Heritage Education in India

Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage

Youngintach Forum

Heritage Alerts
May 2018


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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