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Friday, 25 September 2009

Ministry of Culture

National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities and its Initiatives

11:31 IST
The National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities has been launched with the major objectives to prepare National Register and set up state level database on built heritage, sites and antiquities, promote awareness and sensitize people about such heritage, extend facility for capacity building and help in synergizing between various organizations on heritage issues. The Mission has completed two years on March 19, 2009 with Archaeological Survey of India as its nodal agency.


• With a view to create to the National Register on built heritage and sites, National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities is compiling relevant information as available from secondary sources. So far more than 32,000 villages containing information on unprotected built heritage and sites have been compiled in the template developed by the Mission.
• The Mission has taken up the work of digitization of records of registered antiquities through Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts that would form finally the database of antiquities.
• The documentation of antiquities as part of National Register in a prescribed template developed by the Mission is in progress. Presently the antiquities that are lodged in various site museums and sculpture sheds of Archaeological Survey of India have been taken up for documentation.
• Indian Archaeology- A Review, an Archaeological Survey of India publication that contains invaluable information on built heritage, sites and antiquities have been digitized by the Mission and placed in public domain through the official website of Archaeological Survey of India. Besides, various antiquarian legislations of different states are being uploaded on ASI website to make them available to the public.
• The Mission is developing softwares through NIC on the various templates that have been prepared by the Mission for creating database on built heritage and sites as compiled from secondary sources, centrally protected monuments, web-based village level database.

To implement the various activities of the Mission on state level, Implementation Committees have been formed (so far about 20) under the chairmanship of the respective State Secretary (Culture).


Tuesday, 8 September 2009

NEPAL: A blend of Hindu and Buddhist tastes

Posted by barunroy on September 8, 2009


One of the finest specimens of Nepalese architecture, Changu Narayan beckons heritage tourists, says Swaati Chaudhury

ARE you all for heritage tourism? Then let your wanderlust take a flight to the mesmerising Kathmandu Valley. Snuggled in Nepal’s Bhaktapur district, Changu Narayan is a widely known heritage site and perhaps the earliest pilgrim destination of the valley. When we had embarked on a tour to the Nepal Himalayas, we had a chance to visit the idyllic hill resort of Nagarkot. After a breathtaking glimpse of the sunrise at Nagarkot, we decided to travel to the historical town of Patan. Call it a stroke of luck or God’s wish, the road blockade agitation stirred up by the Maoists in Kathmandu compelled us to scrap our trip to Patan.

We set out to explore Changu Narayan, a significant religious and historical landmark of the country. The monument on the hilltop is around six km from Bhaktapur and nearly 18 km from Kathmandu. At a height of about 1,541 metres, Changu Narayan is an example of one of the finest specimens of Nepalese architecture whose origin can be traced to the 3rd century AD. The monument has a great significance in artistic, religious, cultural and historical terms. Changu Narayan provides an incredible view of the whole valley. The lane that leads to the shrine is crowded with souvenir shops and workshops selling an array of wooden masks of gods and goddesses and other handmade curios that lure tourists; these are good for walk-in customers. We also came across a string of Thangka School of paintings that have flourished in the region since antiquity. The present shrine complex was earlier infested with dense groves of Champak trees. Changu derives its name from Newari signifying “Champa” flowers. Once well known as Dolagiri, Dolaparvat, Dolashikar, Champakaranya and Champapur Mahanagar, Changu was a metropolitan city in medieval times teeming with residential establishments.

We entered the shrine. The complex serves as a huge repository of prominent sculptures and we opted for a walk around the other monuments. There is the “Garuda” — the flight vehicle of Lord Vishnu and the famed historical stone pillar with inscriptions engraved on it in the pro-Licchivi script — the most ancient script of the valley. It is indeed a highly valuable collection. The most interesting monument, however, was the small shrine of Chhinnamasta representing female force that stands at the south east end of Changu Narayan — the oldest structure in the complex. We gazed in rapt attention at the marvellous and timeless wonders around the Changu Narayan complex, the frieze of carvings hanging on the outer walls that have been brilliantly crafted on wood, stone and metal.
We moved towards the main shrine that has huge gold-plated doors bearing intricately carved Hindu pantheons. The pagoda-styled shrine soaring 45 metres in height is devoted to Lord Vishnu. The monumental shrine was built in the 17th century and draws both Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims.

Once our visit to the shrine was over, we opted for a view of the nearby Changu Museum. Set up in a private residence, the museum has preserved relics of the bygone period including musical instruments, weapons, earthenwares and metal works. There are age-old coins dating back to the royal dynasties of Nepal from the times of King Tribhuvan to Mahendra and Birendra to Gyanendra.

For travellers wanting to make a visit to Changu Narayan, there are accommodations available like the Changu Cottage Guest House and Farmer’s Home.