Heritage Education in India

Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage

Youngintach Forum

Heritage Alerts
July 2018


Kerala Student Modifies Palace Into India’s First Digital Garden; Scan QR Code To Get Info On Tree

Kanakakunnu palace, is an exemplar heritage monumental site according to the Indian National Trust for for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) in Trivandrum because it signifies a unique model of conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem management. A post graduate Botany student, Akhilesh S V Nair has used his fecund digital skills to merge science and environment. He has digitised the palace garden by making the details of the plant available to the visitors through a mobile application, reported ANI. The project has been inspired from 'Digital India' initiative that plans to make India fully digital and connected to latest trends and people at the click of a button.

Nair has linked the information of the plant species spanning 21 acres of the palace garden using a QR or bar-code that can be scanned using simple mobile application like NeoReader. The botany enthusiast has documented 126 species of both tree and garden plants on a website that is linked to the code through the mobile app. The general public can then access details of the trees with the application including its species, nativity, distribution , botanical character, including flowering period at the moment. Nair along with his professor, Dr. A Gangaprasad are making efforts to spread more diverse and detailed knowledge about the lush plants.

- https://www.indiatimes.com/news/india/kerala-student-modifies-palace-into-india-s-first-digital-garden-scan-qr-code-to-get-info-on-tree-348557.html, July 3, 2018

Ajanta cave paintings of Nizam era lie in a state of neglect

When the last Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur, embarked on a project of recording the grandeur of Ajanta caves through photography and paintings, little did he know that the finished replicas, too, would face a similar danger of destruction like the originals. Today, a part of the replicas displayed in the Ajanta Frescoes Gallery of the State Museum at Nampally looks as if someone had shot them with shotgun pellets. The holes are not only on the paintings, but also on the humongous wooden frames that hold it, indicating that something sharp pierced the nearly-100-year-old tokens of history. For instance, a painting of a woman holding a mirror on her left hand, while two attendants hold a fly whisk and a tray of cosmetics, is in a precarious condition. The vertical frames are not even covered by glass and there are at least three holes on its lower reaches. The replicas gain importance as many of its originals in the Ajanta Caves do not even exist anymore, said Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) convenor Anuradha Reddy. Dismissing that it was ‘not a serious damage’, Assistant Director of the State Museum Ramulu Naik told Express, that the “The damage happened while shipping. However, we are planning to restore it and we have already signed an MoU with a Mumbai-based museum for the same."

- http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/hyderabad/2018/jul/03/ajanta-cave-paintings-of-nizam-era-lie-in-a-state-of-neglect-1837405.html, July 3, 2018

Unesco makes 18 new additions to World Heritage list

Germany's Naumberg Cathedral, the Caliphate City of Medina Azahara in Spain and the Sansa Buddhist Mountain Monasteries of Korea are among the 18 new additions inscribed to Unesco's World Heritage list this year. Unesco is currently holding its 42nd session of the World Heritage Committee, which continues until 4 July. At the session, new World Heritage Sites are selected each year. Naumburg is one of two German inscriptions, with the historic cathedral dating back to 1028. It is joined by the Archaeological Border Complex of Hedeby and the Danevirke, which the site of a former trading town from the first and early second millennia. Located in the central part of West Greenland, a new World Heritage site has been named for Denmark, with the Aasivissuit-Nipisat, Inuit Hunting Ground between Ice and Sea containing the remains of more than 4,200 years of human history. In Colombia, Chiribiquete National Park – “The Maloca of the Jaguar” is the largest protected area in the country. The park's tepuis – tabletop mountains – have more than 75,000 paintings, spanning more than 20,000 years to the present. Believed to be linked to the worship of the jaguar, the paintings depict hunting scenes, battles, dances and ceremonies. The National Park becomes the country's ninth World Heritage site following its inscription. Called the "Originary Habitat of Mesoamerica", Mexico's Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Valley also joins the World Heritage list. Part of the Mesoamerican region of Mexico, the site has what is considered to be the richest biodiversity in all of North America. The site is also known for its history, with archaeological remains demonstrating technological developments and the early domestication of crops. Moving to Asia, the Republic of Korea gains a new addition to the list – the Buddhist Mountain Monasteries in Sansa. Located throughout the southern provinces of the Korean Peninsula, the seven temples that comprise the site were established from the 7th to 9th centuries. The protected sites are considered sacred places, and have survived as living centres of faith and daily religious practice to the present day. Spain's Caliphate City of Medina Azahara also joins the selection, with the 10th century site built by the Umayyad dynasty offering in-depth knowledge of the now vanished Western Islamic civilization of Al-Andalus. After prospering for a number of years, the city was destroyed during the civil war that put an end to the Caliphate in 1009-10. The remains of the city were lost for nearly a millennium until their rediscovery in the early 20th century. The 18 new sites are:

• Archaeological Border Complex of Hedeby and the Danevirke (Germany)
• Naumburg Cathedral (Germany)
• Chaîne des Puys–Limagne fault tectonic area (France)
• Ivrea, industrial city of the 20th century (Italy)
• Caliphate City of Medina Azahara (Spain)
• Göbekli Tepe (Turkey)
• Sassanid Archaeological Landscape of Fars region (Islamic Republic of Iran)
• Al-Ahsa Oasis, an evolving Cultural Landscape (Saudi Arabia)
• Ancient City of Qalhat (Oman)
• Aasivissuit-Nipisat, Inuit Hunting Ground between Ice and Sea (Denmark)
• Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensemble of Mumbai (India)
• Sansa, Buddhist Mountain Monasteries in Korea (Republic of Korea)
• Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region (Japan)
• Fanjingshan (China)
• Chiribiquete National Park – “The Maloca of the Jaguar” (Colombia)
• Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Valley: Originary Habitat of Mesoamerica (Mexico)
• Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains (South Africa)
• Thimlich Ohinga Archaeological Site (Kenya)
• Pimachiowin Aki (Canada) – Pimachiowin Aki (“The Land That Gives Life”)

- http://www.attractionsmanagement.com/index.cfm?pagetype=news&codeID=338199, July 3, 2018

Preserving Vedic manucripts for the future

City-based manuscript collector Rajnish Khosla has preserved rare Vedic scripts with the help of the Himachal State Museum, Shimla, and Manuscript Conservation Centre. These are said to be centuries old-rare Vedic documents. Khosla, who has been collecting rare scripts for the last two decades, had to seek help of the experts in Shimla in order to conserve the Vedic scripts. These scripts are written on natural paper made of various types of leaves. Mostly written in Sanskrit language the scripts include, mention of ‘Mahabharata’ era, the medical practices and various chants. “These scripts need to be protected as they were getting withered away.

At present, these manuscripts are duly framed and conserved in cut mount vacuum technique with the acid-free handmade Japanese paper,” says Khosla. The 52-years is planning to donate them to Vaishno Devi Shrine board to be displayed at Vaishno Devi Shrine so that people can see the heritage. “Keeping it before public will add to general awareness about manuscripts in our ancient culture and it’s richness, remarks Khosla. There are in total 22 frames and each one has two manuscripts placed one above the other, “he adds. Khosla, who has been adding to his ancestral collection, feels that there is a need that such scripts are maintained as they bridge the gap between present and past. He says, “Basically, my father has been collecting all such items from a young age. I feel such things provide a perspective towards future.”

- http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/amritsar/preserving-vedic-manucripts-for-the-future/614748.html, July 3, 2018

A quiet desperation over recreational spaces

If you happen to take a stroll in the Venkata Nagar Park in the evening you will see children having a great time playing, elders happily chatting during their walks, a group of youngsters playing cricket and a majority of people relaxing in the evening breeze. In contrast to the other children’s parks in and around the city, the Venkata Nagar Park is in good shape and has been well kept. With the park operating for limited hours in the morning and evening, the infrastructure is well maintained. The park also has drinking water provisions and rest rooms which aid the high footfall here. But all is not well at Bharathi Park near the beach. It was once filled with people of all age. Now the place is almost empty now.

Deserted park

As the summer vacations have ended, this lush green park is left quite deserted, littered and in need of renovation. There is a renovation project in place which is yet to be implemented by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). Mr. Ashok, an official from INTACH says, “The renovation project will include improvement of Aayi Mandappam, drinking water provisions, landscaping furniture.. but we are unable to arrive at a solid estimate for the completion of the project. INTACH has played an active role in the renovation of Bharathi Park and the Aayi Mandappam in the past. The Aayi Mandappam was given a complete renovation a few years back by INTACH. The historical monument which was in a pitiable condition returned to its glory after renovation. Bharathi Park is also looking forward to such a makeover. In an even worse state is the Rajiv Gandhi Children’s Park at Lawspet, with a dire need for a renovation. Broken benches, rusted swings and slides and paint peeling off the cement play sets are all that greet us as we go around the park which is under the Department of Forest and Wildlife. It is evident that no attention has been paid to this once colourful place in the last few years. The park sports a desolate look. Lawspet being a buzzing residential area, this park would be a great choice for recreation if not for its poor state of maintenance.

Public participation

These public recreational spaces haven’t been given the due notice they deserve. With a footfall of hundreds every day, it is inevitable that there occurs some deterioration to the infrastructure and maintenance. But it is imperative, citizens feel, that these places are maintained in a commendable form while officials say that public participation for the common cause of preserving these green lungs is crucial as well. As these recreational spaces are free of cost, there tends to be a lesser appreciation of its value from the public. With its vast range of usage, there ought to be more awareness of the value that these parks hold and thereby an increase in its maintenance by the common man.

- https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/a-quiet-desperation-over-recreational-spaces/article24347293.ece, July 5, 2018

Stone Age Cave, Well on the Verge of Extinction on Sant Tukaram Hill

A 300 ft x 100 ft portion of a rock is on the verge of dislocation, a Stone Age cave of huge archaeological importance stands just metres away from private lands, an ancient well made of carved stones is facing a depletion of water levels — these and many other evidences of destruction were noted by a fact-finding mission sent by the Pune district collector to Bhamchandra Dongar in Khed taluka. The expert team’s visit on Wednesday and Thursday to the holy hillock of Sant Tukaram Maharaj comes after Pune Mirror carried a story, ‘Warkaris protest violation of Sant Tukaram’s sites in Khed, Maval’, on June 28, outlining the destruction caused by developers and industrialists. The other hill, Bhandara Dongar in Maval, is also on the verge of destruction and the team will visit it next week. Warkari representative, Santbhumi Sanrakshak Sangharsh Samiti president Madhusudan Maharaj Patil, who accompanied the experts, showed uncontrolled destruction on the hillock, which is taking place as a result of rampant construction activities and mine blasts at the hill slope by builders and industries that was excluded recently from the ecosensitive zone. The place was declared a protected monument in 2011 by the state government. Initially, the government had protected 259.76 hectares belonging to Bhandara Dongar and 252.14 hectares of Bhamchandra Dongar. After an amendment, it reduced the protected area status to 122.10 and 90.04 hectares, respectively. After this revocation, farmers sold their lands to developers and industrialists, unwittingly offering an open invitation to calamity on the holly hillocks. During the two-day inspection by the committee, many serious damages were observed including a huge rock portion being dislocated. The rock has a height of around 300 ft and width of around 100 ft towards the east of the hillock. Any incident of sliding during monsoon may wreak havoc on the industrial and residential areas located at its base. The experts also observed that the hillock has lost its invaluable assets like Stone Age caves. Many researchers still find stone-made tools in these caves. The caves are hardly meters away from private lands on the plateau, where construction activities are going steady. They also noted ancient wells that are losing water levels. Incidentally, the carved stone well is not on record of the revenue and archaeology departments. The committee is expected to submit their joint fact-finding report to district collector Naval Kishore Ram in the next few days. Besides Patil, the team comprised Deccan College of Post-Graduate and Research Institute, Yerwada, professor Dr Pandurang D Sable, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board Pune sub-divisional officer Dr Heramb Prasad Gandhe, Directorate of Archaeology and Museums assistant director Vilas Wahane and Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage’s (INTACH) conservation architect Mrudula Mane. Talking to Pune Mirror, Patil said, “We pointed out the damage due to the blasting by industries located at the base of the hillock. We also pointed out the lack of presence of flora and fauna due to noise and vibrations. The experts noted down the cracks on the caves and dried natural water tanks and wells. We also brought their attention towards the plateau which is owned by certain developers, metres away from Sant Tukaram’s temple and caves.” One of the expert members added on condition of anonymity, “We noted that a private company has also excavated a major portion of the hillock to lay an LPG pipeline towards Mindewadi village. We have documented our observation and will submit our report to the district collector in a few days.”

- https://punemirror.indiatimes.com/pune/cover-story/stone-age-cave-well-on-the-verge-of-extinction-on-sant-tukaram-hill/articleshow/64876087.cms, July 5, 2018

Heritage activists hurl collapse slur at TSRTC

Heritage activists alleged that the TSRTC authorities deliberately neglected the historical Mississippi Hangar, the bus shelter in Gowliguda, commonly known as City Bus Station (CBS), leading to non-maintenance and eventually its collapse on Thursday. They demanded the government to explore the possibility of taking up repairs and restoration. Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) convener P Anuradha Reddy alleged that the officials had deliberately neglected the historical structure and making the shed to collapse. “The structure stood strong even with the neglect of RTC authorities,” said Anuradha Reddy, adding that they had visited the site four times last year and it was strong then and only the iron sheets had got damaged, which could have been replaced. “It is the RTC officials who need to explain why they did not maintain the site,” she said. The INTACH convener demanded the government not to demolish the entire site, but have an inspection to see whether it could be restored or not. “If we go on ignoring the historical sites without maintaining them just because it is costly, then there will be no historical sites left in the country,” said Anuradha Reddy, adding that the authorities were aware of its condition and hence closed the station five days ago. She alleged that the authorities were planning to exploit the prime land for commercial purpose. According to well-known author and city historian Allama Aijaz Farruq, the huge aircraft hangar was brought by sea and later transported to Hyderabad. "The Hangar was reassembled at Gowliguda. It was a bus depot those days. Buses used to ply from Putli Bowli to different parts of the city and districts within the princely state of Hyderabad. As passenger volume grew in numbers, the bus station was shifted to the Mississippi Hangar.” Though the structure was meant for maintenance of air craft, the VII Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, had utilised it for his fleet of buses manufactured by Albion Automotive of Glasgow. Apart from the hangar at the old CBS, the Nizam had also imported two more hangars (Hamilton). They were erected at Ranigunj bus depot. P Maunika, an architecture student, who was doing her project on the Mississippi Hangar said, “I was documenting the structure and was designing one such. I spoke to engineering wing of RTC, who said that there was no threat. I don’t think this was an accidental collapse.”

- http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Telangana/2018-07-06/Heritage-activists-hurl-collapse-slur-at-TSRTC/395653, July 5, 2018

ASI's excavation rattles at Pallavaram in suburb

A week ago, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had lifted an eight-year-old freeze on construction activities and started processing No Objection Certificates (NOC) for new developments around the protected ancient site in Pallavaram in the city suburb. Soon after, a major development took place with the ASI unearthing a sarcophagus from the hillocks, one that dates back by more than 2,000 years. The recent discovery has heightened the concerns of residents of Zamin Pallavaram whose litigation is pending before the Madras High Court. The archaeological body has reiterated that the area was inhabited by people who were not nomads. Explaining its stand, it said, ?They had the technology to create a sarcophagus standing on 12 legs during the 3rd century BC. Speaking on the discovery, a resident said, ?What has happened is surely a cause for concern. But it is too early to predict the ramifications. It may be noted that the issue began when the ASI refused to process an NOC owing its failure to mark the boundary of the protected site in the range of 300 metres. This led to massive agitations among the locals. Following the directions of the Madras High Court, a joint survey was conducted to earmark the boundaries in 2017. Under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010, ASI’s approval is mandatory for construction of building activity between 100 metre and 300 metres. During a trial excavation on the foothills of the Parivettumalai hillock at Zamin Pallavaram, archaeologists chanced upon the rim of the sarcophagus at a depth of two feet under the surface. Further exploration led to the discovery of the terracotta coffin. Though the artefact was covered with redware lid, it was damaged by boulders which might have rolled down the hillock due to soil erosion. The piece is 5.6 feet long and 1.5 feet wide, with a depth of 1.64 feet, it is learnt.

- https://www.newstodaynet.com/chennai/asis-excavation-rattles-at-pallavaram-in-suburb-106689.html, July 6, 2018

Secunderabad, Hyderabad iconic clock towers run no more

Time stands still in the iconic clock towers of Secunderabad and Hyderabad, which once hosted many struggles and protests under it. They are now in a state of neglect. There are many popular clock towers in the various busy spots of the city such as Mozamjahi market, Mahbub Chowk, Chowmahalla Palace, Shahalibanda, and Charminar and others, but only some of them are working. Till date, there is no official survey on the number of clock towers with the government, except the verbal inputs from the concerned local authorities. Some clock towers are being encroached upon too. The clock tower at Shalibanda on the premises of Raja Rai Ram temple is encroached upon by a private individual who built a house near the tower blocking the view. Mohan Guruswamy, a resident of Yapral, speaking about the Secunderabad Clock Tower said, “The Telangana movement started in that Clock Tower ground in 1969 and now the Clock Tower doesn't work. It needs proper maintenance in order to work, regular care should be taken, without which how will it work, he said. K. Srinivasa Rao, director of planning and heritage, GHMC, said that, “Most of these clock towers needs regular maintenance as the pigeons keep entering the tower and disturbing the machinery. Only a skilled person can repair it. The battery operated Clock Tower in Secunderabad has some problem regarding wire connectivity.” The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, which maintains most of the clocks towers in the city, is also in a dilemma, whether to replace the age-old mechanised system that exists in many clock towers or to repair it and continue with the same model. Mohammed Musharraf Ali Faruqui, additional commissioner of the GHMC, who is in charge of the city's heritage, said “We will take up the work of all the clock towers in the city at the earliest. “We are looking for skilled people who can repair these clocks and there are not many in this area. There was a proposal to replace the clocks with computerised system, but we dropped it,” he said. The additional commissioner said, “We need to take a decision on this issue at the earliest. We have recently finalised a design for Mozamjahi market and we are looking one for Murgi Chowk too,” Mr Faruqui said. Anuradha, convener of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, Hyderabad, said, “Clock towers are one of the diversified heritage wealth that the city has. It is mandatory that every government has to maintain it and pass on to the next generation. It is the way of informing the time and date to the public.” “Even though people have their mobile phones, many still haven’t stopped using watches. These clock towers are the convenience that is immediately available to the people and it should be conserved as a memory of a time when watches were not common. Now, because of these Metro pillars, one has to bend to see the clock towers,” she said.

- https://deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/090718/secunderabad-hyderabad-iconic-clock-towers-run-no-more.html, July 9, 2018

INTACH Heritage quiz evokes good response

The heritage quiz 2018 conducted by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) East Godavari chapter at Municipal high school Gandhinagar here on Sunday received a good response with as many as 102 teams from seventeen schools participating with much enthusiasm. Inaugurating the programme as the chief guest, City Mayor Sunkara Pavani has appreciated the efforts of INTACH for creating awareness among the young minds on the need for preserving the great heritage and culture. Lakkaraju Seshukumari secretary of the Chapter said that they had conducted the quiz simultaneously at Rajahmundry, Tuni and Amalapuram. She said that St Anthony’s school team had secured the first place and qualified for participating in the state finals scheduled to be held at Vijayawada during September. The second place was scored by Vidyanjali School.

- http://www.uniindia.com/~/intach-heritage-quiz-evokes-good-response/States/news/1283237.html, July 9, 2018

ASI excavates temple tank at Hampi

A ‘pushkarni’ (temple tank) was excavated on the premises of the Virupaksha temple at Hampi in the taluk on Sunday. The tank, of medium size, has ornate carvings on the rocks on all its sides. There is a Nandi figurine on one side, with steps to climb down into the temple tank on the other side. The tank was discovered while leveling the ground and laying stone slabs are demolishing the tourist accommodation rooms. As the digging continued at the spot, the temple tank came up, a junior conservation officer of the Archaeological Survey of India told DH. Various construction works are being undertaken at the below-ground-level Shiva temple and the Virupaksha temple. The officer said an ancient pipeline system dating back to the Vijayanagara era was discovered near the queen’s bathing house in the heritage city some time ago.

- https://www.deccanherald.com/state/districts/asi-excavates-temple-tank-679888.html, July 9, 2018

Darjeeling monastery relics hit by 2011 quake restored

Darjeeling: It has taken four months of meticulous work to complete restoration of the over-100-year-old Mag Dhog Buddhist monastery in Darjeeling that was damaged in the 2011 earthquake. The monastery under the Yolmo community is at Aloobari, around 2.5km from Chowrasta, and is run by Yolmowa Buddhist Association (YBA). With pine trees above and tea gardens below, it is ideal for meditation and prayer. The monastery was founded by head priest Sangay Lama, who was from Helambu (land of the Yolmos) in Nepal. Its construction coincided with the beginning of World War I in 1914. It was thus named Mag Dhog (warding off the war) and was dedicated to world peace. However, the monastery suffered during the 1934, 1986 and 2011 quakes. Several 19th-century manuscripts and idols too were damaged in 2011. That is when Intach (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) stepped in. A team of restorers under Intach has been on campus since March. “The monastery has several items of spiritual value from 19th century,” said G M Kapur, convener (West Bengal and Calcutta) Intach. In Phase I, Intach has restored manuscripts such as Gyetongba, which is written in gold, and Kagyur (tripitika), which are Buddha’s oral teachings. About 156 other manuscripts, 21 wooden masks, 137 wooden plaques and four mud idols have also been restored since March. “In Phase II, we will restore thankas, murals, musical instruments and other relics,” Kapur said. Nayantara Palchoudhuri, co-convener of Intach (Bengal), said it would be difficult to find experts to restore the interior murals. “The monastery has changed a lot in the five years since I first came here. The murals on the inside are herbal-painted with intricacy and are over 100 years old. It will be quite a task to restore them as they depict life and afterlife,” she said. Special cabinets have been made to avert wear and tear using chemical fumigation. “Restoration ended four months back but we will visit annually to see how things are preserved,” Palchoudhuri said. Head monk Phurba Thinley said: “We are thankful to Intach for its support.”

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/darjeeling-monastery-relics-hit-by-2011-quake-restored/articleshow/64938772.cms, July 10, 2018

Nicholson Cemetery: To restore Colonial-era cemetery, officials look abroad for some help

Mary Mole, almost 40 then, died during childbirth on December 18, 1868. Her nameless infant was buried next to her a day later. Chickoo and Sullu — who died 11 years apart — too are buried together, and a few metres away lies Grace Parshad, “who gave so much and asked for so little.” At Delhi’s Nicholson Cemetery, the last resting place of colonial-era soldiers and civilians, a number of stories from the late 19th and early 20th century are etched in stone. The Delhi Chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) is now attempting to document the stories of these soldiers and restore the cemetery, located at Kashmere Gate. “We are preparing a detailed project report (DPR) which is being funded by British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia (BACSA)…which will then raise funds for the project. This is Phase I; if we are able to raise enough money, we will begin landscaping, cleaning, and restoring the tombstones which are now damaged,” said Ajay Kumar, projects director, INTACH-Delhi. Nicholson Cemetery was established after the Revolt of 1857 and is named after Brigadier-General John Nicholson, who played a crucial role in containing the revolt. His grave is at the entrance and is protected by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The cemetery is taken care of by three housekeepers, one of whom exclusively looks after Nicholson’s grave. With wild grass growing from in between cracked tombstones and dried flowers next to graves which have not been visited in decades — the cemetery appears to be in a dire need of a facelift. “It’s a resting place of the dead, not a picnic spot. A modest facelift will increase the sanctity of the cemetery where apart from slain soldiers of the Revolt of 1857, 19th century mathematician Ramchandra and Belgian Hindi scholar Father Camille Bulcke are also buried,” said Eugene Ratnam, member of Delhi Cemeteries Committee which looks after the Nicholson Cemetery. He added that the Delhi Cemetries Committee would not be raising funds for the project “because it’s beyond our scope”. Kumar, too, believes that “funds can be raised in the UK by BACSA… as mostly British soldiers are buried whose families left India long ago,” adding, “the connect is low in India but money can be raised from outside.” Among the graves of soldiers and young mothers, one is that of Alice Mary, who died young. It read: “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for such is the kingdom of heaven.” “It’s important to preserve the cemetery from a historical perspective and also because it has an aesthetic appeal… and it can be turned into a green space. Most importantly, it’s a study in social history; these gravestones tell you how many British soldiers died young in the 19th century,” said Swapna Liddle, convener of INTACH-Delhi.

- https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/nicholson-cemetery-to-restore-colonial-era-cemetery-officials-look-abroad-for-some-help-5254244/, July 10, 2018

Time to explore Gurugram’s historical zones to boost heritage tourism

Sandwiched between the grand history of Delhi and the rich repository of Rajasthan’s heritage, it is difficult for people to imagine that the millennium city of Gurugram could have any comparable cities or monuments in its own immediate surroundings that could potentially be developed for heritage tourism. Residents of Gurugram have limited weekend options, except for driving to nearby states or venturing to a few nature outlets which are limited in tourist facilities. How about taking another look at the historic cities around Gurugram? Do we have any tangible remains to recreate the ambience of the bygone era? Can we create a meaningful, sustainable heritage tourism model with our leftover monuments that will take us beyond the ‘mall mentality’ or ‘reconstructed experiences such as the Kingdom of Dreams’ to a more authentic and meaningful experience? The Haryana region has served as a battlefield in India’s history with destruction of major towns and villages; the last substantial damage caused during the first battle for independence in 1857. The few old remains around Gurugram are either scattered as isolated monuments or subsequently demolished with increasing urbanisation. Maybe it’s time to look at these various scattered parts of our history and consider the possibility of experiencing them as a more cohesive narrative of the region. We can list five interesting historical zones to be explored from various phases of history at a distance of 30-45 minutes’ drive from Gurugram within the Gurgaon district that can work as a small heritage tourist circuit for residents and visitors: Sindhu Saraswati (Indus Valley ) and Buddhist period towns: Gurugram as Dronacharya’s village and the Indus valley period settlements of Dhankot , Sayid and later Atta, located within 11km of the city, definitely call for an interpretation centre that talks about Gurugram’s origin, Sayid as Guru’s residential place and Dhankot as the place from where milk was supplied in that period. Besides stories from the Mahabharata, it can showcase the painted greyware, Buddhist relics and Jain and Gurjara Pratihara period remains found during excavations in these areas. Medieval period Sohna: The seat of Kambohs, Khanzadas, Mughals, Jats and British since the 12th century, this town has magnificent monuments and tombs from medieval layers of history along with a picturesque fort bastion on the Aravalli hill top. Besides the famous Sulphur Springs, it was visited by Mughal emperor Akbar and was a popular tourist destination with the British. The town can have its own heritage walks and trails narrating its glorious history with visits to some of the most magnificent Sultanate and Mughal period monuments in the Gurugram district. Farrukhnagar and 1857: A beautiful 18th century octagonal walled town, intact with most of the original gates, Sheeshmahal, Havelis and Bazaar Street, replete with the art of Moorah making, painted chatris and Gol baoli; this is where one can experience a complete settlement as it existed in 18th century founded by the Baluch Chief Faujdar Khan under Emperor Farrukhsiyar. It also played an important role in the Revolt of 1857. INTACH Gurugram Chapter has conducted several heritage walks for this town. And Atul Dev, convener of the Gurugram Chapter is scheduling more heritage walks in 2018. Riyasat town of Pataudi: Founded by the Nawabi chieftain Pata, the town has interesting historic structures dating back to 19th-20th century. The most magnificent masterpiece is the lavish Nawab Pataudi Palace built in 1934. It was designed by British architect Robert Tor Russell with able assistance from Austrian architect Karl Molt von Heinz. Currently being renovated under the present nawab and actor, Saif Ali Khan Pataudi, it is proposed to function as an exclusive Heritage Hotel under the Neemrana Group. Badshahpur-Jharsa and Colonial period Gurugram: Linked to Begum Samru and British Cantonment settlement with Sadar Bazar, churches and Civil Lines bungalows, this section of the historical remains can provide a narrative of colonial and post-colonial history, including the later period when the town became an industrial hub. Collectively, the historic towns and remains around Gurugram present a wide range of heritage, ranging from the ancient to Sultanate, Mughal, Rajput and colonial periods. The protection, thematic organisation and promotion of this cultural heritage could contribute significantly to heritage tourism in the city, besides boosting local economy by creating new employment opportunities for them. This initiative requires strong public and private sector participation and, considering the presence of major businesses in the city, government can channelise some CSR (corporate social responsibility) funds into planned heritage development. While NGOs such as INTACH are promoting awareness through listing, conservation and heritage walks, the work needs to be supplemented with heritage infrastructure and tourist facilities. A collective heritage circuit with signages, interactive interpretation and basic facilities can present a unique experience to the residents and visitors to the city. (Shikha Jain is state convenor, INTACH Haryana Chapter and member of Heritage Committees under ministries of culture and HRD. She is co­¬editor of book ‘Haryana: Cultural Heritage Guide’; director, DRONAH (Development and Research Organisation.)

- https://www.hindustantimes.com/opinion/time-to-explore-gurugram-s-historical-zones-to-boost-heritage-tourism/story-dWWRh4Uu1gtzND1jHnowrI.html, July 10, 2018

Tree Plantation Program jointly conducted by INTACH Chandrapur Chapter and Shashwat Home Stay at Junona Village

INTACH Chandrapur Chapter, July 1, 2018: In the wake of the State Government's resolution initiated by the Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar to plant 13 crore trees across the state, INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) Chandrapur Chapter and Shashwat Home Stay jointly conducted Tree Plantation Programme at Junona village under the guidance of Shri Ashok Singh Thakur, Convener, INTACH Chandrapur Chapter on July 1, 2018. As many as 50 to 60 saplings of Java plum, Ficus, Banyan, Gulmohar, Nilgiri, Mango, Karanji, Neem, Amla etc planted in the Junona village premise on the occasion. Pravin Nikhare, Co-Convener, INTACH Chandrapur Chapter and members Rohit Singh Thakur, Vijaykumar Dhande, Ashish Vyas and Nitin Hejib took efforts for the successful arrangement of the event.

- http://chapter.intach.org/pdf/Chapter-News-Chandrapur-1-07-18.pdf, July 10, 2018

First-ever metal craft exhibition inaugurated in Leh

With an aim to promote and preserve the metal craft tradition of Ladakh, the first-ever metal craft exhibition was held in Chilling village here. The maiden exhibition, organised by the Youth Association for Conservation and Development Hemis High Altitude National Park, in collaboration with Heritage Home Chilling, showcased the indigenous craft to the visitors. “I started this with the purpose of promoting and preservation of the metal craft of Ladakh. This village is famous for metal craft in Ladakh. In future, I want to promote metal craft and involve young generations in this village to continue this craft so that this identity will remain alive,” Founder of Heritage Home, Tsewang Tamchos, told ANI. Chilling is known for its metal craftwork, which began decades ago. However, the skill has not been imbibed by the youth in the region. The exhibition, therefore, aims to dissolve the reluctance of the youth towards this age-old craft. “Chilling village is famous for metal craft work, however, youth are reluctant to learn this skill. This exhibition will attract more visitors, thus encouraging the youth,” said Councillor Sonam Nurboo. The exhibition of this 400-year-old craft will remain open for the next two months. (ANI)

- http://www.india.com/news/agencies/first-ever-metal-craft-exhibition-inaugurated-in-leh-3159985/, July 11, 2018

120 sacred groves to conserve water

Sacred groves (kavus) have for centuries represented the best of community based conservation in the country. Now, in a unique eco restoration initiative, 120 new sacred groves will be set up in 42 wards covering three panchayats of Pulpally, Mullankolly and Poothadi in Wayanad. The project is part of an ongoing Rs 80-crore integrated project to combat drought and aridification in the Kerala- Karnataka border region. The project is being implemented by the department of soil survey and soil conservation with help of local bodies. Sacred groves render a variety of eco-system services — conservation of biodiversity, soil conservation, erosion control and water conservation.

Ninety of them will be set up this year itself in three panchayaths. The project, once realized, would become the largest cluster of kavus to come up anywhere in the state in modern times. The groves which will be set up over the past three years is estimated to cost Rs 30 lakh. An incentive of Rs 10,000 would be provided for each grove spread over 10 cents of land. An annual grant of Rs 5,000 each would be provided for the next three years for their upkeep. “Forty seedlings of around 15 indigenous plant and tree species normally found in sacred groves will be planted. The plot will also have a bio-fence,” said P U Das, district soil conservation officer, Wayanad. Das said that they are in the process of identifying spots for setting up the groves, mostly places of worship likes temples and churches.

Work on a sacred grove has already been started near the Seetha Devi temple at Pulpally. “It is a purely a secular initiative and people who do not want to attach religious connotation to it can consider it as creation of a bio-diversity rich forest fragment for community level conservation. Apart from places of worship we plan to promote establishment, schools and other available public or private land in the 42 wards identified in the three panchayats," he added.

-https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kozhikode/120-sacred-groves-to-conserve-water/articleshow/64955084.cms, July 12, 2018

Conservation of Amar Singh College, Srinagar

As part of the plan to set up modern educational institutions in J&K State during Dogra period (1846-1947), Amar Singh Technical Institute was established in 1911 AD. The institute started first in November 1913 as Amar Singh Technical Institute for teaching arts, skills like carpentry and masonry as also for teaching modern education. Subsequently this institute was upgraded as Amar Singh College in June 1942. However, it was formally opened by Maharaja Partap Singh on 29th May 1914. The college was lent staff and some other facilities by Sri Pratap College, Srinagar. The main building which was constructed during the Dogra period represents the colonial style of architecture in Kashmir. It had faced many inappropriate interventions which caused defacement to the entire building in terms of its original architectural style.

Also, in the devastating flood of September 2014, the building submerged and remained in flood-water for about two weeks which had amplified the dampness problems to the structure.

Soon after floods, the condition assessment of the entire structure was undertaken by INTACH and a detailed report was prepared wherein it was proposed to immediately address the issues and carry out an urgent and appropriate conservation programme for the building. The authorities commissioned INTACH to carry out further technical assessment of the structure and to prepare a conservation plan for the building. The plan was approved with the directions to start the conservation work immediately under the supervision of conservation expertise from INTACH.

The conservation of historic Amar Singh College Srinagar started from this year with a view to bring back the architectural glory of this unique heritage structure The conservation of Amar Singh College aims at retaining the original fabric of the historic structure, by strictly adhering to the conservation principles and methods which are universally recommended. The team of architects from INTACH is overseeing the ongoing conservation work under the supervision of lead conservation architect Ms. Saima Iqbal.

-http://chapter.intach.org/pdf/jkchapter-june18.pdf, July 13, 2018

INTACH celebrated Earth Day, organizes a visit to Dachigam National Park

INTACH Kashmir, in collaboration with the J&K Forest Department and Earth Day Network, organized a visit to the ‘Dachigam National Park’ on the eve of the Earth Day. During the visit, the environmentalists from the J&K Forest Department gave insightful information about the natural resources of Kashmir, and the different types of flora and fauna present in the Dachigam National Park.

They stressed upon the need to develop a sense of responsibility towards nature by planting trees, and not harming the animal species. The participants were keenly listening to the experts throughout the walk within the park. Many of them shared their first-time experience of visiting the Dachigam National Park. Speaking to INTACH, the participants expressed happiness about participating in such programmes, and stressed the need for such walks and visits to study nature.

-http://chapter.intach.org/pdf/jkchapter-june18.pdf, July 13, 2018

A Visit to SPS Museum, Srinagar

On the eve of International Museums Day 2018, and as a part of the week-long celebration of India’s Museums (13th -20th May 2018), INTACH Kashmir organized a visit to SPS Museum Srinagar on 16th May 2018, in collaboration with Sahapedia, for the students. There were 30 students from Government High School, Dab Ganderbal who participated in the event to explore the historic and rare collections of SPS Museum Srinagar.

The Curator SPS Museum briefed students about the historic collections museum and their significance in terms of representing the history, heritage and culture of the Valley. She gave details about initial years of the museum, wherefrom the collections were brought like the sculptures which were excavated from the ancient sites within Kashmir. There are different sections in the museum, each section is having different rare collections and at every object, there is a caption giving brief information about the objects.

The SPS Museum Srinagar was established in 1898 AD. Approximately 79,595 artifacts and objects covering various subjects like Archaeology, Numismatics, Decorative Art, Arms and Armory, Paintings, Textiles etc are housed in the Museum.

-http://chapter.intach.org/pdf/jkchapter-june18.pdf, July 13, 2018

Shireen Qalam - Exhibition-cum Workshop of old manuscripts, rare art objects & Islamic calligraphy 7-11 June

INTACH joined hands with the J&K Academy of Art, Culture & Languages, Directorate of Archives, Archaeology and Museums, Directorate of Tourism, Directorate of Libraries, Shasvat Art Gallery, Jammu, Peerzada Collection and Hakim Collection in organizing the event ‘Shireen Qalam’, an exhibition and display of rare Islamic manuscripts, calligraphies, paintings and other art objects The event was not confined to exhibit the government collections only, , but it invited private collectors of rare and old collections. During the exhibition, the collection of calligraphies on vellum owned by Shaswat Art Gallery, Jammu, the decedents of the royal jewelers of Dogra became a huge attraction for the visitors.

Shri Suresh Abrol, Director of the gallery mentioned that the collection was mainly built by his grandfather Lala Rekhi Ram Abrol. He was a jeweler in the court of Maharaja Hari Singh, the last Dogra ruler. He further stated that his father sought only one thing in inheritance — these ancient manuscripts and other collections. ‘We consider them our real inheritance,” he said. Apart from the exhibition of manuscripts and art objects, there was a workshop on Islamic calligraphy open for all who were interested to learn calligraphy.

J&K Academy of Art, Culture & Languages provided all needed support and made available the calligraphy teachers who exposed young participants to different techniques in the art of calligraphy. The program was organized from 7th – 11th June, 2018 at Conference hall, TRC Srinagar. Many old manuscripts & calligraphy works were displayed at the exhibition. The exhibition offered a unique display of different types of rare Islamic manuscripts. One of them is ‘Majooma-IlmIkhlaq’, a nicely written manuscript in the Persian language in 1882 AD on ethics.

Another type of manuscript is ‘Sud Pand Luqman’ 100 tales from the wise prophet, Hakim Luqman, It is a Persian manuscript scribed by Peer Baksh of Punjab in Khate Nakhoon. This manuscript written in 1870 AD is highly ornamented with gold and the borders are decorated with pictures of animals and birds. The exhibition-cum-workshop was a huge success and a major public event.

-http://chapter.intach.org/pdf/jkchapter-june18.pdf, July 13, 2018

A walk through Srinagar's Shri Pratap museum featuring ancient Durga idol once stolen from Valley

The Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir has been ruled by several kings and one of the key places to relive that is Srinagar's Shri Pratap museum. The museum is one of the oldest in India and was built by Maharaja Pratap Singh in 1889. The Museum has recently been in the news after Hindu Goddess Durga's idol was brought back from Germany by Indian authorities and placed at the museum. The idol was stolen from the valley and traced in Linden Museum in Germany.

It was handed over by visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Prime Minister Narendra Modi after their talks on October 6, 2015, in New Delhi. Iqbal Ahmad, the Assistant Curator at the museum says that "the idol of goddess Durga travelled to Germany and was handed over to the government of India by the German chancellor." The idol was stolen from a temple at Pulwama in south Kashmir in the 1990s. It was in 2012 that Indian government traced this idol in Linden Museum, Stuttgart in Germany following they approached the German authorities. The museum authorities date the idol back to the 8th century AD when the sculpture art flourished in the valley. After the 8th century, the sculpture art flourished in Kashmir which was mainly influenced by Gandhara and Gupta school of art.

The museum was ruined by the 2014 floods but most of the artefacts and objects were saved. Not only does the museum contains several sculptures and idols of Hindu gods and goddesses but also displays abundant antique objects from Baltistan, Gilgit, and from different corners of Kashmir. Munir-Ul-Islam, Director, Archives, Archaeology & Museums says that the museum is among the oldest in the country. "This museum is 4th or 5th in India with the large collection of coins. We have 70 thousand coins, right from the inception of coins in the human history," he says. Currently, there are fewer tourists visiting the museum but it continues to remain a reminder of the glorious past of the valley of Kashmir where every ruler made his mark from Mughals to Dogras.

-http://zeenews.india.com/jammu-and-kashmir/jk-ancient-durga-idol-stolen-from-valley-makes-way-back-home-2124200.html, July 13, 2018

Grandeur of Saif Gulshan lingers on 106 years later

The erstwhile Hyderabad state had the largest army in the country, and what is now the Sarojini Devi Eye Hospital was the first hospital for the Army here. The First Lancers of the Hyderabad Army at Asafnagar is still being maintained in its original condition. All of this was originally part of the Golconda Fort and, not surprisingly, there are two Qutb Shahi-era tombs within this area. The Nizam had great respect for the army. Saif Gulshan was the residence of Sultan Saleh bin Ghalib al Quaiti, Nawab Saif Nawaz Jung, a prominent noble in the Nizam’s court. Constructed in 1912 it has a mixture of European and Qutb Shahi styles. This residence is being maintained in pristine condition and is used as an Army mess. The building has an elevated basement, which seemed to be in style those days. It has been built with great care, leaving a lot of open space, both in the front and at the sides. A well on one side of the house must have been the water source and it must have been an open and beautiful structure. There are many jharokas and the first floor has rooms. The terrace is covered by a low-tiled roof, which is supported on wooden posts. The beautiful facade of the building has been well-maintained by the Army. A lot of wood, stained glass and stucco work has been used in the building, which has verandas on three sides, each one ending in a room. The windows look out to this narrow veranda, which has exquisite tiled flooring. The veranda has Gothic arches and since the entire building is on an elevation, it looks imposing. European influences and Indian elements blend wonderfully well in the building. There is another impressive building about a 100 yards away. This too was connected to the army and officials must have lived here. Or it could have been a zanana. Smaller in size, that building is surrounded by wooden eaved projections with windows on all sides. There are four rooms with one in each corner and in those days the centre used to be a courtyard, open to the sky. It is now covered and is like a big hall. In 2012, the building bagged an Intach award. According to the citation, Awadh bin Abdullah, the founder of the al Quaiti clan, was the first to travel to India in the last quarter of the 18th century. During his brief stay in the country, Awadh is said to have served the Nizam during the Second Mysore War. His son Omar migrated to India in the early 19th century and after a brief stint with the Raja of Nagpur, ended up in Hyderabad as head of the Arab mercenaries who formed a bulk of the Nizam’s irregular troops. The main structure of the building is flanked on either side by projecting blocks. “The structure is flanked on either side by projecting blocks crowned with tiled pyramids lending majesty to the structure. The central portion is surmounted by a highly decorated pediment which bears the monogram of Saif Nawab Jung in stucco,” says the Intach citation. The interiors show that the building was well-planned, with huge arches and windows and doorways with stucco to highlight the structure. A lot of wood has been used and there is a wooden staircase leading to the first floor. Elegance and form are the highlights of this building. This building stands along with the other smaller building in the midst of a forest and a fountain, while a road nearby brings in the sound of traffic. Well-kept and still maintained in its original form of limestone and brick, with a little bit of granite, the Army must be lauded for the care it has invested in maintaining this landmark building.

- https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/150718/grandeur-of-saif-gulshan-lingers-on-106-years-later.html, July 16, 2018

Walkway into Ahom tomb

Visitors can for the first time witness the interiors of one of the tombs where Ahom kings and queens were buried at Charaideo Maidam in Sivasagar district. Charaideo Maidam, which has been on the tentative list of the Unesco World Heritage Site since 2014, is often compared to the pyramids in Egypt because of the similar fashion of burying royals in tombs. The maidam no. 2 was excavated between 2000 and 2002 by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). But the lack of protective measures had left the mound exposed to the weather and flooding. But the ASI recently completed building retaining walls to protect the tomb and built a walkway through which visitors can enter maidam no. 2. An underground drain has been constructed so that rainwater can seep inside to curb waterlogging. "This is the first time after excavation, visitors will be able to go inside maidam no. 2 and take a look around. The maidam is dome-shaped. It has been a while since ASI has been carrying out conservation at Charaideo Maidam. Owing to its historical importance, it is important for people go inside and witness the architectural marvels of the Ahoms," said K. Amarnath Ramakrishnan, superintending archaeologist, ASI Guwahati circle. Maidam no. 2 is the only excavated mound at the site. There are around 130 bigger and smaller mounds at Charaideo Maidam. The ASI is responsible for protecting four of the bigger mounds and the rest are being conserved by the state archaeology department. The rest of the mounds have not been excavated yet. The Ahom royals and noble people were buried in the mounds. "Maidam no. 2 has been unofficially inaugurated after the governor visited Charaideo and went inside. Under the dome, the inside of the maidam is rectangular. It is around 12-15 feet in length," said Bikas Das, an ASI officer in Sivasagar. Charaideo maidam is spread across 500 bighas. The Tai Ahom community reveres the monument owing to its religious and traditional lineage that dates back to more than 500 years. In 1844, one of the maidams was plundered during British rule. Two years later, Ahom king Purandar Singha decided to extract bones from one of the mounds to maintain the sanctity of the burial sites and preserve it for posterity. But the whereabouts of the extracted bones are not known.

- https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/north-east/walkway-into-ahom-tomb-245113, July 16, 2018

India Today Group starts campaign to save Taj Mahal

or close to 400 years Taj Mahal has been the symbol of love. Over the past many decades it has been the magnet for lovers of beauty world over. The numbers say it all: On high surge days nearly 70,000 tourists visit the ivory-white mausoleum. It is estimated that annually 80 lakh people come to see the monument. Of the close to Rs 100 crore the government earned from centrally protected monuments (in 2014-15), nearly 25 per cent came from Taj. But alas Taj Mahal may soon be history. No wonder earlier this month the Supreme Court asked the government to demolish the Taj Mahal if it couldn't protect and restore it. Years of general apathy has taken its toll on the monument. Pollution has yellowed its exterior walls. The 1,000-plus factories operating in the area are is the primary cause of worry. Thanks to the thousands visiting the mausoleum there is immense pressure on the sandstone. There have been instances of flaking, slabs cracking. Add to this our tendency to scribble graffiti and touch the marble leaving greasy marks; these need strong agents to clean leading to slow chemical decay. A polluted Yamuna hasn't helped matters. Sewers carrying effluents from the factories flow into the river. Dumping of garbage and smoke from cremations have added to the woes of Taj. Successive governments have failed in taking steps to save India's most famous monument. A lack of political will and general bureaucratic apathy have led to the slow decay of an architectural marvel. The Archaeological Survey of India, mandated with taking care of India's monuments, has taken sporadic restoration steps. These have included mud packs and use of chemicals to stop the decay. But the results have not been totally successful. It's here that India Today Group has decided to step in. One of India's premier media organisation has decided to step up to save the Unesco heritage site and India's only wonder of the world. Starting today (Tuesday, July 17) India Today TV will broadcast a seven-part series on how to save the Taj. The 30-minute programme will be aired at 6 pm. India Today Group's flagship magazine India Today will start a 12-part campaign with its issue dating July 30. India Today Group's fight to save the Taj is not just about protecting a medieval tomb from decay but restoring our cultural heritage for future generations. For many foreigners Taj Mahal is synonymous with India. The monument is an important marker in our development as a civilisation and India Today Group is stepping up to find innovative ways to save the monument of love for posterity.

- https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/north-east/walkway-into-ahom-tomb-245113, July 17, 2018

Shocking! No earthing system in Odisha capital temples

While the government is taking initiatives to preserve Odisha’s rich heritage and culture, not a single shrine in temple city Bhubaneswar has lightning arrester earthing system except Lingaraj temple. Amidst several casualties in lightning strike reported from across the state, the ancient temples describing the rich art and culture of Odisha are existing without having safety system. According to Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), there are 11 temples in Bhubaneswar under Odisha State Archaeology, 23 under Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and six heritage places in the city. Except Lingaraj temple, there is no earthing system in other ancient temples in Bhubaneswar. Even as the ASI and State archeology department are spending crores for safety, preservation and maintenance of the temples, the ancient heritage is likely to be destroyed as there is no earthing system installed in the temples so far. However, the Lingaraj temple, which is only shrine with earthing system, is not safe from the lightning strike. Source said that the earthing system in Lord Shiva temple lies incomplete. Although, the earthing wire covers entire temple, it is not connected to the main earthing on the ground. As the wire is disconnected with main earthing due to floor work of temple in the past one and half year, the shrine is prone to lightning strike, alleged the servitors. However, the temple will have advanced earthing system to arrest the lightning, the ASI source said. A special power station machine will be installed in the temple’s top and base to examine the functioning of earthing. Later, new earthing will be installed in the temple, he added. Meanwhile, the condition of other centuries old temples including Bhaskareswar, Kapileswar, Brahmeswar, Nabakeswar, Rameswar, Megheswar, Bakreswar, Boital, Chitrakarini, Sisireswar, Mukteswar, Parashurameswar, Rajarani, Sidheswar, Tirtheswar, Ekamreswar, Taleswar, Bhabani Shankar in Old Town area and nine temples on premises of Lingaraj temple remains similar. As there is no earthing system in these above temples, they are likely to be more affected by lightning.

- http://odishasuntimes.com/shocking-no-earthing-system-in-odisha-capital-temples/, July 18, 2018

Princess diaries

A former shooter and now an author, Rajyashree Kumari, princess of Bikaner, dons many hats. From being a staunch supporter of preserving heritage properties to being a life member of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, and an active member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), she definitely has her hands full. In 1969, Kumari then seven, won the National Air Rifle Championship followed by the Arjuna Award. Modest as she is, Kumari finds the attention given to her childhood quite unnecessary. However, she adds, "Shooting came very normally to me as our ancestors were all hunters and shooters. My father was really good at shooting and he started teaching me from a very young age and that’s how it all began.” Just as shooting was something passed on by her ancestors, her love for books was imbibed from reading the tomes on history, tradition and the many books and written accounts pertaining to the period of her grand and great-grandfather that were at home. “But nothing was kept in an organised manner, they were all kept in a dusty store until my father decided to put them in order. At that time I was in college and he would ask me to help him.

Thus, started the process of categorising all the different files according to the periods. And there was a huge amount of information for someone who wanted to learn," she shares. Kumari’s first book The Lallgarh Palace — Home of the Maharajas of Bikaner was a piece of cake as accessing the archives was pretty simple. “By that time the archive was nicely organised and information was mostly available within the palace. I did very little research outside the walls of the palace."

Talking about her book Palace of Clouds that was recently unveiled by Maharaja Gai Singh of Jodhpur, the 59-year-old says, "It is a logical progression from my previous two books — the first one was about the palace and the families of the five generations who lived there, the second was about the Maharajas of Bikaner — the content was all there, it just needed to be tied up with me, becoming a contemporary representative of theirs. I would say the book is semi-autobiographical taking information from previous two books and linking up with this one,” she adds. Kumari feels a strong sense of duty to her ancestry. “I try and keep the history alive through looking into various heritage properties and various trusts that my father has created. And also through these books. In my own way, it is a way of paying tribute to my ancestors.” After three books, is she planning to pen a fourth? “Right now I’m completely exhausted. I won’t be able to write a letter if you ask me,” she laughs, adding, “But I suppose, when the first book is out of print then maybe I will revive it. And instead of making it just about the palace, I might work on palaces and forts of Bikaner and make it into a coffee table book."

-http://www.asianage.com/life/more-features/190718/princess-diaries.html, July 19, 2018

Planning for Madras Week begins in right earnest

The organising committee of the Madras Week 2018 is inviting individuals, groups and institutions to be a part of the event, to be held in August. “We want people from all parts of Madras [Chennai] to participate. Those who have old photos and things that relate to old Madras can start an activity in their respective areas and we will guide them,” said Vincent D’Souza, Editor, Mylapore Times. The organisers said that participation is a purely voluntary effort by those wanting to organise programmes during the week. Madras Week will be held between August 19 and 26. This year, city hotels will once again be enthusiastic participants. Some will be venues for talks, while others will host art and photographic exhibitions, besides organising other festivals. Art galleries have also taken to this event in a big way. And so have diplomatic missions and their cultural centres. Senior journalist Sushila Ravindranath said, “When we first started we went around asking hotels for space. But now they come and ask us what we have planned and support us." Battle re-enactment
Colours of Glory Foundation is organising a pictorial exhibition on the military history and a battle re-enactment. “The re-enactment, being staged by the NCC cadets attired in period costumes, is that of the Battle of Colachel (August 10, 1741) between a Dutch East India Company force and the Travancore Army, resulting in the Dutch being trounced, the first and only instance of a native Indian force decisively defeating a European one,” said Capt D.P. Ramachandran, founder and managing trustee of the Foundation.

Govt. participation
Writer-historian V. Sriram recalled how the government acknowledged the Madras Week last year. He said that it would be good if it collaborated with the organisers and held some activities this year. Several IT companies that organised programmes last year are planning to do more this year. As are several social and sports clubs, Rotary Club, and cultural centres. A special effort is being made to host events in Tamil as well. Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Chennai Chapter is organising walks, exhibitions, awareness programmes, and workshops to create awareness of the city’s tangible and intangible heritage. Those who are planning events are requested to send in details by email to editor@madrasmusings.com and to themadrasday@gmail.com. Details received will be put up on the website.

-https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/planning-for-madras-week-begins-in-right-earnest/article24465937.ece, July 20, 2018

A Stone That Sings? 2500-Year-Old ‘Ringing’ Rock Discovered Near Krishnagiri!

Did you know that rocks could compose melodious and soothing musical notes? Interestingly, Lithophones have been around since the dawn of human civilisation, and the oldest known specimen is from the Devonian Age, 350 million years ago! Closer home, ancient Indians were considered musical connoisseurs for their esoteric implementation of man-made Lithophones as an architectural element. The best examples of this include the Nellaiappar temple (8th century) in Tirunelveli, Vijaya Vittala temple (15th century) in Hampi, Madurai Meenakshi temple (16th century) and Suchindram Thanumalayan temple (17th century); all of which have musical pillars. However, the discovery of a 2,500-year-old lithophone in Anjetti, an isolated village in Krishnagiri district opens up a whole lot of mysteries! The ‘ringing’ stone which is 3¾feet long, four feet wide and about 2¾ft tall, was discovered by a team of hero stone experts comprising Sugavana Murugan, K Parandhaman and S Anbarasu from Krishnagiri District Historical Research Centre (KDHRC). The team found that the ancient rock had 98 cupules that made ringing sounds upon being struck.

“The sound was similar to the one when two metals are struck. The ringing ability of the rocks is due to its acoustic nature,” said Murugan, who had previously documented hero stones in Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri, to The Times of India. Cupules are circular man-made hollows on the surface of a rock or a rock slab as defined by archaeologists. To this date, it has not been understood why ancient man created such depressions. “Perhaps they were somehow related to mother goddesses of the now-defunct fertility cult of the ancient people, for whom megaliths were temples apart from burials or memorials.

If that is the case, chances are this may be a female or goddess stone. The engravings seem to indicate that it may belong to a period prior to the Iron Age or Chalcolithic period,” said Subhashis Das, Kolkata-based senior labyrinth expert. According to Srikumar Menon of Bengaluru’s National Institute of Science, this is an important discovery from the Megalithic era. The team intends to study the area further with the help of carbon dating, as many megalithic monuments, dolmens, cairn circles as well as a ruined labyrinth have been unearthed in abundance in Anjetti.

-https://www.thebetterindia.com/151520/news-2500-year-old-lithophone-anjetti-krishnagiri/, July 20, 2018

Mumbai: 10 Rajasthani sculptors toil to restore CSMT glory, Rlys spends Rs 40 crore

TWO years ago, when Maan Singh, from Chittor in Rajasthan, visited Mumbai for a masonry job, little did he know that he would eventually be rebuilding ancient gargoyles and carvings on the UNESCO-recognised World Heritage Site of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT). Along with nine colleagues, Singh has restored carvings on the southern facade of the building and is slowly working to finish restoration of the remaining sculptures.

In an effort to restore the heritage look of the building, the Central Railway brought in special masonry artists from Rajasthan who are skilled in stone carving work. The artists are tasked with replicating carvings or balusters that have cracked or have turned pale over the years.

The railways is spending close to Rs 40 crore only on this heritage restoration of CSMT. “In 2016, I had come to CSMT to meet a friend who was going to offer me work. At CSMT, I was fascinated to see the ancient carvings and the Gothic artwork. Being a stone sculptor, I sought a meeting with the railway engineer to ask if the building required any work. The engineer noted down my details and called me back in a couple of months,” Singh said. While the Central Railway had conducted repairs and restoration work of the building before, they had received flak for failing to match the standards of the original carvings and stone sculptures.

There were also errors in the sizes of the grotesques that had been replaced. After heritage consultant Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) suggested ways to rehabilitate the original heritage features of the building, the railways emphasised on using original material. “We are using the original stone — carbon stone from Porbander — and replicating the work in the exact way it was originally built. As per the instructions given by railway engineers about the measurements and details, we are carving the replicas,” Maan Singh said. The artists have rebuilt some of the damaged balusters on platform number one of the station. They are in the process of rebuilding a damaged foliage that has an owl carving.

“We are not at all rushing with the work. As it has to be neatly done, we are taking our own time,” Bahadur Singh said. While the team has rebuilt most part of the baluster pillar, they are yet to start on the owl. “Remaking the owl will be very challenging. There are so many layers to the animal in the original structure that we will require days to complete it,” Maan Singh said. The work is expected to be complete only around December. The same team has earlier participated in the stone work at five-star hotels including one in Agra.

In Chittor, Maan Singh works with 15 mason artists who have all had over a decade’s experience. Unlike before, where they would work in their workshop in Rajasthan and bring the repaired structures to the location of installation, they now prefer to work in Mumbai. “We prefer working close to CSMT building as it is easier to get a reference of the things we are rebuilding. While I have seen most of Mumbai, my boys are yet to explore. They have only been to the Gateway of India,” Maan Singh said.

The team is in awe of the heritage building of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya in Fort and are hopeful to get a chance to work on its restoration some day. “The English were farsighted and gave us some of these amazing buildings. It is difficult to match up to their creativity,” another mason, Amar Singh, said.

-https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/mumbai-10-rajasthani-sculptors-toil-to-restore-csmt-glory-rlys-spends-rs-40-crore-5272280/, July 24, 2018

These Museums Are Bringing India’s Natural Heritage To Life

The word ‘museum’ evokes mental images of cavernous old buildings with musty relics and the smell of formaldehyde. But that might be a thing of the past. Museums are today modernising themselves, choosing unusual venues, setting up interactive displays, and relying on technology to woo visitors of all ages. This trend is most visible in natural science museums, where the focus is not just on curating collections, but also on encouraging the public to actively engage with the exhibits, and fueling conversations around our relationship with our environment. Here are some unique museums that are trying to do just that.

India’s First Biodiversity Museum, Kerala
Spread across 5000 square feet of the Vallakadavu Boat Jetty in Kerala is India’s first biodiversity museum. Interactive kiosks, dioramas, and a 3D theatre showcase the state’s botanical and biological diversity, from its wildlife to varieties of rice. Visitors can also experience Kerala’s first (and India’s third) Science on a Sphere (SOS) system. This room-sized, global display system uses a six-foot diameter sphere on which multimedia projections simulate Earth’s imagery. Using real-time, around-the-world data that is directly linked from NASA, animated images of complex climate and biodiversity patterns are made intuitively easy to understand for even the youngest museum-goers. The aim of the biodiversity museum is to create awareness around the environment and how people can do their part to preserve it. The project is helmed by the Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB) in collaboration with other state government agencies.

200-year-old Haryana Fort Turns Museum
The once-crumbling Morni Fort in Morni Hills, Haryana was chosen for a new purpose. It is now home to the Natural Museum and Learning Centre. The fort went through extensive refurbishment in 2017 to exhibit the state’s rich eco-diversity through caves, murals, and 3D wall sculptures, all carefully crafted by master modellers and artists brought in from around the country. The Morni Fort Museum has three segments: one is about Haryana’s abundant flora and fauna; another is dedicated to the state’s efforts in forest and wildlife conservation; and the third depicts natural disasters and man-made hazards that are threatening the region’s and the planet’s sensitive ecological balance.

India’s First Marine Mammal Museum
The first phase of the Coastal and Marine Biodiversity Centre in Navi Mumbai, launched last year, is dedicated to coastal biodiversity including wetlands and mangroves. Its second, soon-to-be launched phase will focus on marine biodiversity, including India’s first ‘Giants of the Sea’ museum, which will be wholly dedicated to marine mammals. The latter will be a dream come true for anyone who is fascinated by the beautiful creatures of the deep. The museum will feature skeletal remains of sea mammals that have beached or washed up across different Maharashtra coasts over the last few years.

These include a 40-foot-long male Bryde’s whale, a 25-foot-long male Sperm whale, as well as Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphins and finless porpoises. The marine mammals were buried on the beaches where they were found, and once the carcasses decomposed, the skeletons were carefully removed, preserved, and transported to the museum for display.

Also proposed at the museum are live fabricated models of these marine mammals, plus educational information on their lifestyles and habitats, as well as instances of beaching and rescue operations to save them. As part of the CMCB, a museum dedicated to turtles–reportedly being built in the shape of a turtle–is also underway. Other proposed museums include Meghalaya’s Rain Museum, which will display scientific research on record-breaking rainfall patterns in the Cherrapunji region; and a floating museum on the river Ganga to help raise awareness and conservation efforts of the river’s rich history and unique aquatic biodiversity.

-https://weather.com/en-IN/india/news/news/2018-07-23-india-biodiversity-museum-natural-heritage, July 24, 2018

Museum for PMs at Teen Murti Seen as Attempt by Modi Regime to 'Obliterate' Nehru

In a move seen by many, such as Jairam Ramesh of the Congress, as “diabolical” and “intended only to obliterate Jawaharlal Nehru”, the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) will on Thursday deliberate among other things, on the addition of a separate building on its premises at Teen Murti Bhavan to house a new ‘Museum for Prime Ministers’. Though the NMML is an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Culture and its premises belong to the Centre, its original mandate was to maintain a museum of Nehru’s memorabilia and safeguard personal objects pertaining to his life.

It has also been preserving various documents, photographs and memorabilia pertaining to India’s freedom movement. However, since the Narendra Modi government came to power, a concerted attempt has been made to dilute the institution’s mandate.

The exercise began in September 2015, when the culture minister questioned the manner of appointment of the then NMML director Mahesh Rangarajan by the previous UPA government. This had prompted Rangarajan to resign.

New director had served in RSS think-tank
For a year, the post of director remained vacant, until retired IAS officer Shakti Sinha was appointed. He had served in the Prime Minister’s Office under Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Sinha had also served as the director of India Foundation, a think tank aligned to the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS).

His candidature to the post evoked opposition. Executive council member Pratap Bhanu Mehta had resigned in protest, questioning Sinha’s suitability to the post. Another member, economist and former under secretary general of the United Nations, Nitin Desai, had also opposed shortlisting Sinha for the post. Soon after Sinha took charge, the idea of creating the Museum for Prime Ministers began taking shape. Its design is now learnt to have been finalised. The issue is whether NMML should honour only Nehru or other prime ministers as well.

Museum proposed through amendments in MoA
The changes are being ushered in through amendments to the memorandum of association (MoA) of the NMML. The executive council had last year noted that the proposed amendments would largely deal with the museum’s working – by allowing upgrading of existing galleries and showcasing Nehru in a different context in each of them.

But the major change that the amendment proposed pertained to setting up a Museum for Prime Ministers. Though Congress members Mallikarjun Kharge and Karan Singh had not opposed the idea of this museum last year, the party leaders have openly criticised the move over the past few months.

The executive council recently decided to amend the MoA and rules and regulation of the NMML society and also recommended that the larger society accept them in its next general meeting. The move was opposed by Jairam Ramesh, former INTACH Delhi chapter convenor and architect A.G.K. Menon and historian Nayanjyot Lahiri.

The annual general meeting of the society, due on Thursday, would take the issue up. According to an Economic Times report, Menon has excused himself from the AGM and had opposed the idea of the museum for PMs, citing heritage concerns. He had also called for a heritage assessment report before the design was finalised.

Ramesh and Kharge are now expected to vehemently oppose the move.
The news report noted that the council, while examining the issue, had considered the written views of Nitin Desai, who had said that Nehru “represents a link between the freedom struggle and early years of independence and that his contribution to our evolution as a nation is qualitatively different from that of his many successors.” Advocating the need to reject the proposed amendments, Desai had also demanded that Nehru’s successors be commemorated in a separate institutional context.

The other members had, however, supported the amendments. Preparation for museum is at advanced stage
The proposal for the museum is already at an advanced stage since Sinha had constituted an “in-house research team” to evaluate the suggestions made by a team of consultants from Delhi University and Benaras Hindu University for the museum. The team – Chandrachur Singh, Keshav Mishra and Swadesh Singh – is learnt to have already approached families of former prime ministers for identifying the visual and textual elements that would be displayed in the museum. Sinha told the Economic Times that the museum was being designed as a “temple of democracy” that would honour the PMs of the country.

“The Prime Minister of India has always played a predominant role in shaping the future of the country. It is different from other democracies. That will be reflected in the ethos of the museum,” he said. With much of the planning already in place, the museum may come up in about a year’s time if the proposal is passed.

-https://thewire.in/government/museum-for-pms-at-teen-murti-seen-as-attempt-by-modi-regime-to-obliterate-nehru, July 25, 2018

Mizoram: Vangchhia village marvel vie for UNESCO heritage tag

After Archeological Survey of India declared menhirs and megaliths of Vanchhia village in northeastern Mizoram as archeological site, INTACH Mizoram Chapter said that the historial site is under UNESCOs radar. “It is already determined that the menhirs and megaliths at Vangchhia village are 2400 years old, the historical place is now under the scanner of UNESCO, we hope that it will be declared World Heritage site in the near future,” P Rohmingthanga, Convener of Indian Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage, Mizoram Chapter said. P Rohmingthanga, a retired IAS officer first saw this site from a helicopter back in the 1970s and visited the place as soon as the village could be reached by road. Located close to the Myanmar border, the lush forested village of Vangchhia lies nestled in the Champhai-Farkawn mountain range of Mizoram’s Champhai district.

For years, hundreds of megalithic stone sentinels or menhirs have been guarding this little village. After several excavations as many as 20 cobbled stone structures, reminiscent of ancient graves, fragments of ancient charcoal and several organic remains were found and sent to specialized laboratories for radio carbon dating. A 200-meter long water pavilion, a stone structure similar to those found in Mughal cities that was probably used as an entertainment arena has been recently unearthed at Vangchhia.

Locals believe that a historic migration across the Chin Hills of Myanamar was documented for perpetuity in the mysterious engravings on these menhirs. There is even a local folk legend that Kawtchhuah Ropui is the entrance to a secret pathway that runs all the way to the Tiau river on the Indo-Myanmar border. Vangchhia is a small Mizo village with 153 houses, unknowing the historical values of what the local called as ‘lungphun’ (memorial stone erect) many menhirs and megaliths were destroyed during 1980s and 1990s. Carbon 14 dating has found that the site was built way back in 600 BC, ASI archeologists belives that this ancient settlement could well be over 40 kilometre radius town.

- https://nenow.in/north-east-news/mizoram-2400-year-old-vangchhia-menhirs-and-megaliths-vie-for-unesco-heritage-tag.html, July 25, 2018

Philately and wild India

Though the first postage stamp in India, known as ‘Scinde dawk’ came out in 1852, it took more than a century for wildlife to feature in a stamp. The honour went to the One-horned Rhinoceros, in 1962. However, in the next year, five stamps were brought out, depicting the Indian Gaur (10 paise), the Red Panda (15 paise), the Indian Elephant (30 paise), the Bengal Tiger (50 paise) and the Asiatic Lion (one rupee). The decision to bring out stamps on a particular subject is considered by the Philatelic Advisory Committee, consisting of some members of Parliament, philatelists and artists.

The Committee was active in the 1980s. Since then, it meets only spasmodically and seems to merely approve the list submitted by the Department of Posts. When a committee member proposes a stamp, it is usually for a personality. The final approval is given by the minister. Then the design is sent to the Security Press at Nashik where the stamps are printed in perforated sheets, ready to use. Countries all over the world issue two kinds of postal stamps. One is called ‘definitive series’, the printing of which is unlimited and is meant for day-to-day use. Stamps in this series, usually in monochrome, will be printed repeatedly.

For instance, the one rupee stamp featuring Mahatma Gandhi. Quite a few wildlife subjects have also appeared in definitive series like the 50 paise stamp of the Nilgiri Tahr, 3 rupee stamp of Otter as well as 5 rupee stamp of the strikingly elegant Paradise Flycatcher. The other type of stamp is the ‘commemorative stamp’ of which only a limited number is printed.

So collectors all over the world wait for these stamps of different subjects. The 1970s saw a wave of enthusiasm for wildlife sweeping across the country. George Schaller’s book The Deer and the Tiger came in 1967 as a wake-up call. Salim Ali’s books had popularised birding and E P Gee and M Krishnan were writing in dailies about wildlife. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s passion for the subject was reflected in the declaration of many new sanctuaries. The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 recognized the importance of wildlife.

In 1975, one of the best wildlife stamp series featuring the Indian Pitta, Black-headed Oriole, Western Dragoon, and Monal Pheasant was released. I remember the welcome it got from philatelists and birdwatchers. Next year, the Keoladeo Ghana National Park near Bharatpur and Jim Corbett’s centenary were memorialised through stamps. The quality and accuracy of details in the stamps depend a lot on the officer in charge of philately in the Postal Directorate at New Delhi.

If s/he was not interested in the subjects, the tendency was to depend completely on Government agencies like the Zoological Survey of India or the Botanical Survey of India who might not have any idea of philately or any stake in the quality of stamps. There were occasions, though rare, when India’s leading artistes were commissioned to give works for stamps. Pratibha Pande drew an elephant and a Gharial which figured in stamps issued in 1986. Ashwin Mehta, the famed photographer, supplied the material for four stamps of Himalayan flowers.

O T Ravindran, plant artiste, gave four of his drawings for the ‘orchid series’ released in 1991. In my view, these four stamps were the best in the category of Wildlife ever brought out in India. One issue pointed out by philatelists is that many stamps on wildlife do not bear the scientific name (in Latin). Not only is this an international convention, but it is crucial as a plant, tree or animal may be known by varied names in different parts of India.

For instance, the King Cobra stamp and the Pit Viper stamp brought out in 2003 did not bear the Latin names. Observers have pointed out that in India, there are far too many stamps on personalities. Though it is a country rich in biodiversity, heritage monuments and colourful costumes and presents many tempting subjects for stamps, these are not taken note of. Whenever a new political party comes to power, they introduce stamps featuring their leaders. Added to this, the policies governing stamp releases keep changing according to the minister.

In the last two decades, the standards of wildlife stamps have been rather poor. Take for example, the two stamps released in 2005 featuring the Takin and Clouded Leopard. The portrayal was shabby. So are the ones showing Lesser Florican and Manipur Bush Quail that came out in 2006. The series of stamps to mark biodiversity in 2010 are like match-box labels.

-https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/philately-and-wild-india-61239, July 25, 2018

Bringing Delhi’s dying lakes back to life may be a 3-idea dream

Considering the city’s poor record, the ambitious project of rejuvenating 200 waterbodies across the capital seems an uphill task. The work is still in the ideation phase and may take more than two years to come to fruition. DJB vice-chairman and MLA from Sangam Vihar, Dinesh Mohaniya, said that a consultant has been hired to make detailed plans for each of the 200 big and small waterbodies and village ponds after studying them on parameters like depth, drainage network in surrounding areas, siltation of the lake bed, etc. “The consultant, Wapcos (earlier known as Water and Power Consultancy Services), will submit its report in the next four months. Work will be carried out in phases and the first waterbody will take at least two years to get ready,” Mohaniya added. Experts said there were 607 active large waterbodies in 1991, but now there are only 480 with more and more either drying out or getting encroached every year. This is also contributing to Delhi’s water crisis.

Out of the 480 waterbodies, most are located in west Delhi, while the remaining are spread out in parts of south, southwest and north. Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), in its latest submission, highlighted that around 15% of the capital has groundwater 40 metres below ground level. Experts added that preserving waterbodies may be the key to recharging groundwater levels. Mohaniya said three models are being considered for bringing the dying lakes and ponds back to life. “Redesigning of slopes and drainage network surrounding the waterbodies will lead to natural revival by rain. For places closer to sewage treatment plants (STP), pipes will be laid to bring treated water to the lakes. This will also result in groundwater recharge.

Currently, water from STPs is released in drains,” he added. As per the third model, DJB is exploring at pumping excess water from Yamuna during monsoon upstream towards outer Delhi areas like Narela and Bawana to revive waterbodies there. National Green Tribunal (NGT) had earlier directed agencies to revive 33 waterbodies in Dwarka, an area known to suffer from water problems. Experts, however, said nothing has been done in the last two years despite repeated directions. Many redeveloped waterbodies near Aya Nagar and Najafgarh have turned into garbage dumps. “The most important component is participation of the community surrounding the waterbody. If people aren’t aware, own up and participate in rejuvenation, these waterbodies may also meet the same fate,” Mohaniya admitted. Some of the waterbodies identified by DJB for revival include village ponds in Ibrahimpur, Hastsal, Nangli Poona, Babarpur, Mukand Pur, Kamruddin Nagar, Majra Burari, Kamalpur and Bhalswa and Najafgarh Lake. Manu Bhatnagar of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach), who successfully worked on reviving the Hauz Khas Lake, said Delhi requires proper planning and utilisation of STPs to revive waterbodies and maintain them. The 15-acre lake that had gone dry around 1960 was revived by Intach using highly-treated sewage water from the Vasant Kunj STP. The revival led to return of aquatic birds and significant groundwater recharge.

“In the last 13 years, 1,500 million litres of water has been recharged by Hauz Khas Lake alone. Other waterbodies can serve the same purpose, but since natural sources of collecting water are reducing, STP water can be utilised for them,” Bhatnagar said. Other lakes have not been as lucky as the one in Hauz Khas. Bhalswa Lake — an oxbow lake on the Yamuna floodplain — is Delhi’s largest surviving one. While an arm of it became a part of the Bhalswa landfill, it continues to see inflow of sewage and waste from the nearby colony. It also becomes near dry during summer. Archaeological Survey of India, following a NGT order, has also started restoring the lake around Purana Qila by outsourcing the work to NBCC.

Experts, however, are apprehensive about concretising its base. Diwan Singh, activist and convener of Natural Heritage First, said concretisation cannot be used as an excuse by authorities as it ensures that rainwater runoff is higher. “There has been no focus on reviving stormwater drains and diverting runoff to waterbodies. Using this method, we revived two waterbodies in Dwarka that can simply survive by rainwater,” he added.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/bringing-citys-dying-lakes-back-to-life-may-be-a-3-idea-dream/articleshow/65140947.cms, July 26, 2018

Heritage quiz on August 5

The Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Coimbatore, will conduct a national heritage quiz here on August 5 at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. Students in classes VIII, IX and X can take part. Schools can send five teams of two students in each and will have to register in advance.

For details, contact the convenor of the event on 98 422 31531 orasksrprasad@gmail.com

- https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/heritage-quiz-on-august-5/article24515940.ece, July 26, 2018

17 Sites to be Developed as Iconic Tourist Sites

The monuments included fall under the jurisdiction of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and State Archaeology Ministry of Tourism has identiæed 17 sites in 12 clusters in the country for development under Iconic Tourist Sites Development Project, pursuant to Budget

Announcements of 2018-19.
Following are the 17 sites:
Uttar Pradesh- TajMahal and FatehpurSikri;
Maharashtra- Ajanta and Ellora;
Delhi- Humayun’s Tomb, Red Fort and Qutub Minar;
Goa- Colva Beach
Rajasthan- Amer Fort;
Gujarat- Somnath and Dholavira;
Madhya Pradesh- Khajuraho;
Karnataka- Hampi;
Tamil Nadu- Mahabalipuram;
Assam- Kaziranga;
Kerala- Kumarakom;
Bihar- Mahabodhi.
The Ministry shall be developing the above sites in a holistic manner with a focus on issues concerning connectivity to the destination, better facilities/experience for the tourists at the site, skill development, the involvement of local community, promotion and branding and by bringing in private investment.

The monuments included for development under the above-mentioned project fall under the jurisdiction of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and State Archaeology Departments. The Ministry will carry out interventions at these monuments in collaboration with the ASI and State Government, and all development plans will have elements of universal accessibility, cleanliness at the monuments, use of Green Technology and enhanced security for the tourists. This information was given by the Minister of State (I/C) for Tourism K. J Alphons in a written reply in Rajya Sabha today.

-http://leagueofindia.com/economy-development/17-sites-to-be-developed-as-iconic-tourist-sites/, July 26, 2018


The Draft Vision Document on Taj Mahal found no takers in the Supreme Court as the Bench pursuing the cause of saving the only Indian entry in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites found to its shock that the mammoth exercise undertaken by the Uttar Pradesh Government did not involve one of the key players in the upkeep of the Taj — the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Directing a copy of the Vision Document to be supplied to the ASI, the Bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta asked the authority to respond on the report within a month and propose immediate steps required to preserve the ancient monument. The court asked the ASI to involve private agencies such as INTACH, ICOMOS, and Aga Khan Foundation to know their views in this regard before the matter is heard next on August 28. Reading the Vision Document prepared by the Tourism Department of the UP Government, the court was confused as every time it took up the matter related to Taj Mahal or the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ), an affidavit was filed either by the ASI, or Ministry of Environment, or Ministry of Home Affairs or the State Government.

“Somebody has to take responsibility for preserving the Taj Mahal,” said the Bench, as it directed Attorney General KK Venugopal who appeared for the Centre and the UP Government to state by Monday the names of the concerned authority/person both at the Centre and the State level to be held responsible for taking decisions with regard to TTZ development and Agra development as envisaged in the Vision Document. For the monument, the ASI owned up responsibility. As several steps listed in the Vision Document related to preparation of Master Plan and regional plan for Agra and the seven districts falling within TTZ (spanning over 10400 square kilometer around Taj) that could take several months, the Bench asked the A-G what steps were intended for the present. Venugopal told the court that a lot of efforts had gone into preparation of the Vision Document and a sum of Rs 28 lakh was spent by engaging the School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi to conduct field study and recommend proposals.

He said that short-term measures required a minimum of one year and this is a realistic target set to achieve desired results. The court pointed out to the 1,167 polluting units in the TTZ which are still categorised as “air polluting industries” and wondered what good had come despite constituting the TTZ authority 20 years ago. “The TTZ is a flop as per your Vision Document,” said the Bench. The TTZ Commissioner who was present in the court confessed that the authority was severely short of manpower to which the Bench replied, “Are we to now initiate a recruitment drive.” The court even pulled up the Agra District Collector present in the court for failing to act against illegal, polluting industries situated close to Taj.

Finding that nothing was in place to implement the grand designs proposed by the Vision Document, the Bench asked the A-G whether there is a Heritage Management Plan in place considering the fact that Taj is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its office is at Paris and all countries have to submit this plan annually. “Suppose, and we pray it should never happen, that if UNESCO says we are withdrawing the World Heritage Site tag from Taj Mahal because we are not filing the Heritage Management Plan. This involves not just Taj but the area around it too.” The court directed the A-G to produce this plan by Monday.

-https://www.dailypioneer.com/todays-newspaper/sc-tears-into-up-govts--vision-draft-on-taj-for-keeping-asi-out-of-loop.html, July 27, 2018

Exhibition to raise awareness about conservation of elephants

To raise awareness about the preservation and conservation of elephants, a two-month long exhibition will be held at the Mandi House metro station here. As part of India Habitat Centre’s year-long multi-media festival on sustainable development, “Habitat Photosphere”, the exhibition “Gaj Yatra” will feature illustrations on the elephant – India’s national heritage animal. Organised in collaboration with the Wildlife Trust of India, the show curated by art consultant and cultural theorist Alka Pande, will begin on August 1. The illustrations by cartoonist Rohan Chakravarty were created for his comic-cum-colouring book, ‘Where’s Gaju’s Herd?’ that exposes the threats faced by elephants.

The artworks capture the life of a herd of elephants through the eyes of Gaju, a baby elephant who loses track of his family. “Elephants provide indispensable services to the ecosystems they inhabit such as dispersing seeds and rejuvenating rainforests. “If you’ve observed a herd of elephants even for a few minutes, you will be wonderstruck at how beautifully they communicate...a simple nudge with the trunk, a gentle flap of the ear, an encouraging pat on a calf’s back – these gestures speak a lot more than sounds or words,” Chakravarty said. “Gajyatra” is WTI’s nation-wide campaign launched in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the International Fund for Animal Welfare .
The show will come to a close on September 31.PTI

-https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-in-school/exhibition-to-raise-awareness-about-conservation-of-elephants/article24525835.ece, July 27, 2018

INTACH plans for starting of heritage clubs in Schools: Convener

Andhra Pradesh state convener for INTACH (Indian National trust for art and cultural heritage) M Gopalakrishna has said that they had proposed to start heritage clubs in all the schools to create awareness among the students on the great cultural heritage and tradition of our country. He told media persons here on Saturday that efforts were also being made to start one museum at Polavaram project site to preserve and show piece all the historical and cultural monuments that are getting submerged on the lines of Nagarjuna Sagar and Srisailam projects. He said already five or six sites having monuments to be conserved in the project area were identified . Gopalakrishna said that the INTACH state chapter at its meeting at Vijayawada on July 30, would finalise the proposal on establishing its Conservation Institute mainly for the purpose of preserving the old manuscripts, wall paintings, fabrics and other art works that highlights our great heritage. He said plans were also underway for liaising with the department of tourism, archeology, Archeological survey of India and other departments in matters relating to preservation, conservation and promotion of heritage and also encourage tourism and also for making heritage preservation a citizens charter and a national movement. He said INTACH East Godavari chapter headed by Lakkaraju Seshukmary as its district convener had did excellent work in documentation of on heritage and culture and received the best chapter award at National level. INTACH National chairman Major Gen Gupta said that it had established district level chapters in 170 districts so far and the other districts also would be covered in a phased programme.

-http://www.uniindia.com/~/intach-plans-for-starting-of-heritage-clubs-in-schools-convener/States/news/1302903.html, July 30, 2018

Five years on, restoration work resumes at two monuments inside Lodhi Gardens

Andhra Pradesh state convener for INTACH (Indian National trust for art and cultural heritage) M Gopalakrishna has said that they had proposed to start heritage clubs in all the schools to create awareness among the students on the great cultural heritage and tradition of our country. He told media persons here on Saturday that efforts were also being made to start one museum at Polavaram project site to preserve and show piece all the historical and cultural monuments that are getting submerged on the lines of Nagarjuna Sagar and Srisailam projects. He said already five or six sites having monuments to be conserved in the project area were identified . Gopalakrishna said that the INTACH state chapter at its meeting at Vijayawada on July 30, would finalise the proposal on establishing its Conservation Institute mainly for the purpose of preserving the old manuscripts, wall paintings, fabrics and other art works that highlights our great heritage. He said plans were also underway for liaising with the department of tourism, archeology, Archeological survey of India and other departments in matters relating to preservation, conservation and promotion of heritage and also encourage tourism and also for making heritage preservation a citizens charter and a national movement. He said INTACH East Godavari chapter headed by Lakkaraju Seshukmary as its district convener had did excellent work in documentation of on heritage and culture and received the best chapter award at National level. INTACH National chairman Major Gen Gupta said that it had established district level chapters in 170 districts so far and the other districts also would be covered in a phased programme.

-https://indianexpress.com/article/delhi/five-years-on-restoration-work-resumes-at-two-monuments-inside-lodhi-gardens-5281149/, July 30, 2018

INTACH offers expertise to State

The Indian National Trust for Art, Culture and Heritage (INTACH) offered its expertise and know-how to the State in conservation and promotion of the rich heritage sites, particularly temples, in the State here on Monday. In a meeting with the officials of the Endowments Department at the Cultural Centre of Vijayawada and Amaravati (CCVA), INTACH chairman L.K. Gupta and Special Chief Secretary Manmohan Singh discussed the need for heritage conservation committees at the State and district levels and other issues.

Emphasising the need for conservation of heritage in the State, Mr. Gutpa said that AP and Odisha have a lot of Buddhist sites and both States should come together and form a Buddhist circuit. “We (INTACH) studied the possibilities of this circuit being declared a world heritage site. Such recognition brings a lot of benefits and the region will become a thriving Buddhist area,” Mr. Gupta said. World-class archive in Amaravati. Mr. Manmohan said that the Endowments Department has published coffee table books to promote temple tourism in the State.

He said that the government planned a world-class archive in Amaravati. Mr. Manmohan stressed the immediate need for constitution of Heritage Conservation Committees that could initiate all activities from identifying local issues to the conservation of the temples. Endowments Commissioner Y.V. Anuradha said that the department has developed many temple corridors keeping in view the foreign tourists. She said one of the threats to heritage temples is defacing by donors who ensure their names are written on the temple premises. She said that the State has proposed to push Borra caves for UNESCO recognition.

Setting up of INTACH Conservation Institution in the State and floating Heritage Clubs in schools and colleges along with preparation of district maps with respect to archaeological and heritage sites, documentation of monuments and artefacts, collection and preparation of literature, publishing coffee table books were among the initiatives discussed at the meeting. INTACH is likely to start its Vijayawada chapter and the CCVA came forward to engage its volunteers. Director of Culture Department D. Vizia Bhaskar, INTACH State convenor Gopala Krishna, CCVA chairman Y. Harish Chandra Prasad, CEO E. Siva Nagi Reddy,and Kanaka Durga Temple EO M. Padma were among those present.

-https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/intach-offers-expertise-to-state/article24556573.ece, July 31, 2018

Yamuna at its 'healthiest' state this yr due to rise in flood water inflow: Experts

The Yamuna river is at its "healthiest" state for the first time this year as its water quality has drastically improved due to the rise in inflow of flood water, experts have said. The improvement is largely due to the increased oxygen content of flood water which washes away pollutants in the river, they said. Yesterday, the water level in Yamuna surpassed the danger mark of 204.83 metres, forcing evacuation of around 10,000 people from the low-lying areas, after around 5,13,554 cusecs was released by the Hathini Kund barrage. One of the most important rivers in the country, Yamuna passes through Uttarakhand, Haryana, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh.

It merges with the Ganga at Allahabad. Yamuna has also earned the unpleasant distinction of being one of the most polluted rivers in the country. But the quality of water in Yamuna has improved in the last two days due to increased flow, experts said. Manoj Mishra, convener of the Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, termed the improvement as a "temporary effect which would go with the monsoon season". "The quality of Yamuna water is at its healthiest state for the first time this year but that is due to the better water flow. Any water that is flowing always has better quality as it has increased oxygen content which washes away the existing pollutants and also prevents further pollutants from entering," he said. He highlighted the need to maintain the healthy state of the river.

"There is a need to maintain environmental flow at Hathini Kund Barrage to ensure that the aquatic flora and fauna flourish as they are dependent upon the environmental flow," he said. Environmental flow is quantity, timing, and quality of water flows required to sustain freshwater and estuarine ecosystems. The experts, however, expressed apprehensions about the longevity of the improved state of the river. Faiyaz Khudsar, a scientist at the Yamuna Biodiversity Park, said this temporary improvement in water quality of Yamuna is an yearly affair and to retain this quality there is a need to make wetlands. Wetland is an area of land that is saturated with water either permanently or seasonally.

They play a very important function of filtering water. As water moves through a wetland, the sediments and pollutants 'stick' in the wetland, making the water cleaner. Wetlands also help reduce flooding and prevent shoreline erosion. Khudsar said wetlands, which can act as "kidneys" for Yamuna, should be made between Palla and Okhla to retain the flood water and ensure long-term benefits.

"These wetlands can act as a lifeline for Yamuna and can also be used to sustain the aquatic life which has been severely destroyed by the pollution in Yamuna," he said. "There are several floodplains between Palla and Wazirabad that can be used for making wetlands," he added. Manu Bhatnagar, Principal Director, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), who has been involved in crafting urban water policy and unconventional wastewater treatment, suggested that to maintain the quality, there is a need to divert less water from the 75-km-long Hathini Kund barrage to eastern and western canal of Yamuna for irrigation. The experts said that the temporary healthy state of Yamuna would subside after the monsoon season and sewage water would again pollute the river.

-https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/yamuna-at-its-healthiest-state-this-yr-due-to-rise-in-flood-water-inflow-experts/1360565, July 31, 2018