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Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage
 


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Heritage Alerts
July 2017

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INTACH quiz for school students

Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) will organise the largest ever awareness building programme, INTACH INDIA Heritage Quiz 2017 for schools in India based on Indian heritage and culture. After a phenomenal response in the last three years – this mega event series will be conducted in a record-breaking 125 cities pan India with attractive prizes for the zonal champions as well as the national winners. Across the nation, cities from Srinagar to Kanyakumari, Jamnagar to Itanagar and even Port Blair will have a city round as a part of this programme. Xpress Minds will be executing this project on-ground on behalf of the INTACH. Hyderabad round will be held on Thursday, July 27 at Salar Jung Museum, Darulshifa at 9 a.m. Winners will participate in New Delhi finals.It will conclude by 1 p.m. Only registered students can participate. Winners of the Hyderabad city round will progress to the regional zonal final to be held here and winners will qualify for the national finals at New Delhi.

- http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/intach-quiz-for-school-students/article19350158.ece, July 25, 2017

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INTACH organises plantation drive

Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) in collaboration with Department of Floriculture and Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC) celebrated Van Mahotsav by organizing a plantation drive at Park No 45 in Gandhi Nagar here. The drive was organised in order to inculcate a sense of duty among residents towards environment and to work over the vision of INTACH to save natural heritage. Director Floriculture, Babila Rakwal was the Chief Guest and Assistant Commissioner JMC, Meenakshi Koul was the Guest of Honour for the occasion. Convenor INTACH Jammu Chapter, S.M Sahni requested residents to participate and take up meaningful environmental activities in daily life. Other members of INTACH who were present on the occasion included Dr C.M Seth (Retd IFS), K.K Sharma Former Director Floriculture, Prof Sudhir Singh, Satwant Singh Rissam, Dr Abrol and also present were Deputy Director, DFO and AFO of Floriculture Department along with officials of JMC.

- https://news.statetimes.in/intach-organises-plantation-drive/, July 25, 2017

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Centre allocates Rs 4.22 crore for revival of Walled City museum at Lahori Gate

The Walled City museum, located in an 88-year-old haveli at Lahori Gate - Khari Baoli Chowk, which had been lying in a neglected state, will now be revived with the union culture ministry agreeing to allocate Rs 4.22 crore for the same. Inaugurated 13 years ago, the facility had fallen prey to negligence of the civic body, thus losing sheen soon after its opening. The two-storeyed haveli has been lying locked for almost a decade. The number of visitors dwindled over the years and encroachers returned to the site. In want of adequate maintenance, the about 1,000-yard structure has turned into a dump. Union youth affairs and sport minister Vijay Goel, who initiated the project during his second term as a Member of Parliament from Chandni Chowk around 2004, had sent a proposal to the culture ministry seeking funds for the restoration of the facility as ‘a heritage museum and interpretation of Shahjahanabad’. The proposal was prepared by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). After examining the scheme, the ministry gave its approval in March, but the work could not be initiated as the fund was not transferred. “The first instalment, a grant of Rs 1.69 crore, has just been released to the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, which is the nodal agency for executing the restoration project. I expect the work to begin soon,” said Goel. However, the minister added that he wanted a non-government agency to take up the project. “I don’t trust the municipal corporation. I want other agencies like INTACH or similar bodies to be roped in for the purpose. The project is getting delayed because of the corporation’s lackadaisical attitude,” he said. As per the revival plan, artifacts, articles, rare photos and paintings depicting the culture and lifestyle of early residents of Shahjahanabad (during Mughal period) is slated to be exhibited. A library with a space for research scholars is part of the plan. This will be a one-stop destination, where a visitor will be able to study the composite culture of the Walled City under one roof, said Goel. “Articles like utensils, garments and other exhibits such as hookah will be displayed. Literature pertaining to the city and the history of the place since its inception will also be provided, so that people coming to the museum can learn about it. We will also brief tourists about places to see in old Delhi and what to eat where. We basically aim to recreate the scene of yesteryears,” the minister said. Once it is restored, cultural events are also likely to be hosted here. The haveli was constructed in 1929. Until it was turned into a museum, a municipal dispensary was being run in its two of its rooms and the remaining part was abandoned. Goel contributed funds from his Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) fund to restore the building as the Walled City museum.

- http://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-news/centre-allocates-rs-4-22-crore-for-revival-of-walled-city-museum-at-lahori-gate/story-sRJr83NcMdClbTtlomVdcI.html, July 25, 2017

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I have received much more from the country than what I have given, says President

The President of India, Shri Mukherjee received books and reports related to Rashtrapati Bhavan today (July 24, 2017) at a function held at Rashtrapati Bhavan on the eve of demitting office as the 13th President of India. Speaking on the occasion, the President said that he was overwhelmed by a deep sense of gratitude to the people of India for the trust and confidence they reposed in him. He was humbled by their kindness and affection. He stated that he had received much more from the country than he had given. The President congratulated and extended a warm welcome to Shri Ram Nath Kovind, the President-Elect and wished him success and happiness in the years to come. The President said that in Rashtrapati Bhavan, we tried to build a humane and happy township. He stated that in last five years he learnt from his travels across the length and breadth of the country. The President said that he learnt from his conversations with young and bright minds in colleges and universities, scientists, innovators, scholars, jurists, authors, artists and leaders from across the spectrum. These interactions kept him focused and inspired. The books presented today to the President were (1) The Innovation President by the Vice President of India, Mohd. Hamid Ansari and (2) Selected Speeches of the President (Volume-IV) by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi. The reports presented were 'Conserving and Upgrading of the Presidents Estate Select Projects: The Mukherjee Years 2012-2017 by Dr. Thomas Mathew, Additional Secretary to the President; Health Status and Age Assessment of the Trees of Rashtrapati Bhavan by Dr. Savita, Director, Forest Research Institute, Dehradun and Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan Phase II by Dr. AGK Menon and Ms. Swapna Liddle from INTACH. The book presentation function was followed by a cultural programme and dinner which was attended by the President-elect, Vice President, Prime Minister, Union Ministers and other dignitaries. Details of books and reports released: The book The Innovation President provides a summary of efforts made by the President in reinforcing close coordination between public programmes and policies and inclusive innovation ecosystem. This book contains the speeches of the President dealing with innovations at different levels and sectors in the country. Lessons from other countries have also been incorporated as also the examples of innovations in innovation clubs in various universities. The glimpses of awards given to creative communities and grassroots innovators, technology students add to the content of the inclusive innovation system. Selected Speeches of President- (Volume-IV) is the final volume of the four part series containing important speeches delivered by President Pranab Mukherjee in the fourth and fifth years of his Presidency. The first three volumes had selected speeches from President Mukherjees first three years in Office. The speeches included in this volume are into five sections: (i) The Nation, Parliament, Constitutional Bodies and Armed Forces; (ii) Important Days and Events, eminent personalities and commemorative events; (iii) Banquet Speeches and Foreign Visits; (iv) Award Functions, and (v) Education and Conferences. All four volumes of speeches of the President have been brought out by Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The report Conserving and Upgrading of the Presidents Estate Select Projects: The Mukherjee Years: 2012-2017" chronicles select conservation, preservation and development projects undertaken in the last five years by the Presidents Secretariat. This covers 27 conservation and development works undertaken in the 13th Presidency. It details the steps taken for the conservation and restoration of several buildings in the Presidents Estate and at Ashiana" (The Presidential Retreat located at Dehradun). Health Status and Age Assessment of the Trees of Rashtrapati Bhavan was conducted by the Forest Research Institute, Dehradun between July 2016 to June 2017 to determine the age of important trees as per requirement; to record pathological and entomological problems on the trees of Rashtrapati Bhavan and to identify trees having physiological and related stress including edaphic causes. Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan Phase II was drafted by INTACH after carrying out detailed documentation and it provides reasoned recommendations for the efficient future management of the Rashtrapati Bhavan building. Proposals for the conservation of the Rashtrapati Bhavan was drawn up based on this detailed documentation and on its heritage value and prevalent conditions, taking into account the specific characteristics and requirement of the building as the residence and office of the President of India.

- http://www.business-standard.com/article/government-press-release/i-have-received-much-more-from-the-country-than-what-i-117072401540_1.html, July 25, 2017

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Gole Market heritage building to become a museum: NDMC

The revamp includes architectural restoration of historic edifice, creation of a central food court, provision of other public facilities. The revamp includes architectural restoration of historic edifice, creation of a central food court, provision of other public facilities. The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) chairperson Naresh Kumar Sunday announced that the council has decided to convert the heritage building of Gole Market into a New Delhi museum. The objective, he said, is to collect materials of cultural and historical importance to the national capital. “Photographs and other display material based on the socio-economic, cultural and political aspects and conditions of pre-and post-Independence period, the contribution and sacrifice of our freedom fighters would be depicted in the museum,” the council said in a statement. The restoration of the Gole Market building and setting up of the museum is likely to be completed by September 2018. The chairperson stated that the museum will provide an opportunity for free discussion and dialogue and it will help to “sensitise target groups like teachers, adults, youth and woman organisations through interactions on government programmes and activities for the promotion and better understanding of its heritage and its agenda for national growth and development”. The revamp includes architectural restoration of historic edifice, creation of a central food court, provision of other public facilities. Kumar added that the history of Gole Market is “inextricably linked to the birth of New Delhi as an imperial capital city of British India. Built as a subsidiary market to Connaught Place, it was designed to serve the needs of the residential population.” For all the latest Cities News, download Indian Express App.

- https://www.nyoooz.com/news/delhi/876198/gole-market-heritage-building-to-become-a-museum-ndmc/, July 25, 2017

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1000-year-old temple, Buddhist ruins among 24 historical monuments lost to encroachment: Govt

As many as 24 monuments of historical importance have ceased to exist in various parts of the country due to encroachments, the Parliament was informed on Monday. Uttar Pradesh tops the list of the states with 11 untraceable monuments, while Delhi, MP, Maharashtra, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Haryana have one to two untraceable monuments each, the data produced by culture minister Mahesh Sharma states. The monuments which have disappeared in UP include ruins of three small Linga temple circa 1,000 AD in Ahugi Mirzapur, three sites with megaliths on the western and north eastern toes of the hill in Chandauli, a tablet on treasury building in Varanasi, Telia Nala Buddhist ruins in Varanasi, a Banyan grove containing traces of ancient building at Amavey in Ballia, the Closed Cemetery at Katra Naka in Banda, Gunner Burkill’s Tomb at Lalitpur, three Tombs on Lucknow-Faizabad Road, cemeteries at miles 6 and 7 on Jahraila Road in Lucknow and cemetery at Gaughat in Lucknow and Sandi-Khera at Shahabad in Hardoi. It is alleged that in absence of strong laws and adequate infrastructure and manpower of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), encroachers have a free run who ruin monuments, sites and buildings of historical monuments. ASI protects 3,686 heritage sites in the country. The data showed that Delhi has lost two monuments — Bara Khamba Cemetery and Inchla Wali Gumti at Mubarakpur, while Assam has lost the Guns of Emperor Sher Shah. In Arunachal Pradesh, the ruins of Copper Temple at Paya, Lohit is lost, while in Haryana, Kos Minars at Mujesar and Shahabad have gone missing. Uttarakhand’s Kutumbari Temple at Dwarahat, Almora, and Madhya Pradesh’s Rock Inscription at Satna, are in the list of untraceable monuments. Maharashtra’s Old European Tomb, Inscription Nagar Tonk in Rajasthan, 12th century temple in Baran and ruins of Bamanpukur fort in Bengal are also in the list.

- http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/twenty-four-monuments-have-disappeared-remain-untraceable-govt-in-lok-sabha/story-MSlYtaW2GuQmluv0bm3J7K.html, July 25, 2017

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Preserving 1,000 years of the Capital's history

Located close to the Qutub Minar, the Mehrauli Archaeological Park is one of the most important historical sites in the city today. In a recent report, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) has named 127 monuments in the park as heritage monuments, of which six structures have been declared as centrally protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and 17 declared as heritage monuments of state importance by the State Archaeological Department. Such heritage, say officials, ensures the park has the ability to be a world class heritage park. Unfortunately, the park remains largely forgotten by people in the Capital. "The Mehrauli Archaeological Park has the potential to be a really world class urban heritage park. If the various stakeholders can work together, it is a great opportunity to show how the preservation of natural and built heritage can contribute to sustainable development in an urban setting by providing valuable recreational green space and adding to the tourist potential of the city," says Swapna Liddle, Convenor, INTACH. The other problem is that of vandalism. Liddle points out that INTACH had been raising this issue for years with the concerned authorities with little result.

As a result, INTACH filed a PIL in 2015 after which the High Court has directed DDA, the owner of the park, to take appropriate steps to fence the entire area and prevent it from encroachments. In their directive, the court said: "The Court is of the opinion that a comprehensive management plan should be prepared for the improvement and management of the park. The management plan would contain essential elements such as the identification of officials from all the concerned agencies such as ASI, DDA, SDMC, Delhi Waqf Board, Government of NCT of Delhi, Delhi Police, Delhi Jal Board as well as the petitioner/INTACH. "The Delhi Police shall ensure that no further encroachment is made. It shall also ensure that at the time of fencing, especially in the western side, appropriate photographs are taken to mark the extent of encroachment so that if the need arises in future, necessary action can be taken." It is crucial that action is taken so that the park retains its glory and preserves its past, as it has over 1,000 years of history housed within it. Almost all the dynasties that have ruled Delhi from the Khilji, Tughlaq, Lodhi and Mughal dynasty to the British Raj are represented here. From the Lal Kot wall built by Anang Pal Tomar in the mid-11th century, to British-era structures of the 19th century, it is the most important area in the history of the Capital.

It has to be maintained and preserved before it is too late. Fast Facts. Mehrauli Park, 127 monuments, 1,000 years of history covered 6 ASI protected, 17 heritage monuments of state. Problems- Lack of co-ordination between agencies. Vandalism of monuments. Trash around the monuments & Analysis It is a mistake to ask the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) or civic agencies to preserve heritage sites. The Delhi Archaeology needs to look after all the monuments. Heritage walks to the monuments need to start alerting people about the problems faced and possible solutions. Delhi has no shortage of experts and volunteers are eager to do their bit. Agencies should get them involved.

- http://www.dnaindia.com/delhi/report-preserving-1000-years-of-the-capital-s-history-2489889, July 3, 2017

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Tagore library to display rare paintings dating back a century

If you wonder what the surroundings of the Imambara and Clock Tower looked nearly a century back or what was the scene when Akbar addressed his court, a visit to the Lucknow University 's upcoming Art Gallery and Museum will give you the picture.The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has restored 451 about 100-year-old rare paintings and sculptures belongin to LU's Tagore library which will be on display for the public soon after renovation of the exhibition hall is complete. These antique pictures were lying packed since 1975. Funds for restoration of the rare collection were sanctioned by the ministry of culture in 2014 and work began in 2015.

The library was gifted its first rare collection in 1935 by Gorakhpur Barrister D N Bonerjee. "The original paintings by Abdur Rahman Chughtai and the exhibits were donated to the Lucknow University by D N Bonerjee 82 years ago after which it was decided to establish an art gallery in the library," deputy librarian Jyoti Mishra told TOI.The collection includes, besides Chughtai, the work of Asit Kumar Haldar , Nand Lal Bose and several other artists. The painting like Akbar's court in Fatehpur Sikri by A K Haldar, another picture of a woman with a child in her lap by M L Haldar, and the painting of a young lady with a shadow by Sudhir Khastigir are among masterpieces created nearly a century ago.

Talking about the collection, honorary librarian Aroop Chakrobarti said the Tagore Gallery collection got enriched further after the former vice-chancellor and honorary librarian Radha Kamal Mukherjee donated his personal collection comprising work of Indian artists of the 1940s to the library. He said a large number of artefacts comprise the contribution of a professor from West Bengal.SMH Rizvi who has been cataloguing the library books and taking care of the collection for the last 25 years said the collection comprises not only rare painting but also valuable exhibits like a prototype of Tagore Library designed by American architect Walter Burley Griffin, who had also designed the Australian city of Canberra.

- https://www.nyoooz.com/news/lucknow/855779/tagore-library-to-display-rare-paintings-dating-back-a-century/, July 3, 2017

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Renovations to the Raj

As a steady shower falls outside the Head Post Office in Udhagamandalam, the antique Ansonia clock in the postmaster’s cabin begins its hourly chime. A little younger than the building in which it is housed, the clock—which must be wound with a brass key every morning— is, much like the 140-year-old building, part of the rich colonial heritage of this famous hillstation in the Nilgiri hills. The clock and the building remind postmaster V. Uma Maheswari of the district’s storied history. The style pioneered by renowned architect Robert Chisholm is visible on other buildings from this period: the Nilgiri Library and the erstwhile Higginbothams book store, and, with flashes of Gothic and Renaissance styles, the Lawrence Memorial School, Breeks Memorial School, the court complex and the district collectorate. While century-old Higginbothams may have closed shop after the building it was housed in changed hands, a majority of the Nilgiris’ heritage buildings still stand today. Many of them are in private hands, a few are woefully dilapidated, and some have been lost forever—but several buildings are in mint condition and an integral part of Nilgiris’ contemporary architectural landscape.

Dharmalingam Venugopal, honorary director of the Nilgiri Documentation Centre, talks of the famed Assembly Rooms theatre hall, which was recently renovated, as a success story, but points to Glass House, which used to be a famous music hall once and was built before the theatre, which is in a state of considerable disrepair. Hope yet. Another major landmark fondly remembered by old-timers is Spencer’s Supermarket, which used to be chock-full of imported meats, cheeses and other goods from around the world.Built in the late 1800s, it has been closed for more than a decade now. Perilously close to complete collapse, the building has become something of a dumping ground for political banners and other paraphernalia. However, the metal roof supports with arabesque designs, and the structure in general, are still in relatively good shape, stoking hope that the building can be restored to its former glory.

“The structure was built by the first traders who came to the Nilgiris,” says Venugopal. But private ownership, he fears, has obviously led to a lack of access to the public and to heritage lovers. Fortunately, some other major landmarks such as St. Stephen’s Church and Stone House (the first bungalow in Udhagamandalam, the home of John Sullivan, the first Englishman to move to Ooty and develop it) have been preserved extremely well, more or less looking as they did in the late 1800s. The 159-year-old Nilgiri Library, one of the best preserved buildings today, is open to the public. Its restoration was completed last year. A popular venue for cultural events and literary festivals, the library is a beautiful place. Set against rolling hills, grasslands and Shola trees, its reading room full of paintings by the town’s early settlers, it is a fine example of heritage preservation done well.

Next to the library is the theatre, once the Assembly Rooms where balls were held. Built in the mid-1880s, it once belonged to an Englishman who ran a tonga service from Mettupalayam to Ooty. It was just the right size for plays staged by the Ootacamund Amateur Theatrical Society. In 1922, it was bought by Lady Wellington for ?50,000, and handed over to the people of the town as a movie theatre. R. Wesley, 62, remembers sneaking out of school as a teen to catch matinee shows here. It remains an integral part of the town’s landscape. D. Radhakrishnan, honorary secretary of the theatre, says he has a patron who has been visiting from the 1940s. “The Assembly Rooms is a legacy that has moved on with the times without losing its aura,” he says.

It continues to be one of the few entertainment hubs in the district. In fact, even the theatre’s show times reflect the long history of the mountain town. For instance, the show times on Sunday were initially set so that planters from Kotagiri, Coonoor, Udhagamandalam and Gudalur could come on time with their families. More than four decades ago, Saturday night shows were timed so that workers from the market, the botanical garden and other areas could visit. St. Stephen’s and St. Thomas churches are also remarkably well preserved. The superb stained glass windows at St.Stephen’s Church draw tourists by the droves. Stone House is now the residence of the Principal of the Government Arts College. Recently, Connemara House, located near the Government Arts College, was also restored, and now houses the government museum. Geetha Srinivasan, Convenor of INTACH in the Nilgiris, says the district is “one of the richest examples of British architecture that is well preserved in the country.

There is greater awareness about preserving these buildings today.” But while public buildings are being looked after, the problem is with “individual homes where preservation is prohibitively expensive.” The government should give some incentives, as they do in the U.K., which would help with their restoration, says Srinivasan.

- http://www.thehindu.com/society/renovations-to-the-raj/article19185190.ece, July 3, 2017

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Mural magician

An enchanting world of Pattachitra opens up as you step inside the Odisha State Museum in Bhubaneswar. The ancient story of Ushabhilas, an epic poem composed by Odia poet Sishu Shankar Das in the mid-16th century portraying love, comes alive in the form of a 20x20 ft mural, beautifully done by Pattachitra artist Karunakar Sahu.This traditional form of drawing is practiced by a handful of artisans in Odisha, and 52-year-old Karunakar is one of the few who have kept the original art form alive. He says a traditional Pattachitra painting can be identified from the distinguishing features of its figures. “Traditionally, Pattachitra is characterised by human figures with long eyes, beak-like noses, prominent chins and fuller bodies. Every figure has different features, characterised by thin strokes of brush,” he says.

But these days, subjects in Patta paintings appear more or less similar, be it the facial appearance or clothing. Ushabhilas, he says, speaks about the love story of Usha, the daughter of a mighty demon Banasura who ruled the beautiful city of Sonitapura, and Aniruddha, the grandson of Lord Krishna. Aniruddha with the help of Lord Krishna fights against Banasura to marry Usha. “The love story also finds mention in Odia Mahabharata written by Sarala Das,” says the artist who had won the National Award in visual arts, instituted by Ministry of Culture, in 1995 for engraving the entire story of Ushabhilas in palm leaf manuscripts. “The subject provided me a rich visual imagery for depicting the poem through Pattachitra,” he says. It took him two months to complete the massive mural that was put up in the Odisha State Museum on the occasion of International Day of Museums. The artist has no roots as far as Pattachitra is concerned. Hailing from Mayurbhanj district of Odisha, he learnt the craft for two months at the State Institute for Development of Art and Crafts (SIDAC) in Bhubaneswar in 1977 before deciding to make a career out of it.

“None of my family members belong to Raghurajpur—the heritage village in Puri district where Pattachitra is practised by every family—nor did I ever practice the craft before I arrived at SIDAC,” says Karunakar, who was a weaver before. “It was the beauty of the art form that attracted me.” He is working on a painting representing the life of Lord Ganesha. His Pattachitra paintings are mostly huge in size. Karunakar selects themes based on Vaishnav sect, mostly representing Lord Jagannath, and paints them with naturally extracted colours. Pattachitra or scroll paintings are based on mythology, be it the different Veshas of Lord Jagannath, 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu, Krishna-Radha Leela or episodes from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Whatever the theme is, the painting is bordered with motifs of tendrils and flowers, says the master craftsman who also trains art students in original Pattachitra style. He is also the only artist in the state to have adapted Ushabhilas into painting.

“These days, artists work on a commercial basis. Their work lacks detailing that is required in a Patta painting. I train a few students on these traditional aspects on a yearly basis to keep the tradition alive. Before starting to paint, they study the stories to bring out their beauty on the canvas,” he says.

- http://www.newindianexpress.com/magazine/2017/jul/01/mural-magician-1622350.html, July 3, 2017

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Select students to get exposure on heritage protection: INTACH

A select group of award-winning school students from across the country will visit historic sites and meet conservation experts in Delhi later this week as part of INTACH's efforts to instill leadership qualities in them towards heritage protection. City-based Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage today said the 15 national winners, picked out from its outreach campaign -- 'My City, My Heritage' -- will tour the capital city from July 5-7. "They will visit various monuments and heritage sites and organisations working on preservation and heritage conservation and engage with experts associated with the field. "It will include visit to the Aga Khan Foundation, Sanskriti Prathistan, the INTACH headquarters, and interaction with Dastangoi (medieval storytelling art form) artists," the heritage body said.

The Heritage Education and Communication Service (HECS) of the INTACH had organised the pan-India campaign with support of its 100 regional chapters across 100 cities. "The campaign aimed at raising student's awareness about their city's heritage and inculcating a sense of pride in them about the cultural legacy. "Around 12,000 students from class VI-IX participated in essay writing and poster-making competition capturing their city's heritage," Principal Director, HECS at the INTACH, Purnima Datt said. Following a competitive three-phased evaluation, 100 regional and 15 national winners were selected. The national award-winning essay entries included 'Symphony of the South' by Shruti Jeyaraman of class 9 from Chennai; 'Grandeurs of the Silver Street - The Fatehpuri Mosque' by Farhan Bakht Ahmed of class 7 (Delhi); 'Tribes of Andaman and Nicobar Islands' by Nandini Malo of class 8 (Port Blair) and 'Humare Sheher Ki Akshhun Virasat - Patna Sahib' by Sudhanshu Shekhar of class 9 (Patna).

Entries were also received in 12 regional languages -- Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Oriya, Marathi, Gujarati, Urdu, Bengali, Nepalese, Hindi and Punjabi -- highlighting the rich and varied heritage of various cities. The campaign will formally conclude with a felicitation and award ceremony at the INTACH headquarters for the national winners on July 7 where noted poet Ashok Vajpayee is slated to be the chief guest.

- http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/select-students-to-get-exposure-on-heritage-protection-intach-117070300631_1.html, July 4, 2017

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Legacy gets a leg up! Karnataka Archaeology Department to restore 241 Roerich paintings

The Karnataka archaeology department is joining hands with the Intach Chitrakala Parishath Art Conservation Centre (ICKPAC) to restore 241 paintings belonging to the late Russian artist Svetoslav Roerich.The development comes years after the government dragged its feet on conserving the legacy of the artist and his celebrity wife Devika Rani, who died heir-less two decades ago. The artworks are currently under lock and key at the Venkatappa Art Gallery (VAG) on Kasturba Road. “The centre's team carried out a condition assessment of the paintings last month and drew up an estimate,“ said Manjula N, commissioner, department of archaeology , museums and heritage.

An approximate amount of Rs 90 lakh will soon be sanctioned for conservation and restoration.“We will sign an agreement with the exact estimates in around 10 days.“ Roerich lived on the Tataguni Estate off Kanakapura Road with Devika Rani (first lady of Indian cinema). The estate and the artworks are under the watch of the Central Crime Branch (CCB) because of a long-drawn legal battle relating to jewellery, paintings and artefacts (totalling up to Rs 50 lakh) that reportedly went missing a month after Devika Rani's death (she passed away on March 9, 1994 while Roerich died on January 30, 1993). The case is nowhere nearing conclusion. Manjula explained that the Karnataka chief secretary (who heads the Roerich and Devika Rani Roerich Estate Board) and the law secretary have directed the police to secure required court clearance for the ICKPAC to access the paintings at the earliest. “Getting permissions and clearances should take another tentative two-three months” she said. The ICKPAC is an independent nonprofit that provides conservation services for paintings, objects, paper and textiles. Madhu Rani, director, ICKPAC, said that Roerich's collection comprises different types of artwork -like oil on canvas, oil on board, paper and tempera paintings. Each warrants distinctive treatment.“Every painting has undergone a different kind of deterioration over the years. Some have weak or loose corners, while colours are flaking off in others. Some have already undergone some restoration in the past. We will have to study those treatments and work accordingly ,“ she said. The process will take a minimum of two years after the amount is sanctioned. “These works are kept under government custody .

Our team will have to work on the VAG premises under tight security .When the amount is sanctioned and the agreement is signed, we will take a call on hiring additional manpower to meet deadlines,“ Rani explained. These paintings are supposed to be part of the museum and art gallery that is coming up on the Tataguni Estate. Given that those plans are still in conceptual stage, there is a possibility that the space might not be ready in time to host the restored paintings. "The idea is to get the museum and gallery up by then," said Manjula, explaining that the department has zeroed down on architects for the project and will issue a tender for contractors soon. "In any case, we will display only 40-50% of the artworks there. The rest will be maintained or hanged in a secure place." Along with the Roerich paintings, the ICKPAC will use the sanctioned funds to conserve and restore other paintings at the VAG and Government Museum.

-http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/magazines/panache/legacy-gets-a-leg-up-karnataka-archaeology-department-to-restore-241-roerich-paintings/articleshow/59436516.cms, July 4, 2017

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Archives dept to preserve rare Gandhi records

After Malappuram and Wayanad, the Archives Department is set to embark on the latest project under its community archives programme. Photos and records related to Mahatma Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave, including documents in Gandhi’s hand, that are housed at Vinoba Niketan in Vithura here will be conserved by the department. "We are yet to start inspecting the documents, but some of them are close to perishing. Such documents pertaining to Gandhi are rare in the State," says Archives Director P. Biju. There is a diary of Vinoba Bhave at the Niketan wherein everyday matters are penned. There is a document too in which Gandhi speaks about the charkha. Bug infestation. "There's need to urgently preserve them, bug infestation being one of the problems. We will bring them to the department if these are handed over or we will conserve and preserve them in the museum on the Niketan premises," says assistant archivist Shibu N.

The pilot project of the community archives programme was taken up at the Chembrassery 'mana' at Pandikkad in Malappuram. At the Puzhamudi tharavadu in Kalpetta, documents related to Gandhi's visit to Wayanad were found. In one letter, the planters' association had asked the head of the family to come for Gandhi's visit. In another, a father had written to his son who was abroad about the Moplah Rebellion. There are also 12 bamboo documents, one of which lists the names of slaves under the head of the family, hinting at the practice of slavery prevalent then, department officials say. "All these will not be available as part of official documentation. These help understand history better and gain other perspectives, for instance from the communication between individuals.

This is the possibility of community archives," says Mr. Shibu. More studies under way. More studies are under way on such documents in association with local colleges’ history department students. This will also help students get first-hand information about archives, what documents are housed in people’s homes, and their historical relevance. The community archives will get a boost from a new initiative of the department – heritage forums. The forums, which will include school and college students, historians, writers, and others, will be set up in all districts under the aegis of department. The forums will conduct visits to historical places in the district concerned, and collect records and objects for conservation. In a step towards creating regional archiving responsibility, the forums will undertake surveys to know where records exist and the extent of the collection. “When people are approached by those who are from the area and conscious of the need for preserving records, they will open up more than they would to official channels,” Mr.

Shibu says. The department does not stress on custodianship. The documents can be conserved by it and remain in people’s keeping. These will also be digitised. A registry of private records, which will contain details about the documents, will also be maintained for easy access to researchers and scholars.

-http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-kerala/archives-dept-to-preserve-rare-gandhi-records/article19208161.ece, July 4, 2017

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Prez inaugurates restored heritage buildings in President's Estate

President Pranab Mukherjee today inaugurated restored heritage buildings in Schedule 'A' of the President's Estate.Speaking after inaugurating the restored heritage, he said, ''this brings to a conclusion a task taken up in this Presidency to restore all important heritage structures in the precincts of Rashtrapati Bhavan.''The President said that Rashtrapati Bhavan was declared a Grade 'A' heritage building by NDMC in 2009. Time had taken a toll on the life and health of this building, which was occupied 86 years ago. The task of restoration was difficult and strenuous and would not have been possible without dedication and determination. He said that he was happy that all heritage features of the restored buildings have been kept intact. Speaking on the occasion, Secretary to the President,.

Omita Paul said that the restoration work had been carried out at the behest of the President and was in accordance with his vision of restoring the glory of the heritage building as well as to create a harmonious and happy family of Rashtrapati Bhavan. She mentioned that on the 10th of this month, a guest house in Ashiana, Dehradun would be inaugurated which is another PBG property.The restoration work has been carried out on the initiative of President's Secretariat and CPWD along with INTACH have been partners with Rashtrapati Bhavan in this endeavour.

The restored buildings which were inaugurated today include the Regimental Quarters Guard Building which was built as Guard room and coach house; the MI Area which was originally constructed as a hospital for men; four Barracks originally constructed as living quarters of the Indian Infantry; the PBG officer's Mess Building which was built as British Infantry Mess and the Army Officer's Mess which was built as British Officer's Quarters.All the buildings, including those inaugurated today, were precisely documented and analyzed prior to restoration work. The restoration undertaken includes preservation of original plaster, Kota stone flooring, repair of conical obelisks, cleaning and painting of fire places etc. as per original design.A Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan (CCMP) for the President's Estate was submitted to President Pranab Mukherjee on June 26, 2013 by INTACH.

The Executive summary to the CCMP noted that while the status of Rashtrapati Bhavan as a Grade 'A' Heritage Building defined the limits of intervention to conserve the building and the site, it also accommodated the highest office of the country, including the residence of the President. This made it a 'living heritage' building which created genuine needs to cater to its efficient functioning. The CCMP was drafted to address both imperatives.The vision guiding the preparation of the CCMP took into account the wider context of the Estate and its contemporary functional needs. The CCMP stressed the importance and need for continuous maintenance to conserve the heritage characteristics of the Rashtrapati Bhavan precincts.

The Rashtrapati Bhavan and its precincts were notified as a Grade 'A' heritage building by the New Delhi Municipal Council under Clause 23 of the Delhi Building Byelaws, 1983. While the buildings and landscape still strongly retain the original flavor of their design, the subject of additional functional requirements to cater to the needs of the President's Estate was required to be addressed if the site was to maintain the original character of architecture and landscape. In this context, the Delhi Chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage was commissioned to prepare the Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan (CCMP).

Though Rashtrapati Bhavan is a single unified complex, for pragmatic reasons it was decided to break the project in two phases - first the precincts and then, the main building of Rashtrapati Bhavan.UNI AR RJ 2258

-https://news.webindia123.com/news/Articles/India/20170704/3139037.html, July 5, 2017

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Here is everything you need to know about Indian Jews

Tucked away in a corner of the high-end Humayun Road, near Khan Market, lies a modest looking structure, hardly noticeable to a passerby except for the large Star of David that adorns its front wall. Locating this humble piece of architecture is not an easy task as the community it represents, the Jews, is barely recognised by those inhabiting the area. The Synagogue Judah Hyam Hall is the only place of worship in Delhi for Jews, a special minority group whose entry into the country can be traced to 2,000 years back. On Tuesday, as PM Narendra Modi lands in Israel as the first Indian prime minister to do so, this tiny and barely visible community in India has demanded minority status for themselves, more as an attempt to get recognition for the large contributions they have made to India’s socio-cultural life, rather than for distinguishing themselves from the Indian majority. “Israel is in my heart, India is in my blood,” says Ezekiel I Malekar, the Rabbi (head priest) of the Synagogue Judah Hyam Hall.

The Rabbi, who has been the head secretary and caretaker of the synagogue since 1980 without any form of remuneration, claims that for the Jews in India, they are Indians first and Jews second.

Looking back at the long history of association between Jews and Indians, he claims India is the most tolerant country in the world and one of the only places where Jews did not have to experience anti-semitism. The Jewish community in India is one among a large number of groups who had come from outside the country’s modern territorial borders and made India their home. However, what marks the Jews out is their ability to blend into the local culture of the region, through continuous contact with the natives and then the later foreign visitors. At present, numbering some 6,000 across India, the Jewish Indian identity developed over time.

While today this small, tightly integrated group is busy protecting the last remnants of Jewish heritage in the country like the 35-odd synagogues spread across India, some cemeteries and schools, they are also known to have made significant entrepreneurial and cultural contributions to India’s rich history. The three branches of Jewish identity in India In his work on the Jewish community in India, Professor Nathan Katz makes an interesting point about the Indian case of contact with outsiders. “The study of Indian Jewish communities demonstrates that in Indian culture, an immigrant group gains status precisely by maintaining its own identity,” writes Katz. This phenomenon, he says, is demonstrated not just in the case of the Jews but also in the case of Zoroastrians, Christians and Tibetan Buddhists. Among the Jews, however, they did not just maintain their identity, but also welcomed influence from local cultural trends to mould it.

Jews in India, unlike those across the globe, are divided into three distinct groups as per their geographical location and origin myths in the country — the Cochin Jews, the Bene Israeli and the Baghdadi Jews. Each of these three categories arrived at different points in time and formed their Jewish identity as per the historical forces operant in India at that time. The Cochin Jews who first arrived in the contemporary state of Kerala are dated to about 50 CE. The local legend states that they moved to the country after the first temple was destroyed during the siege of Jerusalem and were warmly received by Cheraman Perumal, the ruler of the Chera dynasty.

The Bene Israeli, that numerically form the largest Jewish group in India, belong to the region in and around Maharashtra and Konkan. The date of their arrival is yet to be ascertained, but a local legend suggests that the Bene Israeli arrived between 1600 and 1800 years back when they were shipwrecked on the Konkan coast. As per the legend, only 14 of them survived and they took refuge in a village called Nawgaon, close to Bombay, now Mumbai. Over the years, this myth of origin has been grafted into the legend of the ten lost tribes of Israel, and the Bene Israeli are known to have originated from the northern part of Israel. Like the Cochin Jews, the Bene Israeli also expanded the local origin legend to accommodate the folklore associated with the natives. Over time, most Bene Israeli historians pointed to the similarity between their origins in India and that of the Chitpavin Brahmins who also claimed to have arrived from outside after a shipwreck.

The Baghdadi Jews are said to be part of the most recent wave of Jewish entry into India. By the mid 18th and 19th century, the Baghdadi Jews are said to have moved in to create a strong entrepreneurial class in the British port cities of India like Calcutta (now Kolkata), Bombay (Mumbai) and Rangoon (Yangon). By the mid 19th century, the Baghdadi Jews had risen in wealth and status and established Jewish schools, kosher markets and ritual baths.

Speaking about the exchange of culture between the Jews and Indians, Rabbi Malekar mentioned that each of the groups had adopted several aspects of the local culture. “The Bene Israeli who went back to Israel still speak Marathi, they wear the local Maharashtrian dress and tie the Mangal Sutra in weddings,” he said. Use of coconut oil and camphor inside the synagogues, haldi and henna in weddings are few other examples of a Jewish culture in India, heavily influenced by Indianness. After Israel’s independence in 1948, a large number of Jews left India in the hope of going back home. While most went in the hope of a better lifestyle and prosperity, breaking the ties with India was not easy.

The famous Jews of India One of the most influential names in the history of Jewish presence in India is that of businessman Shaikh David Sasoon who arrived in Bombay in 1828. His arrival marked the beginning of the prosperity of Baghdadi Jews in India. Once in Bombay, he dominated the import-export trade. Starting with opium first, he moved his trade interests to real estate and textiles, gradually becoming the patriarch of one of the wealthiest Jewish empires in the world. The Sasoon empire soon spread from Bombay to Calcutta to Shanghai, Amsterdam, London and New York. As much as he was known for his business achievements, he was also a reputed philanthropist and went on to build several synagogues, hostels, schools, hospitals, libraries and charitable institutions. The Jewish presence in Kolkata is best felt when one drops by into the iconic bakery Nahoum and Sons in New Market. Established in 1902 by Nahoum Israel, the bakery was later managed by his son, David Nahoum who passed away in 2013. Famous for its rich fruit cake, the bakery had been an instant hit among the local British population when it opened and was later much loved by the local Bengali population.

Known for his contribution to secure India her victory in the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war, J F R Jacob was born in Calcutta in 1924 to a Jewish family whose presence in India can be traced back to the 18th century. Jacob served as Chief of staff of the Indian Army’s Eastern Command during the war and was awarded a commendation of merit for his role. There are several other Indian Jews who have made a name for themselves in the world of art, theatre, business and several other aspects. When asked why after years of integration and peaceful coexistence did the Jews now demand minority status in India, Rabbi Malekar said that “our contribution to the progress and development of India has been great. At least as token, the Indian government can now grant our tiny community the benefits given to any other minority group in the country.”

-http://indianexpress.com/article/research/narendra-modi-in-israel-here-is-everything-you-need-to-know-about-indian-jews/, July 5, 2017

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Glorious past, perilous present

At 100, Osmania University, which began with Urdu as the medium of instruction, is a crumbling institution whose foundations are being corroded by all-round neglect. By KUNAL SHANKAR. “To provide opportunities for higher studies and research for those qualified to benefit by them is the function of a university. When such opportunities are provided in healthy, beautiful and impressive surroundings, then a university becomes a powerful force for the cultural uplift of the nation. It is my earnest hope that the magnificently planned university which I had the pleasure of revisiting today after a lapse of some years will in ever increasing measure realise the high aims of its founder and of those who have worked for their attainment.” -- Sir C.V. Raman, Nobel Laureate in Physics, on a visit to Osmania University on December 30, 1943. C.V.

RAMAN was not the only visiting dignitary who had such high praise for Osmania University. The accolades have been recorded in the visitor entry book that was kept at its iconic arts college between 1937 and 1960, when this practice was discontinued. Other dignitaries included United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Personal Representative to India, William Phillips, in 1943 (the U.S. did not have an embassy in India until 1947). India’s first Governor General, C. Rajagopalachari, delivered the convocation address at the university the next year. He noted: “I was deeply impressed by the reality of all the work shown to me. The university is justly proud of its buildings and the designing of them.” The Chinese Vice Minister of Education in 1943 and the Travancore kingdom’s last Dewan, Sir C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar, a year earlier, also had generous words of praise. The encomiums were not entirely unwarranted. The seventh and the last Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan, had given shape to a lofty ideal for higher learning a quarter century before C.V. Raman’s visit. That was to impart scientific education in an Indian language—Urdu.

However, this would come to haunt him in later years as some of his Hindu subjects, who constituted the majority in his kingdom, resented it. But there were several Hindus who accepted Urdu, according to Anuradha Reddy, a member of the Hyderabad Chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). Anuradha Reddy's uncle Pingle Jaganmohan Reddy was a judge of the High Court both during and after the Nizam period, and was well versed in Urdu, Telugu and English. “One forgets that besides being a language of the state, Urdu was popular across the subcontinent,” she added.

-http://www.frontline.in/the-nation/glorious-past-perilous-present/article9749707.ece, July 6, 2017

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Home To 300 Artists, Raghurajpur Village In Odisha Is A Cultural Treasure

Barfi pink, bright blue, deep ochre, violet and saturated orange; etchings and paintings of gods and goddesses; green parrots flying on a wall; home of the Odissi dance; lush greenery — welcome to Raghurajpur in Puri district, home to over 300 artisans who practice various traditional art forms handed down over generations. Artist families live in each of the 100 or so painted, yet modest, houses that face one another. A series of temples dedicated to local deities occupy the lane between the homes. Here, in Raghurajpur, worship and art are one — each breathes life and gives meaning to the other. The chitrakars (painters) are the most famous and numerous among Raghurajpur artists.

They paint brightly coloured mythological stories about Lord Jagannath and other deities, especially Krishna. Derived from the Sanskrit word patta (canvas) and chitra (painting), pattachitra originated in the 12th century. Painstaking workmanship. Men and young boys portray dramatic mythic themes and flamboyant processions. Traditionally, women have painstakingly prepared the canvases. Today, men and women learn the art of designing and executing pattachitra paintings from their parents and grandparents, and proudly display numerous national awards for their excellent workmanship. This artists' village is also known for intricate palm leaf folded pictures etched in black with cutouts, delicate brushwork on tussar silk, stone and wood carvings. The stories are ubiquitous, revealed in colourfully painted coconuts, painted birds, papier-mâché toys, masks and painted boxes that are displayed on meticulously clean stone front porches. Fashioned from local materials — palm leaf, coconut, local dyes, mouse hair, stone and wood — the artworks possess unique beauty and guileless charm. They add to Raghurajpur's lustre and colour.

The front room of each house serves as both, a studio and an exhibition space. Surprisingly non-commercial in their approach, the men and women artisans speak in Odiya, keenly showing their work and explaining the tradition, narrative and the techniques they apply. This artists' village is also known for intricate palm leaf folded pictures etched in black with cutouts, delicate brushwork on tussar silk, stone and wood carvings. Home to performing artists. Raghurajpur is also home to performing artists, most notable being the late Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra. His father was a painter and mridangam player. Kelucharan trained in the Gotipua dance tradition in Raghurajpur and became renowned as the leading proponent of Odissi dance. He is credited for reviving this ancient dance form. For Guru Mohapatra, dance was worship. Today, there is a dance studio in Raghurajpur where young students still receive training in Gotipua, an acrobatic dance form that is a precursor to Odissi. Students from Raghurajpur also participate in national dance festivals and public events. This dense concentration of skilled artists, keeping alive several Odissi art forms, is truly unique. Not surprisingly, Raghurajpur was recognised as a Heritage Village in 2000. Since 2000, in addition to the Government of India, institutions such as INTACH, ICCI, NORAD, and the India Foundation for the Arts, have worked in tandem to develop Raghurajpur as a craft's village. They have trained artists to relearn traditional techniques and apply them in their artworks. For instance, they were retaught how to apply plaster made of lime, jute, molasses, lentils, curd, casein and local herbs such as trifala and bel. To boost rural tourism, the artists were encouraged to paint their homes to showcase and display their art.

Dance teacher and artist Guru Gangadhar Nayak spoke about his efforts to pass on Gotipua. No longer able to see well enough to do any artwork — in which he had excelled — today, he trains young boys to perform this local dance tradition. This is his passion. In the Gotipua dance tradition, young boys dress as females and also sing devotional songs while performing the dance. The tradition is embedded in the Sakhibhav movement, where devotees consider themselves to be consorts of Lord Krishna. The songs that are sung to accompany the dance are generally compositions of Vaishnav poets. Artist's haven. Nayak recounts how Raghurajpur evolved as an artists' haven. "A Chaitanya bhakt from Bengal came and settled here, which was a jungle then. He made a representation of Jagannath. He coloured the face of the Lord with coal, which is why Jagannath is still represented with a black face. This sage was the first artist of the village. In pursuit of the divine he experimented with limestone and then colour, and this was the way our village evolved and became an artist's village," he told VillageSquare.in. "The art form Chitrakala developed here." Nayak also recalled that Helen Jerry, an American woman, was among the first to recognise the artistry of the community. She worked to publicise their art, bought works herself and had a lot of the works sold abroad. Ever since Raghurajpur was chosen as a heritage village, tourists in greater numbers from India and abroad come here to admire art and purchase it directly from the artists.

Some visitors also come to learn traditional art techniques. On the day we visited, we were the only tourists here. Digital village. This year, Raghurajpur was adopted by the Bank of India as a digital village and 20 Points of Sale machines have been installed by the bank. The bank also facilitated the opening of 200 savings bank accounts. There is an ATM machine in the village and a few artisans also accept payments via PayTM. Raghurajpur has been included in the ideal crafts village scheme and as per online sources, Government of India has sanctioned ?100 million for the village's overall development. None of the people we spoke with knew much about this development scheme, though, apparently, three crore rupees have already been released by the government. As part of this initiative, the state government is planning to design the doors of every house and strengthen water and sanitation facilities in the village. Reportedly, plans for a guest house are also in the works. Artistic Effervescence. Over time, the government has called Raghurajpur a Crafts Village, a Heritage Village, and now, a Digital Village. The changes in nomenclature have not affected the artistic effervescence or the pace and style of life, which still seems idyllic when compared with the material and physical poverty of many of our villages and the commercial, mass produced quality of so many of our traditional arts. Here, as Guru Mohapatra had once said about dance, art not only gives purpose to one's life but is life itself.

Spending time in Raghurajpur provides a glimpse into a world that holds art as its organising principle. It structures daily life. With some intervention from arts and cultural organisations, the skills of artists and artisans have been refined, a market is being developed for their work, and the artists can interact directly with customers to maximise the proceeds from their works. As Nayak told VillageSquare.in, "Today we show and sell our works across the world. People abroad appreciate our talents and traditions, and are ready to pay to acquire our creations." Raghurajpur is truly a national treasure. Making it a part of the rural tourist map, while safeguarding its artistic integrity, demands deft and delicate handling.

Jael Silliman is a women's rights activist. She has authored several books including 'Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organizing for Reproductive Justice', and 'Jewish Portraits, Indian Frames: Women's Narratives from a Diaspora of Hope'. This article was first published on VillageSquare.in, a public-interest communications platform focused on rural India.

- http://www.huffingtonpost.in/village-square/home-to-300-artists-raghurajpur-village-in-odisha-is-a-cultural_a_23013708/, July 7, 2017

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Heritage hunting with Mumbai Art Deco

Art deco, the architectural style identified by its clean, geometric symmetry, originated in Europe and the US in the 1920s, and Mumbai’s architects took to it with abandon. And though they may be overshadowed by the more monumental Victorian structures like the Gateway of India and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, art deco buildings dot the city’s neighbourhoods, with Eros and Regal cinema halls being some of the most recognizable. Over the past year, Art Deco Mumbai (Artdecomumbai.com), a self-funded, not-for-profit group, has been holding heritage walks, documenting and creating awareness about this style through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. It was started in May 2016 by Atul Kumar, a finance professional.

“I live in Marine Drive, an art deco precinct. For years I’ve been engaging with policymakers, conservationists, architects and citizen groups to create awareness of art deco. I decided it was time to take a digital initiative,” says Kumar. On 27 June, the group went live with its website, a repository as well as a handy tool to browse Mumbai’s art deco landscape. The “Gallery” section allows you to look at images in random order, and if you find that engaging, the “Inventory” tab lets you filter them according to neighbourhood. “Let’s say you live in Colaba and want to see where the art deco buildings are in your neighbourhood. You put on that filter and search in that area,” says Kumar. You can learn to identify art deco buildings with the help of the “Elements or Features” tab that shows details of the building facades, interiors, lobbies and stairwells. “Eye Brows”, for instance, are the streamlined extended shades over balconies and windows. And “Frozen Fountains”, the motifs that you spot on window grills and entryways that look like a fountain frozen in motion. If you want to go into more detail, there’s a “Research” tab, with articles curated under different headings like “History or Era of Theatres”. It’s said that Mumbai may have the second largest concentration of art deco buildings, after Miami’s famous historic district in South Beach.

Is there any truth in this? “People claim so,” says Kumar. “So far we’ve documented buildings just between Colaba, Fort, Marine Drive and Churchgate, and we’ve already got 120 buildings. We haven’t even gone to Mohammad Ali Road, Warden Road, Malabar Hill. They are lined with deco, one after the other. Then there is Dadar, Matunga, Chembur. It’ll be interesting when we’re able to establish the actual final number,” he concludes.

- http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/ZHhMJMBcr9xIuDvK7cX5AN/Heritage-hunting-with-Mumbai-Art-Deco.html, July 7, 2017

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A Millet a Day

The Ashadh Mela showcased food that has disappeared from our platters, in an attempt to establish a link between urban consumers and small-scale organic farmers. Millet golgappas, tumdee potato parathe, kundru chutney and mahua murukus may sound exotic but they travelled a long way from farm to plate at the Ashadh Mela in Delhi recently. In an attempt to help the native grains of the country make a comeback on our plates, Bhoomi Ka, an organic food campaign and INTACH put together the day-long organic food festival, centred around foods that have, over the course of time, become unpopular. "There is a large group of small and marginal organic farmers all over India. We thought it was time for all of them to come under one umbrella so that we could provide some manner of semblance in this fragmented organic domain and bring small-scale farmers into direct contact with the consumers,” says Ashish Gupta, Bhoomi Ka.

The Ashadh Mela has been held in other parts of the country and is touted to extend its reach gradually. The festival, which was held last week, showcased demos on how to cook traditional foods such as mahua, ragi, millets, and bajra, among others. There were film screenings as well as open discussions about urban organic farming, and conversations on how food travels from the farm to the table, along with the various benefits of adopting these foods, which are not only beneficial for the consumer but also for the farmer as well as the environment. Emphasising on sustainable agriculture, Ritu Singh, Director, National Heritage Division, INTACH, says, "Unless we change our farming practices, we can neither save water nor the soil. By just buying organically produced food, you are not only increasing the nutritional intake of your family but also doing your bit for the farmer and the environment."

While there has been an increasing shift towards organic farming in the country, a trust-worthy market link is yet to be established. However, this is not the only challenge that initiatives such as Bhoomi Ka, INTACH and their collaborators such as Gandhi Smarak Nidhi, Millets for Health and Delhi Organic Farmer’s Market face. "Our focus now is on training the farmers, then hand-holding them through the process, enabling them to make the switch while ensuring profitability,” says Sanjay Singh of Gandhi Smarak Nidhi. He adds, "The state of the farmers right now is abysmal and they are aware of the perils of farming using chemicals.

They get nothing from the current farming system. The expenditure is high. They are steeped in debt and there is no income. In this scenario, if the farmer does not commit suicide, what else will he do?” While the input required to till land organically is cost-effective, the yield does not match the demand. However, Gupta and Singh are convinced that as more and more farmers adopt organic farming practices, the produce will be enough to meet demands. In addition, is the question of pricing. The scale of organic farming currently does not allow for the produce to be sold at competitive prices. At the festival, amidst impassioned pleas to go organic, were demos that made visitors aware of the ways in which these foods can be incorporated into our diets. “This food has disappeared from people's thalis. People have forgotten the taste and how to cook it. We have become a nation of rice and wheat eaters. A push from the consumers’ end has to come in for organic farming to flourish. These are mainstream foods and we teach people how to cook them. It’s the only way of bringing about behavioural change," says Pallavi Upadhyaya, co-founder, Millets for Health.

- http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/life-style/ashadh-mela-showcased-food-that-has-disappeared-from-our-platters-4743290/, July 10, 2017

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Ahmedabad UNESCO tag shows heritage not a burden: experts

Now that Ahmedabad has been declared a World Heritage City by UNESCO, historians, urban planners and others hope that policy-makers will stop looking at heritage as a "burden". The historic city of Gujarat, said to be founded by Sultan Ahmad Shah in the 15th century, was yesterday accorded the UNESCO honour, the first Indian city to get the status. The 600-year-old city has now joined the ranks of Paris, Vienna, Cairo, Brussels, Rome and Edinburgh and put India on the world heritage city map. "This is wonderful news and I hope it will make people look at heritage differently and open up the doors to many other old cities, which have the potential of becoming World Heritage Cities," noted urban planner and architect AGK Menon told PTI. He expressed the hope that policy-makers and others would not consider heritage as a burden and "anti-development".

The city of Delhi was nominated by India in 2015 for the same category but the Centre pulled out of the race towards the end of the process. Menon, former convener of the Delhi Chapter of the heritage group, INTACH, which had prepared the dossier for Delhi's nomination, said the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) and the state government as well as the people all worked "very hard to make this dream a reality". The honour, he said, was a "lesson" for civic bodies around the country, including in Delhi, to look at heritage as an asset as Ahmedabad did, and "preserve, conserve and restore" heritage sites for posterity.

The decision was taken during the ongoing 41st session of the World Heritage Committee in the Polish city of Krakow, which acknowledged the preservation efforts made by the city in keeping its historical fabric intact. The city's historic characteristics include densely - packed traditional houses ('pols') in gated traditional streets ('puras') with features such as bird feeders, public wells and religious institutions. Heritage activist Sohail Hashmi, who conducts regular walks in Old Delhi, was elated to learn about the recognition, but sounded a word of caution. "It is indeed a moment of pride for all of us. But this achievement comes with a price. We know Delhi's nomination was withdrawn because many decision-makers thought it (the UNESCO tag) would hamper urban infrastructure expansion," he said. He said it was ironical that the central government had recently approved an amendment to a heritage-related legislation to allow construction near protected monuments. "So, tomorrow, if they try to build a flyover near an iconic heritage building, the UNESCO may withdraw the tag," Hashmi said. The government in May had approved amendments to a law for allowing construction of Centre-funded infrastructure projects within the limits of "prohibited area" around protected monuments. "But I am hopeful that Ahmedabad will show the way to other cities, state and local governments and the Centre to go for heritage conservation. Old buildings, havelis, kothis and mansions would be restored and adaptively reused instead of being knocked down," he said. Almost all old cities, he said, had preserved their historic fabric. "Besides Delhi, cities such as Mumbai, Patna, Allahabad and Madurai could get the heritage tag," he said.

Delhi is home to three World Heritage Sites -- Humayun's Tomb, Red Fort and Qutub Minar. Ahmedabad has 26 ASI-protected structures, hundreds of 'pols' that capture the essence of community living and numerous sites associated with Mahatma Gandhi who lived there from 1915 to 1930. In 1984, the first study for conserving heritage structures was carried out in the city. A heritage cell was also set up by the AMC, the first civic body to do so. The city had featured in UNESCO's tentative list of world heritage cities on March 31, 2011. Expressing delight at the announcement, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had tweeted yesterday, "Thrilled to learn that Ahmedabad has been recognised as UNESCO World heritage city, first of its kind in India". Delhi-based Young heritage activist Vikramjit Singh Rooprai, who has also conducted walks for various public representatives, including many MLAs in the city, said Ahmedabad achieved this because of the "unwavering enthusiasm" of the people.

"I feel a bit sad that Delhi, which also deserves to be a World Heritage City, missed the bus in 2015, but Ahmedabad's achievement is something we must all take pride in. It has become the first city in India to get the UNESCO tag, and we must all rejoice in it and take lessons from the city," he said.

- http://www.ptinews.com/news/8870769_Ahmedabad-UNESCO-tag-shows-heritage-not-a-burden--experts.html, July 10, 2017

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Shravan 2017: 10 Biggest Shiva temples in South India

The auspicious month of Shravan, dedicated to Lord Shiva has begun. Devotees in the northern part of India will celebrate this month with utmost devotion and dedication. The Southern part of the country will celebrate this month after a fortnight owing to the difference between the Purnimant and Amavaysyant calendar. Mondays are extremely auspicious and devotees offer prayers and observe fast. And on this occasion, we will take you through some of the grandest temples of Lord Shiva in South India. Here’s taking a look at 10 biggest temples in south India built in reverence of Lord Shiva.

1) Brihadeshwara Temple in Tanjavur
Built by Raja Raja Chola I, the Briahadeshwara or the Tanjavur Periya Koil is a classic specimen of the living Chola art. The temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is over 1000 years-old and is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The main sanctum sanctorum has a 29 Ft tall Shiva Linga. One can find a 13 Ft Nandi (sacred bull) near the final entrance to the main temple complex. The Vimana or tower of this ancient temple is stands 198 Ft tall. The architecture and intricate carvings on the walls are truly matchless.

2) Thiravanaikaval Temple in Thrichy (Water)
The temple dedicated to Lord Shiva that represents the water element of nature is known as Jamukeshwara and is located in Thiravanaikaval near Thrichy in Tamil Nadu. Believed to be around 1800 years-old, the Thiravanaikaval Temple is home to the Akhilandeshwari form of Goddess Pavati and she is worshipped as Lord Shiva’s disciple here.

3) Meenakshi Sundareshwara Temple in Madurai
This magnificent piece of spiritual architecture in Tamil Nadu’s Madurai city, has been in existence for over thousands of years. The origin of the temple dates back to the 1600 B.C and is a classic specimen of Vedic tradition. The temple complex has temples dedicated to Meenakshi and her divine consort Sundareshwarar (Shiva).

4) Vadakkunathan Temple in Trisshur
Beleived to be built in the seventh century, the Vadakkunathan Temple in Kerala’s Trisshur is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple’s architecture reflects Kerala’s style with monumental towers on all four sides and a Kuttambalam. Devotees from various parts of the country visit the temple during Maha Shivaratri. Over one Lakh lamps are lighted on the day of the festival.

5) Mahabalaeshwara Temple in Gokarna
Situated in the Gokarna region of Karnataka on the shores of the Arabian Sea, the Mahabaleshwara Temple has a Atma Linga, also known as Prana Linga. It is the Linga believed to have been given to Ravana by Lord Shiva himself. The demon king of Lanka, who was instructed not to place the Linga on ground, was duped by Ganesha while enroute to him home. The Linga, after being placed on the ground by Ganesha, could not be moved by Ravana. On realising Shiva’s power, Ravana named his Mahabala and hence the name Mahabaleshwara. The idol is believed to be over 1500 years old.

6)Murudeshwara Temple in Murudeshwara
This is the place where the cloth placed on the Atma Lingam gifted to Ravana by Lord Shiva himself. Situated on the shore of Arabian Sea in northern Karnataka, Murudeshwara Temple has the second tallest Shiva statue which stands 123 ft tall and a tower which is 249 ft in height. 7) Gangaikonda Temple in Tanjavur Built by Rajendra Chola I, son and successor of Raja Raja Chola, the Gangaikonda Temple in Tanjavur is one of the greatest specimens of the Chola art. The temple complex has a number of sculptures carved out of stone and each exhibit the aura of the majestic times of royal past.

8) Uma Maheshwara temple in Yaganti Situated in the Kurnool region of Andhra Pradesh, the Uma Maheshwara temple in Yaganti was built during the 5th and the 6th century. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple has a Nandi that has water coming out from its mouth. The source of the water hasn’t been discovered yet.

9) Sangamaeshwara Temple in Alampur
Originally built on the confluence of the Krishna and Tunghabhadra rivers, the Sangamaeshwara Temple, believed to have been built by Pulakesin I, was dismantled from its site during the Srisailam Dam project and rebuilt in its current location in Alampur. The temple that derives its name from the confluence of the Krishna and Tunghabhadra rivers, is a classic specimen of the Chalukyan period.

10) Hoysalaeshwara Temple in Halebid
Built by Vishnuvardhana of the Hoysala empire in the 12th century, the Hoysalaeshwara Temple in Halebid narrates the glorious architectural genious of the ruler of that time.

- http://zeenews.india.com/travel/shravan-2017-10-biggest-shiva-temples-in-south-india-1979551.htm, July 10, 2017

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Heritage SBI Chandni Chowk building stands tall in changing times

The majestic four-storey building of the State Bank of India (SBI) in Chandni Chowk is extremely valuable and has multiple layers of history. The building bears witness to Delhi’s history dating back from the end of the Mughal dynasty to the massacre of 1857 mutiny and later to the new era of independent India. Set up in 1806, the 80-feet high colonial building is the oldest branch of the SBI, and one of the largest in the country even today. It is architecturally one of the most significant 19th century buildings in Chandni Chowk. The branch was declared a heritage building in the year 2002. However, this treasure trove is slowly being forgotten by its own people. The untold and unseen part of this heritage and the legacy of Indian history is unique. The building also houses a mini-museum at the main reception area of the bank highlighting these little known facts.

Located in the heart of Old Delhi’s bustling business centre, which once housed the court of the English rulers, the building was acquired by the Bank of Delhi in 1847. It was here that bank manager George Beresford, his wife, and five daughters were killed by freedom fighters in 1857 during the siege of Delhi. The Imperial Bank of India, the predecessor of SBI, later acquired this imposing building. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) operated from here for some years. The memories of their burning the soiled and mutilated notes are ensconced in the incinerator and its chimney.

The marks are still visible in the courtyard. Enriched with hexastyle Corinthian columns, balustrade terrace, arched doorways, spiral iron staircase, old English lifts, and tinted glass windows, the building epitomises European architectural elegance. The imposing Palladian edifice dominates the business of Chandni Chowk even to this day. The bank was owned by a Brit, Dyce Sombre, and other stakeholders comprising of native businessmen. It was housed in this stately building in the year 1857. It was, however, reduced to a derelict during the Anglo-Indian War of 1857. “Some of the Britons, found hiding in the city, were held captive within the palace and were killed on May 16, 1857, regardless of the protests for such a barbaric act by the Emperor himself. On May 16, about noon, the then Bank of Delhi was attacked and plundered. All its chief servants, after resistance, were massacred. Mr Beresford, the manager of the Delhi Bank, took refuge with his wife and family on the roof of one of the outbuilding. And there, for some time, they stood at bay, he with a sword in his hand, ready to strike. But despite fierce resistance from Beresford and his wife, they were both killed along with five others. They are buried in the St James Church and a plaque has been put up in their memory," wrote some historians in their books. After the bank was declared a heritage building in the year 2002, restoration work took place.

The sandstone on the plinth had faded, sandstone steps had been replaced with cement; the original iron railings were replaced; lime plaster was done up with cement plaster, thereby altering the character and also setting off a deterioration process in the brickwork; and the classical elements of the upper verandah had been hidden behind concrete screens. The banking hall was also restored. The idea was to restore the building’s historical character and adapt the interiors to meet new needs. During restoration, lime plaster was returned to the facade as well as the red sandstone steps were reconstructed. Wrought iron railings replaced the existing railings and wooden windows replaced the concrete screens.

- http://www.asianage.com/metros/delhi/100717/heritage-sbi-chandni-chowk-building-stands-tall-in-changing-times.html, July 10, 2017

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INTACH grooms school students as ambassadors of heritage

From restoration of built heritage and artwork to films, talks and guided walks at iconic sites, a group of school students learned the ropes about cultural conservation from experts in Delhi. Seeking to turn them into “ambassadors of heritage preservation", the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) here took 15 national winners, picked out from its outreach campaign ‘My City, My Heritage’, on a three-day educational tour that began on Wednesday. The students visited the Humayun’s Tomb, a World Heritage Site, and Sanskriti Kendra's Anandagram in Mehrauli, besides attending an interaction with a Dastangoi (medieval storytelling art form) artiste.

"At the Humayun’s Tomb, children of Nizamuddin Basti took them on a heritage walk and informed about the restoration work of the monument undertaken by the Aga Khan Foundation," Purnima Datt, principal director, Heritage Education and Communication Service (HECS), INTACH, told PTI. At Anandagram, they learned about terracotta and other everyday objects with heritage value, she said. INTACH had organised a pan-India campaign with the support of its 100 regional chapters across 100 cities. Around 12,000 students from class VI-IX participated in essay writing and poster-making competitions capturing their city’s heritage.

Following a three-phased competitive evaluation, 100 regional and 15 national winners were selected. "We want them to carry forward the legacy and the tour aims at raising their awareness level so that they can further sensitise other people back in their cities, she said. On first day of the tour, the students were taken to the material heritage conservation laboratory, where they learned about restoration of old paintings and miniatures, the right way to mount and frame them and were given pointers on the conservation of built heritage.

Former INTACH Delhi Chapter convener and architect AGK Menon gave a talk on the heritage of Delhi and its bid for a World Heritage City tag. "Students are a very potent force and if you are able to give them the right message they will process it and work on it in their own way," Menon said. Shruti Jeyaraman of class IX from Chennai, whose essay entry 'Symphony of the South’ won the award, said, “Heritage is something that ought to be conserved because in an extremely fast-developing world, it is the only connection we have with our past. For me heritage is something living and it is our duty to conserve it." On last day of the tour today, the students visited the National Museum. They would also watch heritage-themed films at the INTACH headquarters, where a felicitation and award ceremony for the students is scheduled in the evening.

- http://www.india.com/news/agencies/intach-grooms-school-students-as-ambassadors-of-heritage-2310287/, July 11, 2017

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INTACH roots for protection of forest and wildlife

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) is expanding its activities to forest and wildlife protection in Telangana. INTACH has its chapters in all major cities in the country with focus on protecting monuments. The Hyderabad chapter, probably for the first time, is expanding its focus. Speaking to The Hans India, INTACH Telangana convenor, P Anuradha Reddy on Monday, said, “The trust feels it should look beyond monuments as there is no enough representation in the State as far as wildlife and environment protection is concerned.

INTACH plans to work closely with NGOs who work for the cause of wildlife and environment protection. What prompted the decision was the failure on part of activists to stop trees being cut for roads. A member said, “There was no proper representation in the case of KBR Park issue. It is a major cause for worry.” After bifurcation of the State, there is hardly any forest land in Telangana.

There are only a few sanctuaries. Though the State government had come up with schemes such as Haritha Haram, INTACH members say that the implementation of the programme is far from satisfaction. Anuradha Reddy says, “Telangana has a rocky terrain and unless the forest cover increases, there would be no future. There are a lot of issues that no one is talking about. The sowing of seeds to grow grass for sheep is a welcome step. INTACH is in talks with two NGOs in the State who work in the sphere of wildlife and forests. Meena Iyer, a wildlife enthusiast, says, “This augurs well for the State as there is need for strong voices. INTACH is well known and can act as a major force.”

- http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Telangana/2017-07-11/INTACH-roots-for-protection-of-forest-and-wildlife/311544, July 11, 2017

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44 heritage sites of the city to come alive in voice of MICA students

MICA Vaani, MICA’s student- run community radio station, had recently recorded audio guides for 44 heritage sites in Ahmedabad. These audio guides will help tourists in getting information about various heritage sites of the city. We researched on various heritage sites, scripted and recorded audio guides at our MICAVaani studio. These would be soon converted into bar codes by INTACH’s (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) Ahmedabad chapter, and made available to tourists visiting the country’s first World Heritage City-Ahmedabad, as part of the Smart Signage project. The project, in joint collaboration with AMC, was undertaken by INTACH under the guidance of convenor Abhay Mangaldas. MICAVaani, MICA’s student- run community radio station, had recently recorded audio guides for 44 heritage sites in Ahmedabad.

These would be soon converted into bar codes by INTACH’s (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) Ahmedabad chapter, and made available to tourists visiting the country’s first World Heritage City-Ahmedabad, as part of the Smart Signage project. The project, in joint collaboration with AMC, was undertaken by INTACH under the guidance of convenor Abhay Mangaldas. DNA had reported about it in November 2016. These audio guides will help tourists in getting information about various heritage sites of the city. Vyom Vasavada, a second year student and MICAVaani member, said, “Our team of 18 was very excited when the project came to us.

We researched on various heritage sites, scripted and recorded audio guides at our MICAVaani studio. We learnt a lot about the city through our research. We wish to create awareness about the same through this project.” MICA dean, Dr Preeti Shroff, said, “MICA community congratulates Ahmedabad and those who made efforts which resulted into UNESCO granting the World Heritage City status to Ahmedabad.” Saying that youths can serve as an important contributor in preservation of heritage, Shroff added, “We at MICA are very proud about the ongoing collaboration with AMC, INTACH, Abhay Mangaldas and other leaders for creating signages for all important historic monuments in the city.” She added, “Every drop in the ocean counts and we will continue to engage MICA students via our community radio MICAVaani to learn from the communities of this heritage city and its rich culture."

- https://www.nyoooz.com/news/ahmedabad/863782/44-heritage-sites-of-the-city-to-come-alive-in-voice-of-mica-students/, July 11, 2017

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Device to shield monuments from damage by lightning

Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) will install lightning conductors in the centuries-old monuments in Allahabad like Victoria Memorial and Khusrau Bagh to protect them against adverse weather conditions.The conductors would be installed during the monsoon when there is no construction work underway.Victoria Memorial is a 111-year-old building with a huge canopy and structures which are vulnerable to lightning during thunderstorms.

"In case of any damage due to the lightning, the city may lose a beautiful monument famous for its British-era architectural design and historical importance. Lightning had damaged a famous temple at the world heritage UNESCO site Khajuraho, two years ago. So we do not want to take a chance," said ASI assistant conservation, Allahabad sub-circle, KC Tripathi.Tripathi said the work would start after government's sanctions amount and Rs 50,000 have been allocated for each monument.The Italian limestone canopy of the Victoria Memorial was inaugurated on March 24, 1906 by James Digges La Touche.He said safety protocol on lightning at Khusrau Bagh would also be reviewed and the damaged conductors would be replaced accordingly.The 400-year-old large walled Khusro Bagh sports grand mausoleums of Khusrau Mirza, who was the eldest son of eldest son of emperor Jahangir. The moument also served as the headquarters for sepoys the first war of Independence in Allahabad region."The work for installing lightning conductors at Khusrau Bagh will start after going through each of these mausoleums," added Tripathi.

- https://www.nyoooz.com/news/allahabad/863917/device-to-shield-monuments-from-damage-by-lightning/, July 11, 2017

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How Ahmedabad Became India's First UNESCO-Recognised World Heritage City

"Thrilled to announce! Ahmedabad has just been declared India’s first World Heritage city by UNESCO,” tweeted Ruchira Kamboj, India’s permanent representative to the United Nations cultural agency, United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). On July 8, 2017, Ahmedabad became the first Indian city to be declared as a World Heritage City. Fifteenth century poet, Ulvi Shiraz described Ahmedabad as a pretty mole on earth’s face. In the 17th century, when European traveller Gemelli Careri came to the city, he compared it to Venice. In the 19th century, travellers Edwin Arnold and Henry George Briggs felt that the city was like a muse for poets and painters. What began almost three decades ago culminated in this announcement on Saturday. A study for conserving heritage structures was initiated by the Ford Foundation in 1984 and it was in 2011 that Ahmedabad made it to the UNESCO’s tentative list of heritage sites.

In March 2016, Ahmedabad was chosen over Delhi and Mumbai. Twenty other countries supported this nomination at the 41st session of its World Heritage Committee meeting in Krakow, Poland. Ahmedabad joins Paris, Cairo, Brussels, Edinburgh, and Rome as cities, which have been given this tag. Signatory countries to the World Heritage Convention pledging to protect their natural and cultural heritage, can submit nomination proposals for properties on their territory to be considered for inclusion in UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

There is a five-step Nomination process to being conferred the status by UNESCO. It starts with a tentative list in which each country needs to make an inventory of all its natural and cultural heritage sites located within its boundaries. Ahmedabad, Delhi, and Mumbai were the three Indian cities on the tentative list. Then the cities on the Tentative List file a nomination with UNESCO. This file is made by the State party and is an exhaustive document, which clearly lays down all the reasons why the nominations deserve to be recognised. This document is then forwarded to the appropriate advisory board for evaluation. Two Advisory Bodies mandated by the World Heritage Convention independently evaluate the nominated property: the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Once a site has been nominated and evaluated, it is up to the intergovernmental World Heritage Committee to make the final decision on its inscription. The Committee meets once a year and decides on which sites will be inscribed on the World Heritage List. The committee has a list of criteria for selection and to be included on the World Heritage List, the sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of the ten selection criteria that the committee uses, some of them are:

1) To exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design.

2) To bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilisation which is living or which has disappeared.
3) To be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates a) significant stages(s) in human history.
Some of the reasons why Ahmedabad made it to the list were that there are over 50 museums in the state of Gujarat of which 22 are in Ahmedabad. From the Calico textile museum to Gandhi Memorial Museum, this city has a very rich and vibrant historical trail. With many historical monuments across the city, Ahmedabad architecture is a blend of both Islamic and Hindu heritage. The 15th century Bhadra fort and the Jhulta minar are testimonies of the influence that various cultures have had on its architecture. Some of the other examples of functional and cultural architecture include the Adalaj stepwell, which is a fusion of Hindu and Islamic architecture. The other contenders for this coveted status were Delhi and Mumbai.

The Indian Express reported, Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma said, “While Delhi’s proposal has been stuck with the Urban Development Ministry since last year, Mumbai’s proposal was not very strong. So we have decided to nominate Ahmedabad, which had a clear-cut proposal.” However, the process of acquiring this tag has not been an easy and smooth process for Ahmedabad. The Indian Express reported, In June this year, members of the World Heritage Committee had visited Ahmedabad and had informed the Central government that it has deferred Ahmedabad’s world heritage city nomination. In a detailed note, the World Heritage Committee had stated that it was not satisfied with the documentation related to the “outstanding universal values” for Ahmedabad’s walled city, referring to the city’s urban fabric, spaces, and buildings. What transpired between this report in June and July is open to speculation. But it is indeed a moment of pride that one of our cities has been conferred this honour.

- http://www.thebetterindia.com/108053/ahmedabad-indias-first-unesco-recognised-world-heritage-city/, July 12, 2017

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Exploring heritage through storytelling

Gopala Krishna, of Visakhapatnam started ‘Hyderabad Trails’ in June 2015 to explore the city’s architecture, heritage and culture. He shares experiences of the city by organising walks, gatherings, and events. “Story-telling is a good art form and extensively used in ancient times. It is also a challenge for the storyteller because we must narrate in front of the live audience and we get immediate feedback. Before the Hyderabad Trails, I used to make short films. I am always interested to visit new places and knowing about stories and heritage. I started Hyderabad Trails to build a community of like-minded people to share stories about the city,” said Gopala Krishna.

Hyderabad Trails started at the time of Ramadan in 2015 and organised a special Ramadan walk in old-city. “Through Hyderabad Trails, we curate the stories and heritage of the city through organised walks and activities that explore the city’s natural, built and cultural heritage. The walks will engage the participants through art forms like storytelling, sketching, music and help build an appreciation for and a sense of connection with the city,” said Gopala Krishna. Explaining how it all started, Gopala Krishna shares, "In cities like Delhi and Bengaluru many activities are being organised to explore the culture. Hyderabad has great architecture, age-old monuments and no one has been organising any walks to explore it. I decided to do a Ramadan walk in 2015 in the Old City on my own and posted on Facebook about it. The post went viral, and I got responses of more than 1,000 people within a week. This walk inspired me to create Hyderabad Trails.” Till now, Hyderabad Trails organised more than 100 walks in and around the city.

Some of the walks include ‘Monsieur Raymond’s Tomb’, ‘Music Trail in KBR Walkway’, ‘Ramadan Night Walks’, ‘Sketching Kacheguda Station’ and ‘Visit to Rail Museum’, ‘Jane Jacob’s Walks’, ‘The Shiva Festival’ at ‘Keesaragutta’, ‘Sketch Walk in ‘Qutub Shahi Tombs’, and more. Gopala Krishna also said that his team does research about the area’s history and anecdotes before organising any walk. His team also recently organised the second edition of Nazariya International Women’s Film Festival-April, 2017 in Hyderabad. Hyderabad Trails is also planning to organise 50 walks in August as part of their ‘Jashn-e-Hyderabad’ initiative. “A storyteller must have the desire to share and has to create an imagination in other people through his skills,” concludes Gopala Krishna. By V Sateesh Reddy

- http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Telangana/2017-07-11/Exploring-heritage-through-storytelling/311679/, July 12, 2017

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Where the walls whisper

When Ilay Cooper first came hitch-hiking to India as a 22-year-old, he hadn’t anticipated a life-long relationship with the art and architecture of Rajasthan. On his second visit in 1972, Cooper cycled across North India and discovered Shekhawati, lled with grand havelis and mansions bearing intricate frescoes. Cooper’s extensive travels along with Ravindra Sharma of Churu resulted in two books: The Painted Towns of Shekhawati and Rajasthan: Exploring Painted Shekhawati, now in its fourth edition *ROHIT JAIN PARAS AND ILAY COOPER. As compared to its counterparts in colourful Rajasthan, this region, somehow, doesn’t figure high on the tourist itinerary. But for an art lover like Cooper, who roams around the UK in a caravan and was recently invited to India by Jaipur Rugs Company to give a talk on the subject, it was paradise. Ornate havelis bearing extraordinary paintings are a tradition here. Shekhawati, comprising the districts of Jhunjhunu, Nagaur, Sikar and Churu, was founded by Rajput warrior Maharao Shekha. He broke away from the powerful Kachwaha dynasty of Jaipur, and declared himself independent in 1471. The Shekhwat rulers built several forts and palaces during their 500-year rule over the Shekhawati region.

A series of forts, built long ago to protect Shekhawati from invasion, crowns the line of the Aravalli hills. Shekhawati’s frescoes are found on havelis, forts, temples and palaces. The artists, chiteras (Hindu potters) and chejaras (Muslim masons), drew from mythology, royalty, folk legends, animals and plants, and daily lives. They used a richer palette which included natural cinnabar, green copper chloride, Indian yellow and natural ultramarine made from lapis lazuli, gold and silver. The painters drew their designs and then painted them in. The paintings on exterior walls were often painted onto damp plaster so that the pigment was bound into the setting wall. They used cheaper pigments which were very resilient and could survive strong sunlight.

From 1850 onwards, two new artificial pigments became more important — chrome red and artificial ultramarine blue, which had been synthesised in Europe. The murals were painted on fine, dry plaster and were often the work of teams of professional artists, particularly from in and around Jaipur, who assimilated influences from their surroundings into their art. Changing forces of power too reflected in their art. During the Raj, western imagery like gramophones, English ladies, motorcars, and trains blended with the traditional motifs adorning the walls. But the days of the traditional Shekhawati painters are long over, rues Cooper. "When I settled in this region in the 1970s, there were still some men who had learnt the old methods.

The masons still do the work, but the men who paint now use modern pigments applied to dry plaster. The painter, Kesardev Naik, in the picture, is descended from masons who moved to Lakshmangarh in the early 19th Century.” The photograph shows the view from Bakhtawar Mahal, which is within the fort above Khetri. The view from the hilltop fort is breathtaking. Until 1987, when the old raja died, Bakhtawar Mahal was locked. Later, it was left open and suffered vandalism. But do look out for panels depicting Raja Bakhtawar in court and line drawings of Jaipur city. Carrying out the INTACH survey, we slept there a couple of times when in the vicinity. We were provided with a Rajdoot 175cc motorcycle. That spoiled me for the freedom it offered. Since then, I have had a motorbike which I shared with Ravindraji, in India. I rarely use it now. Khetri is also the second-largest hub of Shekhawat Rajputs and the town is known for its copper-rich mines. One of the most unique and largest havelis in Lakshmangarh - a fortified town in Sikar district — the Char Chowk haveli is actually a pair of two chowk havelis built side-by-side. It was built by Muralidhar Ganeriwala, a Marwari trader in the 1840s, with some marvellous frescoes. While the most exposed paintings on the outer walls have faded, those between the brackets survive and include pictures of birds, soldiers and even a giraffe. A particular painting that stands out is that of a bird perched on an elephant. Much painted plaster has fallen from the walls of this haveli. You find some erotic paintings in the master bedroom in the northern part of these two havelis. While this part is empty, the southern section of the haveli is inhabited. The Girdarilal Sigtia haveli is remarkable for its many, brightly-painted upper rooms, depicting folk tales. It is situated in the south-eastern sector of Bissau, a small town east of Churu. There is a considerable individual variation between the style and subjects of the paintings in each town, presumably depending on the local team of painters.

In Fatehpur, a large panel of Gajalakshmi can be found in a deep ultramarine blue background. A team based at the town of Chirawa in the early 20th Century favoured carefully-shaded pink-cheeked faces. Ramgarh specialised in eccentric fish designs. It is important to note that the variation was between towns rather than havelis, says the art historian. When Churu faced a famine during 1956, the widow of Bhagwandas Bagla got a water reservoir built to provide relief to the inhabitants of the area. Some of his philanthropic zeal had rubbed off on the lady as well. Literally translated, the name means ‘The reservoir of the wealthy lady’. This historic site is a must-visit place to experience, in particular, the sunset when the water body attracts a lot of thirsty birds, nilgai and tourists. I used to cycle out to it for some quiet when I was living in Churu. It was the source of drinking water for a nearby village. Today, folk come by vehicles to drink liquor and throw bottles and plastic plates into its water. A few hotels located close to the tranquil spot bring in their guests for high tea. Chhatris or cenotaphs, built to commemorate kings and wealthy merchants, are a common sight in this region. The Sahaj Ram Poddar Chhatri in Mahansar, dedicated to a famous businessman, is one fine example of it. Built over Sahaj Ram Poddar’s cremation site in 1836, there is an inscription on a kirti stambh.

On the chhatri, you find paintings done in the traditional mode, with strong imagery comprising figures painted in natural ochre against a simple or bare background. We used one of the images on the front of the first edition of my book, The Painted Towns of Shekhawati. Ravindra and I once spent a night in this chhatri. The glow of our bidis attracted some men to come and investigate the odd lights — they clearly thought we were ghosts. This residence came up in 1905 just outside the walls of Nawalgarh. It was built by the Kulwal merchant family and was richly painted. One mural in the forecourt shows a train with one truck addressed to a prominent local merchant, Ram Chandra Goenka of Dundlod. Now, it is home to the Kedwals.

The town of Nawalgarh, among the biggest in Shekhawati, was founded by Thakur Nawal Singh in 1737. Referred to as the open-air gallery, the murals one finds on Anandilal Poddar Haveli, the Jodhraj Patodia Haveli, Bansidhar Bhagat Haveli, Chokhani Haveli, the Aath (eight) Haveli complex, Chhawchhariya Haveli, Murarka Haveli, Hem Raj Kulwal Haveli, Bhagton Ki Haveli, and Khedwal Bhavan remain unmatched.

- http://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/travel/where-the-walls-whisper/article19265161.ece, July 13, 2017

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1,300-year-old temple near Nandi Hills to be developed into a tourist hub

The Tourism Department and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have joined hands to promote tourism in and around Nandi Hills, 50 km north of Bengaluru. As a first step, they will restore the 1,300-year-old Bhoga Nandeeshwara Temple located on the foothills of Nandi Hills. Next in line will be restoration of other heritage sites around Nandi Hills and Devanahalli. "We have been brainstorming on developing Nandi Hills and the places around Devanahalli into a tourism circuit. Details are being worked out on how to improve Bhoga Nandeeshwara Temple and the places around it,” N Manjula, Director, Tourism Department, said. She continued: "Work on landscaping the area around the temple will begin soon.

The Tourism Department has identified two acres of land near the temple for landscaping, creating parking space, building a cafeteria and toilets. Talks are on with the ASI for temple restoration.” K Moortheswari, Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, Bengaluru Circle, said Nandi Hills was a beginning. "We have decided to restore all heritage monuments in Bengaluru and across Karnataka,” she said. The Centre has sanctioned Rs 8 crore to the ASI’s Bengaluru Circle for this fiscal year. Rs 1 crore is estimated to be required for restoration of Bhoga Nandeeshwara Temple. But the Centre is yet to approve the final estimate. Once the approval comes, the timeline for the restoration will be decided. "We have planned to host an exhibition on September 24, which is the International Tourism Day, on the temple premises to showcase its rich history and archaeology. Photographs and some details of other archaeological sites will also be displayed. While many people visit Nandi Hills, a few of them go to the temple.

We want to draw more people here,” Moortheswari said. This apart, the Tourism Department is looking for land around Tipu Fort in Devanahalli for landscaping. The Indian Oil Foundation has come forward to spend Rs 5 crore as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) on acquiring land around the fort, improving the structure and its surroundings, Manjula added. Vijay Mahanta, the administrative manager of Bhoga Nandeeshwara Temple, said the monument was acid-washed three months ago. "There are fewer visitors now as marriages no longer take place on the temple premises. From Saturday through Monday, 5,000-odd people (including local residents) visit the temple. On other days, the number is just 1,000,” he said.

- http://www.deccanherald.com/content/622441/1300-year-old-temple-near.html, July 13, 2017

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KUDA, ASI to join hands for beautification of Warangal Fort

At last, the development and beautification works planned under National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) scheme will commence at Warangal Fort with the Kakatiya Urban Development Authority (KUDA) set to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) within a month.

According to official sources, Director General of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) gave the nod to ink the MoU with the KUDA. The Centre chose the historic Warangal city under the Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) scheme in 2015 along with 11 heritage cities in the country for holistic development, and a total of Rs 40 crore have been allotted to take up the development works at Thousand Pillar temple, Kazipet Dargah, Bhadrakali tank bund, Padmakshamma hillock and Warangal Fort. Rs 15 crore against a total of Rs 40 crore were already earmarked for the development of Warangal fort. However, the KUDA, which is the executing agency for the HRIDAY scheme, could not take up the works at the fort as it was awaiting permission from the ASI to take up even minor works at the fort since it is a protected monument. In view of this, KUDA authorities waged a long administrative battle with the ASI and finally succeeded in getting permission. "We got the ASI’s approval after much pain.

Several meetings were held. It is a big achievement as several other ancient and historical cities including Gaya and Amritsar have failed to get approval to take up works at ASI-protected monuments,” a senior official told Telangana Today. KUDA is planning to revive the moat along the inner stonewall and also take up the repair and improvement works at the four gates besides other works under the HRIDAY scheme.

- https://telanganatoday.com/kuda-asi-join-hands-for-beautification-warangal-fort, July 14, 2017

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Mughal Gardens declared as Protected Heritage Sites

The Government Wednesday declared Shalimar Garden Srinagar, Mughal Garden Sahibabad, Jogigund Achabal Anantnag, Cheshmashahi Spring and Garden Srinagar , Nishat Garden Srinagar as Protected Monument. According to a Government order issued by the Department of Culture and in consonance with the powers conferred under sub-section (1) of Section 3 of the Jammu and Kashmir Heritage Conservation and Preservation Act, 2010, (Act No. XV of 2010), "Shalimar garden Srinagar” along with the land measuring 283 Kanals and 11 Marlas falling under Khasra No 328 has been declared has Protected Monument. Similarly, the " Mughal garden ( Sahibabad/ Jogigund Achabal, District Anantnag” along with land measuring 142 Kanals and 9 Marlas and Cheshmashahi Spring along with its Garden Srinagar land measuring 130 Kanals and 06 Marlas and Nishat Garden ,Srinagar along with the land measuring 395 Kanals and 14 Marlas as Protected Heritage Sites.

- http://risingkashmir.com/news/mughal-gardens-declared-as-protected-heritage-sites, July 14, 2017

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Tourism Deptt holds live demonstration of Islamic Calligraphic works

The Department of Tourism Kashmir organized an on-site live demonstration of Islamic Calligraphic works of noted artists and students at newly constructed Tourism Information Centre near Jamia Masjid here. The event known as Khush Khat- a celebration of Islamic Calligraphy in Kashmir – was inaugurated by the oldest surviving calligrapher from Srinagar Mohammad Amin in presence of Director Tourism Kashmir Mahmood A Shah, Secretary J&K Academy of Culture, Art and Languages Dr. Aziz Hajini, INTACH’s JK convener Saleem Beg besides known artists, citizens and journalists. The event is being organized in collaboration with Academy of Art, Culture and Languages and INTACH state chapter.

Around 50 students from different schools of the downtown Srinagar, artists from Cultural Academy and other artists had put on display their calligraphic works in Arabic, Persian and Kashmiri language. Some of the students of the Institute of Music and Fine Arts, Srinagar had also put the calligraphic works through art and design beautifully on canvas painting. The event is a part of Tourism Department’s initiative to promote old city as a heritage corridor. Director Tourism Kashmir Shah said that development of Jamia Masjid market including improving lightening and beautifying its surroundings is Rs 4.29 crore centrally sponsored scheme to promote old city for heritage and culture tourism. “We have rich heritage, culture, art and craft in this area of downtown.

We want to preserve and promote it. This weeklong calligraphy event is one of its components which will help us revive and reclaim our ancestral calligraphic art,” said Shah. INTACH’s JK convener Saleem Beg said people should know the rich heritage, culture and the art of this place. Some of the calligraphic works of the displayed art were purchased on the first day by the locals. Ishfaq Ahmad who has displayed his calligraphy in Arabic, Persian and also in Kashmiri language sold most of this calligraphic works to locals on the first day only. The department is also planning more such exhibitions to promote Srinagar heritage under one roof.

- http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/immortalised-by-nizam-ignored-by-the-state/articleshow/59660502.cms, July 18, 2017

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Immortalised By Nizam, Ignored By The State

Speak of heritage and we conjure up images of forts, palaces and even mausoleums. But there are smaller, more ubiquitous struc tures that many of us pass by everyday and fail to give a second look. Kamans or arches, that once formed grand and symbolic gateways to many areas stand as an epitome of a glorious past falling prey to apathy. One such arch is the historic Moula Ali Kaman. Six years after its 'restoration' by the archaeology department, the imposing gateway to the famous Moula Ali dargah cries for attention. A portion of the Kaman has been vandalized and the iron rods in one of its supporting pillars stand exposed with the `con crete' plaster falling off. The Moula Ali Kaman, which was constructed during the early period of the Asaf Jah dynasty, continues to be the land mark entrance to the dargah as well as the locality named after the shrine. A two-storey structure built with stones and lime, the Kaman has a big arch with four windows, two on each side.

Two large pillars support the canopy of the arch while two smaller pillars each on both sides support the windows. The canopy contains a number of small arches. Though the city has a number of kamans, the one at Moula Ali stands apart for architectural, cultural and religious significance. It is a protected structure, with heritage activists estimating it to be 200-250 years old. In the olden days, it was a practice for devotees to stop at the Kaman and remember the Almighty before climbing the 500 steps that lead to the dargah atop the hill.The Asaf Jah rulers too used to visit the shrine and one such occasion was immor talised by the 'prince of photographers' Raja Deen Dayal. In the 1890s, he clicked the mag nificent scene of the sixth Nizam Mir Mah bub Ali Khan sitting atop an elephant and returning from the dargah in a grand procession of nobles and soldiers.

Trouble began for the Kaman in the 1990s with an increase in vehicular traffic.The damage due to the vibrations caused by vehicles was compounded by an accident in 2006 that nearly brought the arch down. The authorities then proposed to pull down the Kaman to widen the road, but had to back down in 2010 after activists took legal recourse. The archaeology department spent nearly Rs 12 lakh to 'reconstruct' the Kaman in 2011-12, after which it was thrown open to light motor vehicles and two-wheelers. "Moula Ali Kaman is unique and should be protected for posterity. The damaged portion of the Kaman should be repaired to prevent further damage," said Anuradha Reddy, convener of Hyderabad chapter of INTACH.

- http://www.dailyexcelsior.com/tourism-deptt-holds-live-demonstration-of-islamic-calligraphic-works/, July 19, 2017

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2000 Year Old Burial Urns Found In A Government School Of Tamil Nadu

While construction workers were digging below 10 feet in order to lay the foundation of a water tank that was to be placed overhead in the school, they unexpectedly hit upon the ancient remains. Upon being informed by the school headmaster, the district administration sent an inspection team at the school. After conducting a survey, the inspection team found pieces of mortar bricks and three urns. Thandikudi in Kodaikanal, Kodumanal in Erode and Aathichanallur near Thoothukudi are some other places where similar burial urns have been found in Tamil Nadu.

S Nantha Kumar, curator of Chera Museum of the archaeology department of Tamil Nadu, revealed that as per an ancient Tamil practice, a huge earthen pot, that used to be known by the name Mudhumakkal Thazhi, was created to bury old people when they died. Elaborating further on the discovery of these ancient burial urns, Nantha Kumar said, The history of Mudhumakkal Thazhi is over 3000 years old and these pots should be at least 2000 years old if we go by the black and brown color. Pieces of bones that have been found with the pots further add value to our theory of it being Mudhumakkal Thazhi. We are going to send a report to the commissioner of the state archaeology department.

- http://topyaps.com/burial-urns-found-tamil-nadu, July 19, 2017

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A 100 forgotten stepwells of Telangana documented for the first time ever!

Heritage connoisseurs will soon be able to get a peek of the haunting beauty and rustic charm of Telangana's long-forgotten stepwells, a hundred of them, all at once. After nearly a year's research and painstaking field trips criss-crossing the countryside, the Hyderabad Design Forum (HDF) — a posse of history and heritage enthusiasts — has tracked down 100 ancient, neglected stepwells, that will be documented in a book titled 'Forgotten stepwells of Telangana'. Slated to be unveiled in January, the 200-page book will showcase the rich legacy of the techniques of stepwell construction in the state, and the deplorable state in which most of these structures are today, says architect AR Yeshwant Ramamurthy, who heads the documentation and research wing of the group. "Backed by historical documents, photographs and essays on history and climatology, it will serve as a one-stop resource on the topic for researchers and architects," says Yeshwant. While the group has identified about 100 stepwells in the state, official records of the Dept of Archaeology and Museums, Telangana state put the figure at only 35. "Fifty per cent of these priceless structures can be revived if the authorities initiate restoration efforts immediately. Otherwise, they will be lost forever," says Yeshwant, lamenting that neither the Archaeological Survey of India nor the State Archaeology department has undertaken any steps for the facelift. Apart from their rich heritage aspect, he says, the stepwells can once again serve as drinking water sources for local communities, depending on maintenance. "Centuries of neglect have put heavy pressure on these wells, but they still get back some of their old-age charm when monsoon fills these treasures of the past. But the irony is that slowly, they have been turned into dumping yards by locals, and no one cares for them anymore," points out Yeshwant. A lost treasure found in Hyd. Formed in 2015, the HDF today comprises 20 active members and has a dedicated 10-member research team. The group was instrumental in the resurfacing of a 65-feet stepwell in Uppuguda, Hyderabad, recently. "This vertical deep structure belongs to the Qutb Shahi era, and its architectural style is similar to that of other stepwells built by the dynasty in Telangana and other parts of their kingdom," says Yeshwant. This was the first-ever discovery of an ancient stepwell in city by the team. "That discovery prompted us to unearth similar forgotten structures," says MBV Bhargav, a member. The team recently conducted documentation of the structure with Google Maps using exact coordinates. Unlike well-known historical structures in the city, such documentation is required to understand the design and other physical aspects better. "This will shed more light on it, and enable historians and architects to explore the structure in detail," adds Bhargav, asserting that they encourage locals to protect the structures by sensitising them about their historical and ecological importance. Locals lend a helping hand. It seems the enthusiasm of the activists has rubbed off on the locals to step up restoration work. Recently, local residents pooled in resources to protect the structure by de-silting the well and removing sundry litter. Terming it a great achievement, city-based lake conservationist Kalpana Ramesh says, "It's high time we stopped dumping plastic waste in lakes and wells. Initiatives such as this will help revive our history by preserving our priceless traditional wisdom passed on us to us by our forefathers."

- http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/a-100-forgotten-stepwells-of-telangana-documented-for-the-first-time-ever/articleshow/59669749.cms, July 20, 2017

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Century-old Travancore boat jetty to turn biodiversity museum

A century-old boat jetty here, once a busy trade centre during the royal era, will soon become a biodiversity museum and expected to boost tourism prospects of the city. Built by the Travancore royals, the heritage jetty located at coastal Vallakkadavu, about five km from here, had been left unused for decades with the advent of modern transportation systems. The Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB) has taken the initiative in converting the jetty to showcase the terrestrial biodiversity of Kerala. The board has renovated the 5,000 sq ft jetty to exhibit the rich and rare biodiversity legacy of the state and it would be thrown open for public soon, KSBB sources said. The museum is expected to boost the tourism prospects of the state capital and woo nature enthusiasts and students to have a glance of the biodiversity of all the 14 districts of Kerala besides creating awareness about its conservation. It will have a 3D theatre, exhibits throwing light into the biodiversity hotspots of the state from the below-sea level farming of Kuttanad, popularly known as the rice bowl of the state, to the unique biodiversity of high range Agasthyamala, display of rare seeds and screening boards showing conservation messages, the sources said. Commenting on the project, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said its objective was to create knowledge and awareness on the need for protecting and preserving the biodiversity. Highlighting the heritage significance of the project, he pointed out that the museum was coming up at a structure built by the Travancore royal family. Vallakkadavu boat jetty was the hub of trade and commerce in the erstwhile princely state, he said in a facebook post. “The state Biodiversity Museum is getting ready in the state capital. Science on Sphere and a 3D theatre on biodiversity are among its major attractions,” Vijayan said. Science On a Sphere (SOS) is a room sized, global display system that uses computers and video projectors to display planetary data onto a six foot diameter sphere, analogous to a giant animated globe. The Chief Minister said this was the first time that such a facility is introduced in the state. Detailing the features of the museum, he said the core subjects like biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity products had been given importance in its design. Exhibits, showcasing the exotic paddy seeds of the state and marine flora and fauna, would be the other major attractions, he said adding a special video screening would throw light into the biodiversity richness of the state.

- http://www.india.com/news/agencies/century-old-travancore-boat-jetty-to-turn-biodiversity-museum-2332271/, July 20, 2017

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