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Saturday, 28 April 2012

Girish ’n the Chronicles get set to rock Hong Kong


GANGTOK, 25 April: Sikkim’s hard rock band, ‘Girish and the Chronicles’ is all set to take over Hong Kong after their success at the Suncane Skale Festival in Montenegro, Europe, in 2010. The band is relocating to Hong Kong in search of better prospects in the Asian music industry. The band has been signed by a local event management group from Hong Kong and left for Hong Kong today.
The four-member band has 26-year-old Girish Pradhan [lead vocal/guitar] as the front-man of the band, 24-year-old Suraz Karki [lead guitar], 23-year-old Yogesh Pradhan [guitars, bass & sound engineer] and 25-year-old Nagen Mongrati [drums/percussions]. The band has signed the contract with two pubs, Graphiti and Escape.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, band member, Yogesh said that Hong Kong has a very good market for rock music and also for other alternative music genres. He mentioned that the main reason behind the band’s relocation is not only that Hong Kong has a good rock music market to offer, but the band is also targeting the neighbouring Asian nations, keeping Hong Kong as the base and hence mark an Asia tour within this year. The band members mentioned that this way the band not only carries on the legacy of rock music but also paves a way for all the aspiring musicians here and creates a market for career-oriented music scene.
Band Manager, Shyam Pradhan highlighted that the band started off this year performing for international audiences in Montenegro and Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, which was the band’s second venture in a foreign nation, they performed in Escape and Players and were the headlining act at the annual rock event, “Alive III- Clash of the Titans’.
He informed that the front-man of the band, Girish had already performed at the Yamaha Asian beat finals held in Seoul, Korea, with his side project, Silver Tears and has also been a part of the pub rock culture in Hong Kong since November 2011.
Mr Pradhan mentioned that Girish’s presence helped the band to make their way into Hong Kong’s rock scene as well, however, with the help of the internet and its digital platforms such as Youtube, Facebook and such like, the band had already gained some reputation as one of the finest bands in the country and had a good fan-base amongst the rock fans from Hong Kong.
He informed that the band received an invitation from a local event management group from Hong Kong to play at the annual rock event, ‘Alive III-Clash of the Titans’ on 12 February 2012. This event had Blue Beat [Japan], Jukator [Hong Kong, winner of the Yamaha Asian Beat finals], Innercore [Hong Kong], Intellectual Morons [Hong Kong] and Girish and the Chronicles. It was informed that apart from this event, the band also performed in some of the most happening venues in Hong Kong such as Escape on 10 February 2012 and  and Players on 08 February 2012, where they were invited to perform as a guest band.
“Both the venues witnessed an hour of total rock and roll action and some hard rocking. The band was highly appreciated for their performance, versatility and presence, which fetched some more fans for the band,” Mr Pradhan informed.
Yogesh mentioned that the Hong Kong experience proved to be a real fruitful one, not only to the band, but also to the State and the budding talents from Sikkim and Girish and the Chronicles being the first band from Sikkim to perform at such venues in Hong Kong, has left a good impression on the hearts of music lovers and also the event organizers of Hong Kong.  “This has helped open a market and a demand for the talents from Sikkim and the neighboring territories as well and even the concept of making a career out of rock music living in India has found its place in the mainstream and opened possibilities for a talent to succeed in life making music,” he said.
However, the band members mentioned that the front-man of the band, Girish has played a very important role in making the band’s story a success and he along with his progressive metal side project, Silver Tears performed at the Yamaha Asian Beat national finals, where Girish grabbed the title of “the best vocalist in the country’. It is informed that they also entered the Asian finals held at Seoul, Korea, where Girish was highly appreciated for his outstanding performance.
Other two band members, Suraz and Nagen mentioned that they have also been receiving full support from their family members since childhood. They stated that earlier there was some pressure from their families to opt for government jobs but now, seeing their success in the field of music they are fully supporting them. They also expressed their happiness on choosing music as a career.
It was also informed that Girish and the Chronicles is also the first band from Sikkim to get empanelled in the Indian Council for Cultural Relations [ICCR]. The inclusion in the panel is essential to get assistance and sponsorship for foreign tours for the band.

Meet on heritage management begins in Gujarat

Apr 19, 2012, 16:22 IST
By DNA Correspondent | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA

The Centre for Heritage Management, Ahmedabad University (AU), in association with the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), has organised a three-day international symposium on heritage management, 'Asmit Samvad - A Dialogue on Heritage and Identity'. It began on World Heritage Day on Wednesday.

On the first day, speakers visited Sarkhej Roza to get a first-hand experience of the heritage structure. Interacting with a few of the speakers who visited the Roza, one got anidea that the time has come to strongly revive heritage management and ensure that there are better training centres and courses for the same.

According to Dr Shobita Punja, CEO of National Culture Fund, there are many people, mainly youngsters, who are demanding such a heritage management centre. "There is a lot of demand for the same which is why the speakers have gathered at AU today."
Similar views were shared by Hanna Baumann, program officer for culture, UNESCO. She said, "Our plan is to train heritage professionals, both young and old. There is a dire need for professionals in this field in India. UNESCO supports all those movements that are working towards bringing these professionals to fore. We really need them."

"Ahmedabad has been a replicable case study for many states and cities across India owing to the manner in which its architecture and social heritage has been preserved by involving the municipal corporation," said heritage advisor to AMC, Debashish Nayak.

According to Nayak, a professional heritage management does not exist any more and hence this symposium ispart of a year-long work, which will include the formulation of a course. "It is a continuous movement."

Following this symposium, they intend to have two more in the year's time which will cover 'law and heritage management' and 'communications and heritage management'.

India's heritage lives in its heartland

DIPANKAR MUKHERJEE explains why Madhya Pradesh's world heritage sites are witnessing a tourist boom over the past several years

Tourism in Madhya Pradesh is growing fast and it is not just due to increase in the number of hotels, air services, communication links and travel options. The reason behind this growth lies in popular interest in the world heritage sites located in the State.

With every passing day, the interest of national and foreign tourists is growing in the world heritage sites of the State. The Khajuraho temples are one of the favourite tourist destinations, while interest in Bhimbetka caves and Sanchi stupas has increased with time. Madhya Pradesh also has innumerable monuments, exquisitely carved temples, stupas, forts and palaces which attract visitors.

MP Tourism has stressed a lot on developing better facilities around the world heritage site. From air services to state-of-art hotels, MP tourism has developed the sites catering to modern tourist demands.

Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation general manager RP Chouhan said MP tourism is constantly working to promote tourism in the State. An air taxi service has been started for Khajuraho and development work in Sanchi on Public Private Partnership mode is being carried out. A highway treat has been started near Bhimbetka caves. More services and facilities will be added from time to time, he promised.

The fascinating temples of Khajuraho, MP's unique gift to the world, represent the expression of a highly mature civilization. These temples were the first historical site in the State to be declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1986. An untouched cultural heritage, Khajuraho is a tourist haven admired the world over for their beauty and the boldness.

The Chandela rulers built the temples of Khajuraho in central India in the tenth century AD and these marvelous temples contain stunning sculptures. Every form and mood of human beings has been beautifully etched out in stone, justifying the excellent craftsmanship and artistry of the Chandela Rajputs.

MP Tourism has established excellent services of boarding and lodging in this small village to promote tourism, the country's biggest hotel groups have hotels here. Hotel Radisson and Taj Group's hotel Chandela have more than 90 rooms, four executive suites and a conference hall. MP Tourism has started an air service to Khajuraho a few months ago.

Each temple stands on a high platform with a distinct upward direction to their build. The three main compartments are the entrance (ardhamandapa), assembly hall (mandapa), and the sanctum sanctorum (garbha griha). The temples are classified in three groups based on their location - western, eastern and southern. The Khajuraho temples also attract a large number of school and college excursions.

The most prominent structure at Khajuraho is the Kandariya Mahadeo temple, which is the largest and dedicated to Lord Shiva. The sanctum enshrines a lingam, a phallic symbol. The amorous couples are most sensuously depicted in the Chaunsath Yogini temple, dedicated to goddess Kali. Facing eastwards to the rising sum, Chitragupta temple is dedicated to the sun god. A three-headed image of Brahma is enshrined in Vishwanath Temple. The lintel over the entrance of beautiful Lakshman Temple shows the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara and Lakshmi, Vishnu's consort.

The temples in this group can be divided in two, one being a cluster of Jain temples and another scattered through the small village. Parsvanath Temple is the largest in this group. The temple was initially dedicated to Adinath but the statue was replaced by that of Parasnath in 1860. The Jain Gantai temple has a frieze which depicts the 16 dreams of Mahavira's mother and a Jain goddess on a winged Garuda. Dedicated to the Jain saint Adinath, the temple is lavishly embellished with sculpted figures including yakshis.

A track running south from Jain enclosures reaches the Duladeo Temple. It is among the newer temples in Khajuraho; more accurate, finer and equally graceful, with figures of maithuna (sexual intercourse) in various positions. The Chaturbhuj Temple has a three-metre high image of Vishnu.

The Sanchi stupas

Located on the foot of a hill, Sanchi is just 46 km away from Bhopal. Sanchi is a religious site of global archaeological significance. Sanchi is known for its stupas, monasteries, temples and pillars dating from the 3rd century BC to the 12th century AD. The most famous of these monuments, the Sanchi Stupa I was originally built by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka. Ashoka built the first stupa and put up many pillars. The crown of the famous Ashoka pillars, with four lions standing back to back has been adopted as the national emblem of India.

In 1818, Sanchi was rediscovered and gradually the historical and religious significance of the place was recognised. Work on the stupas started in 1881 and finally between 1912 and 1919 these were carefully repaired and restored. It was accepted that the structure in Sanchi was the most organised construction which went into the engineering of temples in the medieval period. The carvings here are done with the precision of jewellers.

Despite the damage and restoration work done Sanchi, is the most evocative and attractive Buddhist site in India. Sanchi is the place of stupas and pillars but the gorgeous gateways add grace to the place. These gateways are beautifully carved and carry scenes from the life of Ashoka.

Bhimbetka caves

In Bhimbetka there are about 600 caves in all filled with paintings of various activities of cave dwellers. The Bhimbetka caves are the largest collection of prehistoric caves in India. The paintings are about 9,000 years old making them the oldest paintings in the world signifying the earliest traces of human being on the planet.

Just 47 km from the capital city of Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh in the Vindhyas, the history of the caves of Bhimbetka goes back to the time of the Mahabharata.

Another point of interest about the caves is that the temperature inside them is very low as compared to that outside the caves. The caves can be easily reached by road from Bhopal city. The caves of Bhimbetka were discovered by Dr Wakankar in the year 1958.


Nepal: From 60m. to 8848 metres

Nepal is a tourist gold mine, and the capital Kathmandu a living cultural museum of the world. The co-author of “The Rough Guide to Nepal” James McConnachie opines, ‘Nepal really opened itself to the outside world some fifty years ago…now Nepal has overthrown a virtually medieval monarchy, launched democracy, seen its royal family massacred, started a Maoist insurrection (and stopped it again) deposed its new king and contemplated federalism.’

Nepal, an underdeveloped country in South Asia with an area of 147,181 sq. km and 26.7 million population ,is not only rich in its cultural heritage reflected amply by the architectural marvels such as ancient palaces, temples and monuments but also endowed with natural beauty. The trekking and mountaineering trails passing through rolling hills, majestic mountains and deep valleys remind the trekkers and mountaineers a ‘Shangri-La’ to be explored in their life-time.

The Lonely Planet writes- ‘ Draped along the greatest heights of the Himalaya, Nepal is where the ice-cold of the mountains meets the steamy heat of the Indian plains.

It’s a land of yaks & yetis, stupas and Sherpas and some of the best trekking on earth. Only in Nepal you can trek for weeks without the need even for a tent. No longer does your name have to be Tenzing or Hillary to set foot in Everest Base Camp. Nepal is an amazingly diverse country that offers something for everyone. One journey through this land is rarely enough. The first thing many people do after a visit is start planning the next one.’

Alluring snow-clad mountains, green hills, beautiful valleys, magnificent lakes, socio-cultural heritage, white water rafting and jungle safaris attract thousands of tourists to Nepal each year.

There is no country in the world with geography as extreme as that of Nepal. The mountain and Terai region (covering 23 percent of total area with 20 districts) have different geographical structure and climatic conditions, altitude ranging from 60 metres (Kechana Kalan of Jhapa district) to 8848 metres(Mt. Everest) from the sea level.

The mountain region (occupies 35.2 percent of the total area with 16 districts) and the hilly region (42 percent of the total area with 39 districts) is magnet for trekkers and mountaineers the world over since the early 1920′s. These regions, relatively isolated and economically underdeveloped, have allured international visitors in terms of trekking and mountaineering. Very few countries in the world offer as many varieties of adventure tourism as Nepal.

Boasting eight of the world’s highest mountains above 8000 meters, ten world heritage sites, pristine natural beauty accompanied by the distinctive cultural features preserved in the mountain enclaves and habitations, Nepal has attracted travellers, trekkers, mountaineers and scholars from different parts of the world. Many travel writers have described Nepal as-land of the living Goddess, Himalayan pilgrimage, the country of Mt. Everest, country of non-stop festivals, land of brave Gurkhas, Shangri-La, land of Yak and Yeti, birth place of apostle of peace-Lord Buddha, melting pot of Hinduism and Buddhism and a living cultural museum of the world. Traditionally deemed as an adventure destination for mountaineers and trekkers, tourists are exploring the country’s rich cultural heritage, fascinating landscape and nature in recent years.

The major attractions of Nepal are majestic snowy Himalayas, beautiful natural lakes and rivers, world famous Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage sites, national parks and reserves with a variety of endangered wildlife and rich cultural tradition of its people. A traveller visiting Nepal can enjoy adventurous activities like mountaineering, trekking, rafting, kayaking, mountain biking, paragliding, bungee-jumping and enjoy a mountain flight to view the grandeur and spectacular scenery of the Himalayan range including Mt. Everest. A traveller, who loves soft adventure, can explore cultural heritage of the three ancient cities of Kathmandu valley.

The Kathmandu valley -Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur situated at an altitude of 1300 meters with an area of 570 sq. km. and nearly 2.2 million populations – is a home to a world-class artistic and architectural heritage. As the seven world heritage sites- Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Swayambhunath, Boudhanath, Changu Narayan and Pashupatinath are located within 20 km. radius of the city, the tourists can explore the living cultural museum during their short stay in Nepal.

Nepal, mentioned as a trekker’s paradise, offers once-in a life-time opportunity to the trekkers to visit remote parts of the country and get acquainted with lifestyle of its people. Treks in Nepal range from short ones to a couple of days and weeks, especially in the trekking season from mid-September to May which depends on trekker’s interest, time and experience. Thousands of trekkers from around the world trek the most popular trekking regions of Nepal such as Everest region, Annapurna circuit, Helambu, Gosainkunda, Langtang, Mustang, Jumla, Dolpa etc.each year. The recently launched 1700 km Great Himalayan Trail trek has lured the trekkers since the last two years.

In addition, Nepal is considered as an eco-tourism destination and a centre of wildlife tourism and jungle safari owing to her rich bio-diversity. A total of 9 national parks, 3 wildlife reserves, 6 conservation areas, and 1 hunting reserve including 11 buffer zone areas in and around protected areas covering 19.70 percent of the land offer the travellers to discover a large variety of ecosystem including plant species, birds and animals. Chitwan National park, designated by UNESCO as natural heritage site in 1984, is one of the success stories in wildlife tourism protecting one-horned rhinoceros and Royal Bengal tigers including different species of birds, mammals, reptiles and water animals. Chitwan National park, one of the top wildlife safaris in Asia, is considered the’ Best Wildlife Safari Destination of the World ‘ with facilities of six famous hotels and jungle lodges inside the national park area, about 90 hotels and lodges in Sauraha and 17 more in emerging Patihani area of Chitwan.

The Pokhara valley, 200 km-west of Kathmandu, is another popular destination of Nepal and the Lake City provides ample opportunity of sightseeing of majestic panoramic views of the Annapurna Himalayan range, fishtail peak- Machhapuchhare, boating in popular Fewa Lake and fishing in garden of seven lakes. Renowned travel writers have opined that the tourist travels to Nepal will be incomplete without visit of Pokhara, Chitwan, and Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha. Ekai Kawaguchi, the first Japanese to visit Nepal in 1899, noted in his travelogue that ‘in all my travels in the Himalayas, I saw no scenery so enchanting as that which enraptured me in Pokhara.’

The majestic towering mountains, turbulent streams, azure lakes, softy waterfalls, conjure visions of a Himalayan Shangri-La, rich cultural heritage and unforgettable jungle safaris have attracted thousands of visitors to Nepal each year. Despite these attractions and popular tourism products, Nepal is an unsung destination in the world tourism map. Both the private sector and the government are eager to develop new tourism products to attract more travellers in recent years. A total of 720,000 tourists visited Nepal (including 544,185 via air and among them -about 145,338 Indian and 45,400 Chinese tourists) during Nepal Tourism Year-2011, which aimed to welcome one million visitors. Let us hope that the Lumbini Visit Year-2012 be a success story in Nepal tourism to attract  a million tourists in this incredible destination of South Asia.
source; Spyghana

Quotes » 

This is not the first time in history that such a thing has happened. This happened in 18th and 19th century Europe, with the rural population headed to cities, where the land was not sufficient to support them. But because of colonisation, they could relocate around the world. But this is not possible for us

Vintage cannons set to return to Aizawl

Press Trust of India | Updated: April 27, 2012 13:12 IST

Aizawl:  The two vintage cannons, taken away from Aizawl by the first battalion of the Assam Rifles, would soon be restored to the Mizo people, an official statement said here.

The statement said yesterday that chief minister Lal Thanhawla was given the assurance by the Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and the Director General of Assam Rifles Major General R K Lakhanpal in New Delhi that the two cannons used in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 would be returned to Aizawl on or before May 15, 2012.

"The Union Home Minister and DG of the Assam Rifles understood the sentiments of the Mizo people and told Lal Thanhawla during a meeting in Delhi recently that the cannons would be returned soon," the statement said.

The Mizoram Chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has been demanding the return of the two pieces of the historic artillery after the first battalion of the Assam Rifles took them away in 2003 and their absence from the Quarter guard of the Assam Rifles battalion headquarters, after being there for more than a century, was extremely conspicuous.

Earlier, the Union Home Ministry and the Assam Rifles authorities had said that the cannons were war trophies and should be kept by them while the INTACH said that J Shakespear, who displayed the cannons at the quarter guard of the Assam Rifles that time, was a civilian administrator.

INTACH demands formulation of heritage policy

Jaipur | Saturday, Apr 28 2012 IST

The Indian National Trust for Art and Culture Heritage(INTACH)has urged the Rajasthan Government for formulation of heritage policy for the preservation of monuments and other heritage structures/artifacts.

The demand figured at the two-day conference of the INTACH Rajasthan Chapter that began here yesterday.

'Once an appropriate heritage legislation is enacted--it would strengthen work of conservation and preservation of monuments', Trust Chairman Major General L K Gupta (Retd.) said. He also stressed up on a membership drive to promote the INTACH movement in the state.

The State Convener, scion of Royal family of Jodhpur, Gaj Singh stressed on proper listing and documentation of heritage monuments and buildings.

He said that not only buildings, but preservation of environment and the lifestyle of people was also a part of the country's heritage.

Cordinators from different districts also participated in the meeting. UNI SSSB HT1422 NNNN

-- (UNI

Heritage conservation gets impetus

by Sachin Sharma, TNN | Apr 14, 2012,

VADODARA: For the first time the General Development and Control Regulations (GDCR) will also have Heritage Regulations regarding both natural and built heritage in the city. A notification of the new GDCR that was received by Vadodara Urban Development Authority (VUDA) recently will put restrictions on development around listed heritage locations.

The GDCR has also made provisions for cultural, environmental and natural areas like groves, hills, hillocks, water bodies as well as open and wooded areas. The GDCR states that a Heritage Conservation Committee (HCC) will be appointed by the government and VUDA will consult it when it comes to any development, redevelopment, alterations, additions, repairs, renovation of the listed heritage buildings, heritage precincts or listed natural features of the city.

Interestingly, the provisions under the GDCR itself can be altered, modified or relaxed by VUDA if needed for conservation, preservation or retention purposes or a listed heritage structure or precinct. Special regulations can also be formed for listed heritage precincts on natural features on the advise of the HCC.

A major feature is that even road construction or widening will have to be planned or done in a way that it protects such precincts or natural features. Even the development plan can be modified to ensure that this happens.

While at the face of it the GDCR may be considered as a major handicap by owners of heritage properties, it will act as a major boon for those who want to put these to use as a commercial property, office or hotel. However, the owner will have to ensure that the original character of the building is retained. Incentives have also been suggested for heritage conservation of listed heritage buildings or precincts. These will be planned on the advise of the HCC and may include things like transfer of development rights or creation of a repair fund for such properties. The GDCR has suggested that Hyderabad and Mumbai models may be followed in this regard.

VUDA in charge executive engineer A C Vyas said that the regulations were in line with directives by the state government. He said that the list of heritage buildings and precincts will be drawn by the HCC and finalized soon.

State co-coordinator for Indian National Trust for Art, Culture and Heritage (INTACH) Sanjeev Joshi said that the salient feature of the new GDCR was that it included even natural heritage like water bodies. "The GDCR also establishes a clear mechanism on how to go about preservation of heritage through the HCC. The grading system of heritage properties and areas is very detailed," he said.

Government passes the buck on public for heritage conservation

TNN | Apr 19, 2012, 10.50AM IST

BHUBANESWAR: Drawing flak from various quarters for the poor state of temples and monuments in Odisha, the state government on Wednesday sought the cooperation of public for preserving the state's heritage.

"Community participation is essential for preserving our heritage. Locals should prevent people from defacing monuments. The state government is taking steps to conserve 328 monuments in state," state culture director Sushil Das said on the sidelines of a workshop on World Heritage Day.

To spread awareness regarding this, the culture department on Wednesday organized a rally in Bhubaneswar. Hundreds of students, citizens, members of voluntary and civil society organizations and traditional artists joined the heritage walk rally. Holding placards and chanting slogans, the participants covered a number of heritage sites in Old Town area. Traditional dance troupes created awareness about the preservation of heritage through street performances.

The Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage, (Intach) that works on conservation of historical monuments in the country, expressed concern over the government's lackadaisical attitude to protect monuments. "The ASI and state archeology department are looking after a few hundred temples and monument in Odisha. But the state is home to nearly 3,000 unprotected heritage sites that need urgent attention," Intach's Odisha chapter convener A B Tripathy said.

Currently, out of around 195 lesser-known monuments in Bhubaneswar, 22 are being preserved by ASI and 15 by the state archaeology wing, sources said.

Intach recently launched the "adopt a monument" scheme to encourage PSUs to look after the maintenance of dilapidated heritage sites in Bhubaneswar.

Kanpur heritage sites are in a sorry state

by Ishita Mishra, TNN | Apr 19, 2012, 12.28PM IST

KANPUR: The heritage buildings and monuments in any place or area are testimonials of its glorious past, but the archaeological monuments situated in and nearby the city have nothing to cheer about their presence. Surely, if these non-living structures had voice, they would have cried for betterment, before they extinct.

Importantly, many of the archaeological structures in Kanpur (city and rural areas), nearly 32 in number, are of post-British period and freedom struggle. These heritage monuments can be of tourist attraction and become a good source of income. But surprisingly, these structures and heritage sites are facing extinction and with them will vanish remainders of civilization, which once upon a time flourished in the region.

"Historical buildings and monuments are like a chapter of a history book and should not be allowed to close. Most of the archaeological structures in Kanpur needs immediate attention and preservation," said Harsh Kumar Singh, a historian. Echoing similar words, Vinod Tondon, another historical expert from the family of Lala Thanthi Mal (first few persons who settled in the city) said that its true that the technological advancement, fast pace life and rapidly growing mall culture had adversely affected the life of retailers and middle class man, but the biggest hit from this modern civilization is to the ancient archaeological sites situated in large numbers all across the country. Even the government is neglecting these natural and cultural heritage sites and if the scenario continues few more days, the future generation will only study about the Tatyatope museum, Bhramhavart Ghat and Chaubegola area, which was once was situated in the 'Manchaster of east'.

Importantly, as per the list of Archaeological Survey Of India (ASI), there are nearly 32 archaeological sites situated in Kanpur (city and rural areas). The names of the historical spots in the list of ASI are Mound Bithoor, Lona cross Garden, Katcheri Cemetery, Memorial well garden, Sawada Kothi, monument including flight of steps with the surrounding plateau, Subedar-ka-Talab Cemetery, Wheeler's Entrechment and Kos Minar Khalaspur Kanpur. Three images of Lakshmana, Ganesh and Vishnu lying in the cells or each side of the doorway of the temple of Jagannatha and a Gupta pillar lying in the compound of the temple and other images in Behta, Kanpur Dehat. Some archaeological sites in Kanpur Dehat are the ancient brick temple, Bhitargaon, Mound of ruins covered with large bricks and broken figures, Bhitargaon, Kos Minar, Bhognipur, and tank near the tomb of Sandal Shah, Bichhiapur. Temple known as Phulmati Devi, Bihupur, Kos Minar, Chaparghata, Kos Minar, Deosar, fragment of a pillar, Dumapur, Kos Minar, Gour, Kos Minar, Halia, Kos Minar, Jallapur Sikandara, ancient brick temple, Kanchilipur, two ancient brick temple, Khurda are also in Kanpur Dehat. Mound and the ancient pillar in a modern domed chamber together with the stone cock lying in the front of it, Lala Bhagat, Kos Minar, Pailwaru, temple known as 'Mahadeo Baba', Parauli, Kos Minar, Pitampur, Kos Minar, Raigawan, Kos Minar, Rajpur, Kos Minar, Sankhiln Buzurg, Kos Minar, Sardarpur are also in Kanpur Dehat. Sanskrit inscription in the well of Gayadin Sukal, Subhanpur, brick temple at Nebia Khera, Bhadwara is also there in Kanpur Dehat.

Talking to TOI, MK Verma, Archaeological Officer of the district said that the Sher Shah Suri Taal is not in heritage monument list of Archaeological Survey but it is conserved by some local body.

Commenting on Dhruv Tila, the official said that it being a big mound, the origin of grass and trees on it is obvious. However, the exact place of Dhruv Aashram is being conserved properly.

North zone convener of INTACH Thakur Ranveer said that any monument which is above 100 years old can be considered as archaeological site. Pratap press is having its own importance and can be termed as historical site, which should be preserved.

"I had been through the list of heritage and historical monuments prepared by INTACH and Pratap Press is there. I would drew the attention of the government and the administration for its preservation and conservation," Ranveer added.

Allahabad University: Original Vizianagram Hall tile to help in restoration work

\TNN | Apr 19, 2012, 10.10AM IST

ALLAHABAD: Even as the Allahabad University authorities have shown their commitment for the restoration of historical Vizianagram Hall of the Science faculty and its magnificent dome, the work has been hindered in the absence of any specimen of the original broken tiles that were removed to fix the present tiles on the dome. However, now a piece of the tile has been found that may help in restoring the glory of the building.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) in its Xth Five Year Plan sanctioned an amount of Rs 10 crore to AU and three other old universities of the country -- Bombay, Madras and Calcutta varsities -- for restoration of heritage buildings on their campuses. UGC had allocated an amount of Rs 3 crore in the Xth Plan for the purpose, rest was to be given once the amount was utilized.

Later, AU authorities asked the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) to prepare a detailed report for restoring four heritage buildings at AU, including Vizianagram Hall, in 2008-09. But after submission of the report, varsity remaining silent and finally asked RITES to undertake the restoration work of Vizianagram Hall and the dome.

Later, a three-member committee of conservation experts was formed by the AU authorities. Its members included convenor of INTACH (Delhi Chapter) Prof A G K Menon, conservation architect Vikas Vedprakash Dilawari of Mumbai and director, Conservation and World Heritage, JanhwijSharma of ASI. It was to give its recommendation on the viability of such ambitious projects. This high-powered committee visited AU in the last week of March and gave its approval to AU V-C Prof Anil Kumar Singh for going ahead with the restoration work.

However, although RITES has been assigned the work for restoration of the dome and the hall, neither the AU authorities nor people from RITES were able to locate any of the broken or intact pieces of the original tile that was removed in 1985 when Prof R P Mishra was the AU V-C.

"Any specimen of the original tile would have been of immense help for the restoration work as we could have then done the chemical analysis of the tile and the material used to plaster the dome which held the tiles for many decades. But unfortunately, we do not have any specimen making our work so difficult," said one of the higher officials of RITES.

In this backdrop, a small piece of the original tile of turquoise blue shade has been found to be in possession of Prof Manas Mukul Das, a former faculty member of the Department of English. "When we witnessed the desecration of AU's heritage, i.e., the dome of the Vizianagram Hall, we collected some broken tiles from the debris and send those pieces to INTACH," said Prof Das. He even handed over one piece of the original tile to TOI.

He quoted a newspaper report dated December 9, 1873, that read: "The Muir College, the foundation stone of which is to be laid by the Viceroy this afternoon, will be, we are assured, when completed, the finest structure in the North-West Provinces, except only the Taj." The College took 12 years to complete. The Vizianagram tower, the hall and the library are built of stone throughout; the main walls of the lecture rooms, professors' rooms and offices are of brick faced with stone. The yellow stone came from Mirzapur and the white from Sheorajpur. The expenditure on the Central Block of the college was Rs 8,89,627, said Prof Das.

Quoting from records, Prof Das said: "After the formal opening of the building on April 8, 1886, Sir Alfred Lyall, the Governor of the Province, said in his speech -- 'Now that we have taken to erecting for our students a hall like this in which we are assembled, with cool colonnades, domes, and towers, spacious lecture rooms and libraries, we have set up an external visible sign of the spirit in which our generation regards education'."

Prof Das said the dome tiles of the Vizianagram Hall were glazed by craftsmen of Rajasthan guilds. In Islamic architecture, there is a centuries old history of the art of lustre painting on tiles and the craft of making ceramic bodies of quartz and other glossy material. The art was perhaps imported from Egypt, he added.

About the colour of the tiles, Prof Das said, "The colours mainly used on the tiles were turquoise, cobalt blue and white, and less frequently, green." When Sir W Emerson, who designed the Muir Central College in "a modified Saracenic style", thought of tiles to decorate the Vizianagram Dome, he naturally chose the glazed blue-and-white tiles. "Rai Bahadur Bipin Bihari Chakravarti, Government Executive Engineer, was in charge of the construction work. His papers, now in possession of Ajoy Chakravarti, his great grandson, show that 14 Rajasthani Guilds wore contacted, and some of them entrusted with the task of glazing the tiles brought from England," the professor added.

Contacted, Chakravarti recalled his great-grandfather telling that the theme used in the dome was 'Bringing Haven to Earth' and that is why blue turquoise was used. It took about a month and half for 85 craftsmen of Jaipur to polish the tiles which were processed four times -- glazed and put in fire with the process being repeated four times. About 30,000 eggs were used to polish the tiles.

The piece of the tile is six inches from one side and its thickness shows its antiquity. When TOI contacted Divay Gupta, the conservationist architecture whose help has been sought by RITES to restore the originality of the dome, he said: "We have been trying to locate the original specimen of the tile as it would be of immense help after chemical analysis. Once we know the exact component, we can replicate these tiles after which the grandeur of the dome can be restored."

Government passes the buck on public for heritage conservation

TNN | Apr 19, 2012, 10.50AM IST

BHUBANESWAR: Drawing flak from various quarters for the poor state of temples and monuments in Odisha, the state government on Wednesday sought the cooperation of public for preserving the state's heritage.

"Community participation is essential for preserving our heritage. Locals should prevent people from defacing monuments. The state government is taking steps to conserve 328 monuments in state," state culture director Sushil Das said on the sidelines of a workshop on World Heritage Day.

To spread awareness regarding this, the culture department on Wednesday organized a rally in Bhubaneswar. Hundreds of students, citizens, members of voluntary and civil society organizations and traditional artists joined the heritage walk rally. Holding placards and chanting slogans, the participants covered a number of heritage sites in Old Town area. Traditional dance troupes created awareness about the preservation of heritage through street performances.

The Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage, (Intach) that works on conservation of historical monuments in the country, expressed concern over the government's lackadaisical attitude to protect monuments. "The ASI and state archeology department are looking after a few hundred temples and monument in Odisha. But the state is home to nearly 3,000 unprotected heritage sites that need urgent attention," Intach's Odisha chapter convener A B Tripathy said.

Currently, out of around 195 lesser-known monuments in Bhubaneswar, 22 are being preserved by ASI and 15 by the state archaeology wing, sources said.

Intach recently launched the "adopt a monument" scheme to encourage PSUs to look after the maintenance of dilapidated heritage sites in Bhubaneswar.

State govt to put Vrindavan, Govardhan on tourist map

TNN | Apr 20, 2012, 03.55AM IST

LUCKNOW: In a bid to revive tourism in the state, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on Thursday said the government needed to take immediate measures to take up development works in Govardhan, Vrindavan and Agra regions of the state. Though Akhilesh refrained from announcing any special package for developing the regions, he did say that a priority plan be prepared and tabled before him, in a month.

Key concerns raised during Thursday's meeting with the CM included the need for better infrastructure facilities, which includes roads, solid waste management and sewage systems for Mathura and Vrindavan.

Braj Foundation, a non-profit organisation working on restoring the region's glory also raised the issues pertaining to the urgent need for the proper maintenance of the heritage sites in the Mathura and Vrindavan. Govardhan sees more than 4 crore tourists annually. Everyday, devotees offer more than 5,000 litres of milk to the hill. Absence of proper drainage system leads to a civic mess. Similarly, garbage disposal system is also in a mess. Speaking to TOI, chairman and CEO, Braj Foundation, Vineet Narain, said, "The government has promised that it will identify priority areas on which work can be started immediately. Though the extent of fund infusion is still unclear, the CM has said he wants to see tangible changes within one year."

On Thursday, the government also took up the proposed international airport in Agra, with Akhilesh instructing the concerned officials to prepare necessary plans. In addition, he also ordered the setting up of a Taj Nature Park in the area surrounding the Taj Mahal in Agra.

Among other decisions, the government also gave its nod to the broadening and upgradation of the main roads linking Kosi, Nandgaon and Barsana, Mathura to Govardhan and Vrindavan-Chhatikara-Radhakund roads. In the government draft proposal, Akhilesh has also ordered setting up for proper drinking water facilities, toilets, street lights and rest room facilities for the tourists.

Earlier this week, Mathura district authorities also drew up a plan for infrastructure development, road connectivity and beautification of the 'Parikrama Marg' - a 21-km path around Govardhan hill.

In the past, environmentalists have also highlighted the ecological degradation of the region resulting from illegal mining in the Barsana area bordering Rajasthan. On Wednesday, divisional commissioner of Agra, Amrit Abhijat also cleared a plan by Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) to upgrade the facilities to control water pollution in the Kusum Sarovar, a pond on the Parikrama Marg and Mansi Ganga in Govardhan. Similar measures have also been planned for Agra's Paliwal Park lake and the Mantola Nullah.

Golden Threshold under threat?

TNN | Apr 22, 2012, 03.06AM IST

HYDERABAD: A group of residents from Abids on Saturday protested against the construction of a commercial establishment adjacent to the Golden Threshold, a protected heritage monument located on Nampally station road. They alleged that the builder, in connivance with government authorities, was erecting a multi-storied complex next to the centuries-old structure, once home to legendary poet and freedom fighter Sarojini Naidu. Residents demanded that the project be scrapped immediately.

Speaking at a press conference held in the city, residents said that the developer had dug deep foundation pits, measuring between 25 and 35 feet, less than three meters away from the ancient monument, in gross violation of heritage norms. "This might threaten the main foundation of the building and even damage it beyond repair," said Arun Kumar, one of the residents stressing on the need to protect and preserve the grade-I heritage property, often considered a national treasure.

The Golden Threshold is currently maintained by the University of Hyderabad (UoH) and even houses a few offices of the varsity. In fact, at a recent event organized as part of the ongoing heritage week, Ramakrishna Ramaswamy, vice chancellor of UoH, announced that the heritage monument would soon be restored and transformed into a museum-cum-cultural centre. The university, it is believed, has signed a memorandum of understanding with INTACH to undertake the restoration project.

Echoing the sentiments of residents, heritage activists from the city said that the commercial venture should be pulled out of its current location. Apart from being less than 100 meters away from the Golden Threshold (the heritage rules does not allow for any construction within this distance), the plan of the modern structure, activists rued, was also out of sync with the architecture of the historic monument. "This is not permitted. Also, the height of the building could be a concern as the rules do not allow a new construction to block the view of a heritage property," said an INTACH member from the city.

Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA) officials, however, seemed far from concerned. While the project plan, as per the rulebook, should be passed by the Heritage Conservation Committee under HMDA, officials of the department said they had little to do with the recent construction. They instead passed the buck on to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation. "It is GHMC that sanctions such plans. Unless they (GHMC officials) do anything about stalling the project, we cannot take any action," said Syed Ziauddin, chief planner, HMDA.

New home for old & rare books

TNN | Apr 23, 2012, 03.21AM IST

The state central library occupies the pride of the place among public libraries of India, especially for its collection on Goan history and culture and Indo-Portuguese history, which is widely consulted by research scholars from India and abroad.

With the state central library moving to its news premises at Patto, Panaji, the main problem it faced for the last three decades-that of shortage of space-has been resolved. Such was the space problem that the library was forced to shift some of its sections and stack areas to other premises.

The new five-storey spacious building, set to be inaugurated on Monday, has all amenities and necessary infrastructure, to make every Goan proud as no other state public library in India has a building of such standing. It is a state of art library, now named Krishnadas Shama Goa State Central Library, in recognition of Shama's contribution to Konkani literature in the 16th century. Shama, a native of Quelossim, is the author of Krishna Caritrakatha and various other Konkani texts.

The library in its new premises provides resources and services in a variety of media and plays a vital role in bridging the gap between the information rich and the information poor by providing public access to the internet as well as providing information in traditional formats, through different sections.

Activities related to registration of new members, issue and return of books are carried out on the first floor, including book drop facility using RFID technology. Besides, around 27 local and national newspapers and over 250 periodicals on socio-political, economic, scientific and technical topics as well as magazines on sports, films, cultural and literary aspects, are displayed here. The reading services are open to all, however, the borrowing facilities can be availed of only by members. There is also provision for the blind with a Braille collection and specially designed non-book material.

The second floor is set aside for children, right from toddlers to 12 years old, with specially designed furniture and interiors. In addition to children's books, and reference sources, it has a good collection of maps, globes and other audio-visual material, including toys. Children are also provided access to computers and internet. The internet browsing centre is also on this floor, which can be accessed on payment of charges fixed by the library. The library has access to a number of databases like, DELNET, CMIE, EBSCO, Indiastat and JSTOR online databases.

The circulation or lending section is housed on the third floor, with books in English, Marathi, Konkani and Hindi, on different subjects, which cater to the educational, cultural, informational and recreational needs of the users. Since a majority of the readers borrow books for leisure and recreational activity, the collection on fiction and biographies exceeds that of other subjects. Old issues of magazines and journals are also made available for home issue.

The fourth floor, houses the rich heritage of Goan history and culture. Manuscripts as well as early imprints, are displayed on this floor. It may be noted that during the 16th and 17th centuries, various religious books, bilingual grammars and dictionaries were written by missionaries, the early imprints, are those which were published in Goa during these centuries. Conservation of this collection was earlier done by the library with the experts from INTACH, Lucknow. The library is a resource centre for studies related to Goa, including Indo-Portuguese history. It has a number of primary published sources, on Indo-Portuguese history, these include chronicles, official correspondence and documents and ecclesiastical documents. Books related to Goa, Indo-Portuguese history, and works published in Goa are available on this floor.

Here one also finds bound volumes of the Boletim do Governo, an official publication dating to 1837, an important source of information concerning various government enactments, rules and relations of different socio-cultural and religious institutions, service orders relating to appointments, leave, suspension and retirement. Prior to 1889 historical write-ups too were published in this bulletin. Complete collections of the Official Gazette, Government of Goa, Daman and Diu, and the Official Gazette-Government of Goa can be found here.

Teh library has a rich fount of historical and archaeological journals, as well as present day journals and magazines published in Goa, in addition to a rich collection of over 160 titles of local newspapers dating back to 1861, all published in Goa prior to liberation. Besides all newspapers published in Goa since liberation are maintained in this section. This collection is an important source for local history.

Provision is also made for conservation and preservation of books, for which purpose a fumigation chamber and a preservation laboratory have been installed. An imaging centre also functions here for scanning of rare and old documents and making them available in the digital media.

The reference section, on the fifth floor, has standard reference sources like general and subject encyclopedias and dictionaries, yearbooks, almanacs, biographical, bibliographical, statistical and geographical reference sources, books for various competitive examinations, and expensive books on various subjects, besides educational video records.

Books on all subjects written in Portuguese, French and Latin, in addition to some English works, acquired prior to liberation are maintained on the sixth floor. Bibliographical rarities dating back to the early 16th century are also in this collection. Besides books published in Portugal and its overseas provinces, like Angola, Mozambique, Macau, Guine, Cabo Verde and Timor received under the provisions of Deposito Legal, Portuguese Book Delivery Act are found in this section. This is a unique library in India having bibliographical rarities in Latin, Portuguese and French.

The writer is former curator, state central library

Writer Lakshmi Kumari Chundawat honoured

TNN | Apr 27, 2012, 06.15AM IST

JAIPUR: Secretary of Rajasthan Foundation, Kolkata chapter and culturist, Sundeep Bhutoria on Thursday visited the residence of well-known Rajasthani writer Lakshmi Kumari Chundawat and felicitated her by presenting a bouquet of flowers. She could not come to the Rajasthan National Forum (RNF) event on Tuesday in which Rajasthan Ratna awardees 2012 were honoured. Bhutoria is also an office-bearer of RNF. On the occasion, she appreciated the efforts put in by RNF in promoting the artists, writers and theatre personalities hailing from the state, who are living in Rajasthan or outside. Writer Lakshmi Kumari Chundawat
was the former Maharani  of Rawatsar in Rajasthan

State INTACH conveners' conference

JAIPUR: The two-day conference of Rajasthan INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art & Culture Heritage) will begin tomorrow at ITC Sheraton hotel. The Chairman of INTACH, Major General L.K. Gupta (Retd.) will be the chief guest. The conference will be chaired by the State Convener of INTACH, Maharaja Gaj Singh of Jodhpur. "The main theme of the conference will be to focus upon the need for heritage legislation in Rajasthan and the problem of Nazul properties. Later, the various conveners will present their updated reports on ongoing projects and future plans," said the Jaipur convener, Dharmendra Kanwar.

On the second day, Advisor to INTACH-Rajasthan and former chief secretary, Government of Rajasthan, S. Ahmad will address the members on various issues related to heritage and its protection. Senior Advocate, Kamalkar Sharma will highlight the importance of PIL (Public Interest Litigation) and approach by INTACH to utilize it. Partnership between the public and the Government will also be discussed. The valedictory address will be by the chairman of INTACH, Major General L.K. Gupta (Retd.).

Friday, 27 April 2012

INTACH launches Centre for Conservation Training

by Anahita Mukherji, TNN | Apr 27, 2012, 04.36PM IST

NEW DELHI: On the occassion of World Heritage Day, earlier this month, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) launched its new Centre for Conservation Training and Capacity building, possibly the first such centre in the country. The centre will be headed by conservation architect Navin Piplani, director, centre for conservation studies, University of York.

''The centre will address the training and capacity building needs for heritage conservation. It will target a wide spectrum of people, from students and young professionals to mid career professionals and traditional craftsmen,'' says Piplani.

''Heritage constitutes several aspects such as natural heritage, material heritage as well as the intangible heritage of our country. We have now introduced heritage training as a new dimension to the work we do,'' says AGK Menon, convenor of the Delhi chapter of INTACH.

The centre will be open to anybody who is interested in understanding the conservation of heritage. ''For instance, if someone is interested in heritage walks and wants to become a 'walk leader' he can get the necessary training to do so at the INTACH centre,'' says Menon.

The launch of the new centre was announced at the start of the Pupul Jayakar Memorial Lecture delivered by renowned town planner Charles Correa on cities and political will.

''There are two cities within every Indian city-the posh city and the city of the poor and the squatters,'' says Correa. Pointing to the huge disconnect between these two worlds, he said that, if inequality was not addressed, there was a chance we could go down the same path as cities like Johannesburg where crime rates and instances of mugging were high.

At a time when there has been much talk of Delhi going vertical, Correa was quick to point out that every family requires 45 sq metres of amenities such as schools, hospitals, parks and open space. ''This works out to a maximum of 225 families per hectare. To increase the number of families per hectare involves reducing the area required for the amenities per family,'' said Correa.

He pointed to several successful experiments in urbanisation across the world where densities have been increased without veritcal growth such as the cities of Europe, unlike those of the US. He pointed to vertical cities like New York, which were unaffordable for the middle-class, pushing them to the outskirts of the city.

''Only very rich whites and very poor blacks live in the city, resulting in social polarisation and high crime rates,'' he said.

Pointing to the population explosion in urban areas, he says that only 10% of India's population lived in cities in 1947, a figure that has now shot to 35%.

''This is not the first time in history that such a thing has happened. This happened in 18th and 19th century Europe, with the rural population headed to cities, where the land was not sufficient to support them. But because of colonisation, they could relocate around the world. But this is not possible for us,'' said Correa.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Kashmir may be hit by mega quake soon: Study

 A day after an earthquake shook parts of the country triggering tsunami fears, conservation architects dvised the people of Kashmir to construct their houses using traditional architecture to avoid heavy losses in an earthquake .

Kashmir is placed in seismic zone five, making it highly vulnerable to earthquakes . The Valley was hit by a 7.6 magnitude earthquake with its epicenter in Muzaffarabad in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir in October 2005 causing massive destruction.

"If new houses are built using the age-old traditional knowledge even if modern material is used, imminent damage from earthquake can be averted.  There has been abundant research and discourse since the devastating earthquake of 2005 as to how the traditional architecture of Kashmir was resistant to earthquakes," says conservation architect Saima Iqbal. Iqbal works with Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Jammu and Kashmir chapter.    

In December last year a US-based seismologist Roger Bilham had warned that Kashmir Valley is likely to be hit by an earthquake of largest-ever magnitude without giving any time frame.

Bilham, a professor of geology at the University of Colorado, had said that his new global positioning system (GPS) data readings reveal the gradual movement of rocks in the Zanskar mountains north of the Valley and warned, "The zone would rupture when a quake eventually happens. The quake would be 200 km wide as against 80 kilometres predicted earlier."

"The zone would encompass the Kashmir Valley, including the Srinagar city with its 1.5-million strong population," his study said. "If slippage occurs over a length of 300 kilometres, as is possible, a mega quake of magnitude-9 is likely to occur. Given building codes and population in the region, it could mean a death toll of 300,000 people," the study added.

Since January this year four tremors have been felt in the Valley, thankfully all of them were of very low intensity.

"It is common knowledge now that the presence of wooden tying members at each successive floor level provides the required elasticity to the house which behaves like a vertical square block owing to its symmetry. When this 'block' moves, it moves as a unit. There, the impact on the building is less by severe horizontal movements of the earthquake, keeping the structure largely safe," Iqbal said.

"One cannot with utmost certainty say that all the modern houses are being built inappropriately and that they are not resilient to serious earthquakes. But site surveys after the 2005 earthquake have revealed some serious technical shortcomings in the way modern structures, especially in far-flung areas, are being constructed," she said.

"These buildings mostly suffered from improper masonry bonding, the corner wall junctions were weak, and the buildings were not tied by linear structural bands which in the event of an earthquake help hold the building together," she added.

Chief town planner of Kashmir, Iftikhar Hakeem, said photographs of the 2005 earthquake where the traditional construction techniques were used indicate that the traditional architecture withstood the temblor.

"Only the structures where masonry was used without proper lacings resulted in an extensive damage to these structures. RCC structures, if designed properly, have also proved that they are safe and earthquake resistant but most of the new constructions coming up in Srinagar are not properly designed and have serious problems with respect to scale and proportion-purity of form," he added.

"The traditional architecture had evolved using the local material without the use of plasters and cement which made them compatible with the environment. The traditional way of building has been replaced by reinforced cement concrete with masonry infill," said Hakeem.

This, he said, serves the interests of construction industry and commercial industry who have been working overtime to convince the people that the traditional buildings were unsafe or obsolete. "This has resulted in incompatibility of scale and proportions which is evident wherever RCC constructions exist in the city."

The traditional architecture of Kashmir was based on two types of techniques:

1. Taq system (timber laced masonry)

2. Dhajji Dewari (timber framed with masonry infill)

This architecture has been the result of the centuries of evolution in building construction on soft soils and making the structures earthquake resistant in the Vale of Kashmir. The construction techniques focused on the use of available materials and the methods of construction gave structures some kind of flexibility which was essential. The most important element that makes the old houses appealing is the consistency and compatibility with one another and the set of standards that got evolved through centuries of construction becoming the hallmark of these buildings

source:India Today

Read more at:

Lifeline pledge for heritage

The Raj Bhavan has stepped in to lift a 158-year-old witness of Ranchi’s history from the morass of utter neglect.
The groundwork to restore the two-storey Audrey House — an extension of the governor’s official residence — to its erstwhile glory will begin in a week with funds release. The art and culture department has been entrusted with the job to conserve the heritage structure, which will boast a museum, a library and an open-air theatre.
On April 10, The Telegraph had reported how the neglected colonial edifice was crumbling with each passing day, condemning Jharkhand’s legal think tank, which operates from the building, to a life of endless peril.
Highly placed officials at Raj Bhavan on Thursday said a detailed project report (DPR) to revive Audrey House, submitted by the art and culture department two days ago, had received the governor’s green light. The sanctioned corpus of Rs 1.4 crore will reach Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach), roped in for restoration work, by next week.
“The department had sent us a letter in the past stating that it had selected Intach for the job. They had also sent a plan of what and how conservation work needs to be done. The report reached me through principal secretary A.K. Pandey. From our end, we have asked the department not to delay the work further. I believe things will move faster now since funds are also available with the deputy commissioner (of Ranchi),” said Dipankar Panda, the deputy secretary at Raj Bhavan.
Built in 1854 by Captain Hannyington — deputy commissioner of Chotanagpur between 1850 and 1856 — Audrey House hosted the governor’s secretariat until a year ago. Currently, it houses the Jharkhand State Law Commission with its seven-odd employees.
The conservation of the historical building was first proposed in 2009, but has been stuck in limbo since.
Panda said the delay was because of some confusions in the revival plan. “The initial blueprint had proposed a museum at Audrey House. During the former governor’s period, many had objected to this because there are already a couple of museums in Ranchi. But now, we have agreed to the plan,” he added.
S.D. Singh, state convener of Intach, confirmed that they had received initimation from Raj Bhavan that funds would reach them in a week’s time. “We got a call from Raj Bhavan on the day the report was published. We were told that work orders would reach us within a week,” he said.
Singh said they had envisaged Audrey House as a cultural and heritage centre. To turn the drawing board details into reality, they would require a year and a half.
Intach experts maintained that restoration job of the building would take up most of the time because the woodwork inside had decayed. “The thickness of the walls is three inches and it is supported by thicker wooden beams, which have rotted. We will have to use special conservation technology, which will be slow and steady,” one of them said.
Detailing on the DPR, which was submitted to the art and culture department in February this year, Singh said there were seven revival components.
“The main building, which needs to be conserved, has a floor area of 30,000sqft. We are planning a museum, a library-cum-resource centre, an art conservation centre, a convention hall, an open-air theatre of 800 capacity and a tribal village display corner,” he said, adding that this utility units would ensure regular upkeep of Audrey House.
“The museum, library and art conservation centre will serve as resource cells, while the theatre will give performing artistes a great platform to showcase their talents. The tribal village corner will boast life and livelihood models of at least half a dozen primitive tribes,” Singh said.

Rs.500 crore plan for holy Goverdhan hill

Goverdhan (Uttar Pradesh), April 12 : Goverdhan hill, which Lord Krishna's devotees consider one of their holiest shrines, is all set for a Rs.500 crore makeover.

Mathura district authorities have drawn up an ambitious plan for infrastructure development, road connectivity and beautification of the 'parikrama marg' - a 21 km path around the Goverdhan hill.

District magistrate N. Ravi said the Goverdhan plan was likely to be taken up for discussion by the Uttar Pradesh government next week.

Environmentalists in the past have highlighted ecological degradation due to uncontrolled mining in the Barsana area bordering Rajasthan. "The green cover which was under pressure is now being augmented, particularly along the parikrama route," an official in Goverdhan said.

Divisional commissioner Amrit Abhijat in Agra Wednesday cleared an Intach (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) project to upgrade facilities to control water pollution in the Kusum Sarovar, a pond on the parikrama marg in Goverdhan.

Intach project director Manu Bhatnagar said "bio-remediation" techniques would be used to control pollution in Kusum Sarovar and Mansi Ganga in Goverdhan. Same techniques will also be used in Agra's Paliwal Park lake and the infamous Mantola Nullah, he said.

Goverdhan town is visited by more than 10 crore pilgrims annually. According to legend, Lord Krishna as a child is believed to have lifted Goverdhan hill on a finger to protect "Brijwasis" from the wrath of rain god Indra. (IANS)

Thursday, 12 April 2012

New Delhi, Apr 12 (PTI) As part of the process to prepare a nomination dossier for Delhi's entry in UNESCO list of World Heritage Cities, INTACH is reaching out to school students and their teachers to create awareness among them on the subject. A workshop was organised by INTACH yesterday during which 33 teachers from 31 schools participated and witnessed a presentation on the nomination process and the aims and objectives of getting the world heritage tag for the capital. ASI Delhi chief K K Mohammad asked the teachers to care for heritage and highlighted on the exhibits at Children's Replica Museum in Siri Fort. He also asked students to adopt a monument in their locality

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Restoring past glory of AU's Vizianagram Hall

Rajiv Mani, TNN | Apr 10, 2012, 10.55PM IST

ALLAHABAD: Broken tiles of the dome, damaged window panes and glasses, doors barely hanging on the hinges, shattered pillars and parapet, offshoots of large trees creeping on the walls, pigeon droppings dotting the floor, damaged marble statues and antique chandeliers is what the famous historical Vizianagram Hall has to offer to any visitor to the Science Faculty of the Allahabad University today. But things would soon take a U-Turn as the varsity authorities have resolved to restore the grandeur of this pristine building after a go-ahead by a specialized three-member committee.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) sanctioned an amount of Rs 10 crore to the AU in its Xth Five Year Plan along with three other oldest varsities of the country - Bombay University, Madras University and Calcutta University -- for restoration of heritage buildings of these institutions. While the UGC had allocated about Rs 3 crore in the Xth Plan for the purpose, the remaining money was to be given once this money was utilized.

In 2008-09, AU authorities asked Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) to prepare a detailed report for restoring four heritage buildings at the AU including the Vizianagram Hall. But after submission of this report, the varsity remained silent and finally asked RITES to undertake the restoration of the hall. RITES has now asked MS Stumbh, a firm specializing in restoring old havelis of Rajasthan, to conduct a three-dimensional detailed survey of the hall before the restoration work is started.

Later, a three-member committee, having best of the brains in terms of conservation of heritage buildings in the country, was formed by the AU authorities. The members included INTACH convenor ( Delhi Chapter) Prof A G K Menon, conservation architect Vikas Vedprakash Dilawari of Mumbai and director of Conservation and World Heritage Janhwij Sharma of Archeological Survey of India (ASI). The committee was to give its recommendation on the viability of the ambitious projects.

This high-powered committee visited AU in the last week of March this year and submitted its recommendations to AU V-C Prof Anil Kumar Singh.

The situation seems to be favouring the AU authorities as the three-member committee has advocated going ahead with the restoration work, part of funds for which are already lying with the AU authorities. Moreover, AU authorities have been given an additional period of six months to utilize the funds allocated under the XIth Five Year Plan.

Talking of the task assigned to the committee and its report, Prof Menon told TOI, "It is a very important task. While the AU authorities are trying to restore this beautiful piece of architecture, most of the other old universities have not bothered to preserve their architectural heritage."

"The AU authorities asked us to study the viability of the project and we convinced them that it is very important and should be carried out on a priority," Prof Menon said adding, "we inspected every nook and corner of the majestic building, including the walls, window, roof, etc., and are of the opinion that first the entire building should be made weather-proof and then the upgradation task should be carried out."

He added that once the building is made weather-proof, then the actual restoration work could be undertaken wherein paintings, wood work, walls, glass work, etc., would be repaired and changed as per the requirement. "Whichever agency undertakes the restoration work, it should take things on a priority basis and weigh different options as there is no set parameter for all the buildings. Once things have been tried out and the results are encouraging, the parameter could be undertaken for the entire building," he added.

The foundation stone of the building, earlier known as the Muir Central College, was laid by Governor-General of India Lord Northbrook on December 9, 1873. The college was named after Sir William Muir, Lt Governor of United Province. The building was designed by William Emerson, the architect who also designed the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata and Crawford Market in Mumbai in a unique combination of Indo-Saracenic, Egyptian and Gothic styles. The building took 12 years to complete and formally opened on April 8, 1886.

A visit to the famous buildings, the majestic Vizianagram Hall and the colossal tower besides it which has become synonymous to AU, will give one a feel of the condition. On entering the main Vizianagram Hall, which in its glorious days not only witnessed several meetings attended by raja's and was later used as examination centre for various exams conducted at the Science faculty, a visitor would be shocked to see dust and droppings of hundreds of pigeons who have made the building their home.

The life-size marble statue of George Simonds, standing majestically at one corner of the grand hall, too narrates the sorry tale of affairs with heaps of dust and pigeon dropping lining its contours. When this reporter took a closure look, it was found that the statue of Simonds had a book in his left hand. When the dust was cleared, it showed the guide map of Muir College, as the AU was known in its initial stages.

Commenting on the issue, AU PRO Prof P K Sahoo said: "This project is high on the agenda of the university. However, the restoration work takes its own time as it is not like a new construction work. After all, it's like restoring the grandeur of the old buildings."

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Tibetan Symbols

The Eight Auspicious Symbols in Tibetan Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism originated out of the Indian Tantric Buddhism and native Bon religion as early as the seventh century and all cultural and traditional aspects of the country are related in some way to the Buddhist religion. Due to the predominance of Tantra and its rich heritage of symbolism, Tibetan symbols flourish all around the country, linked to Tibetan Buddhism, culture and traditions, and are given great significance and importance.

Hidden Histories: The father of Fort Museum

Sriram V.
source:the Hindu  
The Fort Museum in Chennai.
The Fort Museum in Chennai.

Fort Museum is one of the most charming places in our city. On this site originally stood the house of Peter Massey Cassin, a free merchant — a term which meant that he was not in the employment of the East India Company but was actively running a probably illegal trade from which he and the Company employees benefited. Sometime in the 1780s, it appears to have become a haven for free merchants. A lottery was floated to fund the development of the building into a full-fledged commercial office and by 1790 it was partially open for use in its new avatar as The Exchange.
On the ground floor were warehouses, offices and a bank. On the first floor was the Long Room or Exchange Hall where merchants, brokers, bankers and ships' commanders could meet. The Exchange Coffee Tavern came up on the same floor, with Madeira being the preferred drink. In 1796, the roof sported a lighthouse. Twelve lamps, fuelled by coconut oil, lit the sea for 25 miles. Commerce flourished here until 1800, when the Fort became exclusively administrative and military, a function it still fulfills. The merchants moved into the city to establish their business houses.
Some 150 years later, the Exchange became the Fort Museum and this was thanks to a businessman — Lt. Col. Douglas Muir Reid. Born in 1894 in Morocco, Reid was educated in England and saw active service during the First World War. By the early 1920s, he was in Madras, working his way up to becoming a director at the leading firm – WA Beardsells. In 1925, he was married in Madras to Olive, the niece of a powerful agent of the M&SM Railway, Sir Alfred Ashley Biggs.
In 1936, Reid became a committee member of the exclusive Madras Chamber of Commerce and in 1938, its chairman. In that capacity he became a member of the Madras Legislative Council too.
Reid was a keen rower and secretary of the Madras Boat Club. He was a talented painter too, specialising in watercolours. In 1945, he along with D.P. Roy Chowdhury, principal of the College of Arts and Crafts, founded the South Indian Society of Painters.
In 1944, Reid mooted the idea of the Exchange becoming the Fort Museum, “for the exhibition of antiquities illustrating the historical evolution of the Province since the days of the East India Company.” He also funded the museum, which was completed in 1948. In between, he authored The Story of Fort St George, which was released in 1945. The slim volume is constructed like a guided tour of the Fort, perhaps Chennai's first heritage walk! The book is profusely illustrated with black and white sketches by Ismaena R Warren, an Irish artist.
Reid returned to England in 1947. He unsuccessfully contested for a House of Commons seat in 1950. What happened to him after that is not known. But we do owe him a debt of gratitude for the museum.

Monday, 9 April 2012

United Nations, April 6, 2012

Titanic’s wreckage to come under UNESCO protection


This undaged file photo shows the doomed liner the S.S. Titanic. April 15, 2012 is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.
AP/PA This undaged file photo shows the doomed liner the S.S. Titanic. April 15, 2012 is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

Titanic’s wreckage, which has remained at the bottom of the North Atlantic for 100 years, will now come under the protection of the United Nations’ cultural body that seeks to safeguard wrecks, decorated caves and other cultural relics underwater.
Till now, remains of the Titanic were not eligible for protection under UNESCO’s Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage, which applies only to wreckage that has remained submerged for at least 100 years.
As 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, the ship’s wreckage will now come under the cover of the UNESCO convention.
“The sinking of the Titanic is anchored in the memory of humanity and I am pleased that this site can now be protected by the UNESCO Convention,” UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Irina Bokova said in a statement on Thursday.
Ms. Bokova called on divers not to dump equipment or commemorative plaques on the Titanic site.
Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic on its maiden voyage and sank on the night of April 14, 1912.
The vestiges of the Titanic lie at a depth of 4,000 metres off the coast of Newfoundland. No single nation can claim the site because the wreck is in international waters.
States only have jurisdiction over wrecks lying in their own waters and flying their flag.
However, from now on states parties to the UNESCO convention can outlaw the destruction, pillage, sale and dispersion of objects found at the site.
They can take measures within their power to protect the wreck and ensure that the human remains there are treated with dignity.
The convention provides for a system of cooperation between states parties to prevent exploration deemed unscientific or unethical.
In accordance with the convention, they also have the authority to seize any illicitly recovered artefacts and close their ports to all vessels undertaking exploration that is not done according to the principles of the treaty.
While Ms. Bokova expressed satisfaction that the Titanic would now be properly safeguarded, she voiced concern over the damage and looting of the countless other ancient shipwrecks that new technology has made accessible.
“There are thousands of other shipwrecks that need safeguarding as well. All of them are archaeological sites of scientific and historical value.
“They are also the memory of human tragedy that should be treated with respect,” she said.
Adopted in 2001 by the General Conference of UNESCO, the convention aims to ensure better protection of wrecks, sites, decorated caves and other cultural relics underwater.
To date, 41 states have ratified the Convention for the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage, which entered into force in January 2009.

Act to save our heritage

The Hindu Editorial
April 9, 2012

The Tamil Nadu government's inexplicable delay in extending legal protective measures to heritage structures has cost the State yet another landmark building. A substantial portion of the century old P. Orr and Sons building in Chennai, home to the earliest watch ‘manufacturing' firm in South India, will be demolished to make way for an ancillary structure of a Metro railway station. A petition to prevent this demolition — filed by the Chennai chapter of INTACH — was dismissed by the Madras High Court on Wednesday. Of the issues raised by this case and the judgment, one with a larger import is the absence of legal protection for heritage structures. While the rest of the world recognises the value historic buildings bring to a city's culture and even economy, policymakers in India simply don't get it. Often, only monuments such as palaces and religious structures are officially recognised as legacy structures and conserved, leaving out a host of other buildings which are no less significant in historical and architectural terms. No amount of public protest can prevent the bulldozer since, at the end of the day, when the agitation to save these vulnerable and venerable buildings reaches the courts, it is only the point of law that prevails. Though legislation is not the only way to protect heritage, without it, our valuable structures cannot effectively be conserved.

Not all State governments move on leaden feet. States such as Maharashtra, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh quickly realised the importance of heritage and adopted a variety of legal measures to safeguard them. West Bengal enacted a comprehensive Heritage Commission Act, which covers the entire State, and creates an institutional arrangement to identify heritage buildings and recommend measures to protect them. In addition, individual local bodies, such as the Kolkata Municipal Corporation have amended their respective Acts to constitute a Heritage Conservation Committee with the Municipal Commissioner as its head. Mumbai was the first city in India to legally notify heritage buildings as early as 1995. Such measures have made a vast difference to conservation efforts. The objective of these measures is not to prohibit the use of old buildings, but creatively to manage changes without losing the heritage value. This is not impossible to achieve. London, which is one of the largest modern cities in the world with more than 18,000 heritage buildings and 155 monuments, is a case in point. The Tamil Nadu government, without any further delay, should put in place a comprehensive legal framework that will be effective State wide, and also empower local bodies to protect all extant, precious old structures.