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November 2017

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Spotlight on tribal dance

The Jharkhand chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) has decided to celebrate World Heritage Week here by educating schoolchildren of the city about a major ingredient of Jharkhand's vibrant heritage - its tribal dance forms. World Heritage Week is celebrated across the globe every year between November 19 and 25, mostly by school and college students, in order to increase awareness about the importance of preserving cultural heritages. Intach has begun to approach English medium schools in the city whose students are generally unaware of the state's performing art forms. "Culture is an intangible heritage that forms the identity of a state or a country. We decided to bring it to the threshold of schoolchildren who otherwise are hooked to the Internet. This would be an opportunity for them to know Jharkhand better," said Intach Jharkhand co-convenor Amitava Ghosh. Dance forms like Paika, Dasai, Firkal and Kharswan and Manbhum Chhau will be staged by professional artistes in six schools of the city. Intach resource persons will also tell children about the background of the dance forms so that they relate to them when they watch the performances. "There are stories behind every dance forms. There are dances of celebrations, hunting, martial arts and war. Students will get to learn many things," said Ghosh.

- https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/jharkhand/spotlight-on-tribal-dance-182389, Nov 1, 2017

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The Mairie all set to stand tall again

Amid the tug of war between heritage conservationists and the Public Works Department (PWD) over rebuilding the Mairie, the iconic 19th century landmark which collapsed in 2014, the project for revival is now almost complete with the government going ahead with its plan to rebuild the structure using modern materials. Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy is expected to lay the foundation stone for rebuilding the landmark on Thursday. “The project will be implemented by the Project Implementation Agency while the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) is the architectural consultant. The construction is expected to be completed in 12 months with World Bank assistance,” said A. Arul, senior architect of INTACH. While the PWD had been pitching for reinforced cement concrete (RCC) and cement mortar and cement plaster, INTACH’s preference was for lime mortar and ‘Madras-terrace roof’ technique. INTACH experts pointed out that structures built in the traditional way have a much longer life. In contrast, the buildings built with so-called modern technique using RCC just 35-40 years ago are already in dilapidation. The proponents of modern techniques and materials take the line that good quality lime for traditional construction is not available any more, while torchbearers of the traditional way aver that the raw material required for lime or cement is actually good quality limestone. Just like the original. According to Mr. Arul, “The new structure, including the pile foundation, will be modelled on the original structure using modern materials. The new building will have a multi-purpose hall and the office of the Municipal Commissioner on the ground floor. The first floor will include the office of the Registrar of Births and Deaths.” Built in 1870-71, the building was an important landmark in the city and formed a part of an ensemble of important structures such as the old lighthouse, Customs House and French consulate on the Goubert Avenue. Considered a symbol of French colonial power, the French named the premises as ‘Town Hall’ (Hotel De Ville) which housed the office of the Mayor of the Puducherry Municipality, the Municipal Council, the Registry and other offices, including the office of Registrar of Births and Deaths. ‘Harbinger of democracy’. “It was the biggest administrative building for 100 years and a symbolic landmark during the French regime. It was in this building that the first attempt at democracy for Puducherry was tried out during 1870-1900 long before the first general elections were held in British India,” according to Ashok Panda, co-convener, INTACH. The building housed the Legislative Assembly of Puducherry for four years from 1964 (when the first general election was held in the wake of de jure transfer of power) before the Assembly was shifted to the present premises in 1969. It also provided facility for marriages and other public functions. The eastern and western façade of the two-storied building featured arcaded entrance verandahs on high plinth accessed by a broad flight of steps in dressed granite. The first floor had coloured galleries and a large ceremonial hall with wooden flooring, he said. Having braved the elements for over 100 years, this building started showing signs of decay with the cement plaster peeling off from the ceiling, and started crumbling in 2012 with one part remaining closed. The main part of the building was cleared out and the offices were shifted after it was declared unsafe. The building collapsed under the impact of incessant rains in November 2014.

- http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/the-mairie-all-set-to-stand-tall-again/article19956768.ece, Nov 1, 2017

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River island Majuli aiming to become country's first carbon-free district

Ecologically sensitive Majuli is set to savour a unique tourism experience this month. The world's largest riverine island---known for its neo-Vaishnavite Satras dating back to the 15th century, the art of traditional mask-making and Raas festival---is aiming to become the country's first carbon-neutral district. The Assam Tourism Development Corporation (ATDC) is going to launch the 'Majuli Sustainable Tourism Development Project' (MSTDP) on Wednesday featuring daily cycle rides to different Mishing villages and Vaishnavite Satras where guides will narrate the history of the place, tales and legends of the mystic island to the tourists, said ATDC chairman Jayanta Malla Baruah. "Under the project, at least 30 rock rider bicycles will be used for rides as part of the carbon-free travel experience on the island and to create an environmental protocol for the tourism industry," he said. The MSTDP will be managed by Root Bridge Foundation, an NGO promoting sustainable tourism practices in northeast India. There will be different kinds of rides-cycle rides for students and only-women tours where the visitors can experience authentic village life and learn about Sattriya culture. The cycles will be available for rent from the Circuit House campus at Garamur in Majuli. Local youths will play guides to visitors, explaining the history and myth of the river island. Tourists will be able to take a peek into the lifestyle of the people on the island, the folklore and culture associated with them, as also explore their art and crafts. "The project also envisages different levels of interventions consisting of capacity-building programmes and catalyst funding for women and indigenous communities who are working in the field of art and craft," Baruah added. ATDC said the entire programme is designed in such a way that the benefits of tourism is shared by the host communities.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/guwahati/river-island-majuli-aiming-to-become-countrys-first-carbon-free-district/articleshow/61386437.cms, Nov 1, 2017

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Odisha to preserve Assamese litterateur's residence

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday announced that the state government will take up the renovation and conservation of Assamese litterateur late Lakshminath Bezbarua's heritage residence in Sambalpur. The government will preserve the heritage property at its own expense. "I and the people of Odisha have immense respect for Lakshminath Bezbaroa. The state government will renovate his residence in Sambalpur at its cost and take care of it," Patnaik said. "With this, I hope the cultural ties between the two states will be reinforced." Patnaik made the assurance while meeting Assam's Cultural Affairs Minister Naba Kumar Doley and Chief Minister's Media Adviser Hrishikesh Goswami here. The Minister and the official are in Odisha as per Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal's direction to take up the matter with the state government here. The government assured that it would desist from any action leading to demolition of the heritage building. The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, a non-profit, will be assigned to prepare the renovation plan. Initially, Rs 50 Lakh will be spent on renovation, said Odisha Tourism Minister Ashok Chandra Panda. Hrishikesh Goswami thanked the Odisha government for the proactive measure to preserve the residence. Before meeting the Odisha Chief Minister, they had visited Bezbaruaha's residence on Monday and interacted with district administration in Sambalpur. Notably, Sonowal on October 27 talked to his Odisha counterpart Patnaik over phone and requested him for the preservation of the residence, which is intrinsically associated with the emotions of the people of Assam. Born in 1868, Bezbarua enriched Assamese literature with his essays, plays, fiction and poetry. He is popularly known as Rasharaaj or the king of humour for his satirical writings.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/books/features/nawazuddin-apologises-withdraws-memoir/articleshow/61354478.cms, Nov 1, 2017

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In a first in Tamil Nadu, Srirangam temple bags Unesco award

The Sri Ranganathaswamy temple at Srirangam has bagged an award of merit from Unesco for protecting and conserving cultural heritage, thus becoming the first temple from Tamil Nadu to grab the prestigious honour from the UN body. The traditional method of renovating temple premises as well as re-establishment of rainwater harvesting and the historic drainage system in preventing flooding are the two key parameters that earned the temple the award.

Launched in 2000, Unesco Asia-Pacific awards for cultural heritage conservation programme is aimed at acknowledging the efforts taken to restore and conserve historical structures without affecting their heritage value in the region comprising 48 countries. Unesco had invited applications earlier this year to submit conservation projects either taken up by individuals or in public-private partnership model in the last 10 years for the awards. Subsequently, the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment (HR&CE) department of Srirangam temple applied for the awards in May. As the results of the awards given under four categories were disclosed by Unesco Asia-Pacific on Wednesday, Srirangam temple was the only religious centre from south India to find a mention under 'Award of Merit' category.

HR&CE sources said that the temple had received the international recognition for the Rs 20 crore (from HR&CE and donors) renovation project taken up prior to a consecration ceremony in November 2015, especially without affecting its centuries' old architectural design. "The communique received by us cited the traditional construction method involved in reworks and re-establishment of the historical sewage system as parameters for receiving the international award," P Jayaraman, joint commissioner of the temple, told TOI. In 2015, restoration work was carried out in the entire temple complex by craftsmen who had in-depth knowledge in traditional architecture involving the usage of limestone and chemical-free construction practices. Similarly, the flooding problem in the temple was overcome by re-establishing historical water harvesting and drainage system, and the waste water after re-treatment was used for watering the garden within the temple. There were 43 applications from 10 countries for the 2017 Unesco Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.

Mumbai's Christ Church and Royal Bombay Opera House were the other monuments in India that received the Award of Merit this year. The awards are classified under four categories -- Award of Excellence, Awards of Distinction, Awards of Merit and Award for New Design in Heritage Context. They are being given to encourage the efforts of all stakeholders and the public in conserving and promoting monuments and religious institutes with rich heritage in the Asia-Pacific region. A jury comprising nine international heritage conservation experts reviewed the documentation of the conservation project taken up by Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple management.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/trichy/in-a-first-in-tn-srirangam-temple-bags-unesco-award/articleshow/61427765.cms, Nov 2, 2017

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ASI approves excavation at site of Mahabharata’s ‘house of lac'

After years of requests by archaeologists and local historians, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has finally approved the excavation of what locals believe is the site of the 'Lakshagriha', the house of lac which features in an important incident in the Mahabharata. The site is located in Barnawa area of Baghpat district. Retired ASI superintending archaeologist, (excavation) KK Sharma said, "Lakshagriha plays a significant part in the Mahabharata. The Kauravas had built the palace out of lac and planned to burn the Pandavas alive, but the brothers escaped through a tunnel.

The structure was located in what is now Baghpat, at the site called Barnawa. In fact, Barnawa is the twisted name of Varnavrat, one of the five villages that the Pandavas had demanded from the Kauravas to settle in after their exile." Speaking to TOI, director (excavation) of ASI Jitender Nath said, "After a thorough study of the proposal we have given licence to two ASI authorities, Institute of Archaeology in Red Fort, Delhi, and our excavation branch, to jointly conduct the excavation." According to ASI officials, the excavation will begin in the first week of December and will continue for three months. Students of the Institute of Archaeology will also participate in it.

Asked about the religious significance of the site, Dr SK Manjul, director, Institute of Archaeology, said, "It will not be appropriate to say anything on the religious aspect of this site as of now. We chose this site primarily because of its proximity to other important sites like Chandayan and Sinauli. In Sinauli, excavations had revealed an important Harappan-period burial site. We had recovered skeletons and pottery in large quantities in 2005. Similarly, a copper crown along with carnelian beads was found in Chandayan village in 2014." The crown was found by local archaeologist Amit Rai Jain and the find had been reported by TOI. Though not much remains at the site, its most significant part is the tunnel inside the mound, which the Pandavas may have used to make their escape. Krishan Kant Sharma, associate professor, department of history, Multani Mal PG College Modinagar and secretary of Culture & History Association, "No one has ever ventured too deep into the tunnel as it has several turns. But maybe now this excavation will map its length."

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/asi-approves-excavation-at-site-of-mahabharatas-house-of-lac/articleshow/61428457.cms, Nov 2, 2017

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Aurangabad nominated for UNESCO World Heritage City

Maharashtra may soon get its first city with UNESCO's World Heritage City tag. The state government is working on nominating Aurangabad for the prestigious label, which will ensure restoration of heritage sites and boost tourism in the town. So far, only Ahmedabad in Gujarat, which is an over 600-year-old walled city founded by emperor Ahmed Shah, has been given the status, making it India's first world heritage city. With a history dating backing to the 2nd Century BC, Aurangabad was part of a trade route linking Ujjain to Ter near Osmanabad. It has a rich heritage complete with fortifications and gates, palaces, caves, akhadas (wrestling schools), religious sites like dargahs, temples, gurudwaras, gram daivats (village deities), and hamams (public baths)

. "This is the first such proposal from Maharashtra seeking the status of a World Heritage City for a city. We will send it to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for scrutiny, and it will, in turn, forward it to the UNESCO," said Tejas Garge, Director, Directorate of Archaeology and Museums. He added that they had asked the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation for a list of heritage monuments and their conservation status, legal provisions and measures taken for their upkeep. Called 'Rajatadag' during the Satavahana era, Aurangabad is also known as the 'City of Gates' because of the 52 gates built by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, of which only few survive today. Dulari Qureshi, a local historian and a member of the divisional commissioner's heritage committee, said that to get the status, maintenance of these monuments was as important as their heritage values.

Qureshi added that Aurangabad had monuments ranging from the palaces of Abyssinian general Malik Ambar, who is credited with founding Aurangabad, or Khidki, as it was known in the 17th century, the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb and his General Pahad Singh Bundela. While the nearby Ajanta and Ellora caves, which are also UNESCO world heritage sites, are tourist attractions, Aurangabad city too has 12 ancient caves with sculptures located in the campus of the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, which were built between 1st century AD to 7 century AD. Qureshi said that the gates in Aurangabad were surrounded by encroachments and stressed on the need to maintain and protect such monuments. "Industries can adopt each gate," she suggested. In October 2016, the state cabinet had approved the conduct of procedures for declaring Aurangabad as a World Heritage City. The state government will appoint a conservation architect to prepare a proposal in this regard. The directorate is also working on an archaeological guidebook of Aurangabad district, which will be published soon.

Aurangabad fell on the trade route connecting Ujjain to Ter via Burhanpur, Ajanta, Bhokardhan and Paithan. It was called 'Rajtadag' during the Satavahan era. It consists of historic and heritage sites like Bibi Ka Maqbara and Panchakki. Malik Ambar, a high-ranking Nizamshahi nobleman, is credited for laying the foundations of modern day Aurangabad as 'Khadki. The city served as Aurangzeb's capital in the Deccan for a while. Later, it was also the made the capital of the Asaf Jahi dynasty by the Nizam of Hyderabad. It has also been ruled by the Marathas It was part of the Nizam of Hyderabad's princely state before it was merged into the Indian union in 1948.

- http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-aurangabad-nominated-for-unesco-world-heritage-city-2557105, Nov 2, 2017

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Painstaking work restores Mumbai’s structures to former glory

All four heritage structures of Mumbai that were among the winners of the UNESCO Asia Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation announced Wednesday saw painstaking conservation work for months before they were recently restored to their former glory. Three of the projects had been undertaken by conservation architect Vikas Dilawari, and one by architect Abha Lambah. The Awards of Merit were given to Byculla’s Christ Church and the Royal Bombay Opera House, apart from honorable mentions for the Bomanjee Hormarjee Wadia Fountain and Clock Tower in Fort and the Wellington Fountain in Colaba. Charles Duckworth, the administrator of Christ Church, said he was not expecting the honour, and that it had come as a surprise. The 19th century church on Claire Road in Byculla was one of the last Neo Classical structures to be built in the city. It was constructed for the convenience of then city Governor Montstuart Elphinstone to attend Sunday Mass at a church closer to his home in Parel than the St Thomas Cathedral in Fort. It was restored by Dilawari’s firm over a period of one year between 2015 and 2016.

UNESCO’s award citation states that the building had suffered from “earlier inappropriate repair works that disguised and diminished its cultural value”. The Royal Opera House was brought back to life on October 18 last year after lying in dereliction for 23 years. “The award is a validation of the work that the whole team put in for eight years. It is also a validation of the fact that privately owned heritage can reach high levels of conservation without any government support and can also turn a dilapidated building around into a dynamic, vibrant cultural centre,” said Abha Lambah, the architect who worked on the project. When the team began work on the project in 2006, it was confronted with severe structural damage to the building. The greatest challenge was to repair the structural damage and make it modern without compromising on its heritage. “We had to insert modern air-conditioning, lighting and high quality acoustics that are required for today’s performances without compromising on its historic value,” added Lambah.

The team relied on old photographs of the structure to reconstruct it, including the old balconies. The BH Wadia Fountain and Clock Tower was brought back to life in a restoration effort by the Kala Ghoda Association (KGA) and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in January this year after lying in a dilapidated condition for years. Built in 1882, the clock tower was erected with public funds as a token of appreciation for Bomanjee Hormarjee Wadia, a prominent citizen. “We are gratified and pleased for Vikas Dilawari who did such a difficult job of restoring a building on the verge of collapse. It is not just a conservation effort but also an engineering feat,” said Maneck Davar, chairman of the KGA. The clock tower was restored to its former glory after painstaking work of eight to nine months. While restoring the structure, its location posed a major challenge. “Since it is at a traffic island, we had to be very careful that nothing falls onto the vehicles below,” said Dilwari. The teakwood beams had rotted and fallen down and tree roots had grown into the structure, making it unsafe.

After providing scaffoldings, the conservationists used stainless steel pins to hold the heavy basalt stones together. While restoring the structure 100 per cent, Dilawari ensured that all old materials were reused save for a concrete slab. “We reused all the old wooden beams which could be salvaged and restored. We only had to replace the earlier stone slab and cast a new concrete slab. When the structure was constructed, it had some inherent defects, which were revealed only with time.

We corrected them as well without making any changes to the exterior,” added Dilawari. To prevent flooding within the structure after the road level around it increases, the team also restored an old drain. “By restoring the 19th century street landscape features, which were otherwise ignored, they have added meaning to the surroundings,” he added. Dilawari’s firm also worked on Wellington Fountain, opposite Regal Cinema in Colaba. The 152-year-old fountain was built to commemorate the frequent visits to Bombay of Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington. The restoration work was funded by Mahindra & Mahindra, while experts from the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage also assisted in restoring the fountain’s original basalt and metal surface, which had been hidden over the years by layers of paint.

- http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/painstaking-work-restored-mumbais-structures-to-former-glory-4920108/, Nov 3, 2017

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Heritage loses out in school repairs

An INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) report submitted to the government has said that work on two buildings of Government Central High School, Attakulangara, cannot be accepted as restoration work. The report to Minister for Education C. Ravindranath says documentation of the heritage building on the campus was not done before the work was taken up. The restoration is currently at a stop after INTACH submitted a memorandum to the Minister in August expressing concern over the work not being suited to preserving a heritage structure. It had called for the restoration being taken up with assistance from conservation experts. The report was prepared by conservation architect Pankaj Modi who had been entrusted by the Thiruvananthapuram chapter of INTACH to study the buildings on the school campus.

Mr. Modi, director of the Bengaluru-based Centre for Heritage Initiatives, was accompanied by Hemachandran Pillai, former Director of the Department of Archaeology here, and school heritage cell member Asha Gopinathan on his visit to the school. The report said that flat arches in the heritage building could collapse over time as doors and windows had been removed without supporting the arches. Reasons for removal of pillars and front verandah in the heritage building could not be ascertained owing to lack of documentation before the work was started. In the other two buildings, ornamentation was introduced in the pillars and replastering done using cement mortar.

The report did not find a problem with the load bearing walls of the heritage building. The truss system was fine except in places where the tiles were broken or where these had been removed at the southern end. The report makes seven recommendations for restoration of the buildings, including documentation of the buildings in their present stage, restoration of the roof and replacement of broken tiles, and reconstruction of verandahs. INTACH convener Shaji Krishnan said that with the rain coming down, the heritage building could suffer as there was not much overhead protection. The technology and worksmanship used in heritage buildings were different from that in modern buildings, and the government should continue the work by roping in a conservation architect. “A lot of money is being spent on the school, and we hope this report is made the basis of any future work by the government.”

- http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/heritage-loses-out-in-school-repairs/article19971026.ece, Nov 3, 2017

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Century-old Krumbiegel Hall in Lalbagh collapses

The over 100-year old Krumbiegel Hall in Lalbagh has collapsed. Years of neglect by the horticulture department appears to be the cause. The lecture hall, named after Gustav Hermann Krumbiegel, who served as superintendent of Lalbagh between 1908 and 1932, was one of the oldest heritage structures inside the historic botanical garden. While the facade still remains standing, the entire middle portion of the Greek-style structure has caved in. The exact date of the collapse is not known, although conservationists believe it could not have been more than a few days ago. “We had first approached the horticulture department in 2010 to restore it and have been requesting them to take steps to conserve the structure ever since,” said Meera Iyer, co-convenor, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), explaining that the building slumped because of prolonged government apathy and indifference. “The hall had vegetation growing out of it. The waterproofing was completely damaged because of which the plaster was gone. Forget maintenance, the horticulture department was using it as a dumpyard.” Also referred to as the Horticulture Lecture Hall, the structure bore the emblem of the Mysuru royal family - the Gandabherunda (two-headed mythological bird) on the facade. The Pompeian red structure sports Corinthian-style columns below triangular pediments. Earlier this year, when Gustav Krumbiegel’s greatgranddaughter Alyia Phelps Gardiner Krumbiegel made her maiden visit to Bengaluru, the horticulture department assured her that the heritage hall will be preserved. “Years of neglect has made restoration work difficult and expensive. The lime and mortar base used by British builders cannot be replaced by regular cement or plaster of paris. It requires skill and resources to restore a complicated structure like that. The Krumbiegel Hall has witnessed the unfurling of the story of Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, and that alone makes it a reason to preserve it,” Alyia had written in a Facebook post. Even after its collapse, restoration seems to be stuck in government red-tape. Dr Jagadeesh, joint director of horticulture (parks & gardens), told ET that the Archaeology Department did not take up restoration because the structure was not a listed heritage building. Apparently, the tourism department had stepped in. “The structure collapsed because of the rain. We will take the matter forward with urgency now. We have completed the conditional assessment,” he said. “We cannot renovate it since it is difficult to get the same kind of materials, expenses are higher and it will not be too long-lasting. So we will re-build it like it was. But I cannot commit to how early it will be done as it is subject to availability of funds, permissions from higher-ups and many other factors.” Artist Suresh Jayaram, an authority on Gustav Krumbiegel who has been pushing for the structure’s restoration, said the government’s unwillingness to restore the structure hints at vested interests for the land on which the hall stood.

- https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/century-old-krumbiegel-hall-in-lalbagh-collapses/articleshow/61638911.cms, Nov 13, 2017

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Jaipur's Nahargarh Fort is the site of India's first Sculpture Park; to display leading artists' works

The city of Jaipur will be the first in India to get a Sculpture Park. Located within the premises of the Madhavendra Palace in the city’s iconic Nahargarh Fort, the park is a first-of-its-kind endeavour where an Indian state has collaborated with a non-profit to support contemporary art. The partnership between the Government of Rajasthan and Saat Saath Arts aims to boost cultural tourism to the site. Vasundhara Raje, Chief Minister of Rajasthan, had earlier announced, “The sculpture park at Nahargarh fort will be the first permanent international art space in Rajasthan drawing people from far flung parts of our state and the Indian subcontinent as well as from across the world, bringing them together to share and celebrate diverse international creative expressions.” For a nominal fee of Rs 20 (for Indians) and Rs 50 (for foreigners), people will be able to view cutting-edge contemporary sculptures by top-notch Indian and international artists. Displayed both indoors and outdoors, the exhibition is planned to be an annual fixture. This year’s edition will have artworks by 16 Indian and 8 international artists, including Subodh Gupta, Jitish Kallat, LN Tallur, Huma Bhabha, Aastha Butail, Anita Dube, Vibha Galhotra, Reena Kallat, Bharti Kher, Mrinalini Mukherjee, Manish Nai, Gyan Panchal, Prashant Pandey, Thukral and Tagra, Ravinder Reddy, Asim Waqif, Benitha Perciyal, James Brown, Stephen Cox, Evan Holloway, Matthew Day Jackson, Hans Josephsohn, Arlene Schechet and Arman. Some of the notable works on display include Jitish Kallat's "Annexation" (2009), LN Tallur's "Chromatophobia" (2012) and Arman's "Fried Chicken" (1984). Another highlight is the seven sculptures in Hydrocal plaster by Arlene Schechet. For the artists, the park is a great medium to showcase their work. Thukral and Tagra, who are displaying some of their work in iron, granite, terracotta, marble, wood, nylon and mica, said they were glad to be a part of the project. The duo works collaboratively in a wide variety of media including painting, sculpture, installation, game theory and design. "It's a great initiative. We need more authorities to support the arts," they said. The Saat Saath Arts Foundation works towards international exchange between India and the rest of the world through the visual arts and education initiatives. Apart from working with museums and galleries across the world, the foundation also raises additional funds for exhibitions which include Indian artists in international institutions. Aparajita Jain, founder and director of the Foundation said that the initiative aims to promote India's growing interest in contemporary art and culture while bolstering its significant legacy. “The sculpture park at Madhavendra Palace is a true amalgamation of the best of India's past and present, made possible through a unique collaboration between the public and private sector,” she said. The park has been curated and designed by Peter Nagy, director of Nature Morte Art Ltd. Nagy envisaged the exposition as a means to bring together modern and traditional arts and to explore diverse perspectives. He essentially selected artists who worked with everyday domestic objects. “For most of my career as a gallerist and curator I have been trying to break away from the white-box exhibition space. With this project, I am able to indulge my passions for art, architecture and décor into a marvellous synthesis of the past and the present,” he said. Future plans for the project include several outreach and education programmes with fashion shows and music performances.

- http://www.firstpost.com/living/jaipurs-nahargarh-fort-is-the-site-of-indias-first-sculpture-park-to-display-leading-artists-works-4206211.html, Nov 13, 2017

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Monument mapping

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) begun documenting the monuments at Prachi Valley from the Bakreswar Temple at Bhinjarpur near the state capital on Sunday. The archaeological remains of temples and sculptures, starting from the early historic to the medieval period, dot the valley that originates from the Kuakhai river and covers approximately 60km. The Prachi is a tributary of the Mahanadi, flowing through Puri, Khurda, Cuttack and Jagatsinghpur, and is considered to be the holiest river in the state, often called the eastern Saraswati. According to archaeological evidence, the valley civilisation predates both Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro. Traditions confirmed by local chronicles revealed that most valley monuments, which are now in different stages of decay, were constructed between the seventh and 15th century AD. Intach's state convener Amiya Bhusan Tripathy said an important realm of Odisha's history was incomplete without proper listing and documentation of the monuments along the entire stretch of the river. "Many of the old monuments have disappeared in recent years, making it all the more necessary for proper listing of the existing vestiges," he said. Bhubaneswar chapter convener S.K.B. Narayan said along with the tangible heritage, the intangible attributes such as the rich oral tradition, customs, festivals and folklore too would be documented. Project co-ordinator Anil Dhir said the six-month project would document nearly 350 monuments, including temples, mutts, ghats, structures and sites. He said the entire stretch of the river till the estuary would be surveyed and a comprehensive report made.

- https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/odisha/monument-mapping-185540, Nov 13, 2017

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Retracing Buddha’s steps

Just 10 km north of Varanasi, the chaotic spiritual capital of India, is a quiet oasis of calm and tranquility. With desolate rambling ruins and stupas, prayer wheels, thick groves and meditative silence, it is a venerated Buddhist site. It was here, around 530 BC—just five weeks after he had found enlightenment—that the Buddha gave his first-ever sermon. Sarnath, derived from Saranganath, means ‘Lord of the Deer’. It harks back to an old Buddhist story in which the Bodhisattva takes on the form of a deer and offers his life to a king, instead of the doe he is planning to kill. The king is deeply touched and creates the park as a sanctuary for deer. Sarnath was also called ‘Isipatana’ denoting the place where holy men or devas fell to earth. In the seventh century, when the Chinese traveller Hieun Tsang visited Sarnath, he found 3,000 monks living here. In the 12th century, Sarnath was razed by the Turks. “Except for the Dhamekh Stupa, much of the site lay in ruins for almost a millennium,” explains our guide. It was Col Mackenzie in 1815 and later Alexander Cunningham in 1834, who started systematic excavations in Sarnath, uncovering many of its priceless treasures. Sarnath today is a major place of pilgrimage, both for Buddhists from India and abroad. Today most of the ruins are found in one place protected by the Archaeological Survey of India. Mud paths meander their way between monuments and ruins. The lofty brick mound of the Chaukhandi stupa is the first monument a visitor encounters in Sarnath. Built in 5th century AD, this was marked the place where Buddha first met his five companions. This was a terraced temple in the Gupta period. Later in 16th century, an incongruous octagonal tower on top of the stupa was added by Raja Todarmal’s son, to commemorate the visit of Emperor Humayun. In the lush, manicured lawns, sitting under massive trees are a group of Buddhist pilgrims from Sri Lanka listening to a lecture by their leader. A short walk away is the gargantuan Dhamekh Stupa that glows orange in the afternoon sun. I am dwarfed by its gigantic proportions as I walk around the structure of shiny Chunar stones bound with iron clamps. This ancient stupa was enlarged during different time periods. It is said to mark the spot where the Buddha gave the first sermon to his five disciples, after attaining enlightenment, revealing his Eightfold Path. The façade has brick work with eight niches in eight directions. Below them runs a string of beautifully carved stones with geometric designs, floral patterns and human figures. The pattern seems to mimic the designs of the original cloth-covering called devadushya, which was wrapped around the stupa. North of the stupa is the ruins of the main complex of the Mulagandhakuti Temple and vihara where, according to Buddhist scriptures, the Buddha meditated during the rainy season. The temple’s courtyard has scores of small shrines and votive stupas. Close by, under a protective structure stands the 8-foot stump of the famous Ashoka Pillar, which was damaged during the Turkish invasion. The pillar bears three inscriptions—the edict of Ashoka in Brahmi, the second added in Kushan period and the third in early Gupta script. As I walk through the groups of monastic ruins with cells, I imagine the haunting spectacle of rampaging Huns and later Muslim invaders as they destroyed all the monuments. I sit by the stupa under the shade of a tree, watching devotees circumambulating the stupa, chanting the mantra “Buddham, Saranam, Gachhami”. The new Mulagandha Kuti Vihar is a welcome break from the overwhelming history in Sarnath. Situated amidst the brick ruins of ancient Sarnath, this modern temple was erected by the Maha Bodhi society in 1931. The insides of the temple have some ethereal frescoes of the Buddha’s life painted by the Japanese painter, Kosetsu Nosu. You can also see the Bodhi tree whose sapling was brought from a tree in Sri Lanka. This Bodhi tree in turn originated from the original tree under which Buddha sat in Bodh Gaya and gained enlightenment 2,500 years ago. We round off the day with a visit to the Sarnath Archaeological Museum.

- http://www.newindianexpress.com/lifestyle/spirituality/2017/nov/11/retracing-buddhas-steps-1697076.html, Nov 13, 2017

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INTACH lashes out after heritage building is painted with graffiti

The decision by shoe manufacturing company Puma to paint the wall of a heritage building in Chawri Bazar in old Delhi with graffiti, as part of an advertisement campaign, has led to backlash from the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). The walls of the building, which figures in the supplementary list of heritage sites, were painted over a month ago, but the matter was brought to light by INTACH’s Delhi Chapter Convenor Swapna Liddle on Sunday. Head of Marketing at Puma India, Debosmita Majumder, said that “all necessary permissions were sought”. The supplementary list of 554 Heritage Sites — notified under section 23 of the Delhi Building Bye Laws, 1983 for Conservation and Protection — states that “no advertising signs shall be displayed without the prior approval of the authority”. Liddle said, “The law clearly states that no development or alteration shall be allowed without permission from different authorities, including vice-chairman of the DDA, and commissioner of the municipality.” She added that before granting permission, the agency has to act in accordance with the advise of the heritage conservation committee. Two other buildings in the vicinity have also been painted. The owner of the building in question, Arun Khandelwal, however, said the structure is not a heritage building and the company had taken permission from him before shooting the advertisement. “The area is looking better now, it is more lively,” he said. “This is a private property and the graffiti is making the area look more beautiful. If there is something on which action needs to be taken, it is how the walls of the Old Delhi are defaced by posters and advertisements,” he added. Liddle, however, said, “The building was painted very inappropriately causing permanent damage to the carved sandstone, limestone plaster and Lahori bricks. Those who made and approved this advertisement, those who stood by while this was done, are all responsible for this insensitive treatment.” The building is also categorised as a ‘haveli’ and a private property, according to the supplementary list of 554 Heritage Sites on the Delhi government’s website.

- http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/intach-lashes-out-after-heritage-building-is-painted-with-graffiti-4936295/, Nov 14, 2017

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Jain priest finds 10th Century sculpture of Mahavir in Kanchi village

A 3ft-high rock sculpture of Mahavir, the 24th and last Jain Tirthankara, has been discovered in Vayalakavur, a remote village near Uthiramerur in Kancheepuram district. After inspecting the sculpture, Jain scholar K Ajithadoss said it dated to the 10th century AD, adding that the stylistic pattern shows it was sculpted during the later period of Jainism in presentday Tamil Nadu. The sculpture of Mahavir in sitting posture was found in the backyard of a private property in Vayalakavur, 26 km from Uthiramerur, by Jain priest Jeevakumar. "The sculpture was lying neglected and covered under the bushes. I went to the site after a villager told me about it. The three umbrellas on the sculpture have been damaged. As the villagers were not aware of its significance, they did not preserve it," said Jeevakumar, who has discovered many sculptures of Tirthankaras in the Kancheepuram region. This is the 10th sculpture of Tirthankaras discovered by the priest at the Jain temple in Thirukalukundram whose devotion to Jainism made him survey the stretch with funds from his own pocket. Many sculptures of Jain Tirthankaras have been discovered from Uthiramerur, showing it was once a main centre of Jainism. "Buddhism and Jainism flourished in present-day Kancheepuram during the 6th century. Chinese scholars Fa Hian and Hiuen Tsang also visited the town. They have recorded the significant influence of Jains in the Pallava kingdom particularly in Kanchi. The nearby Jinakanchi-Thiruppruththikundram was a very famous centre of Jainism and had a highly celebrated mutt called Jina Kanchi Mutt. It was shifted to Mel Sithamur near Tindivanam," said Ajithadoss. Even though a number of Jain sites have been excavated by heritage enthusiasts and scholars in the state, they are not being given adequate attention by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) or the state-owned department of archaeology. "Jainism once flourished in the Uthiramerur stretch. Ancient sculptures of Tirthankaras found at many places here testify to this. But there has been no proper documentation or study so far to establish this, which is unfortunate," said Ajithadoss. "We plan to make a shelter with the help of villagers to preserve the sculpture," he said.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/jain-priest-finds-10thc-sculpture-of-mahavir-in-kanchi-village/articleshow/61637647.cms, Nov 14, 2017

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Shekhawati havelis turning into history

The rate at which the frescoed havelis of Shekhawati region, part of the rich cultural heritage of the state, is being demolished, they may soon become memory. Of the 500 havelis that existed some time ago, only about 160 remain, that too when there is a ban existing on demolishing heritage havelis in Sikar and Nawalgarh. On Sunday evening, one more haveli turned into rubble, barely 30 feet away from the Nawalgarh nagar palika office. "Recently, four to five havelis have been sold. More than 50 havelis have either been demolished," said a resident. On Sunday evening, one more haveli turned into rubble, barely 30 feet away from the Nawalgarh nagar palika office. 'Havelis are brought down gradually'. Ironically, this has happened when the World Bank (WB), along with the Cities Alliance, has chosen Nawalgarh for the pilot project to provide technical assistance (TA) to the Rajasthan government for the 'Inclusive revitalization of 40 historic towns and cities'. "The demand for havelis is being driven by new heritage lookalike properties and real estate prices in Nawalgarh. They first dismantle doors, windows and 'jaalis' and sell them for lakhs. The structure is brought down gradually. Last night, one such haveli was demoloshed adjacent to the main market,," said Shankar Saini, a resident and crusader of Viraasat Sarankshan Sangh Shekhawati. Earlier, following reports of the sale of Goenka haveli in Dundlod town and another one in Nawalgarh, the district collector of Jhunjhunu had issued orders banning construction, repair or renovation of havelis as well as the sale of these heritage structures. In April 2015, the divisional commissioner of Jaipur also had directed the collectors of Sikar and Jhunjhunu districts to prohibit the sale of havelis in the Shekhawati region and prevent construction or repair that may damage the heritage look of havelis. But, the Goenka haveli was brought down, said Saini. In the recent past, Batiyon ki Haveli too was demolished and a market has come up in the area. "The Jhunjhunuwalon ki Haveli, Jaipuriya and Chaar havelis were brought down earlier," he said. The proposal to protect heritage structures, meanwhile, lies in limbo as the state government has not yet constituted the heritage development council (HDC). "I have spoken to the collector of Jhunjhunu and asked him to take immediate action to prevent the demolition of havelis. The HDC has not been constituted so far and the proposal is still in the draft stage," admitted Manjit Singh, principal secretary, local self-government department. The heritage devpt council. The state local self-government (LSG) department was to constitute the heritage development council (HDC) to preserve and restore ancient havelis in the Shekhawati region. The council was to identify and prepare a databank of heritage assets in the region, and make recommendations to the state government on declaring heritage assets as protected and regulated under relevant rules. The council would also be authorized to acquire rights in heritage assets by way of purchase, lease, gift or bequest for the purpose of conservation. But the council has not been constituted so far.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/shekhawati-havelis-turning-into-history/articleshow/61639144.cms, Nov 14, 2017

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Seven years on, J&K still waits for formation of heritage conservation body

Srinagar’s Draft Master Plan – 2035 has an entire chapter dedicated to ‘Natural and Cultural Heritage’ and its conservation strategy includes 28 diverse tasks. The only problem: More than one-third of these tasks fall under a non-existent body, the Jammu & Kashmir Heritage Conservation & Preservation Authority (JKHCPA). The state passed its own Heritage Conservation and Preservation Act in 2010. Taking up the task of preserving tangible and intangible heritage, the act called for the formation of an authority ‘for the purpose of exercising powers and performing the functions assigned’. Seven years have passed but the body responsible for implementing the act has still not been formed. Only two meetings have been held for its formulation and both have failed to appoint staff members. In 2013, the state cabinet created posts for the JKHCPA which still lies vacant. Saleem Beg, the state convener of INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage). was part of the initial meetings to formalise the authority. “We wanted Urban Development to take the charge but it was seen as a technical department so the authority fell under the Department of Culture” he said. Dilshad Khan, Secretary to the state’s culture department responded to queries by saying “You can contact the ‘director’ ”. The JKHCPA doesn’t have a director, Khan later clarified that she was referring to the Director, Archives, Archaeology and Museums. The said directorate falls under Khan’s department. When its director was contacted, he clarified that it’s the Department of Culture which is responsible. Though different government bodies were contacted for information about the JKHCPA, everyone remained clueless. This obliviousness affects the future of conservation in the state. The nine tasks the JKHCPA has in the Srinagar Development Authority’s (SDA) Draft Master Plan include comprehensive mapping of heritage buildings, socio-economic surveys and conservation under public-private partnership. When asked about JKHCPA’s role, Khan said, “It doesn’t have anything to do with the draft plan”. The question on how the tasks will be achieved without a functioning body remains unanswered. The SDA’s senior town planner, Farzana Naqashbandi has worked for two years with her department on the draft plan. Yet, on being asked why a non-functioning body was given tasks on conservation, she struggled to clarify. INTACH’s convener was not surprised with the responses and points to other problems with the draft master plan. “They’ve taken our data but interpreted it in reverse manners. Conservation happens in the entire cityscape, not by identifying specific buildings as the plan does.” he said. The plan divides the city into two zones for conservation, a division which is the opposite of INTACH’s four zones. Identifying historical sites has also taken a priority, yet for a city like Srinagar treating historical sites in an isolated manner may prove difficult for its long term conservation. The city has for long suffered from encroachments on land and on water bodies which form its heritage, further the issues of insufficient sanitation, road and drainage networks add to the woes. “When you take a monument out of its surroundings, it lose its context. After the militancy, bureaucrats have become security conscious, they don’t move out, which means they don’t know what they’re doing” says Beg. If the master plan is any indicator, the JKHCPA is needed for the long term policy on cultural mapping, community development, and urban design with regards to heritage. But if the last seven years are a testament, the body is absent.

- http://indianexpress.com/article/india/seven-years-on-jk-still-waits-for-formation-of-heritage-conservation-body/, Nov 15, 2017

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