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Heritage Alerts
June 2018

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Musical event at Tagore Hall reinvents Kashmir’s treasured cultural diversity

To celebrate the rich cultural diversity of Jammu and Kashmir, a unique musical event was organized at the Tagore Hall in Srinagar where Kashmiri artists lent voice to the poetry written by Kashmiri Pandit scholars in honour of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).The event titled ‘Naatiya Poetry of Kashmiri Pandits’ is the brainchild of Minister for Public Works and Culture, Naeem Akhtar and it was organized by the J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages in collaboration with Directorates of Tourism and School Education Kashmir.“Celebrating Ramazan through musical tributes to our beloved Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is ingrained in Kashmiri culture. This program is an attempt of cultural renaissance by the state government to educate new generation about our rich and glorious past,” Akhtar said.The Culture Minister said Jammu and Kashmir has undergone tough times during the past three decades but new initiatives are being taken under the leadership of chief minister Mehbooba Mufti to revive the philosophy of unity in diversity that has been the hallmark of Kashmiri society.“In this holy month of Ramazan, these unique initiatives open a new window of opportunity to revive and preserve the rich heritage and cultural traditions of our state. They also foster mutual respect and admiration between different communities that have been torn apart by the events of past three decades,” he said. Akhtar said the Kashmiri Pandit community has made immense contribution towards the social, political and cultural capital of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, “It is to honor and celebrate their contributions that we have gathered here today and we hope our younger generation will carry forward their rich legacy and message of pluralism,” he said.The program at Tagore Hall was part of various events being organized by the Culture Academy in Srinagar during the holy month of Ramazan which will be held from 30 May to 11 June at Tagore Hall, Tourist Reception Centre, Srinagar and Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre among other venues.Today’s event was also attended by Director Information, Muneer-ul-Islam, MD JKSPDC, Shah Faesal, Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Abid Rasheed, Secretary of JK Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, Aziz Hajni, INTACH member, Saleem Beg, officers of the state government and hundreds of students and artists from different parts of Kashmir Valley.The works of famed Kashmiri Pandit poets like Dina Nath Nadeem, PyareHatash, Prem Nath Shad, Pitambar Nath Fani and Prakash Ram besides others were recited by prominent singers from Kashmir Valley in nostalgic musical performances which evoked rapturous cheering from the audience in the jam-packed Tagore Hall.The program started with renowned singer Qaiser Nizami lending voice to the popular rendition of ‘Ali Maula’ written by Hazrat Amir Khusroo (RA). Besides Nizami, singers Waheed Jeelani, Muneer Ahmad, Raja Bilal, Altaf Sahil, TehseenaShafi, Shazia Bashir, Qazi Rafi and Gulzar Ganai performed during the event.

- http://www.5dariyanews.com/news/231125-Musical-event-at-Tagore-Hall-reinvents-Kashmirs-treasured-cultural-diversity, June 1, 2018

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Poster-making contest for students

The Heritage Education and Communication Service (HECS) division of INTACH is organising an all-India poster-making competition ‘Route to Roots’ for students of Classes 6 to 9. The competition will be held at 10 a.m. on March 31 at KTCT School at Kaduvapally. The national winners will be taken on a trip to New Delhi. According to a press note, posters need to be prepared on a unique heritage aspect of the participant’s family or community. The poster will have to be accompanied by a 100-word write-up. The poster and supporting write-up will have to be prepared at the venue within two-and-a-half hours. For details, call: Shaji Krishnan (98470 61989).

- http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-kerala/poster-making-contest-for-students/article23388069.ece, April 2, 2018

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How air pollution, a dying river and defecating insects threaten the Taj Mahal

India’s most famous poet, Rabindranath Tagore, once wrote that the Taj Mahal stood on the banks of the river Yamuna “like a teardrop suspended on the cheek of time.” One wonders whether the late Nobel laureate could have found a lyrical description of the latest threat facing the grand, white-marble monument: millions of defecating insects. Excrement from mosquito like bugs breeding in the heavily polluted river has stained parts of the 17th-century mausoleum green, while the footsteps and palms of thousands of daily visitors have darkened the stone floors and intricately patterned walls of a structure long regarded as the pinnacle of Mughal architecture. India’s Supreme Court this month blasted the archaeological agency that oversees the monument for failing to protect it and suggested that outside experts be brought in to take over restoration efforts. During a hearing, one justice barked at a government attorney: “Perhaps you do not care.” But insect slime is only one of the problems facing the monument, built by the emperor Shah Jahan to house the remains of his favorite wife after she died while giving birth to their 14th child in 1631. Today the Taj Mahal appears less a testament to eternal love than a symbol of India’s very earthly environmental troubles. The once mighty Yamuna — after being dammed upstream to provide electricity for the region surrounding India’s capital, New Delhi — now runs low and thick with trash and untreated waste, and blooms with insect-attracting algae. Auto emissions, deforestation and crop burning have contributed to heavy smog that experts say has dimmed the tomb’s pearly exterior to a jaundiced yellow. The number of cars registered in the city of Agra, where the Taj Mahal is situated about 110 miles south of New Delhi, has mushroomed from about 40,000 in 1985 to more than 1 million. “The Taj Mahal has never looked as fatigued, pale and sick as it does now,” said Brij Khandelwal, a journalist and environmental activist in Agra. Since the 1970s, Indian authorities have issued rule after rule aimed at protecting the country’s most popular and lucrative tourist attraction, which draws more than 7 million visitors a year, 90 percent of them domestic tourists. They have banished coal-powered factories from the area, banned gasoline-powered vehicles near the monument and distributed cooking fuel to reduce poor families’ reliance on dirtier heat sources such as wood and cow dung. But many of the rules are flouted. And as the area surrounding New Delhi has become one of the fastest growing urban agglomerations in the world — projected to become the world’s most populous city within a decade — the environmental challenges have multiplied. Standing on the west bank of the Yamuna about a mile upstream from the Taj Mahal, Khandelwal looked out over a nearly dry riverbed filled with plastic bottles, potato chip wrappers, empty medicine packets and other detritus. He walked over to a derelict sewage treatment plant whose windows were broken and watched a pipe deliver effluent directly into the riverbed, foaming with chemicals as it cascaded down. “Most of the problems emanate from this dry riverbed,” Khandelwal said. “The original ambience of the Taj Mahal was based on the river — not just for aesthetic delight but also for its survival.” Like a beautician trying to smooth out wrinkles on an aging movie star, the Archaeological Survey of India, the agency that oversees the monument, has spent the last three years applying mudpacks to whiten the walls and minarets. But the grime simply returns. “It’s terrible,” lamented Manoj Sharma, 45, who has led tours of the tomb for more than a decade. Pointing to a section of the north wall overlooking the river, Sharma said that workers had recently applied the clay mixture known as fuller’s earth, traditionally used as a bleaching agent to absorb oil and grease from sheep’s wool. But just weeks later, a dark goo, believed to be from the insects, again coated the petals of flowers carved into the marble. The Supreme Court expressed impatience with the prolonged cleanup effort, which has shrouded parts of the tomb in scaffolding for days and weeks at a time. With workers preparing to begin the mudpack treatment on the cloudlike dome of the mausoleum, its most recognizable feature, the Fodor’s travel guide suggested that visitors avoid the Taj Mahal for a year. “Unless your dream Taj Mahal visit involves being photographed standing in front of a mud-caked and be-scaffolded dome, maybe give it until 2019 at the earliest,” the guidebook advised. From a distance, the Taj Mahal still enchants: On a recent weekday, throngs of selfie-snapping visitors braved 105-degree heat to marvel at the stately crypt, flanked by soaring minarets and wide lawns. But up close the monument shows signs of stress. Cracks in the marble have been patched with off-color cement that experts say expands and contracts with the heat, further weakening the stone. The green lawns have grown patchy. In March, pieces of red sandstone that were being held in place by a rusty clamp fell from the corner of one of the gates to the complex, although no one was injured. A few weeks later, two sandstone pillars decorating the gates were toppled in high winds. “The Taj is getting weak, and it has been going on for some time,” said Mahatim Singh, a member of the Tourism Guild of Agra. “We require extra manpower and extra technology to overcome these problems.” But the archaeological agency has been reluctant to cede control over the monument or invite international experts. Its director did not respond to questions from the Los Angeles Times, but one official, who requested anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the press, said the agency was being blamed for bigger environmental problems. “Some of it they don’t have much control over,” said Divay Gupta, principal director for architecture at the nonprofit Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage. “But while what they have done has been effective to a certain degree, all of the methods have been sort of knee-jerk, and there is no preventive action.” The agency plans this year to impose a three-hour limit on visitors touring the grounds in a bid to reduce crowds. But Gupta said the 42-acre complex could take in more visitors — and draw more revenue to pay for upkeep — if the site was better managed. Khandelwal, the activist, said the monument was facing an emergency. “The Taj Mahal represents our glorious past and our composite culture — it’s not just any tourist site,” he said. “It must be saved at any cost.”

- http://www.telegraphherald.com/ap/international/article_32ec8874-e028-5641-8515-50f49bcf77b9.html, June 4, 2018

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INTACH offers help to conserve private heritage properties

Old buildings are an integral part of a city's cultural heritage, and stand testament to a time gone by. However, they are fast disappearing from Bengaluru’s streets. To say that the city is steadily losing its cultural heritage would not be an understatement. Every year, at least one old privately owned building makes it to the headlines because the property holders are unable to maintain it. According to the Revised Master Plan 2031, the city today has over 500 buildings which have been listed as heritage structures. Of these, around 100 are government-owned. The remaining 400 are private properties. But, what if there was someone to help with conservation of such buildings or even re-purpose them to derive greater value out of the property? Will it help preserve Bengaluru’s heritage? The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Bengaluru chapter, believes this can be done. The organisation, which specialises in heritage conservation, preservation and restoration, is reaching out to private heritage property owners. In a Facebook post, the organisation has asked such owners not to look at the property value as being only linked to the intrinsic value of the land, and that it could yield bigger returns if it was re-purposed. “In the past couple of months, we have been getting requests from a few owners asking us if their heritage homes could be converted to hotels/boutiques. What this means is that people have started believing that heritage on its own can have value, and that there are options available to them other than going for demolition. We want to reach out to more such people,” said Meera Iyer, convener, INTACH. However, she was quick to add that not all buildings listed in RMP 2031 can be re-purposed. A classic example of a restored and re-purposed heritage building is Cinnamon in Halasuru, said Ms. Iyer. The heritage building, dating back to the 19th century, was once a dilapidated structure. It has been restored for adaptive reuse and today houses a cluster of boutique stores. “Given the condition and model of the old building, it can be turned into a hotel, cafe, office or a retail space. We are ready to provide the expertise,” said Ms. Iyer. For this, INTACH is planning to conduct training programmes for contractors, masons and engineers in working with heritage material. But restoring a heritage property or even preserving it does not come cheap, and not all homeowners have the financial wherewithal to take this option. For M.B. Krishna, who lives is a house built by his grandfather in 1914 on Ranga Rao Road in Basavanagudi, the cost of maintaining the property is a ‘headache’. “Materials are not available easily, and finding labour with the required skills is even more difficult. A minor repair will cost no less than ?10,000,” he said, adding that while individual heritage building owners have responsibilities, so does the government. “You cannot expect an individual owner to do everything. The government needs to relook at its town planning. Not just a heritage building, its surroundings also need to be preserved. Development should happen keeping the heritage value of the place in mind, not jut one building. Only when there are such efforts will heritage building owners want to maintain their property,” he added.

- http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/intach-offers-help-to-conserve-private-heritage-properties/article24073986.ece, June 4, 2018

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INTACH to relaunch ‘Zilla Khazana’ programme

The Telangana chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) is re-launching its ‘Zilla Khazana’ programme, aimed at documenting little-known heritage jewels in the State. INTACH co-convenor Anuradha Reddy told ‘Telangana Today’ that the response to its earlier programme, which began in 2015 with the same name, received an overwhelming response. However, this time the programme is focused on documenting ancient stepwells. “Earlier we were open to all heritage structures from villages in the State, but it soon became difficult to sift through innumerable postings. This time, we have asked contributions of ancient stepwells only, so that we can take up revival plans, guide the locals about the heritage structure and also increase awareness about the newly found heritage sites. This would help heritage enthusiasts, locals and the government alike,” she said. A team of six conservation architects led by Yashwant Ramamurthy had set out to document the stepwells of the State, but since most architects in the team were not from the State, they could not document all the stepwells, she said. “Some knowledge is provided by the locals, while the rest has to be gleaned out by research. It helps if locals contribute to one contact point so that those who work for the conservation of heritage can have all information and pictures in one place, and take up the data for research,” she said. Anybody can send pictures and details of ancient stepwells to the WhatsApp number 9441181247. Details sent should include the name of village, mandal and district, apart from whatever is known about the stepwell.

- https://telanganatoday.com/intach-to-relaunch-zilla-khazana-programme, June 4, 2018

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Kanakakkunnu Palace flora goes digital: Scan QR code to know tree info

There may be times when you took a walk through the Kanakakkunnu Palace and was inquisitive to know the name of a particular tree or garden species you found interesting but had to return back without getting any information. However, now, you can avail the details of the tree or garden species just by scanning the QR code stuck on it. The Kanakakkunnu Palace listed as a heritage monument by Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) now has a unique model of conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem management. Although it is one of the most visited places because of its rich heritage, there has been no proper study done on the plants here and not a single one was labelled in the palace premises. Now each plant is labelled and one just needs to scan the QR code stuck on each plant with the help of their smartphones and obtain the necessary details which include the photos, uses, flowering period, distribution, nativity and also the botanical characters of the plant species. The QR code gets translated to the URL of the website concerned with the flora of the Kanakakkunnu palace. This has been made possible by Akhilesh S V Nair who is pursuing his MSc Genetics and Plant Breeding from the department of botany, University of Kerala, Karyavattom who has documented 126 tree and garden plant species of the palace premise including the Nishagandhi and Sooryakanthi grounds. “Now as the plants have been digitised, the visitors can learn more about the biological diversity. With this, the palace has become the first public place in the state to get a digital flora,” said Akhilesh. The documented data were digitised creating a blog -'Tree and Garden Plant Species of Kanakakkunnu Palace, Thiruvananthapuram with the link http://asvnairflora.blogspot.com/. All the data were digitised through a website, QR code linking and Android app creation under the guidance of A Gangaprasad, assistant professor of the department. The concept of digital flora and garden is new to plant taxonomy. Linking taxonomy with technology is one of the promising fields having immense application. The entire data has been digitised in the form of a blog hence any person interested in the plant can access the blog freely. In the blog, each plant species are recorded on separate pages with unique URLs. In the app, the scientific name, local name and also a photo of the species is provided. Already labels with QR codes have been placed on 68 trees. “But placing labels on exotic and ornamental plants is not possible," said Akhilesh. The tourists have already started scanning the QR codes and obtaining the necessary information. Other than the QR codes, a download link for another app,'Golden flora', is also provided, on the bottom of each page. This app provides the entire listing of all the plant species on the palace premises.

- http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/thiruvananthapuram/2018/jun/04/kanakakkunnu-palace-flora-goes-digital-1823679.html, June 4, 2018

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All that glitters is copper: Artisans in Tambat Ali follow a decade-old tradition of making copper vessels

It is 10 a.m. on a hot summer morning in April. Pramod Wadke is focussed deeply on the golden-yellow sheets in front of him. He cuts a thin circle of copper, then gets another sheet and bends it around to form the shape of a pot. He places the sheets in a pit where a fire burns and welds them together. As the copper burns a bright red, Wadke picks up an iron rod and stokes the flames, making sparks fly. Paper-thin ash flakes swirl around and sting the eyes. Wadke seems unaware of it — he wipes off sweat, brings the sheets out of the smithy, and hammers them hard. In his hands, a vessel slowly starts taking shape. When it’s done, he begins to polish it. Then, he dips it into sulphuric acid. Suddenly, the plain-looking pot is gleaming golden. Wadke puts it out to dry — where it looks resplendent in the afternoon sun. Working to the beat Wadke is one of the last few remaining coppersmiths in Pune’s Tambat Ali. And he is practising an art that was brought to the city by his forebears at least 400 years ago. In the courtyard-cum-workshop of Sanjay Lanjekar’s house in Tambat Ali, the incessant thak-thak of karigars or artisans hammering away at copper forms the background music. The deafening noise doesn’t seem to bother the artisans, including Lanjekar, who talks to us looking over his spectacles, his face smeared with sweat and soot. Some of the artisans are busy stoking the fire for welding, others are hammering. They have been at work since 6:00 a.m., and will be at it till darkness falls. The Tambat Ali community of coppersmiths are located in Kasba Peth. An ali is a street or cluster of streets inhabited by people of a particular community, such as potters, coppersmiths, carpenters and the like. Copper is tamba in Marathi — hence the name, Tambat Ali.

Moving over

At one time, the Tambat community lived and thrived in the Konkan districts of Maharashtra. Then, at the invitation of the Peshwas, the Tambats settled in Pune some 400 years ago. They made household items for the Peshwai household — betel-nut boxes, rolling pins, utensils, storage vessels and the bumba, a huge copper pot that was used to heat water. They also made items used in war, like swords, shields and ammunition. There were once around 200 Tambat families here, but now only a handful remain. As in the olden days, the coppersmiths continue to have their living quarters and workshops within the same premises. Most families live in small, ill-lit, one-bedroom houses. At first glance, a house like Lanjekar’s looks like any other, with a steel cot occupying one corner of the courtyard and clothes hanging from the rod fixed outside the door. Look closer and you notice the hammers and chisels hooked to the wall — the stock in trade of the artisans. “Crafting a vessel from the sheets is hard work,” says Wadke, who has been a coppersmith for the last 48 years. After the copper plates are heated, cooled and annealed, comes mathar kaam, the art of beating them into shape, before a vessel assumes form. “Each piece requires long hours of work, patience and effort,” says Sunil Wadke, another coppersmith. Each artisan makes a different vessel, specialising in one, whether pot, glass or plate. “Earlier,” says Sunil, “we also made copper coins and swords, then only vessels, but with the coming of plastic and aluminium in the 1970s, the demand for copper started to decline.” Bharat Nijampurkar, one of the senior members of the Tambat Samaj, an organisation formed in 1985 to help the artisans, says that the younger ones don’t want to continue the work. “They all have corporate jobs that pay much more. This work fetches us not more than ?8,000-10,000 a month. Moreover, it is seasonal; we cannot work during the monsoon.”

New market

Vikrant Dhakave, however, is an exception. A commerce graduate, he worked in a bank for a year before realising he was better off helping his father with mathar kaam. “I used to spend 10-12 hours in the bank. I decided to do something of my own instead. I enjoy this work,” he says. He makes three to four bumbas a day, which fetches him ?750-800 per kg. The Tambat Samaj gets the artisans to enrol in various exhibitions. The Bhimtadi Jatra, a four-day annual fair, sees many coppersmiths from Tambat Ali participating and selling their products. With people rediscovering the health benefits of copper, tableware like jugs, glasses and woks are becoming popular again. The Samaj is also trying to convince art schools and institutions to include the art of making copper vessels in the curriculum. Intach is supporting artisans with modern designs and new market. Says Supriya Goturkar-Mahabaleshwarkar, co-ordinator, Intach Pune, “While documenting Pune’s heritage, we felt that this traditional craft, with its unique aspects of mathar kaam, needed to be revived.” Warsaa, The Heritage Shop, an Intach outlet, stocks copper products. Studio Coppre, an undertaking set up in 2014, is also doing its bit by training artisans in better finishes and designs to appeal to global buyers. But as I leave Tambat Ali, I see a few women haggling over copper pots, possibly the same shapes used by their ancestors four centuries ago. It reiterates my faith that the tradition won’t die out very soon. The writer is as happy penning stories as she is crunching numbers, which fuel her creativity.

- http://www.thehindu.com/society/all-that-glitters-is-copper-artisans-in-tambat-ali-follow-a-decade-old-tradition-of-making-copper-vessels/article24054807.ece, June 4, 2018

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In a First, Chariot From Pre-Iron Age Found During Excavation in UP's Sanauli

For the first time in the Indian sub-continent, burial pits have been found with chariots that date back to the Pre-Iron Age(Bronze). This new finding is set to create space for further investigation on dating of the Mahabharata period and further inquiry into the origins of the horse in the Harappa age, as per the experts involved in the three-month trial dig Uttar Pradesh's Sanauli. The excavations that the team of archaeologists conducted was unveiled on Monday showing burial pits with chariots in the Pre-Iron Age (Bronze). The burial pits have been found in the past excavations at Rakhigarhi, Kalibangan, and at Lothal, but the chariot has figured for the first time. The excavation started in March 2018 at Sanauli and was conducted by a 10-member team with SK Manjul, of Institute of Archaeology, established in 1985, heading it. The co-director was Arvin Manjul. Speaking on the development, Manjul said, “We have the place in the ancient global history. To name a few of our contemporary cultures, chariot appears in Mesopotamia, Georgia, Greek civilisations, and with this finding we can say that among our contemporary cultures in the Pre-Iron Age we too had chariots.” He added, “This is giving our history and our past a new dimension – we have to rethink our past and approach it with a fresh perspective – with the elements found in the burial pits it shows we were a warrior clan in the Pre Iron Age.”

Who rode the chariot in the Bronze Age?

If there was a chariot in the Bronze Age, would it not need a beast to run it? Was it a bull or a horse? Manjul said, “This is debatable, it could be a bull or a horse but having said that the preliminary understanding points at the horse. The chariot is a lookalike of the ones found in its contemporary cultures like Mesopotamia, it is a solid wheel with no spokes.” The chariot is with solid wheel and pole; in one of the pits the excavators have also found crown or helmet worn by the rider of the chariot. Chariots figure prominently in the Rigveda, which gives evidence of their presence in India in the 2nd millennium BCE. Among Rigvedic deities, notably Ushas (the dawn) rides in a chariot, as well as Agni in his function as a messenger between gods and men). Manjul added that in the past there has been evidence of horse in the Chalcolithic period. This discovery is an added thrust to inquire further into ancient Indian history. If we go by the world history, there is evidence of wheeled vehicles only from the mid-4th millennium BCE in Mesopotamia, the Northern Caucasus (Maykop culture Bronze Age) and Central Europe. The question concerning which culture originally invented the wheeled vehicle remains unresolved.

The objective of the research

In 2005, excavations around 116 graves belonging to Indus Valley Civilisation were found. These graves, dated 2200–1800 BC were a fairly recent addition to the list of Indus Valley Civilisation sites in India. The archaeological experts wanted to take the research and investigation in that region further and conducted excavations just 120 meters away from the earlier site, as a trail dig, and found chariot in the excavation. They dug eight burials and each tells a different story of the life and style prevalent in Pre Iron Age period. These decomposed wooden coffins were decorated with copper but with time have turned green due to patina. “The challenges were many – we had to dig in a way that the structure standing tall does not get damaged in further deeper digging. This is the first time we used the X-Ray, CT scan to find the nails embedded in the wooden coffins,” added Manjul. There are eight burial pits – which have skeletons, beads, pottery, chariot, sword, torch. These are wooden decomposed coffins with copper decorations that made the spotting of the coffin easier. There are eight anthromorphic figures having horned and peepal leafed crown decorated on cover of coffin. The designs are aesthetic and say a lot about the society in Pre-Iron Age. “This throws light on the lifestyle and cultures of the people who lived in the Pre Iron Age – there are mirrors with copper, the elaborate burials, all this shows the society was technologically advanced, aesthetic and had the sense of art and craft. They were warrior clans, and had a sophisticated lifestyle,” added Manjul. The evidence found here is important to conduct further investigation in finding “horse skeletons”. In one of the burials, one can find the dog being buried; in Hindu mythology, dog is the vehicle of Yama. There are symbolic burials with just objects buried without a body, maybe in reverence of the deceased not found and twin burials showing two skeletons in one grave.

Counterview

The horse driven chariots are known in the Vedic period, said historian DN Jha. “However, iron makes appearance in the post Vedic or not earlier than the late Vedic period. This find cannot be dated to the pre-Vedic/Harappa phase,” said Jha. Several scholars have written on the dating of the Mahabharata, but Jha said that he is not aware of who has used the evidence of chariots for dating the text of Mahabharat. Some archaeologists like B B Lal have argued for the 8th century BC, on the basis of the silt deposited at Hastinapur, which was flooded following the Great War. “But this hardly inspires confidence. In fact the text is so full of interpolations that it cannot belong to one point of time,” said Jha According to V S Sukthankar, whose work on the chronology of the text is authoritative, Mahabharata’s composition spreads over several centuries. “The general consensus is that the text was composed over a period of about a millennium - roughly between 400BC to 400AD. However, there are some scholars who argue for a shorter period. In any case the Mahabharata in its present form cannot be the work of single author and that is one of the reasons which make its dating difficult,” Jha added.

- https://www.news18.com/news/india/in-a-first-chariot-from-pre-iron-age-found-in-excavation-in-uttar-pradeshs-sanauli-1768085.html\, June 4, 2018

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INDIA GOES ALL OUT TO BEAT PLASTIC POLLUTION

While use of plastic is degrading the environment, this year on the World Environment Day, from academic to Government institutions all are working on the same line — “Beat Plastic Pollution”. According to various studies and researches, around 87 per cent people in India are concerned about the ill-effect of non-recyclable waste. Incidentally, according to a study conducted around the world by the United Nations, one million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute, and every year we use up to 5 trillion disposable plastic bags. In total, 50 per cent of plastic we use is single use. The study further states every year, up to 13 million tonnes of plastic leak into our oceans, where they smother coral reefs and threaten vulnerable marine wildlife. The plastic adversely affects oceans as the plastic ending up in the oceans can circle the Earth four times in a single year and it can persist for up to 1,000 years before it fully disintegrates. Nearly one third of the plastic packaging we use escapes collection systems, which means that it ends up clogging our city streets and polluting our natural environment, the report mentions. Explaining how plastic is threatening human and wildlife, an environmentalist mentioned that plastic makes its way into our water supply and thus into our bodies. Plastic contains a number of chemicals, which are toxic and may disrupt hormones. Moreover, the substance also serves as a magnet for other noxious elements — dioxins, metals and pesticides. Elaborating on non-recyclable waste, Parijat Chakraborty, Executive Director, Ipsos Public affairs, said non-recyclable waste is wreaking havoc on the environment and awareness building campaigns have sensitised Indians to its adverse impact. “On the other hand, air pollution has reached, alarming proportions in some of the Indian metros leading to respiratory problems. Likewise, due to climate change, we are witnessing drought, floods and even landslides; and while, overpopulation is putting a huge strain on our resources, these issues will need tackling and it should start with decongesting our cities and adopting green fuels,” Chakraborty said. Interestingly, on the use of non-recyclable waste, 87 per cent Indians said they are concerned about the effects of non-recyclable waste on the environment, which includes plastic packaging, plastic bags and other disposable objects that cannot be recycled. According to a study by Ipsos poll conducted between March 23 and April 6, 2018, 48 per cent Indians believe that Government investment to improve recycling would be effective, however, 40 per cent on the other hand feel that higher taxes on supermarkets and shops that use a lot of non-recyclable packaging would be effective. On the re-use disposable items like plastic bags and plastic bottles, 50 per cent Indians said they re-use disposal items. Fifty per cent said they will buy more products made from recycled materials; 43 per cent said they will stop buying goods that have packaging that cannot be recycled and 39 per cent said they will stop going to supermarkets and shops which use a lot of packaging that cannot be recycled. Interestingly, 28 per cent would pay extra for goods without recyclable packaging; and 24per cent said they will pay more tax so that recycling facilities can be improved.

- http://www.dailypioneer.com/todays-newspaper/india-goes-all-out-to-beat-plastic-pollution.html, June 4, 2018

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Country's first biodiversity museum opens today

The country's first biodiversity museum, at Vallakadavu here, will be opened to public by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday. An initiative of the Kerala State Biodiversity Board, the museum includes a 3D theatre and galleries. The 50-seater theatre would screen movies on plants and animals, said biodiversity board chairman S C Joshi, adding that the main aim was to create awareness among all sections of society about biodiversity conservation. The museum also features Kerala's first ever Science on Sphere (SOS) system. An SOS system uses multimedia projections to stimulate animated images of earth, land, ocean etc, on a six-ft diameter sphere analogous to a giant globe. It provides real time data on weather and biodiversity conditions across the world accessed directly from NASA. There are four permanent galleries on various topics - Biodiversity: The web of life, gateway of living world, global action for biodiversity and biodiversity conservation and sustainable utilization. An array of seeds and marine products are also put on display. The Biodiversity Awards for the year 2017-18 will be prsented by the chief minister during the inaugural to be held at 4pm. The museum will be open from 10.30am to 7.00pm on all days, except Monday.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/thiruvananthapuram/countrys-first-biodiversity-museum-opens-today/articleshow/64457911.cms, June 5, 2018

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Road plan threatens fate of 113-year-old baoli in Badshahpur

A small detour from the eternally busy Sohna Road via several construction material shops will lead you to the village of Badshahpur -- home to what locals believe is a historic baoli or stepwell. To get a clear view of the baoli, in the village that is roughly 9km from the heart of Gurugram, one has to walk through the dusty lanes lined with scores of tents belonging to construction workers. Overburdened by the weight of trash and sewage discharge from the neighbouring villages, the area could easily be mistaken for an open defecation site if not for the over a 100-year-old decrepit slice of history. Mounds of sand surround the baoli, which, till January this year, faced the prospect of being filled up with earth and sand to make way for a road. Though timely intervention ensured the baoli was not destroyed, there is little clarity over its future. An inscription on the baoli tells us that it was constructed in 1905 by Lala Mohanlal. “It was made with the intention of social welfare. Being an arid region, there was water scarcity in the region. As an act of social service, my ancestors got this baoli made. It was used by animals as a source of water. There used to be a well people would fill water from. Men and women used to bathe in the baoli,” said Ved Prakash Mangla, the great grandson of Mohanlal Mangla. Mangla was the last custodian of the baoli until it was acquired by the government in 2012 in lieu of a compensation of Rs 16 lakh. He says that the baoli has remained dry for the past 15-20 years due to lowering of the water table. Next to the baoli is a school named after Mangla’s great grandfather. The main entrance is inside the premises of the school but it remains locked. “My father Laxmi Narayan Mangla had donated a piece of land next to the baoli for the construction of a school. We thought that the school would also safeguard the baoli. If the government wants, I can return the compensation to save the baoli. If the baoli is spared, the school will also be saved. There is a sentimental value attached for me as my father’s memorial is situated inside the school. As long as the school stays, my father’s name will be alive and so will be mine,” Ved Prakash Mangla said. Residents of Badshahpur, meanwhile, have varied opinions on the baoli and the imminent danger it faces because of construction activity. While some rue the loss of the structure, which they see as an embodiment of Badshahpur’s heritage, others say that construction of the road would make the everyday commute easier for them and offer better connectivity. Then there are those who are concerned that if road realignment happens, and it doesn’t go over the baoli, it shouldn’t go over their property either. “Our house gets heaps of dust because of road construction. There is a lot of pollution. If the road has to be constructed, it should be done soon,” said a 40-year-old resident, who has been living close to the baoli since birth. Ajit, another resident of Badshahpur, said, “While the baoli is important for us, it has remained in a pathetic state over the years. With or without road construction, it has never received the attention it deserves. Moreover, the baoli is used for dumping waste and acts as a breeding ground for insects. We don’t think the situation will change.” Heritage lovers and activists, however, haven’t given up hope yet. Faculty and students from the Sushant School of Art and Architecture, Ansal University, have been undertaking several initiatives to increase engagement with the baoli. This January, the school took up a 100-day challenge to save the baoli. Various steps were taken during the duration of the challenge to raise awareness and generate relevance of the baoli for the community. “We have been conducting awareness programmes to help people envision the future of the baoli because, as of now, everyone can see it as a garbage dump. Things changed suddenly after the government acquired the baoli in 2012. People realised that the baoli will eventually be earth-filled so they started dumping waste there. In this period from 2012 to 2018, the baoli was positioned as the village dump yard. This could have been avoided,” said Parul Garg Munjal, associate professor, Sushant School of Art and Architecture. Munjal also questioned the idea behind the development of the new road. “Essentially, the idea of road development -- the construction of the 84-metre-wide sector road -- is quite silly when you look at where it’s going and where it’s coming from. It’s basically connecting the Sohna Road and the golf course extension road. The new road further and after crossing the Sohna Road will provide connectivity to two sectors. That’s about it.” While officials from both the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) and the state’s department of archaeology and museums inspected the baoli earlier this year, there is little clarity over the conservation plans. “We were assured that the baoli will be given legal protection but there has been no progress. On the face of it, everyone has assured that nothing will happen to the baoli but what are their plans? What is the level of transparency and responsiveness? The authorities are simply passing the buck,” said Munjal. The department of archaeology and museums, meanwhile, says it is waiting for a go-ahead from the urban development authority. “The former HUDA administrator had agreed to the proposal of realignment and sparing the baoli in the past. We want HUDA to finalise its plans. Only then can we kick off our conservation efforts,” said Praveen Kumar, director of the state’s archaeology and museums department, adding that realignment of the road was possible through a small detour. Chandra Shekhar Khare, HUDA administrator, said that the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) was handling the issue of road construction near the baoli. “We wish to preserve the baoli. We have discussed the matter GMDA and Directorate of Archaeology. The matter is primarily being taken up by the GMDA officers,” said Khare. The baoli was listed by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) more than a decade ago. Yet, little effort has been made by the government to preserve the structure. “INTACH listed the baoli in 2000 and gave the list to Haryana government telling them that this was an important monument. Time and again, we have reached out to the authorities but nothing concrete seems to be changing on the ground. If we are able to come to a platform for discussion, it will be very valuable to find a solution,” said Shikha Jain, convener of the Haryana chapter of INTACH. “Haryana really needs to wake up to its heritage. It’s high time now. Let people see what it has to offer.”

- https://www.hindustantimes.com/gurugram/road-plan-threatens-fate-of-113-year-old-baoli-in-badshahpur/story-TvcXA8ourcXGRS50oYayRJ.html, June 6, 2018

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A peep into the past! Private heritage homes in Bengaluru are opening their doors to guided tours

Within a radius of one kilometre in Basavanagudi are a string of old bungalows, each with a story to tell. One century-old house was built by former Mysore dewan MN Krishna Rao while another stately structure belonged to M Mahadevan of the Survey of India. Two homes nearby belonged to freedom fighter Nittoor Srinivasa Rau and HAL’s former financial director CV Srinivasa Rao. Telling their stories and what they mean to the city are a bunch of historians who, with help from the present owners of these homes, are organising tours around them. “This makes people aware why it is important to conserve private heritage and what it takes to maintain them. By listening to homeowners, people connect better to the city’s past,” said Mansoor Ali, whose Bengaluru By Foot has guided over 750 people through these homes so far. Awareness about private heritage is much needed. According to the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), private structures are among the most poorly conserved in Bengaluru. In the past 30 years, the city has lost 75% of its heritage homes, with only 129 out of 510 surviving today. While the Revised Master Plan 2031 has included and listed these buildings, the provisions are far from robust. Malleswaram resident Vardan Chakrapani said that opening out his 82-year-old Arcot House only increases his family’s sense of pride. His grandfather AL Munirathnam was an engineer for the Shivanasamudra hydroelectric project. Likewise, MR Narendra, grandson of dewan MN Krishna Rao, is happy to indulge tourists with stories and souvenirs of his ancestor. “These are like-minded people who appreciate the value of the old Madras-tile roof, rosewood staircase, teakwood furniture and lime-mortar building. It’s all about giving them a new perspective about old homes.” Marvelling at a colonial home from the outside gives no glimpse of the travails of its owners, the leaky pipes and crumbling roofs, said Poornima Dasharathi, whose organisation, Unhurried, also organises walks in the city. “Most homeowners are often pestered by real estate sharks. These last-remaining structures survive only because of individual will power. Owners must have a helping hand in a robust legislative framework that recognises, protects and provides some monetary concession.” Arjun Chaudhary, an instructional designer at Manipal Global Education, who took a guided tour recently, said these homes also give an insight into how homes could be built in a sustainable and ecofriendly way. “Preservation legislation is easier said than done. But the government must make a genuine effort to categorise them and allocate funds.”

- https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/magazines/panache/a-peep-into-the-past-private-heritage-homes-in-bengaluru-are-opening-their-doors-to-guided-tours/articleshow/64463733.cms, June 6, 2018

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Super-structure unearthed by ASI in PM’s hometown Vadnagar

The excavations being carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in Vadnagar —Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s hometown — have uncovered another gem from the city’s famed past. Archaeologists have unearthed a major structure measuring 50 metres x 25 metres (roughly 164 feet x 82 feet) dating back to the 5th century. The site of the find is on the eastern banks of Sharmishtha lake on the outskirts of the heritage town, which is located 100km from Ahmedabad in North Gujarat. ASI officials said that the structure is the largest excavated so far in Vadnagar. Oldest parts of the structure date back to 5th century While detailed analysis and further excavations are necessary to assess the find definitively, experts say that the structure could be of great religious significance. Also, its large size is indicative of a Buddhist stupa. V H Sonawane, a retired professor of archaeology, the MS University of Baroda, who is a member of the expert committee appointed by the ministry of culture for the Vadnagar excavation, said: “Given its dimensions and site plan, the structure could be a Buddhist stupa or associated with religious activities.” Experts say the oldest parts of the structure date back to the 5th century while subsequent additions were made till the 13th century. The ASI has undertaken extensive excavations in different parts of Vadnagar — believed to have been called ‘O-nan-to-pu-lo’ (Anandpur) by the 7th century Chinese traveller Hieun Tsang. The most significant structural discovery so far is a Buddhist monastery found by the state archaeology department. The 14 metre x 14 metre monastery strongly connects Vadnagar with Buddhism in Gujarat. The unravelling of the giant structure promises to add another chapter to Vadnagar's heritage. “Ancient bricks found on the eastern side of Sharmishtha lake during its beautification work prompted the ASI to take up excavations,” said an official. “The digging revealed solid structures in the northsouth direction. The site consists of three plinth levels and has 21cells. This is a very promising find.” The giant structure is marked by distinctive bricks used in different eras. Officials said that much of the construction of the site is considered to have been done in the Maitraka period (5th-8th century) which is distinguished by the use of bricks of broader dimensions. In the Solanki period (10th-13th century), extensive use of sandstone is observed. Archaeology experts believe that there might be a temple from the Solanki period on the same spot. ASI has found a broken sculpture, terracotta sealings, coins dating back to Maitraka period, decorative shell bangles, beads, terracotta incised tablets and terracotta figurines belonging to different periods from the 5th to 13th century.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/super-structure-unearthed-by-asi-in-pms-hometown/articleshow/64471566.cms, June 6, 2018

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At Delhi Zoo, oldest chimpanzee in way of monument restoration hopes

AN unknown tomb next to the bear cage at the National Zoological Park is one of 19 lesser-known monuments that the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) and the Delhi Department of Archaeology want to restore this year. But a similar monument in an adjacent cage has not made the cut. It’s not a case of encroachment or slow-paced paper work, though — it’s reclusive Rita (58), India’s oldest chimpanzee, who occupies the enclosure where the Mughal-era monument stands. Hidden behind tall trees inside the chimpanzee enclosure is the monument in shambles, where Rita often hangs out. “The tomb next to the bear cage inside the zoo is on the list that we have sent to the Delhi government for approval… Ideally, we would have liked to restore the one inside the chimpanzee enclosure, too, but it seems impossible for now. That’s why it’s not on the list,” said Ajay Kumar, projects-director, INTACH-Delhi. The chimpanzee was brought to the zoo in 1964 from Amsterdam as a part of an exchange programme, and currently weighs around 60 kg. “It is not possible to move the animal to another enclosure… this has been its home for years,” said a source at the zoo. Kumar added, “Something needs to be done about monuments inside enclosed areas such as ones that fall under the jurisdiction of the Waqf Board or the department of defence… long-term planning is needed and a parallel way out too.” Meanwhile, the tomb next to the bear cage has 12 stone columns which support the dome structure, while the base is made of lakhori bricks and stone. “We don’t know who was buried here or who commissioned it… Since there is evidence of lakhori bricks, which is a signature of Mughal-era architecture, we believe it was built then,” said Suraj Kumar, senior conservator, INTACH-Delhi. According to the detailed project report prepared by INTACH on the tomb, “the interior of the dome has been repaired with incompatible material which has caused loss of significant historical value”. Apart from the tomb, the list comprises the three-storey Hastal Minar in Uttam Nagar, Burjs of Mansur in Ashok Vihar and Kharbooze ka Gumbad in Sheikh Sarai.

- http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/at-delhi-zoo-oldest-chimpanzee-in-way-of-monument-restoration-hopes-5207218/, June 7, 2018

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Naeem inaugurates exhibition of rare manuscripts, artefacts

Minister for Public Works and Culture, Naeem Akhtar, today threw open an extraordinary five-day exhibition of rare Quranic manuscripts, Islamic art objects and calligraphy specimen at the main gallery in Tourist Reception Centre here. On display in the exhibition that will remain open to the public till June 11 are some rare Quranic manuscripts, the holy text, translations and commentary, some of which have never been displayed before. The exhibition is being held at this scale for the first time since 1981 when it was organized at the TRC only. “It is a historic moment for Jammu and Kashmir and a great opportunity for art lovers and commoners alike to explore and connect with our glorious past. These manuscripts and artefacts are a living testimony of the cultural renaissance that has shaped the future of our state,” Akhtar said. The Minister said the collection from the medieval period has been brought together with efforts and contribution by all the departments and private collectors for the first time since 1981 and it will help in shedding light on our past and educating our future generations. “The purpose of this event is to educate people about our rich culture, superior artistic abilities and our high levels of knowledge even in medieval times,” Akhtar said, adding that some of the collections, including a compendium on herbs and herbal trees from ‘Hakeem Collection’ and Diwan of Sheikh Yaqoob Sarfi are being exhibited for the first time. The exhibition titled ‘Sheerin Qalam’ is being organised by J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Language in collaboration with Directorates of Tourism, Libraries, Archives, Archeology and Museum, INTACH Kashmir Chapter and Shashvat Art Gallery, Jammu. Among hundreds of manuscripts and artefacts at the display is the oldest available manuscript of Holy Quran in Kashmiri calligraphy by Fathullah Kashmiri in 1237 AD, gold-illuminated Shajra-Maqadasa of Islam’s prophets, a Quran dated 961 AH which is handwritten on Samarqandi paper and a Persian translation of the Quran by Mir Saeed Andrabi in 1850 among others. The opening ceremony was also attended by Director of Archives, Archeology and Museum, Muneer-ul-Islam, Director Libraries, Masarat-ul-Islam, Secretary, JKAACL, Aziz Hajni, senior member INTACH, Saleem Beg, and other senior officers of the allied State departments. Meanwhile, Naeem Akhtar, took stock of the process for shifting the treasure trove of books lying in various libraries of the Valley to the Sri Pratap Singh (SPS) library in the heart of Srinagar. During a meeting with the officers of the Directorate of Libraries, the Minister passed instructions to ensure that all the books lying in district libraries of the Kashmir Valley are shifted to SPS library before Eid-ul-Fitr so that it can be thrown open for public soon.

- http://www.dailyexcelsior.com/naeem-inaugurates-exhibition-rare-manuscripts-artefacts/, June 7, 2018

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Chalukyan sculpture of Siva found in Andhra Pradesh

A rare sculpture of Lord Siva and Goddess Parvati dating back to the 7th century was discovered at a Chalukyan temple in Satyavolu village of Prakasam district, Andhra Pradesh. The red sandstone sculpture portrays Lord Siva as the therapeutic physician (Rudra Bhaishajana) — as described in Rigveda — in which he holds a bowl in his left hand, which contains medicine from herbs to revive the ailing horse lying at his feet. “Lord Siva is portrayed as a physician, who discovered medicine for certain chronic ailments. He is the last member of the divine trinity and is considered as the destroyer of the world,” Superintending Archaeologist of the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India), Chennai, D. Kanna Babu said. He said that Siva was fairly represented in sculptural art of ancient India in many forms right from the Indus Valley civilization to the late medieval period.

Iconographic form

The ASI official, as part of the Temple Survey Project, visited the Chalukyan temple complex in Satyavolu village and discovered the sculpture at a corner inside the temple complex. “Such a highly exceptional iconographic form of Lord Siva had not been discovered so far. The sculpture belongs to early 7th century Chalukyan School of Art,” he said. Further describing the sculpture, Mr. Kanna Babu said that the vertical stone slab prominently illustrates Siva and Parvati. The Lord is gracefully seated on a pedestal with the left leg on the seat, the other with knee bent and resting on the ground. “Two locks of hair falling over his shoulders, he wears neatly entangled hair with a protrusion over the left of his head and knotted in a mountain dweller fashion,” he said.

Historical importance

Goddess Parvati is in a gracious posture standing to Siva’s left, carrying a vessel in her right hand, while the left hand rests on her waist. “Beneath the panel is a horse standing with a lowered head. We stumbled upon this sculpture without realising its historical importance and ultimately, caused it damage,” Mr. Kanna Babu said.

- http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/chalukyan-sculpture-of-siva-found/article24098511.ece, June 7, 2018

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Pottery links Vadnagar to Gangetic plains

The excavation carried out by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in Vadnagar may throw up a link between PM Narendra Modi’s home town and his parliamentary constituency in Varanasi. The link is that of Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW) shards which originated in the areas of current Uttar Pradesh and Bihar around 7th century BC in Gangetic plains. The excavation at Vadnagar, first by state archaeology department in 2000s and later by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) since 2015 provide a glimpse into the town’s history of continuous habitation for past 2,000 years. One of the discoveries in this season of excavation by ASI include pottery shards, believed to be Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW). Widely used in Gangetic plains in 7th to 5th century BC, it is marked by lustrous dark grey to black material used for a wide variety of utensils – ranging from cooking pots to dishes and bowls. Dr Amol Kulkarni, an expert in ancient pottery from Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad, said, “NBPW found from Vadnagar might date back to 1st-2nd century AD. Archaeological sites in Gujarat and Maharashtra do show NBPW in this period, centuries after it was developed in the north. It also points towards trade or cultural link between Gujarat and Gangetic plains,” he said. ASI has found a huge amount of pottery from 1st-2nd century AD to 19th century. Experts pointed out that pottery is one of the key indicators of local lifestyle and preferences. “We find a wide variation in style and makes of the pottery which points towards local affluence. Many of the pottery shards are highly embellished. There is also great variation in type of utensils ,” said Kulkarni. One other artefact found is the base of a torpedo jar – believed to have its origin in Middle-Eastern region – used to carry wine or oil. The jar dates back to 7th century. A coin mould of Greco-Indian king Apollodotus II (80-65 BC) has also been found in this season of excavations. Dr Y S Rawat, director, state archaeological department, said the finds strongly indicate the ancient town had connections to the outer world, within India and abroad.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/pottery-links-vadnagar-to-gangetic-plains/articleshow/64485424.cms, June 7, 2018

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World Oceans Day 2018: Why is it important to conserve oceans?

Oceans play an important role in regulating earth's climate which is key for life to sustain on the planet. With increasing amount of waste being dumped into oceans, a concrete universal plan is needed to conserve oceans. The World Oceans Day is celebrated on June 8 every year with the aim to spread awareness about importance of oceans in our lives, no matter where on earth we live. Oceans are massive water bodies which have impact on climate across the planet, and any change in the nature of oceans is bound to adversly affect the earth's environment. Increasing dumping of waste is pollutng the oceans and the changes are already visible. World Oceans Day is an annual observation to honor, help protect, and conserve the world's oceans. The ocean provides us with many resources and services including oxygen, climate regulation, food sources, medicine, and more. World Oceans Day also provides an opportunity to take personal and community action to conserve the ocean and its resources. How pollution and global warming will affect oceans? Global warming refers to the rise in the average temperature of the Earth's climate system and its related effects. The largest human influence on climate change has been the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. Climate model projections indicated that during the 21st century, the global surface temperature is likely to rise a further 0.3 to 1.7 °C in the lowest emissions scenario, and 2.6 to 4.8 °C in the highest emissions scenario. The rise in temperature will lead to melting of polar ice caps which in turn would result in rising ocean levels. The rise in ocean levels puts population residing in coastal regions at risk as chances of Tsunamis and ocean water usurping the land will increase significantly.

Oceans and climate:

The world's ocean is crucial to heating the planet. While land areas and the atmosphere absorb some sunlight, the majority of the sun's radiation is absorbed by the ocean. Particularly in the tropical waters around the equator, the ocean acts a as massive, heat-retaining solar panel. Earth's atmosphere also plays a part in this process, helping to retain heat that would otherwise quickly radiate into space after sunset. The ocean doesn't just store solar radiation; it also helps to distribute heat around the globe. When water molecules are heated, they exchange freely with the air in a process called evaporation. Ocean water is constantly evaporating, increasing the temperature and humidity of the surrounding air to form rain and storms that are then carried by trade winds, often vast distances. In fact, almost all rain that falls on land starts off in the ocean. The tropics are particularly rainy because heat absorption, and thus ocean evaporation, is highest in this area. Ocean currents are primarily a response to exchanges of momentum, heat, and water vapor between ocean and atmosphere, and the resulting ocean circulation stores, redistributes, and releases these and other properties. The atmospheric part of this coupled system exhibits variability through shifts in intensity and location of pressure centers and pressure gradients, the storms that they spawn and steer, and the associated distributions of temperature and water content.

- https://www.oneindia.com/india/world-oceans-day-2018-why-is-it-important-conserve-oceans-2711885.html, June 8, 2018

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Historic Old House of the Jagganath Sadak

One of the last remaining vestiges of the Old Jagannath Sadak, just on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar, is crumbling for want of proper conservation. The Anu Patro Kothi, as it has been popularly called since the last 140 years, is in need or urgent repairs. Located in the Gadasrirampur village under the Balianta P.S., this small but grand two storied house was constructed by one Anadi Patro between the years 1880-82. During its heydays, it was one of the most majestic buildings on the Old Road between Bhingarpur and Sakhigopal. It is just two kms away from the Sai Temple on the Puri Bypass road. The Anu Patro Kothi has an interesting history behind it. Anadi Patro was a farmer who had migrated to Kolkata after the Na Anka Durbhikshya of 1866. He had set up a small business and had become successful and prospered. He frequently came home to his village, travelling on the Old Jagannath Sadak. He was aware of the travails and difficulties faced by the pilgrims, and being a devout and religious man, he had made the house as a resting place for the Jagannath pilgrims. Built in a neo-colonial style, the two storied house was built by the side of the old road. The workmen, carpenters and masons had come from Kolkata. There are carved doors and windows, an arched entranceway and a huge stone paved courtyard. Anu Patro also dug a big stone lined pond and two wells for the pilgrims. A temple too was constructed. For many years it was a favourite stop for the pilgrims, and most of them would camp here at night. The original work was in lime plaster and wooden beams. The house was listed as a heritage structure of the Old Sadak by INTACH during their survey of the Monuments of the Old Jagannath Sadak. In fact, it was a part of the report submitted to the government for notifying it as a protected monument. In fact many visitors have come to see the house after it was listed by INTACH. According to Anil Dhir, who headed the INTACH team in the survey, the old house is one of the last surviving examples of the architecture of the period. Dhir said that no other structure has endured the vagaries of time like this building. The palaces and old houses in Bhingarpur are in ruins and beyond restoration. Another old house at Dandamukundpur was completely destroyed last year. A copy of this building can be found in Sakhigopal, which now houses the Temple Administrator’s office. This rambling house, is today still beautiful, but unkempt and sadly disintegrating in places. Dhir laments that many of the structures that had been listed by him have been destroyed. Just last year, the historic 180 year old Maratha era bridge at Jaleswar was demolished despite all protests. The Old house is in urgent needs of repair. The walls and roof are leaking, and the wooden beams are now in a precarious state. The owners had made some repairs a few years ago, but looking at the heritage value of the building, it needs proper conservation and repair to restore it to its old glory. The present owners are aware of the religious significance of the building and want to convert it as a museum. The rooms are filled with antique furniture. Once it is restored; the family will maintain it and throw it open for the public. A team from INTACH comprising of State Convener A.B.Tripathy, Sanjib Hota, Kulamoni Deo and Anil Dhir have visited the village and inspected the building. According to A.B.Tripathy, the house is a neglected piece of history which is in urgent need of proper conservation. He said that INTACH will take it up with the authorities to see that funds are made available for the proper restoration and conservation of the building. In fact the MP and MLA should make allocations from their LAD funds for the upkeep of the house. INTACH will extend all expertise for the proper repair and restoration of this structure. Sanjib Hota has opined that the government should take steps to notify the Monuments of the Old Jagannath Sadak. The report submitted by INTACH two years ago should be published and released. The vestiges of the Old Jagannath Sadak are very important to the culture and history of the State, and are a part and parcel of the Jagannath Cult. Ignoring the proper maintenance is sacrilegious and will be a big loss to our cultural religious traditions.

- http://orissadiary.com/historic-old-house-jagganath-sadak/, June 14, 2018

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500-year old mosque stands on the verge of ruin

For centuries, the locals of a small village in Shariatpur district have been praying in an ancient mosque. After 500 years of devoted use, however, the landmark building in Shibpur village under Nagerparha union of Goshairhat upazila has become dilapidated, and now poses serious risks to the safety of worshippers.

A timeless work of beauty

Locals have demanded the mosque be renovated and recognized as a national heritage site, because of its historical and aesthetic values. They say it has a glorious history - although there are no surviving records of it. The site is not even listed in the government’s architecture book list. The mosque - situated about 8-10km from Sadar upazila of Shariatpur and 5km from the Arial Khan River - is popular because of its impressive decorative art. The bricks were carved with ornate designs, while the structure itself is surrounded by serene green trees and a pond at the western side. The square mosque, which has been set up on four kathas of land, has an ornate dome with a minaret on the top. The mosque’s beauty is further enhanced by minarets on each of the four corners. The interior of the mosque is intricately designed with rosettes, while the exterior exhibits depictions of art during the Muslim rule in Bengal. The architectural patterns blend harmoniously to reflect both the Sultanate and Mughal rules.

Witness to historical events

Locals have also attached superstitions to the ancient mosque, with some believing that it is possessed by spirits. Some have informed that for many years, people were afraid to enter the mosque in fear of spirits. Others have dismissed the idea. Their beliefs are that the mosque was constructed during Mughal Emperor Akbar’s rule in 1576. Bengal remained a Mughal province until the beginning of the decline of the Mughal Empire in the 19th century. After the last great Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb’s death in 1707, governors employed in Bengal practically became independent rulers. However, others villagers believe the mosque was constructed during the Nawabi period between 1717 and 1765. “Nawab” is a particular designation indicating political rank and power in the Mughal administrative hierarchy. In the British period, the term was used for a state conferred honorary title of rank, but it did not have any official attachment. During the middle of the 18th century, they served as rulers of the provinces of Bengal. Nawabs were only nominally subordinate to the Mughal Empire. Abdus Salam Talukder, a tutelary of the mosque, said the truth would always be shrouded in conjecture. “We cannot know the real history as there are no written documents, but I have always heard from my forefathers that the mosque was established by British Indian architects in the periods of Nawabs,” he said. “But maybe the mosque was constructed during the reign of Mughal Emperor Jahangir.” According to Abdus, Haji Shariatullah, an eminent 19th-century Islamic reformer from the Indian Subcontinent under whose name Shariatpur district was named, used to visit the mosque from time to time. Sometimes he would come with his son Dudu Mia to offer prayers. “We tried to renovate the mosque because of its current dismal situation,” Abdus said. “But we failed as we lacked funds. We even sent a letter to Awami League leader and former minister Abdur Razzaq, as he is our MP, but did not get any response.”

Lack of protection does more damage than time

Abdus Salam Talukder confided that currently, people come to pray inside the mosque five times a day, including for the Jumma prayers on Friday. “We try our best to preserve the heritage,” he said. “But we need the government’s help to protect the mosque.” Md Mujibur Rahman, director of Bangladesh Human Rights Enforcement council and a resident of the village, said despite the mosque’s rundown state, he goes to pray there every now and then. “Protection of such a heritage site is the government’s duty, for the sake of the country,” Mujibur said. Architect and Chief Executive of Urban Study Group (USG), Taimur Islam, said there are many historical sites in Bangladesh, but very few are listed officially. “If anything inside the mosque gets damaged, there is no way we will be able to restore it the way it was,” he said. “These structures should be preserved for their aesthetic values. Otherwise, our future generation will never witness our country’s rich history.” Taimur questioned the activities of the Ministry of Housing and Public Works. “The authorities concerned rarely take the initiative to search the historical sites across the country, citing their lack of employees,” he said.”This cannot be a valid excuse.” Ahmed Anisur Rahman, sub-assistant engineer of Shariatpur Public Works Department (PWD) told Dhaka Tribune that they did not know anything about the mosque in Shariatpur. “We can only renovate buildings that are included in the list provided by the government,” he said. “After obtaining the list from the government, we visit the site and fix the amount of money needed for renovation. “If the mosque in Shariatpur has an actual historical origin, and if it is in a dilapidated state, the concerned people can get in touch with the District Commissioner’s office for renovation.”

- https://www.dhakatribune.com/opinion/heritage/2018/06/15/500-year-old-mosque-stands-on-the-verge-of-ruin, June 15, 2018

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Stone age tools found near Hyderabad

What do we know about Hyderabad’s or Telangana’s ancient history, beyond stories of Qutb Shahis, Nizams, Kakatiyas or Satavahanas? Maybe reports of megalithic burials from iron age being discovered in the State. But now, archeologists have found a hand axe and hammer stone from a place just outside Hyderabad that they believe is from the stone age—the paleolithic era. The tools, that were found at Athvelly which lies about 35 km away from the city in Medchal district, indicate that there’s much left to be explored about Telangana’s history. The tools were found by E Sai Krishna of Hyderabad, a Ph.D scholar in Archaeology from Deccan College in Pune and an Assistant Archaeologist with Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) in the Amravati circle. Krishna showed his findings to Dr K Padayya, Emeritus Professor at Deccan College, a Padma Shri awardee and expert in Paleolithic and Neolithic cultures of the Deccan. When contacted by Express, Dr Padayya said: “Findings of Krishna are actually stray discoveries as they do not belong to a regular site. However, it is an important beginning because these findings hint at fact that the area is rich in paleolithic archaeology. Speaking to Express, Krishna said, “I am interested to find out more about the prehistory of Hyderabad and surrounding districts.”

- http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/hyderabad/2018/jun/15/stone-age-tools-found-near-hyderabad-1828464.html, June 15, 2018

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ASI to begin conservation of stone lattice work at Sidi Saiyed mosque

In the run up to Eid celebrations this weekend, lighting around the world renowned Sidi Saiyed mosque ended up revealing the bruised inflicted by time which raised awe and concern in a city which was recently inscribed by Unesco as a world heritage city. Alarmed, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has decided to kick-start preservation of the famed stone lattice work by first documenting it digitally. The scan of the entire mosque, which will capture the most minute intricacies of the Sidi Saiyed mosque, will take place next week. ASI officials said that the16th century masterpiece, which posed as a backdrop to Japanese PM Shinzo Abe and PM Narendra Modi's Gujarat meet in September last year, is difficult to replicate. “The so-called damage is not of recent nature. It's impact got accentuated by the angle of light. While some of the ancient monuments have been repaired with new stone work, we are loathe to adopting a similar process as it may compromise the artwork's integrity, ” said a senior ASI official. ‘Jali is crown jewel of city’s architecture’ Experts said the best way is to maintain the status quo and guard the lattice from further damage. The ASI is likely to use 3D scanning to document the monument in minute detail to facilitate restoration work. The 3D scanning technique has been used at the Taj Mahal in Agra, Hampi temples in Karnataka and at Rani ki Vav in Patan. “The reference points can be used to track wear and tear on the structure,” said the official. The monument commissioned by Sidi Saeed or Saiyyad– believed to be the pinnacle of the local architecture style, an amalgamation of Islamic and Hindu styles- was completed in 1572. Prof Ramji Savaliya, director of BJ Institute of Learning and Research, said that over 400 years of the mosque’s history, it has seen many changes of hands. “The stone lattice work was at its pinnacle at the time of the monument’s construction and the jali is surely a crown jewel of Ahmedabad’s architecture,” he said.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/asi-to-begin-conservation-of-stone-lattice-work-at-sidi-saiyed-mosque/articleshow/64595126.cms, June 15, 2018

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Red Fort: India fumes for nothing

When the Dalmia Bharat group signed a deal to adopt Delhi’s iconic Red Fort, critics couldn’t stop carping. Many said it was a “total sellout”; the opposition went so far as it call it “crony capitalism”. But Dalmia Bharat isn’t the first company to adopt a heritage building in India. It isn’t unusual for companies to be involved in the conservation or maintenance of historical monuments, both in India and globally. Staterun Indian Oil Corp, for example, funded the construction of tourist facilities at Konark Sun Temple in Odisha; and Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels has done the illumination and signage at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar. Globally, Italian luxury label Tod’s financed the restoration of Rome’s Colosseum while Fendi paid to restore the Trevi Fountain Ajay Kumar, a director at the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, says the Red Fort project is a welcome step as many heritage sites are poorly maintained, with “betel stains and filth” .“If corporates have to spend 2% of their net profit on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), why not on heritage site maintenance. This scheme is a right step in that direction’’, he says. Dalmia Bharat, a conglomerate with businesses in cement and power, plans to spend Rs 25 crore over five years on the 17th century fort as part of its CSR spending. It will set up and maintain amenities such as public toilets, seats, and lighting. The government says it is a step to maintain the fort and promote tourism. And it might be true. Under the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ scheme, India plans to outsource the upkeep of close to 100 heritage sites. The adoptee will set up basic amenities but will not make a profit from the projects. It is part of the government’s efforts to channelise some of India’s over Rs 7,000 crore annual CSR spending into heritage tourism. A Dalmia Bharat official said the criticism was unwarranted as it is only setting up tourist amenities. (The article was originally published in June 2018 issue of the magazine.)

- https://www.fortuneindia.com/ideas/red-fort-india-fumes-for-nothing/102016, June 18, 2018

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A Qutub Minar that not many knew even existed

It is called the Mini Qutub Minar, but this 17th century minaret in a village in west Delhi has neither been protected nor promoted for its archaeological value. In fact, if one were to visit the relic in Hasthsal village in Uttam Nagar, you would find it accessible only via a grimy, half-metre-wide lane surrounded on all sides by frenzied construction activity. Though late to wake up to the need to conserve it, the Delhi chapter of Intach and Delhi government’s archaeology department have fortunately decided to take it under their care. The tower, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as part of his hunting lodge, today only has three of its five storeys remaining. It is architecturally similar to the more feted 13th century monument in south Delhi, but unlike the Qutub Minar, which has World Heritage Site status, the replica in Hasthsal is in dire conditions. Deemed to be Grade A in heritage value, the Mini Qutub Minar will be conserved under Phase IV of Delhi government’s project to protect lesser known monuments in the capital. Officials disclosed that they have carried out an assessment of the site and conservation work will begin shortly. “Our primary focus will be to consolidate the structure because we are concerned that the foundation of the minar may have been weakened by decades of neglect,” said an official. The project also entails conservation of the facade and preservation of the unique carvings on the mini tower. The stonework — the neglected minar is made of brick masonry cladded with red sandstone — will be chemically cleaned in a painstaking procedure and any gaps between the stones will be filled in. However, recreation of the missing portions of the monument, such as the upper storeys, is not part of the agenda. Conservations explained that missing portions of historical monuments are usually not recreated unless there are archival materials and firm evidence of the original structure. In addition to these, the small courtyard that surrounds the minar will be given an improved look. Conservationists explained that the Qutub Minar lookalike originally had five storeys and was topped by a domed chhatri. The upper two storeys and the chhatri are believed to have collapsed in the 18th century. While the lower platform has been encroached upon by villagers, the other octagonal platform is in a dilapidated condition and the steps leading up to it disappeared a long time ago.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/a-qutub-minar-that-not-many-knew-even-existed/articleshow/64640198.cms, June 18, 2018

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The passionate historian

Edward Paul’s biggest passion has been unearthing Vizag’s chronicles over the centuries. In fact, every anecdote or yarn associated with Vizag’s past, has gone through his lens for verification and validation. Feature writer for YO! Vizag, GV Ramesh interacts with the history buff and gets a few twisted facts straightened out about Vizag. By profession, he is a retired Shipping Manager, but by passion, he is a researcher of Vizag’s history. Edward Paul has traced the origins of Vizag to as far back as to the 11th century AD. He proverbially left no stone unturned for this; he even read the inscriptions on the stones in Draksharamam to ascertain the antiquity of Vizag. He crossed the seven seas too in his quest to ascertain the origins of Queen Mary’s school. He searched in the London Archives for Vizag’s history. There he chanced upon the Queen Mary’s School magazine of 1931 and brought the most original evidence for the raison d’être for establishing the school, which was to uplift the lives of the oppressed child-widows in the early 19th century history. The septuagenarian, belying his age, is a bundle of energy and enthusiasm. And, he has many an interesting anecdote about Vizag up his sleeve to unfurl and surprise us. In the district and sessions court complex, he says, there used to be a huge ARP (Air Raid Precautions) water tank. It was, seemingly, constructed during Second World War days to store water for the emergency purpose of dousing fires caused by bombings. Though its intended purpose, fortunately, was never met, the dried tank was an important play-area for the students of the 50s and 60s. They would slide down on the slopes of the tank on their way back from school. It was subsequently filled and the Senior Civil Judge Court complex was constructed, he adds. Drawing from various evidence culled from archaeological and historical sources, Edward refutes the popular notion that Vizag had been a mere village of fishermen before British made it a thriving city of trade with the port as its epicenter. He particularly points to a stone inscription found in the Bhimeswara Temple at Draksharamam, East Godavari district, where it was mentioned that a merchant from Vizag made huge donations to the temple during 11th century A.D. He argues that if it was a small village of only fishermen how could such a largesse be possible from a citizen to such a far-off land (in 11th century, covering hundreds of miles must have certainly been an arduous journey). Another important aspect to note was that Vizag was also known then as Kulothunga Chola Patnam, named after the then Chola King, who was ruling this part of the land. Not only was Edward’s focus pan-Vizag, but it also did fall on specific institutions in Vizag; especially on the Queen Mary’s School. He visited archives in London to unearth the finer details about Queen Mary’s, which were not known even to some of the old-timers, who were connected with it. He proudly presents his findings, which unequivocally suggest that it came up to emancipate and ameliorate one of the neglected sections of the society, viz., the widowed girl children. The institution even provided a stipend to motivate their households to send them to school. It must have certainly brought light into their otherwise dark existences during those periods of extreme obscurantism and superstition. He visited archives in Madras (Vizag was part of Madras Presidency during British Raj) to extract the details of the construction and inauguration of present Collector’s office and other Government buildings. Coming to his experiences in Vizag, he has many fond memories that involve spatial features, temporal changes and celebrity moments. Referring to travelogues, he divulges that the big Mission Bungalow owned by the erstwhile London Mission, in the present day CBM Compound could be visible from the beach. In fact, the legend was that the sailing ships in the Bay of Bengal identified Vizag by looking at the building which was the first one that could be sighted from the high-seas. He nostalgically recalls that the electricity generation from Machkand Hydel Power Project was inaugurated remotely by none less than the then honourable President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, by switching on the power-lines from a ground, teeming with a large gathering of people, near the old bus stand (present Indira Priyadarshini Municipal Stadium). ‘The present-day Dondaparthi was once a village, which was uprooted from its actual location that was adjacent to Allipuram, and shifted to the present place when the Railways established Waltair division’, he reveals. In retrospect, the rehabilitation colonies of Vizag Steel Plant were not the first groups of the populace who had to shift their villages due to industrialisation. It comes to light that it was Railways, which started this phenomenon, at least, in Vizag. Edward Paul’s intense focus was rightly on the One Town area. He has, in his possession, different maps of Vizag belonging to different eras, which progressively show how Vizag’s geography changed over time. The gradual lengthening of iconic Beach road and the disappearance of a Fort tell the tale very vividly. In fact, he says, Ganneru veedhi in Burujupeta is a “corruption of the name” ‘Gunners street’. It housed the artillerymen (Gunners) deployed in the bastions of the fort during British Raj. He has many such anecdotes, supported by perfectly valid sources of data, about the love of his life, Vizag. His ever eager eye and mind are always restless to unearth many an evidence to eulogise the glory of Vizag. He has made many presentations on the city’s legacy and history in many forums and brought new light to the historiography of Vizag. His contribution as a member of INTACH, an organisation working for the preservation of art and cultural heritage in India, is a glorious icing on the cake of his passion, love, and perseverance, with which he is going ahead in his mission. May his missionary zeal rub on all of us so that we too can take a leaf out of his life-book and make our life as resplendent, passionate and purposeful as his. Amen!

- https://www.yovizag.com/edward-paul-vizag-history/, June 18, 2018

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ASI to revamp Vikramshila

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has chosen the ancient Vikramshila University in Bhagalpur to conserve and develop on international lines, keeping in view its historical significance and the rising trend of tourists arriving in the site. The selection was done by the Patna circle of ASI, which has jurisdiction over Bihar, and the project will be completed on the lines of the Adarsh Monument Scheme of the central government, under which the ASI is upgrading 100 monuments across the country and ensuring various public amenities. A need-gap analysis for conservation and development of the site has been completedand the ASI director-general has given permission to go ahead with the plans. "We have chosen Vikramshila because like the ancient Nalanda University, it was also an elaborate university with international links. The monks from here went to Tibet and developed Lamaism there. This university was famous for the study of Tantrayana (also known as Vajrayana or Tantric Buddhism)," ASI Patna circle superintending archaeologist D.N. Sinha said. Vikramashila, located at Antichak around 50km east of Bhagalpur city, was established by Pala dynasty ruler Dharmapal (783AD to 820AD), in response to a supposed decline in quality of education at Nalanda. Atisha, the renowned Buddhist scholar, is said to have been an abbot there. The university was destroyed by the forces of Bakhtiyar Khilji around 1200AD. With time, the remains got buried in the ground, only to be excavated thoroughly between 1960 and 1982. Incidentally, people of Bhagalpur have been demanding better conservation, protection and development of the monument. The Union government also has plans to build a Vikramshila University in the area, though land acquisition by the state government for the purpose is facing hurdles and opposition from the residents. Talking about the plans for the ancient site, Sinha said a focused approach will be taken for its conservation and development as funds from the ASI headquarters are expected to come. "There are 208 cells for monks around a courtyard having a stupa in the middle at the Vikramshila site. Around 80 cells have been conserved and NTPC Kahalgaon has helped in it financially as part of the National Culture Fund. At this pace, complete conservation of the site would take 15 to 20 years. However, under the new project, all the remaining cells will be developed at a fast pace and simultaneously," Sinha added. ASI sources said structures in the huge complex were never consolidated after the excavations were completed in 1982, leading to various problems due to nature's action. "Moreover, the firing of bricks used in the main stupa has not been done properly due to which they have developed blackness and are fragile," an ASI official said. The archaeological site is spread across 100 acres and the ASI will also ensure various public amenities like a ticket booking complex, souvenir shop, cloak room, interpretation centre with an audio-visual hall and an orientation gallery, a cafeteria, that will serve packed food, and toilets. "ASI will do the conservation work, while work related to public amenities will be outsourced to public sector agencies like NBCC or NPCC," Sinha added.

- https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/bihar/asi-to-revamp-vikramshila-238600, June 18, 2018

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ASI to revamp Vikramshila

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has chosen the ancient Vikramshila University in Bhagalpur to conserve and develop on international lines, keeping in view its historical significance and the rising trend of tourists arriving in the site. The selection was done by the Patna circle of ASI, which has jurisdiction over Bihar, and the project will be completed on the lines of the Adarsh Monument Scheme of the central government, under which the ASI is upgrading 100 monuments across the country and ensuring various public amenities. A need-gap analysis for conservation and development of the site has been completedand the ASI director-general has given permission to go ahead with the plans. "We have chosen Vikramshila because like the ancient Nalanda University, it was also an elaborate university with international links. The monks from here went to Tibet and developed Lamaism there. This university was famous for the study of Tantrayana (also known as Vajrayana or Tantric Buddhism)," ASI Patna circle superintending archaeologist D.N. Sinha said. Vikramashila, located at Antichak around 50km east of Bhagalpur city, was established by Pala dynasty ruler Dharmapal (783AD to 820AD), in response to a supposed decline in quality of education at Nalanda. Atisha, the renowned Buddhist scholar, is said to have been an abbot there. The university was destroyed by the forces of Bakhtiyar Khilji around 1200AD. With time, the remains got buried in the ground, only to be excavated thoroughly between 1960 and 1982. Incidentally, people of Bhagalpur have been demanding better conservation, protection and development of the monument. The Union government also has plans to build a Vikramshila University in the area, though land acquisition by the state government for the purpose is facing hurdles and opposition from the residents. Talking about the plans for the ancient site, Sinha said a focused approach will be taken for its conservation and development as funds from the ASI headquarters are expected to come. "There are 208 cells for monks around a courtyard having a stupa in the middle at the Vikramshila site. Around 80 cells have been conserved and NTPC Kahalgaon has helped in it financially as part of the National Culture Fund. At this pace, complete conservation of the site would take 15 to 20 years. However, under the new project, all the remaining cells will be developed at a fast pace and simultaneously," Sinha added. ASI sources said structures in the huge complex were never consolidated after the excavations were completed in 1982, leading to various problems due to nature's action. "Moreover, the firing of bricks used in the main stupa has not been done properly due to which they have developed blackness and are fragile," an ASI official said. The archaeological site is spread across 100 acres and the ASI will also ensure various public amenities like a ticket booking complex, souvenir shop, cloak room, interpretation centre with an audio-visual hall and an orientation gallery, a cafeteria, that will serve packed food, and toilets. "ASI will do the conservation work, while work related to public amenities will be outsourced to public sector agencies like NBCC or NPCC," Sinha added.

- https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/bihar/asi-to-revamp-vikramshila-238600, June 18, 2018

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ASI to take over Kakatiya-era temples

The tiny, dilapidated and abandoned Shiva temple in Dharmasagar mandal was once thriving with scores of devotees thronging it. What remains now are a few broken idols, grown up bushes and an eerie silence. Thanks to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as has decided to take over some of the old temples of the Kakatiya-era to restore them to their past glory. “The Muppirinatha Swamy temple and Munipalli Shivalayam in Dharmasagar mandal are listed initially to be handed over to the ASI,” district tourism officer M. Shivaji said. According to him, the Kakatiya period step wells at Kothawada and Shiva Nagar in the city, and a few other step wells located in other places in the district will also be included in the list. The ASI has recently written to the district administration stating that it would take up preservation and protection of select temples and historic monuments in the district and asked the officials to list out the same. Mr. Shivaji said that before the bifurcation of the State, the ASI had nearly 130 historic monuments under its control. After reorganisation of the State, only eight monuments in Telangana have come under the ASI control, with the remaining in AP. The eight include three monuments in the erstwhile Warangal district – Ramappa Temple, Thousand Pillar Temple and the Warangal Fort. Now the ASI is contemplating to take up preservation and restoration of some more historic monuments. According to local lore, the Muppirinatha Swamy Temple was built during 1116-1157 by Muppamamba, wife of Kakatiya ruler Prola II. The temple is abundant with rich carvings reflecting the architectural acumen of the Kakatiya kings. The carvings on the temple stones feature the tales of Panchatantra, scenes from epics like the Ramayana among others. While the temple withstood the ravages of time, the sanctum sanctorum got damaged along with the presiding deity Shiva Lingam, reportedly due to drilling by unknown treasure hunters. “It is still very beautiful and large parts are still intact. With some restoration, it can regain its glory which entails commitment and financial expenditure,” Mr. Shivaji said.

- http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/asi-to-take-over-kakatiya-era-temples/article24187925.ece, June 18, 2018

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Heritage meets modern times, brings guests together

With its feebly lit oil lamps along the staircase and bare-brick finish of the interiors — the magical ruins of Rajbari Bawali welcomed the guests on a perfect note of heritage conservation. It was a gala that kickstarted with an interactive session in the presence of Maharaja Gaj Singh of Jodhpur, one of the founder members of INTACH and chairperson of Indian Heritage Hotel Association, Atri Bhattacharya, principal secretary of West Bengal tourism, GM Kapur, convener, INTACH, and other dignitaries. In a symposium, the guests discussed the potential of heritage tourism. The Maharaja complimented the effort made by the authorities of Rajbari Bawali and encouraged all the stakeholders present there to take forward the movement. Rakesh Mathur of Indian Heritage Hotels Association made a presentation that was appreciated by the guests. While addressing the audience, Atri said, “It was an amazing experience. I learnt a lot from the presentation,” said Arti, adding, “I would also request all the heritage property owners to take a step forward and create awareness on environment in the surrounding areas.” INTACH also presented a plaque of recognition for conservation to the Rajbari management. After the symposium, a beautiful cultural show was hosted at the thakurdalan — the courtyard at the outhouse. It started on an auspicious note with a traditional vandana by Samar Mandal, the original owner of Bawali. It was followed by Baul songs by Manoranjan and Gautam Baul. And then a rendition of Marga Nritya — an intangible heritage of ancient dance and music from the period of Natyashastra — was presented by a group of artistes. As the guests moved to the dining area, members of the folk band, Folk Mantra, presented contemporary songs with a folk twist. Kabipriya Dutta Mazumder’s rendition of Oh! Susanna, Boshonto eshe geche and other songs enthralled the audience. Diplomats and members of the expat community were spotted at the do. “I love this property. I like the way it has been restored. You can make it pristine, cosmetically beautiful building. But it will not have a soul. But if it is restored properly, it becomes a living place, like this one,” said Bruce Bucknell, British Deputy High Commissioner.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/heritage-meets-modern-times-brings-guests-together/articleshow/64568867.cms, June 19, 2018

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INTACH A & N Chapter World Environment Day celebrated by INTACH A & N Chapter

The Port Blair Municipal Council had tied up with INTACH to organize the World Environment Day Celebrations.

The volunteers of INTACH A & N Chapter and kids of NAACH Academy of Performing Arts got together at 7 am in the morning and participated in an auto rally and then a Swatch Bharat Cleanliness drive to promote bio degradable bags launched by the PBMC. The honorable Chief Secretary flagged of the auto rally with NAACH kids holding placards and banners and 20 INTACH members guiding the children towards different municipal wards. INTACH and NAACH also organized Nukkad-Nataks in association with a local group DNA. In a function, PBMC felicitated INTACH for the role we played in Environment Day Celebrations.

- http://chapter.intach.org/pdf/World-Environment-Day-18618.pdf, June 19, 2018

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Students learn to preserve heritage

A group of youngsters was seen squatting over a makeshift furnace. While some of them were blowing wind through pipes to keep the fire alive, the others were twisting skewers to make clay dolls. They are making galar putul or lac dolls — brightly coloured miniature figurines. Organised by Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) in association with an NGO recently at the Conservation Institute in Hastings, it was a workshop aiming to preserve the intangible cultural heritage. The participants were the senior students from All Bengal Womens’ Union’s Children’s Home. One of the few living craftsmen, in this area Brindaban Chanda, trained the youngsters. The participants were awarded certificates by the members of INTACH.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/students-learn-to-preserve-heritage/articleshow/64647073.cms, June 19, 2018

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Purana Qila lake may lose recharge capacity

Delhi’s groundwater resources are fast depleting and many parts are already suffering from indiscriminate withdrawal that may take years to replenish. Yet, agencies are considering lining or concretising the base of the moat lake at Purana Qila to ensure that there is water all year round. The Archaeological Survey of India, following a National Green Tribunal order, has started restoring the moat and outsourced the work to the National Building Construction Corporation. But, recently, Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan found that a part of the plan is also to concretise the water body and fill it up with water from Okhla STP. YJA wrote to the LG and the CM about how it would inhibit groundwater recharge in a water-scarce city like Delhi. “While we commend the plans to use treated water to keep the water body filled, we find it absolutely bizarre for ASI to plan its concretisation and bottom lining with foreign material,” YJA wrote. Plans to concretise the base were confirmed by the NBCC contractor who said the plan had not yet been taken up because of complaints on environmental grounds. “We are digging the moat deeper by 1 to 1.5 metres because there was a lot of silt. The soil is sandy and water usually percolates very quickly; it also evaporates in summer. So, every year before summer, it dries up. There were different proposals to deal with this. One of the proposals was to line the base. But no decision has been taken on taking it forward,” said one of the officials who is working on the project. NBCC is getting landscaping done and walkways constructed around the moat now. The moat would be filled with water from Okhla STP and further treated at the site before being used, officials said. NGT had last year pulled up ASI for the poor condition of the moat. It had asked why it wasn’t being restored despite the tribunal’s directions on restoring all water bodies in the capital. NBCC CMD, AK Mittal, said the water body was full of malba. “We have to ensure that the water doesn’t go down and, at the same time, it remains clean. There will be aeration of water to ensure it remains clean and there will be treatment of the soil underneath so that water is not absorbed completely. The landscaping will be state of the art,” Mittal said. NBCC plans to complete the restoration project before October. The moat itself has immense heritage value. “Yamuna used to flow close to the Qila before it meandered to the east. Water from Yamuna would come up to the moat and fill it up. It has very high groundwater recharge value, too. Our conservative estimate is that the moat can recharge about 10 million litres per year,” Manu Bhatnagar, head, natural heritage division of INTACH, said. In simple terms, the recharge potential of the moat — 2 hectares in size — is enough to sustain the water needs of 30,000 people over a year, Bhatnagar added.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/purana-qila-lake-may-lose-recharge-capacity/articleshow/64655047.cms, June 19, 2018

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ASI discovers chariots and more from the Mahabharata era in UP

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has found mind-boggling ancient remains from the soil of Sanauli in Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat district. Reportedly, the burials are as old as 2000BC-1800 BC and belong to the Mahabharata period. According to news reports, the chariots discovered at the aforementioned site hint that the people during that time belonged to the warrior community, and were skilled in arts, crafts and aesthetic living. The archaeologists are hoping that the findings will help them decipher the exact date of the Mahabharata era, and dig deeper into the history of the chariots and horses in the Harappan age. The team of experts who is involved in the excavation said that the new discoveries will throw light on India’s position in the ancient world history. Although, chariots have been used extensively in Mesopotamia, Georgia, Greek civilisations, the recent findings in Sanauli prove that even India was not far behind. Furthermore, the previous burial pits were found at Rakhigarhi, Kalibangan and Lothal; in a first-of-its-kind discovery, chariots have been found besides royal burial pits in India. At least three burial pits have ornamental coffin lids, embellished with floral designs and anthropological patterns. The swords unearthed here have copper coated hilts and a medial ridge, making these quite suitable for warfare activities. A torch, daggers and shields have also been dug up. As per the archaeologists, all these discoveries confirm that the people of that era were a warrior class. The ASI officials reportedly told the press that in all likelihood, a horse was used to drive the chariots. In fact, the chariot looks similar to the ones discovered in Mesopotamian cultures. The chariot is without spokes, and has solid wheels. In another pit, the ASI team discovered a protective crown or helmet generally worn by the chariot rider. More interesting findings at the site feature four copper antenna swords, seven channel-like objects, two daggers, shield, mirror, comb, torch, steatite beads hundreds of small cylindrical paste beads, and triangle and rectangular inlays, semi-precious and gold beads, etc. As of now, archaeologists opine that it is hard to tell the precise time of the unearthed burial items; they are of the opinion that the chariots and coffins do not date back to the Harappan Civilisation. In early 2018, Satender Kumar Maan, the village Pradhan of Sanauli, stumbled upon the artefacts etc. while working on his agricultural land. He informed the district officers, and soon, the ASI officials were intimated about the discovery. The ASI team worked for three months to unravel the Bronze Age items. For now, the officials have decided to move the discovered objects to the Red Fort Museum of Delhi for more examination.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/travel/destinations/asi-discovers-chariots-and-more-from-the-mahabharata-era-in-up/as64647159.cms, June 19, 2018

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A 17th Century Mini Qutub Minar that lies neglected in West Delhi village

A replica of the 13th century Qutub Minar in South Delhi, which is a World Heritage site, the Mini Qutub Minar was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as part of his hunting lodge. Located in Hasthsal village in West Delhi's Uttam Nagar, approach to the tower is a mere half-metre lane, which is surrounded by construction activity. It originally had five storeys, of which only three remain at present. The report suggests that the Delhi government’s Archaeology Department and Delhi Chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage have decided to work on conserving the monument. It is deemed to be Grade A in heritage value and will be conserved under Phase IV of Delhi government’s project to protect lesser-known monuments. According to conservationists, the Mini Qutab Minar's fifth storey had a dome (chhatri) atop, which is believed to have collapsed in the 18th century along with the monument's upper two storeys. A source told the paper that the prime focus of the conservationists would be to consolidate the structure and give it foundation strength which might be weakened after years of neglect. The project involves conservation of the façade and carvings on the tower. However, they will not try to recreate the upper storeys. Additionally, the team plans to build a small courtyard surrounding the Minar to give it a better look.

- https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/trends/current-affairs-trends/a-17th-century-mini-qutub-minar-that-lies-neglected-in-west-delhi-village-2608851.html, June 20, 2018

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Khan-i-Khana: The tomb that inspired Taj Mahal’s architect set to reopen in mid-2019

The remarkable 16th Century garden-tomb of Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khana, which was under renovation by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture(AKTC) as part of its ‘Nizamuddin area Urban Renewal Initiative’, is expected to open to the tourists by mid-2019. AKTC is completing the work along with the Archaeological Survey of India. The tomb was covered with green net and scaffolding since 2014. The tomb was built in red sandstone with white marble inlay and had also inspired the architect of the Taj Mahal. The tomb was commissioned by the soldier, minister and poet - Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khana, who is widely famous for his Rahim ke dohe for his wife Mah Banu. According to a report by the Indian Express(IE), Ratish Nanda, AKTC project director said, “There were major structural problems, deep cracks in the crypt, first floor and within the dome. It took us a year just to strengthen the foundation. We had expected to finish it in three years, it will take us another 12 months.” This conservation work as well a book celebrating Rahim’s work has been funded by Interglobe Foundation. The tomb’s pathway is also reconstructed with red sandstone, which was stripped off years ago. The intricate plaster works on the tomb’s ceiling have been meticulously brushed out, layers of dust and cement that were carelessly plastered have been removed by the workers. The pillars of the tomb were carved with floral and geometric designs which have been restored, the gardens adjacent to tomb have also been replanted. “A team, comprising of engineers, archaeologists, architects, horticulturists and conservation architects, has been working on this tomb. We have used the traditional material to conserve the monument,” said Ujwala Menon, conservation architect, AKTC to IE. Rahim was one of the Akbar’s navratnas. He was the son of Akbar’s mentor-Bairam Khan. This five-year plan has allegedly given employment to many, “The economic potential of heritage conservation is often not talked about. Gardeners, craftsmen, stone transporters, and quarries have benefited from such work, also more than 200 labourers were employed in the restoration project.

- http://www.timesnownews.com/mirror-now/society/article/renewal-process-of-tomb-that-inspired-taj-mahal-s-architect-to-end-in-mid-2019/243054, June 21, 2018

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ASI digs more evidence of deep Buddhist roots of Gujarat

The Taranga Hill, part of the Aravalli range in north Gujarat, has long been regarded as an important Buddhist centre, with Dev ni Mori, a 3rd century AD site, revealing a stupa and a casket containing relics associated with Lord Buddha. As excavations by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) continue in the area, archaeologists are enthused by new finds, which includes a structure resembling a Buddhist stupa. The structure is believed to belong to the Kshatrapa period (1st-4th century AD) on the basis of pottery and other artefacts found from the site. Led by deputy superintending archaeologist Dr Abhijit Ambekar, the Excavation Branch V has now expanded the scope of exploration in the nearby areas. A mound was reported atop the Dhagolia peak of the Taranga Hill. On the basis of the structure peeking out from it, we decided to excavate the site,” said a senior ASI official. “The excavation revealed a circular structure, about eight metres in diameter, made of chipped stones. The structure is capped by burnt bricks. A ramp — also made of chipped stones — and four steps leading to it have been found,” said the official. The find ties together a number of recent discoveries, establishing northern Gujarat as an important Buddhist site. The ASI recently excavated a 50-metre-long super structure, dating to the 5th century AD, in PM Narendra Modi’s hometown of Vadnagar, 38km southwest of Taranga Hill. That structure is believed to hold religious significance. The state archaeology department had excavated a Buddhist monastery in Vadnagar earlier, now the ASI has found two cells indicating a similar structure. ASI officials said the area offers great prospects.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/asi-digs-more-evidence-of-deep-buddhist-roots-of-guj/articleshow/64674820.cms, June 21, 2018

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Shillong’s museums in the mist

DB Centre for Indigenous Cultures

If inaccessible topography has stopped you from discovering the treasures of Northeast India, a visit to the seven-storey DBCIC, Mawlai, will more than make up for it. Beyond the doorway, fashioned like a traditional Naga house, lies gallery upon gallery showcasing its culture and history. A result of more than a century’s research by the Salesians of Don Bosco, a Catholic religious order, on the many tribes of the region, every floor has a mind-boggling array of artefacts. Manned by polite but firm staff in blazers, each hall is lit up with sensor-driven lights that turn on when you step in, and fade out as you walk past the glass cabinets. Inaugurated by then Congress president Sonia Gandhi in 2010, the museum located amid pretty cottages with potted geraniums and lace-curtained windows sees nearly a lakh visitors a year. Start at the basement with an introduction to India’s neighbours and climb the spiral stairs that take you past agricultural implements, fishing tools and storage baskets in intricately woven cane, houses built on stilts, hillsides and treetops, plaster heads defining tribal features, clothing, weapons, jewellery and, languages and an impressive hall with world religions and Christianity in the Northeast, portrayed through murals. When you reach the top, be rewarded with a view of Shillong basking in the sun.

Rhino Heritage Museum

Nearly two decades after he was killed in Kargil leading his Kashmiri troops into battle, the bust of Capt Keishing Clifford Nongrum, MVC, at the Rhino Heritage Museum, surveys the Rilbong crossroads in the town where he grew up. The bust of Maj David Manlun, KC, who was educated in Shillong and killed in combat last year in Nagaland, was recently unveiled, and the two join the statue of Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw, who spearheaded India’s victory in the Indo-Pak War of 1971. The squat building with a vaulted dome was constructed in 1928 and used as an arms store. In 1944, it housed Japanese prisoners of war and came to be known as Dungeon Lines. For a brief while after the Second World War ended, Gurkha troops used it as an ammunition store. After Independence, it fell into disuse till it was resurrected at the turn of the century. The pink building with the formidable sculpture of a rhino has photographs and war memorabilia that celebrates the history of the Indian Army’s 101 Area, the first of its formations to reach Dhaka during the 1971 war. It also has a room chock-a-block with information on the heritage, courage and compassion of the Assam Rifles, India’s oldest paramilitary force, headquartered in Shillong. Outside the museum is a Vijayanta tank standing at the crossroads.

Air Force Museum

On the long road shaded by gently swaying pine trees en route to Elephant Falls is the Air Force Museum. Part of the Indian Air Force’s Eastern Command Headquarters, the museum’s location is signalled by a Gnat aircraft stationed opposite its gates. Nicknamed the ‘Sabre Slayer’ for its combat kills in 1971, the Gnat is joined by other aircraft such as the MI-4 helicopter and Iskra trainer plane, exhibited on the lawns outside, giving visitors a chance to clamber up and take a closer look at the cockpit. Inside the museum, mannequins don uniforms worn by Air Force personnel over the years; overalls and peak caps, combat suits and dress uniforms with cummerbunds vie for space. Suspended from the ceiling and mounted on walls are models of every aircraft flown by the Force. Framed on baize mounts are replicas of gallantry awards; among them the Ashok Chakra awarded to India’s only man in space, Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma (retd.) and the Param Vir Chakra awarded posthumously to Flying Officer Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon, the only Air Force officer to have been given the nation’s highest wartime gallantry award. Take a picture with Augustine’s flight suit and don’t forget to gawk at the preserved skin of a python that swallowed a deer near the Hashimara air field.

- http://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/travel/shillongs-museums-in-the-mist/article24208933.ece, June 21, 2018

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Baobab under threat: Climate change killing 430-year-old ‘elephant tree’ at Golconda Fort

The ‘elephant tree’ at Golconda Fort, the biggest baobab outside Africa and Australia, is now under threat by climate change and ‘artificial environment’ induced by increased human activity in the 500-year-old fort complex. Heritage activists said senior botanists and baobab experts should do a immediate ‘health check-up’ of over 430-year-old tree, known as Hatiyan-ka-jhad, in view of a scientific publication last week in Nature Plants, which revealed that some of the oldest baobab trees in Africa are suddenly dying due to changes in climate. Baobabs in Africa that were healthy six months ago have died due to climate change and pollution, the scientists suspect. Hyderabad has about a dozen baobab trees. Baobab trees do not show external signs of damage, but fall suddenly due to drying up of the trunk from inside. Apart from golf course, construction of a ‘protection platform’ with cement and bricks, and visitors climbing on its branches and entering its false cavity has robbed the giant tree of its natural environs. Meanwhile, Pillalamarri, the great banyan in Mahbubnagar is on death bed. It is one of the biggest banyans in the world and was under the care of tourism department till it was nearly eaten by termite infestation. It was handed over to forest department and its revival became a herculean task. Golconda baobab is under the care of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Some of the baobabs in the city were pulled down for road widening and ORR works. They are now found in Attapur, Secunderabad Club, Ranganath temple, Vanasthalipuram, Chapel Road and Chengicherla reserve forest. All these trees are over 200-year-old. INTACH city convener P Anuradha Reddy said the baobabs were introduced to Hyderabad by African and Arab traders, following the Surat-Machilipatnam trade route during the Qutub Shahi period and earlier Bahmani period during 15th or 16th century CE. “We can find baobabs even in the northern trade route – Delhi-Golconda-Machilipatnam. Baobabs are part of botanical and natural heritage of Hyderabad and they need to be protected,” Reddy said.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/baobab-under-threat-climate-change-killing-430-year-old-elephant-tree-at-golconda-fort/articleshow/64691462.cms, June 22, 2018

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Adventures of the youngest archaeologist

Boys his age love fun-time with friends, playing games, looking for fun and thrilling activities. But at 16, Arsh Ali has already achieved many feats with his hard work, passion and determination. Arsh Ali is India’s youngest archaeologist and has been part of many excavations till now. He had a solo exhibition to his credit at the age of four, and has given lectures in ancient and modern history to post-graduate students at Allahabad University. Arsh’s first excavation was a great learning experience. “In 2016, when I was 15 years old, I participated in my first excavation program at a site named Binjore which is a Harappan site near the Indo-Pak border in Rajasthan. The institute of Archaeology and the Archaeological Survey of India had conducted the excavations.” “I have been part of over seven excavations and exploration programs that were conducted by the Archaeological Survey of India as well as several state-controlled archaeological departments. I have been doing these activities for over 3 years,” he says. For Arsh it was a dream come true to be a part of excavations and exploring new things. “Being a part of excavations and exploration programs is really a pleasure and an honour for a person who has a keen love for archaeology. Actually being on the field and doing what you have only studied in books till that time is very challenging. But it is also very exciting because you actually get to touch things from a different era. That experience is something you will cherish all your life,” he says. What made him want to pursue archaeology as a subject of study was the fact that it is a subject that covers almost all fields of sciences and humanities. “If you want to be a good archaeologist, you really need to be good in all fields of learning,” he adds. It was a tough task for Arsh to balance his school studies with his passion for archaeology and the work and hours it demanded. “Well, if you need to balance your school studies as well as your extra-curricular activities, you need to be well planned, well disciplined, and absolutely determined to do things with an unwavering focus. The thing that helped me a lot to balance my school studies and extra-curricular activities was support from my school. I studied till class 10 in City Montessori School, Lucknow. Then I joined National Open School for my studies in class 11 and 12, when it became extremely difficult for me to manage things due to my increased absence from class.” Arsh feels lucky to have had the support of his parents. “The thing that is highly important is your parents’ support and enthusiasm for the things you wish to pursue. I feel lucky to have parents who did their best in helping me pursue my dream.” The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. Arsh dreams that one day his actions will be beneficial for the world. He says, “I have only one dream — to gift this world something that will prove to be of immense help to each and every human being living on this planet.”

- http://www.asianage.com/life/more-features/220618/adventures-of-the-youngest-archaeologist.html, June 22, 2018

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Over 1,000 throng ‘Heritage Run’ in Hyderabad

A ‘Go Heritage Run’ was held on Sunday, with participants running amidst the city’s ancient heritage sites. The run was supported by Hyderabad Runners, the city chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Telangana Tourism, Telangana Police, Care Hospitals and the workspace provider iKeva. About 1,200 people participated in the 5K, 10K and 21K runs, including senior citizens, women, and several children as young as seven years old. Medals and certificates were given to winners and participants and medical support was provided by Care Hospitals group. Later, INTACH Hyderabad co-convenor Anuradha Reddy spoke to the runners about Taramati, the history of the city and the relationship between diamonds and Golkonda.

- https://telanganatoday.com/179856-2, June 25, 2018

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Training on life skills for kids during vacation

India Tourism Northeast, under the Union ministry of tourism, in association with Headway Intel Club, will organise The Essentials, a four-day a summer workshop for children, at the Assam State Museum from July 3. Children in the age groups of 5 to 10 years and 10 to 16 years will be divided into junior and senior groups in the workshop, to be conducted by professionals in different fields. The event will be held as part of the promotion of the Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat campaign. Apart from imparting lessons on English language and communication skills, the workshop will comprise a panel discussion, quiz, sessions on storytelling, life-saving skills and financial education. The panel discussion on value added by travel in education will be conducted by noted persons from the education and travel fields, including India Tourism Northeast director Soheb Samad, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage Assam chapter convener Sheila Bora, Jungle Travels director Jahnabi Phookan, Alfresco Cruise proprietor Shanti Doley and Headway Intel Club founder Neetu Sarawgi. The expert team includes Indrani Deb in storytelling, Rohit Sarawgi in financial education, Puja Banerjee and Shabir Khan in health education, Sangeeta Bhattacharjee in quiz and Neetu Sarawgi and Markand Vyas in oratory skills. Announcing the workshop on Monday, Samad said, "India Tourism and Headway Intel Club are getting together for this value-added skill workshop. We want to let our children know about our land and instil a sense of pride." India and travel will be the theme for the quiz session. Sarawgi said, "We want to make the children's vacations memorable as well as informative and educative. We will have experts from various fields to teach varied life skills to both children and parents." Apollo Hospitals and Childline are supporting the workshop. The registration fee is Rs 1,200 for juniors and Rs 2,200 for seniors.

- https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/north-east/training-on-life-skills-for-kids-during-vacation-240305, June 26, 2018

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Raghurajpur: A Hamlet Where Dharma Meets Karma

Few villages in India can boast of a legacy like that of Raghurajpur in Odisha. Lying about 60 kilometres south of Bhubaneshwar, Raghurajpur has to its credit a ‘heritage village’ tag. But that is not the reason behind its uniqueness. It is a happy village, where the sound of laughter augments the silent strokes of brushes on canvas; where smiling faces of artistes are a reflection of their amazing craftsmanship on display; and a guru-shishya parampara is thoroughly alive, touching the soul of resident and visitor alike. There is also a sense of orderliness about Raghurajpur that most other villages cannot boast of. And it’s not just physical orderliness, although a row of temples dedicated to various gods and goddesses passes neatly through the centre of the village with houses lined up symmetrically on both sides, making it architecturally distinctive. There is also a discipline in the lives of the 140-odd families - all of them artistes - that sets them apart. The discipline that comes from piety, from respecting and adhering to time-tested traditions, from being diligent and honest and, above all, being deeply dharmic, is unmistakable. But Raghurajpur was not always like this. Till around 10 years ago, it was a nondescript habitat populated by artistes struggling to make ends meet, dependent on extortionist middlemen who would pay them a pittance for their pattachitras (traditional Odiya paintings), palm leaf etchings, masks and other precious handmade artefacts. Yes, Raghurajpur was where the famous Odissi exponent Kelucharan Mohapatra lived, and was also the karmabhoomi of other stalwarts like famous pattachitra artist Jagannath Mahapatra and gotipua dance exponent Padmashree Maguni Charan Das. But it was full of filth and squalor, stricken by disease and poverty. It was at the turn of the present century that things started looking up for Raghurajpur and its immensely talented people. The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) started developing and beautifying the village, converted it into a ‘heritage village’, and commissioned some infrastructure projects as well. The state government pitched in after a few years by sanctioning a project to construct concrete roads and beautifying Raghurajpur. In 2012, another major project under which artistes’ dwellings were improved and the entire village was electrified, was implemented. Toilets were built and now, the entire village is open defecation free (ODF). The project is still under way. But the major change came about, say residents of Raghurajpur, when it was made a ‘digital village’ three years ago. That changed the lives of the artistes forever. The public sector Bank of India was designated the lead bank tasked with the mission to introduce digital banking. Before that, Raghurajpur was linked to the National Optic Fibre Network (NOFN) and got high-speed broadband internet connectivity. “This has changed our lives. We can now get in touch with our clients directly and they also place orders with us directly. We don’t need the middlemen anymore. In fact, most of them have gone out of business. Earlier, they (the middlemen) used to give us a pittance for our works, which they sold at high prices. Thanks to internet connectivity, the world has now come to our doorsteps,” said Sudam Chandra Sahoo, 55. Sahoo is an artist who paints on canvas, wood, paper, tussar silk and other media and has won many awards. Narayan Mahapatra, 38, says many handicraft showrooms and clients from even foreign countries get in touch with him directly through email. “I have scanned a few of my pattachitras as samples and sent it to potential customers who want to see my work. They place orders online and also make the payments digitally. Till three years ago, none of this would have been possible. My earnings have more than doubled, thanks to digital banking. Even visitors who come down to Raghurajpur and buy paintings and other items off the shelves prefer to pay digitally. That’s why I have Paytm and also accept debit and credit cards,” says Narayan, whose Ganeshas are much sought after. National award winner Gangadhar Nayak, who runs a gurukul where he teaches painting, and Odissi and Gotipua dances, says that digital connectivity has brought the world to Raghurajpur and also made the heritage village famous. “Raghurajpur’s fame spread throughout the world thanks to the internet. And with fame has also come more opportunities. The projects initiated by the government have improved our lives and the construction of toilets has made a lot of difference, especially for our womenfolk. Other welfare schemes such as gas connections and mudra loans have benefitted us all,” said Nayak. A lot of the credit for all this goes to local Lok Sabha MP Pinaki Mishra who has ploughed in a lot of money from his MP Local Area Development (MPLAD) funds for the improvement of Raghurajpur. “Our MP takes active interest in the development of our village. It is through his initiatives that projects for construction of toilets, beautification of the village, construction of roads and construction of amenities have happened,” said Gangadhar’s elder son Sridhar, who specialises in palm leaf etchings and engravings. He also says that high-speed broadband connectivity has changed the lives of the people here. “Accessing and placing orders for our creations is just a click away for the rest of the world. And the best thing is that we don’t have to depend on middlemen any longer,” he added. Pramod Kumar Das, 48, was earlier a goldsmith. But once the transformation of Raghurajpur began, he switched to painting and, since then, has made a name for himself. He attended training programmes funded by the government. “The training helped a lot and so did the dawn of internet connectivity. I have a set of permanent customers who source my paintings and sell them. Thanks to the internet, I get a good price too,” he says. Sridhar Maharaja, son-in-law of the legendary Jagannath Mohapatra, runs a pattachitra painting school to keep his father-in-law’s legacy alive. “I have been painting since I was 15. Now, thanks to our work gaining global recognition due to internet, we get a larger number and more high-value orders from customers. Even the paintings of my students fetch very good prices, something that could never have been dreamt of earlier,” says Sridhar. Others like Prabhakar Maharana and Akshaya Kumar Bariki say their sons are now following in their footsteps since pattachitra and traditional crafts such as making masks and papier mache toys fetch good money. “We didn’t have a choice and so followed our father's footsteps. But my son is educated and could have got a job or started some small business. But he is an accomplished pattachitra artist and earns more than what he would have had he got a job or done something else,” said Prabhakar Maharana. Purna Chandra Mahapatra’s son, Raj, has also opted to become a mask-maker like his father. “I love painting and making masks and want to keep this family tradition alive. More so, since it is now very lucrative, we have started getting our due attention from the world,” says Raj. But fortunately, modernisation and the advent of a digital economy have not moved Raghurajpur away from its traditional moorings. If anything, the artistes here have become more rooted in their culture, tradition and dharma. It is heartening to see even young children reciting Sanskrit shlokas with ease and youngsters taking the lead in the daily pujas and other rituals at the temples in the village. “It is our culture and our dharma that has brought us fame and prosperity. So, while we have become adept in online transactions, we are also very conversant with our age-old rituals,” said Raj. Raghurajpur, its neat houses with their outer walls lovingly painted in traditional motifs, its gurukuls with students learning at the feet of the masters, its temples from where the chants of shlokas and the ringing of bells reverberate through the village, and its disciplined and talented folks engaged in, as they say, Bhagwan Jagannath’s work, stands as a shining example of a perfect and happy blend of modernity and tradition.

Jaideep Mazumdar is an associate editor at Swarajya.

- https://swarajyamag.com/culture/raghurajpur-a-shining-example-of-a-happy-village, June 26, 2018

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Jaganmohan Palace Art Gallery To Go Hi-Tech

The nearly 157-year-old Jaganmohan Palace, housing one of the finest art galleries in the world, is going hi-tech, as it will soon have Audio Guides to take the visitors through the various collections housed in the Gallery. It will also have its own Conservation Laboratory in the premises. “I have a very ambitious plan of setting up a Conservation Lab inside the Jaganmohan Palace premises itself. I am in touch with INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art Culture and Heritage) to repair and maintain the Art Gallery. It is to preserve the built heritage (building part) and material heritage (objects in the gallery) that I decided to approach the non-profit organisation,” said Pramoda Devi Wadiyar, speaking to Star of Mysore. The Laboratory has to be housed in the premises itself, as the Art Gallery requires constant monitoring and maintenance. The INTACH has the technical know-how to preserve the objects. “We cannot create another Jaganmohan Palace or the objects in it that my predecessors left behind. The only thing we can do is to preserve them and I will take whatever I have to do to preserve it,” she said.

Entirely Private Art Gallery

The Jaganmohan Palace Art Gallery is entirely a private one and the collections inside it are also private. There is a misconception that it belongs to the government and this misconception should at least go now. It will always remain a private collection and if I have to restore it then let me do it without accepting any grant, she said. “It is not the ego but the pride which made me take this decision. From a helpless situation that I was in after the passing away of my husband in 2013, today I am happy that I took the decision not take grant from anyone and God has been extremely kind to me,” said Pramoda Devi Wadiyar. Asked if there were any offer of grants, she said, “The Sri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery Trust does not have any funds. It is all from my private funds that I am trying to maintain it. A few people got together and offered me Rs.2 crore to restore the Art Gallery. I pondered and then decided I will do it myself.” Audio Guides will be introduced shortly at Jaganmohan Palace Art Gallery. It will be in six to eight languages including English, French, German, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. “I am trying to restrict the physical guides as it is leading to security concerns. Hence, Audio Guides are being introduced. All one has to do is hire the Audio Guides by paying just Rs. 35 (for which I have to pay tax) and stand in front of the objects and press the button. It will instantly give all the details of the object. We are going to introduce it on a pilot basis in another two weeks to sort out teething troubles and once the ongoing renovation of the Gallery is complete, we’ll introduce it fully,” she said.

Petty shops

There are nearly 30 petty shops selling handicrafts and other items in Jaganmohan Palace premises since the last 30 years or more. “The shops were let out in the mid-80s to augment the income for the Art Gallery. However, times have changed and our main concern is security of objects in the Gallery. Hence, we have asked the shop owners to vacate the place,” said Sri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery Trust Secretary M. Lakshminarayan. “We need the place to put up our Conservation Laboratory. Since the last one year I did not even collect the rents as I wanted the shop-keepers to leave the place without any animosity. But we are facing problems,” said Pramoda Devi Wadiyar. According to Lakshminarayan, there were shops rented out in the Residential Museum inside the Mysore Palace premises where the private collections are housed. However, the shop-keepers there vacated the place without any hassles as security concerns were raised. Since the plans are afoot to set up the Conservation Laboratory inside the Jaganmohan Palace premises, the shops that are to the left side of the entrance have to be demolished as that is the place where the Lab is going to come up, said Pramoda Devi Wadiyar and added that parking space is also required in future for expansion plans of the Gallery. Besides, space is required to put up separate toilets for both men and women, she said. As there are a few shops inside the Art Gallery, that space is required for storage of objects so that while conservation work is taken up, it will be easy to carry the objects from the store to the laboratory, she added. On whether there were plans to set up their own shops, she said, “We will probably have one or two outlets selling souvenirs like in any other Museum or Art Gallery in the world, where genuine things will be sold. We are already selling post cards related to the Gallery which are selling quite well.” Restoration work to be completed in two months. It is more than a year since the restoration work of Jaganmohan Palace Art Gallery began. The work is still going on and is likely to be completed before the commencement of Dasara this year. “It is a more than 150-year-old building and the work is going on in stages. To cast the 35-foot high ceiling was not easy. The roof had to be cast very carefully as it was fully damaged. If one side was being repaired the other would crumble. The pillars were damaged. We had put 35 feet high scaffolding which was not an easy task. Hence, because of the height we could not accelerate the work,” said Pramoda Devi Wadiyar. The work on the Ganesha Hall at the back is also going on. Here the problems were equally challenging. The foundation was sinking and the top portion had to be addressed at the same time. In the main hall, the glasses needed to be fixed and Mangalore tiles had to be replaced. The painting work is also going on now and half-white and white colour is being used. New electrical wiring has to be done and the chandeliers are being cleaned. The floor work will also take time, she explained. “Even though the work started briskly and it should have been completed last year itself, I realised that it cannot be hurried as we are at the mercy of the labour force. They do the work at their leisure,” she said. Asked when the work will be fully completed, Pramoda Devi Wadiyar said that this time, they planned to open it to the public fully by the time Dasara starts in October. However, the Art Gallery continues to be open for viewing alongside the renovation.

- https://starofmysore.com/jaganmohan-palace-art-gallery-to-go-hi-tech/, June 27, 2018

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Police station building gets heritage tag

The Old Police Station building at Payyannur here that has been revamped for conservation as a protected monument under the State Archaeology Department will be inaugurated by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on June 29. The 108-year-old building had been witness to major events during the freedom struggle and post-Independence period. It had also served as a police lock-up to detain and torture people who had participated in the agrarian struggles in the region. The historical structure was to have been demolished as the then government and the Payyannur municipality had identified the site for the construction of a mini-civil station in 2007. Local conservation activists had launched a campaign for conservation of the building citing its historical importance. “It took nearly a decade for conservation activists to highlight the heritage value of the building,” said V. Jayaranan, regional convener of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), who was in the forefront of the campaign to save the structure from being demolished for building the mini-civil station. The move to demolish the building had started in 2007 and Rs. 3 crore had been allocated in the State Budget for the mini-civil station construction, he said. After a prolonged struggle, the building was declared a heritage structure under the Kerala Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites Act, 1968. The structure was proposed to be developed into a museum. The State Archaeology Department had initiated the conservation works at an estimated cost of Rs. 90 lakh. Minister for Museums; Archaeology and Archives Kadannapally Ramachandran will also attend the inaugural function.

- http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-kerala/police-station-building-gets-heritage-tag/article24267949.ece, June 27, 2018

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INTACH organizes workshop on Jammu Crafts

Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage (INTACH) today organized a workshop and interactive session involving Instructors and Artisans associated with Crafts in Jammu. MLA Kavinder Gupta, Joint Director Handicrafts Department Anju Gupta, Director Centre for Heritage Studies University of Jammu Prof Anita Billawaria, Convener INTACH Jammu Chapter SM Sahni were present on the occasion. Kavinder Gupta underlined the need to protect the rich heritage of the state. He asked the department to showcase the local handicrafts to the tourists visiting the state for its promotion. He said that department shall encourage women folk to go for self-employment adding that women- empowerment can be achieved only through the improvement of their socio-economic condition. In his welcome address SM Sahni gave a brief introduction of INTACH and initiatives taken by it. He gave a brief on the DPR for Mubarakh Mandi, Samba Fort and GGM Science College along with vision documents framed for development of Purmandal-Utterbehni Circuit and Jammu Heritage Corridor. Joint Director, Anju Gupta informed that Handicrafts department operates 145 training centres across Jammu division which are imparting training in Carpet, Sozni, Leather Embroidery, Phoolkari, wood work, Bamboo Work, Tilla Embroidery and many more crafts.

- http://www.thenorthlines.com/intach-organizes-workshop-on-jammu-crafts/, June 28, 2018

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Corporates, PSUs help centre clean 20 iconic tourist places

The facade and corridors of the iconic Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai is getting restored with INTACH in role of a consultant, Tirupati is shifting to a remote-monitored LED lighting system to save energy, the Yamunotri Yatra route is getting Wi-Fi internet connectivity while the ancient drains of Taj Mahal in Agra are being revived. All these places are now also turning plastic-free. In a project close to the Prime Minister’s heart, corporates and leading Public Sector Units (PSUs) have helped the Centre clean up and improve 20 such iconic tourist places making the government now select 10 more iconic places like Pangong Tso Lake in Ladakh and the last village on Indo-Tiber border, Mana, and urge for a plastic ban at all these places. Corporates like IOC, GAIL, Idea Cellular, NALCO, NHPC and SBI have picked a place each or two, to pitch in as part of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Officials involved in the project said a major component has been installation of drinking water facility, ATMs, bio-toilets and underground waste collection bins at most locations, like at Jagannath Temple in Puri and Golden Temple in Amritsar and starting battery operated vehicles at Tirupati or advanced mechanised cleaning and sweeping facilities at places like Mahakaleshwar temple in Ujjain. Challenges were also identified first. Like the Charminar in Hyderabad, which has been adopted by NTPC, was found to have no comprehensive master plan for sewerage and it was discovered that untreated sewage from Charminar complex was released into water bodies. Similarly, the Convent and Church of St Francis of Assisi in Goa, that has been adopted by Airports Authority of India, had no good modern public toilets or well-designed pedestrian walkways besides a failing old sewerage network. The Gangotri Temple in Uttarakhand, adopted by ONGC, was found to have a weak communication network. The Hindustan Zinc Limited, which adopted Ajmer Sharif Dargah, has worked with the government on a shelter for rehabilitation of beggars and developing a sewer line around the Dargah area. At the Mata Vaishno Devi Temple in J&K, IOC has helped the government to have LED lighting on the temple track. “The temple trust at Tirupati is aiming to manage solid and liquid waste and modernise sweeping in a socially sensitive and environment friendly manner to ensure worldclass standards of Swachhta,” an official said. ONGC and NLC are PSU partners here.

- https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/corporates-psus-help-centre-clean-20-iconic-tourist-places/articleshow/64772474.cms, June 28, 2018

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Heritage tag for old police station building in Payyannur

The campaign and fight for over a decade has finally bore the result and the 108-year-old heritage building at Payyannur in the district, which housed the police station during the British period, has been renovated by the Archaeology Department and it will be maintained as a heritage monument, which would be inaugurated on June 29 by minister for archives and museums, Ramachandran Kadannappally. The old police station building, built by the British around 1910, has a prominent role in the history of Indian independence struggle and hence the campaign was launched by the people a few years back, and finally the government agreed to renovate it and maintain it as a heritage monument, said V Jayarajan, regional convener of Indian National Trust for Cultural Heritage (Intach), an organization working for the awareness of heritage. Since the building was in a dilapidated condition, there was a move to demolish it more than a decade back, when the proposal to build the new mini civil station in Payyannur came up. Though the PWD (Building) executive engineer had given the report that the new mini civil station could be built without demolishing this structure, some vested interests were keen about demolishing it, he said. However, thanks to the intervention of the organizations like Intach and also the support of some political leaders, the move was kept on hold. But again some efforts were made to demolish it by 2010, before it turned 100, as the vintage buildings cannot be demolished. But the people’s movement somehow managed to prevent the authorities from such a move. The old police station building had 12 lock-up cells, and it was the centre to detain and torture people. Also, it has an importance from the architectural point of view, as it is an Indo-colonial structure with three nalukettus having 12 central courtyards.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/heritage-tag-for-old-police-station-building-in-payyannur/articleshow/64762216.cms, June 28, 2018

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Fern house renovation at Cubbon Park halted

Conservation architects from Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) have taken objection to the material being used to renovate the two dilapidated fern houses in Cubbon Park. The horticulture department, custodian of the fern houses, has stopped and called for a meeting on July 1. The fern houses, one near the State Central Library and the other behind Victoria Statue, were built in the 19th century. “The structure was built using brick and lime. Now, the horticulture department is using cement to renovate it, ignoring Intach’s proposal,” said Pankaj Modi, Intach member and conservation architect. The two fern houses were once home to thousands of shade plants and creepers. Mahantesh Murgod, deputy director, Cubbon Park, horticulture department, said renovation of the fern house near Victoria Statue is almost over and work on the other has been stopped. “I am not too sure if they can be called heritage structures as they haven’t been documented so anywhere. But we are treating them as heritage structures and working on their renovation. Intach gave us a proposal, but hasn’t renewed its contract with the government. Hence, the work was entrusted to another government agency. We have not demolished any structure. We will shortly have a meeting with Intach members and other experts and discuss what needs to be done,” he said. Intach members, however, said it is a Union government-sponsored body. “The Karnataka Gazette has said the rules of Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement Act 1999, do not apply for procurement of Intach services for landscaping, protective fencing, preservation, restoration and conservation of designated temples, monuments and historic places in the state,” said Meera Iyer, Intach convener.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/fern-house-renovation-at-cubbon-park-halted/articleshow/64787356.cms, June 29, 2018

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Curiouser and curiouser in Kolkata’s little museums

A museum for boats, for a brilliant scientist’s workspace, for poignant records of indentured labour at the Port Trust and more — whether these museums are dusty sarkariaffairs or individual works of love, they brave many odds to preserve centuries-old lived history As I climb up the narrow stairway of the old house in north Kolkata, I hear the hiss of a pressure cooker and the strains of Rabindrasangeet, the deep baritone of Debabrata Biswas. There are clothes drying on the landing, the clutter of middle-class domesticity. In a room off the landing sits Nakubabu, a lean white-haired man in a lungi, almost hidden by piles of old movie projectors, wooden speakers and hanging lanterns. “You don’t need my address,” Sushil Kumar Chattopadhyay aka Nakubabu had said over the phone. “Just ask anyone on my street.” He is famous here as the man with the one-room museum. Every morning, he gets up at 4.30 am, has his cup of tea, which he shares with two tuntuni birds, does his yoga, washes his clothes, then dusts his “museum”. Nakubabu is 93. He has been collecting his entire life. As a boy roaming the jungles of tribal provinces at night, he collected leaves and stones. Somehow that passion for collection became a private museum of sorts. He has paperweights from the days of indigo sahibs, old microscopes that doctors carried with them, wooden ship binoculars, a World War I sundial clock and so on. “I don’t collect them. They call to me,” he says. “Look at this lamp. Someone just came and gave it yesterday.” He has no catalogue, only a memory map of what is kept where. He’s never held a real job, making amplifiers, acting in jatra theatre, roaming the country on his motorbike from 1948 till 2000. This is a museum like no other, where facts take second place to stories. I grew up thinking of museums as homework, antiseptic fluorescent-lit rooms, neat captions about dead dynasties and 10th-century sandstone, a box for everything and everything in a box. But Kolkata is filled with little museums few know about, some as intimate as Nakubabu’s, others run perfunctorily by dusty government agencies, or as labours of love. There is a Boat Museum with 46 wooden replicas of boats whose names we have forgotten — feal chhara, patia, bhidi. At the Ethnographic Museum, someone has collected dried milk from the Bhutia community and Santhal violins. The Kolkata Port Trust museum has a steel tape once used to measure the Howrah bridge, its speciality being that its length varied negligibly with temperature change. At the forlorn Government Industrial and Commercial Museum, constantly facing shutdown, there’s a grey muslin sari so fine it could pass through a ring, and a display of Bengal’s pharmaceutical heritage — green boxes of the bitter Kalmegh herbal tonic, blue-and-white Milk of Magnesia and “rational cough cure” Kasabin. Raja Ram Mohan Roy’s ancestral mansion, once stripped bare by squatters, and now restored, has a replica of his death mask and a “suttee gallery”. There was a pond and a swing, both gone now. The 19th-century social reformer, often called the Father of the Indian Renaissance, who campaigned to abolish sati, used to swing there facing the water, practising for seasickness while dreaming of going overseas. They all form a jigsaw puzzle of the city, its idiosyncrasies, narrating the footnotes of a lived history that textbooks forget. Once, Kolkata was a British city. The police were the good guys and the freedom fighters were the ones on the run. But at the Calcutta Police Museum, in the room with the declassified Netaji files, a sign proudly proclaims “Kolkata Police Salutes Netaji” right above files neatly numbered 1-54 of the police spying on Subhas Chandra Bose. In the gallery below, there is a book bomb sent to a magistrate, as well as bullets extracted from the body of Inspector NN Ghosh, and a revolver with which Bina Das tried to shoot the governor of Bengal. The Indian Museum and Victoria Memorial are grand but these are different kinds of museums, often homes where people lived, people like the philosopher-reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Subhas Bose and, of course, Rabindranath Tagore. They still bear the ghostly stamp of their personalities. “Look at those two chairs,” says Ankita Ghosh as she shows me around the bedroom in Acharya Bhaban, the grand red mansion that belonged to scientist Jagadish Chandra Bose. That’s where Bose would chat with Tagore. “I think the chair with the greater indentation is Bose’s,” she smiles. “He was the heavier man.” In the bedroom, there’s Lady Abala Bose’s purse and gloves, as if the Boses had just stepped out and their food was chilling in the state-of-the-art wooden refrigerator. The laboratory has the scientist’s instruments with names like crescograph, oscillating plate phytograph, stymphograph. The vine Bose brought back from California still bears purple flowers. But museums cannot live on love and memory alone. Acharya Bhaban only opens twice a week, for two hours. “Manpower and security problems,” laments Parul Chakrabarti, a retired scientist who has made this her passion. “Even Tagore’s Nobel prize got stolen. And they have so much staff.” Acharya Bhaban was a decrepit mess filled with cobwebs when they began restoration work with the help of INTACH. It took three months just to get rid of termites. Now Nandalal Bose’s Mahabharata murals can be seen once again on the ceiling. There’s a wooden elephant stand with ivory teeth gifted by the Maharaja of Kashmir, the giant Bharat Mata painting by Abanindranath Tagore inspired by Sister Nivedita. But Chakrabarti frets about the future. The museum has been promised ?5 crore by the government of India if it can raise ?1 crore on its own. “Corporate houses were interested but now their big priority is Swachh Bharat,” she says. They have just painstakingly fumigated and restored books gifted by the likes of George Bernard Shaw and Romain Rolland. “Restoring each page costs ?1,000,” she says. They want to restore his brittle doctoral gown but it’s too expensive. GM Kapur of INTACH says, “You need resourceful movers and shakers on a trustee board to reach out to the corporate world. Shouldn’t Vodafone or Jio be supporting Jagadish Bose?” Across town, the Gurusaday Museum, with one of the richest collections of folk art is facing a similar existential crisis. Old kanthas with pictures of sahibs and phaetons, and scroll paintings of Manasamangal are facing an uncertain future as funds have dried up. Sometimes this feels very Kolkata-ish, wistfully clinging to a threadbare glory of bygone days. Yet this is not simply nostalgia for a fraying bhadralok past. There’s a more variegated story at stake beyond the Boses and Tagores. At the Port Trust museum, there are discoloured deeds for indentured labourers who passed through these ports. Each man was worth ?6, each woman ?8, zero for those under 10, “Punjabis are altogether refused”. They were given 14 chittacks rice daily, two chittacks dal, half chittack of ghee and salt. Once a year they got one blanket, two dhoties, one lascar cap and a lotah shared by four people. These stories form the true marrow of the city, not its mythology. Popular myth has it that Job Charnock founded this city on August 24, 1690. Devarshi Roy Choudhury, scion of 35 generations of the Sabarna Roy Choudhurys, has been fighting to upturn this history for years. This is a much older settlement, he argues, and he has old documents to prove it. He went to court to challenge August 24 being celebrated as Kolkata’s birthday and won. Since then he has been collecting everything he can find from attics and locked trunks of the many settlements the family called home. Some are precious — a diamond ring given by Jehangir in 1608. Some are priceless — the ashes of Sarada Maa, the spouse of Sri Ramakrishna. Some are curios — tweezers to pluck white hairs, a pot from 1840 that could store 240 kg of rice, a grinding wheel from 1812. “We want to show that we don’t have to look to the government for everything. We are privately organised, privately financed. But, of course, you have to sacrifice something. You need tenacity.” There are 22,000 members in the sprawling family tree but precious few to help run the Sabarna Sangrahashala, he admits. “But young students come. I tell them to create a drawer at home with their grandfather’s glasses, their family tree. It’s a beginning.” At a time when so much competes for our attention, INTACH’s Kapur says it’s not enough to have a collection and expect support. “A museum must constantly reinvent itself, attract people with different activities. You have to think about how to get the museum out to the people.” The Smaranika Tram Museum offers an air-conditioned bogey for coffee amidst old diodes, rusty ammeters, and models of horse-drawn trams. But its real attraction is the little café with cosy tables for two, admits Jalaluddin Sheikh, who presides over it all. The museum is empty when I walk in. The café is full, the romance of the tram very much alive for a ?10 ticket. Sheikh came to the city as a wide-eyed boy from Burdwan in 1988, riding tram No. 25 from Howrah. The ticket cost 35 paisa. He still lives at a mess in the Tollygunge tram depot and rides a tram to work every day. And he supervises over both the museum and the lives of its regulars. As a young couple have a tiff, the girl complains angrily to Sheikh. The boy fiddles with his phone. As they leave, Sheikh smiles indulgently. “It’s a deep relationship. There’s been a misunderstanding. But it won’t break. I am there toh.” And as simply as that, a museum meant to save a city’s past watches over its future. In the end, it’s always about the passion. “Aakoolota,” says Nakubabu, an almost untranslatable word akin to desperate ardour. “If you are aakool, you can do anything, I actually have nothing. These things came to me. They were uncared for. I care for them. Those who originally bought them must have loved them. That love remains. As I clean them, I feel it. Perhaps, one day, someone will love them more. Then they will leave me.” Has that ever happened, I ask. Nakubabu leans back on his easy chair. “No,” he says softly. “They have not left yet.” Sandip Roy is the author of Don’t Let Him Know

- https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/blink/know/curiouser-and-curiouser-in-kolkatas-little-museums/article24287853.ece, June 29, 2018

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Prince of Wales museum boosts env friendly projects

Tourists who marvel at the beautiful dome atop the Prince of Wales Museum in Colaba may perhaps be unaware how that its roof, like the interiors, has become a partner in conservation over the past three years. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), formerly known as the Prince of Wales Museum, launched its environment certification project Thursday. This initiative aims to upgrade its solar power and rainwater harvesting projects. Fifteen per cent of its required energy is now provided by solar power, resulting in annual savings of 6.3%. Its rainwater harvesting storage capacity is proposed to be enhanced to 45,000 litres a day. This water helps maintain its lush gardens. Museum trustee T Doongaji said, "We are seeking the highest platinum rating awarded by the IGBC (Indian Green Building Council). The Rotary Club of Bombay has helped us with Rs 50 lakh of the required Rs 56 lakh. The rest of the six lakh was provided by EcoFirst which is a Tata company." Doongaji himself has a 52-year association with the Tata Group. "The main challenge was to accommodate the additional panels in a small space since the previous set occupied the terrace. So the existing panels were realigned in angular fashion to make space for the new ones," said Burgis Balsara of Avesta Solar, the firm which executed the project. Doongaji entrusted the task to Avesta since that company has undertaken solar rooftop projects for heritage structures like the Army and Navy Building. He said, "Such buildings often have sloping roofs that are tiled. They are not straight or flat. This makes the task of installing solar panels tricky and Avesta has conducted similar tasks earlier. The panels were imported from Norway and the wiring from Switzerland. Both have a life span of 20-25 years." Museum spokesperson Divya Pawathinal said, "Twelve years ago this day we had inaugurated our rainwater harvesting project. We now plan to increase the capacity by three times. Moreover, in 2015-16, we had launched our solar power project that generated 35 kw energy. Now we have augmented it to 70 kw. We have a scroll chiller plant which is being overhauled to make it more optimally environment-friendly." Museum director Sabyasachi Mukherjee, who is responsible for the installation and upgrade of these projects, also ensures that CSMVS segregates its waste in a conscientious manner. Environment activist Bittu Sahgal was chief guest at Thursday's inauguration. Doongaji gave credit to Rotary Club president Ramesh Narayan, director Madhusudan Daga, chairman of the environment committee Rajesh Shah and president-elect Vijay Jatia for their commitment.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/prince-of-wales-museum-boosts-env-friendly-projects/articleshow/64786291.cms, June 29, 2018

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