says Banani Bhattacharya - deputy director, department of archaeology and museums, Government of Haryana - is keen on understanding more about settlement patterns in the area. "It's an early Harappan site, and we have got evidence up to the PGW (painted grey ware) culture also," she told TOI, adding, "We have to see if the PGW culture correlates with the late Harappan phase, or if it's a separate culture altogether." The painted grey ware culture is an Iron Age culture that predominated from around 1200 BCE to 800 BCE, in a swathe of land which today roughly corresponds to that straddling eastern Pakistan and northwestern and central India. The archaeologists will be hoping to cover more digs in 2018, as they seek further information about the settlement, including details on its layout. "In Kunal, there was an industrial area which was separate from the main area of habitation. The latter is in the centre of the mound, but the former area may be outside of the main settlement," Bhattacharya explained. This was the first time that such a workshop was discovered in the state (incidentally, a copper smelting zone was unearthed here in the 1990s). But it differed from other workshops found elsewhere, in that steatite (soapstone) was being used to make beads of exceptional quality. For, when it came to trade, beads were among the most important items. "The raw materials for these beads came to Kunal from Gujarat and Rajasthan, but the skilled workers were in Haryana, making beads from carnelians, agate, jasper and lapis lazuli," described Bhattacharya. Moreover, there's proof that there was contact with other areas, up to Central Asia, and maybe as far afield as Mesopotamia. "For example, we also found some gold beads, which must have come from somewhere else since there is no gold mine in the surrounding area. "The routes of that age, that is something we have to decipher," Bhattacharya added. It remains to be seen whether the latest phase of excavations will help archaeologists and historians get closer to solving the fascinating jigsaw puzzle that is Harappan (and pre-Harappan) India. The excavations are being conducted by the Haryana Archaeology Department, the National Museum (New Delhi) and the Indian Archaeological Society (New Delhi).

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/new-year-promises-new-finds-at-harappan-site/articleshow/62330211.cms, Jan 2, 2018

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Mound Spotted By Nitish Kumar Yields 3,000-Year-Old Potsherds

A mound spotted by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at a village in Sheikhpura district has yielded potsherds, perhaps dating back to 1000 BC. Potsherds are pieces of broken ceramic pot or other earthenware that have archaeological significance. "We visited the site yesterday and were thrilled to discover a number of potsherds which give a hint about the antiquity of the mound," Executive Director of the K P Jayaswal Research Institute, Bijoy Kumar Chaudhary, said on Sunday. The state-run institute, located in the Patna Museum building, researches in the field of history and archaeology. "Black slip wares and black and red wares found at the site appear to be of a period around 1000 BC. We also found some red furnished ware that could date back to the Neolithic period," Mr Chaudhary told PTI. A team of archaeologists conducted preliminary explorations at Pharpar village in Ariyari block after getting a call from Chief Secretary Anjani Kumar Singh. The chief secretary, who was accompanying the chief minister during his visit to the village on Friday, telephoned Mr Chaudhary after Mr Kumar noticed the mound and observed that it looked like a site of historical and archaeological importance, he said. The village is about 120 kilometres from the state capital. The archaeologists also found some fragmented sculptures of Buddha, Lord Vishnu and some female deities. "Fragmented sculptures had been found in the village earlier also when our institute was carrying out state-wide explorations. But the mound was overlooked at that time," Mr Chaudhary said. Preliminary explorations have established the archaeological significance of the spot, he said. "We now plan to conduct a comprehensive exploration which may yield many more artefacts and shed light on the historical significance of the obscure spot," Mr Chaudhary said. The spot was noticed by the chief minister on Friday when he was there on his 'Vikas Samiksha Yatra', to take stock of the development work carried out by his government. Nitish Kumar is known for his interest in archaeology. At his instance, a "Bihar museum" has been set up in the state capital, which was inaugurated a couple of months ago while museums across the state are being given a face-lift. After the ancient Nalanda University got the UNESCO World Heritage status in 2016, Mr Kumar is now making efforts to get the same tag for the cyclopean wall at Rajgir. A cyclopean wall is constructed without mortar, using enormous blocks of stone.

- https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/mound-spotted-by-nitish-kumar-yields-3000-year-old-potsherds-1794322, Jan 2, 2018

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Mission 2018: Bring Further Museums Across India Onto Single Digital Platform

The range of the exhibit themes is immense; so is the geographical spread of structures housing them. For instance, Ahmedabad has as of late a participatory museum that addresses the theme of conflict in divisions of six spaces showcasing the violent as well as oppressive past of Gujarat since 1960. The same city has an AutoWorld Vintage Car Museum assembling the largest (100-plus) collection of vintage cars and other automobiles in India. Diagonally east of the country, Kolkata boasts of a memorabilia museum that traces the life and times of Raja Ram Mohan Roy exhibiting carefully-crafted replicas of period furniture, clothing and other items that socio-religious reformer used in his lifetime (1772-1833). Down south, NIMHANS Brain Museum primarily displays 400 human brains (in see-through plastic jars) collected over four decades with focus on various head injuries, cerebrovascular diseases, brain infections, neurodegenerative disorders and brain tumours. While up north, the capital city of Delhi has the Shankar’s International Doll Museum with chiefly 150 types of Indian costume dolls created at its own workshop. In metros exist lesser-known museums, while some major (and off-beat) ones find themselves in tier-2 cities. And today, as the country’s government is finding ways to embolden safety measures across museums in several states, an online resource on Indian arts and culture is into the second phase of a pioneering project that seeks to bring all big and small artefacts-preserving establishments within the national boundary onto a single digital platform, www.museumsofindia.org. Sahapedia, a non-profit organisation managing www.sahapedia.org which is a web-based open resource on India’s arts, cultures and histories, aims to map every one of the country’s nearly 1,000 known museums on a publicly-accessible venue. The endeavour, steeped in the idea of building up information and improving interactivity since the launch of the novel project early in the middle of this year, is currently into its second phase. That chapter, formally inaugurated in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur during a cultural event at the Arna Jharna museum last month, strives to bring more museum listings and initiates the process of making the digital platform transactional. The idea is to enable the public not just view information on the museums but also buy entry tickets or souvenirs or publications from the museums and access other services online, points out scholar Sudha Gopalakrishnan, executive director of the 2011-founded Sahapedia that generally shares what is curated in the form of culture-related multimedia modules, made up of articles, interviews, photographs, videos of performances, timelines, walkthroughs and bibliographies. As for this ambitious project launched in May 2017, the ancillary effect is the help that would accrue for small and medium museums that do not otherwise have publicity or promotional mechanisms to reach more people and strengthen footfalls. “Museums have, so far, worked as standalone entities. Such scanning has not happened before,” notes Dr Sudha. “It highlights how crucial museums are and what they represent such as the local history and the diversity. Additionally, it is also important to have a resource for the people working in the space for networking, progressing in their work and learning from each other as a community.” Sahapedia secretary Vaibhav Chauhan, who oversees the museum project, says the second phase aims to enrich the website with 350 more museums. “We are focussing on tier-2 and 3 cities that are popular in the tourism circuit, but lack visibility. We have assimilated diverse museums to our network, both in metros and the regional parts,” he reveals about the portal that currently lists 220 museums from across 20 cities. “The initiative has been winning us appreciation from the government and the museums. Niti Aayog or the National Institution for Transforming India, for instance, extended its support to us. Our website has seen a surge in traffic of late, following which we are now in the process of offering the museums a direct access to the dashboard to feed in the information. This will further streamline the process of mapping the museums.” The Sahapedia project team consists of academic, design, editorial and technology professionals and scholars who manage the project from research, coordination and execution. Additionally, it has a network of interns across India who documents the museums within their proximity. “Our model is such that we incorporate museums that are open to public visits; we do not have any other shortlisting criterion,” informs Chauhan, who is a founder-member of Sahapedia. “We aim to map the wealth of museums, irrespective of size and category they belong to. The idea is to be as diverse as possible. For documentation, we have stable guidelines that we share with the interns or the museums.” As a CSR-supported initiative, Sahapedia has its major funders in TCS Foundation, Infosys Foundation and ONGC. “We aim to make Sahapedia financially sustainable through heritage tourism, education, conservation and consulting,” adds Chauhan. As of now, www.museumsofindia.org features museums from well-known regional tourist destinations including Thiruvananthapuram, Hyderabad, Pondicherry, Nashik, Chennai, Bhopal, Indore, Ujjain, Patna, Mysore, Lucknow, Pune and Ajmer besides parts of Manipur, Sikkim and Meghalaya. Sahapedia, which has access to a large talent pool of academicians and researchers, also undertakes large-scale cultural documentation and conservation projects. Some of these projects include a 12-volume book series on the Rashtrapati Bhavan, digital cultural mapping of Fort Kochi city, and an ongoing MuseumMapping project that aims to bring nearly 1,000 museums across India on a single digital platform.

- https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/mission-2018-bring-further-museums-across-india-onto-single-digital-platform/306259, Jan 2, 2018

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Rani Bakhri revamp on last leg

A palace complex, once lying in ruins in the heart of the town, could shortly become the next tourist attraction in the city. A cluster of palaces, built by different kings of the region, had been lying in neglect near the Patneswari Temple here. W.R. Gibert, a political agent of the British, had painted a picture of the cluster in 1825, highlighting the magnificence of the era and the construction. The painting is now in The British Library in London. The oldest among these, Jaru Mahal, was built by Balabhadra Sai in 1600. However, decades of neglect has reduced Jaru Mahal and another palace to dust. The only one that is still standing, Jemadei Mahal, popularly known as Rani Bakhri or Queen's Palace, is undergoing renovation. Built by Baliar Singh in the 1650s as an additional palace for his queen, it now bears the name of his daughter Jemadei. However, since its heyday, the building had been neglected and lying in such a dilapidated state that many local residents were not even aware of its existence despite passing by it regularly on their way to Ma Samaleswari temple, the town's presiding deity, located 100m from the palace. Finally, once the Sambalpur chapter of the Indian National Trust of Cultural Heritage (Intach) was set uparound four years ago, the local residents took up an initiative for the palace's conservation. Responding to their suggestions, members from Intach's state chapter and Delhi visited the place and prepared a detailed project report and submitted it to the tourism and culture department. Cultural affairs minister Ashok Chandra Panda, in consultation with local MLA Raseswari Panigrahi, allocated Rs 1 crore for the project, following which the renovation started. Conservators removed plasters from the walls, and after stitching the cracks, plastered those using lime and other mixtures as used in the 1650s. Panda, during his last visit to the town in early 2017, reviewed the progress and directed officials to complete the work as soon as possible. "The work is going on in full swing and has almost reached the finishing point," Deepak Panda, researcher and Intach member said. "Once completed, it will be another tourist attraction. We have tried to maintain the old structure as much as possible," Panda said. But the lack of an approach road to the palace has become a major hurdle for the conservators. Revenue officials had distributed the land around the palace for residential homes. Intach has suggested that the state government compensate the home owners concerned to vacate the land for passage. According to estimates, it would require about Rs 60 lakh for the purpose and Intach is still awaiting a response from the government. Intach is also eager to come up with an art and photography gallery at the palace.

- https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/odisha/rani-bakhri-revamp-on-last-leg-198140, Jan 3, 2018

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ACTIVISTS RAISE OBJECTIONS TO CONSTRUCTION BY ASI WORKERS AT SHANIWARWADA ENTRANCE

Heritage enthusiasts in the city are up in arms against the construction being carried out at the Shaniwarwada by the Archaeology Survey of India (ASI). The ASI, in September, had come up with a plan to install automatic entry gates at the site which will be a replica of the system followed at metro stations. Heritage activists feel that the location at which the token booth and the entrance gate is being put up will leave no scope for visitors to see the Maharashtrian paintings on the wall. After analysing the construction, a report was submitted by Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Pune chapter mentioning its consequences. Sharvey Dhongde, co-convener, INTACH, lamented, “We are not against the automatic gates, but our concern is about the spot where the gates and the token booth are being installed. The token booth is an eyesore because of the wrong position. Why would anyone want to see a booth just as they enter the premises of a monument? That is an important place to get a feel of the heritage structure. The whole perception of the monument totally changes with the new construction.” Despite efforts made by the activists, the work at the site has continued and is said to be completed by the coming week. Bipin Chandra, deputy superintending archaeologist, ASI, Mumbai circle, informed, “It is a decision taken by the higher authorities. But if we find the work not appreciated, then we might change the location of the gate. We cannot take a call right now.” The report submitted by INTACH mentions that concrete platforms have been constructed over the original stone structures which have caused damages to the original one. The booth will also hide the cannon which has been kept for display, it added.

- http://punemirror.indiatimes.com/pune/others/activists-raise-objections-to-construction-by-asi-workers-at-shaniwarwada-entrance/articleshow/62342338.cms, Jan 3, 2018

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Heritage experts say amended monuments law will ruin Delhi monuments

Heritage enthusiasts and conservators have said that the amendments to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMSAR) Act would open floodgates for illegal constructions near them. The Lok Sabha passed amendments to the law on Tuesday, allowing construction of the Centre-approved public infrastructure projects proposed within the 100-metre radius of Archeological Survey of India (ASI)-protected monuments. Swapna Liddle, convener, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), said the restricted zone around monuments should be sacrosanct. “Once the relaxation is official, I fear that violation of the regulated areas will become the rule rather than exception.

Infrastructure projects are intrinsically the most intrusive and damaging — from the point of aesthetics as well as any other impacts,” she said. AGK Memon, conservator and urban planner, termed the decision as ‘failure’ of planners and administration. “It happens when development is the priority. It shows that the planners and administrators are not willing to do necessary work and make efforts. The permission will become an excuse to destroy structural heritage if option like this is available,” he said. Disapproving of amendments, Menon said the decision is complete disregard to country’s inheritance. “The weakest of all has to sacrifice, and in this case it is the monuments. The original Act, prohibiting any construction around 100 metres of a historical building, was passed in 2010.

It was one of the few laws, which was cleared without any objections,” he said. Union minister Mahesh Sharma told the Lok Sabha on Tuesday that the decision would pave the way for several stalled development projects, including expansion of Metro rails and roads and bridges across the country in restricted zones. In Delhi, the rule has affected significant projects such as multilevel parking at Kasturba Gandhi Marg and a tunnel linking National Highway 24 (Nizamuddin Bridge) and Lodi Road. Recently, the Public Work Department (PWD) had to redesign its 1.1km Mathura Road-Ring Road underpass cutting through Pragati Maidan as the project was too close to Purana Quila and Sher Shah Suri Gate near Delhi High Court.

The realignment has resulted into dispute between the PWD and National Sports Club of India (NSCI) as the agency requires nearly two acres land, which is part of club premises, for the construction. Elated with the changes introduced to the law, the club on Wednesday said it would approach the PWD to rework its plan because the design was changed due to restriction in the act. “Tunnel, which was originally constructed at Mathura Road --Bhairon Road junction, now planned at Purana Qila Road signal near gate no 5 of Pragati Maidan. It will not resolve traffic congestion on the stretch because choke point is Mathura Road--Bhairon Road junction. We will move the Delhi High Court if required,” said Neel Kant Bakshi, honorary general secretary of NSCI.

- http://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-news/heritage-experts-say-amended-monuments-law-will-ruin-monuments/story-xCVMfmgl2v8UcyxcPOIBzI.html, Jan 4, 2018

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Duleep Singh memorial victim of royal neglect

Bassian Kothi, the mansion where 11-year-old Sikh ruler Maharaja Duleep Singh spent a night on December 31, 1849, is disintegrating and crying for attention of the Punjab Government. Bassian Kothi was said to have been built around 1800. It had served as an ammunition supply depot of the erstwhile British Military Division based in Ferozepur before it assumed historical importance due to the one-night stay of Duleep Singh in it in the winter of 1849. The building was also said to have doubled as a “torture centre” for the Punjab Police during the decade-long turmoil in the state. After annexing Punjab, the British regime had arrested Maharaja Duleep Singh from his kingdom in Lahore on December 21, 1849, and had exiled him in the erstwhile United Provinces (now known as Uttar Pradesh).

In their bid to avoid mutiny by native people, the British had decided to move the “Maharaja” slowly out of the state and deliberately took a long alternative route to Fatehgarh by avoiding the Grand Trunk Road. After spending one night here in Bassian, the young Maharaja and his entourage had left on January 1, 1849, for Fatehgarh, where he was kept in captivity. The Bassian Kothi had been renovated and converted into Maharaja Duleep Singh memorial by the Punjab Government in 2015. The restoration work of the 13-acre property was completed by Indian National Trust and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).

The memorial building housed replicas of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s throne, a huge sword, a royal chair, a dress, a diamond necklace and pictures showcasing various aspects of his life. The memorial seems to have fallen on bad days now apparently due to the lack of attention of the authorities. The walls of all three halls have developed cracks. The paint and plaster is falling apart at a number of places. Some of the focus lights installed for highlighting replicas of various artefacts of the Sikh Raj are not working and so are a number of fans. The water pumping motor installed there cannot cater to the needs of lawns and an unkempt herbal garden situated on the huge 13-acre property. An employee said the historical place was loosing its sheen for want of funds and attention of the higher authorities.

- http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/duleep-singh-memorial-victim-of-royal-neglect/523224.html, Jan 4, 2018

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Ancient stone tools dating back to 15,000 years discovered near Mumbai beach

Indian archaeologists have found stone tools dating back to the Middle Stone Age on a hill near Manori beach in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The microliths, or minute flint stone tools could date back to 10,000 to 15,000 years. Hindustan Times (HT) reported that experts believe that the hills could possibly be a factory site for such implements in those days. This latest finding would help the scientists to trace the island habitation in the Mesolithic era. "Tool-making debris is found along with blade tools there, which is why it is believed to be a factory site. Through comparative dating of data, it can be said that these tools could date back to approximately 15,000 years," Kurush Dalal, assistant professor (archaeology) and coordinator, Centre for Extra-Mural Studies (CEMS), University of Mumbai, told Hindustan Times (HT). Abhijeet Dandekar, assistant professor at the Pune-based Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute, said that the stone tools could also be helpful to get information about people's diet during that era.

"We haven't found skeletal remains, but only stone tools. What we can gauge from the findings is that this is the period before agriculture started, and fish was a major part of their diet," Dandekar said. He added: "This was the era before man invented clothing, and it is believed that the people lived in the open or under natural rock outcrops." In an interview, Professor Mayank Vahia told HT that this recent discovery is a remarkable finding and these tools will surely determine Mumbai's existence. "Mumbai's history can be traced back to thousands of years ... we know Kalyan and Nalasopara were major trade centres of West Asia before the Harappan civilization. But it's difficult to determine whether the seven islands that became Mumbai city were populated in those days," Prof. Vahia said.

- http://www.ibtimes.sg/ancient-stone-tools-dating-back-15000-years-discovered-india-22612, Jan 4, 2018

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Focus French connection

Registry Building, a derelict colonnaded structure with louvered screens, caught in the clasp of myriad tree roots at the corner of the Strand, declared as condemned by the civic body, is the focal point of an initiative in Chandernagore for the former French colony to reconnect with its built architectural heritage. Friday will see the launch of Know Your Indo-French Heritage, a week-long multidisciplinary workshop that is taking place within the ambit of Bonjour India, a celebration of Indo-French partnership in innovation and creativity across the country, organised by the French Embassy and Institut Francais.

"It is a collaborative workshop designed for the restoration of French-built heritage which will not survive unless people are proud of the town's assets and realise that this can be a source of economic growth," said French consul general Damien Syed, who reiterated his distress at the state of dereliction of the French heritage structures. Students from Jadavpur University, Chandernagore College and The Confluence Institute for Innovation and Creative Strategies in Architecture, Lyon, will meet at Chandernagore College on Friday. "They are expected to come up with innovative design solutions as to how public spaces in the town can be better utilised. One of the outcomes of the workshop would be a sustainable business model for the reuse of the Registry Building.

IIM Nagpur will collaborate on that," said Aishwariya Tipnis, a conservation architect who has worked to identify the heritage buildings in Chandernagore. Seven buildings from her list, including the Registry Building, have recently been selected for notification as heritage structures by the state heritage commission. All ideas from the workshop will be exhibited on the Strand as part of the closing ceremony on January 12 for the public as well as French ambassador Alexandre Ziegler to see. "We will also launch a crowd-funding initiative which will possibly be a first in India for restoration of a building," she said. Four heritage adda sessions will take place involving eminent residents like lighting wizard Sridhar Das and representatives of heritage businesses like confectioner Surya Kumar Modak. Beyond Chandernagore.

France will be the partner country this year at the state government's Bengal Global Business Summit. "For the first time, we will have a delegation of nine or 10 companies," said Syed. This is a significant development after the pullout of a French joint venture from the Haldia port which was blamed on strong-arm tactics by an entrenched lobby close to the ruling establishment. The then ambassador Francois Richier had raised the matter with the state government during his city visit in 2014.

- https://www.telegraphindia.com/calcutta/focus-french-connection-198770, Jan 5, 2018

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It is time to regain our Indianess

Opinion -The seed for this column germinated while I was buying some Bombay Duck in Chennai last week. Bombay Duck, which is actually lizardfish, is available only on the Mumbai coast. It earned its name during colonial rule in India when the fish was transported in trains from Bombay that carried mail, which in Hindi is called “daak”. Bombay Daak - as the fish was referred to by the locals - was bastardised to “duck” by the white rulers, and the name has since stuck as Bombay Duck. While waiting in the long queue at a Spar outlet - yes, the major South African chain has opened hypermarkets in major Indian cities - I thought about how Indians in South Africa had largely given up eating Bombay Duck. Dried-and-salted Bombay Duck, when fried and eaten with rice and dhal, used to be a popular poor man’s meal. While the dried fish has an acquired taste, it has a very strong smell, which might not go down too well with people not accustomed to it. However, decades ago, many homes, rich and poor, frequently featured Bombay Duck on the menu.

It is now a rare culinary delight. Together with mealie rice and sheep’s head, trotters and tripe, it has been tossed out from everyday life. So too the ubiquitous sari which was once the common dress for Indian women and is now only seen on religious social occasions; marigold garlands at the door, other than on religious occasions; and almost compulsory vernacular education.

It may be argued that preparing some traditional foods involves processes that are elaborate and today’s busy households, where time is at a premium for both working spouses, has made quick food the norm. Feeble reasons may also be offered for so many other discarded Indian traditions and customs. It may be said that unlike Western garments, the sari takes too long to drape, that Westernised baby names are being given because Indian baby names can be difficult to pronounce even if they have a rich, cultural meaning. That wearing the thali or mangalsutra will make you a victim of chain snatchers.

Never mind that the dot some Hindu married women wear on their foreheads is so tiny that you need a magnifying glass to see it. The point I am trying to make is that Indians are fast shedding their Indianness. Why? Why is the Indian so easily succumbing to social and political influences instead of transmitting his/her own culture and heritage to descendants to preserve and to pass on to ensuing generations? In the passage of time everything decays by the laws of nature, but roots of origin of human beings are not abolished totally due to the preservation and transformation process. It is an inherent quality or habit of human beings.

Grandparents play an important role to pass their hereditary culture and history of roots to grandchildren. The Zulu gogo or grandmother plays a pivotal role even to this day in inculcating respect for tradition and culture among the youth. Not so Indian grandparents, who are guilty of dereliction of duty by not passing on their culture and heritage to their descendants. They are instead too busy feeding their additions to Facebook and WhatsApp. Society is changing rapidly due to technological development, globalisation and liberalisation, and the impact of these forces has altered the role of grandparents. It is time for some serious introspection as a community.

One week into the new year, the Indian diaspora in South Africa, like their brethren throughout the world, should consider resolving to preserve at least some major Indian ethno-cultural characteristics and beliefs. It is important that culture and heritage is preserved through generations. Cultural heritage, including language, oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events and the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts, requires an active effort to safeguard it. It is important to preserve our cultural heritage, because it keeps our integrity as a people. The importance of cultural heritage is not just the cultural manifestation itself, for example, through song and dance, but rather the wealth of knowledge and skills transmitted from one generation to the next. The social and economic value of this transmission of knowledge is relevant for minority groups to command respect based on the equity of the community’s cultural assets. There is no need to make political excuses for dumping Indian traditional values. Down through the ages, humans have never stuck to the same cultures, ethics and traditions.

If we had done so, then the whole world would have become a homogeneous society. During evolution, humans created cultures, ethics and traditions and the best of them were preserved and gifted by our ancestors. We should take it as our responsibility to pass the best of them to the next generation and also contribute to it. Cultures, ethics and traditions help us to reach the top. If we do not preserve them, we will not be able to progress in our own life, forget about society.

There was a time when Indians in South Africa were known for their hard work. They were respected for their industriousness and the strong emphasis they placed on education. They were also highly regarded for their strong family systems. It is time to again imbibe the values that emanated from Indian culture and heritage. Parents must resolve to make their children more aware of Indian culture. They must celebrate festivals such as Deepavali, Ramadaan, Pongal and Navarathri with greater vigour by following Indian culture, Indian tradition and Indian rituals. This will bring them closer to rich Indian culture.

- https://www.iol.co.za/thepost/it-is-time-to-regain-our-indianess-12607367, Jan 5, 2018

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Red alert over green cover at frothing Hussainsagar

After frothing for the first time two months ago, Hussainsagar is now turning green, thanks to algal bloom. Water in a lake turning green implies that it's on the death bed. Large swathes of algal bloom were noticed on Sunday, particularly around the lake bund, on all sides. Analysis of samples collected in the last five years reveal that pollution in Hussainsagar, built 455 years ago, has been rising, taking the lake nearer to what experts term 'limnological death'. Recent research studies reveal that heavy pollution has resulted in high nutrient content in Hussainsagar, leading to the algal bloom. As summer approaches, algal swathes would only increase. Visitors to the lake on Sunday were surprised on seeing the green water as they have been accustomed its foul stench but not "coloured" water. Limnologists or experts in lake studies said that heavy presence of chlorophyceae algae is giving water the greenish tinge. Already Saroornagar lake, a heritage water body like Hussainsagar, is changing colour from green to blue with seasons. A similar phenomenon is in store for Hussainsagar. A study by researchers from the department of zoology and the pharmacognosy and medicinal plants laboratory of Osmania University published in the recent issue of the International Journal of Scientific Research in Science and Technology revealed that the water quality in the lake has been deteriorating over the years in most of the parameters that govern water quality index. Though the study was primarily meant on treating the highly polluted Hussainsagar water using a patented purifying technology, data collected by the researchers present a sorry state of affairs. The researchers concluded that the polluted Hussainsagar has "shown high values except for nitrite radical concentration. These results indicate that Hussainsagar water is alkaline, less productive in nature, highly polluted and not suitable for drinking and culture of fishes". INTACH Telangana co-convener P Anuradha Reddy said there is urgent need to protect the historic lake. "Hussainsagar is a lake of heritage and historical value. All the encroachments in its original catchment should be removed and rain water should be allowed to freely flow into it. If this done, the lake will revive within a couple of years," she added.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/red-alert-over-green-cover-at-frothing-hussainsagar/articleshow/62408449.cms, Jan 8, 2018

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On ASI’s list of ‘missing monuments’: Sher Shah Suri’s guns, cemeteries, temple

Over the last decade, at least 10 MPs, from different political parties, had the same question: how many of India’s monuments were missing? In the winter of 2009, the count was 35. In the nine years since then, the list of missing monuments submitted in Lok Sabha grew, then shrunk, and as of January 1, 2018, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the custodian of India’s 3,686 protected monuments, said 14 were “affected by” rapid urbanisation, 12 were submerged by reservoirs or dams, and 24 it simply could not trace. In the last decade, Jammu & Kashmir and Karnataka appear to have found theirs — both states had at least a couple of “untraceable monuments” in 2009 but are not on the latest list. In Uttar Pradesh and other states in central India, many more monuments have gone off the radar — UP, for instance, had eight untraceable monuments in 2009. The number is now 10. In its response to “efforts” made to trace these monuments, the Ministry of Culture has, over the years, alluded to an expanding India to explain the case of missing monuments. Last year too, in his reply submitted in the Lok Sabha, MoS (Culture) Mahesh Sharma said the untraceable monuments — these include the ‘Guns of Emperor Sher Shah’ in Assam, a whole ‘Copper Temple in Lohit’, European tombs in Pune and ancient cemeteries — could have been lost to urbanisation. However, Sher Shah Suri’s guns, which top the list of “untraceable monuments”, may not be missing after all. In 2014, the guns reportedly surfaced in a circuit house in Chapakhuwa in upper Assam, ending speculations of its whereabouts. As for the Kutumbari temple in Almora, which is on the ministry’s “untraceable” list, the website of ASI’s Dehradun circle states that while the temple itself is lost, “architectural members of the temple can be seen on the houses nearby” — that is, they have been taken away by villagers for construction. In essence, the temple lives on in villagers’ homes. Heritage enthusiasts cite poor maintenance, vandalism and attrition as reasons for monuments going untraceable. “Certainly, not all 3,686 monuments are protected like the Taj Mahal is. Those on the periphery are neglected or destroyed due to vandalism or attrition,” former convenor of INTACH-Delhi A G K Menon told The Sunday Express. A former senior official with the ASI, who did not wish to be named, called attention to the quality of the list itself. “Not all the monuments on the list are lost. Some have been relocated, some just require a properly structured investigation to seek them out,” he said. “The real issue is the ASI functions with a skeletal staff and is in desperate need of trained manpower.” Yet, every time a Member of Parliament has raised a question about untraceable monuments, a variation of this list is submitted as an annexure. This year, the ministry said in its reply that ASI has taken steps to “locate/trace/restore and recover the missing monuments” through “verification of old records, revenue maps, referring to published reports” and deploying its men to physically inspect sites — an oft-repeated reply. In December 2017, field offices were asked to dig up revenue records and carry out physical inspections to trace the monuments and sites. ASI’s Director of Antiquities, D N Dimri, says it is possible some of these monuments may have ‘changed addresses’. “For most of the monuments, we have already collected revenue records but in some situations, the records were made a long time ago and the kasra numbers may have changed,” Dimri said. “In many instances, the monuments are not missing at all. They have been encroached upon and have become ‘living monuments’” he said. INTACH’s principal director of architectural heritage Divay Gupta said some monuments were lost due to road-widening projects. “…But remember, these are protected monuments…India has several unprotected ones,” he said.

- http://indianexpress.com/article/india/on-asis-list-of-missing-monuments-sher-shah-suris-guns-cemeteries-temple-5014614/, Jan 8, 2018

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Maharashtra to soon have fossil park with Jurassic-era remains

Maharashtra may soon get its own fossil park with replicas of dinosaurs and exhibits of their bones and plant fossils dating back to the pre-historic period. The first phase of the 'Wadadham Fossil Wood Park' at Sironcha in Gadchiroli district will be commissioned this year. The landscape has exposed Jurassic-era fossils, including flora (tree logs and leaves) and fauna (reptiles including Kotasaurus, Barapasaurus and fish). An intact Sauropod skeleton was recovered from the Pochampalli village in 1959 and is on display at the Geology Museum in the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata. Yatbon WI, Chief Conservator of Forests, Gadchiroli, said the centre, which is located around 400km from Nagpur, in the red corridor, would educate people on fossils and natural history. "The area is being developed as a fossil park as dinosaur bones, plant and fish fossils have been recovered. The work is expected to be completed by March-end. We have gone in for in-situ conservation of fossils after identifying and cleaning them," said Tushar Chavan, Deputy Conservator of forests, Sironcha forest division. While the site saw around 50 visitors daily, including pilgrims coming to the nearby Kaleshwar temple, its development will boost eco-tourism and livelihood opportunities for local tribals. Work on the nature interpretation centre and tourist amenities like water, toilets, approach roads and ticketing centre is underway in the Rs 83 lakh first phase, added Chavan. The department plans to develop an international-level park in the second phase, which will also include dinosaur and fossil replicas, with a concept plan being worked out. The park, which will be managed by local villagers, will aid the preservation and management of these fossils. "Archaeological excavations can be undertaken even today. There are more fossils in the area and we have taken their GPS locations. They are scattered throughout Gondwanaland in Alapalli to Telangana," Chavan said. The department has also communicated with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) state directorate of archaeology and museums for collaboration and 3-D printed replicas. Wadadham has also been approved as a biodiversity heritage site by the Maharashtra State Biodiversity Board due to the presence of fossils, rare plants and stone-age tools in the vicinity. Wadhdham is on the NH16 connecting Nizamabad in Telangana and Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh. The nearest railway stationsare Mancherial (Telangana) and Ballarshah (Maharashtra), which are at a 75km and 200km distance, respectively. Paleontological background of the area: The present proposed area for the fossil park represents upper Gondwana Kota formations belonging to early Jurassic period. Scientific investigations have revealed that present area was near the sea.

- http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-maharashtra-to-soon-have-fossil-park-with-jurassic-era-remains-2573680, Jan 8, 2018

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Excavation points to monastery

The excavation team from Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan, has confirmed the discovery of a large Buddhist monastery at Jainagar Lali Pahari in Lakhisarai township, which British archaeologist Alexander Cunningham had mentioned in 1842. Late on Saturday, the team found a broken Buddha tablet and other artefacts, from the site where excavation has begun from December last year. Excited team members said the discovery of such structural evidence below the earth could unfold the ancient history of this area, where Buddha had spent three monsoons as mentioned in Buddhist texts. The team till now has discovered nine cells at the excavation site, which are interconnected and have lime-brick floors. The frontal structure of a black-stone portico has also been found along with a platform used by monks to perform rituals. The cells are mainly for meditation and the recovery of Buddha-related items and some pottery used in performing rituals has further substantiated such claims. "Discovery of pottery generally used by Buddhist monks and the replica of Buddha suggested this place was a big monastery," claimed Anil Kumar, the head of the department of archaeology at Visva-Bharati, who is guiding the excavation here. "In the outer part of the monastery, there was arrangements for security and drinking water for monks. A tank connected with the nearby Kiul river through canal suggests that," said the professor. "Excavation has been conducted far away from the main structure of the centre of the monastery located in the west but the findings so far indicate its existence," he claimed. "Trees make excavation towards the main portion of the monastery difficult but we have sought permission from the forest department to cut the trees there," he added. According to the professor, Cunningham who earlier excavated in Lakhisarai in 1842, also mentioned the existence of the monastery in his report. "We have so far read about the place in history books but finding such buried evidence delights us," said Siddharth Saha, a team member. While another team member, Sweata Singh said how local residents of Lakhisarai cooperated and encouraged the excavation team to find ancient chapters of this place.

- https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/bihar/excavation-points-to-monastery-199338, Jan 8, 2018

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Allowing constructions around protected monuments could wreak havoc on historical sites

In a country with as rich a history as India, the protection of monuments and sites of archaeological importance should be a priority. But the amendment to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (AMSAR), which was passed in the Lok Sabha last week (and has not yet been introduced in the Rajya Sabha), could belie that priority. The amendment will allow construction of public infrastructure – highways, bridges and airports – within 100 metres of monuments protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The original Act, which was passed in 2010, prohibited any construction around 100 metres of a historical building or place. This move will affect the aesthetics of the affected monuments and also put a lot of strain on some ancient sites. Modern infrastructure projects such as highways and bridges have been known to be responsible for weakening foundations of ancient monuments that they are built around, and there is a high risk of losing important archaeological material to disruptions caused by construction. Given the sorry state of many conservation efforts in the country and the rampant encroachments on spaces occupied by monuments (a 2013 Comptroller and Auditor General of India report found that 546 of the 1655 monuments surveyed had been encroached upon), such an amendment will only open the door to more damage to important historical sites and less concern for conservation efforts. Protected monuments are a national treasure, and the government needs to do more to protect them, instead of diluting even existing minimum standards. The need of the hour is to ensure that development projects, modern infrastructure and the interests of builders are not allowed to play havoc with buildings of historical importance.

- http://www.hindustantimes.com/editorials/allowing-constructions-around-protected-monuments-could-wreak-havoc-on-historical-sites/story-homxtVxWhvtgf18c8NhIzL.html, Jan 8, 2018

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Metro Rail Heritage Walk: New Milestone in the making

Even though Zero Mile is the landmark of Nagpur, neither the state government nor Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT) and Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) have done anything to beautify it. Now, Mahametro has decided to make it the hotspot of the city. Along with this landmark, the Gowari Memorial and Martyrs' Memorial will also be covered under the Heritage Walk project. The walk, surrounded by trees and having seating spaces, will link all the monuments old and new. The old British Residency building will be renovated and its ground floor would be converted into an exhibition hall or art gallery. A peace plaza would be constructed near the Gowari Memorial. Shival Manchanda and Atri Joshi, architects of French firm Enia, have proposed to build a survey museum — Sarvekshan Sangrahalaya — near the Zero Mile pillar. The museum will house instruments used for survey in 19th century and old photographs. It will be tribute to the surveyors who mapped India. Artist Rubel Nagi has designed an artwork #NagpurMetro, which is yet to be inaugurated. Mahametro hopes that the artwork will become a backdrop for taking pictures and posting them on social media. This is an international way of promoting a city and monument. This artwork will be located near the present Mahametro information centre. A part of this Heritage Walk passes through a dense green area in which the designer has proposed to preserve existing trees. On display will be the list of trees with their botanical and common names, height, girth, and canopy. The existing trees will be retained and native trees will be added to enrich the urban environment. A major task for the Mahametro officials will be to evict beggars who have shifted to Zero Mile area from Kasturchand Park.

URBAN SPINE OR WALL OF HISTORY

The urban spine will connect the station to Zero Mile passing through Shaheed Smarak and Gowari Memorial. It will also create a new backdrop 'Wall of History'. This wall is conceptualized as a symbol for the Sitabuldi Fort located right across on the Sitabuldi Hill. The wall will be inscribed with important events in the history of Nagpur. City historians will be contacted for choosing these events

BRITISH RESIDENCY BUILDING

The building, a heritage structure, located right next to the proposed site for Heritage Walk will be preserved and the ground floor will be converted into an exhibition space for visitors or an art gallery. The landscape plaza will extend around the building passing through various levels and features. As large number of visitors are expected to visit this complex, the exhibition hall/art gallery will get decent footfalls. This in turn would ensure maintenance of the residency building.

MUSEUM OF SURVEY

A survey museum, Sarvekshan Sanghralya, has been proposed at the culmination point of the Heritage Walk acting as a backdrop to the Zero Mile stone. Various important moments in history of Survey of India, various old and new instruments used for survey will be displayed for interest of students, visitors and common people. Mahametro will contact Survey of India for getting old photographs and instruments. It will be a tribute to surveyors who worked hard for mapping India.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/metro-rail-heritage-walk-new-milestone-in-the-making/articleshow/62421485.cms, Jan 9, 2018

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Mapping history

The Krishnakriti Art and Culture Festival has made it possible for local viewers to experience the myriad perceptions of space, social interactions, transformations and discoveries across the Indian subcontinent from the 15th to the early 20th century. The show, Space-Time and Place, at the State Art Gallery and curated by Vivek Nanda and Alexander Johnson, brings forth the cosmological as well as cartographic traditions that have existed in India at different time periods. The collection proudly contains different kinds of maps, covering all major Indian cities, states and regions. The span of the show spreads wide, starting from imagery purely based on imagination and gradually becoming more scientific, descriptive and precise. While some maps manifest the traditional Indian notions about reality, the surroundings and cosmology, others have been planned according to western mapping standards. The early hand-painted and pilgrimage maps contain imagery with a connection to traditional Indian painting styles. One such remarkable map is the Map of the Ganges, a pilgrimage map of river Alaknanda, depicting the shrine at Badrinath painted by a Rajasthani artist during the early 18th century. The terrain is described in a lyrical manner with a mention of the winding course of the river, spanned on either side by fields, vegetation, architectural structures and figures. “My passion for collecting maps has helped me see the world in a different light. In the 15th year of the Krishnakriti Festival, I am glad to open up my world of maps and cartography to the illustrious public of Hyderabad who love their city and its heritage,” says Prshant Lahoti, Managing Trustee of the Krishnakriti Art and Culture Festival. The second day of the show was a remarkable, path breaking occasion for all Hyderabadis as the 638 Leonard Munn maps of Hyderabad Survey from the collection of Prshant Lahoti and Karen Leonard got launched on Google Art Project and became live and accessible to everyone around the world. After the floods of 1908, the Nizam commissioned a mapping project to avoid such disasters in the future. The project was accomplished under the supervision of Leonard Munn (1878-1935), an engineer, who was the chief inspector of the mines under the Nizam’s regime. Munn was assisted by A.F. Chinoy and A.T. Mackenzie from the P.W.D.

- https://www.deccanchronicle.com/lifestyle/books-and-art/090118/mapping-history.html, Jan 9, 2018

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Qutb Shahi tombs: Conservation pact extended till 2023

Efforts for the ongoing conservation works of Qutb Shahi tombs, located in Ibrahim Bagh (garden precinct), close to Golconda fort, received a fillip, as the MoU between archaeology department and Agha Khan Trust was extended until 2023.The deadline for the MoU was initially set at December 2017. Qutb Shahi tombs, also known as the seven tombs, was nominated as a Unesco World Heritage Site. It represents a blend of Persian, Pathan and Hindu architectural styles. The Quli Qutb Shah Archaeological Park comprising Qutb Shahi tombs complex and Deccan Park is one of the most significant historic medieval necropolises with 70 structures within its complex. It also encompasses 40 mausoleums, 23 mosques, five step-wells/water structures, a hamam (mortuary bath), pavilions, garden structures and enclosure walls built during the reign of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty that ruled the Hyderabad region for 170 years in the 16th - 17th centuries. The project that is being carried out with a multidisciplinary team of architects, civil engineers, archaeologists and master craftsmen working round the clock is arguably one of the most ambitious conservation projects undertaken in India. According to the officials of the State Archaeology Department, the ongoing conservation work is not just about restoring the necropolis to its former glory but it is also about development of urban spaces around it. "The MoU has been extended till 2023 and apart from that we have also included the preparation of dossier for the heritage sites nomination for Golconda Fort and Qutub Shahi Tombs," Telangana State Archaeology department director N R Visalatchi said. "Also, we are going to do a market analysis to decide a sustainable business plan for the monuments so that it becomes self-sustainable. Once we get a workable business model, then it becomes easy to repeat it for other heritage structures in the State," she said.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/qutb-shahi-tombs-conservation-pact-extended-till-2023/articleshow/62439712.cms, Jan 10, 2018

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Dibrugarh’s 120-year old heritage building to get a fresh lease of life

A 120-year old building where the Berry White Medical School – later Assam Medical College – had started way back in 1900, is all set to get a fresh lease of life, with Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) being entrusted the task of renovating it. “We have been entrusted with the responsibility of renovation and reconstruction of the first building of the Berry White Medical School constructed around 1898, and we hope to complete it within the next 15 months,” INTACH Dibrugarh chapter convenor Aradhana Kataki said. INTACH on Wednesday signed a MoU with Oil India Ltd in Dibrugarh, according to which the public sector oil company would provide Rs 2.01 crore for the renovation work. The building has been lying in a dilapidated condition inside the Assam Medical College in Dibrugarh for over 25 years now. “The building will become a museum-cum-archive, where visitors will be able to understand not just the history of the medical college and medical education in Assam, but also learn about the various contributions that Dr John Berry White a British officer, had made for the overall development of the state,” Laya Madduri, deputy commissioner of Dibrugarh said. White had served as Civil Surgeon of Upper Assam in the 1870s after retiring from the British Army, and it was he who drew up plans for setting up a medical school in Dibrugarh. “While he had donated his entire savings, about Rs 50,000, for the establishment of the medical school, White passed away in 1896, four years before his dream project actually began to function,” Kataki said. The medical school was later converted to Assam Medical College in 1947, to become the first medical college in the entire Northeastern region. The museum that is proposed to be set up once the original building is renovated would also be a tribute to several major contributions that White had made for the socio-economic development of Assam. “White was not just a doctor. It was at his initiative that the Assam Railway & Trading Company had started the first coal-mines in Makum and laid the first railway line from Dibrugarh to Margherita in 1884, with the laying of the railway line also leading to the discovery of oil in Digboi. That way Assam owes a lot to White in terms of his pioneering role in the state’s industrial and healthcare development,” Pranjit Deka, executive director of Oil India Ltd said.

- http://indianexpress.com/article/north-east-india/assam/dibrugarhs-120-year-old-heritage-building-to-get-a-fresh-lease-of-life-5020881/, Jan 11, 2018

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Northeast's first medical institution to be turned into museum

The first medical institution of the northeast, Dr John Berry White Medical School here - which was lying in a state of disrepair for years - is all set to receive a new lease of life. Oil India Limited (OIL) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) to convert the abandoned hospital into a medical museum."We have set a 15-month target to complete the project. It will be a gift to the people of Assam ," Dibrugarh deputy commissioner Laya Madduri said. OIL will invest Rs 2.1 crore for the preservation, restoration and renovation of the school under its corporate social responsibility initiative.In 1858, a 24-year-old British surgeon, John Berry White, came to Assam to work under the East India Company. He was posted in upper Assam as an assistant surgeon, serving in various capacities for 24 years and finally rising to the position of civil surgeon of what was then Lakhimpur district.In 1882, following his retirement, he contributed all of his life savings of Rs 50,000 (around Rs 10 million today) for setting up a medical school.

- https://www.nyoooz.com/news/imphal/1006408/northeasts-first-medical-institution-to-be-turned-into-museum/, Jan 11, 2018

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‘Heritage Commission tobe set up within a month’

The State government will constitute the Tamil Nadu Heritage Commission within a month, K. Pandiarajan, Minister, Tamil Official Language and Tamil Culture, informed the Assembly on Wednesday. He was responding to an observation of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s MLA and former Minister Thangam Thennarasu during a debate on the Governor’s address. A year ago, the House passed another Bill to amend the original law to have a member representing the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).

- http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/heritage-commission-tobe-set-up-within-a-month/article22414956.ece, Jan 11, 2018

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10 years after revamp, Mumbai’s Bhau Daji Lad museum continues to give glimpse of history

It’s been 10 years since the Bhau Daji Lad museum reopened in its Unesco award-winning form. Built in colonial style in 1857, complete with Milton tiles, wooden windows and large pillared halls, the museum was built to showcase the business crafts of Britain. Its restoration was a five-year labour of love led by INTACH (the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage), supported by the Mumbai Corporation of Greater Mumbai and the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation. Today, the museum hosts some of the best contemporary art exhibitions in the city, working in association with museums from around the world. Under the directorship of Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, it has showcased works by prominent artists such as LN Tallur, Nalini Malani, Jitish and Reena kallat, Atul Dodiya and Sudarshan Shetty, in keeping with the idea that museums aren’t about history alone but about contemporary culture too. The Bhau Daji Lad also now offers an art history programme, host art film screenings, lectures, workshops and story-telling sessions in multiple languages. “The museum came back into the public’s consciousness after its restoration. Before that it wasn’t perceived as a place of relevance,” says Kallat. “It has been a leading example of what a cultural space can do, which is to preserve history and intersect with present moment with its contemporary art project.” There’s been controversy too, most notably with reference to its use of land and its expansion plans. The museum is now focusing on a digital extension, via virtual tours and Google Art and Culture Lab. “The most heartening thing has been how the demographic of our visitors is changing. Earlier we only got spillover from the zoo; now the museum has become a destination in itself,” says Mehta. “Recently, we started Marathi Katha, which has become hugely popular. A vegetable seller from the neighbourhood is one of our most regular visitors. People appreciate the mix of contemporary and historic programming and it’s a lesson in how people respond to art.” The future, Mehta says, will depend on space. “The long-term vision for Mumbai, if it wants to become a truly global city, must include more state of the art cultural spaces. In the short term we hope to develop our digital space more actively including interactives on the collections and a global chat show with Google who is partnering our efforts,” she adds. “We would also like to grow the education space and take it online.”

- http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/10-years-after-revamp-mumbai-s-bhau-daji-lad-museum-continues-to-give-glimpse-of-history/story-ondfKcANHvqAIA2k7L8rCK.html, Jan 11, 2018

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Heritage as important today and tomorrow

Meghalaya is fortunate to have a number of heritage sites, which call for documentation, preservation and protection. It is in this context that the Indian National Trust for Art and Culture Heritage (INTACH) of the Meghalaya chapter is taking steps to fight against the different forms of encroachments and also vandalism at the different heritage sites. There is the danger that the pristine magnificence of these sites would be lost and damaged beyond repair. In fact the world heritage project, Toronto Canada is working towards this end, in assembling a complete list of world heritage sites in a multimedia format for the first time. It would bring to life the stories that enrich the importance of these great natural and cultural masterpieces. Here in the capital Shillong itself there are numerable heritage sites, that unfortunately are being neglected and also destroyed. Ward’s lake for instance in the heart of Shillong is a living heritage site, as it continues to attract tourists and visitors. It cannot be brushed aside as a mere lake, its water is alive with different species of fishes along with facilities of boating.The golf club and golf course is also certainly something that Shillong can be proud of. Then there are water-falls within the city limits like them Caroline falls, where the waters flow into the adjacent swimming pool, providing recreation. It is here that on every New Year’s Eve, those who dare, jump into the cold icy water for a midnight swim. Some of the bungalows in the city also deserve to be classed as heritage sites. The Raj Bhavan for instance deserve to be preserved as it has important administrative links since prior to the independence period. It is however unfortunate that the State Legislative Assembly was destroyed in the fire in 2001. The massive gothic style building could have been a unique heritage site of the state capital. A very important heritage and historical heritage site is the Jeet Bhumi at Brookside, where poet Laureate Rabindranath Tagore stayed during his visit to Shillong in 1924.Mention can also be made of the U Lum Sohpetbneng Peak Heritage gateway, twelve kilometres from capital Shillong. This art work reflects the masonry intricacy of the structure, which stands proud as a major land mark, awe-inspiring and impressive, a model of creative achievement. The columns of sand stone blocks-meticulously chipped and chiseled, a feat of intelligence and enduring hard work, rise to support the inverted boat-shaped roof, an antique architectural style, beneath which stands out the symbol of the cock or rooster in all its regalia.

Sumer Sing Sawian

- http://www.easternpanorama.in/index.php/other-articles/3768-preservationjanuary2018issue, Jan 11, 2018

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Heritage fest promises a journey beyond buildings

The much-awaited annual heritage festival is round the corner, this time promising a journey to explore more than the built heritage. During a press conference held at the Alliance Francaise of Pondicherry, Sunaina Mandeen of People for Pondicherry’s Heritage (PPH), said that the month-long festival will begin on January 18. PPH, PondyCAN and Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) began organising the annual Pondicherry Heritage Festival from 2015. Arul from INTACH said that this is the fourth year of the festival after the collapse of Mairie building in Puducherry. “In three years, we realised it was not just the built heritage but the entire town of Puducherry is a heritage, the streetscape is a unique factor,” he said. The festival will open with a painting for Puducherry’s heritage. Silhouettes of the architectural heritage and streetscape, folk art forms, games and literature will be painted by students. He added: “This year features an excursion to explore Thirubhuvanai, where three ancient Chola temples exist. There will be a heritage walk to see the tanks and farmlands of Thirubhuvanai.” Vijay Shankar of INTACH added that the excursion will be organised on January 20. “Interested people can register on our Pondicherry Heritage Festival website. Those registered would be taken to the three Chola temples. “We will be talking about the temples and water bodies around that. Later, a shadow puppet show will be organised in Varadaraja Perumal Temple,” he said. Varalakshmi of PPH said that people are not aware of this city’s heritage and this festival is to create awareness of the rich, cultural and architectural heritage of Puducherry. “The support we get every year is increasing. We expect everyone’s participation,” she added.

Tracing links

People can look forward to the exhibition and sale of Puducherry products at the Craft Bazaar near Gandhi Thidal from January 25 to 28. This heritage festival will also trace Puducherry’s links with Indochina. Beginning from February 12 to 18, food festivals, exhibitions and open house will be organised to celebrate the coastal town’s link with Indochina. Helene Guetat-Bernard, Head of the Social Sciences Department at the French Institute of Pondicherry, said that on January 27, the IFP will be open for the public to take a look at the photo archives and the collection of palm leaves. Alliance Francaise of Pondicherry Director Gerard Greverand, who welcomed the audience, said that Puducherry seems to be an open air museum. “As the new director of Alliance Francaise of Pondicherry, I feel the question of heritage is very important and that I have to take care of the heritage building like a fragile baby. This wonderful building is damaged over the years and needs to be resorted. My next work is to restore the building,” he said. Ruth Sequeira, Manager-Communications at Hidesign India Private Limited and Bitasta Samantray of PPH were present.

- http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/heritage-fest-promises-a-journey-beyond-buildings/article22423117.ece, Jan 11, 2018

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India celebrates National Youth Day on 155th birthday of Swami Vivekananda today

National Youth Day is observed in India every year on 12th January on the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. In 1984, it was first declared as the National Youth Day to celebrate the birthday of Swami Vivekananda by the government of India declared the day as the National Youth Day to celebrate the birthday of Swami Vivekananda. And since 1985, it is started observing as the National Youth Day across India. It is an enthusiastic and auspicious day for youth. On this day Indian youth, as well as everyone, celebrate Swami Vivekananda birthday and commemorate their tributes to Swamiji. Every school celebrates this day by organising essay competition and events for children. Today is 155th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda who was born in 1863 on 12th January. He was born in the Pausha Krishna Saptami Tithi. He was Indian monk and the chief disciple of the 19th century’s Indian mystic Ramakrishna. He plays an important role in introducing Indian philosophies of Yoga and Vedanta to the western world. Also, he was credited to accelerate raising interfaith awareness and bringing Hinduism. He had also founded Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission. Therefore India celebrates his birth anniversary with a lot of joy and excitement. On the eve of his birthday, people performed meditation, devotional songs, religious speech and mangal Aarti. Thus, on the eve of Swami Vivekananda and National Youth day, Twitterati, as well as well known ministers, overflowed on Twitter with their tributes to Swamiji. Everyone is paying tributes to greatest youth icon, saint, philosopher and truly inspirational leader on the social media. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on Twitter “I bow to Swami Vivekananda on his Jayanti. Today, on National Youth Day I salute the indomitable energy and enthusiasm of our youngsters, who are the builders of New India.” Also, the Sudarsan creates a sand sculpture of SwamiVivekanand with Youth power message and to unite for New India” at Puri beach.

- https://www.newsfolo.com/india/india-celebrates-national-youth-day-155th-birthday-swami-vivekananda-today/134663/, Jan 12, 2018

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16th Century stone inscriptions unearthed in Villupuram

City-based archaeologists have discovered two stone inscriptions belonging to the period of Krishnadevarayar at Rayappanur village in Villupuram district. "One of them was dated 1518 and the other 1521," said archaeologist 'Aragalur' Pon Venkatesan. The stone inscriptions were found at a Siva temple and an Angalamman temple in the village. The stone inscription dated 1521 revealed that the land to build both the temples were donated by Krishnadevarayar, who was fond of both Saivam and Vainavam, which were the famous communities those days. It also revealed that Krishnadevarayar had set up a community called Kangeyamudaiyar community in Rayappa Nallur (now renamed as Rayappanur) and nominated Samalu Madhu Eagamun Iyyan Kangeyan as the ruler of Thalaivasal region, after constructing a small fort in the village in the 16th century. The stone inscription dated 1518 also has mention about donating land to a temple in Rayappanur. The land was donated to Soliswaramudaiyar temple. Pon Venkatesan said his team could not retrieve more information from this stone inscription as a portion of it was partially damaged. "The stone is also half buried in the ground. We will thoroughly inspect it after digging it up," he said. The archaeologists urged the state government to take steps to preserve the stone inscriptions. Naicker-period murals found in Trichy. Murals dating back over 400 years to the Naicker period have been found in a Shiva temple near Musiri in Trichy district. The paintings depict a female deity, Jyestha Devi, with gatekeepers on either side throw light on the ancient form of deity worship. A research scholar who has been involved in fine arts in Tamil stumbled upon the paintings which have been remaining neglected over the years. An archaeology enthusiast and epigraphist, Babu says that the paintings are similar to those found in Thanjavur palace. "These mural paintings are identical to the painting at Thanjavur palace which dates back to the Naicker era in Thanjavur," says Babu. The Shiva temple is one among the four in the surrounding that date back to 16th century.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/salem/16th-c-stone-inscriptions-unearthed-in-villupuram/articleshow/62465421.cms, Jan 12, 2018

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Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage plan to retrace heritage along Mahanadi in Odisha

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) will document tangible and intangible heritage sites along both sides of Mahanadi river.Chairman of INTACH LK Gupta on Monday flagged off the teams, which will be involved in documentation of the heritage sites, from the premises of Samaleswari Temple Complex, situated on the banks of Mahanadi. As many as seven teams of heritage enthusiasts will cover nearly 1000 kms on both sides of the river, beginning from upper reaches of Hirakud till its merger into Bay of Bengal near Paradip in Jagatsingpur, under the project. The teams will collect data, which will be documented after being scrutinised, in a prescribed format. Gupta asked the teams to document civilization, which had grown on the banks of Mahanadi, including the heritage, bio-diversity and food habits of people The outcome of the documentation will benefit the community, he said.

While the tangible and intangible heritage along Mahanadi’s course in Chhattisgarh will be documented by the INTACH team there, Odisha INTACH team will list and document the sites along the river in the State. Tangible heritage like temples, palaces and forts have come up along Mahanadi while intangible heritage like folklore, songs and dances, tribal art and craft have also thrived along the river. Odisha Convener of INTACH AB Tripathy said cultural mapping of Mahanadi will be done under the project.

As around 50 per cent of the total course of the river flows in Odisha, the teams will cover undivided Sambalpur, Sonepur, Boudh, Angul, Nayagarh and undivided Cuttack districts under the project. Deepak Panda, who is leading the Sambalpur INTACH team, said all important heritage sites will be photographed, videographed and documented with details. It will serve as a road map for those into conservation, history and research, he added. Among others, Sambalpur MLA, Rasheswari Panigrahi was also present.

- http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2018/jan/16/indian-national-trust-for-art-and-cultural-heritage-plan-to-retrace-heritage-along-mahanadi-in-odish-1754980.html, Jan 15, 2018

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Indian authorities struggle to trace 24 missing monuments

Kutumbari is one of 24 landmarks on a list of now “untraceable” protected monuments in India. Some have gone missing because of inadequate or antiquated record-keeping; others have physically disappeared, destroyed by natural disasters or by humans. This week, after repeated calls by Indian parliamentarians to locate lost monuments, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the government agency responsible for the conservation of heritage buildings and artefacts, instructed its local affiliates to redouble efforts to find a cache of missing antiquities that includes medieval tombs, inscribed tablets and temples.

Some of the items on the list have been lost for decades. The search revived concerns from historians and archaeologists about whether India’s centuries-old historical treasures are being protected while the country chases development targets. As India’s fortunes rise, a poorly staffed bureaucracy has overseen decades of growth. Successive leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, stressed the need for new roads, housing and infrastructure to keep pace with the growing population’s needs. But with the emphasis on rapid development, hundreds of India’s ancient monuments, and with them millennia of history, could be lost, damaged or degraded. “We have lost sight of the value of these things,” said Swapna Liddle, convenor of the Delhi chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage. With local authorities and private companies racing to develop land, Liddle said, protected areas surrounding monuments are increasingly valuable. Monuments can get in the way of plans to construct new metro lines, roads and housing estates.

“What we have to ask ourselves is, are we going to sacrifice our heritage for development goals?” she said. The list of untraceable monuments, Liddle said, points to a wider problem in heritage conservation in India: monuments that are not major tourist attractions are more likely to fall into disrepair. Many are not properly labelled, so locals are unaware of their historic significance, Liddle said. Often, monuments are left completely unguarded, which leads to encroachment or squatting. On January 2, India’s lower house in parliament passed legislation that would weaken restrictions on construction in the area surrounding historical monuments.

Lawmakers opposing the bill said the new legislation put at risk the conservation and aesthetics of centuries-old monuments. The logo of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage. Photo: handout “Historic monuments and archaeological sites are the symbols of our traditional and cultural heritage,” N.K. Premachandran of Kollam said.

“They are invaluable treasures of our nation which cannot be explained or weighed in monetary terms.” The proposed amendments have yet to be passed by the upper house. Meanwhile, decades of neglect have already led to the loss of dozens of archaeological treasures. According to ASI Director Devkinandan Dimri, a number of protected monuments have been submerged over the years, while others have been lost to rapid urbanisation. But the list of 24 untraceable items, Dimri said, is imperfect. It was drawn from a colonial-era list of all the monuments on the ASI’s roster. Some items on it, such as a 12th-century temple in the western state of Rajasthan, may never have existed or may be part of another temple in the area. Others, Dimri said, were identified in records before geolocation, and so exact locations are difficult to pinpoint. In some cases, villages or towns have changed names and property has changed hands. In others, monuments may have been moved. Right wingers slam Taj Mahal as ‘blot on Indian culture’, amid religious row over top tourist spot.

“Our field offices are working very hard to find out what they can,” he said. “We have all the records. We believe some of the sites are still there but that we can’t locate it for several reasons.” What happened to the Kutumbari? Over the years, at least two teams have tried to find out. Dimri said the temple was probably destroyed by a flood or other natural disaster in the 1950s and that stones from the old building were reused by locals to build houses. “I went there myself once,” he said. “I asked an old lady who told me a temple existed once but that it was not there. She did not know where it had gone."

- http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/south-asia/article/2128197/indian-authorities-struggle-trace-24-missing-monuments, Jan 15, 2018

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Megalithic era sarcophagus unearthed at Viyur

A rare sarcophagus (stone coffin), said to be 2,000-year old from the Iron Age–Megalithic era, was discovered from a rock-cut cave at Viyur village of Kollam, near Koyilandy, in Kozhikode district on Monday. The coffin containing bone fragments was found during an excavation. “So far, such a rare finding has been discovered only from two sites in Kerala. Both these sarcophagi were recovered from Megalithic sites at Chevayur and Atholi, also in Kozhikode district," K. Krishnaraj of the Archaeology Department, who is supervising the excavation, said. The bone fragments could be of either a man or a woman.

They will be sent for carbon dating using accelerator mass spectrometry at the Beta Analytical Laboratory in California, he said. Excavation at the site commenced after a hemispherical rock-cut chamber was discovered in a compound while flattening land using an earthmover. The cave, with an inside pillar, measuring 1.9 metres in diameter, has a height of 90 centimetres. The entrance of the cave was on the eastern side. “The square-shaped door has equal length of 50 centimetres on all sides. Different types of pottery, mostly four-legged jars and iron implements, were found in the cave, ” he said. Sarcophagi was found in many archaeological sites in South India earlier. Some are adorned with a sculpture or inscription.

But two types are usually found with bovine features or with legs. “As of now, we have obtained preliminary details about the excavations. However, it can be confirmed that a rich Megalithic culture existed in the region following the discoveries of pre-Iron age civilisation earlier. The excavation will continue for another week,” Mr. Krishnaraj said.

- http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/megalithic-era-sarcophagus-unearthed-at-viyur/article22450598.ece, Jan 16, 2018

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Frog artefacts from 40 countries at latest exhibition

A loud croak greets you when you enter the room. After walking in, you see frogs of all sizes and colours. While some are made from wood, perched on a glass cabinet, others are made with papier mache. Some more are printed on pieces of clothing. FrogFest — a first-of-its-kind exhibition at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), inaugurated on January 15 — “celebrates frogs in art and nature” to “build awareness on the need for conservation of these species and highlight their role in the natural world”. Curated by Aditya Arya and Mamata Pandya, the exhibition features the personal collection of more than 350 frog artefacts of former WWF member Seema Bhatt from over 40 countries. The exhibition will be open till April 2018. “My collection is about 500, but there are more than 350 artefacts on display here.

It’s difficult to say why I started collecting frogs, but once I picked up my first frog at Nairobi, wherever I went, I found frogs so I picked them up. They became the souvenir to look for everywhere. Frogs are very important for the ecosystem. If they disappear, your whole system collapses. They’re very sensitive indicators of biodiversity loss, their skin is very sensitive. I thought it was time to share the collection with a larger audience,” said Bhatt, the Honorary Vice-President of The Ecotourism Society of India. Radhika Suri, director of Environment Education at WWF, said they “hope to have students from a different school every day for the next three months”.

Currently, the focus is on primary school children. S D Biju, a DU professor also known as the ‘Frogman of India’, will interact with students too. “Because of excessive focus on some animals like tigers and elephants, other animals are getting neglected,” he said.

- http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/frog-artefacts-from-40-countries-at-latest-exhibition-5026168/, Jan 16, 2018

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Sahapedia offers photography grants for art and culture documentation

Sahapedia.org, an online encyclopedic resource on South Asian art and culture, has instituted a photography grant for amateur and professionals who would like to work with the organization to create a rich, high-quality repository of images documenting the diverse cultural heritage and traditions of India. The work produced by the grant fellows will populate Sahapedia Frames (https://www.sahapedia.org/sahapedia-frames) a section on the Sahapedia website dedicated to photo essays, and currently hosting over half a dozen excellent works ranging from glimpses of life in Jammu & Kashmir’s Lolab Valley, to an exploration of the Domes of Delhi, and a study of Manipuri Ponies and the Origins of Polo. IndusInd Bank is sponsoring the Sahapedia Frames Photography Grant, which includes a cash reward of Rs. 20,000 and limited reimbursement of travel expenses. The Grant will be awarded to 25 photographers selected by a panel of experts led by noted photographer Mr.

Dinesh Khanna. Sahapedia invites photographers to apply for this grant by identifying themes of cultural and creative relevance to India and South Asia that they would like to document through images, and that broadly fit into Sahapedia’s areas of work. “We think of the Sahapedia Frames Photography Grant, as an exciting focused opportunity for photographers to explore the cultural landscape of India. We are also thankful for the sponsorship support given by IndusInd Bank.” said Neha Paliwal, Director, Projects. “Storytelling is such an important part of life, and we'd like to encourage people to narrate stories through their photo essays--about the stories we have of ourselves, because that's what culture means I think.And we want to encourage people to do this through photography because photographs contain the humanity of the moment, as Ansel Adams once said.” The final date for submission of applications is February 18th.

Selected candidates will be notified by mid-March and will be expected to submit their works by the end of June. Applicants must submit a 300-500 word concept note outlining their proposed theme, a copy of their resume and a portfolio of their existing or published work. Details of the submission process, including eligibility and rules, are available on (https://www.sahapedia.org/sahapedia-frames-photography-grant). Queries and submissions may be emailed toframes.grant@sahapedia.org Photo essays produced by the Frames Photography Grant, besides being published on Sahapedia, will also be accessible to the public on Sahapedia’s social media platforms.

- http://www.indulgexpress.com/life-style/society/2018/jan/17/sahapedia-offers-photography-grants-for-art-and-culture-documentation-5695.html, Jan 17, 2018

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Celebrating a legacy town

Residents, artists, craftsmen, scholars and experts come together for the one-month long Pondicherry Heritage Festival (PHF).Organised by People for Pondicherry’s Heritage, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) and PondyCAN, it celebrates the diversity of Puducherry’s heritage and showcases it to the world. “The festival creates and strengthens the unique identity and sense of belonging of being a Pondicherian. PHF provides the opportunity to discuss ways to preserve the town’s natural, spiritual, cultural and architectural heritage, for generations to come,” says Sunaina Mandeen, co-founder of PondyCAN. Into its fourth edition, the PHF this year has come up with new initiatives. As involving children in creating awareness about the heritage, is high on the organisers agenda, a colouring book has also been planned.

“The heritage colouring book has sketches of buildings, monuments, natural heritage and streetscapes of Puducherry by architect Anandhi and artist Ehjoumale. “The idea is to familiarise children with both built and intangible heritage in their surroundings, and raise their curiousity about these monuments,” says Vijay Shankar, coordinator of INTACH, who conceptualised the book. The book will be distributed to school children who visit the monuments during the festival.

On February 1, a science fiction written by fifth grader Vipanchi Nayak, titled, The Mysterious Virus, will be released (6 pm, Palais de Mahe, 4 Rue Bussy). The book deals with two issues close to her heart — child rights and animal rights. While last year’s edition showcased Bahour, this year the PHF has added another new region, Tirubuvanai, which has three of the four Chola temples located in Puducherry. On January 20 (3 pm to 5.30 pm), a guided tour of the Panchanadisvara Temple, tanks and farmlands of Tirubuvanai has been organised and participants need to pre-register (email:2018phf@gmail.com). “At the end of the tour, a shadow puppetry show, depicting scenes from the Ramayana has been organised. Ninth generation shadow puppeteer Kuppuswamy will perform at the show,” says Mandeen. “A major highlight of PHF this year is IndoChine (as the French referred to present-day Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia) connect,” says Shubham Biswas of INTACH Pondicherry. He says that during the colonial period, the French had established the Bank of Indochine for administrative purposes, and the urban legend goes that one of the managers who served that bank used to live in a house which is now a private property called Kusum’s Home. Later this bank was taken over by UCO Bank.

An exhibition titled Traces in Time, where art objects, photographs, documents and other cultural traces that reveal Puducherry’s historic ties to Indochine will be displayed at Kusum’s Home. (7 Rue de la Caserne, February 12 to 18, 10 am to 9 pm). Two prominent families from the city who have had strong connections with Indochine, will open a section of their homes to display precious objects and artefacts and also explain the history behind it.

Foodies can look forward to the Vietnamese food festival planned around the same time at Le Duplex. They also focus on the preservation of the existing monuments. “We are trying to throw light on Pondy’s oldest existing French heritage, the bell tower at the premises of Our lady of Angels church, and also the lighthouse being in danger,” says Mandeen says Father Sandou Cyril, the parish priest of the Church of Our Lady of Angels, says, “the 300-year-old bell tower built in the year 1739 was left untouched by the British when they captured Puducherry from the French in 1761, though they completely destroyed the church adjoining the tower. The church was rebuilt in 1770. The bell tower needs to be restored as early as possible.

The Government had allotted ?75 lakh for renovation work last year, but so far work has not been initiated.” INTACH inspected the bell tower and has cautioned that public should not be permitted to go near to it as it is on the verge of collapsing. “PHF this year has invited four residents of Pondicherry to share their ideas on ‘West of the Grand Canal: How to save our buildings and streetscapes? The west of the canal has many Franco Tamil and Tamil houses. As streetscapes define our culture, we have invited architect students to exhibit their streetscapes of Pondicherry on January 20. All of the regional craft, products and creative entrepreneurship will be highlighted at the Made in Pondy, a craft bazaar (January 25-28, 11 am to 9 pm). VK Munuswamy, a UNESCO and national award-winning terracota artiste will be displaying his work at the bazaar. PHF has a host of events comprising panel discussions, excursions, book launch, literary events, concerts and dance performances, exhibitions and folk performances. A photo contest titled ‘Streetscapes of Pondicherry’, will be conducted by the Pondicherry Rivage Ladies Circle 47. Stay connected The festival schedule is at www.http:/pondicherryheritagefestival.org. Email 2018phf@gmail.com. For instant updates, visit their Facebook page

- http://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/the-pondicherry-heritage-festival/article22464864.ece, Jan 18, 2018

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Time to record river heritage culture enthusiasts to trekalong Mahanadi banks

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) has launched a programme for documentation of the "tangible and intangible" heritage on both sides of the Mahanadi river. Seven teams of culture enthusiasts will cover nearly 1,000km on the riverbanks under the project. It will begin from the upper reaches of Hirakud and continue till its merger into the Bay of Bengal near Paradip. The heritage along the river will be documented, and the important structures will be photographed and videographed. "It will be a roadmap for the conservation workers, historians, students and researchers," said Intach chairman Major General (retd) L.K. Gupta.

Teams from Odisha Intach will list and document the heritage sites. Another team will do the documentation along the Mahanadi course in Chhattisgarh. Gupta further said: "The civilisation had grown on the banks of the river. I have asked the teams to document them, so that the community is benefited." The teams will collect data, which will be documented after being scrutinised, in prescribed format. "The cultural mapping of the Mahanadi, the lifeline of Odisha, will be done as part of the project," said Odisha Intach convener A.B. Tripathy. Around 50 per cent of the total course of the river flows in Odisha that will cover undivided Sambalpur, Sonepur, Boudh, Angul, Nayagarh and the undivided Cuttack districts. A number of major settlements in the state have come up along the Mahanadi, and there are numerous tangible heritages such as temples, palaces, forts dot it. Also, intangible heritage such as folklore, songs and dances, tribal art and crafts have also thrived along the river. In November last year, they launched a project to document the monuments of Prachi Valley in Odisha, where a civilisation - believed to be earlier than that of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro - flourished on the banks of a river. "The entire stretch of the river till the estuary will be surveyed, and a comprehensive report will be made through the six-month project," says chief project co-ordinator Anil Dhir.

- https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/odisha/time-to-record-river-heritage-201841, Jan 18, 2018

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India on the Look-out for Untraceable Historical Monuments

Earlier in January 2018, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) told local affiliates to double up efforts to find the list of ‘untraceable’ historic monuments and antiquities, from inscribed tablets to entire temples and tombs. It was the latest push by the organization tasked with conserving India’s vast heritage and historic artifacts, no mean feat by any measure. India’s history is vast and challenging to navigate. It has seen many empires rise and fall, and with them their monuments. Natural disasters and wars have caused a lot of monuments to just disappear, and the ASI has been working on finding entries on its list of 24 untraceable monuments all these years.

ALSO READ: 10 best historical monuments in India! The untraceable protected monuments, like the ancient Kutumbari temple in Dwarahat that just up and disappeared from records and vanished entirely in the 1960s, have been a big focus for the ASI for decades. The department’s new push was in response to growing calls by the government to locate the lost monuments. But the renewed efforts have cast new light on concerns over India’s precarious balancing act: managing economic development and preserving history. A push for infrastructure could threaten India’s ancient monuments, as suggested by Swapna Liddle of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage.

Speaking about the list of untraceable monuments, Swapna Liddle told that the list reflects a larger problem: that of neglected monuments that are not among India’s big tourist attractions. She added that many monuments are not labeled properly, because of which locals remain unaware of their importance. Unguarded monuments also turn into shelters and slums. NOW READ: 22 of India’s most beautiful monuments that make us proud to be Indians. Devkinandan Dimri, the ASI Director, said that many protected monuments have been lost to urbanization or buried by time, and the list of 24 untraceables is not perfect. The list is derived from the British Raj era, and some of them may not have even existed. Meanwhile, villages and towns have changed names and land has changed hands over the last 70-odd years. Entire monuments have been moved elsewhere by locals, making it all the more difficult for ASI to conduct its duty.

- http://www.india.com/travel/articles/india-on-the-look-out-for-untraceable-historical-monuments/, Jan 18, 2018

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Coat of Many Colours

As an ode to heritage revivalist Martand Singh, an exhibition of textiles salutes the scale and excellence of the decade-long ‘Vishwakarma’ series
John Forbes Watson, a reporter on the products of India at the India Museum in London, catalogued the country’s textiles into an 18-volume compendium in 1866. In them were swatches of over 700 samples, categorised by material, type, pattern and use from India. These “portable industrial museums” were intended to equip manufacturers in England to mass produce textiles for an Indian market. More than a century later, the Indian government would undertake a census in 1961 that surveyed the handicrafts and textiles of the country. It’s these documents that would enable textile and heritage revivalist Martand Singh (Mapu) to embark upon the decade-long exhibition series, ‘Vishwakarma’. From pigment-painting, dye-painting to resist dyeing, printing and weaving, they highlighted the technical and design possibilities in the handcrafted skills of weavers and artisans across India. The National Crafts Museum, Delhi, has been home to many of the exhibits of the ‘Vishwakarma’ series. It was therefore natural for curators Rakesh Thakore, Rta Kapur Chishti, and Rahul Jain to choose it as a venue for the show, ‘A Search in Five Directions’. The exhibition, supported by Devi Art Foundation, which opens on January 20, reflects the design excellence of weavers across the country. Held between 1981 and 1991, the seven ‘Vishwakarma’ exhibitions honoured classical traditions and gave them a contemporary twist. “I see it as the last great, pan-Indian documentation, as well as revival, of our best-known textile genres. Visionaries such as Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay and Pupul Jayakar, who were backed by Indira and Rajiv Gandhi, acted as catalysts in taking the revival of handicrafts and handlooms forward.

Mapu started out with a meticulous mapping of textile techniques and production centres across India, based on archival information accumulated over 150 years, and on the extensive network of Weaver Service Centres across the country. Since Independence, the government had provided a massive superstructure to support skilled artisans in all the states, and today, more than 35 years later, one continues to see the impact of these state-sponsored exhibitions on textile design and production aross India,” says textile designer and historian Jain. While the 36 exhibits at the Crafts Museum are only a sampler of the Vishwakarma series, they prompt five questions around the use of colour, pattern directories, feel and texture of fabric, its relevance in heritage and its contemporary usage. “Mapu was then Director, Calico Museum of Textiles, Ahmedabad.

He wanted to explore the finest that could be made at that particular point of time and how techniques could be inter-married in the contemporary context of design and usage. So for instance, in one of the exhibits you see a tree of life in kalamkari, which is painted and printed rather than only painted. He couldn’t find the range of flowers he wanted in the painted tradition, so he combined painting with printing. You will see an exhibit done by KM Adimoolam from Chennai, a painterly work in screen print. There were artists who worked with craftspeople at Weaver Service Centres to enhance design development. KG Subramanyam worked in Varanasi and developed cut-work, there was Manu Parekh, and many others in various Centres. These exhibitions brought the artists — the weavers and the market — into a collaborative whole,” says textile scholar Chishti. Jain narrates how historically cloth was used as much for architectural surfaces and interior spaces, as for covering oneself. “Cloth had numerous uses in the past. Walls were draped in cloth, there was cloth and other soft furnishings on the floor for seating, and for ceilings too. It’s this large-scale, all-enveloping aspect of Indian cloth that is highlighted in this exhibition,” says Jain.

The sense of the celebratory is visible in the exhibits, some tower over 15 feet-high as they sit in two galleries at the museum. Some slanted, some hung, and some run 30-feet along the length of the wall. One such is a tapestry done in block print with motifs of birds, as an ode to ornithologist Salim Ali. Singh stretched and enlarged the length, breadth and width of Indian textiles through these exhibitions as he delved into the details, the quality of dyes, the motifs, and the weaves. In his documentation, Singh writes: “If I were to ask, ‘can you think of a wholly contemporary textile’ it would be difficult because you’re constrained by a vast inherited repertoire of design…For the ‘Vishwakarma’ project, by the time I arrived on the scene, everything was far too complex… too many colours, patterns too large in scale…it had to be invariably a reductionist process.” This paring down can be seen in a pichwai, where religious symbolisms are taken away and the lotus becomes the foreground in the textile. “Mapu was thinking of ways to make textiles relevant and marketable. It eventually became his own personal journey,” says Jain, “In his vision, Indian fabric was meant to be experienced in a visceral way. He was deeply spiritual, and also a ritualist, fascinated by the gesture and drama that infused the life and arts of India. His exhibitions therefore were fundamentally emotive, their scale affording to viewers a dramatic, immersive experience.” Fashion designer Thakore, who was with Singh from the beginning of the ‘Vishwakarma’ project, speaks of how it seeded the fashion revolution we see today. “Weavers in every state and every district were mapped. The exhibition gave people access to weavers, which benefitted them hugely. Many of them became master weavers and have now become traders. We hope the exhibition helps students and younger designers to understand what is possible in Indian textiles,” says Thakore. It is in the creation of the dramatic where things are possible, and this exhibition provides a window into that world. ‘A Search in Five Directions’ is at the National Crafts Museum till March 31

- http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/art-and-culture/coat-of-many-colours-5030625/, Jan 18, 2018

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Timeless treasures of Bhau Daji Lad Museum

After purchasing a ticket for Rs10, a visitor’s first tangible encounter with history at the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Byculla takes place at the century-old turnstiles. They cut a fine, gently curved, functional figure, finished in steely matte black, a gentle indicator of the quality of exhibits here. The 160-year-old establishment is the city’s first museum and the first cultural institution to be governed by a public-private partnership (the Brihanmumbai municipal corp.,

the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation and the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage). The museum won Unesco’s 2005 Award of Excellence in Cultural Conservation after being restored by conservation architect Vikas Dilawari. Like all museums offering a sense of place and time, Bhau Daji Lad records a reminder of India, and the city of Bombay (now Mumbai) under the British. A fair share of the objects presented can act as a record of the British empire’s impact or lack of, on both, the city and the country. The museum is hosting an exhibition titled Asymmetrical Objects to mark a decade since its reopening after restoration. The exhibition, which opens today, has works by prominent artists like Jitish Kallat, Manish Nai, Mithu Sen, Sahej Rahal and Shilpa Gupta. Besides the exhibition, there is much to marvel at at the museum. However, viewing all 3,500 artefacts can be challenging. So here’s what you should be looking out for.
The remarkable building

What it lacks in height, the two-level Palladian structure makes up for in details. Look upwards to see a stencilled and stuccoed ceiling, where alternate squares sport a gold-bordered star of David, presumably a nod to David Sassoon, the Jewish philanthropist whose patronage helped found the museum. Supported by delicately winding, ornate Doric pillars, the expansive ceiling has thin arches along its length. The colourful, well-aged Minton tiles on the staircase and first floor point out its period of construction from their popularity in the mid-19th century. Maps charting the early formation of Bombay The city maps on the upper level tell the story of Bombay’s evolution from seven islands to an industrial city and port. Start with the exhibit titled Heptanesia, a Greek word meaning seven islands, as recorded in the writings of Ptolemy.

It remains the first recorded name for the city in any written language. Follow this with Grose’s Plan Of Bombay, an 18th-century watercolour mapping the streets within Fort to scale, making it a thorough representation of the closed city. Two large models of Worli by the City of Bombay Improvement Trust are displayed, laying out the topography of one of the original seven islands. One shows Worli before the establishment of mills, while the other shows houses, parks and grounds along with the first mills of the city, which brought in the first wave of migrant labourers.

The statuary
Located in a gardened path by the museum, the statuary offers more glimpses of early Bombay. Headless statues of Lord Marquis of Cornwallis and Wellesley are a curious sight—a result of the violence during the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement in the 1950s. The statues were later removed from their original locations in Fort and placed here. The pride of place, however, belongs to tall, rust-coloured lamp-post-fountain erected in the memory of Sir Seymour Fitzgerald, in 1867. That the statues of these distinguished men occupy a row facing stone plaques for civic amenities which they helped build must be its own form of irony.

JJ School of Art pottery exhibit
After the school of art was established in 1856, its superintendent installed a kiln for students to experiment with clay. Early shapes of pottery resembled popular Greek and Roman patterns of the era. Local touches came in the form of patterns, drawings and colours, beginning with the Ajanta caves. Indigenous species of fruits and flowers are painted on white, blue and turquoise pots with mythological scenes from the Ramayan and the Mahabharat. Unusual colours like dark green, gold and nude became popular, as these pots sold quickly at art fairs in Pune, Kolkata, Amsterdam and London.

The museum shop
Mementos to take home can be found at the museum shop. A smattering of art books and catalogues of work by artists like Atul Dodiya, fridge magnets of Minton tiles and the museum’s intricate ceiling offer a tribute to the building’s rare architectural style. Asymmetrical Objects is on till 27 March, 10am-5.30pm (Wednesdays closed).

- http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/a3JbmXgOSeCR7JZzusEElM/Timeless-treasures-of-Bhau-Daji-Lad-Museum.html, Jan 19, 2018

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Will history be buried for a road? A Gurgaon village waits

ON FRIDAY, senior officials of the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) will visit a heritage stepwell, believed to have been built in 1905, to decide whether it should make way for a “sector road” near the busy Sohna Road in Gurgaon. With residents of Badshahpur expressing fears that the baoli in their village would be lost forever, HUDA administrator Yashpal Yadav confirmed that officials would assess the situation over the weekend and determine their course of action. “Our executive engineer is visiting the spot on Friday, and I intend to undertake a visit on Saturday. We will see what the course of the road is and whether or not the stepwell would be on the intended route. But we hope to preserve the structure and find a way to complete our project without building over it,” said Yadav.

However, students and faculty of Gurgaon-based Ansal University’s Sushant School of Art and Architecture, who conducted research on the baoli in 2005, claimed that work has already begun to bury the stepwell. “Since our research project, the area has changed drastically, with the catchment area being built upon. We conducted two visits within three days this week and even in that gap, work had progressed. When we went on Thursday, there were trucks and bulldozers dumping sand into the stepwell to cover it up,” said a faculty member, who did not wish to be named. Residents of Badshahpur, which is also home to a 16th-century Mughal-era fort structure, confirmed that construction work started near the stepwell “one or two days ago”. While some rued the loss of the stepwell, which they see as an integral part of their history, others said they looked forward to better connectivity to the rest of the district.

“It is true that the baoli has not been used for many years, and is not maintained properly. However, it is still a part of our history that could be cultivated to attract people, and promoted as a picnic or tourist spot. I wish the focus was on doing that rather than sacrificing it in the name of development,” said a resident of the village, who did not wish to be named. “The baoli was anyway becoming a menace. It is an open area that children can fall into and where flies have been breeding. It is better that the area be developed rather than the stepwell preserved in this state. Our village must also move forward,” said Naresh Kumar, another resident. “It was meant to provide water for the cows, buffaloes and other livestock that people used to keep in those days, and was of great use. However, over time, as people gave up agriculture and took to other professions, the area around the baoli has developed and it has gone out of use,” said Subhash Dhanker, from Badshahpur.

- http://indianexpress.com/article/india/will-history-be-buried-for-a-road-a-gurgaon-village-waits-5030765/, Jan 19, 2018

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Activists urge govt to make list of monuments for conservation

Seeking restoration of heritage structures, activists in Gurgaon on Monday wrote to the Haryana government to map all important monuments and historical sites in the city as per the Regional Plan 2021. The demand comes days after a 100-year-old stepwell in Badshahpur was almost lost to negligent road construction by the Haryana urban development authority (Huda). “The stepwell meets several criteria for conservation—it is a water body, a recharge area, a monument of sorts, and a significant manmade structure. It shows us how important water was even then (1905), and efforts were made in the past to make water accessible to all,” read the letter by environment analyst Chetan Agarwal to the district administration.

The letter also pointed out that as per the Regional Plan 2021, which was published in 2005, all historical sites should be protected. “The Regional Plan-2021, in Chapter 14, Section 14.2, and sub-section (viii) ( pg 131), states that water bodies, manmade heritage sites, etc, located in the NCR should be conserved/protected,” the letter read. Thus, activists have urged the district administration to take steps to protect these heritage sites.

According to the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) data, a total of 640 monuments and architectural sites are scattered across Haryana’s 21 districts. “We have carried out a listing of monuments in the state which need to be preserved and conserved. This is one of our ongoing projects in Gurgaon. In India, all monuments are classified under three categories according to which they get an agency to look after them. These agencies are Archaeological Survey of India, the state government and the district magistrate. All monuments should be conserved by the district administration,” INTACH convener Atul Dev said.

- https://www.hindustantimes.com/gurgaon/activists-urge-govt-to-make-list-of-monuments-for-conservation/story-4hbFzfLPfbPQBoG5IowrrK.html, Jan 24, 2018

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200-year-old Thane church yet to get ‘heritage structure’ tag

The Christian community in Thane may have to wait longer to get the ancient Portuguese church at Pokharan road declared as a state protected monument. This is because the TMC has failed to enlist the said structure in Thane’s heritage list. Since 2012, Melwyn Fernandes and parishioners of Our Lady of Mercy Church, Pokharan road II, Thane have been struggling to get the protected monument tag for the church. “Built in 1562, this is an ancient church and, like other structures in the city, needs to be protected and preserved,” says Fernandes. It was Bandra resident Vinod Roshan D’Souza who wrote to the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums last year about the need to preserve this church. “It is a monument of Indo-Portuguese architecture and needs to be preserved,” says D’souza who takes up various social causes. However, in a reply dated January 18, 2018 the directorate replied that it is the TMC which has to include it in the heritage structure list. When DNA spoke to TMC commissioner Sanjeev Jaiswal, he said, “The heritage committee is examining the proposal. However, according to a TMC official, there is hardly anything to preserve.”

- http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-200-year-old-thane-church-yet-to-get-heritage-structure-tag-2578361, Jan 25, 2018

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This duo from Jaipur is reviving pottery that’s Dehaati by material, skill and character

When was the last time you drank water out of an earthen pot or had food cooked in earthen pots? The taste and smell of food and water is absolutely delectable, but it doesn’t just stop there; there are numerous health benefits attached to earthenware, too. Doesn’t it make you wonder why did we switch to utensils made of other materials? Srishti Verma and Niraj Dave wondered as well. That’s why, in an attempt to bring back the tradition of pottery and to promote rural potters, their skills, and their pottery, they founded Dehaati in 2016.

Bringing back lost traditions
The idea of an organisation was first sown in the year 2016. Srishti says: “Local clay products come with a few fears - customer satisfaction, material unawareness, fragile nature, and desired market. The fears have kept rural potters and their work from getting the kind of worth that an industrial-based pottery product does.” “We, at Dehaati, aim to bridge this gap and work with all the possible forces for promotion of rural based pottery, potters and their skills,” she adds. Dehaati, which literally means “a villager”, emerged with an approach to be as original and honest as possible in an era of unreal existence and adulterated identities. Dehaati aims to be the most pure form of the craft, showcasing local skills, traditional values, narratives and materials along with value addition and design innovation. Self-funded, Dehaati has now emerged as a brand for promotion of less acknowledged hand skills and with an objective to bring back our lost traditions.

“We take inspiration from simple objects, people, and their traits, traditional values and knowledge systems. We, as designers working in the craft sector, have always been admiring the growth and recognition for textile crafts in India and particularly in Kutch,” says Srishti, a graduate from Indian Institute Of Crafts and Design, Jaipur. Living closely with communities and understanding their traditional value systems has been among her key areas of work, regardless of material, practice or people.

She has been part of many curated projects in Kutch and has worked closely with artisan communities of potters, leather, metal and wood workers. As a head researcher in Kutchi pottery, she has documented more than 80 traditional pottery shapes from the region. She believes more in the process than end product, and diverse exposure to the region has brought her a deep understanding of other local and pastoral communities, their material culture, and narratives. Srishti’s core interests include research, investigation, writing, archival, curation, and travelling. She says challenges have been a constant part of Dehaati’s journey. “We love each and every challenge coming our way and the process of resolving the same. We are a self-initiated and self-funded project; this brings along beauty and struggle,” Srishti says.

Range of products
Dehaati offers a range of utility products varying from kitchenware, home décor to lifestyle, which are available online. Apart from products, Dehaati also provides services and considers itself an institute open to all for pottery learning modules, workshops, craft exposures, and pottery tours in Kutch. The team also works towards producing sustainable ideas for interior spaces and architecture. “We try to combine local materials and techniques with more contemporary ideas and modern needs. We explore and work with the local red and white clay from the Kutch region. We also try to incorporate foreign techniques and clay compositions in harmony with local material for innovations and new product ideas,” she says. “At present, we produce a range of earthenware and also a mix of terracotta and ceramic.

We also work with traditional wood (Vadhas) and metal workers (Luhars) in Kutch and produce a range of products in the same materials,” Srishti adds. Dehaati also tries to identify and source skills from local women, truck drivers, and Ganesh idol makers for many product innovations. A mix of products have emerged in a variety of materials, including jute, cotton threads, metal, wood, and local grasses. The major raw material used is local terracotta clay and natural colours for painting, locally procured from river banks and hills.

Response to eco-friendly products
Dehaati has received a warm welcome in a world where eco-friendly products are making a mark. Srishti says, “To get crafts acknowledged and make them a part of our daily lives, it is important to see them beyond objects/souvenirs. As long as we designers realise this and work in this direction, craft should hope to see its place in every household and class of people.” With dramatic changes in environment and increased use of synthetic materials, people are soon realising the importance of “going back to the roots” and have begun to welcome the idea of handmade and naturally made. There are many people now willing to adopt the ideas of sustainable and eco-friendly living. Neerajsays: “We definitely see the trend getting picked up, although it needs more push and awareness among general masses.”

Neeraj is a trained ceramic designer who did his fine arts from Hudson Valley Community College, Troy, New York, and later continued with his graduation in fired materials from Indian Institute Of Crafts and Design, Jaipur. He takes his inspiration from the most abandoned thoughts and treats them as gems. His earlier work with potters across India and then in Kutch led him deeper into their lives and into patterns of this ancestral craft; he’s now a co-creator. Dehaati plans to host more and more enthusiasts and learners willing to explore Kutch pottery in their common studio space in Kutch to share and explore new ideas. The team is in the process of setting up the studio space, which aims to deliver service in the form of design, innovation, craft awareness, rural exposure, learning, hospitality, food and sensory engagements.

- https://yourstory.com/2018/01/jaipur-pottery-dehaati/, Jan 25, 2018

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INTACH to open new chapters in Mangalore, Palakkad in Feb

Seeking to expand its footprint, heritage body INTACH is all set to open a chapter each in Kerala and Karnataka next month, taking the total number of its branches to over 200, a senior official today said. A non-profit organisation established in 1984 and headquartered in New Delhi, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) works on protection, conservation and promotion of tangible and intangible heritage. "A new chapter will be opened mid-February in Palakkad city in Kerala, the seventh in the state, and in Mangalore in Karnataka, the eleventh in the state, late next month.

This would help expand our reach in southern India, which is rich in tangible and intangible heritage," the senior INTACH official told PTI. The new chapters are likely to give boost to documentation and preservation of heritage in the two southern states. Besides the iconic Palakkad fort, the district in Kerala is home to many 'tharavadus' (ancestral homes) and many old structures stand scattered as a testimony to the grandeur of the past. Apart from the centuries-old Olappamanna Mana, a heritage feudal house, there are many other old buildings, which were home for many famous joint families. Devi Vilasom Palace belonging to the Kollengode royal family is one of them. It is situated in front of the Government Victoria College in Palakkad town, according to Kerala Tourism. Mangalore is dotted with ancient Hindu temples and several colonial-era buildings besides churches dating back to 16th century.

Last November, the INTACH had opened three chapters -- Hisar Chapter (Haryana); a joint chapter for three towns of Sikar, Churu and Jhunjhunu (Rajasthan); and Khairagarh (Chhattisgarh). The new chapter in Chhattisgarh was started in an art university in Khairagarh, considering the tribal culture of the region. In November 2016, the heritage body had opened a chapter in the historic city of Darbhanga in Bihar and prior to that in December 2015, in silk city Bhagalpur. Gaya and Sitamarhi have also been on INTACH's radar but, still facing some challenges. "In Sitamarhi, we got good response, but not the required number of volunteers we need to get the specified number of members and life members, required for starting a chapter.

"In Gaya, we are in touch with faculty at Magadh University to mobilise support for membership, but we have not got good response at all so far," Bihar Chapter Convener Prem Sharan rued. The ancient city of Gaya, is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Mahabodhi Temple, and the iconic Vishnupad Temple, besides a large number of colonial-era buildings. The Gaya Collectorate, District Board building, District Engineers Office, the Dakbungalow, are some of the oldest heritage buildings in the city, known for the their distinct architecture and red colour. INTACH has chapters in all major cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Shimla, Patna, Ahmedabad and Bhopal.

- http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/intach-to-open-new-chapters-in-mangalore-palakkad-in-feb-118012800290_1.html, Jan 24, 2018

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10,000-year-old prehistoric crayon used by our artistic ancestors discovered in Stone Age lake

Archaeologists have discovered what they believe could be one of the earliest samples of a crayon, which was likely used by our ancestors around 10,000 years ago. The new discovery hints at the significance of colour in the lives of the ancient hunter-gatherers. The prehistoric crayon, which is around 22mm long and 7mm wide, was found in an ancient lake in North Yorkshire, which is now covered in peat. Archaeologists also found an ochre pebble at another archaeological site at the opposite end of the lake. The ancient site dates back to the Mesolithic period, also known as the Stone Age.

"Colour was a very significant part of hunter-gatherer life and ochre gives you a very vibrant red colour. It is very important in the Mesolithic period and seems to be used in a number of ways. One of the latest objects we have found looks exactly like a crayon; the tip is faceted and has gone from a rounded end to a really sharpened end, suggesting it has been used," Dr Andy Needham from the University of York's department of archaeology, lead author of the new research, said in a statement. "For me it is a very significant object and helps us build a bigger picture of what life was like in the area; it suggests it would have been a very colourful place."

According to the researchers, the site where the ancient crayon was found, Flixton School House, was a primary location during the Stone Age. The recently discovered artefacts help shed some light on how early hunter-gatherers interacted with their surroundings. "The pebble and crayon were located in an area already rich in art. It is possible there could have been an artistic use for these objects, perhaps for colouring animal skins or for use in decorative artwork," Dr Needham said. The new study, which involved collaboration with the University of Manchester and the University of Chester, has been published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

- http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/10000-year-old-prehistoric-crayon-used-by-our-artistic-ancestors-discovered-stone-age-lake-1656909, Jan 29, 2018

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Remains of 18th century fort excavated at Bharathi Park

Students from the Department of History in Tagore Arts College aid in the excavation at Bharathi Park to identify the remains of Fort Louis. An Assistant Professor and 15 students from the Department of History in Tagore Arts College in association with the Department of Arts and Science have been engaged for the past week in excavating the remains of an 18th century fort in Bharathi Park here. Ravichandirane P., Assistant Professor, History Department, Tagore Arts College, said that after the French received the Puducherry region from the Dutch, they constructed a fort named Louis in 1700 and raised a huge wall around the city. In retospect “During the Carnatic war in 1760s, the English defeated the French and razed down the fort. Later, the French established a harbour and lighthouse with Aayi Mandapam in the middle. In the 1950s, the Government of Puducherry established a park in the name of Bharathi,” he informed. Explaining that it was a trial to identify the fort wall and foundation, S. Ganessin, Director, Department of Art and Culture, said that Mr. Ravichandirane approached him stating that the remains of Fort Louis could be found if excavation was carried out in Bharathi Park. “In order to identify the remains, we started a trial to excavate a small portion of Bharathi Park close to the Perumal Temple. After the initial work is complete the team will approach the Archaeology Department to get permission for urther excavation,” he said.

- https://www.nyoooz.com/news/puducherry/1019449/remains-of-18th-century-fort-excavated-at-bharathi-park/, Jan 29, 2018

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Kirti Mandir paintings to regain glory

The next time you visit Kirti Mandir, you can view the exquisite paintings on the ceiling and walls of the grand building built by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III. For the first time since they were made in 1940s, the paintings made by famed artist Nandlal Bose are being restored. The restored paintings will revive Kirti Mandir's glory and give art-lovers a peek into the rich art legacy of Bose, who decorated each page of the Constitution of India book after the independence. The royal Gaekwad family has joined hands with Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) to conserve and restore the rare paintings. Also, the Switzerland embassy is providing expertise for the project. "The paintings are rare and are next only to Raja Ravi Verma in terms of significance.

Some of the paintings had suffered damage due to water seepage in the building. We decided to restore them as they are a part of our rich heritage," said Samarjitsinh Gaekwad, royal scion. While the Swiss embassy has sent in its experts from the Bern University of Arts, INTACH and Indira Gandhi National Centre of Arts (IGNCA) too will be providing their expertise for the restoration and conservation. The cost of the project is being borne by Swiss embassy INTACH, IGNCA and Devasthan Trust of the Gaekwad family.

Bose was commissioned by Maharaja Sayajirao to decorate the Kirti Mandir in 1939 and he worked on the assignment in four different periods till 1946. The intricate paintings that are of egg tempera in nature depict the life of Mirabai, battle of Kurukshetra in Mahabharata, Gangavatarna - emergence of the River Ganga - and Buddhist story of King Bimbisara. "We came across these beautiful paintings during a documentation of such artworks that we did across the country years ago. So, we discussed the restoration and conservation of the paintings with the Gaekwad family.

Then we got into touch with the Swiss embassy for help," said Nilabh Sinha, principal director, INTACH Conservation Institutes. The team of experts has already eliminated the cause of the leakage and is now working on the paintings. "We will try to restore them as close to their original version as possible.

A team of students from the fine arts faculty of M S University too has been invited for the project," Sinha told TOI. While the Swiss experts will stay put in the city for five days, the other team will work on the project for next four weeks. A five-day workshop including talks and practical demonstrations of the paintings restoration and understanding the problems and its solutions has also been organized at Kirti Mandir. Kirti Mandir - a royal cenotaph - It was built by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III in 1936 to perpetuate the memory of his ancestors. Members of the royal family are cremated in an open ground behind this grand building and the ashes are preserved in separate rooms. The E-shaped structure has a beautifully carved 35-metre tall 'Shikhar' that represents the sun, moon and earth along with an undivided map of India. It is located on the banks of Vishwamitri River.

Painter par excellence
Padma Vibhushan Nandlal Bose was one of the pioneers of the modern Indian art and is known for beautifully decorating each page of the original Constitution of India that was handwritten. Bose also drew the emblems for the highest awards given by Indian government such as Bharat Ratna and Padmashri. Born in 1882, Bose, who was principal of Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan, was known for his Indian style of paintings. His works were influenced by murals of Ajanta Caves.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vadodara/kirti-mandir-paintings-to-regain-glory/articleshow/62701294.cms, Jan 30, 2018

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Heritage walk for children held in Downtown

INTACH Kashmir chapter organized a heritage walk for children in Downtown here. The organizers in a statement the objective of the event was to introduce them to the tangible and intangible heritage of Downtown. The walk was conducted by the experts on art and architecture from INTACH Kashmir. The statement said the walk started from Pather Masjid and the participants were taken through the alleys connecting different mohallas. “They were introduced to vernacular architecture of residential houses. They also went to the tomb of Sultan Zain-Ul-Abideen’s mother, and finally culminated at Khanqah Shah Hamdan. Throughout the walk, the participants were introduced to the various aspects of our heritage,” the statement added. As part of the event, the INTACH also organised ‘clean the monument”, focusing to strengthen the thinking among people to keep the historic monuments clean and avoid dumping waste near the monuments.

- http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/srinagar-city/heritage-walk-for-children-held-in-downtown/273941.html, Jan 30, 2018

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GPO TO BRING CAVE HERITAGE ON CITY’S POSTAL COVERS

Pune's General Post Office (GPO) is all set to launch special postal covers based on the theme of the caves in and around the city. The covers will be sharing one cave each month and brief information about it will be communicated. The first in the list is the Bhaje caves located near Lonavala. Speaking to Mirror, postmaster general Ganesh Sawaleshwarkar said, "The idea behind coming up with a special cover is to bring to the forefront issues that are not much talked about. Generally, the purpose of such acover launched by the post office is to commemorate an event, occasion or culture.

We cannot release postage stamps on everything, so we release special covers on those that can't be featured on postage stamps. This year, the theme that we have come up with is the caves in and around Pune. Such stamps, tickets and special covers create a lot of curiosity and then people try to gather more information on the subject. We have not yet decided on the caves we will be covering this year. There are around 50 caves around Pune and many of them are not known to people. These covers will create a curiosity about them." Aceremony to launch the covers will be conducted, wherein an expert will be communicating the details about the caves around Pune and how many of them are not known to the common public. Kaustubh Mudgal, an enthusiastic philatelist, sharing his opinion on the move, said, "I think it's quite a positive initiative and can in fact help redevelop the interest of people in subjects that are brought forward through the postal covers. I feel the caves which people rarely know about will finally become a subject of interest.

They will visit these caves and try to find more information about them through the internet." Speaking to Mirror, city-based archaeologist Saili Palande-Datar said, "This is indeed a welcome move by the postmaster general to acknowledge our rich cultural heritage. Releasing such first covers with the theme of historical/ heritage caves of Pune district will sensitise the general public about their existence and contribution to the history of India. It would help develop the right historical perspective and appreciation of the art and architecture of unique rock-cut structures. Maharashtra houses more than 1,000 caves which is largest number in India due to the availability of basaltic Deccan trap. The Bhaje caves are the oldest datable caves in the state and one of the oldest in India, dating back to the 2nd century BC. The study of the Bhaje caves not only help us understand development of Buddhism, but also comprehend royal connections of Satvahana and Kashatrapas dynasties, apart from Indo- Roman trade linkages. I had the privilege to contribute to the development of the concept of the cave series, selection of caves, the content on the cover and visual photographs."

- http://punemirror.indiatimes.com/pune/civic/cave-heritage-on-citys-postal-covers/articleshow/62715685.cms, Jan 30, 2018

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