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March 2018

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Bezbaroa’s houses renovation set to start soon in Sambalpur

THE Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has prepared the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for renovation and conservation of the houses of doyen of Assamese literature, Lakhminath Bezbaroa, at Nelson Mandela Chowk here. Bezbaroa had constructed the houses in 1924 while he was working with a timber company in Sambalpur. During his stay for two decades, Bezbaroa had penned several literary works. While he was living in one house, he was using another house as his office.Member of INTACH, Sambalpur Chapter, Deepak Panda said both the houses of the eminent Assamese litterateur will be renovated completely. The estimated cost for renovation of both the buildings is `3.24 crore. The INTACH has already submitted the DPR to the State Government. Earlier, the State Government had sanctioned `50 lakh for the renovation and conservation of the two houses. The Tourism and Culture department has assured to provide requisite fund for renovation work in a phased manner, Panda said.

The renovation work will begin shortly with the initial funding of `50 lakh. Since Bezbaroa’s office building is in a dilapidated condition, the renovation of the office building will be carried out first, he added. As per reports, the houses of Bezbaroa are on 2.72 acres of land, which had been acquired to pave the way for construction of approach road and rotary junction at Nelson Mandela Chowk.After the decision of the State Government to demolish the houses of Bezbaroa came to light, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal took up the matter with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. Assam’s Cultural Affairs Minister Naba Kumar Doley and Media Adviser to Chief Minister, Assam, Hrishikesh Goswami visited Bezbaroa’s houses here on October 30 last year to assess the situation. Subsequently, they met Naveen Patnaik and the latter announced renovation and conservation of the houses. The PWD authorities, thus, had to redesign the rotary junction without affecting both the buildings.

- http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2018/mar/04/bezbaroas-houses-renovation-set-to-start-soon-in-sambalpur-1781766.html, March 5, 2018

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Khasi girls shine on Delhi tour

Students of Lady Keane College here recently attended a three-day workshop at Intach, Lodi Estate in New Delhi, attending lectures and acquiring experience on preservation and restoration work in the laboratories. The girls were also able to showcase their culture by performing at the Intach Foundation Day celebrations. The students were mostly from the rural areas and first-time travellers outside the Khasi hills. One of the students, Reffi, said: "This was my first experience of travel by train. We enjoyed performing confidently and were proud to share our own culture and learn about theirs. Going outside Meghalaya was one of my best experiences. I could adapt to the different climate, food, people." Another student, Siantidora, said she had found the workshop a learning experience. "This trip gave us the opportunity to be more confident not only within the college but in a huge crowd." Her college-mate Airihun added: "We also got to go and see the Taj Mahal."

Dakaru, another participant, said, "We learnt so many things I didn't know before. It was a great experience exploring outside Meghalaya and learning about other people." The college has signed a two-year exchange programme with Ambedkar University in Delhi which resulted in this tour. The girls participated in the university's programme, AUDacity. Madeline Y. Tham, a professor who accompanied the girls, said it was "a surrealistic experience for me, watching our demure students perform enthusiastically straight after a vivacious and exuberant bhangra by Ambedkar University students. It made me feel proud of the vast spectrum and diversity in our country's culture."

- https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/north-east/khasi-girls-shine-on-delhi-tour-212775, Mar 5, 2018

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‘Rakshasagulu’ artefacts found at Polavaram project site

Andhra Pradesh Archaeology and Museum department has been conducting excavations at the Polavaram Project area for the past few months. The excavation is important as the area will soon be submerged after construction of the dam. Four months into the excavations at a megalithic burial site, officials explained that the experience and findings were both rewarding and successful. Officials said the burials are all dolmans and locally known as ‘Rakshasagulu’. Trenches were carefully dug one metre deep and after which, experts found that most of the pits were rectangular and oval shaped. Officials recovered pots, human skeletal remains in the form charred bones, iron implements, beads etc. According to officials, the excavations conducted so far have brought to light the legged pots or urns having human remains which are covered by lids. They also recovered terracotta figurines and varieties of beads like crystal, carnelian, jasper, and glass. Officials pointed out that the megalithic culture in India is in controversy as many scholars have given their opinion based on the burials studied by them.

Famous British archaeologist late Mortimer Wheeler once suggested that the culture had survived in between 200 BC and 50 AD. However, the radio carbon dates collected so far reveal that some of the artefacts go back to 555 BC. A few megalithic sites in Andhra Pradesh have carbon dates and suggest a chronological frame work of Polakonda (185 BC - 35 AD), Satanikota (235 – 575 AD). The researches done so far in South India revealed that the civilization started in 1100 BC and continued up to 3rd century AD. The excavations were headed by the Vani Mohan, commissioner of archaeology and museum department. The department is also all set to conduct an international conference on ‘Salvage Archaeology And Recent Researches On The Megalithic Culture Of South Asia’ at Acharya Nagarjuna University from March 12 to 14.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vijayawada/rakshasagulu-artefacts-found-at-polavaram-project-site/articleshow/63140996.cms, Mar 5, 2018

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The Archaeoastronomy of a Few Megalithic Sites of Jharkhand review: Fragments of memory

Disciplinary and methodological differences apart, knowledge is in many ways integrative, inclusive, composite and non-differentiating. The Archaeoastronomy of a Few Megalithic Sites of Jharkhand does this well — in it astronomy, archaeology, culture-studies and geometry integrate with history and tribal studies to bring forth a fresh perspective on certain dark areas of our past. The author begins his interpretation with an insightful observation of Carl Gustav Jung: “Everyman carries with him unconsciously the memory of ancient civilizations. Similarly, the rock is a fragment of the world’s memory.” That considerable field work has gone into the making of this exploratory book is amply borne out by the explicit drawings, sketches, maps, and excellent photographs, which illustrate the soul history of stone structures and megaliths in the state of Jharkhand — and the result is indeed an interesting documentary of tales embedded in stones and rocks. Throughout the text we can feel the author’s complete involvement and genuine concern for the unspoken wisdom contained within what is normally held as non-living things — rocks and stones — and he sensitises the reader to the vibrations and pulsations of those tribal monuments.

There is this deep sorrow that resonates throughout the pages; as an archaeo-astronomer, the author feels that historians and scientists have hitherto neglected to pay heed to the tales told by relics of our protohistory. And India is a treasure trove of ancient megaliths — Jharkhand more so.

Horizon astronomy
Quite distinct from the astronomy developed by the Sanskrit scholars, founded on precise calculations of the position and movements of the sun and stellar bodies, these early tribal megalith-astronomers created a whole system of signs based on their own limited observations — and this approach is better known as “observational or horizon astronomy.” Nevertheless, in no way are their orientations less scientific or mathematically less precise. The early struggle of the scientific mind connected to the planets, the sky and the earth are revealed in the megaliths that mark specific sites. Now what is Megalith Astronomy? Mainstream Indian archaeology does not associate megaliths with astronomy, because for them these stones were nothing but markings on burial grounds and memorials that the tribal people have left behind. However, the sepulchral monuments and stone erections hold considerable interest for the researcher who is willing to look and learn from geography and geometry.

Signs in burial stones
The area that Subhashis Das studies is Jharkhand, and we read in his book that the standard ‘dolmen’ or the single-slab-type individualistic burials, referred to as ‘sasandiris’ in Austric speech, can be found in all burial grounds of the State’s tribal villages. These burial grounds known alternatively as ‘hargarhi’, ‘harsali’, ‘jangarha’ in tribal vernacular in turn exist in each tribal village. Menhirs are individual vertical or inclined stones planted in the grounds, and they are referred to as ‘birdiris’ or ‘burudiris’ in the Austric speech. What is of significance is the choice of the burial grounds and the positioning of the memorial stones. Several burial grounds are located adjacent to rivers flowing in north-south directions and on the banks of which the dead were cremated. Each tribe practised these megalithic constructions in their own specific ways, however, what is common among these is the underlying belief in the sacredness of the land and landscape. The megaliths implanted in specific locales bespeak the language of tribal belief and are “archaeoastronomical” sites. Archaeoastronomy is the study of the positioning of stone structures in alignment with planetary and stellar positions.

Even as the Rig Veda speaks of the sun as the great inseminator, the tribal belief upheld the earth as the mother goddess and marked off ritually sensitive areas as sanctified by the touch of the sun. Observing the sun from specific points — usually from atop a hill or rise in the land — aided the tribal priest in precisely calculating the fertility of the land, the livestock and the enhancement of the earth etc. The alignments of the ‘menhirs’ also signalled ancestor worship and regeneration of the earth. In brief, these megaliths signalled the sacred sites to the ancient tribal pilgrims as temples dedicated to the mother goddess where they moved to perform their fertility and funeral rites and rituals.

This study of the positioning of the megaliths also revealed that apart from astronomy, directions of sunrise and sunset on equinoxes and solstices, the arrangements of stones within these astronomical temples also specially adhere to geometrical calculations. That these tribals were aware of such intricate sciences is evidence that mathematics, geometry and astronomy existed even prior to Varahamihira and Aryabhata. The ancient megaliths stand as testimony to a lost sacred link speaking a language of a bygone era. All we can now gather is that a megalith marks a sacred site, where the landscape too forms an integral part of the process of worship and celebration. Das has produced an interesting document that is bound to trigger the scholar and student alike to re-examine the land around them and search for such unique traces of a past linking land and landscape. The Archaeoastronomy of a Few Megalithic Sites of Jharkhand; Subhashis Das, Niyogi Books, ?695.

- http://www.thehindu.com/books/books-reviews/the-archaeoastronomy-of-a-few-megalithic-sites-of-jharkhand-review-fragments-of-memory/article22918219.ece, Mar 5, 2018

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A boom from the past

If only Fort Ostenberg in Trincomalee could talk, it would brag of its lost glory: the wars waged to claim the prized naval base it watched over and the cannon which were fired over it. The Portuguese, the Dutch and the British, suspicious of the entire world, would not compromise the coastal defence of their tiny colony which was too good to lose. Forts were erected, men were stationed and cannon installed. Two cannon believed to be of British origin, were unearthed recently at the construction site for an accident ward of the Trincomalee Hospital. The Assistant Director Archaeology (Trincomalee), W. H.A. Sumanadasa told the Sunday Times that the recent finding of a second cannon was made a few days after the first cannon was unearthed, a few weeks before. “The most recent cannon, unearthed which is about eight tons in weight and about 11 feet in length, was deposited at the Maritime and Naval History Museum in Trincomalee with the assistance of the Sri Lanka Navy. We are now awaiting a team of experts from the Archaeology Department’s Chemical Conservation Division to do the necessary cleaning and conservation.”

The word ‘cannon’ derives its name from a mix of Latin and Italian, for ‘tube’, ‘cane’ or ‘reed’. The word, according to historical sources, was used in Latin for a gun in 1326 in Italy and in 1418 in England. First appearing in Europe in the 14th century, the cannon had assumed its classic form at the beginning of the 17th century, which had persisted upto the mid-19th century. What followed towards the end of the 19th century, as Lieutenant Commander (Retd.) Somasiri Devendra, tells the Sunday Times, is the rifled muzzle-loading cannon (RMLs). The recently unearthed cannon from the Trincomalee Hospital site is of this type, he says. RML cannon, as the senior naval officer, points out, have been found in many places in Trincomalee, including at the Kachcheri in Fort Frederick. An authority on maritime archaeology, Mr. Devendra made his own finding of a RML in the late 80s on Ostenberg Ridge in Trincomalee. RMLs, he further explains, are also classed as ‘Armstrong Guns’, after Sir William Armstrong, the man who invented the process. Although the year of manufacturing of the recently unearthed cannon is yet to be confirmed after chemical conservation, they are of British origin, believes Mr. Devendra. “RMLs were manufactured in Britain after 1860 and they were replaced after 1900. As Trincomalee was in British hands only British guns were installed,” he says. Throwing light upon the ammunition used on RMLs, he adds that ‘studded shells’ were fired. Unlike older, smooth-bored cannon, RML had muzzles that had spiralling grooves cut in them. The elongated and pointed projectiles of the barrel, usually made out of cast iron, had copper studs. These studs, as Mr. Devendra explains, enabled the shells to spin as they left the barrel. The muzzle of the gun and the ends of the rifling grooves, were flared to make it easier to engage the studs in the rifling when loading. “The mechanism of rifling made the shells spin as they travelled through the barrel and enabled the shell to travel further with greater accuracy.” A cannon broadly consists of a barrel, which is the ‘tube’ within the muzzle that ends in a chamber.

The cannon ball is inserted into the barrel and it goes through to the chamber at the end. Inside the chamber is a packing of ‘gun cotton’ and gun powder. When the ‘packing’ is ignited, the explosion propels the ball through barrel and out. The oldest cannon found here at home dates back to the Portuguese era. The Colombo National Museum is home to one of them. Interestingly, Sinhalese cannon too had been cast. There is one, made in Jaffna by the Dutch, in a British museum.It is ornamented with stylized foliage, speaking for the dexterity of the ancient Lankan craftsman. Most of the locally cast cannon are believed to have been commissioned by the Dutch East India Company. All cannon dating back to the colonial times, are engraved with the royal cypher of the respective era. The RMLs as Mr. Devendra points out, carry the Victorian royal cypher. “All these cannon manufactured in Great Britain were brought here on ships. They were made of iron and steel unlike the bronze and iron fusion apparent in the pre-British cannon,” adds the scholar sharing a photograph of a British ship unloading its cannon in the Trincomalee harbour. Besides cannon installed on forts and for coastal defence, there had also been those installed in ships, says Mr. Devendra. With the advent of breech loading in the early 1900s, the RMLs became obsolete and were discarded. “Very often they were used for mooring vessels near the shoreline. Others were discarded and, with the passage of time, they were buried under soil,” he explains. The long-gone British RMLs rekindled the interest of the Royal Armouries who maintain a record of the barrels surviving worldwide. As communicated by the then Keeper of Firearms of the Royal Armouries in July, 1988 on the discovery of a RML in Trincomalee by Mr.

Devendra, his finding is one of a very small number of 10 inch 18 ton guns known today. According to the communication, most of these are found in Gibraltar and only two are believed to be within the British Isles. The original carriage which survived in the cannon found by Mr. Devendra is another feat, as the Royal Armouries note, given their tendency to be destroyed easily during the ‘scrapping programme’ of the RMLs in the early 1900s. The carriages, are even more uncommon than the barrels notes the Royal Armouries. Cannon are largely used for ceremonial purposes today. Those installed at the Colombo Lighthouse are often associated with the Independence Day celebrations when salutations permeate the air. These, as Mr. Devendra notes, date back to the late 19th century (British era). When conserving for exhibiting purposes, care should be taken at all times to retain their originality as much as possible, he adds. “Painting over them can do more harm to them as the engraved crest which speaks volumes of its history can be lost forever.”

- http://www.sundaytimes.lk/180304/plus/a-boom-from-the-past-284140.html, Mar 5, 2018

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The city of domes

Popularly known as the city of domes, Kalaburagi was the first capital of Bahmani Empire, which was founded by Alauddin Hasan Bahman Shah in 1347. The city has many monuments that attract both tourists and history enthusiasts. Gulbarga Fort, which is located in the heart of the city, is one such structure. Jama Masjid located inside this fort is said to be the second biggest Jama Masjid in Asia. It has 107 domes on the roof, some in pyramid style, and has 250 arches inside the building. The area is divided into small square domed bays with a great dome rising over the nine bays in front of the mihrab. Over 5,000 people can perform prayer at a time in its inner area. Historians say that the architect of the masjid, constructed in 1367 during the reign of Muhammad Shah Bahmani I, was Rafi of Qazvin. On the western side, there is a cannon, Bara Gazi Toph, made of alloy. It is 29 feet long and approximately 60 tonnes in weight. This is claimed to be the world's longest cannon by researchers. Apart from this, the fort has a Ran Mandal where cannons of different sizes are on display. As many as 36 small and big cannons can be seen in and around the fort wall. The fort has two main gateways, one from southeast and the other from northwest, from Shahabazar. The southeast gate is generally used as one can access it easily through the city main road. The entrance from Shahabazar is located in the old city. This gate has huge doors that are in good condition. This was the main entrance during the Bahmani rule. While coming through this gate, we can see old houses that were built for soldiers, and horse and elephant stables. When Adil Shahi rulers conquered the region in the 17th century, the earthen walls were cemented with stone creating two lines of ramparts.

Intrinsic patterns
Alauddin Hasan's tomb, situated in the northwestern part of the city, is a simple structure with a dome. Shor Gumbaz, which is the biggest dome in the city, was constructed in 1420. It has a stuccowork (plasterwork that is used as 3D ornamentation, as a smooth paintable surface, or as a wet ground for fresco painting) inside and paintings with natural pigments on the ceiling in Persian style. Furthermore, an echo that is produced inside Shor Gumbaz could be heard up to a few kilometres. Hence, it was used as an alarm to alert soldiers about the entry of strangers or enemies into the city. While moving towards the southeastern part of the city, one can see Haft Gumbaz, a complex of royal tombs constructed for Bahmani rulers and their military commanders. Firuz Shah Bahmani's tomb, located in this complex, is one of the finest examples of Indo-Islamic architecture. The tomb has a fine stuccowork covering outer and inner parts of the building. Verses from the Quran are written using calligraphy, and floral patterns are embossed on the surface on every arch and corner of the building. There are a total of four entrances and windows that are designed in Turkish style.

The external and internal elevations have two levels, formed by a row of double recessed arches. Apart from Firuz Shah's tomb, tombs of Mujahid Shah Bahmani, Daud Shah, Ghiyath al-din Shah and Shams al-din Shah are also located in this complex. Next to this building are the tombs of Sayyid Shah Muhammed Hussaini (popularly known as Khwaja Bandanawaz Gesudaraz) and Sayyid Shah Qhabulullah Hussaini. These unique structures are built in Indo-Islamic architectural style. The walls and ceilings of these tombs are painted with natural pigments. Flower, plant and geometrical patterns can be seen inside these structures. A major part of this complex was constructed by Firuz Shah Bahmani and Ahmed Shah Bahmani. A beautiful entrance known as Bijapuri arch, which was built later by Adil Shahi kings, is a major attraction.

Glimpses of an era
Khali Gumbaz (vacant tomb), built using black stones, attracts visitors with its beautiful geometric carvings and floral patterns. This monument was built for Chand Sultana of Adil Shahi empire, where she was to be buried. But, she died in a war near Vijayapura and hence, was not buried here. Kamal-e-Mujarrad dargah is a monument dedicated to Sufi saint Kamal-e-Mujarrad and is believed to have been constructed before the arrival of Khwaja Bandanawaz Gesudaraz. It has the saint's tomb and a masjid. Kanchini Mahal, where cultural events like music and dance were held during the royal regime, is another rare monument. Langar-ki-Masjid is a beautiful masjid and its interiors are decorated with Quran verses in stucco technique. It has a wide open space and the compound is covered with arches. Siddi Ambar Gumbaz houses the tombs of the relatives of Bahmani kings.

They are constructed in Turkish style with high domes. The entrance has a small dome and three arches. This is located outside of the southern side of Sufi Khwaja Bandanawaz complex. Sufi saint Shaikh Sirajuddin Junaidi came to the city before the formation of the Bahmani empire. The entrance of the dargah dedicated to him consists of huge minars. This was built by Sultan Yousuf Ali Adil Shah. It was constructed using locally available black stone, which gives the dargah its natural look. The dargah is considered to be the tallest of all the monuments in the city. Anyone who takes a trail inside the city, and on the outskirts, is bound to see several such heritage structures as the area has numerous monuments. While many of them are maintained by the Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage, some are protected by the Archaeological Survey of India.

- http://www.deccanherald.com/content/662880/city-domes.html, Mar 5, 2018

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13 Intangible Cultural Heritage elements from India inscribed on UNESCO’s List till date: Dr. Mahesh Sharma

A total of 13 Intangible cultural heritage (ICH) elements from India have been inscribed till date on the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. For inclusion of an element in the UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, the state parties are required to submit nomination dossier on the relevant element for evaluation and examination of the UNESCO Committee. The Ministry of Culture has appointed the Sangeet Natak Akademi, an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Culture, as nodal office for matters relating to the intangible cultural heritage including for preparation of the nomination dossiers for the Representative List of UNESCO. The Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA) accordingly makes necessary interaction with the stakeholders, experts/officials etc.

prior to finalization of the dossier in respect of element identified for the nomination. Being the nodal office the SNA maintains a National Inventory of ICH elements and the inclusion of the identified element for UNESCO in the National Inventory/Register etc. of the applicant member state is also a pre-requisite for inclusion in the UNESCO’s Representative List of ICH. The Ministry of Culture makes regular Schemes as well as organisations make efforts towards preservation, protection and promotion of intangible cultural heritage in the country. Various autonomous bodies under the Ministry of Culture have comprehensive mandates in this regard and are functioning in various spheres of preservation and promotion of intangible cultural heritage and diverse traditions of the country. Some of the major organisations involved in preservation of propagation of ICH are named below:

Sahitya Akademi, Lalit Kala Akademi, Sangeet Natak Akademi
Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts

National School of Drama

Centre for Cultural Resources & Training
Zonal Cultural Centres (seven in number)
Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya
Anthropological Survey of India
Apart from these, there are a number of schemes under the implementation of the Ministry of Culture for providing financial assistance to artists & institutions involved in promotion/propagation of the various forms of the intangible cultural heritage. In addition, the Ministry of Culture implements, since the year 2013-14 also, a scheme titled “Scheme for Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage and Diverse Cultural Traditions of India” with the aims and objectives of professionally enhancing awareness and interest in Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH), safeguarding, promoting and propagating it systematically. Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

S.No.
ICH Element
Year of Inscription Tradition of Vedic chanting
2008
Ramlila, the traditional performance of the Ramayana 2008
Kutiyattam, Sanskrit theatre 2008
Ramman, religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal Himalayas, India 2009
Mudiyettu, ritual theatre and dance drama of Kerala 2010
Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan 2010
Chhau dance 2010
Buddhist chanting of Ladakh: recitation of sacred Buddhist texts in the trans-Himalayan Ladakh region, Jammu and Kashmir, India 2012
Sankirtana, ritual singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur 2013
Traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, Punjab, India 2014
Yoga 2016
Nawrouz, Novruz, Nowrouz, Nowrouz, Nawrouz, Nauryz, Nooruz, Nowruz, Navruz, Nevruz, Nowruz, Navruz 2016
Kumbh Mela 2017
This information was given by Minister of State (IC) for Culture and Minister of State for Environment, Forest & Climate Change Dr. Mahesh Sharma in a written reply in Lok Sabha today.

- http://indiaeducationdiary.in/13-intangible-cultural-heritage-elements-india-inscribed-unescos-list-till-date-dr-mahesh-sharma/, Mar 5, 2018

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Harappans had knowledge of hydraulic engineering, Dholavira reveals

Indian researchers have found buried archeological features at Dholavira, one of the important sites of Harappan civilisation in India. A team of archeologists at Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar, conducted a survey of an unexplored area of around 12,276 square meter at Dholavira using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) technique which helps scanning of the ground and reveals objects buried underground. The GPR data suggests existence of a set of small and shallow reservoirs possibly connected with the existing Eastern Reservoir. The depth of these reservoirs has been estimated to be around 2.5 meter below the present ground level.

In addition, some structures have been found containing rubble with some features. These findings suggest the possible existence of check dams in the past, which may have collapsed due to flash floods in Manhar River. The studied area is surrounded by Manhar river flowing from east to west. The overall site is gently sloping towards west, thus during floods the overflow water could have only flowed towards the area which may have caused damage in some of the structures, researchers have pointed out. "The presence of the grand East Reservoir and a series of reservoirs excavated earlier suggests that the Harappans had a good water-harvesting system.The studied area is expected to have similar kinds of reservoirs, bunds, check dams, channels, drains and water tanks," the study has noted. Moreover, the observed features in the GPR data are of large dimension and resemble reservoir-type of structures, unlike residential structures of smaller size. The present study provides evidence that the Harappans had an excellent knowledge of hydraulic engineering.

Check dams were built to control flow of water during floods while small reservoirs protected the East Reservoir. This investigation suggests that check dams and small reservoirs may have sustained partial damage due to a major flood at some point of time, but most of the East reservoir could still survive. Therefore, the study says, the purpose of engineering design behind these structures was well served under extreme conditions too. Dholavira is one of the largest and the most prominent archaeological sites of Harappan civilization in India situated at Khadirbet in Bhachau taluka, Kutch district, Gujarat. The site is surrounded by salt pans of the Great Rann of Kutch and consists of the ruins of an ancient Indus Valley Civilization. The city existed from about 3000 to 1700 BCE, in an area of around 100 ha with 48 ha under fortification.

There were several unexplored areas inside the city space which may contain ruins of the ancient city.“The buried structures in Dholavira are probably made of stones and bricks, which is why there is low contrast between objects and medium. Such weak radar signals were analyzed using special processing tool developed by us. This tool can pinpoint objects better by magnifying the signals at local level by looking at it in time-frequency domain. The structures are mostly broken and therefore resulted into indistinct or uncommon reflection patterns. We then correlated our findings with the structures seen in exposed part of the site,” Dr. Amit Prashant, who led the study team, told India Science Wire. The radar data will assist archaeologists to plan further excavations without damaging the underground structures. The study has been published in journal Current Science. The research team included Silky Agrawal, Mantu Majumder, Ravindra Singh Bisht and Amit Prashant.

- https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/science/harappans-had-knowledge-of-hydraulic-engineering-dholavira-reveals/article22934861.ece, Mar 5, 2018

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Heritage sites in Kochi to welcome disabled people

Two of the city's heritage troves-the Mattancherry Dutch Palace and the St Francis Church- will soon be accessible to people with disabilities with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) deciding to step in to modify the two monuments in two phases. "The plan is to place signages and braille signs inside the building in the first three months. In the next six months, ramps and pathways will be set up inside the structures. We are still working on the designs and its costs so that we can present an estimate to the department for funds," said Smitha Sumathy, superintending archaeologist in-charge, ASI Kerala.

Due to space constrictions at the St Francis Church, building of ramps will be in a limited format, enabling those on wheelchair to move around the church through a separate pathway. "At the Dutch Palace, the stairs leading to the museum is quite steep and thus the construction of a ramp beside it would deem futile. So, we are planning a suspended lift, which will be designed to carry a person with a wheelchair and help them enter through a window. It can be used for the elderly also, if needed. However, for the construction of the lift an MoU needs to be signed between the ASI and the Cochin Devaswom Board, as the ASI owns only the first floor of the palace whereas the land is owned by the board. Discussions are on," Sumathy said. Construction of toilets accessible to disabled people will also be included in the modification plans.

"At the St Francis Church, however, again due to space constriction, the existing toilet blocks will have to be modified to make them disabled-friendly. In other places, a separate one can be constructed exclusively for them. All the works are expected to be completed in a year at the maximum," Sumathy added. The new schemes are being worked for the structures listed under 'Adarsh Monuments', which includes four structures in Kerala.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/heritage-sites-in-kochi-to-welcome-disabled-people/articleshow/62813871.cms, Mar 5, 2018

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Locals help DDA to turn Sultan Garhi into Archaeological Park

Standing tall but neglected in Vasant Kunj exists the oldest Islamic tomb built in present-day India. The Sultan Garhi mausoleum was built by Iltutmish, the third ruler of Delhi Sultanate, in 1231 for his eldest son Nasir-ud-din Mahmood. Neglected for years, gamblers used to frequent the tomb and its surrounding areas, but with efforts from the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), the Archaeological Survey of India and the locals, the place has been beautified and converted into an archaeological park. Nasir-ud-Din Mahmood, who was the then governor of Bengal, was killed in Lakhnauti (now a ruined city in West Bengal called Gaur).

His body was brought to Delhi and buried here in Sultan Garhi. A board on the premises reads that the structure is a 'protected monument' and a monument of national importance under the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act-1951. It has been identified as Grade A Monument by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). "We come here to offer our prayers to the 'Peer'. It was important to help the DDA to keep this area beautiful and clean. We have made it a point to tell all visitors to throw garbage in the dustbins and we pick the ones thrown by irresponsible visitors," said Adib Ali, a regular visitor to the mausoleum. The octagonal tomb, in an underground opening supported on four columns raised with two pillars each that support beams, depicts an ancient Indian temple.

Once inside the complex, the west wall has a marble colonnade and a mihrab intricately carved with verses from the Quran. The first mausoleum built in the Indian subcontinent was of Qutub-ud-din Aibak, which is now in Lahore. Therefore, the Sultan Garhi tomb is oldest Islamic mausoleum in present-day India. "This place exemplifies communal harmony. There exists symbols of Hindu temples including Swastik made from veil by and there is a rush of Muslims on Thursdays to offer prayers. There are older open graves in Lal Kot inside Sanjay Van, but this is the oldest covered tomb," said Vikramjit Singh Rooprai, a heritage activist. Sultan Garhi is located near the Malakpur Kohi village on the Mehrauli–Mahipalpur Road, eight-kilometre west of the Qutub complex in South-west Delhi.

- http://www.dnaindia.com/delhi/report-locals-help-dda-to-turn-sultan-garhi-into-archaeological-park-2591031, Mar 7, 2018

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Made By Nashik School Students, This Floating Cycle Can Clean Ponds!

When I say school, what pops into your mind? Perhaps you remember sitting on a wooden bench and listening to your teacher or scribbling in your notebook as the teacher wrote answers on the board, or maybe, learning theorems, definitions and long answers “by heart.” However, students of the Espalier school in Nashik might give you a completely different answer, and perspective. The Espalier Experimental School is a perfect haven for students of various age groups to gain experiences that they can implement in their own lives, or make the world a better place. Taking their science lessons beyond textbooks and four walls, students from the school have built a floating cycle! “This year, on the occasion of Science Day, the project of floating bicycle was launched.

The students had been working on this project under the guidance of their science teacher, Mrs Kalyani Joshi. In the first session, Archimedes’ Principle and the concept of density and buoyancy were explained to the students,” the school authorities told The Better India, adding that, “The second session included brainstorming and discussion on the structure of the floating cycle.” Most of us might be scratching our heads at the sound of Archimedes’ principle or the concept of buoyancy. But for these students of Class 7, these are not merely concepts to learn, but principles that they applied in real life. The whole class got together to learn the skills of cutting iron and welding from a professional and affixed exoskeletons on both sides of a bicycle. Although welding is not the safest activity for 12-13-year-olds, all safety precautions were taken. They then installed eight empty water cans in these structures to follow the concept of density and buoyancy. “Since science always has a positive contribution to society, the floating bicycle will have a significant application as well.

It can be used to clean our water bodies as it has an attachment to collect garbage. It is, till date, one of the easiest, cheapest and most comfortable ways to clean ponds and rivers,” the authorities told TBI. The students tried out the cycle on water and needless to say, it was a great success! The way the students are applying their knowledge in the betterment of society if certainly inspiring. The floating bicycle will ease the efforts of water cleaners, in that they will not have to swim or even get wet to clean our ponds. In addition to the practical application of science skills, the Espalier school is also providing other opportunities for their students.

In one instance, the students made musical instruments from pipes and performed in front of a large audience. The school is also taking the initiative in sensitising students about the difference between good touch and bad touch. The school’s outlook towards science, practicality and life is indeed inspiring. Several schools, organisations and individuals are making efforts to ease the process of education as well as ensure that what is learnt, can be applied in real life. You can check out such stories in our Education section.

- https://www.thebetterindia.com/133372/nashik-floating-cycle-ponds/, Mar 7, 2018

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Noted historian passes away

Noted historian and retired history professor of MKU R Venkataraman, who used to guide heritage walks and is well known for his lectures on history of Madurai, passed away on Tuesday night due to a heart ailment. He was 85-years-old. Madurai Chapter of INTACH mourning his death observed that he was highly knowledgeable historian who discovered many ancient Jain sites around Madurai. Though born in Hindu family, he was touched and inspired by the philosophies of Jainism. It is indeed a huge loss not only for Madurai, but for the field of studies, archaeology & history, the forum observed. “It is a great loss and the history sessions will never be same without him”, commented K P Bharathi, consultant of DHAN’s tourism for development. At 85, Venkataraman was hale and hearty guiding the heritage walk in January but he started falling ill due to high creatinine level. He was admitted in a private hospital twenty days ago and suffered two heart attacks in the ICU. He passed away late Tuesday night and his mortal remains were cremated on Wednesday afternoon.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/noted-historian-passes-away/articleshow/63209269.cms, Mar 8, 2018

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INTACH team unearths 9th century Nataraj idol

The discovery of a Nataraj statue at Bandhapara of Durgapali village here belonging to ninth century has triggered interest among intellectuals as the history of the region between seventh and fourteenth centuries is silent. Sambalpur Collector Samarth Verma thanked the Indian National Trust on Arts, Culture and Heritage (INTACH) team which discovered the statue during a survey at the site Wednesday. He said it is a prizes possession for the proposed Sambalpur museum. The statue has been kept in the district culture office as the proposed museum is under renovation now. The Victoria town hall building, currently under renovation, will be converted into a museum that will house such artifacts. Verma said he is trying to rope in experts in the fields of history, culture and archeology for identification of the statue. Historian Deepak Panda said his team was making some inquiries Wednesday at Durgapali village. He said Brundaban Pandey alias Aditya, the priest of nearby Vanadurga temple, informed them that a broken statue was found at the top of a heap of soil. He took the team to the spot. Aditya said there are many more historical artifacts kept at a nearby Shiva temple. Deepak said the team has found a unique statue. Only a small portion of the statue was visible on the surface. He thanked local people for helping the team retrieve the statue. The statue was found on the top of a soil heap close to a pond known as Devibandh at Bandhapara in Durgapali village. There are three more historical ponds known as Shankarbandh, Puranbandh and Kalibandh in the locality. Deepak said he immediately informed the Collector about the finding with a request to send a JCB machine to the spot. The statue was too heavy to be lifted by hands. It weighed more than two quintals. He said the statue and a crown of some broken temple made from khandolite stone were brought from the spot to the district culture office. They initially presumed it to be a statue of Goddess Durga as it has ten hands with several objects spread around the body. But later, it was found to be a Nataraj statue as there is a crescent moon on the top of its head besides Ganga flowing from there. The statue is in the form of a dancing Shiva. He said the statue might have been vandalised as its face is laced with chisel marks and the left leg is broken from its knee. It seems some invaders might have destroyed the statue along with the temple. Deepak said research on the statue may throw light on the historical nature of the deity.

- https://www.orissapost.com/intach-team-unearths-9th-century-nataraj-idol/, Mar 9, 2018

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Royal cannons in graveyard get ASI lifeline

Two ancient cannons that were found stashed near a graveyard in Aliabad were inspected by the state archaeology department officials on Thursday. While one of the cannons was found next to a discarded car with garbage strewn all around it, another was found just outside the graveyard along the fortified wall that was built by rulers in the past to provide security. The existence of one of the two cannons, which was discovered by children residing in the area, was reported in TOI recently. After this, the archaeology department sent officials to inspect the area. But to their surprise they found not just one but two cannons in a state of neglect. "We were surprised to see that there were two cannons. Both have been inspected and we also took pictures for our reference," said G Rajender, city monuments in-charge, department of archaeology and museums. "We will definitely do the repairs and see that both these cannons are protected. The exact plan of action will be decided once we discuss the matter with our director," Rajender said, thanking TOI for helping them find the cannons. A month ago, while digging to lay the foundation for a house in Farhatnagar near Dabeerpura, the workers stumbled upon what appeared to be a tunnel and found a cannon and a few cannonballs inside. "These are very interesting finds and the government should make sure they are well protected for future generations," said Anuradha Reddy, co-convener of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/royal-cannons-in-graveyard-get-asi-lifeline/articleshow/63227413.cms, Mar 9, 2018

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Walk for cancer survivors

Max Institute of Cancer Care, Lajpat Nagar, in partnership with INTACH organised a heritage walk for women cancer survivors — the Begums of Shahjahanabad — on Thursday. “On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the walk brought together strong women from our present — our cancer survivors — in a journey of exploration of Delhi’s powerful women. A group of 25 cancer patients spent the day retracing the footsteps of the powerful women of Delhi,” said the hospital. The walk was part of Max Healthcare’s ‘Beyond Care’ initiative, which recognises holistic care outside hospital environment.

- http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/walk-for-cancer-survivors/article22987953.ece, Mar 9, 2018

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From fighting crime to air pollution: The women who keep Delhi running

A look at women who call the shots in traditional male bastions. From a green energy warrior at the forefront of the capital’s fight against pollution to a principal who has to tame the most rowdy set of students, these women are instrumental in keeping Delhi in order and thriving. Dr Puneeta Mahajan works hard to provide better maternal and child care in?Delhi. Dr Puneeta Mahajan’s mantra of hard work with sincerity and compassion has held her in good stead both at home and work. “These are the values that I was brought up with. I try to serve patients with a smile, even when the hospital is crowded,” says Dr Mahajan, medical director, Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital. Choosing to study biology decided that she would go on to become a doctor. Dr Mahajan vividly remembers the day she cleared MBBS entrance exam. She was at her home with her father, while her mother took the day off from work and drove across the city in heavy rains to go to Delhi University to check the list. “My mother drove through waterlogged streets; there was water inside the car when she came back. That left a mark on me,” said Mahajan. She did her MBBS from Lady Hardinge Medical College and her postgraduation from Safdarjung Hospital. Her husband, who is an anaesthetist at private hospital, and his family are equally supportive. The two changes that she would like to see in Delhi are fewer pregnancy complications and childbirth deaths, and safety of women everywhere. While she can do little to reduce the number of minors coming to her hospital with tell-tale signs of rape, she is working to provide better maternal and child care. The hospital has one of the best labour rooms in a public hospital where mothers are offered a calm environment with cheerful paintings and soothing music. At workplace, Dr Mahajan feels no different from her male colleagues and has never faced insubordination. “Initially, there might have been negative currents, but that did not obstruct my work,” she said. She also motivated her team to provide better services and getting an NABH (National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers) accreditation — a certification for quality services given to hospitals. “This is Delhi government’s only accredited 500-bed hospital,” she said with pride. Dr Mahajan wants to give back to the people of Delhi after she retires in three years.

How DCP Aslam Khan cracked a gang-rape case five years after Nirbhaya
When Aslam Khan took over as the deputy commissioner of police, Delhi’s north-west district last November, she was taken aback on being addressed as ‘sir’. Khan’s unusual name, her demeanour and the “muscle memory” of the officers drew the unusual prefix. It was the first time in nearly six years that the district was being helmed by a woman officer and Khan came in with the reputation of a strict and upright officer. She had barely settled into the job — mostly marked for male IPS officers — when she found herself handling a crime that has been a constant nightmare for the police. On the fifth anniversary of the Nirbhaya gang-rape case, a 16-year-old girl was gang-raped by three men in a park in her district. “We seemed lucky early on into the probe. One of the 2,000 suspects claimed he was around when his friends raped the child. But I realised he was only trying to frame his enemies. I refused to arrest him and continued the hunt,” recounts Khan. Police nabbed the three suspects 20 days later, but it won Khan the respect and loyalty of her officers. Born in a family of farmers in a village in Rajasthan, it was a unique situation that got the officer christened as ‘Aslam’ — a name usually reserved for men. “My parents were expecting a boy and they had even decided the name. So they went ahead with the same when I was born,” recounts Khan. Khan’s father ensured she received the best possible education; she topped the political science stream in her graduation. Be it getting a scooty or more pocket money, Khan did not lose out to her two younger brothers. When she landed in Delhi to prepare for civil services, she befriended Pankaj Singh, current DCP of Delhi Metro. Khan cracked the UPSC exam in 2007 and Singh a year later, before the two got married. Along with the job came the usual sexist barbs. She remembers being constantly told to prove herself harder than her male colleagues. “Bureaucracy reinforces the Indian traditional system that discriminates against women and people belonging to lower castes,” says Khan. “I have nothing at stake. I do not fear getting transferred. I stand by what is right,” says Khan about what drives her. She will not take her job and associated privileges for granted. “I drive a secondhand Maruti Ritz during my visits to my hometown and travel in auto-rickshaws,” says Khan. When she leaves the police force, Khan plans to start an orphanage for girls. “I will give financial freedom and freedom of choice to those girls,” says Khan. Varsha Joshi reveals why she stands out in the ‘male dominated’ sectors of power and transport. As the head of Delhi’s transport and power departments, Varsha Joshi is at the forefront of the Capital’s fight against pollution. Under her tenure, the Delhi government brought out the city’s solar policy, and soon a unified parking policy for the Capital will be out, apart from a separate set of rules for taxis and junk vehicles. She has been a green energy warrior since her days in the ministry for new and renewable energy (MNRE). She broke several barriers to introduce India’s first wind prediction system in Tamil Nadu and set the ball rolling for bidding in the wind industry. A 1995 batch IAS officer, Joshi started her career as an SDM in Delhi. A single mother, she finished her Master’s in Physics from DU’s Hindu College and ranked 10th in UPSC-CSE exam. Joshi says that deep domain knowledge and trust of her colleagues are what makes her stand out in two of the “extremely male dominated sectors of power and transport”. “Everyone assumes they know more than you. And then, they try to talk you down. We should know that it becomes a male thing because there just happen to be more men in the sector. There is no other reason,” she says. But, she asserts, having domain knowledge is a must. “You can’t shoot in the dark. You have to understand the core principles. You have to make it clear that you know what you are talking about. At the same time, you should know when the other person is talking bullshit.” Apart from MNRE, Joshi also fondly remembers her stint at the Census of India. “I was part of the core team for digitisation of census data. It was like creating history of sorts because of the sheer volume of data. But, that’s the beauty of India and I am proud of it,” she said. Joshi have always found space for what she loves doing since her childhood. “When I was 4 or 5, I was fascinated by the designs of offices and houses. I used to make offices and houses while my friends played,” she says. Putting her life philosophy in context, she shares an incident from her days in SDM office. “During a dowry related inquest, I found that it was a suicide and did not register a case. However, the victim’s relatives tried to pressure me and when I didn’t relent, I was transferred. My successor filed a case but the court threw it out. I was vindicated.” “I don’t fight battles I can’t win,” she says.

How Swapna Liddle rose through the ranks to head INTACH
Her father was an Indian Police Service officer and mother was a trained teacher, who always wanted her daughter to become a bureaucrat. However, the daughter aspired to become a history teacher. Pressing family issues compelled Swapna Liddle to shelve her plan. Nevertheless, she took to her childhood passion albeit in a different manner. “Heritage walks are another way of teaching history beyond textbooks and conventional settings like closed classrooms,” says Liddle, convener of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Delhi chapter. Though she has been associated with INTACH since 2006, she was leading walks for the Trust, but joined it formally after four years. Within six years of her joining, she rose through the ranks and became the second woman convener in October 2016 after Malvika Singh. It was after the gap of 29 years when a woman was nominated to lead the prestigious institution. So far, Liddle has organised around 150 walks covering almost all major heritage sites. Liddle is one among few women city historians, who has been spearheading heritage awareness and conservation of historic structures in the national capital for more than a decade. Apart from editing others’ work, she has authored two books — ‘Delhi; 14 Historic Walks’ and ‘Chandni Chowk: The Mughal City of Old Delhi’. Her new book on New Delhi will be released soon. Liddle has also been instrumental to make legal interventions in the form of public interest litigations or campaigns to protect heritage structures, which are on the verge of extinction. In her legal fight for conservation, she is supported by her lawyer husband. She considered herself ‘fortunate’ to get the support of family, friends and colleagues in her journey to pursue her passion. “I have been very lucky. I got good education. I have supportive parents and husband. I was never discriminated or faced gender issues in my working sphere or at workplace. They have all been very friendly,” she adds.

Rama, the first woman principal of Hansraj College
Thirty-four years before she was chosen to run Hansraj College, 16-year-old Rama convinced her father in 1981 to allow her to continue with her studies by promising that she will finance her own education. Rama was the second of the five children born to a home-maker mother and a military officer father. Rama, the acting principal of the college since 2015, is the first woman to be holding the position since the college was established in 1948. When Rama took admission in Delhi University for pursuing an undergraduate course in Hindi, she started taking part in debate competition, eyeing on the cash prize and also due to her love for a good argument. “I won 850 prizes in debate, extra-curricular activities and poetry competitions in five years of doing undergraduate and postgraduate at DU,” says Rama, who does not use her last name. Rama, who studied journalism after college, worked in different media houses before taking up a job as a teacher in a school. “I later joined Hansraj in 1991 and was appointed as the officiating principal in 2015,” she says. But when Rama was offered the position, she wasn’t sure whether she will be able to do it. However, “she overcame her doubts and took up the role,” she says. The biggest challenge was to maintain discipline in the college, whose proximity to Kamla Nagar market, had resulted into frequent bunking by students. Also, the college used to have frequent protest by different students’ political groups. “My first few months were spent in ensuring that students attended their classes. I took rounds of classes every day. There used to be sloganeering by political groups but I started talking to them and that helped in resolving issues faster,” she says. As the administrative head, Rama had her fair share of people trying to pull her down. “The male teachers in the college were used to saying ‘sir’… it took them a while to say ‘yes ma’am’,” she says. According to Rama, it is not easy for people to accept women in position of power because they are not used to it. “But the key is hard work and ignoring the detractors,” she says.

(Anonna Dutt, Shiv Sunny, Sweta Goswami, Parvez Sultan, Heena Kausar)

- https://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-news/from-fighting-crime-to-air-pollution-the-women-who-keep-delhi-running/story-ibfLi5Vka14J1e9QGSkEXP.html, Mar 9, 2018

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Kulsum Begum’s memory erodes with masjid cracks

The fabled mosque of Kulsumpura, built by Princess Kulsum Begum, daughter of Sultan Mohammed Qutub Shah, is dying a slow death because no efforts are being made for its restoration or conservation. Built between 1612 and 1626 AD, the Jama Masjid, which is popularly known as Kulsum Begum’s mosque at Karwan, paints a sad picture with no visible effort made to attract visitors and many passing by without even knowing its value. While the minarets of the tomb are covered with overgrown vegetation, which could be the reason for huge cracks developing on the exteriors of the mosque, the impressive stuccowork can also be seen peeling off at many places on the structure. Heritage activists say the tomb has been lying in this condition for years, though it is a protected architectural monument.

“I visited the mosque recently and saw that it was in a neglected state. There is so much vegetation, not just on the minarets but in the surrounding area of the mosque too,” says P Anuradha Reddy, co-convener of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). The 400-year-old architectural grandeur holds a significant position in the history of the region. According to the masjid committee members, the mosque was built by Kulsum Begum with the Mehr (money or gift given as a mark of respect to the wife at the time of marriage) she received from her husband in consideration of the marriage.

Mohammed Omer Ali Waseem, the masjid committee’s executive member, said they had been writing to the state archaeology department since 2014 asking them to restore the mosque, but to no avail. The managing committee received a letter from the director of the archaeology department, N R Visalatchy, only in 2017 stating that a conservation architect had visited the site and prepared an estimate of Rs 42 lakh, but they could not be take up the work in 2014-15 due to lack of funds. Addressing the same letter to the secretary of government, Telangana youth advancement tourism & culture department, the director requested to sanction the funds to commence repair work immediately. Visalatchy said, “We are yet to receive funds. We will take up repair works as soon as the budget is sanctioned."

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/kulsum-begums-memory-erodes-with-masjid-cracks/articleshow/63252650.cms, Mar 12, 2018

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Despite budget release, restoration of Lahori Gate museum pending

A year after the budget was released for the refurbishing of the Lahori Gate museum, no work has been started. The early 19th-century haveli in Lahori Gate was converted into a museum in 2004 but due to the encroachments by shopkeepers, it has been in a dilapidated state for over a decade now. Even though the redevelopment of the museum was proposed in 2008 but despite the budget release in 2017, no work has started yet. "Of the total Rs 3.32 crore sanctioned for the restoration work, we received the initial Rs 1.6 crore last year. The file related to this is currently in the ministry and we cannot move forward until we receive a green signal from them," said a senior official from the North Corporation. Currently, in a bad state, the museum in Shri Narayan Building in Lahori Gate and the area around it is encroached for parking cars by the nearby spice market traders. With broken doors and windowpanes and missing spotlight bulbs, the haveli is in a need of urgent restoration.

The dusty plaque hung outside the main door announcing 'Lahori Gate museum'is the only reminder that it was supposed to be a one-stop destination to showcase the charm of the Walled City. "We were informed that once the budget is received, a DPR (detailed project report) will be required but no such information has been asked of us. The museum badly requires restoration," said Ajay Kumar, director (projects), INTACH, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage. Till 2003, the haveli was serving as a dispensary for the poor after which the then Member of Parliament, Chandni Chowk area, Vijay Goel identified it as a potential site for a museum and used funds to restore the haveli and convert it into a museum. The MCD, however, has failed to preserve it further.

- http://www.dnaindia.com/delhi/report-despite-budget-release-restoration-of-lahori-gate-museum-pending-2593020, Mar 12, 2018

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Heritage centre coming up at Kondaveedu fort

The remnants of the magnificent 14th century Kondaveedu Fort will be preserved and showcased in a heritage centre coming up on its foothills. The centre, being constructed at an estimated cost of `7 crore by the All India Reddy Welfare Association spread over 30,000 square feet, will have three floors. “We are collecting all the remnants of the fort, the seat of power of the Reddy kings, and later used a garrison by the French and British forces.

The heritage centre will have paintings depicting the history of the kings. Apart from a miniature fort, the centre will have a publications division, stone and copper replicas of inscriptions and an amphitheatre,’’ Convener of the Kondaveedu Fort Development Committee K Siva Reddy said. The fort used to have a firing range, and a village located on the foothills. Phirangipuram derived its name from the word, “phirangi.’’ With the completion of the centre and the ghat road extending to 5 km, the historic fort, a citadel of power for over three centuries, is set to become a popular tourist destination. Efforts to revive the glory of the fort began in 2010 with the constitution of the committee headed by Siva Reddy, an employee of State Cooperation Department. A ghat road was sanctioned in 2013, giving a fillip to the development of the fort.

The ghat road is set to be completed by March 20. A 10-metre-wide approach road which starts from Boyapalem and linking Chengizkhanpet, Kota village, Kondaveedu and Kothapalem village connects the ghat road. The ghat road however, ends beside a dilapidated entrance and work relating 1 km stretch is still pending. The State government sanctioned `10 crore to lay the road which provides a direct passage to the fort.

- http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2018/mar/11/heritage-centre-coming-up-at-kondaveedu-fort-1785343.html, Mar 12, 2018

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Philatelist exhibits rare stamps of women achievers

The presence of women is felt in various facets of our lives. A rare exhibition of stamps, first-day covers and pictorial cancellations featuring women, organised by Dakshina Kannada Philatelic And Numismatic Association (DKPANA), at the Head Post Office in Pandeshwar, on Sunday was a tribute to the women of India. Philatelist Jane D'Souza of Mangaluru was the exhibitor of the day. Stamps, first-day covers, miniature sheets and pictorial cancellations on Indian women achievers were part of the expo. Speaking about her collection, Jane D'Souza said that she has been collecting stamps since her childhood.

The exhibition featured around 300 stamps on Indian women, which is a part of her much wider collection on International women achievers. The oldest one in the collection was the stamp on Meera Bai which was released in 1952. It was the first stamp released by the Postal Department during the post Independence era on any woman. Apart from purchasing the stamps, she keeps on adding stamps to her collection by borrowing some from her friends and relatives. Lakshmi, a visitor and a stamp collector herself said she was fascinated to see some of the very old and rare stamps on prominent Indian women.

Stamps on Indian women achievers in the field of art and culture featured dance exponent T Balasaraswathi, musician M S Subbulakshmi, miniature sheet on Indian actresses Devika Rani, Nutan, Kanan Devi, Savitri, Meena Kumari and Leela Naidu, freedom fighters Rani Abbakka, Kittur Chennamma, Sarojini Naidu, Kamala Nehru, social reformers Dr Annie Besant and Mother Teresa, Ashok Chakra awardee Neerja Bhanot, writers Kranti Trivedi, Mahadevi Verma and so on. There were stamps on women depicted in paintings and sculpture as well.

- http://www.deccanherald.com/content/664093/philatelist-exhibits-rare-stamps-women.html, Mar 12, 2018

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Amateur archaeologist discovers cupules, stone circles in Lonar crater complex

Prakash Dolas, head of Rajiv Gandhi Science and Technology Commission (RGSTC), Nagpur, has discovered ‘cup markers’ ( cupules ) and ‘stone circles’ on temple structures as well as in the vicinity of the temples, near the Lonar Crater Lake in Buldhana district.Dolas claims he is the first person to have discovered them, since there are no records of these in the archeological findings so far, nor has the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which has a presence on the site, formally reported it. He is unaware of the scientific importance of these cupules and the stone circles, but has indirectly got some information from some researchers.

"I had been to Lonar two years back and happened to discover the cupules and stone circles, as I have an interest in archaeology, and since then I am working on these findings. I had been to Junapani near Nagpur, where such circles were found, with astrophysicist Prof Mayank Vahiya. So, I know how they look. But I will soon be formally confirming the authenticity of the latest findings with ASI,” said Dolas.Dolas says that a fascinating aspect of the discovery is that the cup marks found across the Lonar region, at least ten on each megalith, are all associated with religious structures.

- https://www.nyoooz.com/news/nagpur/1053868/amateur-archaeologist-discovers-cupules-stone-circles-in-lonar-crater-complex/, Mar 12, 2018

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Asia’s First World Natural Heritage Management Center Opened In Dehradun

‘World Natural Heritage Management and Training Division-2 Center for the Asia and Pacific region’ has started in National Wildlife Institute, Dehradun. The Union Minister of Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Harsh Vardhan launched the building of the newly constructed center on Saturday. This center will provide services to more than 50 countries of Asia Pacific region. This is the first of its kind center in the Asia Pacific region to work on the management and training of world natural heritage.

Union Minister Dr Harshvardhan said that the foundation stone of the World Heritage UNESCO Center at the Wildlife Institute was laid on August 30, 2014 by the then Union Environment, Forest and Global Warming Minister Prakash Javadekar. He said that UNESCO has given this opportunity to the Wildlife Institute while relying on India’s potential in Asia. He said that through this center scientific knowledge on wildlife resources will be further enriched. The personnel will also be trained at various levels for the protection and management of wildlife. Along with international organizations, it will be easy to exchange techniques regarding wildlife.

- https://uttarakhandnewsnetwork.com/2018/03/asias-first-world-natural-heritage-management-center-opened-in-dehradun/, Mar 12, 2018

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INTACH team bats for re-scripting of history

Odisha chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) pinned hope that the history will be re-written after the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) found that the Prachi Valley civilisation predates the Mohanjo Daro and Indus Valley civilisation. A team from INTACH led by the State Convener AB Tripathy on Monday visited the excavation site at Prachi Valley being done by the ASI and inspected the site and findings before holding discussions with its Superintending Archaeologist. The excavation site has revealed a flourishing settlement, which was agrarian in nature, having presence of domesticated cattle.

Some unique finds include bone harpoons and hooks, stone axes and potsherds besides remains of fauna ranging from sharks to rhinos. The findings reveal that the Prachi civilisation was engaged in fishing apart from farming. Realising the relevance of the rich civilisational remains of the Prachi Valley, INTACH had launched a project for listing of the monuments and remains of the rich river valley in January. Project Head and historian Anil Dhir said the entire stretch of the ancient river is being surveyed and every monument, remains, edifices and heritage is being documented and listed. The team has made many new discoveries, both of tangible and intangible heritages in the last two months. “The evidence unearthed by the ASI shows that the Prachi Valley civilisation is the oldest one. INTACH will share all its findings with ASI.

History will have to be rewritten and the Prachi Mahatmya will find its right place in history,” he said. Prachi was a vibrant navigable river till the early 1940s. However, the reckless crisscrossing of roads, national highway and rampant construction on its flood plain have choked the river which has been reduced to a rivulet. While Prachi river has been dried up, it is only visible during the monsoon. Former bureaucrat Sanjib Hota said Prachi as a sacred river finds reference in the ancient puranic literature like Markandeya Purana, Kapilasamhita, Prachi Mahatmya and Odia Mahabharata. It is the only place where the unique blend of various religious cults, including Jainism, Buddhism, Tantrism, Shaivism and Vaishnavism, can be found in a chronological order, he added. The INTACH team demanded that the river should be dredged and the inlet opened to make is navigable as the entire bank is dotted with ancient temples, ghats, mutts and picturesque settings, which can make it a major centre for pilgrimage and tourism.

- http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2018/mar/13/intach-team-bats-for-re-scripting-of-history-1786182.html, Mar 13, 2018

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Artefacts of ‘pre-Iron Age’ found in Odisha

Archaeological Survey of India, which has been excavating a mound at Jalalpur village of Odisha’s Cuttack district, has now come across stone and bone tools believed to be of early Iron Age. “The discovery includes faunal remains, carbonised grains and stone and bone tools of early iron age to prehistoric period. Interestingly, we have found continuity in different periods,” said D. B. Garnayak, superintending archaeologist of ASI’s excavation branch in Bhubaneswar, on Monday. “Yellow and dark grey colour soil noticed during the excavation signifies the rural settlement flourished in different eras. Circular wall, semi-circular wall, crescent shape wall and mud platforms of different size and shape have been discovered,” said Dr. Garnayak. Following fresh discovery, the ASI has now proposed to involve scientists from Institute of Physics in Bhubaneswar and reputed geologists to study the tools. Recently, teeth of three types of sharks, stone tools were unearthed from the site.

Among the artefacts retrieved from the site include red ware, red slipped ware, grey and black wares, pots of different shapes, bowls, bowl-on-stand, ring based bowls, miniature pots, storage jars, pots . Similarly, important antiquities retrieved from the site are polished stone axes and adzes, bone points, terracotta sling balls, terracotta wheel, beads of carnelian, and sand stone, hopscotch, barbed bone point, bone drill, bone arrow-head, bone spear-head, stylus and needle made of antler, bone borer cum side scraper and bone spatula. Meanwhile, a team from the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), led by the State Convener A. B. Tripathy visited the excavation site in the Prachi Valley being done by ASI. They said the ASI excavation would throw more light on the old civilisation.

- http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/artefacts-of-pre-iron-age-found-in-odisha/article23157247.ece, Mar 13, 2018

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Soon, ancient Prachi valley to be in limelight

A team from the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), led by State convener AB Tripathy, visited an excavation site in the Prachi valley being done by the Archaeological Survey of India. The team inspected the site and the findings and held discussions with the ASI Superintending Archaeologist. The excavation site has revealed a flourishing settlement which was agrarian in nature and which also domesticated cattle and engaged in fishing. Some unique findings include bone harpoons and hooks, stone axes, potsherds, besides remains of fauna ranging from sharks to rhinos. Convener Tripathy said that the INTACH had realised the relevance of the rich civilisational remains of the Prachi valley and had launched a project for listing of the monuments and remains of the rich river valley earlier in January this year.

According to Anil Dhir, the project head, the entire stretch of the ancient river is being surveyed and every monument, remains, edifices and heritage is being documented and listed. He said that in the last two months, the team has made many new discoveries, both of tangible and intangible heritages. Dhir said that INTACH will share all its findings with the ASI and that the importance of the site will come to light. He said that the evidence unearthed by the ASI shows that the Prachi valley civilisation predates the Mohanjo Daro and Indus valley civilizations. History will have to be rewritten; the Prachi Mahatmya will find its right place in history, he added. According to Dr Biswajit Mohanty, the Prachi was a vibrant navigable river till the early 1940s. However, the reckless crisscrossing of roads, a National Highway and rampant construction on its flood plain have choked the river and it has been reduced to a rivulet. Today the Prachi is a dried up river, which is only visible during the monsoons. Mohanty informed that the river should be dredged and the inlet opened to make is navigable. The dead river should be given a fresh lease of life.

The entire bank is dotted with ancient temples, ghats, mutts and picturesque settings which can make it a major centre for pilgrimage and tourism. Former bureaucrat Sanjib Hota said that the Prachi, as a sacred river, finds reference in the ancient Puranic literature such as Markandeya Purana, Kapilasamhita, Prachi Mahatmya and the Odia Mahabharata. It is the only place where the unique blend of various religious cults, which include Jainism, Buddhism, Tantrism, Shaivism and Vaishnavism can be found in a chronological order.

- http://www.dailypioneer.com/state-editions/bhubaneswar/soon-ancient-prachi-valley-to-be-in-limelight.html, Mar 13, 2018

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Sahapedia to launch 2nd edition of IHWF on a bigger scale; will include more regional partners and new areas

Buoyed by the success of its inaugural month-long, multi-city India Heritage Walk Festival (IHWF), Sahapedia, the online encyclopedia of Indian arts and culture, will launch the second edition of the event next year on a grander scale by forging collaborations with more regional partners, expanding its footprints across new locations and including in its ambit a string of interesting events. ‘The idea is to grow each year and build a strong network of individuals and institutions to promote Indian heritage. This we intend to achieve by focusing on collaborations with more regional partners, government bodies and cultural practitioners across multiple domains and geographical locations to bring in the diversity,’ said Vaibhav Chauhan, Festival Director (IHWF) and Secretary, Sahapedia.

Sahapedia had organised IHWF 2018 in February in collaboration with YES Culture, the cultural division of YES Global Institute, a practising think tank of YES BANK, to encourage citizens to explore the tangible and intangible heritage of their cities and towns. A major selling point of the festival was its focused approach to highlight diversity and distinction that was reflected in the subject areas, locations or walks with specific target groups. ‘In Jaipur and Mumbai, for instance, we conducted walks for differently-abled people. With the same intent, in future we may organise treasure hunts, cycling or marathons around heritage spaces; the possibilities are immense,’ Mr. Chauhan said. He added, ‘We had included several tier II and III cities such as Patan, Itanagar, Varanasi, Udaipur and Jodhpur. We plan to extend it to other cities in the coming years.’ IHWF 2018 was supported by Incredible India.

Moving forward, Sahapedia plans to seek collaborations with the state chapters. Overall, it collaborated with around 40 partners across India during the first edition, allowing it greater penetration and engagement in the regional circuits. In the inaugural edition the maximum number of attendees in a walk was fixed at 25 but after considering the response Sahapedia will reevaluate registrations to fit in more attendees. However, to maintain the quality, it may repeat the walks to avoid constraints such as space. ‘The IHWF 2018 helped us stimulate a pan-India movement to make heritage spaces more popular and more experiential. We aim to continue the momentum for exploring new partnerships and avenues in the future editions. The objective is to create authentic, credible, and exhaustive content on our rich heritage and culture, and develop a stronger network of cultural practitioners across the country with every edition,’ Mr.Chauhan noted. Sahapedia also plans to create ecological awareness about heritage structures by organising workshops and programmes for children. Biodiversity was one of themes for the walks in cities like Hyderabad and Bengaluru, and it wants to introduce more such walks in future.

In several places, the event got support from state government officials. For instance, Mr. Mahmood A Shah and Mr. Riyaz Beigh, Director and Deputy Director of Tourism Kashmir respectively, attended the walks in Srinagar. ‘India is blessed with a rich heritage and cultural history, which is abundantly manifested in monuments and architectural sites across our country. Such heritage tourism initiatives, with the wholehearted involvement of local communities, have the potential to instil national pride and further the agenda of heritage development,’ said Mr. Rana Kapoor, MD & CEO, YES BANK and Chairman, YES Global Institute. IHWF 2018 evoked an enthusiastic response from walk leaders and participants as well.

Gaurav Raturi, walk leader for ‘Exploring Street Art in Delhi’s Lodhi Art District’said it was an amazing experience. ‘I had an amazingly curious bunch of people - a mix of students, art lovers and artist from the city along with some foreigners who were intrigued by the art forms and expressions of artists from all over India and the world. In fact, we had a full family who wanted to see the walls and hear the stories and technique used for painting graffiti on walls,’ he added. ‘Telling complicated history in story format, well linked with the local culture and the feel - that's what I see India Heritage Walk Festival as. It is one of the best festivals in the country till date, it has really opened my mind to #thinkheritage,’ said Gunjan Mathur, an attendee in Mumbai walk. P N Nath, who attended the walk ‘Deep Down in China Town’ in Kolkata, said it was a good initiative to connect people with their roots and the diversity surrounding them. ‘Walks are informative and beautifully done making it legible to the public at large.

Keep up the good work and be back with more such prolific endeavours,’ he commented. ‘We are in Singapore, Sahapedia is in Delhi and together we pulled off a fantastic walk in Kolkata. Goes to prove how much effort Sahapedia put into conceiving and planning this amazing festival,’ said Rinkoo Bhowmik, founder-director, The Cha Project. IHWF 2018, covering 20 cities and towns around the country, featured walks to historical monuments and shrines, well-known landscapes, places known for art, culture, cuisine and flourishing trade. There was also an online film festival of documentaries based on cultural themes and lecture series curated as Baithaks and Instameets as part of nearly 70 events.

- http://www.indulgexpress.com/culture/art/2018/mar/13/sahapedia-to-launch-2nd-edition-of-ihwf-on-a-bigger-scale-will-include-more-regional-partners-and-n-6432.html, Mar 14, 2018

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Five monuments to be developed as ‘aadarsh monuments’ by ASI

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has selected five monuments in Uttarakhand that will be developed as ‘aadarsh (model) monuments’ with an aim to enhance visitors’ experience. These include the temple group in Jageshwar, the 13th century sun temple at Katarmal, besides monuments in Lakhmandal, Baijnath, and Gopeshwar. This was stated in a written reply by Union culture minister Mahesh Sharma in the Lok Sabha on Monday. The five monuments are part of 100 such identified by the ASI under the Aadarsh Smarak Scheme. Speaking about the scheme, Lily Dhasmana, superintending archaeologist at ASI’s Dehradun circle, said, “Works under the initiative will focus on improving basic amenities around these monuments so that visitors don’t face any inconvenience. We will be installing benches, dustbins, toilets, cafeteria, signages, among others.”

Dhasmana, however, added that they may face some problem in Katarmal because water isn’t available nearby. “We are working on finding some solution.” ASI will also provide interpretation and audio-video centres at some locations. Care will be taken to construct ramps at appropriate places to make the premises accessible to the differently-abled. While the temple group of Jageshwar was selected in the first phase of the initiative, the remaining monuments were included in the second phase. The five that have been selected under the scheme form an integral part of the medieval archaeological wealth of the Kumaon region. While Katarmal is arguable one of the biggest sun temples in the central Himalayan region, the temple group at Jageshwar is a repository of inscriptions that date back to the eighth century AD.

Much of it is believed to have been constructed during the reign of the Katyur Dynasty in Uttarakhand. Meanwhile, recently, the Centre also launched Gangotri as a Swachh Iconic Place (SIP) under its scheme of improving sanitation and cleanliness of 100 “most iconic places” in the country. No tourist location in Uttarakhand could make it to the list of 10 destinations that were selected in the first phase of SIP. However, in November 2017, during the second phase of SIP, Gangotri and Yamunotri were made part of the project.

- https://www.hindustantimes.com/dehradun/five-monuments-to-be-developed-as-aadarsh-monuments-by-asi/story-0PU2EtwkGA6iGYkMXpW4mO.html, Mar 14, 2018

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Coming soon: Baithaks at monuments to absorb capital’s rich history

In collaboration with the Delhi government, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) is bringing heritage baithaks to the capital — a time to sit and absorb the cultural milieu that dots the city. With "History of Mughal Gardens" as the theme, the first one is being held at Talkatora Garden on March 31 at 8 am. It will be led by INTACH-Delhi convener Dr Swapna Liddle. “During heritage walks, we realised that sometimes a monument is really far away and the walk is over in 30 minutes. It’s not feasible, but these monuments are worth seeing. A walk should ideally include at least a few monuments but that’s not always the case, and that’s where a baithak comes in,” Liddle said. To be held once a month and free of cost, INTACH will pick a new venue and theme every time, and different historians will hold the baithaks. “Emphasis will be on lesser-known monuments spread across Delhi that don’t even figure on walkers’ maps, such as Bhuli Bhatiyari ka Mahal, which is a 14th century hunting lodge, and Bawana Zail, which is a colonial-era administrative unit,” she added.

Talkatora Garden, for instance, is now known most for the stadium inside, but little is known about who built it. Although, it’s known to be a Mughal-era garden, built by Mohammad Shah Rangeela, who ruled between 1719-1748; it’s also believed to have been planned by Firoz Shah Tughlaq, who ruled over Delhi in the 14th century. It was here that the Marathas defeated the Mughals in the Battle of Delhi in 1737, and where filmmaker Sai Paranjpye shot the 1981 romantic-comedy Chashme Buddoor. “We are also conserving an embankment at Talkatora Garden and would discuss our conservation process at the baithak,” Kanika Dawar, project coordinator, INTACH-Delhi, said. It was a month ago that INTACH-Delhi sent a proposal about the baithaks to the Delhi government.

Another reason that prompted this idea was to include those who usually get left behind at walks – the elderly and people with disabilities. “I tried this baithak formula before at Roshanara Bagh, where we did presentations… I asked my parents, who are in their late 70s, to join in. Everyone interested in understanding heritage can’t always do the long walk, so this will include that group too,” Liddle said. Once the project takes off, INTACH will also introduce baithaks in Hindi. The Trust will also encourage residents living around the area to participate. “It gives us an opportunity to reach out to local communities and make them understand why conserving these monuments is important," Liddle said.

- http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/coming-soon-baithaks-at-monuments-to-absorb-capitals-rich-history-5099513/, Mar 15, 2018

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Movement of prehistoric man found at Rudramakota village

Commissioner of Department of Archeology and Museums Dr G Vani Mohan paid a visit to Rudramakota village in Velairpadu mandal in West Godavari district on Wednesday where the remains of centuries-old archaeological importance were found. Speaking on the occasion, the Commissioner said that they found the movement of prehistoric man in this area. The primitive tribes had set up habitations 3,000 years ago near Rudramakota in Velairpadu mandal. She said that the archeology department would protect the excavations. The primitive tribes had resided here and those remains and equipment are being excavated from this area.

She was accompanied by Nagarjuna University students, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, Manipur, Meghalaya, Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat and Maharashtra archaeology department delegates. All these archaeologists took part in a seminar conducted on March 12, 13 and 14, she informed. These delegates examined the graves at Rudramakota and during their excavation, initially, they assumed that Sindhu civilization had flourished in this area, however, they came to conclusion that it was Rudramakota civilization. The seed of modern living was planted in the primitive age, she opined. The megalithic culture remained here that changed the primitive tribes’ life style.

- http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Andhra-Pradesh/2018-03-15/Movement-of-prehistoric-man-found-at-Rudramakota-village/366361, Mar 15, 2018

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Indian Museum set for rare Jain display

Indian Museum here is holding a unique exhibition of rare sculptures of Jain Tirthankars from March 16-18. This is the first time the museum’s rare treasures from its reserve collection will be put on display on the occasion of the 6th International Congress of Society of South Asian Archaeology at Indian Museum in association with All India Digambar Jain Heritage Preservation Organization, New Delhi.

The 11 metal sculptures of Tirthankars include metal and stone carved statues made in the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th centuries AD. “The three-day congress will see deliberations on historic Indian heritage and art by as many as 200 experts,” said Sayan Bhattacharya, education officer of Indian Museum and coordinator of the congress. The Jain Tirthankars relentlessly fought against passions and bodily senses to achieve enlightenment, said Nirmal Kumar Jain, president of Digambar Jain Samaj.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/indian-museum-set-for-rare-jain-display/articleshow/63323963.cms, Mar 16, 2018

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Walled City protects sparrows along with heritage

The sight of sparrows feeding off vegetable carts near Swaminarayan temple in Kalupur is heartening proof of Amdavadis’ legendary compassion. “Sparrows arrive in large number in the morning and generally don’t mind the hustle and bustle of the area,” said Jagdeep Prajapati, a resident of Zaverivaad. “The area comes alive with their incessant chatter. Scores of people come to feed the birds.” The World Heritage City of Ahmedabad is as indulgent with birds as it is proud of its built heritage. “The exquisite bird-feeders that are common at almost all pols testify to the fact that harmony is not just about different communities living together but also about humans being at peace with nature,” said Prajapati. “It is no wonder then that the birds flock to these areas where they get food, water, and love.”

As the world prepares to mark the World Sparrow Day on March 20, Jagat Kinkhabwala, the ‘Sparrow Man’ of Ahmedabad, said that there is a long way to go before making the once common bird a common sight again. “Fortunately, awareness has grown among citizens about the need to protect these little birds. Through our initiatives, sparrow nests have reached over 57,000 homes over a decade,” he said. “Today, we have 6,000-plus documented cases of sparrows nesting and have learnt a lot in the process about what works and what doesn’t. A number of areas in the city are now sighting the birds again.” What are the challenges? “A recent study by the Bombay Natural History Society says that the ‘versatile singer’ among the male sparrows wins the mating game,” Kinkhabwala said. “But in urban areas, just to be heard above the noise, sparrows have to make a lot of effort. It is a documented phenomenon in the city that the sparrows’ calls have gone nocturnal.”

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/walled-city-protects-sparrows-along-with-heritage/articleshow/63372791.cms, March 19, 2018

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Where have all the sparrows gone? Blame it on vanishing urban nesting spaces

Once a bird that was synonymous with the chirping heard outside every home, the house sparrow is today a rare species in the capital — despite being Delhi’s state bird. And while the others celebrate World Sparrow Day on Tuesday, experts in the city are ruing that the brown presence has disappeared due to reduction in urban nesting spaces and the presence of the blue rock pigeon which too is taking over the sparrows’ nesting areas. Experts say it is hard to estimate the numbers left in the city, but most sparrows have shifted to the outskirts of Delhi. Said birder Nikhil Devasar: “The sparrow concentration has shifted to forests and urban villages outside Delhi. The fact is urban areas now have fewer trees and greenery where the sparrows can nest. Of course, the blue rock pigeons have also colonised places where sparrows can make nests.” Since 2010, March 20 has been designated World Sparrow Day to highlight the decreasing presence of the once common bird.

In 2012, the sparrow was adopted as the state bird of Delhi. Experts say the birds act as an ecological indicator and the dwindling numbers signify urban lifestyle changes. “House sparrows have co-existed with humans, but in the last couple of decades they haven’t been able to keep up with architectural and lifestyle changes,” explained Sohail Madan, Asola centre manager, Bombay Natural History Society. “Houses used to be open and there were places for sparrow nests, but these have disappeared. Sparrows are moving to greener areas. We are seeing hundreds of them in Asola, for instance.”

Faiyaz Khudsar, scientist in charge at the Yamuna Biodiversity Park, was almost certain that non-availability of nesting space was one of the biggest reasons for the flight to the outskirts. “Today’s urban constructions are not sparrow-friendly — the bird cannot find resting space and finding food is also difficult because availability of insects and worms has reduced due to the use of insecticides and pesticides,” said Khudsar. Experts confirmed that the species still lived in substantial numbers in green areas such as Lodhi Garden, Sanjay Van and the biodiversity parks around the capital. In fact, Dr Surya Prakash, zoologist at JNU, asserted the birds could be brought back to the city if feeders and nest-boxes were provided in large numbers. “We have worked in Shankar Vihar for a few years and seen sparrow population increasing. Delhi needs efforts of this sort,” Prakash said.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/where-have-all-the-sparrows-gone-blame-it-on-vanishing-urban-nesting-spaces/articleshow/63372794.cms, March 19, 2018

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Bilaspur’s stone age tools link Sivalik cultures

Researchers from the Anthropological Survey of India (AnSI) have discovered a number of Acheulian artefacts (dated to about 1, 500,000–1,50,000 years ago) along with contemporary Soanian ones from an unexplored site at Ghumarwin in Bilaspur district of Himachal Pradesh. The site is close to the site where scientists in the 19th century discovered fossil remains of Sivapithecus, the last common ancestor of orangutans and humans. The discovery of stone tools belonging to the Acheulian age in a region known to have rich evidence of the Soanian period, presents the possibility of continuity of the two stone age cultures at the site.

“This is the first time that the AnSI has found a large number of Acheulian artefacts along with the Soanian tools at a same site. We have found bifacial hand axes along with cleavers and scrapers, which are clearly tools of the Acheulian age. Along with this, tools like various types of choppers, discoids, scrapers, cores, numerous flake types and angular core fragments of Soanian cultural period have also been found at the same site,” said Worrel Kumar Bain, one of researchers involved with the discovery.

River corridor. The oldest dated Acheulian sites in India are those at Attirampakkam in Tamil Nadu, dating to 1.5 million years ago, whereas recent assessments of the South Asian Paleolithic (stone age culture) records have suggested that most Soanian assemblages are younger than Acheulian evidence in the Sivalik region. According to experts, the Soanian stone age cultures date to 600 ka (about 6,00,000) years ago. Mr. Bain said tools have been collected from the site at the surface level, and a few were in stratified condition. A few artefacts also show heavy rolling due to river activity, while others are in fresh condition and show minimal rolling, which suggests that the artefacts came from nearby localities and through rivers and got deposited “Present Achulian discovery from unexplored site at Ghumarwin indicates that the river Sutlej and its tributaries have been a prehistoric corridor for the peninsular Acheulian man into the Sivalik region,” the researcher said, adding that more studies are required to find the amalgamation of two prehistoric stone cultures (Soanian and Acheulian) in Himachal Pradesh. Other than over 100 stone tools, the exploration also yielded petrified remains of a number of vertebrate and invertebrate groups.

“Besides vertebrates, few invertebrates mainly fresh water gastropods have also been recovered. An interesting finding during exploration was a fossilized tuber of a tree,” said Harshawardhana, principal investigator of the project and head of office, North Western Regional Centre of AnSI. The petrified remains are under examination by experts and will help in recreating an ecological picture of the area, millions of years ago. “The indication of gastropods [a large taxonomic class within the phylum Mollusca] suggests the presence of backswamps of the flood plains,” Dr. Harshawardhana, said.

Sites under threat
According to Dr. Harshawardhana, the stretches between Bilaspur and Ghumarwin, that hold answers to how our ancestors survived million of years ago in the Sivalik ranges, are under threat due developmental work such as road and bridges, and also agriculture. “Being ignorant of the precious heritage the locals are selling fossil remains at a very nominal price. There is a need for documentation of the bio-cultural heritage localities and preservation of these sites,” the anthropologist said. Describing the region as a gold mine for anthropologists, archaeologists, and geologists, he said anthropologists are preparing a proposal for the conservation of the region, and will also involve the district administration in it.

- http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/bilaspurs-stone-age-tools-link-sivalik-cultures/article23287481.ece, March 19, 2018

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World Sparrow Day: Are these little birds finally coming home?

Its the sweet chirp of the sparrow making a comeback? Bird enthusiasts say that could indeed be the case with more Delhiites becoming sensitive towards the needs of the little passerine (grain-eating) avian species. Many are even installing beautiful nest boxes, hanging feeders, which can't be broken into by pigeons, and keeping small bowls of water in summers for them. Mohammed Dilawar, president of the nature forever society (NFS) - which is credited with getting then-chief minister Sheila Dikshit to declare sparrow as the 'State Bird' - said, "Lovingly called 'Gauraiya' in Hindi, sparrows were once ubiquitous in the largely agrarian and rural Capital. They would find habitat in the old-world architecture of houses that had holes for ventilators, ledges, etc. Food would come in the form of grain discards." "About 10-12 years back, experts realised that new 'matchbox' type houses and modern glass and aluminium buildings had left no cavity for them to roost. Besides, increased use of poisonous chemical pesticides and insecticides had killed their main source of food - insects. In fact, sparrow chicks can't survive without a protein-rich insect diet," he added.

That is when the mission to save sparrows began. Declaration of 'World Sparrow Day' by CM Sheila Dikshit raised the profile of the humble bird, and all host countries in Europe and Africa appreciated it, Dilawar - who is also called the 'Sparrow Man' - recalled. They set up the 'NFS Sparrow Supporters' group, which steadily gathered over 40,000 members across India. In Delhi, Gurgaon, Faridabad, Ghaziabad and Noida, there are about 100 participants. Nin Taneja, their Delhi coordinator said, "We reached out to schools, produced small movies on sparrows and held lectures." "Recently, we gave out 50 feeders and nest boxes at the Aurobindo Ashram. We have even organised a painting exhibition at the India Habitat Centre (IHC) on the bird on the occasion of 'World Sparrow Day' from March 19 to March 21." "People say they had forgotten the sweet chirp of the sparrow until they heard it again in our documentaries," the New Friends Colony-based artist added. However, it's not just the NFS, but other groups and individuals have also made similar efforts. Vikrant Tongad, founder of an NGO, SAFE, said, "We have been teaching school kids to make bird nests at the Surajpur Wetland in Greater Noida for few years now." "Of late, it's become a trend to gift a child a bird box on his birthday rather than plastic toys and gifts," he said. And the endeavours are showing result. Dr Surya Prakash, zoologist, School of Life Sciences, JNU, said, "Earlier, we couldn't see sparrows so often in our university campus, which is otherwise full of trees and bushes. But of late, we see them in droves." The same trend is being reported by birders in Sanjay Van, Asola Bhatti Mines Sanctuary, the Aravalli Biodiversity Parks in Gurgaon and Vasant Vihar, etc., Dr. Prakash, a veteran in the field informed. Manjeet Pahuja, a resident of East of Kailash, said, "Till about 15-16 years back, I would get 45-50 sparrows on my balcony while feeding them bread crumbs and biscuits. Then it reduced to barely one or two. Now in the past few months, it's improved to 10-12. I am glad about it."

- https://www.indiatoday.in/mail-today/story/are-sparrows-finally-coming-home-1193401-2018-03-20, March 20, 2018

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ASI identifies 100 Adarsh Smarak monuments for tourist facilities upgrade, says Union Minister Dr Mahesh Sharma

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has identified 100 monuments as “Adarsh Smarak” for upgradation of existing tourist facilities/amenities, according to the Union Ministry of Culture. The information was shared by Minister of State (IC) for Culture and Minister of State for Environment, Forest & Climate Change Dr. Mahesh Sharma in a written reply in the Lok Sabha on Monday. Providing basic facilities/amenities (e.g. drinking water, toilet blocks, facilities for physically challenged, pathways, cultural notice boards/signage, vehicle parking, cloak rooms, etc.) to tourists visiting centrally protected temples and monuments and sites are the regular activities which the Archaeological Survey of India undertakes, the minister said. The minister pointed that basic public facilities are available at all World Heritage Sites and ASI’s ticketed monuments, as also at majority of those protected monuments that are visited by a large numbers of tourists.

Further, Archaeological Survey of India has identified 100 monuments as “Adarsh Smarak” for upgradation of existing facilities/amenities like Wi-Fi, cafeteria, interpretation centre, brail signage, modern toilets etc. on the basis of actual requirement and feasibility on case to case basis. The minister also said that Archaeological Survey of India has deployed regular watch & ward staff (Monument Attendants) at centrally protected monuments/sites. Further, private security guards, Armed Guards and CISF personnel have also been engaged at select monuments for safety and protection.

- https://www.indiablooms.com/news-details/N/38699/asi-identifies-100-adarsh-smarak-monuments-for-tourist-facilities-upgrade-says-union-minister-dr-mahesh-sharma.html, March 20, 2018

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Who takes care of Dara Shikoh Mosque?

Centuries-old historic monuments at downtown’s Makhdoom Sahib are in ruins, as the state government seems to be paying no attention to them. An example is the famous Dara Shikoh Mosque, which has over the years suffered a steady damage. Now, its roof cannot even protect it from rain. Despite historic designation, the hopes and efforts to preserve and revitalize have faltered. Similar other monuments too are in ruins. The State Convener of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) claims that the Dara Shikoh Mosque and the four compartment Hamam comes under the Waqf Board. Saleem Beigh, Convener INTACH, said the Dara Shikoh Mosque was not a protected mosque “but a property that comes under Waqf board”. “It has also hamam which consists of four rooms. It is the only surviving mosque hammam from the Mughal era. The hammam was a leisure and multifunctional social place for the Mughals. Both the mosque and hammam comes under the waqf board,” he said. He claims that one portion of hammam was given to a retired chowkidar and the waqf has even failed to vacate him. “The mosque and the hamam have an institutionalized ownership,” he said. “Mullah Akhoon complex is a bigger mosque. It is a nationally protected monument by Archaeology Survey of India (ASI).

There has been two damages to the monuments since 2010. The rainfall led to the fall of calligraphic stones. The mosque has a madrassa inside it, which was damaged and has not been even excavated so far,” he said. He also said the concerned departments have the responsibility to protect the historic monuments and heritages. However, an official in the Waqf Board said the preservation of historic monuments comes under the department of Archaeology. “All the historic monuments are under archaeology and it is a notified monument. It needs conservation expertise. But the religious part comes under our department. If there is a need to facilitate religious activities, then only it comes under our department,” he said. The mosque situated below the Makhdoom Sahib Shrine was constructed in 1639 AD by Dara Shikoh, son of Emperor Shah Jahan, for his tutor Akhoon Mullah Shah (RA). Therefore it is also known as Masjid Akhoon Mullah Shah.

Mohammad Shafi Zahid, Director, Museums and Archaeology Department in Srinagar, said it was the responsibility of people to come forward and help in restoration and preservation of the monuments. “People should help to remove the encroachments as well.” He also said that their department has restored many historic places like the Hari Parbhat fort. R P Singh, Conservation Assistant, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) said they cannot renovate the mosque and the monuments. “We have been working on the preservation of the monuments and the mosque and we are on it. But our job is to preserve not to renovate.”

- https://www.kashmirmonitor.in/Details/145325/who-takes-care-of-dara-shikoh-mosque, March 21, 2018

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CSR: Raw Materials Division of Tata Steel celebrates World Water Day

Tata Steel’s OMQ (Ore, Mines & Quarries) Division and West Bokaro Division celebrated World Water Day 2018 with theme of the year Nature for Water on March 22, 2018. On this occasion, a river cleaning drive was organised at Sona river of Joda followed by expert sessions on Water Conservation at Valley Club, Joda. The objective behind these programmes was to remind people about not wasting one of the most important elements that sustains life on the planet. All sections of the society participated in the Sona river cleaning drive, which is considered as the lifeline of Joda. Gayatri Parivar, Joda actively participated in this drive along with school students of Tata DAV Public School, councillors of Joda Municipality and employees of Tata Steel. Over 300 people from Joda voluntarily participated in this drive and pledged to contribute in terms spreading the message of clean Sona river. An expert session on conservation and management of water was convened at Joda Valley Club.

Ms Kavita Pati and Mr Veerabaswant Reddy from The Energy and Resources Institute, K R Gopinath, Chairman, KRG Rain Water Foundation and Sajid Idris from INTACH delivered technical sessions on water management. Students of Tata DAV Public School spread the message of water conservation through skits and other cultural performances post the expert sessions. Similarly, around 200 people including employees of Tata Steel and Tata Steel Rural Development Society (TSRDS), security personnel, students, vendor partners and residents of West Bokaro came together to clean Bokaro river near Rajiv Nagar, West Bokaro. Bokaro river is the lifeline of West Bokaro as many lives are dependent on this source of water. An interactive session was also organized at Pannatand by TSRDS. The session attended by more than 50 farmers of Pannatand and nearby villages aimed at creating awareness regarding conservation of water during rainy season and means to stop water wastage during farming. Tata Steel has taken many initiatives for conservation and management of water at its raw material locations like rain water harvesting project to recharge ground water and Sewage Treatment Plants to recycle and reuse of sewage water and adopted best method to recycle mining process water.

- http://indiacsr.in/csr-raw-materials-division-of-tata-steel-celebrates-world-water-day/, Mar 22, 2018

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36 Indian sites inscribed on World Heritage list: Sharma

As many as 36 Sites from India are inscribed on the World Heritage list which include 28 Cultural, seven Natural and one Mixed category site, the Lok Sabha was informed on Thursday. In a written reply, Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma said there were 3,686 monuments/sites under the protection of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). ''During the past three years, the Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara (Nalanda University) in Bihar; the Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement, Chandigarh and historic city of Ahmedabad under cultural category and Khangchendzonga National Park, Sikkim under mixed category are added to the World Heritage List. ''The Vishnu Temple at Wynad in Kerala is added to the protection list of ASI. ''The year-wise detail of allocation of funds for maintenance of ASI protected monuments and World Cultural Heritage Sites are Rs 43,317.

- http://www.uniindia.com/~/36-indian-sites-inscribed-on-world-heritage-list-sharma/Parliament/news/1176565.html, Mar 22, 2018

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Nagpur students dig up hill, find fort

Nothing about the ordinary-looking hillock in Keljhar (Wardha district) revealed what lies beneath. Until a group of aspiring archaeologists dug-it up to find a treasure trove of history and culture. What started as a routine excavation for the first and second year students of Nagpur University’s Ancient Indian History Culture and Archaeology department has led to a “chance discovery” of a medieval fort, believed to be from the 14-15th century. Estimated to be spread over an area as big as eight football fields (2.6 acres), the fort passed through the hands of a chain of dynasties. The students are excavating it since the last two months. With every layer that is being dug, a new facet of history is coming out — from canon balls, arrow heads, coins from the sultanate of Bahamanis to terracotta pottery and broken sculptures. Recently while digging, the students found a horse fossil. The fort is located about 50 kms from Nagpur. Keljhar was always know for its rich history and finds a mention in several history pages and gazettes. This is why it appealed to Preety Trivedi, the head of the department, who chose Keljhar as the excavation site for her students.

“It has some mythological connection too. Folk lore has it that this is the place where demon Bakasur lived and was killed by the Pandava prince Bhima,” says Trivedi, adding that they had only read about the fort but never expected it to be still in place. While initially the group was working at a nearby site, they accidentally stumbled upon the hillock during a foot survey in June last year. “We noticed small surface evidences like water outlets and a temple’s broken ‘Shikhara’. That is when we decided to excavate here,” says student Ashwini Gorle. After procuring a license from the Archaeological Survey of India, the group began excavation from February 5 this year. Till now, they have dug trenches up to 7.5 metres deep.

“We have not only discovered fortification and bastions but also a multiple channel drainage system. In between two bastions, there should be at least four water channels,” says Trivedi. The vice chancellor of Nagpur University SP Kane came for a spot visit recently. As per the District Gazetteer of Wardha (1974), Keljhar was included in the kingdom of the Yadavas of Devagiri during the 13-14th century. “But it is not known if the fort was existent then,” says Trivedi. In the following centuries, Keljhar passed into the hands of Bahamanis. “The fort finds a place in the records of the Mughal period. Khan Dauran, one of the leading generals of Shah Jahan, is said to have captured the forts of Nagpur and Keljhar in the first half of the 17th century and for this he was conferred the title of Nusrat Jang,” tells Trivedi. After the downfall of the Mughal empire the fort was captured by the Gonds. According to noted historian BR Andhare, the fort was captured by Bhonsala king Raghuji-I in 1737. Villagers, who are doubling up as labourers and working at the site, claim that their fathers and grandfathers have seen the fort. Now, the land where it is situated belongs to the Shri Siddhi Vinayak Ganpati temple. “Three years back when the work of laying water pipelines was going on, three idols of Hindu deities, probably made from black granite stone, were dug from the same place. We have established them in the temple,” says Madhav Irutkar, president of the temple’s committee. Many houses in Keljhar have copper coins believed to be from the Bahamani dynasty.

“The locals are aware of the importance of heritage and are preserving it in their own way,” says Trivedi. While the group consider themselves lucky as they “got a chance to bring the written history of fort to reality”, they hope that their discovery is well-protected. “At this moment, medieval archaeology is the most threatened as it is close to the surface. During urbanization and expansion of human settlements, it is medieval archaeology that gets instantly destroyed,” says Trivedi. After excavating for about another month, the group will submit a report to ASI. Apart from this, they will be sending the archaeological remains for scientific analysis to establish the exact time periods. Camping at the picturesque location since two months, every night the group creates a record of their day’s findings. Recently, some officials of the ASI’s Nagpur circle had visited the site. While locals and historians feel the fort is of national importance and deserves protection, only time will tell its fate. “If not preserved, it might once again get buried under a hill,” says locals.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/varsity-dept-digs-up-a-hill-finds-a-fort/articleshow/63420603.cms, Mar 22, 2018

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World Water Day: While PM Modi favours conservation, ministry announces river linking

The Modi government needs to understand that rainwater harvesting, ecosystem-based approach and local water systems are what really help water preservation, rather than big dams or linking of rivers. On the occasion of World Water Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reaffirmed India’s commitment towards water conservation. “When water is conserved, our cities, villages and hard-working farmers benefit tremendously,” he tweeted. But, simultaneously the government has also announced that it is in talks with Nepal to bring surplus water from the Sharda river, also known as the Mahakali, near the India-Nepal border, to the Yamuna near Delhi. The project is a part of Modi’s ambitious plan to interlink 31 rivers and divert surplus water to arid areas. The proposed interlinking project is aimed at bringing surplus water via Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. The project is designed to be a lifeline for the Yamuna to ensure uninterrupted flow of water in Delhi.This inconsistent attitude of the government is what ails India’s water conservation efforts, says experts. “Governments need to recognise that groundwater is India's lifeline and whether we like it or not, whether we want it or not, it is going to remain so, says Himanshu Thakkar of South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People.“Sustainability of ground water should be focus of our water policies, programs and practices.

Rainwater harvesting, ecosystem based approach and local water systems help, but not big dams or river linking,” Thakkar addsIronically, in a report released by the United Nations (UN) recently, it is stated that dams did more harm than good in India. “The World Commission on Dams country study on India concluded that a century or more of large-scale development had resulted in major social and ecological impacts, including substantial human displacement, soil erosion and widespread water-logging while, contrary to stated objectives, achieving only limited food security benefits,” says the report.“Dams in India have definitely done more harm than good. The report quotes the India Country Study of the World Commission on Dams, which is an excellent report. Studies which I have done, and from what I have read, support the conclusion that the social, environmental and financial costs of such large dams have been much more than their benefits, and the benefits from these projects too have been overstated,” says Shripad Dharmadhikary of Manthan Adhyayan Kendra.“What the Government does on one day can at best be symbolic. There needs to be a long-term shift in its policies.

But on World Water Day, the government can state that they would shift policies in the water sector towards more sustainable, equitable approaches, which essentially means small, decentralised projects and programmes,” adds Dharmadhikary.“They should announce giving up on projects that destroy our rivers and water bodies such as large dams, hydropower projects in the Himalayas, the river-linking projects and the push for inland waterways which involve massive dredging and transform our rivers into mere channels,” he says.Agreeing with Dharmadhikary is urban environmental planner Manu Bhatnagar, who heads the natural heritage division of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). “First the water budget needs to be planned on basis of basins,” he Bhatnagar says.“Then optimise all internal water ways to basins, including recycled water; maximise efficiency of water use especially in agriculture, consider correct location of water guzzling projects, maximise rainfall through adequate forest cover. Only then should other options be considered,” adds Bhatnagar. The UN report goes on to state that there is a perception that nature-based solutions long time to achieve their impact, implying that grey infrastructure is quicker.

This is not necessarily the case. For example, fitting a local sustainable urban drainage facility or a green roof can be done within days, with immediate impacts. Applying these at scale may indeed take longer, but not necessarily longer than grey alternatives, the UN report points out.“The UN report, while appreciating the community-driven and local efforts, should have also said that such options need to be exhausted before taking up any larger project. Also that larger projects are not only not delivering the promised benefits, the collateral damage of the costly larger projects is unnecessary, unjustified and mostly unacceptable when such projects are taken up without informed and bottom up democratic decision making,” adds Thakkar.“Shifting cropland management to more sustainable low tillage can yield benefits in two to three years.

Landscape-scale deployment of NBS, through ecosystem restoration for example, can take longer, but significant impacts can be achieved in about ten years. By comparison, large dams on average take 8.6 years to be physically constructed (not including the time required for design, planning and financing) and eight out of ten large dams suffer a schedule overrun,” states the UN report.The director of the Central Water Commission, Narendra Kumar, refused to comment on the issue.

- https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/environment/world-water-day-while-pm-modi-favours-conservation-ministry-announces-river-linking, Mar 22, 2018

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Second edition of “Snakes are Friends” organized

Reaffirming its commitments towards promotion of biodiversity, Tata Steel at Noamundi organised the second edition of “Snakes are Friends”, a unique programme based on snakes, on the occasion of World Forestry Day. The theme for this year’s World Forestry Day is “Forests and Sustainable Cities”. Amidst huge gathering of school children and stakeholders, Anand Bihari, Range Forest Officer, Chaibasa inaugurated the event along R P Mali, Chief Noamundi Iron Mine, Tata Steel and Praveen Dhall, Chief Processing & Logistics, Ore Mines & Quarries (OMQ) Division, Tata Steel. Interacting with the gathering, Bihari lauded the unique initiatives taken by Tata Steel in West Singhbhum. He applauded programmes like Snakes are Friends, Jaiba Kala Vividhata and Prajatiya Khadyotsav that are targeted towards community entertainment which not only educate people on Biodiversity and help them expand their understanding but also sensitise young children on biodiversity.

“It is nature that churns the wheel of life and we should all do our bit in maintaining the balance”, he said. Popularly known as the snake man of Odisha, Subhendu Mallick, General Secretary and Founder of Snake Helpline, and honorary Wildlife Warden, Khurda, Odisha shared interesting facts and myths related to snakes and advised the community to visit hospital in case of snake bites. Sajid Idrisi, Conservation Biologist of INTACH, New Delhi on a similar note, through his presentation, talked about the role of humans in maintaining the harmony in the ecosystem.

On the occasion, members of the newly formed Vann Suraksha Samiti were facilitated by Tata Steel for their ongoing forest protection work in this area. Cultural Fuldo dance presentation from Basudevpur, Odisha, magic show for children, dance and skit by Tata DAV, Noamundi, Tata DAV, Joda and RBC, Joda kept the happy mood going. A total of 164 school children early in the morning participated in the sit and draw competition on biodiversity. Winners were later awarded by the Chief Guest. Stalls were also put up by local vaidya`s (traditional village healers) to showcase the use of traditional medicines in curing diseases.

- https://www.avenuemail.in/jamshedpur/second-edition-of-snakes-are-friends-organised/118304/, Mar 23, 2018

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Museum to promote handicrafts

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday inaugurated the state's first handloom and handicrafts museum - Kala Bhoomi. Spanning across 13 acres at Pokhariput, the museum has been set up on the lines of the National Handicrafts and Handlooms Museum of New Delhi. Around Rs 35 crores has been spent on the project that has eight separate galleries for items such as terracotta, paintings, stone and wood carving and tribal art. There is also a gallery for the display of unique and antique raw materials and equipment associated with weaving, having historical and cultural significance for the handloom sector of the state. Several rare handloom and handicraft items - some of which are more than 100 years old - have also been displayed at the museum. A gallery showcasing modern-day use of Odisha's crafts and textile has also been set up.

The complex also has a souvenir shop and a workshop area for live demonstration of various art and crafts. The museum will be open for public from March 25 from 10am to 5pm.Inaugurating the museum, Naveen said that it would give a boost to state's weavers and artisans through empowerment and all-round welfare. "This museum is a celebration of our glorious handloom, handicraft and tribal traditions and will be the perfect window of Odisha to showcase its rich culture and heritage," he said. "The museum will also be a boost to the tourism sector and will also ensure protection of the handloom and handicrafts heritage of the state," said minister of handloom and handicrafts department Snehangini Chhuria.

- https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/odisha/museum-to-promote-handicrafts-217745, Mar 23, 2018

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INTACH organises ‘Green Heritage walk’

As a part of its annual Heritage awareness campaign, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Kashmir organised series of events in the summer capital. INTACH Kashmir in collaboration with the Forest department , UNESCO and Earth Day Network organized a day long Green Heritage walk. Around 100 people participated in the event held. Mulnar village of Dhara and Kral Sangri Nursery were major stops of the walk. Irfan Ali Shah, conservator Forests Srinagar circle, Nazir Ahmed, wildlife expert and Mehraj-ud-din, SFS, DFO planning and publicity Kashmir division were the experts present in the event.

‘They briefed the participants about the green heritage of Kashmir and the ways through which we can conserve the forests and surroundings. They encouraged the participants to know more about the green heritage of the place and encouraged the conservation of this as precious as life heritage,” On the occasion, Taha Mughal, an architect and event coordinator of INTACH said “we will also be working continuously for the sensitization of the rich heritage through many such programs."

- http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/srinagar-city/intach-organises-green-heritage-walk/279868.html, Mar 26, 2018

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INTACH with State Archives holds exhibition to show glimpse of 1866 Great Odisha Famine

An exhibition of photographs, sketches and newspaper reports on the Great Orissa Famine of 1866 was inaugurated by Minister Tourism and Culture, Mr Ashok Panda at the State Archives here on Monday. The exhibition is being organised by The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) and Odisha State Archives. Newspaper reports published in the overseas press of the 1866-68 period along with sketches, cartoons, drawings and photographs were put up depicting the condition and sufferings of the people. Panda said that the “Na’Anka Durbhikshya” (Great Odisha Famine) was a dark forgotten chapter of Odisha’s history. Even though the events that happened have been pushed to one corner of history, it has been a part of Odia consciousness and subconscious ever since. S K B Narayan, Convener of The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage said that even today, 150 years after the Great Famine, Odisha faces regular threats of calamities like droughts, floods and cyclones, and crop failures. He said that the exhibition would be taken to the other INTACH chapters of Bhadrak, Balasore and Baripada. Anil Dhir, who has curated the exhibition, said that a suitable memorial of the Great Famine should be set up in memory of the million and a half who had perished.

He said that the Famine was not an accident of nature. It was not providence; rather it was a series of mistakes. For many decades after the great famine, it was simply a dark and even humiliating experience which the survivors, and the survivors of the survivors, had little wish to recall, the anguish of a past in which men and women barely survived. Dhir said that we owe the dead as much respect and honour as we give to any brave action or any other defining moment of our history. Ramesh Mohapatro, Convener of the Pipili Sanskrutika Parishad said that a suitable memorial will be set up in Pipili in memory of the million who perished in the Famine. Amiya Bhusan Tripathy, State Convener of INTACH felt that a history of the Famine and the post Famine years should be written afresh. There was not a single narrative of the Great Orissa Famine available. He said that valuable information can be collected from various sources in India and abroad.

The newspaper reports of the period, which are displayed in the exhibition, give a horrific account. The British Parliamentary Debates, the Famine Commission Report and contemporary writings of the time should be studied. Shashanka Sekhar Das, the Limca Book of Record holder for the largest collection of newspapers in India was felicitated on the occasion.

- https://www.thestatesman.com/cities/intach-state-archives-holds-exhibition-show-glimpse-1866-great-odisha-famine-1502609982.html, Mar 26, 2018

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INTACH holds clay craft workshop

INTACH Jammu chapter in association with administration of district Samba organised a clay craft workshop at Samba with the artistes and crafts persons of Samba who have been keeping the cultural traditions of pottery alive in the district. The programme was undertaken by INTACH to showcase the richness of heritage by inviting artistes and crafts persons from the field of pottery. Sheetal Nanda, Secy. RDD was the Chief Guest on the occasion and R.S Tara, D.C Samba was the Guests of Honour in this workshop. Sheetal Nanda, while speaking on the occasion said that she was worried about the disappearance of this craft and such workshops should be held regularly to keep this art afloat.

The newly appointed DC Samba R.S Tara said that it is everyone’s duty to preserve our cultural heritage and he too will try to see how government can help to revive this dying crafts. Those present on the occasion were Aijaz Qaiser (ACD Samba), S.M Sahni( Convenor INTACH Jammu Chapter),Dr. CM Seth (IFS Retd), Satwant Singh Rissam, Ashwani Sharma and Bua Ditta( President Potters Association, Samba).

- http://news.statetimes.in/intach-holds-clay-craft-workshop/, Mar 26, 2018

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Delhi’s 19 heritage structures to get a makeover

Nine lesser-known tombs, two mosques and one ancient structure are among buildings set to get a fresh lease of life thanks to the Delhi archaeology department.?The project to cost Rs 7 crore, restoration will commence in April. Nineteen of Delhi’s lesser known monuments are set to get a new lease of life with restoration work on these heritage structures, with an aim to bring back their original glory, set to begin from April. The state archaeology department has selected nine lesser known tombs in Lado Sarai, Vasant Vihar, Sundar Nagar, Savitri Nagar and Kaka Nagar, two nameless mosques in Mehrauli and RK Puram, and an ancient building in Nangal Devat Village in southwest Delhi for refurbishment work. Other significant structures to be conserved are a minaret in Hastsal Village, Kharbooze ka Gumbad, burjs (towers) of Mansur, tombs of Mir Taqi, Sayyid Abid and Baghichi. The restorer — Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) — is likely to submit a detail project report (DPR) by this week after which work may begin. The project will cost Rs7 crore, Vikas Maloo, head of office (archaeology) said.

The initiative is part of the department of archaeology’s ambitious project for restoration of historically important structures in the national capital initiated almost 10 years ago. After a survey, it identified 238 structures for their phase-wise preservation and conservation. The department of archaeology signed a pact with INTACH for the purpose in 2008. Since then, it takes up repair of about 18 buildings each year. So far, 50 historically significant edifices, including tombs, baolis, and sarais, have been restored. The selection of structures to be taken up for preservation is based on recommendations from the offices of lieutenant-governor and chief minister, Maloo said. “The department is contesting several court cases to get illegal occupants removed from the protected buildings. As and when, we get a judgment in our favour, we will include them in the list,” he said. Restoration and its challenges. Unknown or nameless monuments pose a challenge to restorers as very little information or, in some cases, no details are available.

Some structures are damaged to such an extent that even their stablisation gets tricky. As the conservators are unaware of their time of construction, the name of the builder and the purpose of construction, their (design or architecture) reconstruction becomes difficult. “We can’t find the exact date of construction. However, with the help of their architectural designs, we can trace the period during which they were built as every dynasty had a distinct style of construction. At times, things turn out to be different at the site from the available information. Then we do our own research, but that also comes to a dead end after a point,” said Ajay Kumar, director project, INTACH (Delhi chapter). The other crucial aspect, he said, is of ambiguity in the policy for the restoration of ancient structures. “Restoration and conservation are two separate things. Already there’s an ongoing debate on the topic among conservators. The government policy only lays emphasis on consolidation and conservation,” he said, adding that illegal occupation and vandalism are other factors.

Corroborating Kumar’s version of vandalism, Maloo said that community’s cooperation in such situations is indispensable. Citing a past event of 2009, he said vandals had tried to break the dome of the tomb at Hauz-e-Shamsi in Mehrauli while it was being repaired. “They were illegally occupying the structure. So when they were removed, they tried to demolish it. Sometimes, transporting repairing material proves to be a tough task particularly if work is being carried out in the Walled City area. In these cases, public cooperation is important,” he said.

- https://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-news/delhi-s-19-heritage-gems-will-be-refurbished/story-hqswRzeujTpa8l7aKJXPtI.html, Mar 26, 2018

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As defence digs in, work on Mughal ruins close to IGI halts

The Mehram Nagar village was set to be Delhi’s newest tourist destination. Located a few miles from IGI Airport, the village is home to several late Mughal ruins. These were being conserved by Intach Delhi Chapter and the Delhi government’s department of archaeology. But now, the project has hit a roadblock as the ministry of defence has objected to the work as the ruins are on its land. A gateway, mosque, enclosing wall, a whole katra or a settlement, and an authentic Mughal garden—all in various stages of decay—speak of the rich history of Mehram Nagar. It came up in mid-17th century and was named after a Mughal courtier named Mehram Khan. Archaeological Survey of India has already certified a doorway as having been built by Mughal emperors Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb in the 1660s. Not surprisingly, conservationists say Mehram Nagar can be promoted as a tourist spot, especially due to its proximity to the airport. Despite the ravages of time, most of the edifice has fortunately survived.

A few have fallen victim to the urban sprawl, but excavations also unearthed new structures like toilets and canopies. "We dug out a small tank with a water channel. Since we have only excavated a small portion of the garden, we don’t know yet where the water channel leads to," said an official. But the project was stalled in May last year. "We are trying to resolve the issue with the ministry. Our job is to conserve these monuments so that more and more people come here. We are hoping for a resolution at the earliest," said a senior Delhi government official. Intach officials said they needed at least six months more to complete the work. "Only some of the pavilions have been restored; a lot more has to be done," said an official. The conservation is part of Phase III of a scheme that entails preservation of 18 monuments that are unprotected. So far, over two dozen nearly forgotten monuments have been conserved and opened to public. At Mehram Nagar, though, only one of the three original gateways stands today. But unless rescued, this too could vanish.

-https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/as-defence-digs-in-work-on-mughal-ruins-close-to-igi-halts/articleshow/63447893.cms, Mar 26, 2018

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INTACH organises green heritage walk

INTACH (Indian National trust for art and cultural heritage) in collaboration with UNESCO, Earth Day Network and J&K Forest department Monday organised a green heritage walk in outskirts of Srinagar. The initiative which is part of its yearly heritage awareness campaign and includes tree talks/walks, workshops, seminars etc. in different heritage corridors of Srinagar city this year. A Press statement from the INTACH said that constructive dialogues, discussions, meet-ups, ‘Clean the Monument’ drives, craft-training programs for rural and urban audience shall all be a part of this year’s activities.

The statement added that INTACH Kashmir in collaboration with the forest department, UNESCO & Earth Day Network organized a day-long Green Heritage walk under the guidance of forestry experts and environmentalists. “Around 100 people participated in the event and Mulnar Village Dhara and Kral Sangri nursery were the major stops of the walk. Irfan Ali Shah, IFS, Conservator Forests Srinagar Circle, Nazir Ahmed, Wildlife Expert and Mehraj-ud-din, SFS, DFO Planning & Publicity Kashmir Division were the experts present in the event. They briefed the participants about the green heritage of valley and the ways of conserving the forests and surroundings, the statement said. They encouraged the participants to know more about the green heritage of the place and its conservation. On the occasion, Taha Mughal, event coordinator of INTACH said that they will also be working continuously for the sensitization of the rich heritage through many such programs.

- https://kashmirreader.com/2018/03/27/intach-organises-green-heritage-walk/, Mar 27, 2018

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Rare Buddhist sculpture discovered in Jharsuguda

Sambalpur region is not only the birthplace but also the base of Padmasambhava, a distinguished promoter of Buddhism who earned the title, ‘Buddha the Second’ in history. Some new light is expected to be thrown into his era as the Indian Trust for Arts, Culture and Heritage (INTACH) unearthed some archaeological pieces recently. An INTACH team located a rare stone sculpture, Dakini Singhmukha (lion’s head), which was found broken into two at a rarely visited place in Jharsuguda district. The finding was done on the left bank of Mahanadi, while the team was conducting an archaeological survey in the river valley. Speaking on it, INTACH executive member and historian Dipak Panda said, “These findings are the assets of Jharsuguda and would be placed in the district museum. The museum’s construction is under way. The exact location of the finding would be kept a secret for the time being, for fear of the valuable historical sculpture getting smuggled out.

The Jharsuguda Collector has been informed in writing about the finding, with a request to arrange for its safety and security.” It appeared that more such findings are likely in the surrounding areas, Panda said. “The finding of Dakini Singhmukha establishes the fact that the region was a famous Buddhist centre during the peak of Buddhism in India. This could shed new light on an undisclosed chapter of history of the region,” he felt. Dakini Singhmukha used to be the principal among the contemporary masters (gurus) of Padmasambhava as per the Nyingma (ancient) Buddhist rulings. “The finding of Dakini Singhmukha establishes the claim that this region was the birthplace (janmabhumi) as well as the workplace (karmabhumi) of Padmasambhava,” Panda said. “In the region, many old sculptures are shifted to newly built temples by the local people under the false assumption that such statues must be placed only in temples. The most important aspect of the finding is that it will help historians who are trying to prove that Sambhal is Sambalpur, Manad is Mahanadi and Uddiyana is Orissa,” he added.

Panda said apart from this, the INTACH team has identified many sites in Sambalpur where old sculptures are kept by people having no knowledge of their history or significance. Convener of Sambalpur chapter of INTACH Tarini Prasad Panda said all these findings are being located on the left bank of Mahanadi, in the areas of undivided Sambalpur district. By the time the survey at the left bank is complete, more aspects of Sambalpur’s history would be unveiled, he said. The findings are now being documented. “These sculptures clearly indicate the existence of an old Sambalpur before Balaram Dev reestablished modern Sambalpur in 1556. When we take up survey on the right bank of Mahanadi, many surprises will be in store,” said Bibhudatta Promod Kumar Mishra and Kulamani Patel, members of the survey team. PNN.

- http://www.orissapost.com/rare-buddhist-sculpture-discovered-in-jharsuguda/, Mar 27, 2018

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Signs of old civilisation

Several old tools, sculptures and building remains found in the foothills of Devangiri hills in the district suggests human civilisation existed in the region 8,000 years ago. Archaeologist and historian Atul Pradhan, who had earlier worked as an assistant director with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), came across these artefacts last week. He had earlier found a sculpture of the Varahi, the feminine of Bhairav. Pradhan, who is carrying out a survey and exploration in the Kuldhia area, said the tools and remains found in the patches suggest that human civilization existed there 8,000 years ago.

"Till now the tools and sculptures found during exploration suggest that the civilization in Balasore belong to the pre-historic era. Hundreds of such remains are found in the foothills of the Devangiri hill between Kuldhia and Kamarapala. During the survey, an eroded statute was found. It probably belongs to the 13th or 14th century, the period of Banga dynasty," said Pradhan. Pradhan is an assistant professor and heads the department of history at Oupada College in Balasore. "The scientific exploration also revealed large number of sculptures, fort and temple remains. The sculptures of Varahi, Mahisamardini and Shivling are scattered near Kuldhia sancutary. This patches require more research," said Pradhan . District collector Ramesh Rout said: "The antiques found in the area would be picked up and stored at the museum in Ayodhya, Nilgiri. The ASI is being apprised about the items that have been found in the area."

- https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/odisha/signs-of-old-civilisation-218844, Mar 27, 2018

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Ancient coin, bullet, pottery excavated near Raigad fort

A historical treasure has been dug up from the Raigad fort. Over the last couple of days, students of a college in Pune have stumbled upon ancient artefacts-a piece of what appears to be a bullet, a coin and other paraphernalia from a part of the fort. Students of Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute have been working closely at the site with officials from the Archaeological Survey of India to get a peek into the lives of people and soldiers from the distant past. The vice-chancellor of Deccan College, Vasant Shinde, who has also been working at the fort, told TOI: "Since Sunday, several objects have been found during excavation work.

These include a piece of a lead bullet, a coin with some inscription besides several pieces of pottery." Shinde said that students and faculty from the archaeology department have been digging near the entrance of the fort in Mahad for the last 10 days. "Clearly, at some point in time, people may have been staying in this part of the fort entrance. It is basically a vast, open complex." The era to which these excavated objects date back is not yet known. Studies will be carried out to confirm the period when these excavated objects were in use. Archaeology officer from Raigad, S Kamble, told TOI that "Further research will point to the objects that were used in the olden days, going back at least three centuries." Chhatrapati Shivaji had made Raigad fort his capital in 1674 AD. His samadhi is housed in one portion of the fort. On Sunday, BJP leader Sambhajiraje Bhosale, a descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji, visited the fort to examine the excavated artefacts.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/navi-mumbai/ancient-coin-bullet-pottery-excavated-near-raigad-fort/articleshow/63495631.cms, Mar 27, 2018

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The dying miniature art of Kota

Sambhu Singh Chobdar is the fourth generation of his family who is continuing the age-old legacy of Kota miniature art. He claims to have learnt nothing but painting. But what bothers him is the fact that his son Ravindra Singh Chobdar, unlike him, didn't follow his footsteps. Instead, he decided to study and become an engineer."Kota miniature is almost a dying art now. Surviving as an artist solely by doing paintings is very difficult now. So I opted for engineering as profession," Ravindra told IANS.Ravindra, however, didn't completely detach himself from his family tradition. Even now, he devotes at least three hours every morning on miniature art practice."I cannot afford to lose this tradition of our family -- miniature art is our identity. Though not an expert like my father is, I will continue to make paintings," he added.The Chobdars said they are amongst the few surviving families in Kota, Rajasthan, who are continuing the tradition of miniature art. Sambhu himself inherited the knowledge from his father and grandfather, who were earlier worked for the Kota royal family."At that time, there was a demand. But modern art has almost killed our business. Even the people of Rajasthan do not care to preserve this form of art. The families who were earlier involved in miniature paintings have moved into other professions," Sambhu lamented.Kota Kalam, as the miniature art form is called locally, is mostly based on royal lives and lifestyles, hunting scenes, Hindu mythology and local folklore. The brushes are especially crafted "zero point" ones and are made from squirrels' tails; and the colours are natural, obtained from colour stones.

"It is a fine art, every stroke requires perfection -- from the eyes of a character to the veins of a leaf. Each work is magnificent and different... and the colours never fade," Sambhu explained. Kota court painters received royal patronage, apparently as a counter to Mughal miniature art. And as time passed, they evolved their own district style. However, the end of royal patronage meant trouble for those continuing with the art form."Slowly, people started losing interest in the art, even those who belong to the region. And the present generation doesn't understand Kota Kalam. Keeping alive the art is turning into a challenge now and the artists are also struggling to survive," said Sheikh Mohammad Luqman, a fifth-generation miniature artist from Kota."This art calls for a lot of patience, newcomers don't have it. Kota is a work of fine art which one cannot learn in just four-five months. One needs to devote a lot of time. Also, it is something which is done best by the families who have been doing it for generations now," he added.Apart from financial instability, the Kota artists are also suffering from lack of exposure."There is no scope for making money in the profession. Firstly, there are few buyers of the paintings. And secondly, we hardly get any chance to directly showcase our art in galleries," Sambhu regretted.According to the artists, most of their works are sold to customers or presented in art galleries through middle-men who take away much of the profit."So, the amount that we receive after selling our work is very minimal. But we have no other option than to rely on mediators for the sale of paintings as we don't have direct buyers," Luqman stated.The artists lamented that the government shows no concern -- neither for the art, nor for the artists.

"The government is not bothered about our status. We do not have pension schemes or any other schemes which can help to secure our future financially," Luqman said.Recently, INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) organised an exclusive exhibition of the Kota miniature art in the capital and gave a platform to the artists hailing from the region to showcase their talent."Kota painting is the expression of their culture, it is a presentation of imagination and emotion. And INTACH aims to preserve this dying art and cultivate the artists who are continuing this tradition," Thakur Ranvir Singh, one of the founding member of INTACH and organiser of the exhibition, told IANS.Singh, who has been closely associated with the art form, said that INTACH is taking all necessary steps to save it from vanishing."The state government needs to take steps immediately to protect miniature art. We have asked the state departments to decorate the walls with miniature art. Kota is an educational hub and we have approached academic and coaching institutes to come forward and put up the paintings and promote them," Singh stated."Even small steps will contribute a lot toward preserving Kota miniature art," he noted.

- http://www.5dariyanews.com/news/222153-The-dying-miniature-art-of-Kota, Mar 28, 2018

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