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January 2019

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With 506 monuments, Karnataka leads South India in ASI list

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) recently declared that it has added six structures to the list of monuments of national importance, taking the total number to 3,693. With 506 monuments under its belt, Karnataka continues to top the list in South India, followed by Tamil Nadu (413). Nationally too, Karnataka is in the second place after Uttar Pradesh, which has 745 such monuments. However, two proposals from the state — the over 200-year-old Tipu armoury in Bengaluru and Nagareshwara Temple in Halebidu, Hassan, dating back to the Hoysala era — haven’t been added to the national list as the Centre wants ASI, Bangalore Circle to make some changes to the proposal. Agra, Uttar Pradesh. The list was presented in the Lok Sabha last week by the ministry of culture. K Moortheshwari, superintending archaeologist, ASI, Bengaluru Circle, told TOI that the state has been proposing Tipu armoury in Bengaluru for the national list since 2014. “For a monument to make it to the national list requires a lot of groundwork and we have been making necessary changes to the proposal every year. It will take time,” said an official from the Bengaluru office. Tipu Sultan, who was the king of Mysuru between 1782 and 1799, is believed to have built 10 armouries to assist him in his fight against the British. Eight such structures are in Srirangapatna, while one is in Pandavapura and another in Bengaluru. An official with the ASI said they can’t take up protection work of the armoury in Bengaluru unless it is declared a monument. The structure continues to be in a sorry state due to lack of maintenance. Another monument, the Nagareshwara Temple, also has a glorious legacy. According to archaeologists, the temple premises, which has a set of five separate structures dating back to the Hoysala dynasty, was excavated during 1987-88. The dynasty ruled this part of the region between 10th and 14th century. According to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, any structure, sculpture, inscription, etc., which is in existence for not less than 100 years is termed ancient. Though Tamil Nadu finds itself in the third spot in total number of monuments of national importance, it has been topping the country in overall tourist traffic. The state has many spectacular temples like the Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai and some of them are over 1,400 years old. While Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh follow TN in tourist footfall, Karnataka finds itself in the sixth spot. As per the tourist traffic statistics released in 2017, over 34 crore tourists from within the country visited various parts of TN. The numbers for UP was about 22 crore.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/with-506-monuments-karnataka-leads-south-india-in-asi-list/articleshow/67355800.cms, Jan 1-2, 2019

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On the Vegetation of Kashmir through Past Archaeobotany

Archaeobotany is the complementary discipline of archaeology; it provides aids to understand man-land relationships of prehistoric times. The archaeobotanist identifies wild and domesticated plants, investigates origins of domestication of plants and traces the progress made in ancient agricultural practices. Archaeobotany deals with the origins of plant domestication based on the recovery of plant remains from archaeological contexts, their identification in the laboratory followed by processual interpretation of culture change as well as morphological changes in cultivated plants. Morphological changes in plants are attributed to adaptations to system of cultivation and human harvesting. It combines botanical knowledge with archaeological materials. Botanical remains include two broad categories of evidence Macroscopic and Microscopic, seeds, woods, parenchyme tissue, and plant impression; these are macroscopic. The microscopic remains are pollens, phytoliths and diatoms and palaofaces (coprolits). Archaeobotanists analyze and interpret the plant remains that come out of archaeological site from both the reproductive parts and the wood charcoal. It tells a story about human plant interactions in the past (paleoethnobotany). We can learn different things from the archaeological plant record, for example, if a group was intensively farming and relying very heavily on corn beans and squash or whether, they had a nice mixed diet. We can learn things about wood use such as common woods that people were bringing in for fires to cook their food and keep warm. We can track whether they were using those and resources up over time. The archaeobotanical study can also be employed in depicting the origin and history of agriculture. Human efforts to animate for a comfortable life and evolution from food gathering to food producing is also depicted through the study of ancient plant remains. The plant remains and archaeological sites are primarily acquired through a process called flotation, so archaeobotanists take flotation samples( basically dirt samples) and they are put in water and the plant parts in the samples float on the surface of the water, then they are skimmed off and saved which is what archaeobotanists look under the microscope. The samples with the best information are the result of accidental burning in prehistory. The events of the earliest cultivation by man could be depicted through pollen analysis of lake and swamp by taking core samples. Such studies in Kashmir at Haigam Lake and Anchar Lake trace the beginnings of agriculture in the valley to 4000 years BP. The earliest evidence of agriculture in India dates back to 7000-8000 years BP. Kashmir valley is unique in respect of changes that have taken place in vegetation and climate in the late Cenozoic times. The record of past vegetation of Kashmir has been obtained through palaeobotanic and palynological studies of the Karewa sediments. The evidence of the vegetation of Kashmir during pliocene has come from the investigation at Dubjan and Hirpur localities in the Karewa series (Agrawal 1985).The records of Pleistocene vegetative of Kashmir have come from sites like Laredura, Liddarmarg, Pakharpura, Khaigam and so on There were so many agricultural crop remains recovered from occupation at Burzahom in various phases. Cereals, a pulse, some horticultural crops, weed seeds have been recovered from Burzahom (Neolithic I) are extremely interesting. The megalithic period at Burzahom is characterized by the introduction of rice. At Semthan(3500-2600YBP), the main plant assemblages recovered above natural soil are rice, barley, and wheat. During the Neolithic I era, the inhabitants of Burzahom practiced single cropping system of agriculture( that is, they were growing winter crops only). The introduction of rice both at Burzahom and Semthan indicates a change in food habits and suggests that the inhabitants were advanced in terms of agriculture because rice requires a good amount of water for optimal growth. So we can say that people were very smart and astute observers of their environment and they had a broad-based diet of both plants they grew in their fields and wild plants that they utilized. They brought nutrition and vitamins and minerals to the table. They also brought enough calories for their people to have children and be able to stay on the landscape. In a nutshell, Archaeobotany focuses on the study of preserved plant evidence from archaeological sites and the reconstruction and interpretation of past human-plant relationships. More excavations and pollen analysis are needed in order to know the human-plant interactions.

- https://kashmirreader.com/2019/01/04/on-the-vegetation-of-kashmir-through-past-archaeobotany/, Jan 3, 2019

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Jamshedpur: Discover The City Within The Steel City

As everyone is busy adding places to their 2019 travel bucket list, how about getting a head start with a trip to ‘Jampot’ Jamshedpur? Popularly known as the Steel City of India, if offers a pleasant weekend getaway from Kolkata and Ranchi, especially in winter. From de rigueur sightseeing to food tripping to adventure sports to visit to a wildlife sanctuary, this prime city in Jharkhand offers a slew of attractions to suit all age groups. Often referred to as a city envisioned by a Parsi, planned by an American, named by a British Viceroy and landscaped by a German botanist, Jamshedpur has come a long way since the foundation laid on February 28, 1908. To get a grip on its over a century old history, begin with a Heritage Walk titled ‘Kalimati to Jamshedpur’ organised on Sundays (8am to 10am from October to March; contact: 0657-2320109) by INTACH – Jharkhand chapter, in collaboration with a private enterprise Kalamandir. It is the parks and lakes that have made Jamshedpur one of the greenest cities of India. Start with the sprawling Jubilee Park where tree-lined pathways will take you past gardens full of seasonal flowers by day and illuminated musical fountains by night. If you have kids in tow, you may. At one end of the park is the Tata Steel Zoological Park (open 10am to 4pm; ticketed entry). Jayanti Sarovar, adjacent to the zoo, is home to migratory birds in winter. Off the main entrance to Jubilee Park is the Centre for Excellence (open Tuesday and Saturday, 9.30am to 4pm) designed by globally renowned Hafeez Contractor. A series of pillars rising from waterbodies line the way to the main building. In keeping with the architectural legacy, there are many installation arts on display by students and aspiring artists. A tour (available on request) of the Founders Gallery and the Tata Steel Archives throw up a lot of interesting nuggets of information, such as the company supplying the steel for the construction of the iconic Howrah Bridge, the indigenously built armoured vehicles supplied during World War II where considered extremely safe and called Tatanagar, that Tisco was the first steel plant in the world to install (in 1914) an Ice and Soda Machine to supply cool refreshments to its workers labouring in extreme temperatures, etc. If you are an art lover, do not miss the display of original MF Hussain works or the works of Anjolie Ela Menon, Jatin Das and others in the Art Gallery. The Tribal Culture Centre is the city’s acknowledgement of its rise from the tribal heartland of eastern India. Apart from being an activity centre for the tribal people, it also showcases the lifestyle of four of the leading tribes of the region through artefacts ranging from items of daily use to handicraft and handloom. Being a multi-cultural city from its birth, Jamshedpur is dotted with many religious institutions such as the Bhubaneswari Temple, Parsi Fire Temple, Sakchi Masjid, St Georges Church, Sakchi Gurudwara, etc. No visit to Jamshedpur can be complete without visiting the Dalma hills and the Dimna Lake along the foothill. Known for its sunrise and sunset views, Dimna Lake is also a popular picnic spot. Food tripping in Jamshedpur could itself be an excuse to visit the steel city. From roadside stalls to musically inclined cafes to heritage restaurants, the city has something for every taste. Take your pick from Fakira’s chanachur (a spicy snack mix), Bhatia’s milkshake, or dosas from Madrasi Hotel (dating back to 1935), or kulfi at Navajivan. And if you are keen to sample some local cuisine, try litti –chokha at Kewat’s eatery in Sakchi area. Catch up with the city’s young brigade at the first floor café of Brubeck Bakery, run by the Boulevard Hotel. An institution by itself, the hotel, dating back to the 1940s, also runs the Chopsticks restaurant known for its dishes ranging from Goa to Thailand, from Parsee to Continental. The tea lounge La Gravitea (which employs differently abled serviced staff) and the newly opened Social 75 restaurant are popular with the young executives of Jamshedpur. Café Regal, housed in the iconic Bharucha building, smacks of nostalgia. Apart from its regular fare of hot and cold beverages, sandwiches and pasta, etc., it also serves a special Parsee lunch on Sundays (advance order recommended). If you are looking for a lively nightlife, drop in at Double Down, the city’s first discotheque and pub, where the city’s musicians and bands will regale you with a mix of retro and latest hits. An early morning or a late afternoon can be devoted to cycling along a 25km trail extending from Marine Drive (along the Subarnarekha River) to the zoo via Adityapur Bridge, Outer Circle Road, Inner Circle Road, and Uliyan Loop Road. See the rivers Subarnarekha river (lying to the north of Jamshedpur) meets the Kharkai river (lying to the east of the city) at a point called Do Mohani. The water sports centre at Dimna Lake has a variety of options – from regular motor boats to canoes to water surfing. Go hiking in the depths of Dalma hills lying to the north of the city. Or take an early morning drive through Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary (obtain prior permission from Range Forest Office, Mango, Jamshedpur). And before you say goodbye to the Steel City, do not forget to shop for tribal handloom and handicraft. Dhokra (Dokra) artefacts, utility products made from ‘sabai’ grass, folk paintings, and masks are some of the widely available items. Karigar Okhai and Biponi in Bistupur area stock a variety of tribal artefacts. Getting There: Birsa Munda Airport in Jharkhand’s capital city Ranchi is the nearest airport (150km by road) for Jamshedpur. Tatanagar (as the city’s railway station is named) is connected to Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai and other major cities. Best time to visit – October to March.

- https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/explore/story/69297/jamshedpur-discover-the-city-within-the-steel-city, Jan 4, 2019

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Najafgarh lake to be dammed? Alarm bells ring for wetland, flooding-prone city

The Haryana government may be backtracking from its commitment to declare the Najafgarh lake and its influence area a wetland. Last week, state forest minister Rao Narbir Singh rolled out a proposal to build a bund on a portion of the marshes to reclaim land belonging to local farmers submerged under spillage from the eponymous lake and drain. In 2016, the government had submitted a brief in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change, committing to notify Najafgarh lake and the surrounding marshes — which lie on the Haryana-Delhi border, giving both states jurisdiction — as a wetland. The document (a copy of which is with TOI) requests the Union ministry to notify 300 acres in Kherki Majra and Dhankot near the lake as a wetland. A 5sqkm area remains underwater perennially, turning the surroundings of the lake into a wetland that is now known for a rich avian ecosystem. The 7km-long Najafgarh lake and the drain are the only outlets for floodwater from Gurugran, which is already battling a flooding problem hugely disproportionate with the rainfall it receives. The lake and surrounding marshes are also an important habitat for many plant species and over 280 bird species, including greater flamingos, sarus cranes and greater white pelicans. According to local farmers, around 5,500 acres of land in eight villages — Dharampur, Momdheri, Daultabad, Kherki Majra, Dhankot, Chandu, Budhera and Makrola — remain flooded most of the year, preventing them from farming on it. Last week, the minister said if farmers sell 94 acres of their land to the government at market price, a bund could be built on it to prevent the area from flooding. “For the last 20 years, over 10,000 farmers from eight villages have not been able to use their land for agriculture due to waterlogging caused by contaminated industrial waste and sewage flowing from Najafgarh drain,” said Rakesh Daultabad, a local resident who runs an NGO. “Over 5,500 acres of land will be saved if the bund is built. I don’t think it will impact Najafgarh lake as it’s 12-13km from the proposed bund site. The bund will also prevent overflow of contaminated water into surrounding fields,” he added. “The bund will help us carry out agriculture in the land. Delhi constructed a bund long back, which benefited the farmers in Delhi. However, the Haryana government has not taken any step. We are glad that the minister took up the issue and is ready to help us,” said a landowner from Dhankot, requesting anonymity. But environmentalists and birders say once water is contained in a bund, it will sound the death knell for the wetland, which is a major groundwater recharge zone for both Delhi and Gurugram. “The Haryana government committed in a court of law, and submitted in writing, that it would notify Najafgarh lake as a wetland. If there is no wetland, there won’t be any birds. It will become a sewage drain, as it has already become in Delhi. Blindly replicating Delhi’s destructive model will lead to loss of one of NCR’s biggest wetlands,” said Pankaj Gupta of Delhi Bird Foundation. Describing the bund proposal as “hydrologically destructive” for Gurugram, Manu Bhatnagar of INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) said, “The Najafgarh drain and bund will destroy the lake without even solving the problem of waterlogging. We don’t need to save land, we need to some more land under water. We’re absolutely against the bund. These are only money-making projects for engineers, contractors and politicians. It’s hydrologically destructive for a city like Gurgaon, which will soon run out of groundwater.” INTACH, a non-profit organisation, filed a petition in NGT four years ago, demanding wetland status for Najafgarh lake. Bhatnagar’s proposed solution is, “Najafgarh lake can become a Ramsar site. By declaring it a wetland, authorities can generate various revenue streams from tourism, which can bring in money. Right now, authorities are looking at it solely through the lens of real estate. They’re not thinking of what will sustain that real estate project.” A Ramsar site is a designated wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/najafgarh-lake-to-be-dammed-alarm-bells-ring-for-wetland-flooding-prone-city/articleshow/67373464.cms, Jan 4, 2019

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7 ways to become environmentally friendly!

Wendell Berry quotes “The Earth is what we all have in common”. We not only inherit it from our ancestors we also have to pass it on to our next generation. We therefore have a responsibility to fulfill towards the condition of the Earth. We need to make constant efforts towards making the environment; we live in, a pure, healthy, safe and green abode for all! Healing the environment means healing oneself. The key lies in becoming environmentally friendly and treating the environment as precious. Of the many steps that humankind has taken towards protecting the environment, one is the taking the help of environmental testing labs. NABL accredited labs in India have been offering a variety of environment safety services. Testing labs in Delhi particularly are well equipped to provide such high-end services like testing and inspection of the environment along with environment consulting services. Environmental testing labs help in Environmental Impact Assessment, noise pollution surveys, waste management strategies, green audits, monitoring indoor air quality, environment monitoring, occupational safety etc. With these NABL accredited labs already working towards conserving the environment, let us see how we as responsible humans can contribute towards creating a more sustainable environment.

1:- Awareness of the precious resources:

Our cars which run on petrol is a type of non renewable resource and hence should not be wasted. Natural gases which are most commonly used in heating applications are also a non-renewable resource and must be utilized efficiently. First know the precious resources around you! Be alert, aware and watchful when you utilise water, heat foods or other stuff, use electricity, drive a car, eat or drink and even when you waste. Pay greater attention to these minute details of the basic resources you use in your daily life. Being aware is your first step towards making environment friendly decisions and choices.

2:- Choose to conserve:

Now that you are aware of your essential resources, it is time to act responsibly towards them and practice the art of conservation. Begin to conserve your resources by simple acts like switching off the lights and fans in a room that doesn’t need them to be on or not keeping the water running from the tap while you brush your teeth. Your skills of conservation can then expand to even creating an entire environment friendly house! Like having zero plastic accessories or equipments in your house.

3:- Plant more and more trees:

A simple deed with big benefits. Trees-always have, still do and shall always be of only advantage to the humans. Providing us with food, oxygen, shelter, pure air, protection from soil erosion and landslides- the blessings from a tree are innumerable. Tree plantation will only make the Earth’s environment a purer, healthier, safer, greener and fabulous place to live in.

4:- Increase the conservation of water:

Water, the elixir of life. Yes! This priceless elixir demands zero wastage. It is time to take shorter showers, no brushing with taps running, fix all those leaking taps and pipes, recycle and reuse the water in your home. Using water saving appliances is a great idea. Conserve and use the rainwater too. Fill it in a rain barrel and you can use this water for multiple purposes in your own house.

5:- Modify your travel practices:

Constructively alter the way you travel and you will end up saving so much of fuel along with cutting down on pollution levels. Opt for travel options that are fuel efficient, choose shorter and direct routines, try walking it out or cycling away to your destination, pool in others and travel together. 5 cars, carrying one person each, on the roads would lead to much higher levels of air and noise pollution than 5 people in just one car. Make your choices smartly.

6:- Bid adieu to hazardous chemicals:

Innumerable harmful chemicals that are released into the environment can destruct the purity of air and water and the poisonous ingredients even seep underground at times. Ammonia, paints, pesticides, bleach, oils, printer chemicals etc can have extremely dangerous consequences on the nature and human health. Their usage must be reduced to the minimal and they require safe disposal at toxic waste sites.

7:- Encourage the use of recycled products.

Apart from recycling and reusing products at home, also indulge in using recycled products commercially. Buy products where the usage of plastics, chemicals, polystyrene etc has been minimal in the production process. Encourage the trend of buying environment-friendly items that have been produced from recyclable material. With such small yet imperative measures, each one of us can create a wholesome and nourishing environment. Each person and each effort counts. Let us come together and make our environment a greener and happier place!

- https://www.environmental-expert.com/news/7-ways-to-become-environmentally-friendly-785985, Jan 4, 2019

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Conservationists push for Unesco heritage tag for terra cotta temples

Lack of renovation and neglect at the local level: these are the two biggest threats to hundreds of terra cotta temples in Gangetic Bengal. At some of the temples, the arched entrances had been damaged and the detailed carvings of terra cotta panels “plained” or given a fresh coat of paint by local masons during repairs, resulting in the loss of the tangible heritage forever, rued Amit Guha and Sourav Niyogi of Bengal Heritage Foundation who conserved the tomb of Dwarkanath Tagore and unveiled his bust at Kensal Green Cemetery in London. "These temples are not only architecturally rich but also represent the region’s culture, closely associated with contemporary movements in religion, literature and art as well as political, social and economic development of those times. They must be recognized as a Unescolisted World Heritage Site. Terra cotta cluster tourism should be conceptualized and promoted because local people tend to become more aware of the heritage when outsiders start visiting the place,” said Guha, who has been visiting Bankura, Birbhum, Murshidabad and Burdwan for his research on these temples. Guha and Niyogi spoke at a session on Bengal’s heritage at Indian Museum on Friday afternoon. Terra cotta is a type of unglazed and brownish-red fire clay, which is used to create anything, from sculptures to temples. Numerous temples of different shapes and sizes were built with intricate terra cotta carvings between 15th and 19th century. They were commissioned by local rulers, zamindars and landlords. The sutradhars (architects) would move from one place to another and settle for years till the construction of a temple was complete. “These sutradhars were artisans with great expertise. Before leaving, they would hand over a document to the patron on how to maintain it. With time, those documents were lost, leading to lack of renovation in future,” Guha said. Indian Statistical Institute has also built a Bishnupur Heritage Database, which has images of different temples of Bishnupur, one of the well-known heritage sites in the country. The database is developed to support research on the digital preservation of the historical sites. “All of us want to do something for Kolkata and Bengal, which are rich in tangible and intangible heritage. It is our constant effort to collaborate with various organisations, communities and individuals to come up with ideas to protect our heritage monuments and culture,” said Rajesh Purohit, director of Indian Museum.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/conservationists-push-for-unesco-heritage-tag-for-terra-cotta-temples/articleshow/67391622.cms, Jan 4, 2019

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‘State-sponsored vandalism’: Heritage experts are unhappy with Chandni Chowk redevelopment plan

These days, motor vehicles, rickshaws and pedestrians have a tough time navigating the 1.5-km stretch from Red Fort to Fatehpuri Mosque in Old Delhi’s Chandni Chowk. Workers have been digging trenches along the road since December 6 as part of the Aam Aadmi Party government’s Chandni Chowk redevelopment plan. The project, scheduled to be completed by January 2020 at an estimated cost of Rs 65 crore, mostly involves decongesting the area’s skyline, an unwieldy clutter of electric and telephone wires. “We are going to lay all electrical wiring in these trenches,” said Pankaj Kumar, a project supervisor. Historians say a canal ran the length of this road when Chandni Chowk was laid out by the 17th century Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. It’s clear water reflected moonlight, lending the place a stunning air and its name, Moonlight Square. The redevelopment plan does not aim to revive the old canal. Instead, the trenches will form a 3.5-metre wide central verge housing electric transformers, police booths and toilets. But conservation experts are not impressed. “Today, Chandni Chowk is a mess,” said AGK Menon, former convener of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage who drafted the aborted proposal to nominate Delhi for UNESCO’s World Heritage City tag. “But when we say redevelopment, we mean what exists should be upgraded and the area should not lose its character. This does not mean that we are anti-development as conservation is also development.” He pointed out that the proposed central verge will split Chandni Chowk into two parts. “With the transformers, police booths, toilets you will not be able to see the other side of the street,” Menon explained. “It will act as a wall.” The project has also run into trouble with the Delhi Urban Art Commission, which is required to have approved it. But a senior official at the commission claimed they did not receive any proposal about redeveloping Chandni Chowk from the government. “We have no idea what is happening,” the official said. “We saw news reports about this and we sent a letter to the chief secretary a week ago. We are yet to receive any response.” The authority is empowered by the Delhi Urban Art Commission Act, 1973 to approve, reject or modify any proposal for redevelopment of “historically sensitive areas” such as those around Jama Masjid, Red Fort and Qutub Minar. “We have to check if the aesthetic of the plan matches that of the area,” the official explained. “We can’t allow them to dig up a road like this till we have checked the colours, textures and materials being used.” Scroll.in tried contacting Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who also heads the tourism ministry, Shahjahanabad Redevelopment Corporation chairman Satyendar Jain, Chandni Chowk’s MP Harsh Vardhan and legislator Alka Lamba for comment, but none of them responded to calls or text messages.

‘No motor vehicles during day’

Pradeep Sachdeva, the architect who designed the plan, said the central verge will have enough space to park 28 handcarts and house 23 transformers, six toilet units, three urinals, two water ATMs, three CCTV control rooms, and four police posts. Once the work is completed, the street will be open only to pedestrians from 9 am to 9 pm and non-motorised vehicles such as cycle rickshaws. “This is the most crucial aspect of the plan,” Sachdeva said. Since reviving the Mughal canal is unfeasible, Sachdeva said, they have “symbolised it in the design by placing water-like patterns in the centre”. “We can’t look after water bodies,” he added. “In our previous projects such as Dilli Haat at INA and Emporium Complex in Connaught Place, we found that canals tend to get full of waste.” The architect said they have already received permission to carry out the work from the Delhi Development Authority’s Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure Planning and Engineering Centre. However, they have also received a letter from the Archaeological Survey of India saying “we needed their permission”. “But it does not appear so because we are not building anything,” Sachdeva said. “We may also have received a letter from the Delhi Urban Art Commission about this, but I am not sure about the details.”

‘Chandni Chowk’s image will change’

The historian Sohail Hashmi, who conducts heritage walks in Old Delhi, disapproves of the plan because it does not involve the local people. “This is only being done keeping in mind the tourist experience,” he said. “What about the old shops and havelis? The plan does not include restoring those elements.” Chandni Chowk was built as a residential enclave for up to three lakh people, Hashmi pointed out. “Today, it has become a space for wholesale trade,” he added. “When this city was designed, there were no trams. It was designed for people to walk or for palanquins to pass. Now it has become a market for eight states selling hardware, spices and grains.” Kanchi Kohli, who studies environment regulation at the Centre for Policy Research, argued that the plan “raises larger questions about what implications it could have”. “If the road is only for pedestrians, how is it linked to larger public transport plans?” she asked. “There is need for more transparency and public participation. AAP has held up these aspects as the hallmarks of their government, so they should have a systematic approach to having a public discourse.” From a heritage perspective, the proposed central verge will be detrimental to Chandni Chowk’s aesthetic appeal, said Swapna Liddle, convener of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, Delhi. “It is definitely important to have underground wiring but it will be difficult to reimagine what Chandni Chowk looked like earlier,” she explained. “The canal cannot be revived because, surely, water bodies are difficult to maintain. But how do we design this to delineate where it was?” In any case, Liddle argued, Chandni Chowk needs regulation more than a redesign. “It is more commercial today,” she said. “The character of the place has completely changed. We need to see how redevelopment can create a balance. For instance, what will the regulation be to stop encroachments on the pedestrian space? It is a matter of control.” Menon agreed with Liddle that the central verge is the “least desirable aspect” of the plan. “It will completely change the image of Chandni Chowk,” he said. “It’s an iconic, historic area. This is state-sponsored vandalism. In my opinion, doing nothing is a better alternative than desecration.”

- https://scroll.in/article/907426/state-sponsored-vandalism-why-heritage-experts-are-unhappy-with-chandni-chowk-redevelopment-plan, Jan 5-7, 2019

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Agra’s footwear industries: A heritage that contributes to India’s economy

The hub of footwear manufacture in India since mughal era, Agra is slowly losing in edge to more business-friendly ecosystems in neighbouring states, not very effective implementation of the central Government's MSME policies, the Taj trapezium, and exports from China. With its army of highly skilled leather processing and footwear manufacturing workers and artisans, Agra still accounts for 65 per cent and 28 per cent of all domestic consumption and export of footwear, respectively, but the city's ease of business doing ranking has slipped to the current 14, from 10 in 2015. “Shoe making started (in Agra) in the Mughal era with leather mushaks which were used to carry hing, converting it into shoes,” we were informed by Puran Dawar, Chairman, Dawar Footwear Industries, and President, Agra Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Chamber (AFMEC). He also told us that it was from the 1960s and 1980s that the city’s footwear industries flourished the most, thanks primarily to footwear exports to the erstwhile Soviet Union. According to conservative estimates, 13 per cent of all shoe trade in Agra in 1963 was with Russia and its satellite countries. Shoe exports to the Soviet Union in the early 1980s was worth ?1,200 crores from the 150 odd shoe exporters in Agra. It was after the fall of the Soviet Union that the decline started and other factors that followed, such as the Taj Trapezium, added to the worrisome slowing down of the industry’s growth. Currently, industry watchers say that Agra’s leather and footwear industries need help more sooner than later. According to our sources in the industry, Agra is still one of the biggest clusters in the footwear sector in India among Kolkata, Kanpur and Chennai. “There are around 10,000 micro-size units; 150 small-scale industry units; around 30 medium-scale units; and, around 15 large-scale units in the city,” says Dawar. He also added that, currently, more than 2 lakh pairs are manufactured in the city everyday day and there are over 3.5 lakh people employed in the footwear segment in Agra. Agra’s huge potential to impact the global footwear market has been recognized by the government, which released a special package of ?2600 crore last year for implementing its Indian Footwear, Leather & Accessories Development Programme. In tandem, MSME Development Institutes are working on imparting business and technical knowledge of the sector to already-existing entrepreneurs as well as those who want to work in this sector. Though these, and other similar efforts, have started making a difference, it is not much. Government statistics show a dip over the past few years in the numbers of students that enroll for entrepreneurship and skill-development programmes. The 2017 Central Footwear Training Institute, Agra, annual report shows that the number of students in the institute in 2014–15, 2015–16 and 2016–17 was 9,210, 4,573 and 2,697, respectively. The only reason that comes to mind here is that the average daily earnings of a skilled footwear worker is a pittance compared to the earnings of even an unskilled daily labourer in nearby New Delhi, and this situation will change only once the sector regains its old glory and becomes as profitable as it once was. An skilled worker I spoke with in Agra said his daily earnings were in the range ?200–?250, compared to the minimum wage of ?485 of his New Delhi counterpart. Another red flag is India’s declining footwear export, which is negatively impacting revenues in even the Agra footwear sector. World footwear data states that in year 2016, India exported 236 million pairs out of 2.26 billion pairs manufactured i.e. 1.7 per cent share in worldwide exports. While in 2017 first semester, Indian exports went down again by 2.8 per cent reaching only 97 per cent of the amount registered in similar period last year. India exports mainly leather footwear, representing a 73 per cent share in total, and these have declined 8.2 per cent in the first six months of 2017, driving the overall fall in exports value. Although we could not come across specific data on how much Agra is losing in terms of revenue as a result of the decline in exports, the exporters and manufacturers we spoke with confirmed that they are facing problems in exporting the finished goods. Ajay Pratap Singh, one such exporter, told us that “There are number of reasons which can be accountable for decline in export orders such as competitive prices from other countries like Bangladesh, importers have been migrating there. Diminishing manufacturing units is also a reason; even government policies are not giving us much relief.” A 2016 ICRA report on the Indian footwear sector confirms the trend. The report says that appreciation in Rupee value against major currencies; regulations and restrictions on slaughter houses and tanneries that impacted availability of raw material; and reforms such as demonetisation and GST have had adverse effects on the sector. The report also stated current consumer trends shifting away from traditionally made shoes to global brands. ICRA figures show a decline for two consecutive years by ~9 per cent in FY16 and ~5 per cent in FY17. Further in April–June 2017–2018, the overall export in leather footwear and leather goods dipped by 4.89 per cent when compared to April–June 16–17 cycle. Despite many government initiatives and budget notifications for the sector, footwear manufacturers and exporters think that a lot still remains to be done. Dawar underscored the importance of putting a single-window system in place. He says that the sector in Uttar Pradesh is not getting much benefits from the much-touted initiatives. “The initiatives for the sector are totally on paper. Single window system is not effective at all for us,” according to him. Footwear manufacturers are also questioning the ambitious target of $10 billion in export revenues by 2024–25 at the time when government has shut down many (unauthorised) tanneries and the many footwear factories in the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) have been sealed. “Tanneries are banned in TTZ and manufacturers are facing issues in procuring raw hides. Due to this, manufacturing is suffering and resulting in the decreasing trend in the exports,” Singh told us. Another challenge which manufacturers are facing is rising capital costs, which small manufacturers cannot easily bear on account of the high interest rates on commercial loans which are in the range 9%–14%. “Capital cost is really high in India. Other countries in spite of the best of the infrastructure compare to us are funded at 2%–3%. But here interest rates are quite high which is sometimes unaffordable for small manufacturers” says Singh. “We can’t compete fairly even in in-house clusters when there is a gap of supply on the raw material front. That’s why small manufacturers are moving rapidly towards synthetic leather manufacturing,” says one shoe manufacturers in Agra, on conditions of anonymity. For countering the issue of raw material unavailability, Dawar say the two measures that will be effective are: (i) An effective single-window system; (ii) Independent compliance audits. Other major roadblocks for small shoe vendors and manufacturers are competition from e-commerce and premiumization drives by global and national brands that are resulting in a shift in consumer trends. With rise in in incomes of middle-class households and those in younger age brackets, demand for premium brands have eaten up a major chunk of traditional footwear’s share. According to Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industries of India (ASSOCHAM) data, domestic footwear sales registered around ?4.5 billion in 2017, of which 26 per cent was sales of global and national brands and this number, the data says, is expected to rise to 29 per cent by end of fiscal 2020. E-commerce platforms are also giving brick-and-mortar retailers stiff competition. Due to predatory pricing, low-tech knowledge and lack of digital presence, small businesses are lagging much behind online marketplaces. Buyers are also gravitating towards online shopping because of the convenience and heavy discounts on offer. The footwear sector in Agra needs to establish an online presence in order to compete with e-commerce and needs government help to do so. Despite the many challenges, Agra’s footwear sector is slowly but surely transforming into a more technology and innovation driven sector, thanks to the collective efforts of Agra Footwear Association and the MSME Development Institute. Moreover, players in the sector have also started enhancing their channel strategies by participating in footwear expos both in India and abroad. “Agra is definitely growing, thanks to international expos we have now expanded our presence from Central Europe to the US, through New Zealand and Caribbean countries,” Dawar told us. He also informed us about the annual Meet At Agra event which has now become an effective platform for networking. Reviving Agra’s footwear industry and raising it up to the level it was at just a couple of decades ago is not an easy task. But no matter how tough the job is or how long it takes, the government should focus on it very hard and work along with entrepreneurs and workers not only because it is a heritage worth preserving but also because it is an industry that has the potential to contribute significantly to the nations GDP, along with providing livelihood and employment to many.

- https://www.smefutures.com/agras-footwear-industries-heritage-contributes-indias-economy/, Jan 8, 2019

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Decks cleared for opening of Netaji museum in Puri

Decks have been cleared for the Odisha government to throw open to public the museum dedicated to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose at the freedom fighter’s ancestral house in the beach town of Puri with the Orissa high court vacating a status quo order issued by it on the property five years ago. The building was in a dilapidated condition when it was taken over by the Puri district administration in 2013. The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach), which was entrusted with the restoration work, has repaired it by using traditional techniques in lime plaster to retain the original architecture of the house. As part of the museum project, old furniture in the house had been conserved and the entire premise landscaped. An open-air pandal had also been constructed with the aim of holding cultural programmes for the entertainment of visitors. Efforts had also been made to display rare pictures, documents, journals and magazines related to Netaji at the museum to attract tourists. But the state government had sought the permission of the high court to open it for public as the HC had issued a status quo order on the property. “There is no legal hurdle now for the state government to open the museum as a division bench of Justices Sanju Panda and S K Sahoo vacated the status quo order on January 3,” additional government advocate (AGA) Kishore Kumar Mishra told TOI on Monday. According to official records, the house situated at Mati Mandap Sahi in the temple town was built by Netaji’s father Janakinath Bose on 0.434 acres of land allotted on lease to him for residential purpose in 1916 by the then Puri collector. The lease was to be renewed every 30 years. After Janakinath passed away in 1938, the land and the building were recorded in the name of Netaji and other members of his family. Later, the lease was updated several times. In 1997, the family’s descendants demanded a permanent patta for the bungalow. This sparked off a legal dispute between the Puri collector’s office and the heirs of the Bose family before the court of revenue divisional commissioner (central). Later, Netaji’s family members urged the RDC to exclude the name of the leader from the owners’ list. The matter was pending for years till February 2013, when the then RDC Aravind Padhee rejected the plea and directed the Puri district administration to acquire the land and the building. Accordingly, the district administration took control of the land on March 3, 2013. Subsequently, Netaji’s grandnephew Supriyo Bose (the grandson of Netaji’s eldest brother Satish) and other descendants of Netaji’s family challenged in the high court the takeover of the property by the state government and managed to get status quo order in the same year. The case had then languished till the state government sought permission for opening the museum in August 2017. Acting on it, the high court called for records. The state government informed the HC that it had already spent around Rs 4 crore in transforming the centuries-old house into a museum dedicated to Netaji. “While vacating the status quo order, the division bench further quashed the order of the RDC that had directed the Puri district administration to acquire the land and the building and order of collector taking control of the land on the grounds of jurisdiction,” Mishra said. “The bench directed both parties — the state government and the petitioners (descendants of Netaji’s family) — to work out a settlement in accordance with law,” the AGA said.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/cuttack/decks-cleared-for-opening-of-netaji-museum-in-puri/articleshow/67425558.cms, Jan 9, 2019

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In a first, ancient couple found in Harappan grave

Archaeologists from the Deccan College Deemed University in Pune have discovered two skeletons, a young male and a female, buried at the same time in the same grave with the man’s face turned toward the woman. It is the first anthropologically confirmed joint burial of a couple in a Harappan cemetery. The 'couple's grave' was found in the Harappan settlements excavated at Rakhigarhi in Harayana, some 150km northwest of Delhi. Archaeologists said evidence points at the couple being buried simultaneously or about the same time. They could not find clear evidence if one was buried after the other. Although many settlements and cemeteries have been discovered and investigated, no couple's burials at Harappan cemeteries have been reported till date. Archaeologists who excavated this site found the two bodies placed in the supine position (face up) with arms and legs extended. The discovery of couple's burial sites has often sparked interest among archaeologists. The recent findings by the Deccan College Deemed University team have been published in the peer-reviewed international journal ACB journal of Anatomy and Cell Biology. The excavation and analysis were undertaken by the department of archaeology of the Deccan College Deemed University and the Institute of Forensic Science, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. Vasant Shinde, corresponding author of the research, and vice chancellor of Deccan College Deemed University, told TOI that archaeologists in India have often debated about the historical meaning of joint burials. He said the Harappans believed in life after death which explains the pottery and bowls found in the graves. “The pots may have contained food and water for the dead, a custom probably fuelled by the belief that the dead may need them after death. Hence, the contemporary view of life after death may actually be as old as 5,000 years,” Shinde added. In the past, a Harappan joint burial discovered at Lothal was regarded as a ‘probable’ instance of a widow's self-sacrifice as an expression of the grief over her husband's death, he said. “Other archaeologists claimed it was difficult to estimate the sexes of the individuals, and they may not have been a couple. Other than the contentious Lothal case, none of the joint burials reported from Harappan cemeteries till date have been anthropologically confirmed to be a couple’s grave,” he said. The manner in which the individuals had been buried—with the male’s face towards the female—could commemorate lasting affection even after death. “We can only infer, but those who buried the two individuals may have wanted to imply that the love between the two would continue even after death,” he said Shinde said rarer types of joint graves have been found in Harappan cemeteries, but there has not been one instance of a couple's grave reported till date. “A couple’s joint grave is not so rare in other ancient civilizations. Yet, it is strange that they were not discovered in Harappan cemeteries till now,” he said. The grave had burial pottery and a banded agate bead, probably part of a necklace. It was found near the right collar bone of the woman’s skeleton.

Both skeletons were brought to the laboratory of the Deccan College for analysis after the field surveys were completed. Each skeleton’s sex was determined after studying the pelvic region. “A narrow greater sciatic notch and the absence of a preauricular sulcus is indicative of the male anatomy and a wider greater sciatic notch and the presence of a preauricular sulcus is that of a female. More such features during the analysis helped us determine the sex of each skeleton,” Shinde added. Their ages at the time of death have been estimated to be between 21 and 35 years and the man’s approximate height as 5 feet 6 inches and the woman’s as 5 feet 2 inches. Researchers could not find any evidence of trauma or lesions in the skeletons. “We also did not find any evidence that such a grave could have been a result of any ‘sati-like’ custom. Among the 62 graves in the Rakhigarhi cemetery, only this one grave was identified as a couple's burial. It was not an outcome of any specific funeral custom commonly performed then. It is more plausible that two individuals died at the same time or almost the same time, and were buried together in the same grave,” Shinde said.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/in-first-such-finding-couples-grave-excavated-at-harappan-site/articleshow/67445140.cms, Jan 9, 2019

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The bridge of many stories

Even as time takes its toll on Tripunithura’s Irumbupalam, which is more than a 100 years old, the debate rages on how to save it. "This bridge has many stories to tell," says R Rajasekharan, a history enthusiast from Tripunthura, about the Irumbupalam or Iron Bridge, now in the eye of a debate. One of the most important landmarks of the heritage suburb of Kochi, in Tripunithura, it was commissioned by the Cochin Royal Family and built in 1890 by London-based Westwood and Baillie &Co. Built for horse driven carts to cross the Poorna river the construction of the bridge was the turning point in the destiny of the temple town. The bridge that has stood the test of time is now in dire need of conservation. The changing modes of transportation have caused it much damage and deterioration to its condition. Vijay Kumar, a resident of Tripunithura, raised his concerns aboutthe condition of the bridge by suggesting at a Local Council meeting that the bridge be dismantled and displayed at the Hill Palace Museum, with all the other artefacts of royal heritage. Even as time takes its toll on Tripunithura’s Irumbupalam, which is more than a 100 years old, the debate rages on how to save it. “This bridge has many stories to tell,” says R Rajasekharan, a history enthusiast from Tripunthura, about the Irumbupalam or Iron Bridge, now in the eye of a debate. One of the most important landmarks of the heritage suburb of Kochi, in Tripunithura, it was commissioned by the Cochin Royal Family and built in 1890 by London-based Westwood and Baillie &Co. Built for horse driven carts to cross the Poorna river the construction of the bridge was the turning point in the destiny of the temple town. The bridge that has stood the test of time is now in dire need of conservation. The changing modes of transportation have caused it much damage and deterioration to its condition. Vijay Kumar, a resident of Tripunithura, raised his concerns aboutthe condition of the bridge by suggesting at a Local Council meeting that the bridge be dismantled and displayed at the Hill Palace Museum, with all the other artefacts of royal heritage. “There is no point in trying to preserve the bridge in its spot, since it is continuously weakening. There is no space to build a new bridge near it either, so the Iron Bridge has to be removed,” he says.

Future generations may only get to hear about such a bridge, if the current situation prevails, he adds. He made the suggestion to make sure that the next generation does not miss out on the chance of seeing this structure. It is one among many other ideas about how to preserve and maintain the Iron Bridge. “It is best to hand it over to the Hill Palace Museum.” “It is one of the most important sites in the heritage walk I conduct; I think it’s over 125 years old,” informs Balagopal, a descendant of the Cochin royal family, who takes interested groups on heritage walks in Tripunithura. “Before the bridge was built, there used to be a wooden drawbridge, which no one used to cross,because the river was infested with crocodiles. There was a man called Kaalan Thampuran, who was an expert at catching these crocodiles. Kaalan is the word used to describe a kind of a trap, which was used by Kaalan Thampuran.” he explains. “Before the bridge was built the temple elephants of Poornathrayesa temple had to wade through the river from a point called Anachalkadav, to reach the temple from Poonithura,” informs Rajasekharan. During the Para festival, the idol of the deity of Poornathrayesa temple was made to cross the river on a boat, before the bridge was built, the elephants used in procession had to swim and cross the river. “Now they use two elephants! The wooden bridge was not big enough for elephants to cross,” he adds. “The bridge was also a sort of a border of the western side of the old fort area in Tripunithura,” says Balagopal. Pradeep K, a journalist and resident near the Irumbupalam says, “This cannot be done arbitrarily, all of a sudden. You'll have to have some alternative option for pedestrians to cross over, the traffic can be diverted, but what will the pedestrians do?” The Rotary Club of Tripunithura wishes to keep the bridge where it belongs, across the Poorna river, leading its residents and guests to and from the old town of Tripunithura. The former Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India, Babu Rajeev believes in the old saying, that if there’s a will, there’s a way. “The problem with the Irumbupalam is that, it is not a protected monument. The ASI, takes care of monuments that are protected nationally by the government. That doesn’t mean that structures like the Irumbupalam may not be protected. The people at the State Archaeological Department should have the will to come forward with a decision and share it with the ministers, secretary, as everyone is involved.” He is also the local convener of The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). Urbanisation has also led to the loss of many other important landmarks in the area, which has weakened the historical richness of the temple town. “The public also has a certain amount of responsibility,If nobody takes care of it, then naturally, since it is made of iron it will rust, you have to understand the heritage value,” says Rajeev. The Iron Bridge is one of the few landmarks of the majestic town, along with the Statue Junction, Kalikota Palace, and the Clock tower. “Bridges by nature, all over the world have a great significance. They bring people together, they bring places together. That's why it is called a ‘bridge’.” says Rajeev. It now remains in the hands of the people and the powers that be to choose between preserving Tripunithura’s regal identity or move ahead disregarding the historic significance of the old landmarks. Factoid:Ancient bridges that are still in use today can be found from all around the world, one of them, the Arkadiko bridge in Greece, dates back to the Greek bronze age.

- https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/conservation-efforts-for-tripunithuras-iron-bridge/article25958281.ece, Jan 10, 2019

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NMCG highlights efforts taken for Ganga Rejuvenation

The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), in a one day workshop organised in collaboration with the National Water Mission (NWM), showcased efforts being taken for rejuvenation of the River Ganga. The workshop was conducted on the theme 'Sector Enterprises on Corporate social responsibility' at Dr Ambedkar International Centre, in the national capital on Wednesday. Namami Gange Program, which was launched in 2015, is an integrated Ganga conservation mission. It has made significant strides and achieved key milestones in 2018-19.

This is the first mission which is looking at urban as well as rural areas, dealing with a complete range of pollution abatement measures for all kinds of domestic and industrial pollution, rural sanitation, afforestation and conservation of biodiversity. The mission also monitors various aspects in connection with water quality monitoring, use of modern technology, sustainability of investment by including long term operation and maintenance as part of the project cost, public-private partnership projects and involving all stakeholders through proactive public outreach activities. During the workshop, NMCG Director General Rajiv Ranjan Mishra provided an overview of the NMCG's activities while underlining the enormous scope of Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) and Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs) in joining hands with the NMCG in the cause of bringing about Nirmalta and Aviralta in the entire Ganga basin. According to the Executive Director of NMCG Rozy Agarwal, the NMCG has utilised banking networks for displaying Clean Ganga messages and corporates like HCL, Indorama, Yes Bank, SCI, Indus Ind Bank are also associated with the projects.

HCL has taken up afforestation projects in Noida and Greater Noida as well as Rudraksha plantation in Uttarakhand in association with INTACH. Moreover, U.P. Singh, Secretary of Water Resources Ministry, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, has made an appeal to all PSEs, PSUs and corporates to partner with the NMCG. Almost 30-35 Navratna Companies and other PSUs were present in the workshop along with corporates such as Reliance Foundation and organisations like TERI and CII Water Institute.

- https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ani/nmcg-highlights-efforts-taken-for-ganga-rejuvenation-119010900816_1.html, Jan 10, 2019

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Frames that link the present times to Puhar

The long lost port town of Poompuhar comes alive in ethereal frames that will be showcased for three days at the at Nalukettu (former Alakkattu Mana) in Cherpu from January 11. Linking Lineages, the exhibition, will have photographs shot during 2017-18 by contemporary photographer and photojournalist Abul Kalam Azad. A body of the expo is named ‘Men of Puhar,’ which is an important part of Azad’s two-decade-long work on the erstwhile Sangam-era regions of south India, especially in and around the contemporary locations of ancient town of Puhar in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu.

Maritime town
The maritime town was once a centre of art, literature and architecture, and was ruled by Cholas and influenced by civilizations such as Greek, Roman, Chinese and Afro Arabian. It was called Kaveripoompattinam during the Sangam/Classical period, and finds mention even in the accounts of Pliny and Ptolemy. Much of this ancient town was submerged or destroyed by repeated floods or tsunami, and what remains today of this cultural epicenter is a small fishing hamlet.

Sangam literature, especially the Tamil classic Silappathikaram scripted by Jain poet Ilango Adigal, makes several mentions about this town. Fascinated by Sangam poets’ vivid descriptions about life and landscape of that period, Mr. Azad has embarked on the project to understand the cultural fusion. His project tells the tale of Puhar through its men who had a prominent presence in the Sangam society. Through the expo, he hopes to to unravel shared lineage of several regions of the country and capture the living remnants. At a time when the issue of identity is increasingly causing bloodshed and carnage across the world, such an attempt was significant, he feels. This is also a memory project that tries to trace the lineage of the photographer himself. The expo is being organised with the support of India Arts Foundation (IFA). Azad’s works have been exhibited in prominent national and international venues.

The event is co-hosted by the Ekalokam Trust for Photography (EtP), a non-profit organisation for photograghy of which Mr. Azad is the founder-chairman; Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), and The TheatreConnekt Performing Arts. ‘An Excavator of Images,’ a short film on the life and work of Abul Kalam Azad, also the founder Editor-in-Chief of PhotoMail, a photo-art magazine, will be shown at 6.00 p.m. on January 11 at the show venue.

- https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/frames-that-link-the-present-times-to-puhar/article25953428.ece, Jan 10, 2019

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Story of a Living City

Historian Swapna Liddle’s latest book maps the making of Connaught Place, the colonial capital of New Delhi. The iconic shopping and recreational remnant of the colonial Capital is bustling. Roadside vendors call out to prospective buyers, showrooms display discounts and people ramble about the many restaurants and bars. We are walking along with historian and author Swapna Liddle, who has a map from the 1960s. “Can you believe there was an Austro-Hungarian restaurant, La Boheme that was run by the Nirula’s here, in the 1960s? I think there’s a Haldiram’s there now,” she says. Connaught Place (CP) was a shopping complex for the elite, she says, pointing to the advertisement of Enid, which sold “charming evening frocks, afternoon frocks, suits and millinery”. She has reproduced it in her latest book, Connaught Place and the Making of New Delhi (Rs 499, Speaking Tiger). After recounting the story of Shahjahanabad in Chandni Chowk: The Mughal City of New Delhi (2017), Liddle starts the story of New Delhi at the beginning, when the idea of shifting the capital from Calcutta to Delhi first struck the colonial rulers.

It examines the process of its planning and building, people who played important roles, the social life and its eventual transformation over the years. “Unlike Shahjahanabad, New Delhi is not a walk-able city, it was built in the age of motor car,” says Liddle, as we stroll around CP, basking in the winter sun. It is as a tribute to architect Edwin L Lutyens, who was instrumental in planning the area, that we call it Lutyens’ Delhi. “The making of Connaught Place was revolutionary for its time as it was built with private investment, and the blocks were sold individually. But the design was done by the government. Even if you look at the palaces of the princely states, the architecture was dictated by the board of architects so that it would gel with other buildings,” says Liddle, who has also written Delhi: 14 Historic Walks (2011) and is the conveyor of the Delhi chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). As we walk to the Central Park, she reckons how the open area within the inner circle was covered by expansive lawns, and in the centre was a bandstand, similar to those in many British colonial stations in India. “Music was played every Saturday from the middle of October to mid-April, during the Delhi season, when officials descended from their summer sojourn in Shimla,” she says. When we reach the Regal theatre, which was shut down in 2017, Liddle says that the building was also quite ahead of its time.

Similar to the malls of today, Regal at that time, housed restaurants, shops and a movie theatre. “I think spaces like CP and Khan Market, maybe upmarket shopping complexes, are better than the malls for they are more inclusive. If there is a fine-dining restaurant, there is also a fruit seller with his push cart,” she says. Charting the changes in the colonial city, she says that post-independence, apart from the names of the roads being changed and statues being removed, there was an expansion of office spaces and housing complexes. “Buildings like Nirman Bhavan and Udyog Bhavan were built then and colonies like Kaka Nagar, Bapa Nagar, and Pandara Park came up. The area what has now become Pragati Maidan, was supposed to be for fuel plantation, but the Indian government wanted a space for trade fairs,” she says.

- https://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/books/story-of-a-living-city-connaught-place-book-swapna-liddle-indian-heritage-5532720/, Jan 11, 2019

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CII holds cultural night in Madurai

The Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) organised Madhura Geetham, an exhilarating cultural event in Madurai on Saturday. CII came up with an initiative to organize a series of music and art events across Tamil Nadu to celebrate the state’s rich heritage of arts and culture and Madhura Geethan was first such event in the series. The event was held at Gandhi Museum open auditorium from 6pm. It was held in partnership with the department of tourism, government of India, supported by Travel Club Madurai and INTACH. Music performances were given by singers including Saindhavi, Srivarshini, Santhosh, R P Shravan, a dance performance by Priya Darshini and a rocking live band performance by Venkat, Xavier and Kumar.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/cii-holds-cultural-night-in-madurai/articleshow/67507326.cms, Jan 14, 2019

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Masroor Rock Cut Temple: Incredible Heritage of Himachal

“Monuments are the grappling-iron that bind one generation to another” – Joseph Joubert As civilizations fall and rise, the ancient remains – the monuments become the souvenirs coming from the past and to be handed over to the future generations. Monuments act as a footprint of history on the pages of time. The monolithic rock cut cave temples of Masroor in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh is one such example and description of architectural gem preserved over centuries and for the future generations to come.

Also known as the Ellora of Himachal and Himalayan pyramid , it is an ideal location for the tourists, backpackers and history lovers. My quest to explore some enthralling destination brought me to this dynamic and magnificent piece of architecture steeped in history. A single rock cut into 15 temples is one of the most enigmatic yet one of rare sites to be found in northern part of India, yet at the same time it is one of the least hyped tourist places in the State of Himachal.

As the history goes:
This temple complex was excavated and discovered in the year 1875 but it was largely destroyed during the Kangra earthquake in the year 1905. In the year 1913, on insistence of a British officer this site was considered as a heritage site. The temple ruins have been revived and preserved with utmost effort and care and offers one of the most panoramic views – a government senior secondary school, an Anganwadi Kendra, a small tea shop in the close vicinity and a pond in front of the temple complex . The temple walls on outside and inside are full of floral, geometric and animal motifs, depicting the life style of those times. This astounding, mystifying and gigantic construction has been exquisitely carved on a sand stone but due to time and nature’s ruthless furry unleashing on it, it has become more of a celestial puzzle, which claims to offer an incomplete staircase to the heavens and reminding us of that mystic, unknown and unseen world.

This heritage site has many myths and legends associated with it. It appears more like a building blocks of the Gods in a state of jigsaw puzzle with floating stories and prophecies around the age of epic Mahabharata and Pandavs visiting this place during exile. As one observes the place with scrutiny, every piece of the temple walls has a story of craftsmanship and how painstakingly it was chiselled by the masons. As the Sun sets , the ruins of the temple change various hues and shades of golden, yellow and orange. It’s a visual treat for the visitors like me, to witness such delightful scenes and vouch for ‘Incredible Himachal’ but those who come looking for this monument as a secluded spot on a quaint hill and display their love on the walls, it’s a strict no for them as they will be rendered with disappointment. Please do not even think of showing your artistic skills in form of a graffiti on these temple walls. As every nook and corner of the temple oozes with the artistic excellence and genius in form of carvings on the temple walls. The main temple has the idols of Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshman ,but it strictly instructs you, that no offerings will be accepted , all that is required is reverence and respect for the sanctity of the temple in form of silent prayers ,apprection and decorum to be maintained.

The temple complex is flawless as one does not find any kind of scribbling on the walls, no eateries around , only a small tea shop outside the premises, it is a true example of clean and green Himachal. The closure of first floor of the temple has barred the entry of the visitors due to their excessive display of the selfie lover syndrome. The caretakers of this historical monument, make sure that visitors strictly adhere to the rules and it is their effort that has shielded and protected this heritage site from the brazen attitude and wanton acts of some unruly tourists. And henceforth , the Masroor monolithic cave temples becomes an apt example of Incredible Himachal, as these untouched monuments have touched my heart immensely. Monuments of our country are the reflection of our history. But preserving and restoring them is equally important.

- http://hillpost.in/2019/01/masroor-rock-cut-temple-incredible-heritage-of-himachal/111284/, Jan 14, 2019

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How India is reviving its heritage

It’s 8.30 on a slightly chilly Sunday morning and cricket matches are in progress at south Mumbai’s iconic Oval Maidan. To the east of the ground are the majestic buildings housing the Civil & Sessions Court, the High Court and the University of Mumbai. These Victorian Gothic structures, built in the second half of the 19th century, announce their grandeur, with their pointed arches, spires and gargoyles, to anyone who catches a glimpse of them, even those who have no clue about their architecture. But the buildings on the opposite side of the Oval Maidan do not evoke a strong reaction. A passerby may not even spare them a thought.

But the 17 residential buildings and one mixed-use structure (Eros Cinema), built on reclaimed land within a span of three years in the 1930s, are among the most remarkable embodiments of the art deco style of architecture in the city. From vertical bands encasing windows, which make the buildings seem taller than they are, to ship decklike rounded balconies, from wooden elevator cages to frozen fountain patterns on walls, these features are hard to miss once you become aware of them. “Nowhere in the world do you see Victorian Gothic and art deco so close to each other,” says Nityaa Lakshmi Iyer, who heads documentation and research at Art Deco Mumbai, a nonprofit, as she conducts a heritage walk for five of us. This is a key reason why the Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai, comprising 94 historic buildings and the Oval Maidan, were accorded the Unesco World Heritage tag in June 2018. Among the Heritage status was the result of residents’ and conservation architects’ efforts for over a decade. The Mumbai Art Deco project is one of the many around the country that combine state and civic efforts to conserve heritage.

These projects perhaps show the way forward in India, where conservation is particularly challenging because so much of it is located in highly populated cities and also because in a low-income country it’s natural for conservation efforts to slide down the ladder of national priorities. Around a third of Indians, or 461 million, live in India’s cities, according to UN estimates in 2018. This is expected to almost double to 877 million by 2050. This means the task of our city administrations — to provide a good standard of living--will only become harder and the resource crunch will worsen. In such a scenario, protecting the heritage structures in cities could become even less of a priority than it is. “As a citizen, I cannot claim heritage is more important than food or healthcare. But it is not a binary. Conservation does not mean freezing development,” says AG Krishna Menon, a Delhi-based conservation architect. Atul Kumar, founder of Art Deco Mumbai, agrees. “We have this notion that only something older than 100 years is heritage. That’s why the World Heritage inscription for Mumbai is special.” Kumar, who runs a financial services firm, says he is lucky to live in one of the 35 art deco buildings on Marine Drive.

Around 1,500 buildings were photographed before the nomination was filed. Art Deco Mumbai is in the process of cataloguing the city’s art deco structures and has so far identified 374. A third of India’s 29 cultural World Heritage sites are in cities. These include the Taj Mahal, Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi and Jantar Mantar in Jaipur. In 2017, Ahmedabad became the first Indian city to be accorded the World Heritage status. Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is also on the list and so are Elephanta Caves. The Centre in 2015 unexpectedly postponed the nomination of Delhi’s Shahjahanabad and Lutyens’ Bungalow Zone. In July 2018, it said Jaipur would be its next nomination.

than 10,000 sites are under the purview of Central and state archaeological departments. Besides, cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Kolkata have regulations to protect heritage buildings, which are graded according to historical and architectural significance. Menon says 2,200 historic structures in Delhi are notified by the state government. But that is not enough. “The setting of a monument is disconnected from the monument itself,” says Lambah, referring to unchecked construction around historical sites. Lambah’s firm prepared the nomination dossier and management plan for the recent World Heritage inscription for Mumbai’s buildings. Lambah is also a consultant to the Urban Affairs Ministry’s Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana for Kanchipuram.

The temple town is one of 12 cities chosen for the scheme, which aims to improve infrastructure and amenities like water supply, drainage, approach roads and landscaping around heritage sites. Other cities on the list include Amritsar, Varanasi and Warangal. Of the 70 projects worth Rs 422 crore that have been approved, 24 have been completed and Rs 319 crore has been released. Lambah says the corpus is too little and, more importantly, cannot be used for restoration. (Emails sent by ET Magazine to the World Heritage Centre and the ministries of culture and urban affairs did not yield a response.) The paucity of funds from the government means other models have to be explored for conservation of historic structures. For instance, in Delhi, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture has been working in partnership with the ASI, the Central Public Works Department and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi. Between 1997 and 2003, the trust restored the garden of Humayun’s Tomb, and between 2007 and 2013, the tomb itself. It is now working on the monuments in the 90-acre Sunder Nursery complex and Nizamuddin Basti. The trust is also restoring 70 structures, including 40 mausoleums, in Hyderabad’s Quli Qutb Shah Archaeological Park. “We have not realised the economic potential of our heritage so we see it as a burden or responsibility,” says Ratish Nanda, chief executive, Aga Khan Trust. Finding ways other than tourism to monetise the conservation of heritage structures and roping in the private sector could be the way forward. Campaigns, along with former colleague Mohit Jayal and two others, is trying a different approach, by putting a more commercial face on heritage conservation.

heritage with hotels, cafés and retail outlets. Part of the project was the cleaning of a stepwell, after which retail outlets and cafés were set up in restored havelis around it. “We should think about how to create an ecosystem instead of just developing one property,” says Sunil. The project has attracted investments from overseas funds and individual investors, though Sunil does not discuss the figures. While renowned monuments, thanks to the interest of the general public, will attract government’s attention and money, hundreds of other heritage buildings, including residential and commercial, could fall through the cracks. Ajoy Mehta, Mumbai’s municipal commissioner, says while public heritage buildings can be maintained with taxpayers’ money, it is different for private buildings. “What happens when it’s falling apart or needs parking. Who will pay the price for it to remain the same?” The reality is that our cities will only get bigger and messier. But our storied past cannot be abandoned in the race to the future.

- https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/how-india-is-reviving-its-heritage/articleshow/67503462.cms, Jan 14, 2019

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Makar Sankranti 2019 date and time: History and importance of Makar Sankranti in India

The New Year celebrations are over and now people in the eastern belt of India are gearing up for Makar Sankranti, the first Hindu festival of the year. Observed in different parts of the country under different names, Makar Sankranti marks the entry of the sun into the zodiac sign of Makara (Capricorn) as it travels on its celestial path. The festival of Makar Sankranti will be celebrated on January 15, 2019. According to Drik Panchang, “The time between Makar Sankranti and 40 Ghatis (roughly 16 hours for Indian locations if we consider 1 Ghati duration as 24 minutes) from the time of Makar Sankranti is considered good for auspicious work.

This duration of forty Ghatis is known as Punya Kaal. Sankranti activities, like taking bath, offering Naivedhya (food offered to the deity) to Lord Surya, offering charity or Dakshina, performing Shraddha rituals and breaking fast or Parana, should be done during Punya Kaal. If Makar Sankranti happens after sunset then all Punya Kaal activities are postponed till the next sunrise. Hence, all Punya Kaal activities should be done during the day time."

History of Makar Sankranti
Marking the onset of summer and the six months long auspicious period for Hindus known as Uttaarayan, this festival is observed according to the solar cycles. The festivities associated with the day is celebrated by different names in different parts of the country — Lohri in North India, Sukarat in Central India, Bihu in Assam, Pongal in Tamil Nadu and Makar Sankranti in Bengal, Bihar, Odisha and the neighbouring regions, and celebrates the harvest season. On the day of Makar Sankranti, various spiritual practices are observed. It is common for people to take a holy dip in rivers and it is generally believed that doing so would absolve them of their past sins.

- https://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/art-and-culture/makar-sankranti-2019-date-time-history-importance-5530172/, Jan 14, 2019

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Archaeologically significant structures unearthed in Melkote

Some archaeologically significant structures, including a step pond or Kalyani-like structure, were unearthed during cleaning works at the historical village of Melkote in Pandavapura here. Infosys Foundation had expressed willingness to clean and maintain the historical monuments in the village, where social reformer and proponent of Sri Vaishnava philosophy Ramanujacharya is believed to have lived.

Although the agreement between the foundation and the authorities is yet to be finalised, the foundation recently took up works to clean the area near the ‘Pancha Kalyani’. According to Revenue Department sources, the foundation of a mantap with beautiful carvings/embossing of idols, the basement of a building suspected to have been demolished or collapsed decades ago, and a small temple pond-like structure, all covered in huge quantities of mud, were unearthed a few days ago. Infosys Foundation chairperson Sudha Murty had inspected the place on December 2, 2018.

She instructed her foundation to take up cleaning works, a revenue officer told The Hindu. The Archaeological Survey of India or other agencies will be asked to inspect the monuments found and initiate further steps, the officer added. Melkote has over 100 archaeologically significant monuments such as ponds, Kalyanis, temples, and mantaps. The ‘Vairamudi’ utsav at Melkote is one of the famous religious events in the country.

- https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/archaeologically-significant-structures-unearthed-in-melkote/article25981546.ece, Jan 14, 2019

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New Kakatiya inscription found in Guntur

A new Kakatiya Inscription of 13th century was found on the margin of N-11 road of New capital region area at Lingayapalem, one of the 29 villages of Amaravathi city. The explorations taken up by Dr E Sivanagireddy, historian and CEO of Cultural Centre Of Vijayawada and Amaravati (CCVA) as part of ‘Preserve Heritage for Posterity’, a scheme launched by CCVA resulted in the discovery of this new Inscription on Monday. Based on the information given by Anumolu Ganesh Prasad, Reddy rushed to the spot and examined the inscription slab which measures 1’.3” x 1’.3” square visible to a height of 2’, sunken to a depth of 5’ into the ground due to the floods of River Krishna over a period of time. He revealed that there is a bull sculpture carved on the top, followed by sun and moon sculptures on the east, Lakulisa on the west side, Mahishasura mardhini on the south side and Ganesha on the north side.

Since the inscription bears historical significance, Dr Sivanagi Reddy sensitised the villagers to protect it intact and also made an appeal to the officials of AP-CRDA and Department of Archaeology and Museums to take appreciate action to safe guard the inscription and the 16th century AD Chamundi Sculpture which is worshipped as Poleramma by the villagers. Anumolu Ganesh Prasad participated in the exploration, said Dr Reddy.

- https://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Andhra-Pradesh/2019-01-14/New-Kakatiya-inscription-found-in-Guntur/475397, Jan 15, 2019

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Netaji museum inaugurated in Puri

Minister for Revenue and Disaster Management Maheswar Mohanty inaugurated Netaji Subash Bose museum at Gopalballav Road in the pilgrim town on Tuesday. In its eight big rooms and a hall, the items used by Netaji have been kept for display to public. A committee, headed by the Collector, has been formed to manage the museum. Visitors will have to pay `10 per head for entry into the museum.

The Minister also unveiled a life-size statue of Netaji on museum premises in the presence of Tourism and Culture Minister Ashok Panda. As per reports, Netaji’s father Janakinath Bose had taken about half acre of land near Puri beach in 1916 on lease and constructed a house where he was living along with family. After demise of Janakinath, the property was recorded in favour of his sons including Netaji. Later, Netaji’s relatives had filed a petition with the Revenue Officer in 1997 to alienate his name from the land records. Since they could not produce his death certificate, the court rejected their petition.

Then, Puri Sambadik Sangha president Jagannath Bastia approached the Minister of Culture to take over the Netaji house and develop it into a museum. INTACH was then entrusted to develop the museum with an estimated cost of `three crore. Among others, Secretary of Culture department Manoranjan Panigrahi and Director of Culture Bijay Kumar Naik were present. At another function, the Revenue Minister also inaugurated the statue of famous bhajan singer Banikanth Nimai Charan Harichandan on Sanskruti Bhawan premises.

- http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2019/jan/16/netaji-museum-inaugurated-in-puri-1925751.html, Jan 16, 2019

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NMCG Officials and Partners Come Together to Contribute to Clean Ganga Fund, heres more

The officials and partners of National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) came together on one platform today, to make personal donations to the Clean Ganga Fund on a voluntary basis. Officials from various executing agencies, stakeholders and aartners with Team NMCG including State Bank of India, Union Bank of India, Engineers India Ltd., WAPCOS, HDFC etc contributed to the Clean Ganga Fund at an event held at the NMCG headquarters. Director General, NMCG, Shri Rajiv Ranjan Mishra requested all partners and stakeholders to contribute to the Clean Ganga Fund and become a part of this great mission to clean our national river. He said, “To sustain this mission, public outreach is a major strategy and therefore we seek more and more people and corporates to contribute to the CGF and become partners in the Clean Ganga Mission. Joining the cause is more important than the monetary contribution. Many corporates have come forward and joined us as partners. For example HCL has taken up afforestation in a big way and is also in the process of setting up Rudraksh plantation in Uttarakhand in association with INTACH, Indorama has taken up construction of ghats, etc.” The Clean Ganga Fund was established as a Trust under the Indian Trusts Act, duly approved by the Union Cabinet and with the Union Finance Minister heading the Board. DG, NMCG acts as the CEO of the Clean Ganga Fund. Domestic donors to the CGF are eligible for 100% income tax exemption under Section 80 G (1) (i) of the Income Tax Act 1961. Contributions to CGF also fall within the purview of CSR activity as defined in Schedule VII to the Companies Act, 2013. Contributions to CGF are being received in its current account with the New Delhi Main Branch of the State Bank of India. The total fund available in CGF as on date is Rs. 269.12 crores. Out of this, projects worth Rs. 203. 91 crores have already been taken up in areas such as afforestation, treatment of nalas through in-situ bioremediation process, redevelopment of ghats and crematoria and provision of amenities. It is most important to see more and more people contributing towards Clean Ganga Fund which would bring more people participation and ownership towards this great objective. It is noteworthy that contributions from individual donors is about Rs. 10.92 crores so far. Various modes have been facilitated now to make easy for individual contribution. In today’s event, a total amount of Rs. 2, 65, 879/- was donated to the Clean Ganga Fund. 70-80 NMCG officials along with 30 officials from partner organizations contributed to the fund. Collections were made through two SBI ATM vans stationed at NMCG headquarters, four payment gateways and through QR codes to facilitate payment through any gateway. Donations to the Clean Ganga Fund can be made through online payment gateway by logging onto www.cleangangafund.com and scanning the QR code on the website, individuals can make payments through BHIM UPI/PAYTM app (that can be easily downloaded from Google Playstore). Donations can also be made through Cheques/Demand Drafts in favour of ‘Clean Ganga Fund’ A/C no. 34213740838.

- https://www.clipper28.com/en/nmcg-officials-and-partners-come-together-to-contribute-to-clean-ganga-fund-heres-more, Jan 17, 2019

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Fancy a free, guided heritage walk through your city?

This February, India Heritage Walk Festival will host 87 heritage walks in 38 cities The best way to get a sense of a place is often on foot. All this February, the India Heritage Walk Festival offers the chance to know your city even better with walks, talks, workshops and Instameets. Now in its second edition, the fest will be hosted in over 35 cities by Sahapedia, a digital encyclopaedia of Indian arts and culture, and UNESCO. Last year, the India Heritage Walk Festival won a PATA Gold Award from the non-profit Pacific Asia Travel Association. This year, the fest scales up its reach with 87 heritage walks in 38 cities such as Nagpur, Nashik, Orchha and Patna. Each walk traces a theme such as markets, food, monuments and museums, natural landscapes, and women-oriented narratives. The group will also meet residents and hear their oral histories. On the schedule are trails through Guwahati’s architectural landscape at the turn of the 20th century (2 February 2019), Jodhpur’s stepwells to explore traditional water conservation (3 February 2019), Kolkata’s Old Chinatown (3 February 2019), an ecological awareness walk to Delhi’s landfill mountains (10 February 2019) and stories of Mughal queens and concubines in the Red Fort (23 February 2019). There will also be an Instameet in Delhi around street art, and in Kolkata around its ghats and flower markets. Plus, walks for kids with special needs in Bhubaneshwar, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Shillong. The walks will be held in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Agra, Ahmedabad, Aizawl, Ajmer, Allahabad, Amritsar, Vadodara, Bharuch, Bhubaneshwar, Bikaner, Chandigarh, Goa, Guwahati, Gwalior, Howrah, Hyderabad, Itanagar, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Kochi, Kolkata, Lucknow, Nagpur, Nashik, Orchha, Patna, Pondicherry, Pune, Raipur, Secunderabad, Shillong, Shimla, Udaipur and Varanasi. The festival hopes to inspire people to think deeply about architectural heritage, sustainable tourism, and issues around gender and culture. In addition to the tours, a host of talks are slated to be held in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Delhi, Guwahati, Kochi and Kolkata. Also look out for workshops on art, historical stories and nature in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Delhi and Kolkata.

- https://www.cntraveller.in/story/5-weekend-getaways-india-visit-2019, Jan 17, 2019

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Promenade all set to get a facelift, with help from Centre

The Promenade, Puducherry's famous tourist spot, is all set to get a facelift. The beach front on the northern and southern side will be taken up for development under the Heritage Circuit of the Union Tourism Ministry at an estimated cost of ?7 crore. The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) is the architectural consultant for the project. According to an official, “Though the promenade is the most prominent and popular recreational destination for residents and tourists, the stretch from Seagulls restaurant to Dubrayapet lacks a dedicated sidewalk space. The proposed intervention includes construction of promenade including dedicated sidewalks up to the South Boulevard with the same specification of street lighting as on the rest of the stretch.” Similarly, the intervention on the southern side includes construction of sidewalks from the Kargil memorial to the Old Distillery. The extension of the Beach Promenade on the northern and southern side is expected to be taken up simultaneously.

Popular hangouts

According to A. Arul, INTACH architect, “the Beach Promenade is one of the most popular hangouts in the city and the road is getting congested. The idea is to extend the Beach Promenade till the New Light House at Dubryapet on the southern side to create new beaches and help in decongesting this stretch. On the northern side, the Promenade will be extended till the Old Distillery.” The work includes improvement to the existing roads with paver blocks, development of pedestrian walkways with granite slabs on both sides, cast iron lamposts, information signages for tourists and planting of trees. Amenities will also be created for tourists on both sides. The warehouse at the old port area will also be restored and used for multi-functional activities to attract tourists, an official said.

- https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/promenade-all-set-to-get-a-facelift-with-help-from-centre/article26031631.ece, Jan 18, 2019

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Seventh Century Ganga Dynasty Idol Excavated At Talakad

A seventh century Ganga Dynasty idol of Parshvanatha stone sculpture has been discovered at historic place of Talakad in T. Narasipur taluk in the district. Parshvanatha near a Jain temple. Prof. Krishnamurthy is the former Chairman of Department of Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Mysore. The stone sculpture, about four ft to ve ft height, belonged to seventh century Ganga dynasty. The Department of Archaeology and Museums has taken up excavation in Rajaghatta at Doddaballapur, Talakad and Hampi across the State. Dr. Gopal said that the sandstone idol was recovered near a Jain Basadi site. The excavation is being undertaken on the left side of Jain Basadi in Talakad. The idol is in ‘Kayotsarga’ pose, a yogic meditative posture in the Jain tradition and idols generally represent a Thirthankara in standing or seated posture, he said. ‘Kayotsarga’ literally means “dismissing the body” or to give up one’s physical comfort and body movements”, thus staying steady, either in a standing or other posture, and concentrating upon the true nature of the soul. It may be recalled here that about four years ago the State Archaeology Department had begun excavation in and around the historic and ancient site of Talakad looking for clues about earlier human habitation. The place is well-known for historical monuments that date back to 5th Century AD. Gangas were in power there then. The Department had begun excavations in 2010 as part of its regular and seasonal activities. For some reason, the excavation works were stalled and now the works have started as the Department has received the green signal for excavations from Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

- https://starofmysore.com/seventh-century-ganga-dynasty-idol-excavated-at-talakad/, Jan 18, 2019

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World’s Oldest Clove Narrates a Tale of Early Spice Trade

The history of the spice trade conjures up exotic images of caravans plying the Silk Road in storied antiquity as well as warfare between European powers vying for control of what, pound for pound, were among the most valuable commodities in the known world. One of the most valuable of the spices was clove – the versatile immature bud of the evergreen clove tree (Syzygium aromaticum) which is native to the Maluku Islands or the Moluccas in the Indonesian Archipelago. The Conversation believes they might have found the oldest clove in the world at an excavation in Sri Lanka, from an ancient port which dates back to around 200 BC. This port, Mantai, was one of the most important ports of medieval Sri Lanka and drew trade from across the ancient world. Not only that, but The Conversation also found evidence for black pepper (Piper nigrum), another high-value low-bulk product of the ancient spice trade.

Ancient History

Western knowledge of Sri Lanka dates back to at least 77 AD, when the Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder wrote about the island as Taprobane in his famous Natural History. This is the earliest existing text which mentions Sri Lanka, however Pliny states that the ancient Greeks (and Alexander the Great) had long known about it. Fruits were abundant and the people had more wealth than the Romans – as well as living to 100 years old. No wonder then, that ancient Sri Lanka drew trade ships not only from the Roman world, but also from Arabia, India and China. Decades of archaeological exploration has sought to uncover evidence for the rich kingdoms of ancient Sri Lanka. Mantai (also written as Manthai and known as Manthottam/Manthota), on the northern tip of the island, was one of the port settlements of the Anuradhapura Kingdom (377 BC to 1017 AD) and has been recently radiocarbon dated to between about 200 BC and 1400 AD. From the air, the defensive ditch and banks of ancient Mantai can be seen covered in trees, as can the area where the defences were cut away to build the modern road. The site was excavated in the 1980s – during three seasons of excavation an amazing array of artefacts were uncovered, including semiprecious stone beads and ceramics from India, Arabia, the Mediterranean and China. Unfortunately, many of the records related to this archaeological work became lost or were destroyed, including detailed stratigraphic information of how the layers of soil excavated related to one another, which would have been used to identify how and when the site developed, prospered and came to an end.

Mantai Revisited

In 2009-2010, after the end of the civil war, a multinational team of researchers went back to Mantai and began new excavations. Work was jointly carried out by the Sri Lankan Department of Archaeology, SEALINKS and the UCL Institute of Archaeology. This project aimed to collect as much evidence from these excavations as possible, including fully quantified and systematically collected archaeobotanical (preserved plant) remains. Only a handful of cloves have previously been recovered from archaeological sites, including these from France, for example – other archaeological evidence for cloves, such as pollen from cess pits in the Netherlands, only dates from 1500 AD onwards – and there are no examples from South Asia. Earlier finds of clove have been reported from Syria – but these have since largely been discredited as misidentifications. The clove from Mantai was found in a context dating to 900-1100 AD, making this not only the oldest clove in Asia – but The Conversation think the oldest in the world. The Conversation also found eight grains of black pepper at Mantai, plus a further nine badly preserved grains that The Conversation think are probably black pepper too. The earliest are dated to around 600 AD, the time when international maritime trade became increasingly large and well established across Asia, Africa and Europe. Spice Wars Black pepper was also traded along these routes, and was most likely grown and harvested in the Western Ghats of India. Although less rare and valuable than clove, it was still known as “black gold” on account of its value in the Early Modern Period from 1500 AD to about 1800 AD. From the 16th century, Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) was colonised by various European powers, from the Portuguese (1500s-1600s) to the Dutch (1600s-late 1700s) to the British (late 1700s-1948). But, whether or not the cloves The Conversation unearthed at Mantai turn out to be the oldest in existence, the presence of the spice at this 2,000-year-old site is solid evidence of the ancient spice trade that existed long before these wars of conquest.

- https://www.thequint.com/lifestyle/art-and-culture/world-oldest-clove-sri-lanka-spice-trade/, Jan 18, 2019

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Restored fountain to be unveiled today

The restoration of the iconic Flora Fountain in Fort area has been completed and the monument will be unveiled on Thursday. “The restoration of Flora Fountain, named after Flora, the mythological Roman goddess of flowers, has been completed and it would be formally thrown open for public viewing on Thursday,” a senior civic official said. However, the work of giving a face-lift to the area around the heritage structure and landscaping will take another few months to complete, they said. The work to renovate the 153-year-old Gothic Revival architecture was given to the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) by the BMC in September 2016.

- http://www.asianage.com/metros/mumbai/240119/restored-fountain-to-be-unveiled-today.html, Jan 24, 2019

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Republic Day 2019: 12 National Symbols of Incredible India & Their Importance That You Should Know

The citizens of India are all gearing up to honour the most remarkable day on January 26—Republic Day. It was on this date when the Constitution of India came into effect in 1950, replacing the Government of India Act (1935) as the governing document of our nation. Our constitution was adopted by the Indian Constituent Assembly on November 26, 1949, and came into effect two months later with a democratic government system completing the country’s transition towards becoming an independent republic. Besides all the national holidays, Republic Day plays a significant role in the citizens’ life. The Republic of India has listed several official national symbols including a historical document, national flag, an emblem, an anthem and so many things that completes our country. Republic Day 2019 Wishes in Advance. All the National symbols were selected at different times holding various significance with interesting facts related to it. Apart from the national flag of India, there also several other symbols including the national animal, bird, flower, fruit and tree. On the occasion of Republic Day 2019, here we have listed the National Symbols of India that you should know.

National Flag: Tiranga
Tiranga, also known as the Tricolour is the national flag of India. A horizontal, with equally sized deep saffron at the top, signifies sacrifice and patriotism, white in the middle stands for truth with Ashoka Chakra, a blue wheel at the centre and green at the bottom that means life and prosperity. The Indian flag is based on the Swaraj flag designed by the Indian freedom fighter Pingali Venkayya.

National Emblem: National Emblem of India
The National Emblem is an adaptation of Lion Capital of Ashoka at Sarnath, which features four Asiatic lions. On January 26, 1950, the symbol was adopted as the National Emblem of India. It symbolises power, courage, confidence and at the bottom is a horse and a bull with wheel Dharma chakra at the centre.

National Calendar: Saka Calendar
The Calendar Committee in 1957 introduced the Shalivahana Shaka calendar. The calendar follows the signs of the tropical zodiac, and it officially started at 1 Chaitra 1879 Saka Era or March 22, 1957.

National Currency: Indian Rupee
The Indian rupee is the official currency of the Republic of India. According to legends, the Indian rupee symbol is derived from the Devanagari consonant "?" (Ra) in 2010. It started in circulation on July 8, 2011.

National Anthem: Jana Gana Mana
Composed by poet Rabindranath Tagore, Jana Gana Mana is the national anthem of India. On January 1950, it was officially adopted by the Constituent Assembly as the Indian national anthem.

National Song: Vande Mataram
Vande Mataram was sung during the 1896 session of the Indian National Congress by Kavi Guru Rabindranath Tagore. Composed by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, the first two verses of Vande Mataram was adopted as the National song of our country in 1950.

National Fruit: Mango
Mango is the national fruit of India. The country is home to above 100 varieties of the fruit which is found in nature as in the wild forest.

National River: Ganga
Ganga is the longest and also the national river of India with the most densely populated river in the world. The Ganges is also regarded as the most sacred river to the nationals of India.

National Flower: Lotus
The national flower of India is Lotus. It is a sacred flower and occupies a unique position in the art and mythology of ancient India. Lotus has always been an auspicious symbol of the Indian culture since time immemorial.

National Tree: Indian Banyan
Indian Banyan tree is the national tree of India and native to the Indian subcontinent only. The Indian Banyan root themselves to form new trees and grow over large areas. Banyan Tree is among the most massive trees in the world. Because of its characteristic and longevity, this tree is considered immortal and is an integral part of the myths and legends of our country.

National Animal: Royal Bengal Tiger
The Royal Bengal Tiger is found only in the Indian subcontinent and most regions of the country. It is the national animal of India. However, today, due to habitat loss caused by deforestation and hunting by human poachers, the Bengal tiger is considered to be an endangered species.

National Bird: Peacock
Beautiful Indian peacock is designated as the national bird of India. The bird represents the unity of colours and finds references in the Indian culture. To be accurate, it was on February 1, 1963, the Government of India have decided to designate peacock as the national bird of India. There are a lot of other national symbols which equally holds significance in Republican India. Like every year, this year too, on January 26, individuals across the nation will host special events marking Republic Day 2019. Ceremonious parades will take place at the Rajpath, which are performed as a tribute to our country, its unity in diversity and rich cultural heritage.

- https://www.latestly.com/lifestyle/festivals-events/republic-day-2019-12-national-symbols-of-incredible-india-their-importance-that-you-should-know-604613.html, Jan 24, 2019

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UNESCO, Sahapedia join hands for 2nd India Heritage Walk Festival

The second edition of the India Heritage Walk Festival (IHWF) will be held across 37 cities in February, with the UNESCO joining hands with Sahapedia this year, organisers said Thursday. The festival will be held from February 2-28, with a focus on heritage education and walks for people with special needs, festival director Vaibhav Chauhan told reporters here. "We have added more tier-II and tier-III cities after getting a very good response last year. So, cities like Allahabad, Lucknow and Patna will feature in this edition," he said. The IHWF, which received the PATA Gold Award 2018 for its maiden pan-India event, will kick-start with a heritage walk in Ahmedabad on February 2, focusing on the religious history and co-existence of multiple faiths in that city. The inaugural day will also have parallel heritage walks in other cities, including Mumbai, Delhi, Varanasi, Guwahati, Pune, Udaipur, Kolkata, Puducherry and Chennai. "This year, UNESCO has partnered with us for the festival and we are very fortunate, as this will help in expanding our reach to people on raising awareness on heritage preservation," he added. For the second edition of IHWF, Sahapedia has collaborated with about 40 local-level partners to conduct its pan-India heritage walk festival. Some of the notable names include Kerala History Museum, the Kochi Heritage Project, INTACH Srinagar Chapter, Art Deco Mumbai, Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation and Oxford Bookstore. Additionally, the festival bookings are powered by an online travel firm that connects tourists to certified guides in India, he said. A primary objective of the festival, which will conclude with simultaneous walks in multiple cities, is to widen access to various aspects of India's tangible and intangible heritage, organisers said. "Through 87 heritage walks and over 100 outreach events, which have been planned across the country, the event will explore the cultural fabric of India, focusing on museums, historically significant monuments and markets, natural landscapes, areas known for rich cuisine, and locations that are rooted in women-oriented narratives," Chauhan said. "We want to democratise access to local history and culture. One might be living in the same neighbourhood for years, but there is a big chance that an important landmark, tucked away in a back alley, has been missed and forgotten. The IHWF is that opportunity to discover the hidden gems linked to the history of a place, town or city," he added. Sahapedia is an open on line resource on the arts, cultures and heritage of India. KND HMB

- https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/unesco-sahapedia-join-hands-for-2nd-india-heritage-walk-festival/1465071, Jan 25, 2019

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Heritage conservation fest in Delhi from Jan 28

A four-day cultural festival by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) here will celebrate 35 years of heritage conservation by the organisation, an official said on Sunday. Scheduled to take place from January 28-31, the 'INTACH Utsav' will showcase glimpses of its work and create awareness amongst the people for their heritage. "The Utsav will feature a variety of classical and folk music, dances, lectures, workshops, heritage walks and food stalls. A craft bazaar will simultaneously display the craft and textile heritage of the country," the INTACH said in a statement. A detailed agenda for the festival can be found at culturalaffairs.intach.org

- https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/heritage-conservation-fest-in-delhi-from-jan-28-119012700594_1.html, Jan 28, 2019

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Human skeleton, potteries found during excavation at Baghpat’s Sinauli

Human skeleton and potteries were found during excavation at Baghpat’s Sinauli area on the 12th day of the on-going excavation here on Sunday. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had approved the next phase of exploration in the archaeologically significant Sinauli village in Baghpat after digging at the site led to the startling discovery of copper-bronze age (dating back to 2000-1800 BC) chariots in burial chambers in early June 2018. “The human skeleton and potteries found during the excavation at Sinauli in Baghpat. These are the remains of the same period as that of the chariot, which was found here earlier,” said Dr Sanjay Manjul, director, Institute of Archaeology, ASI. The permission of the director general, ASI, was conveyed for conducting excavation at Sinauli village in Baghpat in December 2018. The excavation is being conducted under the directions of Dr Sanjay Manjul, director, Institute of Archaeology, ASI. Dr Manjul had earlier said that after the recovery of chariots, they are quite hopeful of new discoveries in the region. The excavation will continue for at least two months. In 2005, Sinauli became an internationally-acclaimed site after a few farmers came across a human skeleton beside ancient pottery. Later, further digging led to the discovery of an ancient burial site dating back to Harappan period (4000 years ago).

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/meerut/human-skeleton-potteries-found-during-excavation-at-baghpats-sinauli/articleshow/67714955.cms, Jan 28, 2019

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Soon, you can see how the Harappans looked

Have you ever wondered how the people from the Harappan civilisation, more than 8,000 years ago, looked? Were they any different from modern day humans in appearance or did they look the same? Interestingly, it may not be long before one can have the answer to these questions.

Koreans roped in

A team led by Prof. Vasant Shinde, Vice-Chancellor, Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute, Deemed University, Pune, is on the brink of recreating the faces of a few skeletal remains, dug up during the excavation of a Harappan site at Haryana’s Rakhigarhi village in Hisar, in collaboration with South Korean scientists. Dr. Shinde told The Hindu that his team was recreating the faces of five skeletal remains and the results would be available within the next two months, soon after the publication of the paper in a journal after its review by experts. The archaeologist, who along with his 25-member team — comprising experts from different fields — had excavated the site from 2012-16, said they had dug up cemeteries in a targeted excavation to find about 40 human remains. However, most of the remains were found to be unfit for facial recreation. “We needed complete skeletal remains in a good condition,” he said. “And we were lucky to find five — three males and two females,” he added. The skeletal remains were CT scanned and the data fed into a programme developed by the Korean scientists to fill them “layer by layer with blood and flesh to show as to how the Harappan people looked like”, said Dr. Shinde, explaining the forensic facial reconstruction technique. He added that the tentative results were already available. “We can, therefore, soon answer questions on physical similarities between the modern day population and the Harappan people,” he added. While the technique in itself is not new, with forensic scientists having helped investigators probe crimes by recreating faces using this technology, it will be the first instance when it will be used in India for the ancient population. The technique has also been used to recreate faces for the inhabitants of Egyptian and the Mesopotamian civilizations, but never for the Harappan population. Dr. Shinde also shared that the analyses of the DNA collected from the skeletal remains was at an advanced stage and the findings would be published soon. He rubbished reports that the findings were being delayed due to political pressure, contending that DNA analysis was a lengthy process. Besides, he added, the samples was very small and the signatures were very weak. “Whatever little we have in terms of DNA data, that needs to be properly authenticated, scientifically analysed and interpreted before it is made public,” contended the professor. Rakhigarhi is one of the largest sites of the Harappan civilisation and the major objectives behind the excavation there, according to Dr. Shinde, were to trace its beginnings and to study its gradual evolution from 6000 BCE to 2500 BCE, besides protecting it from encroachment by the locals since the village is settled exactly on top of it. “Another aim was to find out who the Harappan people were. There was a lot of debate whether they had come from West or were locals. We wanted DNA for this and started excavation at burial sites,” said Dr. Shinde. However, the findings from excavation have now largely substantiated that the Harappans were locals, said Dr. Shinde, explaining that the excavation hinted at the gradual evolution of the Harappans proving that they were locals. “The structural activity, pottery, jewellery and other crafts seem to have evolved gradually. They did not immediately start with town and villages but started with circular structures to evolve to rectangular ones and then arranged them in a pattern in the third stage before setting up cities in the fourth stage. It substantiates the hypothesis that they were locals and did not come from outside, contrary to the view held by some scholars,” said Dr. Shinde. He said that Harappans, credited with several present day traditions such as the folded hands greeting or namaste, chicken tandoor, use of the bindi and yoga, also seemed to have started the marriage system.

- https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/soon-you-can-see-how-the-harappans-looked/article26101458.ece, Jan 28, 2019

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Deccan Sultanate bid for global heritage tag headed for Unesco

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has given green signal to the joint proposal by Karnataka and Telangana for ‘global heritage’ tag for monuments of the erstwhile Deccan Sultanate. The Centre will now make a recommendation to Unesco. Monuments from Karnataka that will be part of the proposal are Vijayapura’s Gol Gumbaz, Kalaburagi’s Haft Gumbaz and the Bidar Royal Citadel. It’s the first time two states have submitted a joint proposal. Venkatesh T, commissioner of the department of archaeology, museums and heritage, told STOI the dossier is with the secretary of ministry of culture and may be cleared this week. The final nomination dossier may be submitted by February 1 to Unesco World Heritage Centre in Paris. The declaration from Unesco is likely during June or July. KS Raykar, executive director, Indian Heritage Cities Network (IHCN), told STOI, “The Unesco World Heritage nomination dossier has been sent by ASI to the ministry of culture for approval.” The Deccan Sultanates were five dynasties that ruled Bijapur, Golconda, Bidar, Ahmednagar and Berar. The kingdoms became independent in the late 15th and early 16th century as the Bahmani Sultanate broke up. Though rivals, they were allies against the Vijayanagara empire in 1565. The kingdoms were taken over by Mughals in the 17th century. Their architecture is predominantly Indo-Islamic, with influence from Persia and Central Asia. The Deccan Sultanate capitals characterise an ensemble of royal, religious, funerary monuments (tombs and mausoleums), defence structures commissioned for the royal citadel and urban quarters. They bear testimony to the distinct cultural traditions of the sultanate kingdoms within Indian and Middle Eastern cultural traditions and their influence on art, music, languages and literature. Each component – Kalaburagi, Bidar, Vijayapura and Golconda – represents different origins and attributes of the architectural and cultural traditions of the Deccan Sultanate.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/deccan-sultanate-bid-for-global-heritage-tag-headed-for-unesco/articleshow/67706414.cms, Jan 29, 2019

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Palamu Forts: A fading heritage

In a nutshell, the story of the twin forts of Palamu is the story of a tribal kingdom that was once powerful enough to have the Mughal empire and the East India Company threatened by its military might. It is intertwined with an incredible saga of bravery and sacrifice for the sake of one’s dignity. But sadly, it is also a pathetic example of how we have failed as a society in protecting our heritage. Today, these once celebrated forts are in a pitiable state which is in stark contrast with the glorious chapter of Indian history that they are a part of. The massive structure with a unique design is gradually being reduced to rubble. And what’s worse is that no serious efforts have been made to prevent that from happening. Even the very name Palamu comes with a whole bag full of complex theories and ideas. According to one school of thinkers, it is a distortion of the Dravidian word ‘pall-aam-u’ which means ‘tooth of water’. The fact that the forts are close to Auranga River goes in favour of this theory. Moreover, when flooded, the rocky surface of river bed looks like jagged teeth. According to another group of people, the name of these forts has been derived from the Hindi word ‘Palana’ which can refer to either the act of fleeing or a place of refuge. Yet another group argues that Palamu comes from combining the words ‘Pala’ which means frost and ‘Mu’ which means death. So, Palamu stands for death by frost. Today, Palamu is known for two things. One is its famous tiger reserve and the other is that the twin forts are 500 years old. Out of the two forts, the older one is situated in plains while the newer one is situated on a hill stop. Though there is no reliable evidence to know with certainty when the old forts were established, it is believed that they were built by Rajput king Raksel in 1562 and were invaded by the Mughals in the year 1574. But when Akbar died, Mughals started to lose their grip over the area. In the year 1613, Anata Rai, who was a tribal chief of the Chero community, conquered the fort. That was the beginning of a new era. Around the year 1619, the kingdom came under Medini Rai, who was considered as the greatest Chero ruler. At this time, the fortification got several additional feature and was under military vigilance. The old fort was built over an area of three square kilometres. It has three gates, each of them seven feet in width. The fort has been constructed with lime and surkhi mortar. The external boundary walls of the fort have been built with flat and long bricks. The central gate is the largest of three gates and is known as Singh Dwar. On the south-western part of the fort, which is surrounded by hills on three sides, there is a small stream called the Kamadah Jheel which was used by the women of the royal family for their daily ablutions. Between this stream and the fort there are two watch towers (dom kilas) located on the hill top which were used to track any enemy intrusions. Of these two towers, one tower houses a small temple of a goddess called Devi Mandir. It is believed that even after getting defeated by the Mughals, Chero king Medini Rai did not give up in spirit. This is evident from the fact that in 1673, just two years before his death, he had started building an even bigger fort for his son Pratap Rai. The new fort was built at an enviable location which covered all aspects of a well protected citadel inside a jungle. It was an ideal hub for a tribal kingdom. However, the fort, popularly known as the new fort of Palamu, is believed to have been left incomplete. The greatest attraction of this fort is that its massive royal gate, known as Nagpuri Darwaza, has been built in white and yellow sand stones. This special door was meant for the entry of royals into the fort. It has been built in typical Mughal style. The gates, in particular, remind one of the designs popular in the period of Jahangir. There is an ‘Islamic arch’ at this fort which boasts of various kinds of floral designs. The craftsmanship of those designs is so perfect and well executed that its measurement and presentation seems fabulous. The upper and middle surface of the arch and the borders running all across the gate have also been decorated with floral designs. The crown of the gate depicts two elephant figures which hangs like an extended part of the gate. These figures have been embellished with exotic floral design. The gate is a unique blend of Indo-Islamic architecture. The next gate is made of stone and is smaller in size. This gate has been partly destroyed over time. On the slate-coloured pillars, one can find writings in Persian and Sanskrit. While some of these are still legible, some have been badly defaced in some places. The edict clearly mentions name of one Banamali Mishra, the court poet of Raja Medini Rai. It also declares that this fort was built by Medini Rai in 1673.The Persian inscription was recently damaged by some vandals. This gate is the biggest archaeological attraction of this fort. The fort is believed to have had several other stone gates and inscriptions. Today, all that remains is a plethora of broken pieces. The fort also has remains of what must have been several big and small chambers. It gives some idea about how soldiers must have been placed in each chamber to protect the fort. In the South-West side of the of the fort lies a bathing place named Kamal Jheel. The area also houses the remains of a small temple. This fort has several open and secret exits. Many of those are still accessible but are in bad shape. A shadow of human negligence prevails in all parts of this massive structure Coming back to the history of Palamu, its story did not end in the Mughal era. It remained a significant point of conflict even when the East India Company was trying to gain control over India. The glory of the Chero kingdom started fading with the death of Medini Rai. Pratap Rai did not enjoy the old Chero dominance. After Pratap Rai, kings like Rudra Rai, Dikpal Rai, Shaeb Rai, Ranjit Rai, Devi Bateh and Jai Kisan Rai attempted to regain complete control, but sadly, they failed. In year 1770, king Chiranjit Rai tried to make the situation better. But his cousin Gopal Rai tried to negotiate with the East India Company and overtake Palamu fort. In 1771, the Patna Council of the British East India company issued a summon to the Chero king to handover the forts on account of misrule. A 10-day ultimatum was issued to them. When that was not honoured, a gory war took place on January 28, 1771. Under the leadership of Colonel Camac, a member of British council of the East India Company of Patna, the fort was attacked. The Chero put a brave fight before the East India Company. Due to water scarcity at the new fort, all of them had moved to old fort. This gave Captain Camac a chance to capture the new fort almost unopposed and its geographical positioning gave the British an edge against the tribals. Realising the degree of efficiency of the common Chero warriors and the superb fortification of the structure, Captain Camac was forced to call for more support from Patna. It was answered with supply of more powerful canons like 12 pound canons and ammunition. Powered by such additional infrastructure and equipment, the East India Company finally vanquished the Chero king and conquered both the forts on March 19, 1771. On March 21, 1771 after destroying all circles of resistance, the East India Company finally entered the old fort and with that an era came to an end in that part of the country. In April 1772, during the time of great mutiny in 1857, these forts were captured by local rebellions and it became a centre of strategy. However, as soon as colonial rulers took over charge and ruthlessly crushed every single man who had participated in the mutiny, these two forts were also targeted and vandalised. Today a big signboard of Jharkhand Tourism is planted near the entry gate of the Betla National Park. It directs the visitors towards Palamu Fort. However, reaching the fort is nothing less than a challenge. Although the roads are wide and well maintained, a zigzag stream running inside the forest is both tempting and dangerous. In several places, the signboards planted by forest department remind you that you are navigating in an elephant corridor and an encounter with a herd of wild elephants is likely. This is not a notice to ignore while going to Palamu Fort. After all, the dilapidated fort inside a jungle is often frequented by wild animals. But if one manages to brave through all of these hurdles and reach the fort, even the remains of what Palamu once must have been are enough to leave one mesmerised. It shows what modern-day Jharkhand has been through in our glorious, collective past.

- https://www.dailypioneer.com/2019/sunday-edition/palamu-forts--a-fading-heritage.html, Jan 29, 2019

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Deccan Sultanate bid for global heritage tag headed for Unesco

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has given green signal to the joint proposal by Karnataka and Telangana for ‘global heritage’ tag for monuments of the erstwhile Deccan Sultanate. The Centre will now make a recommendation to Unesco. Monuments from Karnataka that will be part of the proposal are Vijayapura’s Gol Gumbaz, Kalaburagi’s Haft Gumbaz and the Bidar Royal Citadel. It’s the first time two states have submitted a joint proposal. Venkatesh T, commissioner of the department of archaeology, museums and heritage, told STOI the dossier is with the secretary of ministry of culture and may be cleared this week. The final nomination dossier may be submitted by February 1 to Unesco World Heritage Centre in Paris. The declaration from Unesco is likely during June or July. KS Raykar, executive director, Indian Heritage Cities Network (IHCN), told STOI, “The Unesco World Heritage nomination dossier has been sent by ASI to the ministry of culture for approval.” The Deccan Sultanates were five dynasties that ruled Bijapur, Golconda, Bidar, Ahmednagar and Berar. The kingdoms became independent in the late 15th and early 16th century as the Bahmani Sultanate broke up. Though rivals, they were allies against the Vijayanagara empire in 1565. The kingdoms were taken over by Mughals in the 17th century. Their architecture is predominantly Indo-Islamic, with influence from Persia and Central Asia. The Deccan Sultanate capitals characterise an ensemble of royal, religious, funerary monuments (tombs and mausoleums), defence structures commissioned for the royal citadel and urban quarters. They bear testimony to the distinct cultural traditions of the sultanate kingdoms within Indian and Middle Eastern cultural traditions and their influence on art, music, languages and literature. Each component – Kalaburagi, Bidar, Vijayapura and Golconda – represents different origins and attributes of the architectural and cultural traditions of the Deccan Sultanate.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/deccan-sultanate-bid-for-global-heritage-tag-headed-for-unesco/articleshow/67706414.cms, Jan 29, 2019

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Kacheguda station goes modern

The historic Kacheguda Railway Station is going modern. From massage chairs usually seen in airports to top class refreshment rooms, disposable water bottle crushing machines and even a mobile movie theatre, this A1 Category station has undergone several changes in the recent past. South Central Railway (SCR), according to officials, has been taking multi-pronged initiatives to develop the Kacheguda Railway Station across every sphere, including passenger amenities, facilities and green initiatives and to ‘reinvent’ the station to give the best experience to thousands of rail commuters who use it each day. Officials said innovative steps like provision of a mobile digital movie theatre, 12 smart massage chairs, conversion of retiring rooms into fresh-up rooms with modern facilities were a few among the recent station development activities.

Arty makeover

Other facilities recently provided by SCR include a lounge for short duration stays, lifts and escalators on all platforms, an electronic reservation chart display system and a touch screen passenger operated enquiry terminus in the passenger reservation system complex. This apart, the NavRaS App facilitating navigation to various passenger facilities on the platforms and the Rail Station Info App to provide complete information about various passenger amenities have been made available at the station. The station, earlier awarded by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), has also included art in its makeover, with fine art works including Cheriyal paintings keeping alive the tradition and culture of Telangana for passengers.

Green initiatives

As part of green initiatives, bio-toilets/green toilets were provided on the platforms separately for women and men. Disposable water bottle crushing machines have been provided to prevent reuse of plastic disposable water bottles. Through a waste recycling plant/decomposing machine, bio-waste is collected from residential quarters, all platforms and offices in a separate green bin and segregation is done by sanitation workers. The machine processes the garbage and produces organic manure, which in turn is used for gardens or plants. In addition, sanitary napkin incinerators were provided along with sanitary napkin vending machines in the women’s waiting halls at the station. Water recycling plant and sewage treatment plant was also established which is used for cleaning of concrete apron of all platforms and pit lines, cleaning of exterior part of coaches, watering gardens, etc. In the past, modern mechanised laundry was set up at a cost of Rs 10.50 crore for supply of clean linen to rail users. This laundry has the capacity of washing 24,000 bed sheets, 12,000 face towels and 12,000 pillow covers per day.

- https://telanganatoday.com/kacheguda-station-goes-modern, Jan 30, 2019

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Representing shared cultural heritage in museum spaces

An international training programme on ‘Sharing stories on contested histories’ for heritage professionals was recently conducted from December 2 to December 14, 2018 by the Cultural Heritage Agency, Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, Netherlands and the Reinwardt Academy, Netherlands. Recently, there has been a lot of debate on museums as spaces for representation of shared cultural heritage. Defining what constitutes ‘shared’ heritage is a sensitive issue. It could be contested, born out of alliances or simply appropriated. Museums are reservoirs of knowledge and apart from displaying historic objects, tackling sensitive issues like representation of contested shared heritage play a crucial role for them. These spaces are rarely ‘neutral’ in preserving and presenting their history. A few months back, French president Emmanuel Macron decided to open the archives on the torture against the Algerians during the war with Algeria, so as to allow the seeking of information regarding contested and untouched aspects of the war. Debating and deliberating on similar concepts, an international training programme on ‘Sharing stories on contested histories’ for heritage professionals was recently conducted from December 2 to December 14, 2018 by the Cultural Heritage Agency, Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, Netherlands and the Reinwardt Academy, Netherlands. The emphasis was on Dutch history- its international relations, its shared heritage and the resulting ‘contested’ histories with its former colonies. Under the Dutch East India Company (VOC), the Dutch had several colonies in India (1605-1825), at present day Gujarat, Bengal, along the Coromandel Coast and areas around present day Tamil Nadu. I was fortunate to represent India (and INTACH) in the training program along with representatives of other nations like South Africa, Brazil, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, Suriname, Sri Lanka and the United States, that were once important colonies and trading posts of the Dutch. Throughout this training, key concepts were discussed like the politics of display on representing the ‘other’, emotional networking, the role of narratives and storytelling, the effect of sympathy/empathy and perspectives, about the educational purposes of museum spaces, about museum collections and the issues around them. Multiple lectures and interactive sessions around these key themes were conducted to create a base for the heritage professionals to deal with the shared heritages using a sensitive and well thought approach. A number of museums and institutions in Amsterdam and around i.e. the Amsterdam Museum, Rijksmuseum, the Tropenmuseum, the Black Archives, the Parliament and Mauritshuis, the National Archives at the Hague, and a neighbourhood organization called Imagine IC were visited as part of the training to study the above mentioned themes and concepts in depth. The Amsterdam Museum served as a client for this training programme to use their exhibits and display as a case study. This embracing and open minded approach not only suggested the museum to rethink representation strategies from diverse fresh perspectives but also allowed the trainees to get a practical approach for the theoretical sessions that were lined for them. The rooms of Amsterdam Museum’s newest exhibition titled ‘World City’, were divided among the trainees to study, discuss and present a set of ideas with relation to content and display using the learnings from the training. When representing shared heritage the various stakeholders involved in the making process need to be well informed, the unbiased/unrepresented oral histories traced and inclusive approach implemented. Gunjan Joshi, Programme Coordinator at the Intangible Cultural Heritage Division of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage attended the training as a representative of India. She has been working in the field of cultural heritage for the past five years.

- https://www.hindustantimes.com/art-and-culture/representing-shared-cultural-heritage-in-museum-spaces/story-ZchCkLDelwrzNnHpUE8jqL.html, Jan 30, 2019

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Unusual museums that nobody will be bored. Photo

Here is something to see.

When we think of a Museum, then draw in your mind a dull place in which scurry around grey people with scarves on the neck. There are many unusual and sometimes strange museums, which we now want to tell you. Let’s take a look at our selection of the most bizarre museums in the world.

Hair Museum (Avanos, Turkey)

The hair Museum in Avanos is a small cave. Above the cave there is the pottery shop. On the cave walls contained hair samples with the names and addresses of the owners, only about 16,000 curls. History of the Museum began 35 years ago, when a friend of the owner of the pottery shop of Chez Galip left in memory of him, a lock of hair. Any woman or girl can become part of the Museum and leave behind my hair.

The Museum of bad art (USA)

The Museum of bad art is a private institution founded by a group of enthusiasts. They are engaged in collecting, conservation and exhibitions of bad art in all its forms. On what basis are selected the exhibits in this Museum is not known to us, but always with the interest of the exposition. The Museum was founded in 1993 in Dedham, and then there were two branches in two cities of Somerville and South Weymouth.

The lawnmower Museum (Southport, UK)

The lawnmower Museum is in Southport and is one of the strangest museums that you can find in England. This Museum has collected more than 200 lawn mowers of different brands, ages and with different histories. Some of them were famous personalities such as Princess Diana and Prince Charles.

Underwater Museum (Cancun, Mexico)

This Museum in Mexico is located on the seabed within the national marine Park in cancún. This is one of the most unique and interesting museums in the world. The authorities conceived it to distract the attention of thousands of tourists from coral reefs, which already began to crumble. On the bottom was much longer and has 500 sculptures made from the neutral to the water clay. Over time, the sculptures themselves have become home to corals and other marine life.

The Museum of broken relationships, Zagreb, Croatia

Located in the lovely Palace Culmer of the Baroque era in the city of Zagreb, the Museum invites visitors to plunge into the emotional world, who leave behind broken relationships loving people. Here are collected various items and gifts ex-lovers.

Museum of oddities, Metamora, Indiana

The Museum of oddities is located near Cincinnati in the little village Metamora. The two-storey building is the collection of the 2000 bizarre artifacts, which were hunted by the famous archaeologist “Indiana Jones”. Here you can see different works of art, relics connected with the history of this region. Museum of oddities, Metamora, Indiana The Museum of oddities is located near Cincinnati in the little village Metamora. The two-storey building is the collection of the 2000 bizarre artifacts, which were hunted by the famous archaeologist “Indiana Jones”. Here you can see different works of art, relics connected with the history of this region.

The Museum of instant noodles, Ikeda, Japan

This unusual Museum is located in Ikeda, Japan. This place is the birthplace of instant noodles, which was invented by momofuku Ando. Shown here is an interactive song about the history of this food product. It seems ridiculous, but for the Japanese, the noodles once saved millions of lives from starvation. In the Museum you can participate in fun workshops.

Sewer Museum, Paris, France

The sewer Museum in Paris, as expected, is in the sewer pipe under the embankment on the left Bank of the Seine nearly in the centre of the city. The Museum is open to everyone. Here it is especially interesting to fans of engineering structures. The first tour of the Paris sewers was established in 1889.

Torture Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

In the capital of the Netherlands there are more than 50 interesting museums, but stands out among all the strange and spooky Museum of torture. It is located in the heart of the city. The Museum is a vivid reminder of how in the dark Middle ages in Europe conducted terrible torture. In the installation “Punishment and sentencing in the Middle ages” collected more than 40 torture devices from different corners of Europe, from the Inquisition chair to the guillotine.

The vampire Museum in Paris, France

Another creepy Museum is located in Paris and dedicated to vampires and everything connected with them. It was founded by Jacques Sirjan, eccentric, but knowledgeable in all sorts of mystical things. The Museum contains many interesting things, as well as the protection from the vampires of the sample of the XIX century.

Museum of dog collars, Kent, UK

If you are interested in the history of the development of dog collars, you will need themed Museum in Leeds castle, England. The building of the XII century belonging to the once Royal family. Here in 1979 founded the Museum of dog collars. In the collection of over 100 collars, some of which date back 500 years.

The Museum of mummies, Guanajuato, Mexico

The mummy Museum in the Mexican city of Guanajuato is one of the darkest places in the world. It exhibits the mummified bodies of people who died during a cholera epidemic in 1833. Hot natural conditions caused a natural mummification of buried bodies. this Museum was founded in 1969. Now it holds over 100 mummies.

Museum of psychiatry, Saint Joseph, mo

This Museum is one of the most unusual in the United States. It tells the 130-year history of psychiatry, the example of St. Joseph. In the Museum’s exhibits include surgical instruments used in the treatment of patients, also the furniture, the uniforms of the nurses and personal creative work patients.

The Museum of menstruation, new Carrollton, MD

This is even more strange Museum is located in the basement of a house in which he lives, its founder, Harry Finley. Harry since 1995 is engaged in that collects feminine hygiene products, and everything connected with it.

Museum standards of beauty, Malacca, Malaysia

Museum standards of beauty receives a monthly total of about 2000 visitors, but this does not diminish its uniqueness. It demonstrates the changes in fashion in different era. Collected standards of beauty in different peoples of the world. Examples of body modification – piercing, scarification, implantation of implants and stretching of the lips.

The international cryptozoology Museum, Portland, Maine

Cryptozoology is the study of animals whose existence has not been confirmed. For example, such as Bigfoot. Collected here are evidence of such animals, pictures, eyewitness accounts, except that those animals you will not see here.

The Museum of Parasitology, Tokyo, Japan

The Museum of Parasitology was founded in 1953. In this place you can learn about life tapeworms, head lice and other parasites that surround us. In the collection of 300 copies, there are even tapeworms length of 10 meters.

The medical history Museum of mutter, Philadelphia, PA

In the Museum of mutter collected all sorts of medical anomalies faced by doctors. It is located in the medical College. The most significant exhibit is the brain of albert Einstein, as well as the jaw of President Stephen Grover Cleveland.

The medical history Museum of mutter, Philadelphia, PA

In the Museum of mutter collected all sorts of medical anomalies faced by doctors. It is located in the medical College. The most significant exhibit is the brain of albert Einstein, as well as the jaw of President Stephen Grover Cleveland.

The Museum of condoms, Nonthaburi, Thailand

Given that Thailand is a leader in the production of condoms, and a Museum dedicated to them is here. Its main purpose is to promote the use of contraceptives among Thais that attitudes towards condoms have a negative and increasing sexual literacy.

Museum of bunnies, Altadena, CA

Steve Lubanski and Candace Freyzi in 1993, he founded the largest Museum that is completely dedicated to the bunnies. It all started with just one gift for Valentine’s Day in the form of a plush Bunny, and now in the collection of 35 000 of these cute toys.

The barbed wire Museum, La Corse, KS

Kansas barbed wire Museum was founded in 1970 in the building of a small shop in downtown La Crosse. It presents 2,400 varieties of barbed wire. There are traditional designs and there are quite unusual that is used in various fields. Of course, the exhibits touch on here is not recommended.

Museum of water, Beijing, China

Beijing Museum of water is located in a residential complex Gunhouse Jan. It introduces visitors to the 90-year history of the laying of water supply in China. Here are collected various relics, interesting details, maps, photos and orders. It is necessary to tell that visitors who do not speak Chinese language, there will not be so interesting. Description of the exhibits in the national language.

Museum of phalluses (Reykjavik, Iceland)

Museum of phalluses is located in the Icelandic capital city of Reykjavik. This is the only Museum in the world, which is the collection of phalluses of various mammals that inhabit Iceland. In the Museum you can see the cause-more than 200 animals, from whales phallus to phallus very young animals.

- http://micetimes.asia/unusual-museums-that-nobody-will-be-bored-photo/, Jan 30, 2019

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Of plants and drapes: At INTACH utsav, women learn about planting and sarees

Pesticides in vegetables has clearly scared residents of the highly polluted national capital enough to make them want to grow whatever vegetables they can on their terraces, balconies, tiny stand-outs of high rises and even kitchens and other windowsills. The trend is here to stay if one is to go by the attendance at the workshop on Urban Terrace Gardening. An assorted group, largely woman, gathered on the terrace of the Indian National Trust for Art, Culture and Heritage (INTACH) building to attend the workshop by Ritu Singh, director of natural heritage division at INTACH. The event was part of a four-day utsav to celebrate the conservation of everything, from spaces to environment, arts,crafts and textiles to food grains, music and dance. Singh spoke of the ecological gains of setting up a terrace garden and how it is also a stress buster. The participants wanted to grow everything, from microgreens to greens to lemon and mangoes and all the vegetables in between. Yes, it is possible, and easy too, she said. She took them through different ways of composting kitchen waste, which was the best nutrient for plants, way better than the compost sold in the market. Next came the how-to-dos on mulching, which Singh said reduced the need to water the plants substantially, and protected the plants from the extreme temperatures. With the materials on hand, she demonstrated what it took to do all this, hands on. The scarcity of soil in the city was a problem for many. The environmental conservationist suggested a mix of cocopeat and nursery-bought vermicompost which already had some soil, as a substitute. Arguably the best tip that she offered to the participants was to to choose regionally available vegetables instead of opting for exotic ones. Much of the literature and websites on home gardening and kitchen gardening, whether on terraces or in the garden, come out of Bengaluru and Mumbai. These aren't perhaps the best guides for farmers and kitchen garden enthusiasts in the National Capital Region which faces extremes of summer and winter. Singh gave them a rule of thumb—don't do anything in extreme climates, save harvesting. The preferable time to sow vegetables in pots is mid-February to March and pre-monsoons. “Start slow, grow what you need, don't get excited and tempted to try growing everything at once” she told them, as the participants walked around INTACH's terrace garden which is filled with spinach and tomatoes, sapodilla trees, banana plants and even tamarind trees. At yet another session during the utsav, India's best known saree historian Rta Kapur Chishti who has authored many books on the subject, spoke of the different ways the unstitched garment is worn in different parts of the country. She came wearing a saree in a way that looked ever so original, inspired by the style of a rural drape by a poor community in Maharashtra. “Part of what I am wearing is a bit of Mangalagiri fabric, and it is attached to a saree” she revealed. According to her, what made the saree different from an equal length and breadth of fabric from a bale was its composition—a body, two borders and two pallus. But just that is not enough to make it a saree the way weavers saw it. The borders, together, have to be at least twice the density and weight of the body, and the small pallu has to be four to five times the weight of the body, while the big pallu twice the weight of the small one, to make it “multipurpose” in terms of utility. The way a saree is folded is enough to give away its length and breadth to the one who knows the garment. But the challenging part, Rta said, was that it was folded differently in every part of the country! Rta knows 108 ways of wearing a saree, but says there are many more waiting to be discovered. At her demonstration of five different styles at the workshop, there was something conspicuously absent: the all important petticoat. The saree historian said it was never a part of the Indian garment, but the invention of Jnanadanandini Tagore. When the Tagore lady accompanied her husband to Mumbai, she was embarrassed by the Bengali style in which she wore it—without a blouse or a petticoat. And so came the petticoat, which only the Parsi women had adopted by then. Her lecture was packed with details of how the British took over the manufacture of the saree and how the 80 varieties of cotton had now been reduced to 20. On a very ironical note, she said these 20 traditional varieties survived only outside temples across the country as they were used to make the wick with which the lamps are lit, and also the thread used in the Hindu 'janewoo' ceremony for boys.

- https://www.theweek.in/leisure/society/2019/01/30/Of-plants-and-drapes-At-INTACH-utsav-women-learn-about-planting-and-sarees.html, Jan 31, 2019

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