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November 2018

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Why conservation and classes go hand-in-hand at Fort High School, Bengaluru's 'crumbling' heritage

Chamrajpet is one of those areas in Bengaluru that has a lot of history associated with it. From the famous Tipu Sultan's Summer Palace to the Minto Eye Hospital, Victoria Hospital and the Fort High School. there's plenty to learn about and look at. Though the State had an acute fund crunch and couldn't help restore the 112-year-old school, originally built by the erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore, Fort School has finally begun getting a much-needed makeover. The Bengaluru chapter of the Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) came forward to work on restoring this school. Taking us back to when they first set their sights on this project, Aravind Chandramohan, Co-Convenor, INTACH says, "Six years ago, when we were restoring another structure in Bengaluru, we got to know about the Fort High School. We visited the school and found out that it was in a pretty bad state. However, we did not know whom to approach and what to do to restore this building. There was no response to the letter that we had written to the government. Days just passed by but we had it in our mind that we must restore the school, no matter what." And then they decided to take a shot in the dark. Hope and money, like a lot of things, come from strange quarters, "When we had put up a photo exhibition called Bengaluru Then and Now of our work on restoring heritage structures, a photograph and a small description of the school was also included. Fortunately, we found a donor who came forward to fund the restoration of Fort High School. As per our plans, the restoration could be carried at the cost Rs 2.4 crore which includes the labour, materials and much more," said Aravind. Built in 1907, the Fort High School stands on three acres of land gifted by the then Mysore King Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV. The king's dream of setting up an English School came to life when Fort High School was born. Though the Government had approved of a renovation proposal there were no funds forthcoming. "Last year, we finally obtained permission from the State Government for restoring the school on the condition that we should not ask for funds from them. It was on April 19, 2018, that we got the project inaugurated by Yaduveer Wadiyar, who is the king of Mysore," he explained. Sonali Dhanpal, who is a conservation architect, has worked with INTACH on this project. She takes us through their process for this project, "We do not simply restore the heritage structure. A lot of documentation work is done to uncover the history of this place. Through our research, we were able to find that in 1791, the British martyred soldiers of Tipu Sultan in the Third-Anglo Mysore War. Later, during the Wadiyar rule, a southern gate of the present Bangalore Fort was built here. According to historians, though the Mysore King donated this land to build a school, a lot of rich families living around the area also donated money for the infrastructure so that their children can study in this school." With a view of giving an opportunity for children to learn whichever language they preferred, the king introduced regional languages like Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Urdu, Persian, Sanskrit and Hindi along with English. Hence, it was the first Anglo-Vernacular school in the Mysore Kingdom and the state.

Structure beyond measure

Words are not enough to describe the beautiful structure that has elements of European and Indian architecture. While the front elevation of the school ceiling looks decadently English, a courtyard surrounded with classrooms on all the sides is typically Indian. Roman arches on the openings of a window, sloping roofs with Mangalore and Madras tiles and the Polonceau Truss, which is nothing but the intersection of eight ridges, all of which add to the heritage of the school. Pankaj Modi, a conservation architect who has been working for more than twenty years with INTACH says, "It is not an easy task to restore heritage structure. It took us a year to document what materials were used in the construction of the school. During our research, we were able to find that the building was built in two different phases. While the first phase was built somewhere between 1905 and 1907, there is no document to show the date when the second phase was built. We could only make it out through the materials used and the method of work involved." Despite their intense research, INTACH was not able to find the name of the architect who built this school.

Keeping it classic

Unlike others, INTACH neither uses cement to cover the cracks on the building nor do they use plaster. They use only lime mortar or lime water to cover the cracks in the building. Pankaj says, "Lime is naturally occurring, less susceptible to aging and adjusts to the variations in temperature. It is also less prone to cracking. In simple words, it allows the structure to breathe. Some wooden planks on the Madras terrace are still strong which will remain the same. The broken ones will be replaced with teak wood and also painted. The red tiles on the roof are being replaced. We are not going to make major changes in the building. The structure and ornamental designs on it will remain the same. We will only repair or alter the damaged parts. Essentially we want the building to remain intact and safe and get back to its glory." Some of the prominent alumni of the school are freedom fighter HS Doreswamy, Former Karnataka CM Kengal Hanumanthiah, Kannada Actor Shakti Prasad, Cricketer G R Vishwanath, Chief Architect of Mysore V Hanumantha Rao Naidu

We're going on and on

Amidst all the chaos of restoration and experimentation in the building, the teachers and principal have made it a point to run the school for children from class VI to X. Fort High School, which was specially built for boys opened its gate for girls too. Chandrashekar SC, the headmaster of the school, says, "We have 27 classrooms and I feel that this is the biggest government school in the city which has a computer lab, physics lab, a chemistry lab and a library for children. Until last year, the first floor had classrooms where Pre-University College classes functioned. Once the restoration work was taken up, the college students shifted to another building — New Fort College. Only, the school children remained with us. Last year, the school strength was 160 and this year, we went door to door asking parents to send their children to school. Thus, the strength of the school has increased to 200 children. Around 15 teachers are working with us. Once the restoration is completed, we want more enrollments to happen for which we will distribute pamphlets and try to convince parents to send their children to school."

- http://www.edexlive.com/people/2018/nov/01/why-conservation-and-classes-go-hand-hand-at-bengalurus-crumbling-heritage--fort-high-school-4317.html, Nov 1, 2018

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‘Walled City Of Jaipur Has Every Right To Get World Heritage Status’

The walled city of Jaipur has a distinguished story to share with the visitors; its beautiful heritage sites and world-class museums along with its rich heritage and culture bespeak a unified tone to ensure its entry into the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites, says Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) chief Maj. Gen. L.K. Gupta. “Jaipur has all reasons to mark its presence among the World Heritage sites and even we are awaiting the good news of its declaration,” Gupta told IANS. In 2015, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) submitted a proposal to UNESCO demanding World Heritage City status for Jaipur city. Since then, the city has been in the tentative list while Ahmedabad became India’s first World Heritage City. Thereafter, ICOMOS, one among three advisory bodies to the World Heritage Committee which is constituted by UNESCO, communicated to the ASI about an inspection tour to the Walled City to study its potential for being a declared a World Heritage City. A team visited the city in September 2017 and thereafter, there were hush hush whispers doing the rounds about its heritage status. Since then, there has been no movement on the issue. Gupta felt that attempts should be made to convert heritage buildings into economic assets. “Economic benefits need to be derived from these properties as an alternative to paying for their maintenance and upkeep,” he added. On its part, INTACH is working earnestly for the protection of natural heritage, geo-heritage, waterbodies, stepwells, sacred groves, wall paintings as well as rock paintings. “We are also engaged in mapping of natural heritage in the Thar Desert area. Since local communities understand their natural resources better, there is need to document and implement their techniques into modern planning, he said. Furthermore, the Thar Desert region needs to be preserved as a ‘hot sp’t’ and not further greened for meteorological reasons. (IANS)

- http://www.theshillongtimes.com/2018/11/01/walled-city-of-jaipur-has-every-right-to-get-world-heritage-status/, Nov 1, 2018

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Vadnagar's skeleton is 2,000 yrs old!

The skeletal remains unearthed from PM Narendra Modi's home town Vadnagar in north Gujarat has given a sneak peak into 2,000- year-old history. ASI sources said the skeleton, unearthed last year by the Excavation Branch of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) from Vadnagar, dates back to 2nd century BCE to 1st century CE. Dr Niraj Rai, senior scientist, Birbal Sahni Institute of Paleosciences (BSIP), Lucknow, said that primary analysis of the remains including DNA profiling has been completed. "We had got two human bone samples from the site. Dating methods indicate its age at about 2,000 years - from 2nd century BCE to 1st century CE. Comparison of DNA profile reveals a match with reference data of western India's existing population," said Rai, adding that further analysis is being done which is expected to throw more light on the population of that era.

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ASI sources said that the remains were found from cultural deposits belonging to Kshatrapa period (1st-4th century CE). For the researchers working at Vadnagar, the result means that the population profile has not drastically changed for the area over the centuries. In fact, the town is a unique site where excavation had established an unbroken cultural sequence for over 2,000 years. ASI is creating cultural profile of Vadnagar which is believed to have been developed at the same location for over two millennia. The skeletal remain was unearthed during the large scale excavation, taking place under leadership of deputy superintending archaeologist Dr Abhijit Ambekar, in the Ghaskol area - also the location of the only fully excavated Buddhist monastery by the state archaeology department. What started as a search for the Buddhist monasteries mentioned by 7th century Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang has now revealed multiple structures including a super structure dating back to 5th century on the banks of Sharmishtha Lake. The excavations are already in its fourth season this year where the teams have identified areas in Vadnagar, nearby Taranga hills and Gunja lake. The team has already found another brick structure on the banks of Sharmishtha lake.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/vadnagars-skeleton-is-2000-yrs-old/articleshow/66469930.cms, Nov 1, 2018

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Seven more structures in PMC’s draft heritage list

The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has prepared a new draft list of heritage structures, as well as architectural and natural monuments in the city. The latest draft list has an additional seven structures, bringing the total to 251 monuments. In 1996, a heritage committee was established to list heritage properties. The committee had classified 244 structures under Grades I, II and III, depending on their historical, architectural and cultural importance. The committee was reconstructed in 2010, and it is now updating the old list. “The exercise to update the list includes a re-assessment of the old and hidden structures like temples and memorials,” said an official of the PMC. “As per the development plan rules, it is mandatory for us to publish an updated draft heritage structure list and also invite suggestions and objections on the same. Once we receive the suggestions and objections, there may be additions or subtractions. The updated list will be ready after that,” the official said. He added the Murlidhar temple in Guruwar Peth, Balaji mandir in Bhawani Peth and Bhidewada in Budhwar Peth are among the seven structures added to the draft list. “All these are Grade III structures, except Bhidewada, which is Grade I. Monuments are categorised according to their historical importance. Grade I structures are buildings and precincts of national importance,” he explained. The official said these monuments have been added to the draft list so that they can be conserved. “At one point in time, Murlidhar temple was set to be demolished. But the demolition was averted following an intervention by heritage experts. It was later decided to include this temple in the list of structures to be conserved,” the official said. The updating of the list is being done by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) along with the PMC. Sharvey Dhongde, the co-convenor of INTACH Pune Chapter, said, “The old list was notified in the late 1990’s. With the new DP, a need was felt to update this list as some structures were found and some others were lost. Before the old list was notified, we had given the PMC a list of 350 heritage structures. Of those structures, 244 were chosen to be included in the list of heritage structures. Now, another seven have been added to the draft list.” Activist Vinod Jain, meanwhile, said the list of city’s heritage structures in an urban development department notification, dated September 27, year 2000, had as many as 340 structures and monuments. “How has that number come down to 251 in the latest draft updated list? Where have the remaining 89 monuments gone? The city’s heritage structures should increase, not decrease. The latest draft list has a curtailed version of the earlier list, “ he said.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/seven-more-structures-in-pmcs-draft-heritage-list/articleshow/66467336.cms, Nov 2, 2018

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Architects who were ahead of their times

“For Ajoy and me the open spaces between buildings and open spaces around buildings was as important as the built up area,” says Ranjit Sabikhi, partner of The Design Group (1961-1991). The other partner Ajoy Choudhury passed away in 2017. This philosophy of urban design, which balanced open spaces so integral to India, with the built up area through buildings which bordered around geometric minimalism created their unique design style. The partnership which spanned three decades saw several beautiful buildings — in Delhi these were Shakuntalam Theatre, YMCA Staff Quarters, Yamuna Apartments, The Syrian Christian Church at Hauz Khas, August Kranti Bhavan at Bhikaji Cama Place, Janakpuri District Centre, DLF Centre at Sansad Marg… while those outside Delhi included the Mughal Sheraton (now ITC Mughal), Agra, Taj Bengal at Kolkata, ITDC Hotel at Varanasi, NDDB – Regional Training Centre at Jalandhar, NDDB staff housing at Noida, Indian Embassy Kuwait, Hostel for School of Paper Technology at Saharanpur and many more. Of these YMCA Staff Quarters and Yamuna Apartments make it to the list of 62 modern heritage buildings brought out by INTACH. However, the YMCA Staff Quarters was demolished a few years back. It was the Hotel Mughal Sheraton that was done in association with Arcop which won them the first Aga Khan Award. Ashish Choudhury son of the late Ajoy Choudhury says, “The Design Group had designed numerous private residences and an even larger number of projects, many of which were built.” Sabikhi says, “Ajoy and I met at School of Planning & Architecture, Delhi, which was then called Delhi Polytechnic. We were all 1952 batchmates along with Raj Rewal, Ram Sharma… Kuldeep Singh and Morad Choudhury were a batch senior. I studied there for two years and then went on to Liverpool to do B.Arch. I worked in England for a few years before moving back to Delhi. Ajoy finished his studies and worked in Milan, Italy before moving back.” It is uncanny how each of these architects then went on to leave an indelible mark on the architectural landscape of Delhi. Choudhury adds, “My father did not set out to be an architect. He had done his Physics Honours at Delhi University and wanted to do a Masters in English Literature, but was convinced to take up architecture. Dejected with the slow pace of instruction after his first year of studies, he wanted to give it up. A meeting with Achyut Kanvinde, convinced him to take up an apprenticeship under him while pursuing his B.Arch.” The Design Group began around 1961, Shiban Ganju was a part of the group initially and then went abroad. Morad Choudhury was a part for a few years and then joined Achyut Kanvinde. Tracing their work Sabikhi says, “Our first project was the YMCA Staff Quarters. We had a clear idea about what we wanted. It was built on a minimal budget. The choice of material was limited in those days just brick and plaster. Because the cost was so low we could not do traditional things like verandahs and balconies.” The next project through the same clients was the bigger YMCA Institute of Engineering at Faridabad, set on 20 acres of land. The Institute curriculum, based on the German system, included training at the workshop and theoretical classes. The design was done to include this pedagogy. It included the academic centre, the staff quarters, hostel, the auditorium. The central structure was conceived as a pinwheel to allow for expansion later on. The academic centre, the staff quarters and hostels were built as separate units but connected through a system of covered corridors and verandahs. Sabikhi adds: “The design element of interlinking façade which was begun then was perfected at Yamuna Apartments.” The interlinking façade created a visual deception of open space thus could hide density. What stands out as a common thread in their design is the clean lines with stark minimalism, more Western in its concept than the Indian ornate architecture. The monotony of the starkness of minimalism broken by using simple design elements, adding a fair bit of drama to the buildings. What gives the design its uniqueness is the ability to include Indian cultural nuances, which gave the modern contemporary architecture an Indian context. Such that the design was not alien to India but represented the modern or forward-looking one. So far sighted that several of the designs could withstand the changes of time. “Since we were also teaching at SPA, we undertook numerous field trips to Jaisalmer and Agra to understand and study traditional Indian architecture,” says Sabikhi. At ITC Mughal, three bridges connect the lobby to the rooms through a cluster of garden courts drawn from Mughal architecture, yet modernistic. The Janakpuri District Centre though used colonial architectural elements. Sabikhi says, “Our design was used to a large extent but then later, the land was parcelled and sold to developers who did not use our standard design control for the facades.” Choudhury says, “My father shared with me that his favourite urban typology was ‘low-rise, high-density.’ It so happened that The Design Group did several projects that explored this typology. My father told me that design was, at one level, an exercise in problem solving and a response to the site and programme. But there was always a strong underlying search for a theme.” In Yamuna Apartments, the topography of the land was incorporated into the design. Levelling the land would have cost heavily and budget was tight. Thus the design balanced the heights so well that a block with three floors is comfortably connected to another with two floors through a club house. And through hanging balconies on another side. The fact that students would have to walk long distances within the campus in the heat or cold resulted in the corridors connecting all areas including the auditorium being covered at the YMCA Institute. Sabikhi says, “In the case of Yamuna Apartments, which came up at the same time as Tara Apartments, I am happy that the framework, which we planned was strong enough to absorb the changes of the modern way of life.” The choice of material though limited, has seen The Design Group use natural material for finish so that maintenance at a later stage is not a problem. Exposed brick has been used, grit finish to red sandstone. Incidentally, red sandstone has been used on the exteriors of The Indian Embassy Kuwait too. “The difference between what we were doing then and what people do today is that we were not concerned with making money. For us, it was a dedication, a way of doing things. In designing space or concepts, to be able to convince our clients, of how we want to build.” Choudhury says, “My father once said that he did not know, when he started out, that one day Architecture would become a friend.” So did they ever think that the buildings will be a part of modern heritage? Sabikhi laughs saying no. Wonder what Ajoy Choudhury would have said? But seeing the spectrum of their work, given a chance, they would have still built on absorbing all modern technologies still being the modernists. Commercial hub Taking its cue from Connaught Place, the only commercial-cum-shopping hub for residents of Delhi with a snob value attached, the Janakpuri District Centre was designed to be a self-contained commercial and shopping complex with recreational facilities, restaurants and underground parking space. The Colonial architecture with which Connaught Place is so identifiable became a reference point. Sabikhi says, “The double-height colonnade defines and ties together all shopping spaces. This then visually extends and relates to the landscaped courts and gardens of the District Centre.”

A township

Yamuna Apartments, the first cooperative group housing society in Delhi was planned more like a mini township — self-contained apartments with plenty of open spaces and pedestrian streets. The design has four radial streets which converge at the central point — a modern day take off on the traditional courtyard concept. The top is joined to form a community centre. The staircase to each flat is separate. “When I look back I realise they were practical, realistic people who did not want anything fancy. We managed to put in a few basements,” says Sabhiki

- https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/architects-who-were-ahead-of-their-times/article25390554.ece, Nov 2, 2018

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Restoring art to its former glory

Art restoration requires intensive research and training and loads of skill. Anasuya Basu on a few projects and the painstaking effort they involve Justice Sambhunath Pandit, the first Indian judge of Calcutta High Court in 1863, was captured by an unknown artist on a 224cm x 166cm canvas. The painting was in Court No. 4 all these years, a century of dust settled on it. The sombre-faced judge in his black robes and rimless spectacles looked forlorn, and above his turbaned head was a deep tear. That’s how it was till Chief Justice Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya turned to restorers at the Victoria Memorial Hall (VMH) for help. In Calcutta, there aren’t too many places one can turn to for art restoration. Private collectors usually rely on the Calcutta chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage or Intach, but for every place else there is the VMH — India’s largest and one of its oldest museum libraries. The Calcutta Tercentenary Trust, set up in 1989 and chaired by British high commissioners in India, had created a project team of the best restorers from the Victoria and Albert Museum, British Museum, National Gallery and several other institutions in the United Kingdom to train VMH personnel in restoration. “The Trust was the original platform to take the restoration and conservation of VMH artefacts seriously,” says Jayanta Sengupta, secretary and curator of VMH. The VMH team has since advised Bose Institute on how to revive Jagadish Chandra Bose’s garments, Calcutta Club on how to restore a painting of George V, Alipore Court and Sub-Judges Court on conserving documents on the revolutionary movement in Bengal and the trial of Sri Aurobindo, and Presidency University on restoring paintings of former principals and one oil by Bikash Bhattacharya depicting a young Subhas Bose. Restoration can be both a preventive and curative craft. The first prevents decay of objects, the second restores objects already damaged. Any object can be restored, from manuscripts to maps, books to medical registers, paintings to sculptures. Conservators in Calcutta are generally armed with a degree in Chemistry, while restorers have to be qualified in the Visual Arts. Both types need to have intensive on-job training. Several of the conservators and restorers in Victoria Memorial have trained abroad. VMH’s Abhijit Bhawal trained at the Dresden Museum, Subhendu Banerjee at the Art Institute of Chicago, Subir Dey at the British Museum and the Smithsonian Institution. Together they have worked on Firdowsi’s 11th century epic Shahnameh, which is now kept in an acid-free solander box. The Deewan-e-Hafiz by Khwaja Hafiz, again a magnum Persian poetry manuscript, has also been restored by them. Says Sengupta, “I have had people from institutes abroad tell me how skilled our people are when they went there for training.” Calcutta itself does not offer much scope by way of training. Within India, though, there is the National Laboratory for Conservation of Cultural Property in Lucknow and the museum laboratory at Chhatrapati Sivaji Maharaj Vaastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) in Mumbai. “We often turn to CSMVS for advice,” says Sengupta. The VMH team has done a lot of paper restoration. And watercolours have been treated by submerging them in water. “Paraprint washing is a favourable method of water treatment,” says Dey, adding, “Water travels over the object to be restored in a controlled manner, washing away soluble impurities.” Abanindranath Tagore’s Bharat Mata and The Passing of Shah Jahan are some of the watercolours to have been restored by the VMH team thus. The Passing of Shah Jahan is a miniature-style painting and a study in detail. It depicts an ailing Shah Jahan watching his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal’s mausoleum while his daughter sits at his feet. This work, rich in detail in the marble inlay work and complex railing patterns, established Abanindranath as one of the leading Indian artists of his time. Both the paintings have had their pristine colours restored. Intach’s head restorer Subash Baral talks about the Port Trust nautical maps he has restored. “I have removed tea, coffee stains from them,” he says. Contrasted with the dark and dingy conservation chamber in the back office of VMH, which precludes entry of light, the art restoration department on the first floor is a bright, light-filled and airy room. Master works such as the Delhi Durbar by Roderick Mackenzie, and a portrait of Alivardi Khan are being restored here. Working on them are restorers Dibakar Karmakar, who has trained at the Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg in Maastricht, Baisakhi Mallick, Tapan Adhikari and Tapas Sil. The Alivardi Khan painting, done in 1920 by S.C. Palit, has a “fungus problem”, says Karmakar. “The painting, which is part of a series of 14 paintings donated to the VMH, has been in the store for long. It has bio-deteriorated. The alteration of varnish, probably done during a restoration bid in 2008, has led to flaking. The painting has now been cleaned and consolidated,” he adds. Mallick has just finished working on an oil painting of the Meenakshi temple done on paper. She pasted it on cell cloth while restoring it. A Jamini Roy painting on cloth is now awaiting her attention. “Since cloth is fragile, there is a problem consolidating it. The paint in the Jamini Roy is crumbling,” she says. The Delhi Durbar of 1903, immortalised by Mackenzie in a six metre by four metre oil painting, commemorates the coronation of King Edward VII, celebrated by a procession led by Lord Curzon and his wife, followed by Lord Connaught and his wife, and the maharajas in order of importance. “There was a termite channel on the painting,” says Mallick, who helped Karmakar restore the huge painting, which had to be divided into grids for restoration. The painting had developed cracks that gave it the appearance of alligator skin. “They generally develop if the painting is varnished when wet,” says Karmakar. A duplicate of Mackenzie’s work is in the Bristol Museum. Baral of Intach headed the restoration of Johann Zoffany’s Last Supper in 2010. Zoffany’s work dates back to 1787. The German neoclassical painter, active mainly in England, was a satirist. In his Last Supper, the apostles of Jesus were all well-known merchants of Calcutta, Christ, himself, resembled a Greek clergyman and Judas was a famed Calcutta auctioneer. The Intach Restoration Centre on Chapel Road in central Calcutta is equipped with the latest gadgets — low pressure table, pH meters, magnetic stirrers. But it had to restore the painting on site at St. John’s Church. A certain portion was barricaded while restoration work was afoot for six months between February and July 2010, says G.M. Kapur of Intach. “It was a very heavy painting, weighing about three quintals (300 kilos). It had to be brought down using a crane and pulley,” says Baral. It was deframed, and termite channels were discovered. After dividing the picture into grids, it was cleaned with non-ironic detergent. A tinted varnish that covered it was removed, as were earlier fillings. Strip lining was done after that. “There was a gap between the ground, which is the preparatory surface of the canvas, and the oil paint. These gaps were consolidated with injections of adhesive, pressed with a hot spatula, which seals the adhesive,” explains Baral. Finally, a Dammar varnish, a traditional pale yellow varnish that dries quickly to a high gloss for use on oil and alkyd paintings, was used. Justice Sambhunath Pandit’s painting is back in Court No. 4. The tears and holes were mended by Tapan Adhikari over two months. “First we had to clean the dirt by using rubber,” he says. After cleaning the dust from the back of the painting, Tyvek — a kind of high-density polyethylene fibre — was used as a protective cover. The late Justice appears happier in his restored avatar. His turban is clean, the tear is gone, he looks content in his bright pink perch. As for Chief Justice Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya, he is effusive in his praise. Jayanta Sengupta says he has written a letter thanking Victoria Memorial Hall for the “excellent job” done with “utmost efficiency”.

- https://www.telegraphindia.com/culture/restoring-art-to-its-former-glory/cid/1673722, Nov 6, 2018

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UNESCO tag sought for caves, forts near Pune

In a major initiative, hundreds of enthusiasts would join in for a heritage walk to seek a UNESCO World Heritage Site tag for a group of caves and forts in Pune district. One of the major goals is to create awareness about Bhaje, Karla and Bedse caves besides Lohagad and Visapur forts near Lonavla in Pune district and seek UNESCO heritage tag for them. All the sites are located in the picturesque Sahyadri range. The Social Action for Manpower Creation (SAMPARC), which since 1990 has been working for the rehabilitation, care and educational development of orphan children and all other needy, poor and disadvantaged children, is planning the event. "The heritage walk is all about history to future," said SAMPARC's founder-director Amitkumar Banerjee. “The walk has multiple aims…it would create awareness,” said Shailesh Parte, Project Manager, SAMPARC, said, adding that this is the third year of the initiative. “India is a pictorial kaleidoscope of beautiful landscapes and rich cultural heritage spread throughout it's opulent historical and royal cities that have been contributed by dierent people and races over the years. Culture and heritage play an important role in building an economically sustainable and cohesive country and there is a special need to focus on promotion and preservation,” he said. The walk will begin from the sprawling green foothills of Bhaje caves. Bhaje is a group of 22 rock-cut caves dating back to 2nd century BC located near Lonavla. Protected by the Archeological Survey of India as a National Monument, it belongs to the Hinayana Buddhist Sect. At an altitude of 200 metres, one can witness a lush waterfall with water plunging into the foothills. Then the walk will lead a climb to Lohagad Fort, which is 3800 feet above sea level. Lohagad was one of the prominent hill forts of the Maratha Empire. For a short period, it was taken over by the Mughals. The hill extends to the northwest to a fortified spur, called Vinchukata (Scorpion’s Tail) because of its shape, which resembles a Scorpion’s tail. The beauty of the fort comes alive during monsoon when it is covered with mist and clouds. The walk will cover 3.6 km with Lohagad being the highest point of the heritage walk. With the Fort to your right, you can see the gushing waters of Pavana Dam on the le. The enthralling view of archaeology tucked into natures abode will take you to another level of reality. “The unique walking tour presents you with a rare glance into the rich history and culture of Maharashtra, an enthralling experience of the historical sites enveloped in nature will take you back in time. From history to architecture, food to culture - the participant will know the story of western Maharashtra come alive,” Parte added.

- https://www.deccanherald.com/national/unesco-tag-sought-caves-forts-701521.html, Nov 6, 2018

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Restoration of Old Court Building nearing completion

The work of restoring the Old Court Building, a heritage structure on the beach promenade, is nearing completion. Most of the structural work and masonry has been completed and the restoration works on the 148-year-old building is expected to be completed in the next four months. The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) is the architectural consultant for the Public Works Department, which has taken up the restoration work estimated to cost ? 5 crore. The foundation stone for restoration of the building was laid by the then Chief Minister N. Rangasamy in March 2015. Built in 1870, the Grade II A heritage structure is an important landmark in the city and forms part of an ensemble of important structures such as the old lighthouse, Customs House and French consulate on Goubert Avenue. The two-storey building with load bearing masonry structure and lime mortar was used as a court of appeal and a law school.

It was built on the site of Hotel De La Marine in 1766. Later it was the Hôtel du commandant du génie in 1788, and the Cour d’appel from 1884 to 1955. It functioned as a court till 2008. “It is one of the most beautiful heritage buildings on the beachfront. The original building featured an arcaded ground floor and colonnaded first floor. Most of the colonnades and arches in the structure have been completed. Traditional materials such as Madras Terrace roofing and lime mortar were used for the restoration, said an INTACH official. INTACH has proposed a law museum, a library and conference-cum research hall on the ground floor.

The first floor will have three suites, kitchen and dining facility with wooden flooring. INTACH has also proposed an inventory of the interior of the building including exhibits on French laws and artefacts associated with the erstwhile French rule.

- https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/restoration-of-old-court-building-nearing-completion/article25447378.ece, Nov 9, 2018

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The rich tapestry of Tripura

A mesmerising portrait of Maharaja Bir Chandra Manikya with his better half was the first thing that struck visitors at the Kamladevi Complex of India International Centre where an exhibition on Tripura, showcasing old paintings, photographs and new textiles was organised as part of The IIC Experience: A Festival of Arts 2018. “Maharaja Bir Chandra painted this portrait from a photograph. With wife in tow, he took an intimate selfie using a methodology of long wire shutter control. And then made this painting,” said M.K. Pragya Deb Burman, convenor of INTACH Tripura Chapter, and a direct descendant of the late Maharaja. “He was a pioneer in giving a fillip to arts and photography and so was his better half, Manmohini Devi. In fact, the duo laid the foundation of Tripura’s historical bond with arts,” she added.

Professional approach
The Maharaja constructed his own dark room and learnt the coating process. His passion for photography and its dissemination also got his family involved. “Maharaja’s wife was an amateur photographer, whom he tutored to develop prints. In fact, he was responsible for introducing daguerreotype photographs in East India,” Burman informed. This portrait and other pictures connected with him were highlighted to show Manikya dynasty’s contributions in enriching Tripura’s vibrant art scene. The pictures on display were captured by Deb Mukharji, B.M. Pande, V.N. Prabhakar, Vivek Dev Burman and Rudra Pratap Debarma. Titled Tripura: Time Past and Time Present, the exhibition made one understand the rich legacy of Tripura in the arts.

Talking about the current art scene in the state, Burman said, “It is still flourishing but a lot needs to be done. Tripura was once a massive kingdom that stretched from the Sunderbans in Bengal to Northern Myanmar. But it lost a huge territory to East Pakistan (Bangladesh). The private estate of the Maharajas, the Zamindari of Chakla Roshanabad was lost in Partition.” On display were textiles handcrafted by members of Tripuri tribe.

Rignai, a cloth used for covering lower part of the body, was showcased in multiple designs. It is normally joined and stitched in the middle as the weave is done using loin loom. So two pieces are joined to make one Rignai. In olden days, a woman's IQ was judged by her woven design of Rignai. Next to it was Risa which is used as a blouse. It is colourful with fine intricate designs. “These days it is worn over a blouse and on festive occasions only,” said Burman. To an outsider, the weaves on display look identical. But a closer look explains that the patterns and designs are different. “Most of the handloom work is done on loin loom. Earlier, Maharanis used to weave Rignai in silk and cotton. And natural dyes were used. It is now made by using raw cotton done during shifting cultivation.”

Fillip to handloom
Burman said Tripuri handloom needs to be given a push. In the past, natural dyes made of indigo and flowers colours were used. “We need to preserve and protect them. Now, we are also getting colours and threads from outside. Weaves are coming mostly from Thailand and other states such as Punjab.

The local production has decreased as cotton cultivation has gone down.” The connection of the past to the present could be seen from the fact that the young generation actively participated in capturing pictures of tribal communities wearing their traditional attire and jewellery. “I made sure that the new generation photographers did this work to let the world know about these rich diversity of our land,” she said.

- https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/the-rich-tapestry-of-tripura/article25445384.ece, Nov 9, 2018

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8 years on, JK yet to make progress on UNESCO recognition of Mughal Gardens

Eight years after UNESCO included Kashmir’s Mughal gardens in its tentative list of World Heritage sites, the state government has not even started the basic process to reap the benefits. Last month, the state government sought financial assistance from the Central government to prepare a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the project. However, official sources said the governments since 2010 have been sitting over the process, causing the delay. “After featuring in the tentative list, the state government prerogative was to immediately prepare a dossier about these gardens, and submit it to the central government.

Neither the file has been prepared nor any other measure was taken in this regard,” said a source. “Even the government has not decided which agency or department shall frame the DPR.” They said the Centre’s assistance was not required to implement the project, considering the revenue generated by these gardens. “The DPR will consume half of the amount these gardens annually generate. The project got delayed as government changed with their different set of priorities,” sources said. Enriched with numerous sites of Neolithic age, Jammu and Kashmir currently has not a single monument that the UNESCO has formally declared as World heritage site.

The UNESCO on its website has mentioned the relevance of the Mughal gardens with world heritage. “The Mughal Garden heritage particularly stands out from the other parallels for their extraordinary geographical locations. They are the most excellent testimonies of this prolific period of Mughals. It represented a height of the Mughal gardening craftsmanship,” it mentions. Muhammad Saleem Baig, Convener Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), said the project was important considering the distinctive identity and richness of Kashmir’s history. He said these gardens need to been seen as historic sites rather than mere public parks.

“The perception regarding these gardens and their preservation aspect will come into force once it is declared officially as world heritage,” he said. Adorned with mighty chinars, colourful flowers, Mughal gardens are a prime attraction for lakhs of tourists visiting Kashmir from different parts of the world.

- https://www.thekashmirmonitor.net/8-years-on-jk-yet-to-make-progress-on-unesco-recognition-of-mughal-gardens/, Nov 9, 2018

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Ladakh restoration work wins UNESCO award, 2 Mumbai projects get honourable mention

Restoration of an aristocratic house from a state of partial ruin in Ladakh has won a UNESCO Asia-Pacific award for conservation, the world body announced on November 9. While the Ladakh project won in the category of Award of Distinction under the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation, rejuvenation of a university clock tower and a fountain in Mumbai have jointly received Honourable Mention, along with a project in China. The LAMO Center in Jammu and Kashmir's Ladakh region was chosen for its systematic restoration project that used salvaged and local building materials, and indigenous construction techniques while adroitly introducing modern amenities to assure its ongoing use, UNESCO Bangkok said in a statement. "The recovery of the aristocratic house from a state of partial ruin establishes an important precedent for conserving the non-monumental urban fabric of Leh Old Town," it said.

In its citation for the award for the Ladakh project, the jury said, "A dynamic programme of arts activities enlivens its space for the benefit of both local residents and visitors." "Strategically located at the foot of the Leh palace, the restored structure contributes significantly to the continuity of the historic townscape dating back to the 17th century," it said. From Mumbai, the restoration projects of the iconic Rajabai Clock Tower of Mumbai University and Ruttonsee Muljee Jetha Fountain, both belonging to the colonial-era have received Honourable Mention. Noted conservation architect Vikas Dilawari, whose earlier restoration projects in the city have also UNESCO heritage conservation awards, was ecstatic after the announcement. "It was a great project as it was a public-private-partnership model, between the MCGM (Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai) and KGA (Kala Ghoda Authority) to restore neglected urban landscape, especially a city fountain," Dilawari told PTI. The challenge was to restore its water engineering too, apart from the architectural conservation, he said. Funded and now looked after by the KGA it took about a year for restoration, the Mumbai-based architect said. The Award of Excellence this year has been won by Shijo-cho Ofune-hoko Float Machiya, of Kyoto, Japan, the statement said. "The renewal of this early 20th-century machiya celebrates Kyoto culture through the safeguarding of the city's endangered wooden townhouse typology as well as the iconic annual Gion Festiva," the citation said. The "meticulously restoration" of the building undertaken by master carpenters in collaboration with conservation experts, the artful conservation work showcases innovation within a traditional architectural context, it said.

The project sets a model for its seamless approach to safeguarding built heritage intertwined with intangible cultural heritage in a mutually enriching way, the UNESCO statement said. On the renewal of the Rajabai Clock Tower and Library, the citation said, it opens up a new chapter for one of the city's significant neo-Gothic landmarks. "A comprehensive programme of restoration arrested decay and stabilised the brick masonry, interior timber structure, and extensive decorative works," it said.

- https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/india/ladakh-restoration-work-wins-unesco-award-2-mumbai-projects-get-honourable-mention-3145711.html, Nov 9, 2018

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Kashmir’s papier mache art: Pulp fiction

The credit goes to the Shia community of Kashmir for keeping alive papier mache art — colourful, exquisite, highly decorative and delicate — in the Valley since the 14th century. “This wealth has been handed down to me by my father who inherited it from my grandfather and so on. The colours and the shapes we carve from paper is what adds meaning to our lives,” says Zahid Rizvi, 40, a papier-mache artisan at Zadibal in Srinagar. Over the centuries, the Shia community, now forming about 14% of the Valley’s population, has been perfecting the art. Historians believe that papier mache became popular as an art in the 15th century. Legend has it that a Kashmiri prince was sent to a jail in Samarkand in Central Asia, where he acquired the fine art, which is often equated with patience and endurance. The Muslim rulers of India, particularly Mughal kings, were fond of this art and were its patrons. The process begins with soaking waste paper in water for days till it disintegrates and then mixing it with cloth, paddy straw and copper sulphate to form pulp. The pulp is put into moulds and given shape and form. Once it dries, the shape is cut away from the mould into two halves and then glued together. It is polished smooth with stone or baked clay and pasted with layers of tissue paper. Now, it is completely the baby of an artisan. After applying a base colour, the artisan draws a design. The object is then sandpapered or burnished and is finally painted with several coats of lacquer. The art got a major boost from the government in 2016, when the Nawakadal girls’ college in Srinagar introduced it in the craft curriculum. Saleem Beg, who heads the Kashmir chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, believes the future of papier mache lies in elaborate murals.

- https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/kashmirs-papier-mache-art-pulp-fiction/article25464003.ece/photo/9/, Nov 12, 2018

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'NC leader meets Governor, seeks revival of heritage route to Vaishno Devi shrine'

National Conference provincial president Devender Singh Rana Tuesday met Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik here and sought revival of the traditional route to the famous Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Reasi district. Nagrota MLA Rana called on Malik at Raj Bhavan and presented him a copy of the “project proposal - Conservation of Heritage Components on Traditional Vaishno Devi Route”, an official spokesman said. He said the NC leader requested the governor, who is also the chairman of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB), to take steps for revival of the traditional route to the shrine which starts from Jagti in Nagrota and ends at Nomainand.

Urging the Governor to develop the old track as an alternate route for the pilgrims to the shrine, the spokesman said Rana drew the Governor's attention to the need for conservation of the heritage assets, particularly the step wells, ponds, 'sarais', temples and springs on the old route.

The spokesman said the governor assured him of due examination of the envisaged project and urged the MLA to continue with his endeavours for welfare of the people of the state. The NC leader later said, “The revival project could be taken up under the aegis of SMVDSB, which will not only give further impetus to the world- famous pilgrimage but open up the heritage places for spiritual bliss of the pilgrims.” Rana said he apprised the governor of the salient features of the project report, prepared by the Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) for development of the ancient route to the shrine. “The route, passing through the serene environs and spiritual ambience, offers spiritual solace and 'darshan' of several revered temple which used to be a pre-requisite before embarking on the yatra to holy Bhawan on Trikuta Hills over seven decades ago,” Rana said. He said it would be appropriate for the shrine board to explore this route optimally and undertake its all-round development.

The INTACH has prepared an exhaustive report after detailed mapping of all the important heritage assets like step-wells, ponds, 'sarais', wells, temples and springs along the track, which were once used and maintained by the pilgrims, he said. He said the route starts from village Jagti (Nagrota) along the Jammu-Srinagar national highway and passes through various old temples like Jagdamba Mata Kheer Bhawani Temple at Jagti, Durga Mata Temple at Pangali and Shiv Temple at Thandapani, Drabi. “By reviving this route, the devotees could return home after paying obeisance at the 'durbar' of the Mata with enlightenment that they have been searching all their life,” he said. Rana highlighted the religious, spiritual and secular characteristics of the ancient route during yesteryears, saying while it used to take off amid serene and spiritual ambience of the highly revered Kol Kandoli Mata temple, the pilgrimage used to reach Nomain, where the white turban-bedecked Gujjars used to carry 'jyot' (holy light) on their heads in true spirit of Jammu's secular ethos. “Keeping in view the holistic development carried out by the board in ensuring world-class facilities to the visiting pilgrims in terms of infrastructural development and considering the financial constraints of the state government, we expect the SMVDSB to take up this ambitious project,” Rana said. He said the route will create pilgrim interest in the area and turn out as an economic boost for the people, who too are stakeholders in the pilgrim tourism.

He said the promotion of these areas as heritage pilgrimage sites will go a long way in promoting tourism in Jammu region as well. This monumental heritage route has suffered neglect for decades even though the fame of revered shrine on Trikuta Hills had transcended continents, Rana added. TAS RAX RAX

- https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/nc-leader-meets-governor-seeks-revival-of-heritage-route-to-vaishno-devi-shrine/1420669, Nov 13, 2018

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The Konark conservation reports: Filed & forgotten

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha Chief Minister’s letter to the Union Culture Minister for a probe into the neglect of the Konark Temple by the Archaeological Survey of India is a knee jerk reaction and just a formality. The State officials are aggrieved that the replacements of the damaged stone blocks is being done with plain stones. Little do they know that these are UNESCO guidelines, which the ASI is compelled to adhere. If they dither, then we may lose the World Heritage Site status that has been accorded by UNESCO. The problems are not just the manner in which the conservation is being done. The criminal neglect of the ASI towards the preservation of the Sun temple and the other heritage structures of the State is a tragic matter. The State’s own Archaeology wing is a defunct department, which too is responsible for the dismal state of the State’s heritage. The Archaeological Survey of India insists that Konark has one of the longest conservation histories in India.

The history of conservation of the Sun Temple spans more than a century. There were more than 11 reports prepared by different authorities in different times. Except for three reports, all the other reports were just ignored. Absolutely no action has been taken on the last seven reports. The first report was prepared by Bishan Swarup, an engineer who worked at the site from 1901-04. It was he who realised that the edifice faced an imminent collapse and had it filled up with sand. The initial masonry work done under his supervision saved the temple from being completely destroyed. Swarup had given detailed suggestions for the further upkeep of the temple, but these were just forgotten. The next committee was formed in 1950, during a meeting held at the Circuit House in Bhubaneswar. It was chaired by Biswanath Dash and had on its panel C M Master, an eminent architect from the erstwhile Bombay. None of the recommendations were put in place. The third committee was formed in 1953, this too under the Chairmanship of Biswanath Das and the recommendation for erection of scaffolding was implemented. In 1978, the ASI constituted the Konark Expert Committee which held its first meeting on November 7 at Konark.

For the first time, a serious view of the problem was taken and the committee was chaired by M N Deshpande, the then DG of the ASI. The horticultural development of the precincts was mooted and implemented. After the collapse of five stone blocks from the main temple, structural conservation was undertaken between 1985 and 1990. Based on this, scaffolding to some vulnerable sections was done. Another report of the Scientific Branch of the ASI made recommendation on chemical preservation, but nothing was done. In 1979, the Unesco Experts Recommendation on Conservation of Konark was given to the Government of India. After declaring it a World Heritage Site, Unesco once again appointed a committee headed by two experts of international repute, Sir B M Fielden and P Beckman in 1987. They described the state of the temple as alarming and advised immediate preventive measures. After the hue and cry died down, this report too was confined to the dark rooms of the ASI. The Italian expert Prof Ing. Giorgio Croci made a structural analysis of the Jagamohan in 1997. In 2010, the ASI called world experts and erected temporary scaffolding so that they could inspect the top of the temple. The committee made several recommendations, including that of removing the sand. One of the suggestions was to drill a hole and send endoscopic video graphic cameras to assess the state of the interior of the temple. According to Convener, INTACH Odisha, A B Tripathy the temple is in a precarious condition due to the sheer neglect by the ASI. He along with other INTACH members was a part of the team which examined the structure in 2010. The recommendations for immediate removal of the sand by the experts were ignored. Experts from the IITs too had suggested the same. The Central Building Research Institute at Roorkee had analysed the stone blocks and given their reports. The ASI has done nothing. The ASI is apathetic to the Sun Temple. This year too, like previous years, the structure was flooded nearly half a dozen times, causing alarm and panic among the locals. Repeated agitations by local stakeholders, whose livelihood is intricately linked with the temple, has fallen on deaf ears. The High Court of Odisha had appointed amicus curiae for looking into the neglect.

Even though he submitted his report three years back, no steps have been taken. At one early stage of restoration in 1910, a British Commissioner is said to have remarked that not one rupee should be spent on the monument—the sooner it falls, the better. The way the ASI is working, this may well happen—and very soon.

- https://odishasuntimes.com/the-konark-conservation-reports-filed-forgotten/, Nov 13, 2018

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150-Year-Old Hukitola Building To Feature On Tourism Map

On an isolated island, Hukitola, close to Paradip is a 150-year-old stony and many-arched building with a triangular façade, untouched by nature’s fury even after years. It drew the attention of heritage conservationists and was renovated recently. This unique building will soon feature prominently on the tourism map. This structure towards the north of the Mahanadi river bank is one of the very few welfare structures built by the British in 1865 and has now been renovated. Here’s all you need to know about it. They chanced upon the island while looking for a place to post a harbour-master for the area and built this as a warehouse to store grain.

During the 1866 famine, which wiped out a third of Odisha’s population, this warehouse played an important role in supplying rice. The structure of the building, the position of the windows allowed cross ventilation that helped the grains to stay fresh. This building had a rainwater harvesting system as well, to meet the drinking needs of the sailors. The roof, made of brick and iron beams, has a slight slope to allow rainwater to flow down to the underground sump through iron pipes. These iron pipes were not just channels for water to flow down, but also acted as water filters. It is constructed over 7,000 square feet, with white, blue, black and green laterite stones, fixed using traditional lime mortar. It has six large rectangular rooms, and a terrace accessible via two staircases, perfected in an aesthetic manner, setting examples of neo-classical architecture.

Mallika Mitra, Director of INTACH, Odisha, that completed the restoration, told the Hindu that restoration has brought more insight into the structure. “We came across fine masonry. Even though it is located in a saline environment, the building has stood rock-solid for more than a century-and-a-half,” she said. It is astonishing how such huge laterite pieces were transported to the island during the time when there was no equipment as such. John Beames, the then Commissioner of Orissa Division, writes in his autobiography, ‘Memoirs of a Bengal Civilian’ about how the stones were transported on steamers from Barabati Fort in Cuttack, using a 55-mile canal route and were off loaded on the island. This Hukitola island was abandoned in July 1924. In 1979, nearly 1,400 acres were notified as a reserve forest. The island has a rich mangrove and one can spot two species of horseshoe crabs here.

In the 1875 cyclone, the French ship, ‘Ville de Paris’ sunk near the island. This ship, as per the State Forest Department’s research, carried food grain, sugar, liquor, wine and other goods from Paris. The hull of this ship was recently spotted at low tide. The dead bodies of those who drowned with the ship were buried in a cemetery near the lighthouse there. Susanta Nanda, Project Director of the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project that funded the renovation, told the Hindu that Odisha is chalking out a plan out to create a tourist hub around the Hukitola structure. Initially, however, only day-tourism will be promoted keeping in mind the difficulty in reaching the island

- http://www.odishabytes.com/150-year-old-hukitola-building-to-feature-on-tourism-map/, Nov 13, 2018

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Do not forget to pay a visit to this unique crafts village near Puri, the famous pilgrim town and beach resort of Odisha.

Neat rows of houses, their walls adorned with paintings, will greet you as soon as you enter verdant Raghurajpur village, about 10km from Puri, the famous pilgrim and beach town of Odisha. Even without asking, you will realise you have entered an artists’ village where homes double up as workshops. Once known as the keepers of Odisha’s ancient pattachitra art, largely due to late Jagannath Mohapatra (winner of President of India’s award in 1965) who lived here, today the village houses artists practising various traditional arts. The presiding deity of Puri, Lord Jagannath and his siblings, go into seclusion for a fortnight, prior to the Rathayatra festival, when the temple remains closed. In the ancient times, the artists or the chitrakar would sell small handmade paintings of the idols to pilgrims who visited during this period.

It is said that pattachitra of Odisha date back to the 12th century and has been passed from one generation to the next. The painting is done on specially stiffened seven layers of cloth which are cut into discs. Although natural dyes from plants and minerals may have been replaced by synthetic colours in many areas, traditional artists of Raghurajpur prefer to use organic colours. Ganjifa playing cards or the Dashavatar playing cards of Odisha are also part of the pattachitra genre. These unique paintings, especially the playing cards, are on display in museums across the world. Another important art practised in Raghurajpur is palm-leaf painting. Fine line drawings in black, sometimes with daubs of colours, are made on inter-locked strips of palm leaves. Usually each drawing is like a tapestry narrating a story. Apart from traditional paintings, the artists also produce souvenirs, such as, painted palm leaf bookmarks. In 2000, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) declared Raghurajpur a ‘heritage village’, which has helped the artists explore other traditional art forms as well.

Apart from pattachitra and palm leaf paintings, you will find artists making papier-mâché toys, masks, coconut crafts, wooden toys, etc. Both men and women work as artists. The artists are mostly friendly towards visitors and not averse to sharing details regarding the origin of the art or the techniques involved. Many families even invite visitors to their household. You may directly buy from the artists. You may also enjoy a lesson or two from the artists on separate payment. While exploring the art village, you may also stop to pay respect to the memory of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, the much awarded exponent of Odissi dance, who was born in Raghurajpur. Getting there: Raghurajpur is only 10km by road from Puri yet not on the popular tourist circuit. So you have to book a car or an auto-rickshaw for travelling to and fro. The artists and their families are friendly but sensitive too. So do take permission before entering any household or workshop. It is also advisable to take permission before taking photographs of people and products on display. If you are keen to buy directly from the artists, remember works of art have their own value and the price is set accordingly.

- https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/explore/story/69191/raghurajpur-the-heritage-crafts-village-of-odisha, Nov 13, 2018

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Rana seeks revival of heritage route to Mata Vaishno Devi shrine

“The revival project could be taken up under the aegis of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB), which will not only give further impetus to the world famous pilgrimage but open up heritage places for spiritual bliss of the pilgrims”, Rana told the Governor during his meeting at Raj Bhavan here this morning. National Conference provincial president and MLA Devender Singh Rana on Tuesday called on Governor Satya Pal Malik and sought revival of the ancient heritage route to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine passing through ancient temples and worship places spread across Nagrota assembly constituency, originating from historic Kole Kandoli Temple. “The revival project could be taken up under the aegis of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB), which will not only give further impetus to the world famous pilgrimage but open up heritage places for spiritual bliss of the pilgrims”, Rana told the Governor during his meeting at Raj Bhavan here this morning.

He also stressed the need for fillip in tourism promotion across the Jammu region, especially harnessing of Mansar and Surinsar lakes, promotion of Sanasar and Patnitop besides promotion of Dogra heritage and culture, particularly time bound completion of work on Mubarak Mandi complex, expeditious completion of various development and welfare schemes in Nagrota Assembly constituency as also regularization of daily rated workers of PHE and other departments and other categories of employees. Rana apprised the Governor, who is also chairman SMVDSB about the salient features and brief details of the project report, prepared by Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage INTACH for the development of ancient route of the revered Mata. He also presented a copy of the report to the Governor. “The route, passing through serene environs and spiritual ambience, offers spiritual solace and Darshan of several revered temple which used to pre-requisite before embarking on the yatra to holy Bhawan on Trikuta Hills over seven decades ago”, Rana told the Governor, adding that it will be appropriate for the Shrine Board to explore this route optimally and undertake its all-round development.

He said the INTACH has prepared the exhaustive report after carrying out detailed mapping of all the important heritage assets like step-wells, ponds, sarais, wells, temples and springs along the trails, which were once used and maintained by the pilgrims. The route starts from village Jagti (Nagrota) on the National Highway 1A and passes through Jagdamba Mata Kheer Bhawani Temple - Jagti, Durga Mata Temple - Pangali, Shiv Temple - Thandapani - Drabi, Shiv Shakti Temple, Raja Mandleek Temple- and Raja Nowalgarh Temple – Marh, Drabi, Kali Mata Temple - Gundla Talab, Ram Darbar, Shiv Temple- Bamyal and Oli Temple Chhapanoo-Bamyal. By reviving this route, he said, adding the devotees could back home after paying obeisance at the Durbar of the Mata with enlightenment they have been searching all their life. The Governor assured Rana due examination of the envisaged project and urged him to continue his endeavours for the welfare of the public of the state.

- https://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/jammu/rana-seeks-revival-of-heritage-route-to-mata-vaishno-devi-shrine/302871.html, Nov 14, 2018

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It’s Odisha govt vs ASI over restoring Konark Sun Temple

The dispute between the Odisha government and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) over restoration work on the Sun Temple at Konark has dragged in Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi. The 13th century Sun Temple, conceived as a gigantic solar chariot with 12 pairs of ornamented wheels dragged by seven horses, is in the eye of a storm over allegations that the stone carvings on the outer surface are being replaced with plain blocks of stones, causing irreplaceable loss to the uniqueness of the temple. The state government plans to take up the matter with the ASI Director General and set up an expert committee to look into the matter. On Saturday, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik wrote to Union Minister for Culture, Mahesh Sharma, highlighting alleged irregularities in the Archaeological Survey of India’s restoration of Konark Temple, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. Patnaik wrote that as per a regional news report “40% of the artistic stone carvings of the existing Konark Sun Temple have been replaced by the ASI with plain stones”. The CM added that the report is a matter of “concern and worry”, stating that the temple carvings symbolise “Odia pride” and are “embellished with sophisticated and refined iconographical depictions of contemporary life and activities”. Sources in Bhubaneswar’s ASI circle told The Indian Express they were prepared to state that no restoration rules had been violated, if asked for an explanation by the Culture Ministry. According to ASI, UNESCO guidelines on restoration of World Heritage Sites mandate that when an original stone carving is lost, it cannot be replicated. Odisha’s Tourism Minister Ashok Panda on Tuesday alleged that the ASI had previously violated restoration guidelines while working on Humayun’s Tomb. “In relation to stones that are being replaced, if the Act was bent for Humayun’s Tomb, why not for us (Konark)?” asked Panda. Panda’s charge has found support among a section of historians and conservationists. Anil Dhir, who has researched on the Sun Temple extensively, told The Indian Express that “rules were bent for Humayun’s Tomb and carvings were replicated because Aga Khan Foundation lobbied for it”. While the foundation was not available for comment, its India chapter website mentions “the (conservation) plan (on Humayun’s Tomb Complex) was implemented by master craftsmen using traditional tools, craft techniques and building materials”. However, Dhir said replicating original representations could cost the Sun Temple its heritage tag. “As a signatory of UNESCO conventions, it is mandated that ASI cannot replicate original representations (carvings). The understanding is that as monuments deteriorate, if one keeps on replicating then nothing original will remain”. Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) State Convenor Ameya Bhushan Tripathy said: “This is a very sensitive matter for the people of Odisha The ASI DG will be invited after December 15 to settle this matter, while we prepare a paper on this subject”. Dhir also alleged that ASI has disregarded various expert committee suggestions over decades for chemical restorative work, removal of surrounding sand and introduction of endoscopic video cameras to assess the interior of the temple. He also alleged that the stones used in restoration do not match the quality of the original stone blocks, which are still available in the Pathar Bhua Canal nearby. Commenting on the Konark restoration, Superintending Archaeologist (ASI) Arun Mallick said, “ASI has not taken any stones (carvings). Whatever stones were missing, the gaps were filled using stones available in the area”.

- https://indianexpress.com/article/india/its-odisha-govt-vs-asi-over-restoring-konark-sun-temple-5447045/, Nov 15, 2018

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Conserving ancient wikipedia of Kashmir

For hundreds of years, when they were not cherishing the summer or cursing the winter, Kashmiris have been writing, stacking up the libraries, and documenting the world around them. The books they wrote give us a peep into the history of their times. For us, these books and manuscripts recreate that era in vivid detail, complete with geography, flora, fauna, customs in addition to political structure. Most of the times attention is grabbed by Kalhana’s Rajtarangini, the famed historical book, but a lot more literature has remained unaccounted for, and worst, undiscovered. Call it callousness of officials, educational institutes and seats of learning, even now thousands of old books and manuscripts have remained undocumented, leave alone deciphering them. Facing vagaries of time and ignorance from their owners, these manuscripts are dying slowly. Number of manuscripts were destroyed in floods and fire incidents and the tragic part is, at times we don’t even know what knowledge they contained. One of the biggest myths about these books and manuscripts is that they mostly cover religion and sufism, but in reality the treasure is much more diverse. “Just name a topic and one can find material covering it in these old manuscripts and books,” says Mohammed Saleem Beg State Convener INTACH that recently organised a five-day workshop on ‘Preventive Conservation of Manuscripts’ at SPS Museum in collaboration with Department of Archives, Archaeology, and Museums J&K and Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) New Delhi. Beg said that the collection is a huge treasure waiting to be explored and benefited from. “From medicine to botany to zoology to chemistry and everything else, there is writings on everything. We get to know what kind of plants grew during that era and what kind of animals were present,” said Beigh. “There is a large collection on Tibbi Nabvi, (Islamic medicine) and Kashmiris seem to have worked a lot on the subject along with other field of medicine.” A peep little deeper and one can find the manuscripts dealing with other fields like chemistry, astronomy, philosophy, political science, earth science etc. There can be even more fascinating work, whose existence can be revealed once we discover them. From earliest times, Kashmir has been known as Sharda Peeth, the seat of learning. Not only was one of the most celebrated works on various subjects composed here but Kashmiris were also master copyists and calligraphers. According to historians, export of books particularly to Central Asia and other regions was also an important trade in Kashmir. These manuscripts can easily compete with their global counterparts. In fact India’s oldest manuscripts, Gilgit manuscripts, dating back to sixth century AD are from the state, though they were taken to New Delhi and are currently stored at National Archives of India.“Kashmiris have amassed huge books right from important figures of Islam to brilliant mind of Ibn e Sina, Alberuni and Hakim Luqman. The list goes on,” said Mohammed Ishaq Lone, a scholar who did his Phd on the manuscripts. “Our Shrines, mosques and private collection is extremely rich too. Even today we can benefit from those books and manuscripts. Our old writers used to document everything. For example we have Zalzala nama, which has documented all important earthquakes that shook Kashmir. This can be important book for earth sciences. Similar work in on floods or other aspects and science.” “In old times the writers once copying the work would end up becoming scholars themselves as they were exposed to huge repository of knowledge,” said Ishaq. The knowledge sector grew with every king and rule. One can find a seamless transition from one language to another. During the Muslim rule and, the quality and quantity of writing in Arabic and Persian language reached newer heights. “A host of royal libraries established by different Sultans from the 15th century onwards, ensured the need for producing copies of books that were considered to be an essential part of the civilized worlds,” said Beg. Beg said numerous mediaeval historians have written about these royal libraries which contained thousand of hand written manuscripts. These include books on religion and theology, including Holy Quran, work of secular nature like Shah nameh, Dewan-i-Hafiz, Gulistaan, Bostaan, philosophical, scientific and literary works as well as various histories dealing not only with Kashmir but also the wider Muslim world. The State Archives has registered about 45,000 manuscripts out of which around 20,000 are in private possession. Department of Libraries and research also has a treasure of 5824 manuscripts in various languages and scripts like Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, Balti, Hindi, Sharda, and Kashmiri, which is considered to be one of the richest manuscripts collection in South Asia. JKAACL has about 1000 manuscripts, out of which 600 manuscripts fall in the category of rarest of rare. These include writings on religion, medicine, history, music. There are also some diaries and travelogues. “As of now we do not know the exact number of manuscripts and books which we possess. Some experts claims that the number is as high as 75000, but there has been no definite work done in this regard. But one thing we surely know is that the condition of most of these manuscripts is very bad,” said Beg. The views are echoed by other experts too, who paint gloomy picture of entire situation. Ishaq feels that if nothing is done, we may lose these manuscripts for ever. “According to my estimate we have lost ten times the number of manuscripts which we currently have. It is hard to digest but this is the tragedy,” said Ishaq, who recently completed his PhD thesis on Oriental Resource in Srinagar; Survey and documentation from Kashmir University. “We have lost them to floods, fire and even looting and destruction. Pandits used to have huge collection of manuscripts which got destroyed in the aftermath 1990’s.” In some cases some people have disposed off their manuscripts in Hindi, Sanskrit or Persian, by not recognising their value. “It is a race against time to save these manuscripts. I can safely say that not even a single manuscript or historic book is safe in Kashmir. We saw what floods did to this rich heritage at our elite organisations like SPS museum and Academy, leave aside the damage to private collections,” said Ishaq. It took Ishaq around seven years to complete his PhD and during the course of his research he got the opportunity to visit some of the best private collections in Srinagar. “My research was limited to Srinagar and here alone I found 15000 manuscripts and books and out of them I could only document around 1200 manuscripts. There are thousands more which I could not check due to limitation of my study,” said Ishaq. “Then there are other districts too where there are plenty of manuscripts. One can imagine how many manuscripts there are present in Kashmir.” Experts blame government and ignorance of owners for the mess. “A person who has these manuscripts doesn’t know how to keep them safe. Its condition deteriorates withe every passing day and one cannot save it by locking inside an almirahs. There are methods to preserve them and here nobody knows it,” said Ishaq. At times even a slight intervention can make a huge difference. “Every part of a manuscript or book is precious and needs to be handled with care. Everything has to be different, be it binding, use of polythene for cover, repair of torn paper, dusting, treatment to infestation and so on,” said Jeetender Chauhan, a conservator who taught government officials and private collector about art of conservation at Srinagar recently. “Sometimes it needs a minimal investment and clever use of household items to preserve them. These small measures increase the shelf life of book by decades.” Although the State has ancient manuscripts in various departments but there is no post for a conservator. “We have our heritage and cultural legacy associated with these manuscripts. Without them we don’t have any identity,” said Noor Jehan a research scholar pursuing Phd in Art and Conservation. “But unfortunately no museum, academy, research library has any professional post of conservator. It is a science and government refuses to acknowledge it.” Department of Gazetteer which has huge collection of old documents doesn’t even have a librarian. In other museums and departments, the people trusted with job of preserving manuscripts don’t have the required skill and end up increasing the damage while being in charge of their preservation. Of late government has been nudged to take some steps and there is talk of a conservation policy. But there is fear that the policy will take years to come to fruition given the usual red Tapism. The workshop by INTACH received tremendous response as people are willing to learn and help preserve the rich heritage. “I didn’t know that these manuscripts have to be stored in such a way or how simple household items like rice starch and gluten free flour can be used to treat them. Even binding the old books and manuscripts is different,” said Prof S M Shafi, former librarian of Iqbal Library, who has a private collection of around 60 manuscripts and 600 old books. “I was always worried how to safeguard them but by listening few tips from experts I am confident of preserving or safely storing these precious items. I know almost all private collectors want to preserve their collection but they don’t have any training.” INTACH in the meanwhile has decided to open a small conservation laboratory at their Srinagar office. “We have trained some people here, and people outside are also willing to help. So we are making a small beginning to at least arrest the deterioration and damage to the manuscripts,” said Beg.

- https://greaterkashmir.com/news/opinion/conserving-ancient-wikipedia-of-kashmir/303080.html, Nov 16, 2018

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