Heritage Education in India

Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage
 


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Heritage Alerts
May 2018

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Poster-making contest for students

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

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

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Renovated Samaleswari temple reopens after 18 days

Samaleswari temple, the abode of the presiding deity of undivided Sambalpur district, was reopened to the public on Monday. The 16th century shrine was closed on April 11 for repair and renovation work. During this 18-day period, the Goddess was being worshipped as Bhubaneswari whose idol finds place in the ‘Bedha’ (periphery of the temple) as ‘Parswa Debata’. It is for the first time after 1990 when the temple had to be closed for 18 days for repair and renovation. After concerns were raised over safety of the shrine, a three-member team from the State Archaeological department visited the temple in July last year to assess the situation. It was found that rodents inside the temple had choked the drainage system which discharges water from the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine. Moreover, the rodents had dug the soil from under the Bedha which produced a noise when devotees walked around the sanctum sanctorum. Subsequently, the team had suggested to carry out repair work for safety of the temple. President of Samaleswari Temple Trust Board Sanjaya Baboo said the drainage was improved and pipes were freshly laid for easy and safe passage of water from the temple. Wire mesh has been fitted at the mouth of the pipes to ensure that rodents do not damage it anymore. He said cracks were noticed after cleaning the marbles around the sanctum sanctorum. The marbles were removed and the wall was given traditional treatment with chemicals to prevent corrosion and damage. Besides, cobwebs which had covered the ‘Sikhara’ were also cleaned and the entire work was done under supervision of Conservation Engineer of Archaeology department Prasanna Kumar Sahu.

Ruins of Shiva temple found

Jharsuguda: A team of INTACH recovered ancient idols during renovation of a water body in Adapada village under Lakhanpur block of the district on Sunday. The ruins of a Stupa besides parts of a temple and some idols were found after excavation. An idol of Brushaba and Shiva Linga were also recovered. The INTACH team, comprising Sambalpur Chapter convenor Tarini Panda and members Deepak Panda, Pramod Mishra and Gopinath Mishra, believes that a Shiva temple existed near the water body. While further excavation of the place would reveal the mystery, more than 10 such ruins have been recovered from the place.

- http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2018/may/01/renovated-samaleswari-temple-reopens-after-18-days-1808633.html, May 1, 2018

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Fancy a heritage & cultural glimpse of the city? These guides will show you the way

You could find him picking strawberries in a Panchgani farm, vehicle-cruising past tigers in Tadoba, white-water rafting in the Kundalika river, watching the blood moon in the Rann of Kutch or even helping a firang woman entwine a ‘gajra’ around her hair in the flower market at Mandai in the city. But past the perceived adventure and charm of it all, this is work for Jayesh Paranjape. A dedicated tourist guide, the 37-year-old is extremely hands-on while teaching from his trove of information to groups of people he takes around the city and across the state. After his master’s and a job stint with a wildlife magazine, Paranjape studied “responsible tourism management” in the UK for two years. During a guided walk in York and Westminster, which was peppered with information about the monuments, history of the place and lifestyle of the local community, he hit upon the idea of doing something similar on his return to Pune. His first excursion was with a bunch of foreign students who had come to the city on a study visit in 2011. While they predictably wanted to holiday in Goa, Paranjape convinced them to sample the rusticity of Kothawade village, located between Ratnagiri and Ganpatipule. Here, they stayed in the ancestral home of his interior-decorator friend Medha Sahasrabuddhe, which is tastefully done up while retaining the rural simplicity. Paranjape, who runs The Western Routes, has hit the Konkan trail with an almost ambassadorial zeal since, believing the region needs equal share in the spotlight enjoyed by places in Maharashtra like Shirdi, the Ajanta/Ellora caves and Mahabaleshwar. He leads groups on cultural and culinary trails of the Konkan, showing them forts, beaches and temples, organising ‘popti’ parties in Shrivardhan and giving them the experience of eating ‘birda’ (field beans) and ‘fanas’ (jackfruit) on banana leaves. Next month, he will go on a trip to Ganeshgule village in the same region for, what else, mangoes! In Pune, Paranjape organises cultural, heritage and food walks lasting up to 4 hours as well as a cantonment walk and a day-long city tour. A typical walk would begin at Shaniwarwada, go to the Kasba Ganapati and Dagdusheth temples, Burud Aali for the bamboo artisans, Tambat Aali for the coppersmiths, the quiet Belbaug temple in the vicinity of which the descendants of Nana Phadnavis live, and Mandai for its flowers, spices such as the relatively unknown ‘ambehalad’ (mango turmeric) and bangles in the lane behind the market. A food walk in the Pune cantonment would begin with Garden vada pav, cutlets at the iconic Dorabjee’s on Dastur Meher Road, cheese omelette at Yazdan in Sharbatwalla chowk, cakes and cookies at Husseny Bakery on Taboot Street, dhokla at the Mahalaxmi stall in the lane opposite Wonderland on M G Road and round off with sandwiches at Marzorin. Like Paranjape, 57-year-old Jan Ali of Chalo Heritage and Nature Walks also gives a personalised experience to the people she takes out on walks. Ali is from Ireland but has settled in India for 23 years now, of which the last 13 have been in Pune. Her small-sized groups include multinationals, holidayers from abroad and expats. Ali’s most popular walk is through the old city. She also does the rounds of heritage buildings, nature trails on Taljai hill, monsoon treks, flamingo-watching at Bhigwan dam and visits to Sinhagad valley, Jejuri temple and the Ajanta/Ellora caves. She is working on culinary walks too but says those would be more ingredient-based rather than restaurant-hopping — a typical walk would include a visit to a spice grinding unit, the dried fish market and the vegetable market before sitting down for a meal. The pioneer of such walks, since the 1980s, has been the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). In fact, INTACH is credited with preparing the first heritage list for the city and continues to update it. Supriya Mahabaleshwarkar, coordinator of the INTACH’s Pune chapter, says they have a pre-announced walk once a month, with the routes changing depending upon the theme. She says requests are high for core city walks, with people wanting to soak in a little of everything in Pune — from culture to craft to architecture to history. INTACH also designs modules for first-year students of architecture courses. Daya Sudama, 60, a licensed tour guide of the government of India, has a high percentage of foreigners approaching her for heritage walks and also to help trace their roots. For the latter, she attempts to locate their old houses in places like Khadki, Koregaon Park and Wanowrie, the schools they attended like Bishop’s in Pune Camp, the cricket pitches they played on such as at Poona Club, the graveyards like Khadki war cemetery and St Sepulchre’s at Hadapsar where their parents or other relatives were buried, and often even the orphanages where some of them were raised before being adopted. In the last 11 years, Sudama has taken around 80 people, mostly aged 70 or more, to find graves of their relatives. She says she has enough work in Pune itself and doesn’t need to do tours outside. Certainly, her bouquet has multi-picks for the asking, way more than what the average ‘Raju guide’ would offer.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/fancy-a-heritage-cultural-glimpse-of-the-city-these-guides-will-show-you-the-way/articleshow/63964811.cms, May 1, 2018

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Antique statues excavated

Some antique statues of historical importance were discovered while doing the renovation-related digging of an old water tank (pond) at Adhapada village in Jharsuguda district. The pond was located close to the Pashchimeswar Shiva temple there. The exact ages of the statues are to be ascertained, but they seem to be centuries-old, experts said. Ten statues were unearthed from the site so far and more were expected to be found if the excavation works go further deep. A statue of Lord Shiva and another of his associate Brushav were out of the 10 unearthed statues. A hint is that there existed at least one Shiva temple in the distant past, which got buried in due course of time. The size of the statues speaks volumes about the greatness of the temple that existed there. A large heap of soil now lay near the excavated site. Some statues and other sculptures are partly visible in their buried conditions. A team from the Sambalpur chapter of INTACH visited the site Sunday as per an invitation from local resource persons. The team from Sambalpur included chapter convener Prof Tarini Prasad Panda, historian Dipak Panda, Gopinath Mishra and BP Mishra. The team opined that the excavation works must be continued as they might shed new light on the unwritten history of the region. PNN

- http://www.orissapost.com/antique-statues-excavated/, May 1, 2018

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Archaeology enthusiasts find Sati stone in Tuticorin

Archaeological enthusiast and Tamil scholar Priya Krishnan from Chennai and her accomplice Vinod have found a sati stone at Samgapatti village near Oddapidaram in Tuticorin district. They have spotted this sati stone, during one of their field trips and they have estimated that it could be of Nayak era ranging between the 17th and 18th century AD. With meticulous carvings, the stone depicts a man seated with a dagger in hand while his wife is seen sitting next to him with a water lilly, which indicates that she committed Sati after the death of her husband. Priya said that they have interacted with villagers at Sangampatti and they said that there is a legend associated with the sati stone. The man in the panel is called Sangam Pothi, a local chieftain who died in the battle. Pothi in local dialect means grandfather and also means someone who died. The sati stone is worshipped by local people. Sati stones are ones erected for women committing the sati practice after their husband dies. They are like hero stones erected for valiant man in the community.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/archaeology-enthusiasts-find-sati-stone-in-tuticorin/articleshow/63965175.cms, May 1, 2018

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Ramappa temple to get a facelift

The Central government’s effort to rope in private partners to improve heritage sites and tourism experience is bearing fruit, with the Ministry of Culture issuing a letter of intent to Kakatiya Heritage Trust for adopting Ramappa Temple in Palampet. “We have received the letter of intent, we now have to submit a vision document about how we are going to be involved in protecting the heritage site and improving tourist infrastructure,” said B.V. Papa Rao of Kakatiya Heritage Trust. The adopt a heritage scheme was launched in September 27, 2017 and till now, there have been about 195 registrations. “It is an exciting opportunity for us as we plan to work not just on the main temple, but also some of the nearby temples as they also need upkeep and protection. They are not aided either by the Archaeological Survey of India or the Department of Archaeology and Museums. The goal remains obtaining the World Heritage Site status for the Kakatiya-era monuments,” said Mr. Rao. The Ramappa temple is on the tentative list of Unesco World Heritage Site as a serial nomination along with the 1,000 pillar temple, Swayambhu temple and the Keerti Thoranas of Warangal fort. The Ramappa temple is perhaps the only temple in the country which is known by the name of the architect who designed it. Besides stunning dance sculptures and friezes showcasing Perini Shivatandavam, the temple is built in a valley and rests on bricks which have been scientifically shown to float in water. Hyderabad’s two Qutb Shahi-era monuments have drawn the interest of corporate bigwigs like ITC Hotels and GMR Sports Private Limited for adoption. While ITC has given an expression of interest presentation for Charminar, GMR made a case for adopting Golconda in November 2017 during the second phase of the project. Both the bids are being evaluated with additional meetings to thrash out the nitty-gritty of the adoption process. So far, 95 monuments, heritage and other tourist sites including major heritage sites like Gandikota Fort and Red Fort have been short-listed by the oversight and vision committee to be given to 31 private parties for developing tourist friendly amenities. Two MoUs have also been signed for developing Red Fort, Delhi and Gandikota fort, Andhra Pradesh between Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture, Archaeological Survey of India and Dalmia Bharat Limited.

- http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/ramappa-temple-to-get-a-facelift/article23713399.ece, May 2, 2018

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Tomb to temple in two months: In south Delhi, a monument changes colours

From being the tomb of an unidentified person dating back to the Tughlaq dynasty to becoming Shiv Bhola temple two months ago, Gumti — a small, domed tomb in Safdarjung Enclave’s Humayunpur village — is facing an identity crisis. The state-notified monument built on a mound, amid buildings and a park, was painted white and saffron in March, and idols placed inside it. It is learnt that the work has been done in complete violation of the Citizen Charter of the Department of Archaeology, which states that one “cannot paint, draw or whitewash any wall in and around the monument” and “cannot hamper or spoil the originality of the monument”. While the Delhi government’s Department of Archaeology could not be reached for a comment, a source called it a “major faux pas”. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said, “I have no information about this, I will ask the department concerned to conduct an inquiry and send me the report.” The Delhi Chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) was supposed to take up restoration work of the 15th-century monument, in collaboration with the Archaeology department, last year. Ajay Kumar, projects director, INTACH-Delhi, “This was a locked monument and we were unable to start work there due to resistance from residents… we went with police but it didn’t work out. Now it’s become a temple and we’ve lost the monument.” Meanwhile, two saffron-coloured benches placed in the complex bear the name of BJP councillor from Safdarjung Enclave, Radhika Abrol Phogat. However, Phogat told The Indian Express, “The structure was turned into a temple without my knowledge, consent or support. It was done with the connivance of the previous BJP councillor. I objected too, but it’s a sensitive issue. With whatever that is going on in the country, one can’t touch a temple. The benches with my name were initially in the park.” Swapna Liddle, convener, INTACH Delhi chapter, said, “Turning a monument into a religious structure is a land grab issue… the easiest thing to do is to turn it into a mandir or a mazar. We are not gatekeepers of the monument, we restore them. The protection has to be done by the state and then it should be handed over to us.” According to a 2010 notification by the state’s Urban Development department, Gumti was notified as one of the 767 heritage sites, and received a grade-I listing. In 2014, the Archaeology department notified it again as a heritage site. Little is known about who was buried here or who built Gumti. But the architecture – pointed tip of the dome and absence of mihrab (a semi-circular niche in the wall) — points at either late-Tughlaq or early-Lodi period. Kanika (19), a resident, said, “It was always a monument… in a bad state. I grew up thinking it was a tomb but then a few months ago, it became a temple.”

- http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/tomb-to-temple-in-two-months-in-south-delhi-a-monument-changes-colours-5162601/, May 3, 2018

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National Museum to host mammoth exhibition on Indian Civilisation

An ambitious and mammoth international exhibition is all set to be mounted at National Museum, which chronologically encapsulates the evolution of Indian civilization since antiquity and its interconnectedness with the outside world through a raft of exquisite artefacts from India and abroad. The exhibition, India and the World: A History in Nine Stories, is an extensively collaborative effort of the British Museum, London; National Museum, New Delhi; and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), Mumbai and is actively supported by the Culture Ministry. Planned as part of commemoration of 70 years of India’s independence and a year of major cultural exchange between India and the UK, the nearly two-month-long watershed show at National Museum, which gets underway on May 5, is traveling to the national capital from Mumbai where it drew an enthusiastic response from critics and public alike at CSMVS. Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Union Minister of State for Culture (Independent Charge), will inaugurate the exhibition at 5pm on Saturday, May 5. The exhibition is spread over nine sections, each representing a pivotal moment in history. The trendsetting show pieces together over 200 objects and works of art not only from the collections of the British Museum, CSMVS and National Museum, but also from around 20 museums and private collections across India. Overall, there are 104 important works of art from the Indian subcontinent in dialogue with 124 iconic pieces from the British Museum. Speaking about the exhibition, National Museum Director General Dr B R Mani said, “This is a phenomenal exhibition for the sheer number of artefacts, the profoundness of concept and the unprecedented extensive collaboration of Indian museums and private collections with the British Museum, London. It truly offers a brilliant exposition on the splendid Indian civilisation and its impact on the global civilizations of the yore.” Conceived over a period of two years of intense planning and curatorial brainstorming, ‘India and the World’ has been jointly curated by a team in the UK and India. Curators Jeremy David Hill and Beatriz Cifuentes Feliciano, from the British Museum, joined efforts with Naman P Ahuja, Associate Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi and his curatorial assistant, Avani Sood to develop this unique exhibition. Curatorial walks and talks, besides educational activities like stone tool, Harappan seal and bead making, currency design, scroll painting, clay moulding, blindfold photography and sculpture making will be held on the sidelines of the event. In addition, there will be theatre workshops, guided tours, thematic walks for kids and interesting events like treasure hunt and online weekly quiz on the event’s website. The exhibition, which is supported by the Tata Trusts, the Getty Foundation and the Newton Bhabha Fund, will run till June 30 from 10 am to 6 pm, except on Mondays and public holidays.

- https://www.deccanchronicle.com/lifestyle/books-and-art/020518/national-museum-to-host-mammoth-exhibition-on-indian-civilisation.html, May 3, 2018

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How Monument Mitra can help conserve Red Fort? A heritage conservationist explains

They must be driven by an attitude of service to India and not by corporate branding.

The new scheme launched by the tourism ministry which is currently causing uproar across the country needs a more balanced appraisal. At the outset, one must state that our heritage sites across India are woefully inadequately serviced. At Sanchi information kiosk, pamphlets are dog-eared and outdated while at Itimad ud Daulah a new integrated water system risks failure. Most of our World Heritage Sites have yet to put in place basics of site management, tourist facilities or interpretation centres. These are fundamental requirements which enhance the value of the monument and the visitor experience. The absence of this devalues our heritage. It is well known that over the last 20 years, the National Culture Fund which was set up to do precisely what is proposed today has floundered. Its target objective was to raise funds from the corporate sector to support the work being undertaken by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Many partners came forward, some with an agenda and others who saw this as a way to showcase their commitment to preserve India’s heritage. Almost all these partnerships failed. The earliest was the partnership with Tata group’s Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL), which committed Rs 14 crore in 2002 towards the upgradation of Taj Mahal. Much like the Monument Mitra scheme, this was primarily to upgrade visitor facilities and provide a befitting experience for those visiting what is arguably India’s most iconic site, but it was soon mired in controversy and bogged down by the ASI itself. What distinguished the partnership however is that the Tata group never sought corporate branding, they were and remain deeply committed philanthropists. The Red Fort at the forefront of much of this controversy has also failed to be positioned as a premium destination more especially as it is the only continuously used symbol of government. A Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan available on ASI’s website is a selectively used tool; an NCF proposal to upgrade the barracks to develop a museum was still born; while access to the monument remains cumbersome and inept. To safeguard our heritage for future generations, we need to move forward from knowing what not to do to ensuring we can get and deliver the best that is available. For the ASI, the time has come to ensure that our monuments are better showcased and sharing the responsibility is an idea which must come of age in India. This new scheme to gather Monument Mitras - a different concept to “Adopt a Heritage”- is an opportunity to forge these partnerships. The scheme has provided for each site to have a conservation architect to design and develop the facilities, create a visitor information centre that is credible; and most importantly, toilets and drinking water. With huge pressures on the monuments and growing visitor numbers, it is simply no longer good enough to only preserve status quo which does little justice to the richness of our past. However, what is of grave concern is what leverage the industry is going to demand.

Clearly, there is major concern about unencumbered corporate giving. In my view, as long as this does not impact or feature on the monument or in its precinct, we should find a way forward. Monument Mitras must be driven by an attitude of service to India and not by corporate branding as we have seen with the Delhi Metro stations (it serves their funding needs). Our monuments lack management skills but management is not about brand swashbuckling, it is hunkering down for the long haul of serving our nation’s heritage. One can only hope India’s corporate sector will see this as genuine philanthropists.

- https://www.dailyo.in/arts/dalmia-group-adopts-red-fort-monument-mitra-adopt-a-heritage-taj-mahal/story/1/23873.html, May 4, 2018

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Documents show converted temple was tomb, says INTACH

A day after a report emerged regarding the alleged conversion of a small tomb into a temple at Safdarjung Enclave's Humayunpur village, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Director-Projects Amit Kumar said the structure has been mentioned as tomb in historical documents. Speaking to ANI, Kumar said the structure is a national heritage, is some 500 years old and dates back to the Lodi period. "As per a document written in 1929-30, it is mentioned as a tomb. To me, it is a structure and its value is that its 500 years old, that is what is important to me. Religion is not important for me at this time, all that matters is the structure," Kumar said. He said two months ago, the property had not been damaged or painted, but two days ago it was found painted and people worshipping over there. "We were not allowed to enter into the structure (for restoration). We came to know yesterday that the situation has changed. The step taken by the people is incorrect," Kumar said. He said that the steps taken by the locals are not correct and need to be rectified so that such incidents are not repeated. "One cannot make the national heritage into personal property," he said. Meanwhile, the locals claimed that they have been worshipping the structure as a temple since long and denied the reports of changing it into a temple. "Since childhood, we have worshipped it as a temple. The structure has been a temple for as long as we can remember, it was re-painted recently," said a local.

- http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ani/documents-show-converted-temple-was-tomb-says-intach-118050500495_1.html, May 7, 2018

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What Does It Mean To “Adopt” A Heritage Structure?

The recent development of the government permitting the adoption of Red Fort by the Dalmia group evoked mixed reaction with the opposition parties vehemently criticising it. From “heritage on sale” to coming up with branded names for monuments (ITC Taj Mahal, Adani Charminar etc), media and opposition managed to grab the eyeballs last weekend. Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken said that the scheme was a “conspiracy” of the Modi government to “sell or lease” the historic fort. So has the government really “sold off” our monuments to private sector companies? Delhi’s Red Fort was adopted by the Dalmia group under the “Adopt a Heritage” scheme of the Tourism Ministry notified last year in September. Under the scheme, the group has been entrusted with the maintenance of the monument for five years at a cost of Rs 25 crore. In return, the group will get the privilege of displaying its name on plaques and signage within the site, “in a discreet manner and tastefully”. The scheme extends to 93 ticketed Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) monuments as of now. The vision statement of the project says, “Ministry of tourism in close collaboration with ministry of culture and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) envisages developing the heritage sites, monuments and any other tourist sites by making them tourist-friendly to enhance the tourism potential and their cultural importance, in a planned and phased manner.” Under the scheme, the group selected will provide tourists with amenities such as clean toilets and drinking water, illumination, signage, Wi-fi, multi-lingual audio guides, cloakroom, canteen, advanced surveillance system (Like Pan-tilt-zoom(PTZ) based CCTV cameras), tourist facilitation cum interpretation centres (tourist multi-purpose centre) which will have facilities such as museums, shopping/souvenir shops, money exchange, digital interactive kiosk, digital (LED) screening, light and sound shows with regular cultural shows, battery-operated vehicles and advanced tourist flow management system linked with carrying capacity of the monuments. The organisations have been selected through “Vision Bidding”. The Convenor of the Delhi Chapter of Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Dr Swapna Liddle takes the entire scheme with a pinch of salt though. She hopes that “government is not giving up monuments, just recruiting corporate funding and energies to add infrastructure”. According to her, the entire “handing over” of the monument is a misnomer,” here we are not talking of 'handing over' as such, but a partnership, I feel, let us involve private players, particularly as they are putting in funds, and running it on a non-profit basis. But let us be vigilant and monitor the process to make sure that it is sensitively done.” Across the globe, there is a growing understanding that heritage resources are not the sole monopoly of the government and other stakeholders such as public or private companies or experts have to be involved in various capacities. For example, owing to resource crunch and a failing economy, Italy has entrusted some of its well-known monuments to private players, especially fashion brands. Italy has more UNESCO World Heritage sites than any other country in the world. In 2011, luxury leather goods company Tod's pledged €25 million toward the restoration of the Colosseum. In May 2013, Diesel entered into an agreement to restore the Rialto Bridge in Venice to the tune of €5 million. The brands, in return, generate public relations (PR) value of maintaining a heritage site as well as marketing advantages (such as placing billboards). Why exactly do some people in India seem to be so enraged?

Private players have been involved earlier

This is not the first instance of government toying with the idea of involving private players. The National Culture Fund (NCF) was established in 1996 and is managed and administered by a council chaired by the Minister for Culture and an executive committee chaired by the secretary, Ministry of Culture. Members of the NCF council are from corporate houses, private foundations and experts in various art forms, academicians. Under ther NCF, it is possible for a donor to take up a project along with any specific aspect for funding and an agency for the execution of the project. Thus NCF sought to augment the governments’ efforts and promote public-private partnership for heritage conservation and promotion. All contributions to the NCF are given 100 per cent tax exemption under Section 80 G (2) of the Income Tax Act of 1961. The new scheme essentially repackages this older version where the government entrusts tourist sites to private sector companies, public sector companies and individuals. The private players called the ‘Monument Mitras’, would be able to associate pride with their corporate social responsibility(CSR) activities and provide basic and advanced amenities at the destinations. Under NCF, a number of successful partnerships were carried out. Aga Khan Foundation and Oberoi Group of Hotels carried out garden revitalisation and lighting of the main tomb at Humayun’s Tomb Complex at a cost of Rs 2.25 crore. The illumination, signage, conservation works of Jantar Mantar, New Delhi was done by Apeejay Surendra Park Hotels Ltd. The Indian Hotels Company Ltd (Tata Group) sponsored the conservation project at Taj Mahal at a cost of Rs 1.87 crores. In addition to private companies, public sector companies such as the Indian Oil Foundation and foreign institutions such as the World Monument Fund were also engaged in collaboration with the ASI for various projects. Some, however, still feel that involving private players might not be the best idea when it comes to heritage and cultural assets. Director of GointheCity and leader of curated cultural walks Gaurav Sharma echoes the sentiment, “I was appalled to hear that our national monuments will up for auction for private players even just to provide basic amenities which would allow them to promote their brands adequately. Most of these players have no past record of heritage conservation. It’s also not about the incompetence of the government, there seems to be a lack of will on the part of the government. The Dalmia group which has adopted the Red Fort will provide Rs five crore annually for maintenance of Red Fort. The government, however, could have raised the amount through activities such specialised tickets or specially curated walks.” Interestingly, a number of amenities at the Red Fort are already outsourced to different agencies. The entry tickets are “powered” by Canara bank, audio tours are provided by Narrowcasters, toilets are maintained by Sulabh International and security is taken care by a private security agency.

Concerns over heritage expertise of companies

This is perhaps the biggest blind spot of the new scheme and some legitimate concerns have been raised by sector experts regarding the heritage expertise of the companies who would be taking over maintenance. For example, according to the memorandum, the group is supposed to provide amenities such as the lighting of the fort, which might cause more harm than good if not carried out properly and in harmony with the ageing structure. Similarly, cleaning of a heritage site requires special attention too with its age-old surfaces of wood, sandstone, marbles and other intricate works. Heritage enthusiast and founder of Youth for Heritage Foundation Vikramjit Singh Rooprai opposes the move and the entire perception that the ASI is incompetent. He says, “ASI is not incompetent. However, it is not empowered enough by the ruling parties. For decades, ASI people have been asking governments to provide them with required resources, money and permissions to carry out certain tasks. But governments have been very reluctant as heritage has not been a priority of any minister since independence. Still, ASI was able to provide enough facilities on monuments. Red Fort, for example, has an adequate supply of drinking water and facilities like toilets etc. Interestingly, two major elements given to Dalmia are water and toilets (which are already in good condition). Other than that, Dalmia will also take care of lighting. The monument closes at night and lighting is only required for people coming in for the light-sound show. We already have proper lighting on that path. There is a nice cafe inside Red Fort. But Dalmias have been told to make their own (another avenue to generate profit).” Mr Vikramjit also points out that “Dalmia group is also responsible for the Interpretation centre. This is the scary part. Now, Dalmias can put whatever information they want and however they want to project. And with the government supporting them, ASI will have least say in that”. Such a provision can potentially be lethal, as it can act as a weapon in hands of a politically or ideologically motivated individual or group to re-interpret history. The scheme, however, claims to have adequate checks. The compliance guidelines on the official website say that the five-year contract “can be terminated if the company does not comply with the ASI guidelines”. The legal status of the monument will not change after adoption, the company will not collect any money from the public unless allowed by the government, and profits, if any, will be used to maintain and upgrade tourism facilities. An Oversight and Vision Committee, co-chaired by the secretaries of Tourism and Culture, and with the D-G, ASI, as a member, would also be constituted to keep a watch. There is absolutely no doubt that private agencies may be better situated in providing funds for infrastructure management around the monument but utmost care has to be taken. Unlike any other infrastructure project leased out to a private agency (such as the construction of a highway or an airport), reckless meddling with symbols of national importance may cause irreversible damage. Fortunately, we do have examples to learn from. The renovation and conservation of Humayun's Tomb and the monuments of Basti Hazrat Nizamuddin are outstanding examples of the benefits that accrue from cooperation among the ASI, the government's public works department and a private trust like the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. The scrupulous restoration of the tomb of Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan led by the conservation architect, Ratish Nanda, of the Aga Khan Trust and supported by IndiGo airlines and the ASI is another public-private success story. The current scheme, however, does not pay attention to assessing the expertise of the organisation and no criteria is listed out for choosing a “monument mitra” apart from financial soundness. Dr Liddle, however, gives us some hope when she says,” I feel that the Monument Mitra agencies should be taking the help of INTACH as well as historians and other experts in areas where this knowledge is required – e.g. interpreting the monument and its history”.

- https://swarajyamag.com/culture/what-does-it-mean-to-adopt-a-heritage-structure, May 8, 2018

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Uncertainty over future of heritage building

Uncertainty prevails over the future of the 156-year-old building of the St. Joseph’s Anglo-Indian Girls Higher Secondary School in the city with former students continuing their efforts to conserve the structure and the school authorities obtaining permission from the Regional Town Planner’s office to demolish the building. The former students, who had launched a social media campaign highlighting the need to conserve the colonial era structure, recently submitted a report to the school authorities claiming that new facilities could be introduced there without demolishing the building. The study was coordinated by Lakshmi Manohar, ad-hoc faculty, Department of Architecture, National Institute of Technology-Calicut, Chinnu S. Kumar, architect, and Aysha Mahmood, all former students. Sources in the Regional Town Planner’s office said that permission had been given to demolish the building a couple of months ago. However, the report sought by the government about the pros and cons of the demolition against the backdrop of the social media campaign was yet to be submitted. There was no legal hurdle for the management to bring down the building except a no-objection certificate from the Kozhikode City Corporation, they added. The school authorities and officials in the town planning section of the city corporation were not available for comments. Meanwhile, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, an agency involved in restoration and renovation of heritage buildings, has reportedly evinced interest in the conservation of the building. The draft report submitted by the former students also claimed that apart from plaster coming off in certain parts, old wires, and leakage, the building was not in a precarious condition necessitating a demolition. Right now, there are lower primary and upper primary classes and laboratories for high school and higher secondary classes in the building. It has been suggested that the number of classrooms could be reduced from 17 to 12. A three-storey building, which was earlier used as hostel, is vacant now. If the laboratories could be shifted there, the other classrooms could be expanded. The building for higher secondary classes could be developed into a four-storey building too. The school authorities had in February clarified that the building was being pulled down because of safety concerns and to bring in more facilities. Following the social media campaign, the authorities invited the former students, architects, and heritage conservationists for a discussion. It was decided to conduct a study involving former students, who are also architects, to find out if more facilities could be provided without razing the building. However, it has been reported that the group of architects could not get the original plan of the building and they had to manually map the structure.

- http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/uncertainty-over-future-of-heritage-building/article23806267.ece, May 8, 2018

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Youngsters join hands for water conservation

British Statesman Benjamin Disraeli once said that the youth of a nation are the trustees of posterity. Bringing to one’s mind those words, nine students from three Thiruvananthapuram colleges - Malayinkeezhu Madhavakavi Smaraka Government Arts and Science College (MMS College), Immanuel College, Kattakada Christian College and University College - have come together to be part of the Jalasamridhi project, which was initiated to make the Kaatakkada constituency water-rich. As part of the project, a six-day campaign is on, which saw a 40-minute-long skit titled Mattangalillathe Manasunarthunnavar performed by the students, to create awareness about the importance of water conservation. The students are determined to spread the message to multitudes in the 30 locations within the six panchayats in the constituency. Amritha AV, a student of MMS College, says that working closely with the programme has helped her develop a clear perspective about how intense the water problems in the State is. “It was an eye-opener, as it made me realise how much we, as human beings, have wronged nature. I think art is the best means through which we can interact with the audience.” Another student, Karishma Sekhar from the same college says she hopes that their fellow students will derive inspiration from their act to build a better future for the coming generations. “Our purpose of educating people was fulfilled to a great extent. We could captivate the audience by throwing light on the issue related to water, that many of us tend to sideline.” The Jalasamridhi project, which kicked off on World Water Day last year, had primarily aimed at the process of artificial recharge (injecting water to the ground through recharge wells). “We identified six schools hit by water scarcity within the constituency, and with our consistent work, we have now been able to rejuvenate water sources in the area. Now our sole aim is to work towards preserving water,” says Nizamudeen A, land use commissioner. Their activities include constructing rain water pits, cleaning public ponds and encouraging rain water harvesting in houses. Nizamudeen beams when he says that not only have the various locations in the constituency seen a positive change, the methods were declared as the solution for drought by none other than the Finance Minister, in his speech during the annual State budget.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/youngsters-join-hands-for-water-conservation/articleshow/64079343.cms, May 9, 2018

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Gurugram mosques a picture of neglect

A structure with cracked domes in the Badshahpur village on the Gurugram-Sohna road is being used a godown by a family living there for over five decades. This is one of the many old mosques in Gurugram that have either been deserted or illegally occupied and are no more being used for praying. The Haryana Waqf Board recently gave a list of 19 such mosques to the Gurugram administration amid the controversy over Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar's saying that namaz should not be offered in open spaces. While in a publicly released statement, Deputy Commissioner of Gurgaon Chandra Mohan Shekhar Khare said on Wednesday that encroachments from the land around these mosques have been removed but the ground reality is different. DNA visited some of these structures to see that they barely resemble a mosque. "It is now known as Paari Sunaar's home as his family encroached it several decades ago. If it is recovered, it will be a great help to the Muslims who go for Namaz to far off places or sometimes offer namaz out in the open," said Abdul Hamid, Imam of a mosque in the next block. When DNA visited, the gates were closed and the people refused to talk about it. "We are hopeful that the administration will do something in the matter. If these 19 mosques get released, there will be more space for people to offer namaz and the issue will then resolve on its own," said Raheesh Khan, Chairman of the Haryana Waqf Board. These are located in Jharsa, Badshahpur, Bhondsi, Naurangpur, Farukh Nagar, Khurrampur, Dhankot, Daulatpur, Fazilpur, Mouika, Wazirabad, and Garhi Harsaru. Of the two mosques in Jharsa village, one is now demolished and the vacant plot serves as a stable for a local family and the other is illegally occupied. "There used to be a mosque here even before I was born, but now it is just a plot where we keep her cattle," said Abhishek, a local kid. There has been no activity around any of the three monuments that DNA visited and the locals remain clueless about the ongoing disruptions by the right-wing groups and the demand of the Haryana Waqf Board to release the monuments.

- http://www.dnaindia.com/delhi/report-gurugram-mosques-a-picture-of-neglect-2613488, May 10, 2018

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Learn from Manipur’s father-son duo to recycle plastic to save environment and earn some profit

Plastic is pretty controversial. Isn't it? On the one hand, we can't live without using things made of plastic and on the other hand plastic has become the major cause of environmental pollution. Then what do we do? Ban plastic? The ban on plastic products like bags had been implemented by the government authorities in almost all parts of the country, but it miserably failed. In spite of ban on plastic bags, they are readily available in the market, except for in a few places. Call it the callousness of authorities or citizens' apathy, plastic has become a "useful peril". In such a scenario, our dilemma has been resolved to a great extent by the likes of Sadokpam Gunakanta and Sadokpam Itombi Singh--the father-son duo from Manipur's capital city, Imphal. The two started SJ Plastic Industries--a plastic recycling unit--in 2007 in Sagolband Sadokpam Leikai in Manipur's Imphal district. Since then tonnes of plastic waste had been recycled in the unit and turned into other useful products like pipes, tubs and flower pots. "Plastics are recyclable. We need to make conscious efforts to recycle such waste so they can be used for other purposes, instead of allowing them to pollute our water bodies," Gunakanta told ANI. Along with recycling plastic, the duo has succeeded in providing employment to around 40 people in their unit. Gunakanta and Singh spent around Rs 1.5 lakh to start their enterprise, and today it is making around Rs 1.2 crore annually. Their educational background helped them to deal with plastic menace in a scientific manner. While Singh is a graduate of computer application, his father has got his engineering degree from the Government Polytechnic, Manipur. The "green warriors" of Manipur came up with the plan to start a unique project which has now become a talking point to make their state a better place to live in. Below you can learn more about the recycling unit:

- https://www.oneindia.com/india/learn-from-manipur-s-father-son-duo-recycle-plastic-save-env-2693555.html, May 10, 2018

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Mizoram caves set to rewrite history of Mizoram civilization

Mizoram caves are going to come alive with activities by Anthropological Survey of India in collaboration with the Mizoram chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) in coming days. An exploration study of the skulls and skeletal remains of human beings found in several caves of Mizoram will be done by scientists from Anthropological Survey of India in collaboration with the Mizoram chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). A team of the Anthropological Survey of India from Shillong had already visited Mizoram last week for a discussion and preliminary studies. The team, comprising regional officer R.R. Gowloog, assistant anthropologist G.K. Bera and statistician Elizabeth Lalawmkimi, had decided to take up the matter with the higher authorities in Calcutta. During the exploration programme, scientists will collect samples and fragments of skulls and skeletons for carbon dating and laboratory examination. Notably, most of the human skeletons found inside the caves of Mizoram are taller in size than the Mizo’s normal stature. Scientists believe these might belong to some other races of people that had inhabited Mizoram before the Mizos came to this part of the globe. Many of these caves in the State are located deep in the jungles and remote areas. Scientists hope that the study of human skeletons, which date back to many centuries, will help historians in reconstructing the state’s history. Some of the prominent caves in Mizoram are Pukzing Cave at Pukzing village near Marpara in Mamit district, Milu Puk (cave of skulls) near Mamte village in Lunglei district, Lamsial Puk (Lamsial cave), near Farkawn village in Champhai district and Kungawrhi Puk (Kungawrhi cave) located near Vaphai village in Champhai district.

- https://nenow.in/north-east-news/mizoram-caves-set-rewrite-history-mizoram-civilization.html, May 11, 2018

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Deciphering the past

In an attempt to further the cause of Indian history and heritage, well known art historian and documentary filmmaker Benoy Behl recently teamed up with Bulu Imam, Convenor of Hazaribagh Chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage. Studying together the various sculptures and artworks unearthed at Itkori, Hazaribagh, the two expect the area to become an important part of Buddhist tourism circuit. Highlighting the significance of the place and findings, Behl provides details of the sculptures and how they help in understanding the past.

Excerpts:
How do the findings at Itkori add to Bullu Imam’s research in the Hazaribagh area?

Bulu Imam, has been researching the prehistoric and Buddhist art of Hazaribagh for the last 30 years. He has also spent considerable time conserving the traditions of tribal painting in the Hazaribagh region. I was invited as an art historian by him. My research associate Sujata Chatterji and I were guests of Jharkhand Government and INTACH. The visit was remarkable. We discovered a treasure of Buddhist and Hindu sculpture hidden in the middle of extremely remote fields near Bihari village, close to Itkhori in Hazaribagh district. These include the Vishnu sandstone of Pala period and other sculptures. This is a major find, especially as it is in the region of Itkhori, from where it is believed that Gautama Siddhartha travelled to Bodh Gaya, before he gained Enlightenment. This is also very close to Kauleshwari where it is believed that the Buddha had his hair shaved. With this rich treasure being unearthed, Hazaribagh is poised to become an important Buddhist destination. When I arrived with Imam in the Itkhori region, we got some fresh leads which we decided to follow up. This led to the discoveries in the fields near the Bihari Village. In Kanuniya Mai Temple, I discovered the very early Sati Stone in the dark interior of the sanctum.

How important are these latest findings in archaeological terms?

The recent findings and what they signify are extremely important. In fact, I have to study these much more and in deep detail. I would say that a new importance has come to the Jharkhand chapter of the history of Indian art. The range of sculptures found in the Hazaribagh region is fascinating in its blend of Hindu, Buddhist and Jaina art. The reliefs and sculptures are carved out of yellow sandstone, as well as black stone and they span many centuries. All this indicates the range and rich variety of the art of India. The sandstone Buddha of Pala period and votive stupas and reliefs standstone housed in Bhadrakali Mandir Museum, Itkori are examples of the art. In our exploration of the Itkhori region, we found many other sculptures in the villages of the area. These sculptures have mainly been found in deep, old wells like the Vishnu in black stone. They date from the 2nd century BCE till the 12th century CE and indicate continuous habitation and places of worship over the centuries. Many Vishnu sculptures and those of Uma-Maheshwari have been found in this region. Many votive stupas and Buddha representations have also been found, as well as Tirthankaras.

Tell us about your role in the exploration of Buddhist heritage in Hazaribagh area

My role is to analyse and study the remains of the Buddhist heritage of Jharkhand as well as to explore and find sculptures. Another role is to develop and highlight this region in the Buddhist Circuit as being related to the journey of Gautama Siddhartha.

How did you and Bullu Imam figure out the importance of this space…tell us about the role played by the poem “Buddha Light Of Asia”?

Gautama Siddhartha attained enlightenment and became a Buddha at Bodh Gaya. According to a tradition, his last journey as a Bodhisattva, while he was seeking the Truth, was from Itkhori in Hazaribagh district to Bodh Gaya. This journey would most probably have been along the banks of the Mohana river, which flows down about 30 kilometres from Itkhori, meeting the Niranjana river and going on to Bodh Gaya. Bulu Imam and I were alerted about this ‘Last Journey of the Bodhisattva’ by the long poem about the Buddha ‘Light of Asia’, written by Sir Edwin Arnold and published in 1879. We were discussing the local tradition about Gautama Siddhartha's journey over dinner in Hazaribagh, when we remembered that his last journey before enlightenment was mentioned by Arnold in his book. So we pulled out the book and checked it. In the 6th book of the poem, Arnold writes: “Thou, who would see where dawned the Light at last,/North-westwards (this is the direction from Itkhori to Bodh Gaya) from the/“Thousand Gardens” (Hazaribagh) go…/On the green hills where those twin streamlets spring,/Nilajan and Mohana; follow them,/Winding beneath broad-leaved mahua-trees,/Till on the plain the shining sisters (rivers) meet/In Phalgu’s bed, flowing by rocky banks/To Gaya and the red Barabar hills…/Uruvela (old name of Bodh Gaya site) named in ancient days” Tradition has it that Gautama’s maasi (mother’s sister) Prajapati Gautami came looking for him during his period of meditation. When she could not find him, she said “Iti khoi”, in Pali, meaning “I have lost him”. It is said that Iti khoi became Itkhori.Many hundreds of sculptures have been found here and 700 such pieces are kept in a simple site museum which has been made. The Kauleshwari temple, which is deeply revered till today has many Hindus, Buddhist and Jainas come here to have their ‘mundan’, or ritual head shaving. This is on account of the tradition that the Buddha had his head shaved at this site, before he meditated at Itkhori.

Tell us about the importance Sati Stone and stele

We found a very early Sati Stone under worship in the dark sanctum of the Kanuniya Mai Temple, about two kilometres from Itkhori. It is unknown to the outside world and is previously not documented. Sati Stones are normally made to commemorate the ultimate sacrifice of a ‘Sati’, or woman who immolates herself in the funeral pyre of her husband. This is a stele, or a vertical, carved stone slab. The simple yet graceful style of the art, as well as a prominent depiction of the kalasha indicates that this is an early Sati Stone. The turban and hairstyles of the figures made on it, are in a style which dates back to the 1st to the 3rd Centuries BCE, though this stele is expected to be of a later period. Upanishadic philosophy is clearly delineated on the stele. In the bottom section is the Linga (the symbol, or ‘mark’ of the Formless Eternal). It is being worshipped by a male and a female figure, made in a very simple style. Above the Linga is the depiction of the universe, which emanates from the Formless Eternal. This is shown by the Moon and the Sun. Above that is made the “hand of blessing” of the Sati, which is common in such Sati Stones. On the top, the ‘Kalasha’ or ‘vase of plenty’ or 'Purnaghata', which is an unusual depiction in steles like this. In ancient Indian art, this is the vessel from which spring forth the numerous forms of the world, including all living beings. The Sati Stone stele here combines the symbols of early Indian philosophy in a beautiful and remarkable depiction.

How will these discoveries effect the Buddhist tourist circuit?

I believe this will add to the charm and attraction of the Buddhist tourist circuit. It may also add a unique dimension of promoting the 30 km journey, down the river, from Itkhori to Bodh Gaya, as the last journey of the Boddhisattva Gautama Siddhartha.

- http://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/deciphering-the-past/article23840307.ece, May 11, 2018

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Prehistoric rock art site discovered in Kurnool

A team of researchers from the University of Madras has discovered prehistoric rock art dating back to the mesolithic period (10,000 to 6,000 BC) from two villages in Kurnool district in Andhra Pradesh. The team from the department of ancient history and archaeology unearthed 145 rock shelters with artworks in Kunukuntala and Racherla, making it the biggest such site in south India. “We have recorded more than 41,000 paintings of abstract symbols, signs, geometric patterns, animals and human figures in these rock shelters. This is the only region in south India where rock shelters with rock art are found in such large numbers,” said Jinu Koshy who led the team. Situated near the famous prehistoric site Jwalapuram, Kunukuntala and Racherla have many smaller valleys formed by faulting. The slopes of these valleys are littered with numerous large quartzite boulders. Of the 14 major and minor valleys, only six have been surveyed by the team. “From the total area of study, only 40% has been explored,” said Koshy whose team comprised of archaeologist Malar Koshy, Ajay Kumar Rammoorthy, Ramesh Masethung, V Pradeep, John Juvan and D Balaji. Koshy said most of the artworks portray figures of animals, signs and abstract symbols rather than anthropoids. “The animal motifs are portrayed with decorations on their bodies including geometric bands and patterns. Most of the non-figurative art forms are complex with dot decorations in between the lines and patterns,” he said. Figures of animals such as deer, salt water crocodile, giraffe, wild boar, camel, turtle, hyena, butterfly, monkey and donkey, as well as a boat with two humans and a human with raised hair and hands and legs extended outward, were recorded. “The butterfly could be indicative of the spring season which would be the ideal season for habitation in this valley,” said P D Balaji, head, department of ancient history and archaeology, University of Madras. Different types of spears and many abstract symbols were also noticed on the walls of the rock shelters. Some animals, especially the deer, are seen with spears penetrating their bodies. “Of the 145 rock shelters, four have evidence of the use of white pigment for painting the rock surface. The themes and style of these artworks are different from those executed with red ochre. The paintings executed with white pigments have many human figures with abstract symbols,” said Koshy. Artefacts like microlithic stone tools, hematite nodules with serration marks indicating they were used for extracting colour and calcified bones were noticed on the surface of these rock shelters. Balaji said two cultural phases can be observed in the paintings that use hematite and white pigments. “Phase I can be dated to the mesolithic period based on stylistic grounds, themes and superimposition of paintings while Phase II can be dated to the Iron Age,” he said.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/prehistoric-rock-art-site-discovered-in-kurnool/articleshow/64116144.cms, May 11, 2018

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Second life for folk museum

Free entry from 10am to 7pm, selfies with exhibits, mementoes inspired by artefacts and more kept Gurusaday Museum abuzz with activity on Thursday, the private collector's 136th birth anniversary. The museum in Joka, a treasure trove of kanthawork, patachitra, dokra and other artefacts, fell on hard times after the central government stopped funding it in December last year. A sustained social media campaign by two research scholars, an archaeologist and an anthropologist has given the museum a fresh lease of life. The campaign to Save Bengal's Folk History is aimed at reviving the cash-strapped museum and attracting more visitors. The efforts bore fruit as hundreds of visitors, including schoolchildren, dropped in at the museum on Thursday. Banners with the slogan Love the Museum welcomed all visitors. Food stalls, cultural programmes and merchandise on sale kept the visitors happy. They were also invited to take selfies with any exhibit of their choice. "We are just trying to jazz up the birth anniversary celebrations and make the museum more attractive. People should be aware of the rich treasure it houses," said Malavika Banerjee, the director of Kolkata Literary Meet and Byloom and one of the players in the museum's revival. Banerjee first visited the museum 15 years ago and was taken aback by all the folk art lying in oblivion. Some of the artefacts at the museum date back to the 10th century. Research scholars Shrutakriti Dutta and Sujaan Mukherjee, archaeologist Tathagata Neogi and anthropologist Chelsea McGill, along with Banerjee, ran an online campaign and uploaded a campaign video on YouTube to spread the word. "We want to start a crowdfunding effort to save the museum and help it sustain itself. We want to work in tandem with the staff and authorities here," Dutta said. The museum's 13-member staff have not received their salaries for over seven months, said the museum's executive secretary and curator, Bijan Mondal. "Today we have seen many firsts, including the selfie fest. A celebration of this scale till 7pm would have been unthinkable before," he said. The celebrations culminated in a discussion on The Life of Our Heritage that had panellists - Jayanta Sengupta, the secretary-curator of Victoria Memorial Hall; Bappaditya Biswas, the creative partner of Byloom; and Snehangshu Sekhar Das, designer at the Regional Design and Technical Development Centre, office of the development commissioner (handicrafts), ministry of textiles - offering suggestions on how to make the museum attractive. Sengupta spoke about how a museum must be more than just a silent custodian of the past. "It has to reach out to people through smart storytelling," he said. His advice: Organise workshops, reach out through the social media, engage the audience through proactive and interactive smart thinking, improve display and hook kids with the help of audio-visual clips. The Victoria Memorial curator offered to hold an exhibition of items from Gurusaday Museum on the Victoria grounds. "We can help restore some collectibles," he said. Devsaday Dutt, grandson of Gurusaday Dutt, welcomed the idea. "The museum should be of a seat of knowledge. There are 275 paintings of Abanindranath Tagore and several Jamini Roys here. The storytelling in kantha artworks here will entice anybody," he said.

- https://www.telegraphindia.com/calcutta/second-life-for-folk-museum-229656, May 11, 2018

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Inscriptions throw light on Kakatiya period

Inscriptions offer a fascinating insight into the ancient culture and mores of that period. AP (Akkenepalle) Lingotam, a tiny village 90 kms east of Hyderabad, under Narketpally mandal has a lot to offer such insights. Half-a-kilometre outside the village, there are some remains of prehistoric life, sculptures of Bala Subramanyam, Bhairava, Panavattam, Veeragallu, Vinayaka and an inscription of Kakatiya era. But for the lone unroofed temple of Lord Hanuman, the place wears a deserted look. They lie in neglect suggesting the sordid state of historical monuments. Kotha Telangana Charitra Brundam (KTCB) member Ragi Murali who stumbled upon the inscription, believed to be made in 1246, searched the neighbourhood extensively. Further he found tools of early stone-age – hand-axe, pot shreds, rock grooves (used to polish/sharpen stone axes) etc. This he found on the surface without having to dig in the place. According to local lore, the earliest habitation was on the western side of the present village. The locals say that there were two temples - Ramalayam and Shivalayam - on the northern side of their village but now they don’t exist. Megalithic burials (Rakasi gullu in local parlance) which used to exist were also removed for cultivation, the locals said. Speaking to The Hans India, the KTCB member and historian S Ramoju Haragopal said: “The 39-line Lingotam inscription written in Telugu-Sanskrit, which has Nandi etched on it, was a land donation. The donation was made by Maha Pradhana, Rayasthapanacharya Chengaldeva Nayaka on behalf of his son Ganapaiah for the maintenance of the deities - Ganapeshwara and Rajyapalli Neeladevara - for the wellbeing of the then Kakati Ganapathi Deva Chakravarthy.” The names of donees Rajaiah and Manchajaiah, believed to be of Shaivite, he added. Even today this land is called as ‘Bapandla Madulu’ (land of Brahmins). Hara Gopal says that there are instances of heirs constructing temples and donating land in memory of their elders, but here Chengaldeva donated land on behalf of his deceased son Ganapaiah. It was in vogue in those days that Shaivites used to place Nandi idols on graves and in front of temples. “We have found a similar inscription some time ago at Appajipet village, 10 kms from Lingotam, he said, referring to the usage of titles - Rayasthapanacharya and Swamydroharaganda – in Kakatiya period written in PV Parabrahma Shastry’s book Kakateeyulu.” History takes us to our roots and how can it be neglected, he said, referring to the dire need of a deeper study on inscriptions and remains of yesteryears.

- http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Khammam-Tab/2018-05-10/Inscriptions-throw-light-on-Kakatiya-period/380369, May 11, 2018

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Kolkata steps up ways to conserve heritage

Kolkata is a city that speaks to you in stories. Every by-lane, every corner of the city has its own tale to tell. Of late, heritage awareness has become the "talk of the town". The city recently witnessed the Citizen's March from Subodh Mullick Square to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, organized by the joint initiatives of CAL (Calcutta Architectural Legacies), Intach and NGO Public, on World Heritage Day, 18 April, against the "'systemic destruction" of the city's heritage. To coincide with the growing civic movement and spread awareness, several initiatives have been taken by people from various backgrounds. Many city schools have formed heritage clubs and are actively working to make students aware of their roots. The schools, along with Intach, have started projects where they have to make short films on heritage sites, historical places, forgotten cultures and rituals, traditional art forms and dying professions. Shankar Subramaniam, teacher, The Heritage School said: "By making short films on topics like this the students get to know about our rich heritage as these requires a lot of research." Among other initiatives, heritage walking tours have gained much popularity among Kolkatans. The idea behind these tours are to make locals familiar with the nooks and crannies of the city. Deepanjan Ghosh, heritage and history blogger feels tours on the ground can only promote and preserve heritage. Several small exhibitions, talk-shows are also being organized to conserve and reclaim the unique character of the historical city by preserving its buildings and neighbourhoods. Tathagata Neogi, founder of Heritage Walks Calcutta said, "These are a part of the larger process that supplement the walking tours. Not everyone can walk. So the affordable talks, exhibitions and researched short films are other ways to reach people." Author Amit Chaudhuri feels that whether it is through walking, talking, writing or films, it is necessary to re-discover the city and its spaces. Facebook is also playing a key role in this civic movement. Swarnali Chattopadhyay, admin of Purono Kolkatar Golpo, one such facebook group said: "To make the neighbourhood known and to spread heritage awareness was the sole objective behind this group."

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/kolkata-steps-up-ways-to-conserve-heritage/articleshow/64156833.cms, May 14, 2018

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Hotel group to run Danish tavern

Three centuries since the advertisement came out in the Calcutta Gazette, The Denmark Tavern - fitted out identically - starts afresh. Only Mr Parr has been replaced by The Park, Calcutta. The hospitality chain owned by the Apeejay Surrendra Group has entered into an agreement with the state government to "manage the property of The Denmark Tavern", which has been recently renovated and refurbished as a cafe with six rooms for lodging. "We will manage the property on behalf of the state government," an official of The Park said. The tavern had been in a shambles with gnarled tree roots entwined around most of the structure, the wooden louvres broken and discoloured and the inside staircase in ruins. It was just another derelict structure in Serampore, which once went by the name of Fredricknagore and used to be a Danish colony till 1845, till a group of restorers, historians and experts from Denmark set sight on it. The two-storeyed structure by the Hooghly was identified as Denmark Hotel and Tavern, where the Danes had kept their flagstaff and cannons. It took around two years to restore the tavern to its former glory as part of Serampore Initiative, a restoration programme for several Danish heritage structures led by the National Museum of Denmark and funded by Realdania, a private trust in Denmark, in collaboration with state heritage commission, and Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach). The tavern was restored at a cost of Rs 5 crore, the expenses borne by Realdania and the Bengal tourism department and inaugurated on March 1. The cafe, with its double storeyed atrium, resembles Indian Coffee House in Calcutta. On the first floor are six plush rooms to be let out to boarders. Guests can now enjoy a quiet break on the bank of Hooghly and enjoy the sights and sounds of old-world Serampore.

- https://www.telegraphindia.com/calcutta/hotel-group-to-run-danish-tavern-230341, May 14, 2018

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It was a sight to behold as Charminar revelled in LED glitter!

It was a sight to behold for the hundreds of tourists, hawkers and citizens on Saturday evening as the top two levels and arches of Hyderabad’s iconic monument, Charminar shone brightly having been lit up with LED lights as part of a ‘heritage lighting project’. The aim of this project is to showcase the original beauty of the monument and sure enough, the iconic Charminar stood tall in all its grandeur and magnificence as passerbys gazed at it in astonishment. The event, which was organised by Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) and GHMC, aimed at highlighting heritage and historical importance of the monument to citizens and make them part of the restoration work, which has been currently going on at the site of the architectural marvel. “This is the first time a ‘heritage lighting’ is being done for Charminar. We haven’t used any kind of heat intensive lighting for the monument. The objective is to showcase the architectural splendour, beauty of the monument with proper lighting to showcase the lost glory of the monument,” said Sai Tallpragada, coordinator of International Association of Lighting Designers. GHMC officials, who have been undertaking beautification works around the monument, are elated with the progress they have made so far. “You will see a different picture of Charminar in six months once we complete the beautification process. We have adopted the famous beautification project of Istanbul’s Blue Mosque as a role model. It is purely a citizen-driven project,” said, GHMC director (Town Planning), K Srinivasa Rao.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/events/hyderabad/it-was-a-sight-to-behold-as-charminar-revelled-in-led-glitter/articleshow/64136435.cms, May 14, 2018

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National Numismatic Exhibition 2018: Revisiting history through coins, currency notes

India's first online museum for ancient and current coins, stamps and currency notes, Mintage World, is bringing a rare collection of coins, currency notes and stamps at the National Numismatic Exhibition 2018 in New Delhi. Fifty coins dating back to over 2,000 years—some of which belong to the third and fourth century BC—are on display. These have been acquired from collectors and exhibitors from across India. The currency notes, on the other hand, are of different eras, including the ones with printing mistakes. Also on display are stamps and antique paintings by Indian artists. Every coin is uploaded with well curated important aspects like mintmarks, inscription details, emperor, weight, metal, denomination, date of issue, among others. Similarly, the crucial insights of stamps like the issue date, type of stamp, perforation and value are available. Information about notes is updated with signatory details, motif description, denomination, date of issue and type of note. Mukesh Verma, president, Royal Numismatic Society, who has also curated the show, says that this is the third time such an exhibition is on display in Delhi. Calling it an exhibition done for the purpose of involving people's participation, Verma says, “The idea to conduct it is for educational purposes and to encourage people to revisit past. That's why the coins that existed during the period of Mughal dynasty, Delhi Sultanate, Alauddin Khilji, Muhammad bin Tughlaq and Sayyid dynasty are displayed on the same platform.” Starting from Kushan coins to the ones that exist today, such an exhibition shares knowledge and creates interest for general public, students, scholars, collectors, hobbyists, buyers, sellers and investors. “I feel that this initiative will help re-emphasise the glorious history, arts and cultural legacy of India and put our country on the global map of collectors,” says Verma. Besides these collections, Mintage World is also opening doors for the people to purchase the displayed coins, currency and antique paintings. Jayesh Gala, consultant, Mintage World, says that two auctions are also in store. “We are conducting two auctions—one on May 19 and other on May 20 where all coins, currency and antique paintings will be auctioned, giving people a chance to buy them. “We are also conducting free workshops to make people understand and identify coins, notes and stamps. Through these, people will be able to identify the language (in case of foreign currency), history and their year of origin. A brochure with all the details and the currency is also available for deeper understanding. I feel, this way, people will be able to take a peek into the transformation the currency has witnessed over the years.” The ongoing exhibition is taking place at All India Fine Arts & Crafts Society in New Delhi and will conclude on May 21.

- https://www.theweek.in/leisure/society/2018/05/14/Mintage-World-Revisiting-history-through-coins-currency-notes.html, May 14, 2018

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1,200 more artefacts unearthed in Keezhadi

More than 1,200 antiquities and artefacts have been unearthed in Keezhadi in the excavations being undertaken by the Tamil Nadu Department of Archaeology. So far, five trenches (11 quadrants) have been excavated at the site. “The unearthed antiquities consist of potsherds, terracotta figurines, a ring well, terracotta beads, carnelian beads, shell bangles and iron pieces, among others,” an official in the department told The Hindu.

Covers coconut grove

This phase of excavations by the State Archaeological Department began in mid-April, officials said. “The current area being excavated covers a coconut grove and is spread around 15-20 acres,” an official said. Once the excavation is completed, the trenches would be closed and the land would be returned to the farm owners in its previous condition, officials said. The project had been dogged by controversies including delays in provision of funds by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), replacement of project officials, and refusal to grant an extension for the excavations. Following these issues, the State government sought approvals from the Central Advisory Board of Archaeology (CABA) to undertake excavations on its own. The CABA gave its approval in October 2017. The State government sanctioned Rs. 55 lakh in 2017-18 to undertake the excavations at Keezhadi. In the three phases of excavations undertaken by the ASI in 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, a total of 7,818 artefacts were unearthed.

- http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/1200-more-artefacts-unearthed-in-keezhadi/article23876516.ece, May 14, 2018

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Skeletons found at 10th century Rajasthan excavation site sent for dating

More than three human skeletons, without any ornaments or antiquarian remains, were found recently in the ongoing excavation site of Juna Khera at Nadol in Rajasthan. The site is expected to reveal details of life in the area in 10th-12th century. "We will perform carbon dating to know its exact date," says Hridesh Sharma, Director of Archaeology & Museums, Government of Rajasthan, adding that it came as a surprise that these skeletons were only slightly decomposed. The skeletons were not buried but found in the courtyard and on the floor at the site. For this reason, they may be assumed to be contemporary, but carbon dating would put to rest the questions raised. On April 30, the second year of the excavation ended. The third season will start in November 2018. After visiting the site, protected under the Rajasthan monuments and antiquities Act 1961, it was decided by the authorities to re-excavate the site for understanding its town-planning, social stratification, public architecture and cultural sequence of the ancient settlements. "We expect some crucial information dating back from 10th to 12th century to come out as this is the only site of its kind across the state having tremendous archaeological potential of Chauhan settlement of early medieval period in early 12th century AD," Sharma told IANS. The surface survey revealed that the site of Juna Khera had a very large settlement. "Hence we felt that there is an urgent need to record its chrono-stratigraphy. It will also be useful to know the function of township," Sharma added. He said permission for excavation was sought from the Archaeological Survey of India after proof of human settlement was found during the survey in 2015. Sharma said that in the last two excavation seasons, architectural remains of houses, residential areas and workshops had been exposed. It was found that residential areas were constructed by locally available granite stone and bricks. Mud mortar was used as binding material in the walls, while iron clamps were used for joining stones of different sizes. Unfinished and finished stones were also seen on the floors. The excavation also revealed traces of living rooms and kitchen with burning activities. Pottery, finished and unfinished beads, coins, iron objects of different types and copper rings were also recovered during this season's excavation work. Seals bearing inscription in early Devanagari characters were found. The discovery of the coins with the word "La" came as a surprise. These coins could have been issued by "Lakshamana", the founder of the Chauhan branch of Nadol, according to Sharma. The excavation also revealed a kiln or furnace which indicated a workshop, probably of beads found at the site. One of the trenches had iron implements. "We are trying to establish the cultural sequence of the site," he said. The excavations also gave evidence of agricultural products used during the era, including wheat, black gram, Moong, Moth, Rice, Arhar and Kulthi. The grains are being sent for study and dating to the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences in Lucknow. Soil samples too have been sent. It also came to light that animals such as sheep, cattle and camel were reared for their milk. Sharma said that artefacts recovered from the site would be displayed at a hall they had in Juna Khera. If they discover more artefacts, one more hall would be built to showcase the material for history lovers, Sharma said. Many European scholars in the 19th century are known to have visited the site and written about material found there. James Tod, a British Officer in the East India Company and a historian, has given details about the site in his book 'Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan'. The area was said to be occupied by the Stone Age man since lower palaeolithic period.

- https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/science/skeletons-found-at-10th-century-rajasthan-excavation-site-sent-for-dating/articleshow/64171202.cms, May 15, 2018

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Listen to stories of old cantonment towns

Gulnaz Khan was born in Fraser Town. Her grandfather served in the British Indian Army. Though she now lives in Richards Town, Ms. Khan has very fond memories of Fraser Town. “Every morning, when we would head to school, the entire street would resemble a carpet of flowers. We would hop and jump over them,” she says, remembering the tree canopy, something she greatly misses now. This and many such memories of long-time residents of the old cantonment towns will be part of a one-hour long film to be screened by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) on May 20. Speaking about the making of the film, Meera Iyer, co-convenor of INTACH, said, “The film is a result of the exhibition ‘Towns of City’ that was conducted last year to showcase the heritage and culture of Fraser Town, Cooke Town, Richards Town, Benson Town and Cox Town through walks, photographs and talks. We had spoken to numerous long timers, who gave anecdotes of the places. We recorded them and felt that sharing them with the public will make them know the neighbourhood better and also feel more connected to it.” The film documents the memories of about 25 families living in these areas. “Most of them are descendants of original settlers,” she added. Some narrators will also share their ideas for the future of these towns and how to preserve what remains of their heritage. “It is important for these stories to be told to preserve and promote the cultural and architectural heritage of these towns,” Ms. Iyer said.

- http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/listen-to-stories-of-old-cantonment-towns/article23905480.ece, May 16, 2018

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Restored in 2004, haveli to now serve as museum

Vasudev Captain Chowk is a busy intersection where roads branch off to Khari Baoli, Swami Sharaddhanand Marg and Naya Bazar. It is a typically chaotic part of Old Delhi, noisy and crowded. Amid the disorder, there might now be a reason to take a break and enter a noble, yellow and red-brown structure of some vintage. The building is a classic Shahjahanabad haveli, restored in 2004 but lying neglected and encroached since. It is now to transform into a museum showcasing the old culture of the Walled City. North Delhi Municipal Corporation has started the process to hire experts and architects to redevelop the 1929-built heritage residence, informally called Shri Narayan Haveli. At the moment, several commercial outfits have taken over parts of the complex and the building itself shows signs of dilapidation, particular on its jharokhas and the roof. A corporation official, mandated to oversee the revival project, said, “The two-storey haveli had been under lock and key for over a decade. We have now started whitewashing the interiors and issued the tender for hiring cultural experts and architects.” This haveli is a municipal property from where a one-room dispensary used to function prior to 2003. The restored structure was inaugurated in 2004, but nothing much changed beyond this. A dusty plaque declaring the building to be the ‘Walled City Museum’ and the cavernous, empty rooms are cruel reminders of a failed project. When TOI visited the haveli on Wednesday, it found several encroachers like barbers, workers and others residing on the outer premises of the complex. A section of the ornate balcony facing the road to Khari Baoli had fallen off, while the decaying walls were covered by several illegal hoardings. The anterior portion of the structure had been recently whitewashed. Nanhe, a resident of the locality, informed, “The courtyard of the haveli served as a parking lot for shopkeepers and was cleared of the encroachments only a few days ago.” Civic officials disclosed that artefacts, old pictures, books, paintings and a collection of items like old jharokhas and pillars from the Mughal era (Shahjahanabad post-1638) would be displayed in the new museum to make it a one-stop centre for people wanting a peek into Delhi’s historic past. A library and landscaping of the surroundings are also in the pipeline. “We will also revive some of the plans from the 2004 project such as recreating glimpses of the Kinari Bazaar, the typical baithaks (drawing rooms) of havelis and the bangle markets of Old Delhi,” the official added. The financially strained corporation will fund the project using money allocated by the Union ministry of culture. “The overall project cost is around Rs 4 crore. We received the first instalment of Rs 80 lakh last year,” the official added.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/restored-in-2004-haveli-to-now-serve-as-museum/articleshow/64196864.cms, May 16, 2018

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Re-visiting Khangkhui caves

Few weeks back, I went for a study-tour, along with my students of History Department, D.M. College of Arts, to Khangkhui caves in Ukhrul. The caves are about 11 km to the south-east of Ukhrul town. These caves have, over the years, attracted researchers, tourists and adventurers. The caves were once occupied by the people of the Stone Age, in all probability, our forefathers. So these caves are significant pre-historic sites and heritage of the State which today’s generation needs to acquaint with. To my surprise, the students were very enthusiastic of visiting the place and they suggested me the place for our study tour. It was my first visit as was also for many of the students. It was a great opportunity for me to visit the pre-historic site as I teach a unit on Archaeology, including the pre-historic phases of South Asia, to First Semester students.

Phases of Pre-History in South Asia
Palaeolithic Age, or Old Stone Age, represents the earliest phase of pre-history, or Stone Age. Archaeologists have, over the years, found numerous Palaeolithic sites in India.

They have studied these sites meticulously. Today the Palaeolithic Age in South Asia is divided into three phases, marked by the type of stone tools, used by the people. The first phase is the Early/Lower Palaeolithic (600,000-150,000 BC), the second is the Middle Palaeolithic (150,000-35,000 BC), and the last phase is the Upper Palaeolithic (35,000-10,000). People of the Lower Palaeolithic Age used hand axes, cleavers and choppers. Material remains of this age are found in valley of river Son, or Soan Valley (now in Pakistan), Kashmir and Thar Desert, Belan Valley (UP), Bhimbetka (MP), etc. People in Middle Palaeolithic Age used flakes, and blades, points, borers and scrapers were the principal tools. The sites of this age coincide with that of Lower Palaeolithic Age. So far, 566 Upper Palaeolithic sites have been located in South Asia. The phase was characterised by the presence of grassland dotted with trees, decrease in humidity, which resulted in increase in population. It coincided with the last phase of Pleistocene (or Ice Age/2 million – 12,000 BC). The people of this age used blades, burins and bone tools. Remains of the age are found in Andhra, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Central part of Madhya Pradesh, parts of UP, etc. In general, people of the Palaeolithic Age survived on hunting and food gathering. They lived in caves, rock shelters and in the open, mostly in river banks. Art of painting on walls of caves developed in the Upper Palaeolithic phase. These paintings, which depict predominantly dance and hunting scenes, are well preserved at the rock shelters and caves at Bhimbetka, near Bhopal. The culture of belief in the Supreme Being, or creator, developed in the Upper Palaeolithic phase. The material remains which suggest worship of Mother Goddess during the phase comes from Soan Valley and Baghor I in Madhya Pradesh. The Palaeolithic Age in South Asia is followed by Mesolithic, or Middle Stone Age (9000-4000 BC) and Neolithic, or New Stone Age (7000-1000 BC). Old Stone Age in Manipur. In Manipur, Songu Cave in Chandel District (discovered in 1983), Khangkhui Cave in Ukhrul District, Machi in Chandel District and Nongpok Keithelmanbi in Senapati District are the significant sites where material remains of Palaeolithic Age are found. The first systematic archaeological excavations of most of these Palaeolithic sites were done by the renowned Archaeologist and Anthropologist, Dr. O. Kumar Singh. It was after the publication of the findings of the studies that Manipur was included in the pre-historic map of India. O. Kumar published his slim volume of his overall research findings, titled Archaeology of Manipur (1988). O. Kumar is of the opinion that human settlement in Manipur began since the pre-historic times, and the earliest settlement took place in the hills, particularly in the Songu cave in Chandel and Khangkhui caves in Ukhrul District. Later, towards the closing stage of the Pleistocene era, probably, due to increase in temperature, primitive people came down to the lower altitude near the periphery of the valley, and the present archaeological evidences show that the Neolithic people populated the valley as early as about 2000 BC, he concludes. O. Kumar, who served as Superintendent of the State Archaeology Department, Manipur, explored and excavated many archaeological sites in Manipur and published books based on his findings. Some of the books are Napachik, a Stone Age site in the Manipur Valley (1983), Report on the 1994 Excavation of Sekta, Manipur (1997), Importance of Kangla (2005) and Pottery through the Ages (2009).

Khangkhui Caves
Khangkhui caves were mentioned by several explorers, including the explorer, botanist and naturalist, Frank Kingdon-Ward (1885-1958), who found Shirui Lily on the Shirui Hills. The Khangkhui caves are part of the limestone hill range, which lies at an elevation of 1,767 above sea level. Khangkhui caves consist of four caves. O. Kumar, during his excavation undertaken at Khangkhui caves in 1969, discovered large number of pre-historic artefacts from two of the caves. A preliminary digging at the caves yielded many stone and bone tools along with fossilized faunal remains of cervus, sus, bovine, etc. The stone tools were mostly flake and blade tools, along with few core tools. The flake tools comprise of different types of scrapers, points, burins, borers, knife, etc. The core tools consisted of hand axes, cleaver, and choppers. Most of the tools were made of limestone, while a few were made of sandstone, quartz and chert. The bone tools found comprised of points, scrapers, chisels, perforators and blunted back knives. H.D. Sankalia (Indian Archaeology Today, 1979) suggests that the tools were manufactured on a branded variety of cert or sandstone, and made on a flattish, ovallish pebble. The stone tools found at Khangkhui caves, according to O. Kumar, are comparable to that of Choukoutien Cultures of China. It was at Choukoutien site that one of the first specimens of Homo erectus, popularly called Peking man, was discovered. A stream, which is a tributary of the Thoubal River, flows near the western hillock, which made the Khangkhui area suitable for human habitation and settlement. Archaeologist, T.C. Sharma (quoted in Gangumei Kamei, History of Manipur, 2011) also points out that the remains found at the Khangkhui caves were of Upper or Late Palaeolithic phase. However, a popular legend relates that Khangkhui caves, locally known as Khangkhui Mangsor, was the abode of a king, named Mangsorwung, who lived with his family at the caves. A chamber was occupied by his first wife, while another chamber by his second wife. The other caves were named after his sons. The biggest hall had the throne of the king. It is said that Maharaj Budhachandra (1941-1955) visited the Khangkhui caves in 1942. He erected a memorial stone at the entrance of the cave. However, the stone is not seen today.

Middle and New Stone Ages in Manipur
The Hoabinhian culture represents the transitional period between the Palaeolithic and Neolithic in South-East Asia, which is known as Mesolitic in other parts of the world. The remains, found at Tharon caves in Tamenglong District and Nongpok Keithelmanbi in Senapati, indicate existence of Hoabinhian culture. The remains of Neolithic come from Napachik, Wangu in Bishenpur and Phunan in Imphal District. Archaeological studies in Manipur. Archaeological excavations and studies were initiated in Manipur as early as 1935 by the first Archaeologist and Linguist of Manipur, W. Yumjao Singh. He conducted excavations and studies at Kameng, Sangaithen and collected archaic manuscripts, copper-plates and coins. A report on these archaeological findings was published as Report on the Archaeological Studies in Manipur (1935). Many of his material findings were send for examination by experts to the Indian Museum at Calcutta. However, the analysis reports were never published. W. Yumjao wrote several books on early history of Manipur, including An Early History of Manipur (1966) Ancient Religion of Manipur (1967) and Archaic Meitei (1985). It may be mentioned that the State Government started excavation, exploration and preservation of the archaeological sites and remains, and the ancient and historical monuments with the institution of Manipur State Archaeology in 1978. In 2005, the Kangla Fort Board was set-up, under the Kangla Fort Act, 2005, to oversee the administration and development of the Kangla, the ancient capital of Manipur. Over the years, the Manipur State Archaeology has located and studied many pre-historic and historic sites, sculptures and monuments, and taken up steps for their preservation. The Kangla Fort Board has also initiated the work of restoration and preservation of the Kangla and its monuments. However, many of the pre-historic sites in the interiors of the State need further studies and protection.

- http://e-pao.net/epSubPageExtractor.asp?src=travel.Introduction_to_Manipur.Re_visiting_Khangkhui_caves_By_Syed_Ahmed, May 16, 2018

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INTACH delegation met Pritam Singh, request for transferring many Odisha related documents, records from New Delhi

A delegation of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) today met Pritam Singh, the Director General of the National Archives of India at the Bhubaneswar Centre and handed over a memorandum with the request for transferring many Odisha related documents and records from New Delhi. The National Archives of India, which just completed its 125th anniversary, is under the Ministry of Culture and has a Regional Office at Bhopal and three Records Centres at Jaipur, Puducherry and Bhubaneswar. The three member delegation led by INTACH State Convenor Amiya Bhusan Tripathy, Bhubaneswar Chapter Convenor Baikuntha Panigrahi and Projects Co-ordinator Anil Dhir met the Director General and appraised him of the difficulties faced by scholars and researchers who have to go to Delhi to access the records. The New Delhi office is holding many important and valuable records pertaining to Odisha, many of them have not even been listed. In the memorandum, they specifically mentioned that the entire records of the Orissa State Agency (1917-1947) in 18 Volumes, the Balasore Factory Records and The Bengal Public Consultations in 22 Vols are of great importance, and the only copies are in Delhi. According to A.B.Tripathy, the lack of proper access to records and documents, both from the National and the State Archives is a big hindrance for proper research and writing correct history. He said that if the originals could not be brought, the digitized version and microfilm copies could be easily made available. He stressed that a proper catalogue and listing of the Odisha papers should be made and published as a book. Anil Dhir stressed that important documents like the original Will of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in which he had bequeathed the Koh-I-Noor to the Jagannath Temple should be displayed at the Bhubaneswar centre. He said that the dearth of proper records was an impediment when the history of the Na’Anka Durbhikshya was being written by him. He said that many important documents relating to the Paika Revolt too are there. Dhir said that the India Office Library at London has the biggest collection of Orissa related papers, especially of the Colonial period including a vast collection of Palm Leaf Manuscripts which have all been either microfilmed or digitized. They have been classified under the Private Paper Series and are available to scholars on-line in the Continent and America. The National Archives of India too should make arrangements for on-line access to these records. According to Dhir, he has seen a huge collection of Odisha related material at the William Carey Library at Serampore, many of which are missionary accounts, Jagannath Temple records, maritime and military records and botanical, geological and zoological studies. Even the Asiatic Society at Kolkata has a huge collection of maps, papers and photographs relating to Odisha. Besides this, important Odisha related papers were lying boxed in the Tamil Nadu Archives at Chennai and the West Bengal State Archives; no one knows what they contain. Baikuntha Panigrahi said that the only copies of the ‘Daridra Nian’ by Gangadhar Mishra, a proscribed literature are there at the Delhi Office of the National Archives. He said that the National Archives should make its publications available at the Bhubaneswar Centre and also take up the printing of many rare and out of print Odia books. He also stressed that the Orissa State Archives too should catalogue and list the huge number of stored documents and take steps for the easy dissemination of these information. The Director General said that the National Archives was in the process of digitizing nearly 3 crore documents and assured that he would prioritize the important Odisha papers. Dr. M.A. Haque, the Deputy Director of Archives and Dr. Lalatendu Das Mohapatro, Assistant Director too were present at the meeting.

- http://orissadiary.com/intach-delegation-met-pritam-singh-request-transferring-many-odisha-related-documents-records-new-delhi/, May 17, 2018

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10th century human skeletons found at excavation site in Juna Khera

Skeletons were sent for ‘Carbon dating’ to know its exact date. The skeletons were not buried but found in the courtyard and on the floor at the site and were only slightly decomposed. MORE than three human skeletons, without any ornaments or antiquarian remains, were found recently in the ongoing excavation site of Juna Khera at Nadol in Rajasthan. The site is expected to reveal details of life in the area in 10th-12th century. “We will perform carbon dating to know its exact date,” says Hridesh Sharma, Director of Archaeology & Museums, Government of Rajasthan, adding that it came as a surprise that these skeletons were only slightly decomposed. The skeletons were not buried but found in the courtyard and on the floor at the site. For this reason, they may be assumed to be contemporary, but carbon dating would put to rest the questions raised. On April 30, the second year of the excavation ended. The third season will start in November 2018. After visiting the site, protected under the Rajasthan monuments and antiquities Act 1961, it was decided by the authorities to re-excavate the site for understanding its town-planning, social stratification, public architecture and cultural sequence of the ancient settlements. “We expect some crucial information dating back from 10th to 12th century to come out as this is the only site of its kind across the State having tremendous archaeological potential of Chauhan settlement of early medieval period in early 12th century AD,” Sharma told IANS. The surface survey revealed that the site of Juna Khera had a very large settlement. “Hence we felt that there is an urgent need to record its chrono-stratigraphy. It will also be useful to know the function of township,” Sharma added. He said that permission for excavation was sought from the Archaeological Survey of India after proof of human settlement was found during the survey in 2015. Sharma said that in the last two excavation seasons, architectural remains of houses, residential areas and workshops had been exposed. It was found that residential areas were constructed by locally available granite stone and bricks. Mud mortar was used as binding material in the walls, while iron clamps were used for joining stones of different sizes. Unfinished and finished stones were also seen on the floors. Pottery, finished and unfinished beads, coins, iron objects of different types and copper rings were also recovered during this season’s excavation work. Seals bearing inscription in early Devanagari characters were found. The discovery of the coins with the word ‘La’ came as a surprise.

- http://thehitavada.com/Encyc/2018/5/17/10th-century-human-skeletons-found-at-excavation-site-in-Juna-Khera.aspx, May 17, 2018

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Gujarat's oldest museum started as an art school

Kutch Museum, the state's oldest museum, will feed your mind with the delightful nostalgic flavour of the historic Maharaja of Kutch Khengarji III. Just 141-year-old, the Kutch Museum has a unique tale to unfold. Opened on July 1, 1877, by the then Maharaja, the place used to be a trove of precious gifts which he received during his marriage. "The kings used to make decorative things for royal weddings. They used to receive precious gift as well. It was not any different when the Maharaja of Cutch, Khengarji III, got married," said Shefalika Awasthi, curator of Kutch Museum. "An exhibition, based on the land's rich arts and craft was organised, during his wedding and 5897 items were put on display," added the curator. The things have been put on display since then, said Awasthi. However, until independence, visitors had access to the museum only during the special events. "The museum worked as an art school until independence, where the Brit and the people from the royal dynasty learnt about the local Kutchi art and craft," the curator said. Later, a building was erected and a foundation stone was laid by James Ferguson, the then governor of Bombay. The museum was adversely affected during the 2001 massive earthquake. The historic place has a daily footfall of around 80 to 90 people, and the number doubles during the winter. It has eleven sections. One of its sections deals with pieces of archaeology, including some amazing relics found during the excavation of the site. It is to be noted that the highest number of Indus Valley civilization site have been found from Kutch region. Objects carved out from ivory — including paper-cutter, scissors, comb, spoon, hairpin and knife — make the place graceful. There is an Airavat from the 18th century. The wooden masterpiece has trunks, each crowned by a temple. The government of India, in 1978, issued a postal stamp showing this Airaval to commemorate it as the museum of the century. Gauri Mehta, a visitor, said, "Kutch has a very rich culture. I just came to know about it from the tribes here and the vast collection of art and craft items. The relics of Kshtrapa period is also unique." "One needs hours to complete visiting this place," she said.

- http://www.dnaindia.com/ahmedabad/report-gujarat-s-oldest-museum-started-as-an-art-school-2616416, May 18, 2018

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Reviving ancient ‘audio-visual’ medium of storytelling

It was an ‘audio-visual’ medium chosen by the medieval Rajasthanis to narrate story of Dev Narayan, one of the Bhomias (protectors) of the community — a painted cloth scroll depicting life journey of the hero, accompanied by live performance to narrate the story where the characters come alive from the scroll. To mark the International Museum Day on May 18, LD Museum has organized an interactive session on the narrative scroll. The museum has a parh (painted cloth scroll) dating back to 1939 which is 32 feet wide and five feet tall and is prepared by Nathalal Joshi, a traditional parh maker from Bhilwara. Prof Ratan Parimoo, director of the museum, said that the parh is meticulously restored and framed as an example of crafsmanship and rich heritage of story-telling. India has a long history of story scrolls, dating back to 6th century BC where Buddhist monks used to paint scenes from Jataka tales to take it to the masses. “These pictorial scrolls narrate the intricately-woven story of three generations of Baghrawat Dev Narayan. The figure of Dev Narayan is painted in centre of the scroll as his life events are painted in a pattern from one end to another. The scroll, having hundreds of images, is considered portable shrine in which backdrop the performance consisting of singing and dancing takes place. In that sense, the scroll is visual equivalent to the gatha but it’s also the deity’s dwelling place,” said Parimoo. The figure of Dev Narayan is always accompanied by the mythical great serpent Vasuki, identified as ‘Basak Nag’ in the narrative. Like consecration of a deity in a temple, the parh is considered complete when the eye of Dev Narayan and the serpent are painted on the scroll. Painting a scroll also used to be an elaborate ritual from choosing a good date and time to handing it over to bhopa (priest) and the first performance on 11th day of the month of Kartik in Pushkar.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/reviving-ancient-audio-visual-medium-of-storytelling/articleshow/64212732.cms, May 18, 2018

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Heritage enthusiasts get a feel of Mumbai’s seafaring journey

A curated walk at the Maritime Mechanical Museum at Mumbai Port Trust workshop, Mazgaon, saw participation from 30 heritage enthusiasts, who explored the MbPT’s collection of nautical and mechanical instruments used in ships. Organised by Yes Culture in partnership with the Mumbai chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), the walk aimed at creating awareness of the museum. The INTACH has, for some time, been trying to get the government to declare the museum a heritage structure and make it a tourist attraction. Formerly known as the Bombay Port Trust, the MbPT set up the museum in 2013 under the leadership of the then deputy chief mechanical engineer, Dilip Vishwanathan.

It features memorabilia collected from various vessels that would come to the MbPT workshop for repairs and items from defunct vessels and lighthouses. The artefacts, which have been gathered over the years, include a sextant used in 1910, a foghorn from 1950 which is still functional, an ‘eight-day’ clock — one which needs to be rewound every eight days — used by mariners to tell the time based on latitude and longitude, and a flameproof telephone. All the artefacts have been collected from defunct vessels or lighthouses.

The museum is based on the architecture of a bygone era, with plenty of windows and holes in the ceiling to let the light in, in the absence of electricity. Even the furniture is in keeping with earlier times, heavy teak wood chairs. A large bell, used by mariners to signal their location to nearby smaller boats, has been placed at the entrance. A separate room has only photographs of various vessels, docks, sailors and equipment used by the MbPT over the years. Anita Yewale, a resource person at INTACH, said the museum is currently not open to the public, and that efforts are being taken to change the situation. While it was in good hands till Mr. Vishwanathan was there, it started getting neglected after his retirement in November 2016.

“The museum was opened to the public in June 2014, and then it abruptly shut down. It is still maintained, although poorly, and no one seems to know why this is the case. I am trying to get this museum transformed from an unorganised collection of artefacts to a proper curatorial museum,” Ms. Yewale said. The participants of the walk expressed concern about the state of the museum and the port. “The government needs to pay attention on commercialising the museum by opening it to the public. It might be a good idea to let private companies take over the maintenance, the way it happened with the Red Fort,” Preeti Bhatnagar, one of the participants, said.

- http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/heritage-enthusiasts-get-a-feel-of-mumbais-seafaring-journey/article23944769.ece, May 21, 2018

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Heritage tag project: Slow pace prompts clamour for Gujarat govt push

Disappointed with the pace at which the city's heritage tag project is moving, stakeholders associated with the project now want the state to push for speedy planning and implementation. Heritage entrepreneur and convenor of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Abhay Mangaldas recently wrote to Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani apprising him about the situation on the ground in reference to the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) report. On July 8, 2017, UNESCO declared the walled city of Ahmedabad a World Heritage City.

It took two decades of efforts to achieve the new status as Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) had set up Heritage Cell in 1996 to preserve heritage sites and restore those which were damaged. Prior to that in 1984, Ford Foundation had instituted a project to conserve city's heritage structures in the walled city. While the title brought a lot of honour to the city and scope to attract more tourists, nearly ten months later, experts are now worried about the project moving in snails pace. Says Abhay Mangaldas, "While there is an intention, unfortunately things are not moving ahead. The stakeholders have no idea what is happening with the city's heritage plan, which is why we have written to the CM seeking his appointment." "We want the state government's push for the project," Mangaldas said.

Other stakeholders, requesting anonymity, said the AMC can only do a bit as they are mainly responsible for the city's civic issues. Retaining this title is a massive project and to conserve 2,600 structures is a big task. For the Sabarmati riverfront project, special committees were formed by the state and central governments.

The task of implementing this project is entirely on the heritage department. Hence, we want proper infrastructure and committees to be formed. Another member said, "The technical committee of ICOMOS had deferred the title on certain grounds, but voting from different countries ensured the title came to Ahmedabad. However, it was clearly stated then that those grounds will have to be matched. There have been instances when the UNESCO revoked the title after review. Ahmedabad's review will take place in 2019 or 2020, so we need to have a solid plan in place.

If the state government frames policies and pushes for the same, it will help." When DNA spoke to Ketan Thakkar, deputy municipal commissioner, he said, "We are in the process of coming up with a plan. We have to submit it to ICOMOS within three years of the bagging the title. We will submit it by December 2019. We are meeting the stake holders and representatives of the Heritage Society – which we formed soon after inscription of the tag. We are also engaging experts and have roped in CEPT and Nirma universities to provide us with technical assistance. Such things take some time for execution."

- http://www.dnaindia.com/ahmedabad/report-heritage-tag-project-slow-pace-prompts-clamour-for-gujarat-govt-push-2617202, May 21, 2018

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The Jain connection in Tamil Nadu

The Government Museum, the second oldest museum in India, has organised a series of events from May 19 to May 24 to celebrate International Museum Day, which was on May 18. The celebrations started with an inaugural speech by K Pandiarajan, the honourable Minister for Tamil Official Language and Tamil Culture, followed by a talk by Su Venkatesan, Sahitya Academy award-winner. The first event for the day was a talk, followed by a walk, about the Jain monuments and sculptures. P Rajendra Prasad, an electrical engineer and the secretary of Ahimsa Walk, took to the podium. His speech began with the lives of Jain monks, who once lived in the natural caves in the hills. Treasures excavated from these caves include stone beds, inscriptions, paintings, cave temples, bas-reliefs, sculptures and temples.

“In Narayanapuram village, Vellore, a double-decker stone bed was found, which is highly unique,” he said. Rajendra further elaborated on Jain inscriptions, sculptures and paintings found across Tamil Nadu, which are now housed in the museum. Over forty inscriptions have been found from across 30 places. “In one of the inscriptions in Tirunatharkundru, Gingee, Villupuram district, the Tamil letter ‘I’ was found,” he said. He also spoke of paintings, like those of Lord Mahaveer which were seen on the roofs at Tiruparuthikundram village, near Kanchipuram. “We are grateful to the government as well as the museum for protecting the sculptures,” he said. Few of the sculptures were found in Padur tank, Chennai, Villupuram district, NH 45, Tindivanam, Pudukottai district, Kanchipuram and Thanjavur district. Following the talk, we were led on an insightful walk through the Jain Gallery.

The Sculpture Garden, located outdoors, had five Jain sculptures from between 10-12 Century AD. The five main sculptures were of Tirthankara, Mahavira from Valathottam, Chengalpattu, Tirthankara from Madras, Tirthankara from Badalur, Thanjavur, and Tirthankara from Arasavangadu, Thanjavur. The indoor sculpture gallery consists of 143 sculptures, of which 45 were Jain sculptures from 10-15 Century AD. The sculptures were grouped in three categories: sculptures from present Tamil Nadu region, from present Karnataka region, and from present Andhra Pradesh region. Few of the sculptures were of Adinatha, Parsvanatha, Shantinatha, Mahavira, Tirthankara, Suparvasanatha and Padmaprabha. The main aim of this walk was to bring awareness about all the statues, temples, and palm leaf manuscripts of Jain culture, and to protect and maintain them.

“The current generation of students should be aware of ancient archaeological objects,” Rajendra Prasad said. The Department of Archaeology, Government of Tamil Nadu protects 88 monuments of which 18 are Jain. To create awareness and to protect these monuments in Tamil Nadu, A Sridharan started the Ahimsa Walk in January 2014. The first Sunday of every month, Ahimsa Walk is conducted in ancient historical sites. Till date, 53 Ahimsa walks were conducted covering 155 heritage sites. To create awareness among the local people as well, processions are conducted in the streets of the village and pamphlets about the heritage monument are distributed.

- http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2018/may/22/the-jain-connection-in-tamil-nadu-1817657.html, May 21, 2018

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Graffiti taking its toll on prehistoric rock paintings

Like many important monuments across India, the prehistoric rock paintings in Telangana’s Jayashankar Bhupalpally district are prey to confessions of undying love and names etched for posterity. “Increasing defacement, including instances of scraped graffiti and smeared oil paints, are a cause for grave concern at the millennia-old rock paintings of Pandavulagutta, which trace the evolution of human knowledge,” laments D. Kanna Babu, Superintending Archaeologist, Archaeological Survey of India, Chennai. Pandavulagutta is home to painted rock shelters dating to 10000 BC-8000 BC, an 8th century inscription of the Rashtrakuta period, and painted frescoes from the 12th century Kakatiya empire. The pre-historic rock paintings resemble those at Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh, with flora, fauna and human figures seen in red ochre.

The Kakatiya artists, on the other hand, painted scenes from the Mahabharata and of the elephant-headed Ganesha. “Paintings from three different time periods have coexisted admirably down the ages, but they have not been protected or preserved since their discovery in 1990. They have been damaged because they are easily accessible to the public,” says Mr. Babu, who visited Pandavulagutta as part of a detailed temple survey project. “If something drastic is not done to stop it, the defacement will destroy the original paintings rendered with natural colours.”

For instance, figures of magnificent beauty in a mural frieze, set against a background of thick lime plaster that projects them as if in an open-air theatre, have been ruined by graffiti, with the frescoes scraped from the plaster and the storytelling disrupted. “No preventive measures have been taken so far by any responsible agency. “The State government should install railings to protect and preserve the paintings,” Mr. D. Kanna Babu added.

- http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/graffiti-taking-its-toll-on-prehistoric-rock-paintings/article23954153.ece, May 21, 2018

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NOTES FROM THE PAST

Astringed instrument, which looks like a peacock made of wood and is played using a bow, takes its name from the Persian word for peacock — taus. The 28-stringed taus, the tonal quality of which is that of both the sitar and the sarangi, has its roots in Punjab and was traditionally played to accompany devotional music or shabd-kirtan based on the Sikh scripture, Guru Granth Sahib. “It first came into the music world maybe 250 years ago, but it is difficult to find an Ustad or even a disciple in the country who can play the instrument today,” says Anwar Sitarmaker, who belongs to the fifth generation of instrument makers in the city at Abdul Rahiman Sitarmaker & Sons. The peculiar-looking taus is among the rare musical instruments that can be found in the music section on the first floor of Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum, adjoining the Mastani Mahal.

Next to the taus is another stringed instrument shaped like a tortoise and labelled the kurma veena, named after the mythological Hindu god Vishnu’s second avatar. “These bird and animal motifs are a reflection of the times that they belonged to and the trajectory can be traced back to their craftsmen,” says Sudhanva Ranade, director of the Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum. This weekend, young music enthusiasts can make a trip to Shukrawar Peth to get a better understanding of close to 300 instr uments displayed at the Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum.

Intach’s Pune chapter has organised a session specially for kids, the first of its kind, according to Ranade. “It’s a good summer holiday activity that exposes the younger generation to our musical heritage,” says Intach Pune chapter’s coordinator, Supriya Goturkar-Mahabaleshwarkar. One of the 42 sections of the museum, the music section is particularly interesting because of contributions from prestigious gharanas across the country and also some rare inclusions from various states. Pandit Bal Gandharva’s tamburi (tanpura), a tabla that belonged to Ustad Alla Rakha and Pandit Ramshakardas Pagaldas’s pakhawaj are among the instruments that can be found at Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum’s music section.

“The founder had a passion for music and wanted the museum to include instruments played by common Indians as well as noted artists,” says Ranade, “At the museum, we have instruments of 22 famous artists on display.” The session is also an effort to revive an interest in Indian classical music. “Dead instruments cannot tell stories,” says Goturkar-Mahabaleshwarkar, who hopes that this session will bring music alive for kids. One interesting story, Ranade shares, is that of the sarinda, a 22-stringed instrument similar to the sarangi. “The sarinda found its way into the museum because it was owned by Pu La Deshpande. Knowing Dr Kelkar’s love for collecting musical instruments, Pu La himself gifted his instrument to Dr Kelkar.

The instrument has been played by Pu La Deshpande in the song “Ithech taka tambu” from Gulacha Ganpati and is seen in the film,” adds Ranade. Those interested in the session need to register in advance by calling the number below. WHERE: Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum WHEN: May 26, 10.30 am to 12 pm CALL: 9881434410 ENTRY: Rs 100 for kids and Rs 300 for adults

- https://punemirror.indiatimes.com/entertainment/unwind/notes-from-the-past/articleshow/64277813.cms, May 22, 2018

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

India's most famous poet, Rabindranath Tagore, once wrote that the Taj Mahal stood on the banks of the river Yamuna "like a teardrop suspended on the cheek of time." One wonders whether the late Nobel laureate could have found a lyrical description of the latest threat facing the grand, white-marble monument: millions of defecating insects. Excrement from mosquito-like bugs breeding in the heavily polluted river has stained parts of the 17th century mausoleum green, while the footsteps and palms of thousands of daily visitors have darkened the stone floors and intricately patterned walls of a structure long regarded as the pinnacle of Mughal architecture. India's Supreme Court this month blasted the archaeological agency that oversees the monument for failing to protect it and suggested that outside experts be brought in to take over restoration efforts. During a hearing, one justice barked at a government attorney: "Perhaps you do not care." But insect slime is only one of the problems facing the monument, built by the emperor Shah Jahan to house the remains of his favorite wife after she died while giving birth to their 14th child in 1631. Today the Taj Mahal appears less a testament to eternal love than a symbol of India's very earthly environmental troubles.

The once mighty Yamuna — after being dammed upstream to provide electricity for the region surrounding India's capital, New Delhi — now runs low and thick with trash and untreated waste, and blooms with insect-attracting algae. Auto emissions, deforestation and crop burning have contributed to heavy smog that experts say has dimmed the tomb's pearly exterior to a jaundiced yellow. The number of cars registered in the city of Agra, where the Taj Mahal is situated about 110 miles south of New Delhi, has mushroomed from about 40,000 in 1985 to more than 1 million. "The Taj Mahal has never looked as fatigued, pale and sick as it does now," said Brij Khandelwal, a journalist and environmental activist in Agra. Since the 1970s, Indian authorities have issued rule after rule aimed at protecting the country's most popular and lucrative tourist attraction, which draws more than 7 million visitors a year, 90% of them domestic tourists. They have banished coal-powered factories from the area, banned gasoline-powered vehicles near the monument and distributed cooking fuel to reduce poor families' reliance on dirtier heat sources such as wood and cow dung.

But many of the rules are flouted. And as the area surrounding New Delhi has become one of the fastest growing urban agglomerations in the world — projected to become the world's most populous city within a decade — the environmental challenges have multiplied. Standing on the west bank of the Yamuna about a mile upstream from the Taj Mahal, Khandelwal looked out over a nearly dry riverbed filled with plastic bottles, potato-chip wrappers, empty medicine packets and other detritus. He walked over to a derelict sewage treatment plant whose windows were broken and watched a pipe deliver effluent directly into the riverbed, foaming with chemicals as it cascaded down. "Most of the problems emanate from this dry riverbed," Khandelwal said. "The original ambience of the Taj Mahal was based on the river — not just for aesthetic delight but also for its survival." Like a beautician trying to smooth out wrinkles on an aging movie star, the Archaeological Survey of India, the agency that oversees the monument, has spent the last three years applying mudpacks to whiten the walls and minarets. But the grime simply returns.

"It's terrible," lamented Manoj Sharma, 45, who has led tours of the tomb for more than a decade. Pointing to a section of the north wall overlooking the river, Sharma said that workers had recently applied the clay mixture known as fuller's earth, traditionally used as a bleaching agent to absorb oil and grease from sheep's wool. But just weeks later, a dark goo, believed to be from the insects, again coated the petals of flowers carved into the marble. The Supreme Court expressed impatience with the prolonged cleanup effort, which has shrouded parts of the tomb in scaffolding for days and weeks at a time. With workers preparing to begin the mudpack treatment on the cloudlike dome of the mausoleum, its most recognizable feature, the Fodor's travel guide suggested that visitors avoid the Taj Mahal for a year. "Unless your dream Taj Mahal visit involves being photographed standing in front of a mud-caked and be-scaffolded dome, maybe give it until 2019 at the earliest," the guidebook advised.

From a distance, the Taj Mahal still enchants: On a recent weekday, throngs of selfie-snapping visitors braved 105-degree heat to marvel at the stately crypt, flanked by soaring minarets and wide lawns. But up close the monument shows signs of stress. Cracks in the marble have been patched with off-color cement that experts say expand and contract with the heat, further weakening the stone. The green lawns have grown patchy. In March, pieces of red sandstone that were being held in place by a rusty clamp fell from the corner of one of the gates to the complex, although no one was injured. A few weeks later, two sandstone pillars decorating the gates were toppled in high winds. "The Taj is getting weak, and it has been going on for some time," said Mahatim Singh, a member of the Tourism Guild of Agra. "We require extra manpower and extra technology to overcome these problems."

But the archaeological agency has been reluctant to cede control over the monument or invite international experts. Its director did not respond to questions from The Times, but one official, who requested anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to the press, said the agency was being blamed for bigger environmental problems. "Some of it they don't have much control over," said Divay Gupta, principal director for architecture at the nonprofit Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage. "But while what they have done has been effective to a certain degree, all of the methods have been sort of knee-jerk, and there is no preventive action." The agency plans this year to impose a three-hour limit on visitors touring the grounds in a bid to reduce crowds. But Gupta said the 42-acre complex could take in more visitors — and draw more revenue to pay for upkeep — if the site was better managed. Khandelwal, the activist, said the monument was facing an emergency. "The Taj Mahal represents our glorious past and our composite culture — it's not just any tourist site," he said. "It must be saved at any cost."

- http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-india-taj-mahal-20180522-story.html, May 23, 2018

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Katora Houz at Golconda Fort all set to get facelift

The historic Katora Houz at Golconda Fort is poised for restoration with the GHMC clearing the proposal and allotting the restoration work to contractors. Though Katora Houz was intermittently cleaned, this is the first time that full-fledged restoration will be undertaken. The last clean-up was done in November 2017 when Ms Ivanka Trump, the daughter of the President of the US had come to the city for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. Heritage expert Dr Mohd Safiullah said, “Decades back, the lake supplied drinking water to the people in Golconda Fort and nearby areas, It is the same lake that served the needs of the populace when the Golconda Fort was under siege by Aurangzeb in 1687.”

The lake is now covered by water hyacinth. Katora Houz is polluted all sewage from the nearby houses being flushed into the lake. Golconda resident Mohd Shafeequddin said said, “The mosquito menace is increasing. The GHMC has carried out fogging operations several times but there is no relief. To add to that is the stench that comes out of the lake, which is really unbearable.” Ms Anuradha Reddy, convener, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), said, “Katora Houz used to get water from Durgam Cheruvu through gravitational flow.

The lake served as a strong protection for the fort, making it difficult for the enemies to conquer it. But now sewage from nearby residential areas is entering the lake, making the situation pathetic.” A senior GHMC official said, “The proposal has been sanctioned by the commissioner and tenders have been called for the restoration of the lake. We are hoping that work will start soon at the Katora Houz.”

- https://deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/230518/katora-houz-at-golconda-fort-all-set-to-get-facelift.html, May 23, 2018

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Hyderabad’s Turkayamjal Lake facing slow death

Located close to highway, history and heritage tagged to it, a lush green locale and not too far from the city either. None of these factors, however, have saved the Masab Cheruvu, popular as the Turkayamjal Lake, from becoming the target of those who have scant regard for nature or its precious resources. This Nizam’s era lake, which has rarely dried up even during the strongest of summers, is dying a slow death with loads of debris, plastic, weed and garbage hiding the lake’s beauty beneath them. Spread across 320 acres in Turkayamjal village of Hayat Nagar, the lake has not protective fencing, with huge chunks of it already taken over by land-grabbers, thus blocking inflows into the lake. Instead of rainwater inflows, what the lake receives is drainage water from surrounding areas.

“The public have to realise that they need to play their part in saving and recharging water bodies. Restoration of the lake can be done effectively with the involvement of both community and government,” said Lubna Sarwath, co-convener, Save Our Urban Lakes. “This lake is named after Hayath Bakshi Begum of Qutb Shahi dynasty. Begum was popularly known as Ma Saheba (revered mother), thus the name Masab Lake,” said INTACH convenor Anuradha Reddy. “This lake is near the national highway, but the authorities are not concentrating on developing this lake into a tourist spot,” said Mohammed Wasim, a resident of Hayat Nagar. “The vicinity of the lakes has turned into a garbage dump and during night time, this place has become a hub for illegal activities”, he added.

If the lakebed is filled with garbage, the surroundings of the lake have stray pigs and dogs roaming around,” said V Sridhar, a resident of Turkayamjal village. Hope, however, is not entirely lost. The State government’s proposal to revive lakes in and around the city has included the Turkayamjal Lake as well, with officials saying the first phase of revival will see introduction of cycle tracks, walking tracks and open gyms around the lake, apart from efforts to clean it up. The work, however, is yet to begin.

- https://telanganatoday.com/hyderabads-turkayamjal-lake-facing-slow-death, May 23, 2018

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Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels to manage The Denmark Tavern, the oldest hotel in India

The Tavern was established in 1786 in what was then Fredricksnagore. The two-storeyed structure by the Hooghly is the place where the Danes had kept their flagstaff and cannons. The Tavern was a place to meet and stay for traders, clergy and travellers exploring Bengal. In 2010 – 11, more than 200 years after the tavern’s heyday, a group of restoration experts studied the building that stood in complete ruins surrounded by debris. It took around two years to restore the Tavern to its former glory as part of the Serampore Initiative, a restoration programme for several Danish heritage structures led by the National Museum of Denmark and funded by Realdania, a private trust in Denmark, in collaboration with West Bengal State Heritage Commission, and Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).

The refurnished building has a cafe, inspired by the double height central atrium of the Indian Coffee House in Kolkata and six high-ceilinged spacious rooms. Priya Paul, chairperson, Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels, said, “We are delighted to manage The Denmark Tavern on behalf of the West Bengal Government. THE Park Hotels will build on the rich legacy of the Tavern and bring it and the area back to life. The hotel will soon be buzzing with guests enjoying a quiet break on the banks of Hooghly and the sights and sounds of old-world Serampore and beyond.”

Vijay Dewan, managing director, Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels, said, “We are honoured to partner with the Government of West Bengal to operate this iconic heritage property. The Denmark Tavern will be a wonderful addition to THE Park Collection and will bring about immersive experiences.” The restored Denmark Tavern will fall under The Park Collection brand of The Park Hotels. The Denmark Tavern will have The Park Hotel’s design aesthetics and will open by September 2018.

- https://www.financialexpress.com/lifestyle/travel-tourism/apeejay-surrendra-park-hotels-to-manage-the-denmark-tavern-the-oldest-hotel-in-india/1179306/, May 24, 2018

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Documenting underrated treasures of Madurai

As a local or a traveller, when you are ‘selfie-bored’ in a city like Madurai, give yourself a couple of hours and a drive of 40-odd kms to understand the brilliance of the city through the ages. There are several gorgeous areas steeped in history but people either don’t know or care or are confused with the timeline and hence unable to appreciate. Led by INTACH member P Rajesh Kanna, who conceived the idea for the small-sized 48 page guide book, P Pavalamani who wrote the bilingual script in Tamil and English and artist P Gunasekaran who did the illustration, the team undertook several trips, discussed and debated for a year and finally connected the dots to make travel, history, learning and tourism attractive and appealing. The pamphlet titled “Back 2500 years in a few hours – Madurai through the ages” traces half-a-dozen best lesser known places of importance in the city. “One cannot simply live in or visit the city and not see these hidden spots of history that dominated particular eras,” says Rajesh, who also took lot of guidance from well known art-historian Prof.R.Venkatraman, who passed away in March this year.

“This book is also a tribute to him,” he adds. By starting from Vilakkuthoon and finishing at Kidaripatti with a small detour to Varrichiyur, the pamphlet helps to understand the city’s splendid past. If you follow the route map given with some basic details, brief descriptions, interesting facts, anecdotes and illustrations you step back from 20th century to the 16th, 8th and 1st century to 2nd BC. One of the best things about this travel is that it guides you to the most important monument of that period and helps to redefine the travel experience with a brush of history. Madurai boasts of countless monuments, says Kanna, but we chose six heritage sites that combine the literary, cultural and spiritual evolution of the ancient city. The start point is Vilakkuthoon. The 150 years old structure is today lost in the buzz of heavy traffic, shops, hawkers and shoppers. But the INTACH booklet reminds you of the days when the imposing lamp post was erected in 1840 by the then Collector Blackburn who is remembered for his foresight in expanding the city and taking it to the next level of modernisation.

Today the imposing monument stands at the cacophonous junction of East and South Masi streets where vehicles move bumber-to-bumper and it becomes impossible to walk in the area during festival seasons. Most times people walk or drive past the Vilakkuthoon now and even ignore many spots around and beyond. Instead they could pause. The next rewind spot is the Vandiyoor Mariamman Theppakulam. It is four km eastward from Vilakkuthoon but two centuries back in time. Dug in 1646 and measuring 305 metres in length and 290 metres in width, the tank over 16 acres is the biggest in South India where the famous float festival is held on the full moon day of the Tamil month Thai. The booklet refers to interesting stories about the birth of the tank to entice travellers to visit the place. It also suggests what other things they can see or do at the destination. Further eastwards from Teppakulam, the journey takes you to Varichiyoor where two rock cut cave temples – Udhayagiri and Asthagiri -- were excavated in the 8th century.

In between the two is a huge natural cave belonging to 3rd century BC. From this scenic and natural ambience where, it is believed the Pandya king viewed the sunset daily, the traveller is beckoned to move up north on the Trichy highway and leap back into the 1st century at Yanamalai. It is so called given its resemblance to the shape of a sitting elephant and also finds mention as a sacred site in age old literature of saivite poets and Jain monks. The booklet gives more insight into historical importance of Yanaimalai and its cave temples. The next suggested halt is at Arittapatti which have Jain caves dating to 2nd Century BC. It is also believed that Pandavas stayed on one side of the Arittapatti hill which also has a beautiful 8th century siva cave temple. The last destination is Kidaripatti on way to Melur and close to Azhagar Malai. Here the eye-shaped natural cave belonging to 9BC are believed to be home to the aborigines of prehistoric time as red ochre rock paintings on the walls suggest.

From neo-paleolithic style of 13 thematic rock paintings, a perennial spring and Brahmi inscriptions on stone beds to ponder at, you are almost in a time capsule. “Our aim was to salvage the many authentic parts of the city,” says Kanna, “and we have tried to present an overview of the important structures against the background of history”. “The illustrations added more dimension to the presentation,” he adds. When you flip through the pages of the booklet, you will see multiple things in it – from an educational journey to what tourism is trending on today – a delicate balance of local pride, iconic drawing power and a new experience of holidaying.

- http://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/travel/a-self-help-booklet-brought-out-by-intach-madurai-helps-to-travel-back-2500-years-in-time/article23978447.ece, May 25, 2018

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Peek into Basavanagudi

Would you know why Basavanagudi’s Gandhi Bazaar, is called so? It was because Gandhi walked along the path in the 1940s and loved the trees and the natural pathway then. “We will re-trace Gandhiji’s steps at Gandhi Bazaar, we will have stories weaved into the walk too,” says Meera Iyer, Convenor, INTACH Bengaluru, who will co-lead the Parichay walk. “The name Basavanagudi comes from the decades-old temple of Dodda Basava (Bull Temple),” says Sonali Dhanpal, conservation architect, who will lead the walk for INTACH’s Parichay. Sonali who has worked on bungalows in Bengaluru and their typology continues, “The local farmers built a magnificent statue of a bull and built a temple dedicated to him. They prayed to the bull to help them with cattle that was destroying their fields. The farmers offer their first produce to the bull every year, and the Kallekai Parishe is just one of them.”

Is there such a thing as a typical Bengaluru bungalow? “We will explore this question on Sunday when we see some of Basavanagudi’s bungalows - their materials, their layout, the colonial and vernacular elements of architecture that you can see in them,” says Sonali. One of the houses we will visit is Diwan Sir MN Krishna Rao’s house, built in 1907 said to have been only the third house built in the locality. Thanks to MR Narendra, MN Krishna Rao’s grandson, the house is beautifully maintained. This house won an INTACH Heritage Award for 2017. “The award was given in April 2018, and was received by MR Narendra. The jury commended the owner’s vision that has maintained the 110-year-old building in its true form and originality. Apart from its wooden spiral staircase, swing, and gleaming red oxide flooring, Mr. Narendra has also retained the memorabilia associated with the house and its history - from an Ansonia clock to pictures of his grandfather and the then Maharaja of Mysore, all are lovingly looked after by Mr. Narendra” says Meera Iyer.

It is a matter of luck that this bungalow happened to be in Basavanagudi, where many such in South Bengaluru existed. The INTACH Parichay walk will explain on what ground such awards are selected. “The awards jury comprised archaeologist Dr SVP Halakatti, art aficionado Harish Padmanabha and architect Anup Naik. The idea behind the awards is to celebrate the heritage of our city, and provide recognition to those who have maintained and preserved their heritage buildings. These were some of the parameters the jury considered as maintenance, architectural integrity and value to the cityscape that people in the walk may be able to witness and access for themselves,” says Meera Iyer.

Of course, you cannot do a heritage walk in Basavanagudi without also talking about its planning. “We will touch upon how plague led to the establishment of this neighbourhood and how it influenced its planning. Basavanagudi is famous for its many eminent cultural icons, we will also talk about some of them, their work, and their connections with the place. Of course, like in all our Parichays, there will be stories and anecdotes about people and life in the area,” says Meera Iyer referring to the renowned writer Masti Venkatesh Iyengar’s perfectly-timed walk at Basavanagudi. “Masti is said to have talked and written about his much-loved walk in the evenings with his signature coat and umbrella to avoid not just rain drops, but bird-droppings from an avenue of trees then that lined Basavanagudi. People could set their clocks when Masti took his walks, that was his precision just as his pen,” recalls a shopowner at Basavanagudi. Some of the other personalities that would be featured in the walk include the popular poet DV Gundappa — DVG Road is named after him, BP Wadia and Bellave Venkata Narayanappa, founder of the Kannada Sahitya Parishath. “This is our tenth year of conducting the Parichay walks in Bengaluru, We have helped hundreds of people, mostly residents and visitors to Bengaluru, connect with the city through these walks,” adds Meera Iyer.

(INTACH”S Parichay - MAy 27, morning hours. Register in advance, intach.blr@gmail.com / 98450 13031, 99860 23014)

- http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-metroplus/peek-into-basavanagudi/article23983896.ece?utm_source=tp-metroplus&utm_medium=sticky_footer, May 25, 2018

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Sounds of salangai

An Odissi dancer teaching her craft in a village in South India is a story not to be missed. And hence, we decided to listen in to Rekha Tandon and her musician-writer husband Michael Weston who have made Auroville their home in the last five years. Tandon teaches the art form at the Pitanga Cultural Centre in the green campus. “I have five to seven students from Auroville, and another small group from Edayanchavady village, two of whom are teachers themselves. I also constantly have people from out of Puducherry and even the country, staying here for two or three weeks for one-on-one intensive classes,” says the student of Madhavi Mudgal, Guru Trinath Maharana, and Kelucharan Mohapatra. Tandon has come out with a book on Odissi’s connection with Yoga, called Dance as Yoga: The Spirit and Technique of Odissi. The writer-dancer was in the city at a book launch organised by Prakriti Foundation last weekend.

Dressed in an elegant cotton maroon sari and sporting a bindi, Tandon explains Odissi to me, occasionally striking Tribhanga, the typical tri-bent pose. “Looks easy,” I declare to myself. And, she quickly warns: “This requires you to become still, quiet and aware of your own body. Dance is about consecrating space and its constant intention of making the body sacred.” About its connection with Yoga, she says, “Yoga has been the fundamental building block of Indian art for centuries. In essence, it is the union of matter and spirit. The process of refining any dance movement and aspiring for excellence is by its very nature ‘yogic’ and all Indian classical dance forms embody this knowledge,” says the artistic director and co-founder of Dance Routes, established with Weston, whom she met in London in 1994.

Before the Puducherry chapter of her life, she was settled in Bhubaneswar, where she managed Dance Routes for 13 years, with folk performers from around Puri. These were the practitioners of Gotipua — precursor to classical Odissi dance. The Gotipua dance was codified into Odissi classical dance by veterans like Mohapatra. “The Gotipua dancers were young boys who used to dance in the courtyards of the Hindu temples since 16th century. Once they become fully mature at the age of 14 or 15, they stopped dancing.

So much skill was invested in 10 years of their life. However, they eventually were jettisoned from this tradition and had to find alternative sources of income. Our work involved developing their skills further and creating productions that could be staged in cities.” As collaborators of The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), she along with Weston, documented, researched and produced DVDs in connection with the art form.

“We have this interesting history folk tradition being revised as classical tradition. And, it would be tragic to just tap into the final product of Odissi and not look back at the elements that went into it. The focus of the hour is while learning Odissi, being aware of the resources that went into building it right from the beginning.” Divine providence is what she calls her decision to settle here in Edayanchavady village, in the outer green belt of Auroville. The long-time volunteer in Auroville recalls how it was a chance tea session with Michael and three local boys that led to their decision to settle in South India. “They took us around Auroville in their bike and we instantly fell in love with this place. At that time, we were involved in a three-month long residency here. By the end of it, we had bought the land,” she smiles. “We have been staying in our home Skandavan for the last five years. It is named after the monastery Skanda Vale in Wales, which Weston was closely associated with.”

Around Auroville, there are many mini universes like Adishakti, a theatre laboratory, says Tandon. “So many artistes are drawn to this hyper belt around Auroville. This outer universe is as active and fast growing as Auroville itself.” Dance Routes is now based at Skandavan, near Auroville. For enquiries, mail rekha@danceroutes.com or visit danceroutes.com. Her book is available on amazon.in.

A dancer’s guide to Auroville
Best places to eat:
Tantos pizza, Bread and Chocolate and Auroville Bakery. To shop:
Auroville Visitor’s Centre. Favourites are Kalki for essential oils and candles and Mira boutique for scarves and loose, comfortable clothing. Take a walk:
Pitchandikulam, a 70-acre forest, is a hidden treasure. A wilderness created by naturalist Joss Brooks, it houses indigenous trees, and flora and fauna. Auroville Botanical garden, 40 acres of butterfly trails, is another spot.
Cultural spaces:
Pitanga Cultural Centre, with a lovely romantic tree in the garden, and Bharat Nivas in the International Zone of Auroville, which has an auditorium, art gallery and library.

- http://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/sounds-of-salangai/article23978842.ece, May 25, 2018

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World Turtle Day: Over 80 turtles released into Ganga

A dozen rescued spotted pond turtles along with 73 others born in Lucknow, were released in their natural habitat in the river Ganga in Fatehpur district on Wednesday to mark the World Turtle Day. Nine of them were rescued from Maharastra and three from Uttar Pradesh and were brought to Kukrail Gharial Breeding Centre. Also 73 turtles that were released with the rescued ones were born at the breeding centre in 2016. “These black pond turtles were once abundantly found in northern and north-eastern region of India.

The Spotted Pond Turtle (Geoclemys hamiltonii) found in northern and north-eastern region of India, are on the brink of extinction due to the excessive use of lentic water for agriculture and other purposes,” said Ashok Prasad Sinha, conservator of forest endangered species project with the Uttar Pradesh forest department. “They are listed as vulnerable in IUCN Red List. These species have been accorded the highest level of security by placing them in schedule 1 of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972,” said Arunima Singh of Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) that conducted the event along with the forest department.

Though famous for being kept as pets in south eastern countries, turtles are also subjected to illegal poaching and trading and excessive use in food and pharmaceutical industry. The looming threat on their survival has placed them on Appendix 1 of CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species). Such time-to-time introduction of young individuals will help to replenish the fast depleting natural population of the species. Turtles are known as bio resources responsible for cleansing the contaminated water bodies.

Out of 15 species found in the state, the Kukrail Breeding Centre harbours more than 11 species of turtles. The centre has helped release more than 18,000 turtles into its aquatic ecosystem including the Ganga. was fixed as an annual observance to help people celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world. This was 23rd world turtle day. Experts say turtles or tortoises should not be removed from the wild unless they are sick or injured. If you find a tortoise is crossing a busy street, pick it up and send it in the same direction it was going. If you try to make it go back, it will turn around again.

- https://www.hindustantimes.com/lucknow/world-turtle-day-over-80-turtles-released-into-ganga/story-w49DGdlJ2v9b45NfvrmggL.html, May 25, 2018

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So much to see but no information? Demand for boards at Aurangabad Caves

The Aurangabad caves, which attracts local and international tourists throughout the year besides students who visit the site for research, is deprived of one thing that has irked local activists— information boards. As much beauty as the sight of the caves may behold, it all becomes futile if there is no information on the historical value of the site. Civic activist Rahul Ingle said Aurangabad occupies a special place in Buddhism because of the world famous Ajanta Caves and Aurangabad Caves. “People within the city are hardly aware of Aurangabad caves. It is sad that even after visiting the site, visitors remain uninformed about the history due to lack of information boards. There are certain carvings inside the caves which people should know about,” said Ingle. The site has a board put up by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) which tells that the site is a protected monument under the ASI. It reads, “This monument has been declared of national importance under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958,” and goes on to talk about the punishment for defacing. State convenor Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage Mukund Bhogale said the caves have century-old carvings that have historical importance which visitors should be aware of. Aurangabad caves are nestled on a hill running nearly 2km behind Bibi-ka-Maqbara. In all, twelve rock-cut Buddhist caves can be found here which are divided into three separate groups depending on its location. ASI’s official website states the caves can be dated from second or third cetury to seventh century AD. The first and the second groups are nearly 500 metres apart with the former on the western side and the latter on the eastern side of the hill. The website states that due to Aurangabad’s proximity to the ancient trade route and its closeness to Pratishthana (modern Paithan)— the capital of Satavahanas— patronage to religious activities can be understood even though it is not corroborated by inscriptional evidence. Ingle along with activists Vishal Lahot and Vishal Jadhav have submitted a memorandum to the superintending archaeologist of ASI demanding the installation of information boards. Speaking to TOI, superintending archaeologist of ASI Dilip Khamari admitted that the board providing information on the history of the monument should beput up. “One of my technicians responsible for the job has a family emergency. I will ensure that a board explaining the history of the site is put up within a month’s time,” said Khamari.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/aurangabad/so-much-to-see-but-no-information-demand-for-boards-at-aurangabad-caves/articleshow/64345938.cms, May 28, 2018

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Pollution, dying river and defecating insects threaten Taj Mahal

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

- https://www.heraldnet.com/nation-world/pollution-dying-river-and-defecating-insects-threaten-taj-mahal/, May 28, 2018

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Buddha’s teachings shine in golden manuscript

The Buddha said his teachings should be evaluated as rigorously as people would gold. Now, they can be read in gold. A trove of more than 600 pages of rare Tibetan manuscripts with his teachings written in gold letters has been restored at a 100-year-old monastery in Alubari in West Bengal’s Darjeeling district. Restoration of the gold-inlaid manuscripts in two volumes at the Mak Dhog Monastery started earlier this year. Mingyur T.L. Yolmo, general secretary of Yolmawa Buddhist Association of India, the body that runs the monastery, said that the manuscripts contain the ancient Tibetan text called Gyetongba, which contains teachings of Buddhism. The manuscripts are in the Tibetan script Sambhota, named after its inventor.

Monastery shaken

Mr. Yolmo said that while the Association could restore the damage suffered by the monastery in the 2011 Sikkim Earthquake, external help was required to restore the manuscripts, which are centuries older than the monastery itself. The restoration work is being done by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). “It was while assessing the damage that our experts came across the manuscripts. They were in a very bad condition and required urgent attention,” G.M. Kapoor, convenor, INTACH, West Bengal, said. The trust has provided over ?10 lakh for the project. Experts who worked on the restoration said that while one volume contained 322 pages, the other had 296 pages. They fumigated using anti-fungal chemicals, stitched and used adhesives on the frayed pages. Phurba Thinley Yolmo, a priest, said that both the volumes are similar and a few pages are missing from the 296-page volume. Each volume contains 8,000 verses. “Our forefathers brought it to Darjeeling from Helambu in Nepal in the early 18th century. When the monastery was built in 1914 to foster peace, the manuscripts were kept here,” he said. Vandana Mukherjee, an expert on Tibetan Studies, said that Gyetongba is as important to Tibetans as the Gita is to Hindus.

- http://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/buddhas-teachings-shine-in-golden-manuscript/article24002785.ece, May 28, 2018

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Kashmir revives Its Oriental Legacy

Last winter, to be exact - Friday December 8, 2017-, Kashmir revived its iconic oriental legacy with the re-installation of Sir Aurel Stein Memorial Stone at Mohand Marg, the camping ground Stein called as his ‘adopted home’ and ‘a site out of world’ and lived intermittently for more than five decades, above Lar in District Ganderbal . The new memorial stone , a 350 kg from Panjal Range ,recommended by Professor Nigel Harris(FGS), a well-known authority on Himalayan Geology at the Open University, replaced the original broken and vandalized stone that was installed more than seventy years ago, coincidentally, on August 15, 1947 the day that also marked India’s independence from the British yoke. The stone has been installed to perpetuate the Kashmir heritage and legacy of the iconic Hungarian born British explorer, archaeologist and Sanskrit’s Sir Aurel Stein famed for editing the Kashmir chronicle Kalhana’s Rajatarangini more than a century ago besides his legendary explorations in Central Asia. It marks a multi focused initiative to revive Sir Stein’s Kashmir legacy. Alongside, a Stein Museum at Lar in Ganderbal is under construction. The idea of the construction of the museum was initiated a couple of years ago by the Department of Tourism with its far-sighted successive officials, namely Talat Parvez Rohella and Farooq Shah. Their commendable initiative has taken a practical shape under Mahmood Ahmad Shah, the current Director of the Department of Tourism Kashmir. The ongoing progress and execution of the construction of the museum building has also received further support and patronage from Sheikh Ishfaq Jabbar, the MLA representing the Ganderbal Constituency Prior to the installation of the memorial stone, a two-day international conference titled’ Sir Aurel Stein: From Kashmir to Central Asia’ was hosted by the Centre of Central Asian Studies at Kashmir University in association with Indus Discoveries and INTACH Kashmir Chapter on September 21 and 22, 2017. The Conference, inaugurated by the Hon’ble Vice Chancellor of Kashmir University Professor Khurshid Iqbal Andrabi was presided over by CEO, Srinagar Smart City Project Dr. Farooq Ahmed Lone. It was attended by several scholars from both India and abroad including those from England, Iran and Central Asian republics. The well-known local scholars included Prof G.N. Khaki, HOD, CCAS, Dr Ajmal Shah, Bansi Dhar Raina, Dr Afaq Aziz Itoo, Dr MumtazYatoo and Dr Sheikh Talal. The Key Note Address was read by the well-known Delhi based Kashmiri ‘Stein scholar’ S.N. Pandita. The writer also read a paper at the Conference. Among the other dignitaries who graced the conference proceedings included Mr Saleem Beg, the former Director General, Tourism and Culture, J&K State Government and currently the Convener INTACH, Kashmir Chapter and Yasin Zargar, Managing Director and CEO Indus Discoveries. The idea of re-installing the memorial stone goes back to more than a decade back, when it became known that the original memorial stone was broken and vandalized. It was in 2007 that S. N. Pandita, then working on Stein’s Kashmir Heritage Website Project in UK, broached the idea to the well known international tour operator Yasin Zargar of the Indus Discoveries to explore the potential of less known but picturesque Mohand Marg as a new tourist destination to promote heritage tourism in Kashmir besides the idea of re-installing the memorial stone. Carrying the suggestion to a logical end, Yasin Zargar with singular dedication and un-wavering devotion and advice for English text for the stone from Susan Whitfield of British Library London sponsored the project of installing the new memorial stone. It took him more than five years to find the suitable stone and get it engraved. The new stone bears the epitaph in three languages, English, Urdu and Sanskrit. The epitaph in Sanskrit is a timely tribute to Stein’s great attainments as an outstanding Sanskrit scholar, a fact that is scarcely acknowledged in the long list of his great achievements as an explorer, archaeologist, geographer and topographer. The Sanskrit translation of the epitaph is made by Dr. Dev Kanya Arya, an eminent Professor of Sanskrit at Delhi University. The orthography of Sanskrit alphabet given by Apeksha Pandita, an alumnus of the Indraprastha University, Delhi, she is the granddaughter of Stein’s Kashmiri scholar friend Professor Nityanand Shastri. The journey of the memorial stone to reach Mohand Marg actually started about the time of the Stein Conference in September last when the stone was delivered at Andrawan village by road. The real challenge to carry the stone to the meadow without a trial and means of transport was however, overcome by the spirited people of Andrawan village and adjoining areas. Carried on sledge and shoulders through the rugged mountainous terrain in inclement weather, it took nearly two scores of human shoulders to make the stone reach its destination after surmounting the rugged incline of 8000 feet by daily trudges over six weeks covering a distance of about 9 Kilometres. The mammoth task was ultimately accomplished on Friday December 8, 2017 to usher new dawn of Kashmir’s heritage tourism. For delivering the stone physically on the chosen spot in the high alpine meadow, where Stein used to pitch his tent, names of Zubair Ahmad Chowdhry of village Choont Waliwar, and Mohd Amin Chowdary, Mir Ahmad Chowdary, Syed Anwar Shah,Allaha Dad Chowdary, Naser Ahmad Wani, Suliman Chowdary, Rasheed Ahmed Pathan,Parveez Ahmad Chowdary,Mohd Rafiq Cheechi, Ali Badar Chowdary,Khaleel Ahmad Chowdary , Tahir Hussain Chowdary, Abdul Rasheed Pathan, YousufPathan, Abdul Rasheed Cheechi, Manzoor Cheechi, YounesPathan, Fayaz Ahmad Mughal Mohd Altaf Kakroo, Mohd Ashraf Chowdary, Fareed Chowdary,Mohd Iqbal Chowdary,Bathoo Pathan, Mir Dad Chowdary, Shah Zaman Chowdary,MunshiChowdary, Showket Chowdary, Muneer Chowdary Gulzar Chowdary,Mohd Rafiq Chowdary, Yasir Chowdary and Altaf Chowdary; all of village Anderwan will remain indelible in public memory for a long time to come. The selection of these hardy and brave Kashmiris was organized by Abdul Qayoom Chowdary of Choonth Waliwar while the teams in groups that executed the onerous task were under the charge of Raja Juniad Chowdary, Zakir Hussain Chowdary and Syed Anwar Shah o fChoonth Waliwar and Andrawan villages respectively. It is interesting to recall here that the team that had installed the original memorial stone in August 1947 was headed by Stein’s Camp Assistant Ram Chand Bali .Others that helped him then, in the task, included Ghulam Mohammed Bhat, Ismail Ghanai and Ali Bhat., all Kashmiris who formed the entourage of Stein’s camp retainers. The efforts of the programme would not have been accomplished without the unstinting support and patronage of the local MLA, Ganderbal, Sheikh Ishfaq Jabbar, of State’s Tourism Department under its Director. Mahmood Ahmad Shah, Saleem Beg, Convener INTACH Kashmir Chapter and Mr. Mohammad Arif Langoo, Director Cliff Hangers. The coordinated project of the under- construction Stein Museum, holding of the international conference and the installation of the memorial stone has been received with great enthusiasm by the general public of the state and is seen as a significant booster for the revival of tourism in Kashmir with special appeal for international tourists. Simultaneously, the well meaning people from the fields of tourism and academia consider this multi focused initiative as a timely effort to restore peace and normalcy in the Valley and help put Kashmir under global lime-light for all good reasons. For all the conceptual idea and its various landmark achievements, (some attained and rest under progress) of this mega initiative, credit is due to all the sons of the soil associated with the project. Their immense collective faith and endeavour to further the cause of Kashmir’s culture and heritage deserves both our homage and ovation. (The author is a Jammu based environmentalist)

- https://www.kashmirmonitor.in/Details/149714/kashmir-revives-its-oriental-legacy, May 28, 2018

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Mughal-era Arab ki Sarai gateway restored to its old glory in Delhi

According to Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) listing of ancient structures in Delhi, Arab Sarai was built in 1560 by Hamida Banu Begum, who was chief consort of Mughal emperor Humayan, to accommodate 300 Arabs she had brought back from Mecca. The lofty eastern gateway of a walled enclosure built in the 17th century — which was originally a market built during Jahangir’s reign along side Arab ki Sarai, Nizamuddin East — has been restored to its old glory. The restorers, Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), began restoration work in January 2017. The 13 metre-high, five-arched gateway, topped with battlements is two-bay deep. It also has chambers and a domed roof flanked by niches on both sides. The spandrels are ornamented with detailed tile work and medallions bearing Quranic inscriptions. “This gateway, which leads to a bazaar attached to the sarai, is one of the rare structures in Delhi with inscriptions. Restoration of missing incised plasterwork has been completed. The concrete cement terrace flooring has also been carefully removed and replaced with traditional lime concrete terracing with appropriate slopes and water outlets,” said Rajpal Singh, chief engineer at AKTC. The doorway, a blend of red sandstone and Delhi quartzite, had degenerated. In the past, it was repaired with cement mortar that led to water stagnation. Multiple cracks allowed water penetration leading to dampness and salt deposits. Quranic inscriptions were buried under the layer of cement plaster, tiles were missing and portions of the roof of the gateway had collapsed. “Sadly, not all of the artwork could be restored as evidence had been lost. As a result, central ceiling medallion had to be left blank. Some of the newspaper articles dating back to 1960s suggest that its walls were adorned with paintings of human figures but that could not be restored,” said Ujwala Menon, AKTC’s onservation architect. According to Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) listing of ancient structures in the national capital, Arab Sarai was built in 1560 by Hamida Banu Begum, who was chief consort of Mughal emperor Humayan, to accommodate 300 Arabs she had brought back from Mecca. In Sair-ul-Manazil, a Persian book written in the 1820s, author Sangin Beg referred this inn as “property of Arabs and other general populace.” Author Ranjan Kumar Singh in his book, ‘The Islamic Monuments of Delhi’, said Mihr Banu, chief eunuch at Jahangir’s court, added the market to the inn. The market (constructed around the 1620s) complex has arched cells reportedly used as shops and living quarters by travellers and traders. “The spandrels of these rectangular framing are decorated with marble medallions and carvings in Persian, which suggest that the bazaar gateway was built during Mughal emperor Jahangir’s period,” said Menon. The major portions of the sarai is with the Delhi government from where it runs an Industrial Training Institute, which was set up in 1948 by the ministry of rehabilitation as a vocational training center for people who were displaced during the country’s partition. With the successful completion of conservation of the doorway, the trust will start restoration of a baoli located on the inn campus, said Ratish Nanda, CEO of AKTC.

- https://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-news/mughal-era-arab-ki-sarai-gateway-restored-to-its-old-glory-in-delhi/story-CY0qNtJPuovz9UowFALciL.html, May 28, 2018

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INTACH urges youth to preserve heritage

Maj-Gen LK Gupta, chairman, Indian National Trust for Art and cultural Heritage (INTACH), called upon youth to protect rich heritage of the country. He said though the country had 40 to 50 millions of heritage structure but they needed proper attention for its preservation and only our young students can do this. While addressing members of Faridkot chapter of INTACH here on Monday, he said more and more students should be invited to become the member of this organisation. Dr Sukhdev Singh, convener of the Punjab state, INTACH, said the proposal to protect our heritage should be prepared and submitted to central office for their expert advice. Col Balbir Singh brought in to notice the change of outer colour scheme of district courts complex from cream-red to cream- green and requested to change it to original colour. Some time back, INTACH had renovated the district court complex at the cost of about Rs 12 crore here. To renovate this historical building, INTACH and the Punjab government had entered into a contract. Raj Kumar Aggarwal, co-convener, thanked the chief guest and other members of the chapter and requested to protect heritage buildings, like our personal assets so that it be preserved for the coming generation

- http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/bathinda/intach-urges-youth-to-preserve-heritage/596446.html, May 29, 2018

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Heritage buildings set for facelift

Three government-owned heritage buildings in the French quarters are set for a facelift with the Puducherry government releasing funds for their restoration. Detailed proposals have been prepared and the cost for the restoration of the buildings is estimated to be ?83.45 lakh, said an official in the Tourism Department. The three buildings include the Tourism department building on Beach Road, the police headquarters building, and the National Rural Health Mission building (old secretariat). The work covers renovation of the structure and improvement of the facade. The work is expected to be completed in four months. The foundation stone for restoration of the three structures was laid by Tourism Minister Malladi Krishna Rao in the presence of MLA K. Lakshminarayanan recently. The restoration work is a part of an ambitious plan to improve the urban infrastructure in the heritage area by converging it with the Smart City initiative. “Our main objective is to ensure that the heritage area of the city gets the Unesco World Heritage tag,” a senior official of the Tourism department said. Among all the structures, work had begun on the Department of Tourism building on the Beach Road. The building was used as a Continental Villa for the VIPs during the French regime. A Grade III heritage building, it was located in the French precinct and dates back to the 19th century. The Police Headquarters on Dumas Street has been identified for restoration in the first phase. A Grade II heritage structure, the office of the Police Headquarters was known in the name of ‘Naval Infantry Headquarters.’ In 1857, the building was used as barracks. According to INTACH, “the building is relatively well maintained and the old pattern flooring still exists. The complex is the first of its kind in South Asia and is said to be the first French military building.” The NRHM building was built in 1909 and is a Grade II B heritage structure. From 1955, the building functioned as the Secretariat till 1983 and has been used by several government institutions. In 1995, a study by the INTACH identified 1,807 buildings in the Boulevard as heritage structures. The number of buildings in the Tamil precinct, which was 888 in 2008, had come down to 266 in 2013. In the French precinct, the number of heritage structures had come down from 296 in 2008 to 220 in 2013.

- http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/heritage-buildings-set-for-facelift/article24018072.ece, May 29, 2018

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'Pankha': Hand-Fans exhibition from collection of Jatin Das

A unique collection of 'Pankha', traditional Indian hand fans, is exhibited from May 26 to June 24, at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) here. The exhibition features fans and related objects such as paintings, prints and films selected from the vast collection of eminent artist Jatin Das. The artist's collection began with a pankha gifted to him by a friend and has now grown in the past two decades to include over 5,000 different fans. Jatin Das continues to collect fans on his travels, often visiting basti markets and haats or asking chowkidars, cooks and peons for hand fans, especially during the hot months when they are most likely to be produced. He has come across beautiful pankhas in this way, hand-made by mothers, wives, sisters and daughters. Sometimes he visits antique dealers, where he finds rare or antique fans. Das' collection also grows thanks to the generous gifts of friends who are familiar with his passion for pankha. From fixed ceiling fans operated by pankhawala to cool a congregation, to large phads used for the comfort of aristocrats and nobility, to handfans and flywhisks, the assortment of artefacts is astounding in size, variety and beauty. The fans range from intricately woven bamboo, grass, cane, wheat stalk and palm leaf, to feather, silk cotton, leather, bead and mica or mirror. Handfans play an important role in social customs in oriental countries like Japan and China as well as Spain, where a complex fan language has developed to express emotion and convey wordless messages in a whorl of man-made wind that emanates from a simple flick of the wrist. It is a symbol of daily life and an essential accessory for both males and females alike. In India, the main use of the pankha is combatting the heat of hot Indian summers. Handfans are used for rituals and comfort, and almost every Indian art form features a pankha in depictions of myths, religious stories and tales of mortal adventure. Pankha are associated with romance, as women used the tool to seduce, comfort, and cool their lovers with the gentle caress of softly disturbed air. Ceremonial fans were used in temples, decorated pankha were an important part of a bride's dowry, large fans were a crucial element of the social gatherings of aristocrats and nobles, and rudimentary pankha were used to fan cooking flames. The Pankha collection was first shown at the Crafts Museum in Delhi and has since travelled across India and around the world to Switzerland, Philippines, United States, Malaysia and the United Kingdom. It will ultimately be housed in the JD Centre of Art in Bhubaneswar, Odisha-- Jatin Das' home state. Though some pieces from the collection have been exhibited previously, this is the most definitive collection to date, around 500 in number and the largest cross section of fans. This exhibition will feature demonstrations by skilled craftspeople and fan-making workshops for children. The fans are categorised by their usage, material, origin or type. It will feature pankhas in addition to other art forms that feature the handicraft. Cool Indian summer drinks, leisurely music, poetry and literature centred on the warm months complete the image of these lyrical objects just in time for Delhi's temperatures to rise. This collection of pankas is a small attempt to rejuvenate the spirit of the living traditions of India. The makers of these fans carry on a long tradition of decorative creativity a tradition which is sadly disappearing today, for a variety of reasons. Each year, the Indian postal service issues a number of commemorative postage stamps dedicated to different historical and cultural objects, events, and personalities. In 2018, Das' Pankha collection was granted a place on Indian stamps, where they will travel around the world promoting the rich and diverse expressions of Indian craftsmanship through the post. UNI PY SHK 1600

- https://news.webindia123.com/news/Articles/India/20180529/3354778.html, May 29, 2018

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For art historian Benoy K. Behl, life is all about constant learning

New Delhi-born Benoy K. Behl is the only person in the world to document Buddhist heritage in 19 regions across 17 countries. He has also made 140 documentaries on Indian art and cultural history. In his discovery of art heritage, he has travelled around the world 10 times. No wonder, then, that Behl is mentioned in the Limca Book Of Records for being the most travelled photographer to document Indian art influences across the world. (Limca is an annual reference book, published in India, documenting India’s achievements in various fields.) Behl was an only child. His late father Manhar Krishen Behl, a government servant, had wanted him to lead a creative life. “He always encouraged me to read the best of literature, philosophy and history,” he said. When Behl was 19, he assisted a filmmaker in Delhi, India. He learnt that making documentaries entailed constant learning – and became deeply attracted to it, he said. At 20, he made his first documentary film. After making two films, he enrolled for a course in filmmaking at the Film and Television Institute of India, in Pune. In 1976, a few months before he turned 20, Behl graduated from St Stephen’s College in Delhi. He obtained a BA in English Literature (Honours). Now 61, Behl has been a filmmaker, art historian and photographer for 41 years. When he was 24, he took up photography seriously and began documenting and studying art. With photography, it was mostly self-taught – he experimented with his photography and pored over photography books. At the age of 35, Behl began photographing ancient Buddhist paintings in Ajanta Caves, India. These were 29 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments dating from the 2nd century BCE to about 480 CE. Those cave paintings were shrouded in darkness. As strong lights were not allowed in photographing them, Behl developed a special technique to shoot them – and in great detail, too. “There were thousands of painted figures of men, women and animals along the walls of the caves. Each expressing care for the other. Every glance, full of warmth and tenderness. It’s a world of compassion. “That experience transformed me completely, and thereafter I made films only on art and philosophy,” said Behl. Leading experts on Ajanta, both in India and abroad, lauded his low-light photography technique. Invitations began to pour in for him to speak about Ajanta – they came from the University of London, the British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum in England, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and National Geographic. Over the years, as a natural progression, Behl became an art historian. Behl’s film Indian Roots Of Tibetan Buddhism, in which he interviews the Dalai Lama, won the Best Documentary Producer award at the Madrid International Film Festival 2015. It also won two awards at international film festivals in India. His other film Indian Deities Worshipped In Japan garnered seven awards at international film festival awards in 2016. Behl also wrote nine books, including The Ajanta Caves (1998), Northern Frontiers Of Buddhism (2013), The Art Of India (2017), Buddhist Heritage Of Sri Lanka, and Buddhism: The Path Of Compassion. The last two titles were launched earlier this month. Currently, he is working on his next book, Hindu Deities Worshipped In Japan, and writing his autobiography, A Journey Within. His daily routine includes yoga and pranayama (breathing exercises) between 5am and 7am. By 10am, he is in his office to do his writing, filmmaking, and planning courses on Indian art history or his travels. Behl and his colleague and partner Sujata Chatterji have carried out cultural documentation in Spain (2014), Japan (2015), and South America (2017). In April, Behl and Bulu Imam – convener of the Hazaribagh Chapter of Intach (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) – explored Buddhist sculptures and newly discovered sites in the state of Jharkhand in India. Behl said: “My hobbies, which include travel and music, overlap with my passion in work.” He feels that his journey of life has taught him a great deal about art, compassion and philosophy. This sexagenarian has “no plans at all for retirement”.

- https://news.webindia123.com/news/Articles/India/20180529/3354778.html, May 30, 2018

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Bengal’s Chau mask acquires GI fame

The Chau mask of Purulia, the wooden mask of Kushmandi, the Patachitra, the Dokras of Bengal, and Madhurkathi (a kind of mat) have been presented with the Geographical Indication (GI) tag by the Geographical Indication Registry and Intellectual Property India. A GI tag connects the quality and authenticity of a given product to a particular geographical origin, thereby ensuring that no one other than the authorised user can use the popular product’s name. Chinnaraja G. Naidu, Deputy Registrar of Geographical Indications, told The Hindu that GI tags for these five rural crafts would not only help the artisans create their own brand but would also provide legal protection to artisans practising the crafts against attempts to duplicate them in other regions.

Bengal scores

According to Mr. Naidu, during 2017-18, his office awarded GI tags to 25 products, of which nine were from West Bengal. GI tags are given on the basis of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. The first product to be included in the list was Darjeeling Tea. “What is unique about these is that they are made by marginalised communities that, until a few years ago, found it hard to sustain themselves by producing these crafts,” said Niloy Basu, general manager of Banglanatak.com, a social enterprise working with artisans. “The GI status for five rural products will have a direct impact on the occupation of 5,000-6,000 families in the State,” he added. While 500 families were involved in the making of large and colourful Chau masks used in the Chau dance, also known as Chhau, in Baghmundi block of Purulia, around 200 families in Kushmandi make the wooden masks used for the Mukha dance. In Paschim Medinipur, a few hundred families in Pingla village make the beautifully painted scrolls called Patachitra, and 3,000 families in two districts were into making Madurkathi.

- http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/bengals-chau-mask-acquires-gi-fame/article24028259.ece, May 30, 2018

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Tourists can now book tickets for ASI monuments online

Tourists wishing to visit historic monuments in the country will now be able to book tickets on their mobile handsets. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has inked an MoU with Yatra.com and BookMyShow, which will enable overseas and domestic tourists and visitors to conveniently book tickets online for 141 historical monuments, museums and sites in India, such as the Taj Mahal, Qutub Minar, Ajanta and Ellora caves, Red Fort, and the Sun Temple. The move, aimed at supporting the government’s ‘Digital India’ initiative, will facilitate digitization of ASI’s service offerings, thereby providing fast-track access and a world-class e-ticket booking experience to visitors. Officials said that the partnership with Yatra and BookMyShow will be significant in promoting tourism and cultural heritage in India. The online booking services come at no additional cost to the customer. Speaking on the partnership, Dhiresh Sharma, Chief Business Officer, Activities, Yatra, said, “India has an extraordinary and diverse pool of cultural and built heritage and footfalls to such destinations are astounding. Therefore, we want to provide a high-quality visitor experience that will empower the visitors to book their tickets online.” Sharma said that Yatra will be extending its platform for promoting cultural heritage and featuring essential information that a visitor needs to plan sight-seeing: connectivity and access, opening and closing timings, and facilities available, along with write-ups on the monuments. “We believe that this initiative, in partnership with the Archaeological Survey of India, will drive the convenience of ‘digital’ to all those planning to visit these sites and reiterate Yatra’s position of being ‘India ka travel planner’.” Commenting on the partnership, Karan Arora, General Manager, business development, BookMyShow, said, “Monuments and historical sites not only give a glimpse of our rich heritage, culture and art that spans over hundreds of years, they also form a solid foundation for the tourism sector in India, their marvels attracting millions of people from across the world and from within our own country. The Archaeological Survey of India has taken the lead in expanding e-ticketing for this segment.” The tickets for the 141 monuments, museums and sites, managed by ASI, are now available online on Yatra and BookMyShow platforms.

- http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2018/may/30/tourists-can-now-book-tickets-for-asi-monuments-online-1821221.html, May 30, 2018

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A new way to health

Falun Dafa also known as Falun Gong is a modern Chinese spiritual practice that combines meditation and Qigong exercises involving body posture, slow movements that embrace the philosophy of truthfulness, compassion and tolerance. It was founded by Master Li Hongzhi based on principles of Buddhism and claims to bring a person to a state of wisdom and harmonious existence. It has five sets of exercises usually accompanied by rhythmic background music and can be performed any time, anywhere. INTACH Madurai chapter along with LAMPS Trust and Lean In Madurai Circle organized an orientation workshop on Falun Dafa for the first time in the city. Tatiana, a Russian Falun Dafa practitioner based in Puducherry, full of wit and energy went around correcting the body posture of the participants practising Falun Dafa for the first time. At 63, she effortlessly sat in Padmasana while people half her age struggled to do the same. “I have been doing Falun Dafa for ten years and it has worked wonders for me,” she says. Mamta Fomra, a fashion designer, is the reason Falun Dafa reached Madurai. “On my recent trip to New Zealand , I met Winnie , a Falun Dafa instructor for 15 years. I did a session with her and found it to be effective, impressive, energising and healing. I then invited Winnie to India and with her reference we co-ordinated with Chitra Devnani and Deepak, Falun Dafa instructors from Bangalore, to organize the workshop.” There are various reasons for which people take up Falun Dafa. Deepak says, “ Falun Dafa is the kind of practice you discover yourself and get self-refined with practice. I used it to control my temper and it has made me a better person.” While Chitra adds, “ I took up Falun Dafa as a last resort to a persistent back ache troubling me for years. Within a week I felt a positive difference and my visits to doctor stopped.” Winnie says she used to intermittently fall sick till she took to this spiritual practice. “Now I feel energetic all the time and my whole lifestyle has improved for the better. Falun dafa heals not just your body but helps cultivating a positive attitude and strengthens your mind as well’ Mamta, Winnie and a few other participants from the workshop continued practicing Falun Dafa for over a week at Sundaram Park, KK Nagar, where the public watched and even randomly joined them out of curiosity. showed good interest with many people joining for the session. Mamta explains, “Falun Dafa evoked good response and is more interesting and fulfilling when practised in groups,” says Mamta and is confident that more locals will happily explore this rejuvenating practice.” Falun Dafa, first taught publicly by Master Li Hongzhi in North East China in 1992, received wide publicity initially but was legally banned by the ruling Communist party during mid 1990’s fearing the immense popularity and the network of people from all sections of society coming together to practice it. However Falun Dafa continued to gain popularity outside China and the books and teachings by Master Li have been translated to several native languages. The demonstration videos and course material can be accessed for free at www.falundafa.org . For connecting with Falun Dafa practioners in Madurai reach out to mamtafomra@yahoo.co.in

- http://www.thehindu.com/society/madurai-ites-get-a-glimpse-of-falun-dafa-a-chinese-spiritual-practice/article24046592.ece, May 31, 2018

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A bridge that’s got crossed over in time and neglect

The 776-metre long engineering marvel of a bridge was the first of its kind in Asia when it was built in 1932. The over 85-year-old magnificent stone masonry bridge across river Godavari at Soan village in present-day Nirmal district was built to improve road communication to remote parts in the erstwhile Hyderabad State. Situated on the river border between Nirmal and Nizamabad districts, it has started deteriorating since it fell into disuse in 2009 when the traffic was diverted to the new twin bridges built by its side on the NH 44. Lack of conservation has only accelerated its disintegration during the last decade. Growth of fig and banyan trees from the crevices in the stones has led to the structure cracking up.

Part of heritage

“It was ahead of time,” Hyderabad convenor of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) P. Anuradha Reddy pointed out. “It is part of our architectural history and Telangana’s historical pride,” she added.

Nizam’s apology

Its inaugural plaque, which had poetry in praise of the last Nizam of Hyderabad for commissioning such a gigantic task written by his ustad or tutor Jaleel Manakpuri, has vanished since it came into disuse. The first verse on the plaque is said to have been an apology from the Nizam to the sacred Godavari for violating its flow by constructing the mighty bridge. The Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, is believed to have visited in 1351 Fasli, according to the calendar used in the Hyderabad State, corresponding to 1941 CE. “Its importance to the ruler can be ascertained from the fact that a silver model of the bridge was made during that time and can still be found in Purani Haveli Palace,” Ms. Reddy pointed out.

Needs to be preserved

“A descendent of the Nizam had carried it away, we were told,” recalled Soan fisherman Padigela Erranna looking rather sadly at the old structure. “This bridge needs to be saved,” he asserted, his eyes caressing the aesthetically arranged stones. The bridge needs immediate attention in order to preserve it. “The roots of the fig trees need to be removed properly followed with herbicidal treatment,” opined Ms. Reddy. “It is the task of experts and government or at least Nirmal and Nizamabad district administrations should fund the conservation effort,” she suggested. However, there seems to be some information gap between the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the R&B department in erstwhile united Adilabad district on the issue of jurisdiction over the bridge. The NHAI’s Nirmal Project Implementation Unit Project Director Hamed Ali told The Hindu that the R&B department normally assumes charge of any such old facility soon after the new structure relieves it of traffic. But R&B Superintending Engineer (SE) in erstwhile Adilabad district Md. Nazeer Ahmed said the old bridge is the lookout of the NHAI. Mr. Hamed Ali added that he would talk to the R&B SE in Nizamabad district to ascertain if the department has taken charge of the stone structure. The bridge is under the jurisdiction of both Nirmal and Nizamabad districts.

- http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/a-bridge-thats-got-crossed-over-in-time-and-neglect/article24039930.ece, May 31, 2018

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