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HC takes up PIL seeking protection of the Majuli island
The largest inhabited river island
in the world, the Majuli island, located in the
Brahmaputra River of the Jorhat district in eastern
Assam has been under a serious threat due to river
erosion since the past few decades defying all the
protective measures taken by the government agencies
concerned to safeguard the landmass of the island.
Due to its unique socio-cultural
and natural environment, the Majuli island is now a
contender for the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage tag.
The Majuli island is integral to the Vaishnavite culture
and religion and is inhabited by several ethnic
communities. Treating the problem of erosion as serious,
Manoj Kumar Borah, an inhabitant has filed a Public
Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Gauhati High Court
seeking court’s intervention in protecting the Majuli
island and its people.
The PIL (84/2010) has been taken up
by a division bench of the High Court comprising of
Chief Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice K Meruno. The
petitioner has stated that the various authorities
responsible for building an embankment to prevent flood
erosions have failed miserably despite the huge
expenditure incurred on it over the years.
The petitioner said the actions of
the respondents were arbitrary, illegal unfair,
unreasonable and unconstitutional. As many as 12 parties
have been made respondents, including the Central Water
The petitioner has mentioned has
mentioned that the root cause of the soil erosion in the
island has been the 1950 earthquake that affected Assam
and changed the course of the east-west flowing
Bhramaputra River. This changed course has subjected the
Majuli Island to continuous flood erosion.
The erosion has reduced the area of
Majuli Island to 450 sq km from its 1950 area of 1256 sq
km. Many Vaishnavite monasteries (satras), villages,
government establishments and vast agriculture lands
have been eroded by the river.
1 October 2010, The Tribune
J&K tribals want restoration of Gujjar monuments
The tribals of Jammu and Kashmir
have issued a nationwide appeal for joint community
efforts to restore the pristine glory of all historic
monuments (in SNS photo) related to the Gujjar
Partiharas period, which spanned from 6th century AD to
11th century AD in the northern states of India.
Dr Javaid Rahi, secretary, Tribal
Research and Cultural Foundation, a frontal organisation
of Gujjars in Jammu and Kashmir, said that hundreds of
prestigious historical monuments from the Gujjar period
are lying in a shambles and are on the verge of
extinction in different states of Northern India.
“The Gurjara-Pratihara kings (6th
to 11th AD) were great builders. One of the main rulers
of the Gujjar clan Raja Mihir Bhoj, was an outstanding
patron of architecture.
A numbers of forts, buildings and
temples of North India which were built under his
patronage are now in pathetic conditions,” said Dr Rahi.
Notable sculptures of this period, which are now in a
shambles, include Viswaroopa form of Vishnu and the
Marriage of Siva and Parvati from Kannauj.
Besides, the beautifully-carved
panels on the walls of temples at Osian, Abhaneri and
Kota and the female figure ~ Sursundari ~ exhibited in
He said it was shocking to see the
deteriorating condition of various ancient architecture
including buildings, forts, sculptures, temples built by
the Gujjar-Pratihara kings.
He appealed to the community
members, organisations, trusts, government and
non-government organisations to join hands together to
restore old monuments of their ancestors which are
endangered but still portraying vibrant picture of the
Gujjar era in India. Communications in this regard were
also sent to chief ministers of Rajasthan, Madhya
Pradesh, Gujarat and other states with a plea to start
restoration of all historic buildings of Gujjar period,
His organisation has also written
to the Union minister of culture to declare the main
forts, temples and other structures built by
Gurjara-Pratihara kings as “Protected Monuments of
India” and has also sent a list of most threatened
monuments of the Gujjar Period to the government of
India with an appeal for immediate steps for their
1 October 2010, The Statesman
Brihadeeswara temple, built about 1,000 years ago by Chola ruler Raja Raja I, showcases the best of temple architecture not only in Tamil Nadu, but also across the nation, says V Shanmuganthan
About 1,000 years ago, Chola king
Raja Raja I built a majestic temple for Lord Shiva in
Thanjavur (Tanjore), Tamil Nadu. Called by different
names — Peruvuidayar Kovil, Brihadeeswara temple,
Rajarajeswaram — it is on the rolls of the UNESCO
heritage sites as part of the circuit called “Great
Living Chola Temples”.
The Tamil Nadu Government recently
organised a grand function, spanning over five days, to
celebrate the millennium of its consecration. A
scintillating Bharatnatyam recital by 1,000 artistes,
led by eminent danseuse Padma Subrahmanyam, left the
audience spell-bound. A host of events, including
exhibitions, cultural shows, seminars and deliberations,
were also organised to mark the occasion.
Tamil Nadu remains the last resort of classical India,
whether it’s temple architecture, dance, or even vocal
and instrumental music. It hosts the oldest living
temples in the country, which remained unaffected from
the attacks of Turks, Mughals and Bahmani invaders.
Temples in ancient India were not merely centres of
religion, but also art, culture, literature and
vocational training. The Brihadeeswara temple stands as
a reminder of our great culture, art, architecture,
religion and language. It is also a symbol of the
prosperity and prowess of the Chola dynasty, which
expanded its empire across the Indian Ocean.
The construction of this temple began in 1003 AD and was
completed in six years, before being consecrated in 1010
AD. The archaeological feature of the temple is its
vimana (temple tower), standing 216 feet tall. The
summit stone weighing about 80 tonnes was dragged on to
the top through a slope path from a distant village,
Sarapallam. It rises over the sanctum, on a square base
about 100 feet, and dominates the whole structure. Its
shadow never falls on the ground.
Raja Raja, who reigned between 985 and 1014 AD, was
known for land and naval conquests. He found peace at
the feet of Lord Shiva. The construction of the
Brihadeeswara temple coincides with a visible shift in
his policies from military expansion to internal
administration. He, however, neglected external and
The distinct feature of the Brihadeeswara temple is
magnificent monolith Nandi bull, facing the temple
tower. The shrines of Goddess Brihanayaki, Ganapati,
Subrmanya, Dakshinamurty and Nataraja are finely carved.
The corridor surrounding the sanctum is a treasure chest
of Chola painting and sculpture. The walls of this
cave-like corridor were plastered with lime and used as
a large canvas for the paintings. The paintings, which
have survived time and a 17th century coat of paint, are
beautiful in colour and accuracy.
The story of Sundaramurthy Nayanar reaching Kailash on a
white elephant is depicted on another wall. Karuvur
Thevar, the guru of Raja Raja, is portrayed in an
impressive manner. While the sculptures of Shiva in this
corridor are imposing, a series of 81 dance poses are
superb illustrations of the Natya Sastra.
There is a story about the personal interest that the
king evinced in the construction of the temple. It is
said that one day, when the chief sculptor was deeply
absorbed in chiselling the huge Nandi, Raja Raja went
and stood by his side. The sculptor, thinking that it
was his boy attendant, ordered him to prepare a pan
(betel leaf with araca nut and lime). The king calmly
obliged, folded a couple of betel leaves and handed it
over to the sculptor, who received it without seeing the
hands. Chewing the pan, the sculptor started uttering
words of praise, appreciating the king who planned this
monument. Later, he asked his attendant to bring the
spittoon near him. The king silently obeyed. When the
sculptor raised his head after spitting the chewed betel
leaves, he was shocked to see Raja Raja standing in
front of him. Immediately, he touched the feet of the
king with tears and made an apology in a voice choked
with emotion. The king, with a smiling face, lifted him
up and consoled him by saying that it was a rare
privilege for him to serve the sculptor whose hands
chiselled the works of the magnificent temple.
Raja Raja, though a worshipper of Shiva, was tolerant
towards the members of other faiths. He endowed and
built temple of Maha Vishnu. He also granted a village
to the Buddhist vihara in Nagappattinam.
The Brihadeeswara temple was not act of royal fancy. It
is iconic of the glory of Tamil Shaiva Siddhanta. Among
the two principal schools of the Bhakti cult in south
India, Shaivism has a larger following. In Tamil
districts of Sri Lanka as well, Shaivism holds sway.
In Shaiva Siddhanta, Shiva is believed to exercise the
functions of creation, protection, destruction. These
functions He is said to discharge with a view to release
the struggling souls from the bondage of karma. The goal
of individual souls is to realise that it is made of
Shiva-tatva (element of Shiva), and though not merging
in Shiva, remain at its feet like beloved child.
The icon of Lord Nataraja is most symbolic of Saiva
Siddhanta. Temple worship is an indispensable part of
Saiva Siddhanta. That might explain why Tamils have an
image of orthodox and scrupulous temple-goers.
Raja Raja’s period saw the flourishing of Shaivism. This
had been made possible by the presence of Nayanar saints
in previous centuries. The heart-melting hymns (devaram)
to Lord Shiva by Sambandar, Appar, Sundaramurthy and
Manikkavasagar made the difference. They were the
pioneers of the Bhakti movement that later swept other
parts of the country.
3 October 2010, The Pioneer
Delhi heritage glows in Games
For heritage lovers in Delhi, the
Commonwealth Games have brought along the golden
opportunity to revisit its world-famous monuments,
especially after sundown. About 17 monuments under Delhi
government's Department of Archaeology and another 11,
protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI),
have been illuminated in time for the Commonwealth
The Delhi Archaeology Department
completed work on 17 monuments earlier this week,
including several lesser-known structures like Bara Lao
Ka Gumbad in Vasant Vihar.
After much delay, the India Tourism
Development Corporation finally completed lighting in
the remaining ASI monuments, with Minister for Tourism
Kumari Selja presiding over the inaugura1 function at
the Khan-e-Khanan tomb at Bhogal, Nizamuddin.
As the night progresses, the
lighting makes the illumination sharper," said Ravi
Pandit, ITDC vice-president (Engineering).
However, as against the promised
'entry at night' to view monuments from the inside, the
ASI would not be opening up any of its monuments to
visitors during night.
Surekha Narain, who leads Heritage
Walks in Delhi, pointed out: "They close down the
monuments at sunset. How do we access the insides?"
Director General (ASI) Dr Gautam
Sengupta said: "In view of the directions from the Delhi
Police and keeping in view security concerns, we are not
allowing visitors inside the monuments during the Games.
The decision on timings after the Games would be taken
3 October 2010, Hindustan Times
UNESCO team to
visit Visva-Bharati varsity
KOLKATA: A United Nations
Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation
(UNESCO) team will be visiting the Visva-Bharati
University, Santiniketan, this week to consider the
possibility of declaring it a world heritage site.
The Ministry of Culture, through
the Archaeological Survey of India, sent a dossier to
the UNESCO earlier this year nominating Santiniketan as
India's official entry for World Heritage Sites.
A review committee from the UNESCO
would examine the proposal and visit the premises
including Uttarayan, the complex where the residences of
Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore were located, the
archives and museums and various other buildings which
house murals, frescos and paintings, said a senior
The team would also meet officials,
cultural personalities and experts after which would
consider the proposal and see whether the Vishva Bharati
can be declared a heritage site. They would also see
which areas of the University's sprawling 150 acre
campus could be included.
Santiniketan was nominated as the
official entry in 2010 keeping in mind that the country
is celebrating the 150 th Birth Anniversary of the
National Poet this year.
If the nomination is accepted
Santiniketan will become the 30 th site in India to be
declared so and the third in West Bengal. The Sunderbans
National Park and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway,
popularly known as the “toy-train” were declared World
Heritage sites in 1987 and 1999 respectively.
Officials say that the 150-acre
campus can be divided into the core area which consists
of the Ashram, Uttarayan, Kala Bhavan, Sangeet Bhavan
and the Rabindra Bhavan and buffer area around it.
What began as a school in 1901,
started by Rabindranath Tagore transformed into a unique
experiment in education. After he won the Nobel Prize in
1913, the school was expanded into a university. It was
renamed Visva-Bharati defining the poet's vision as a
place “where the world makes a home in a nest.”
4 October 2010, Hindu
Gateway to the past
Anegundi is happily a medley of the
ancient, the mythological, the holy and the historic
A couple of langurs greets us, as I
listen to my guide Virupaksha gush about his hometown.
“Anegundi is older than Hampi — in fact, this is the
It's a medley of the ancient (cave
paintings of prehistoric men), the mythical (it's said
to be the Kishkintha of The Ramayana), the holy (the
Pampa Sarovar flows here), and the historic (ruins of
forts, palaces, temples and gateways…). But, most
importantly, Anegundi is a lively settlement that opens
its doors to most tourists who visit Hampi.
A fisherman and his wife are busy
making nets near the Tallarighata Gate, as we sip tea in
a small shack, talking to a few old women, lost in the
passage of time. “You will find another gate in Hampi,”
says Virupaksha, and explains that during the
Vijayanagar dynasty, it was at these gates that toll or
taxes were collected from people entering from other
For a prayer
An auto driver decides to take us
on a whirlwind tour of Anegundi. We see the village, the
palace, the main entry gates, and then climb up the old
Durga fort listening to more stories. “The Vijayanagar
kings used to pray here before every battle. Then, they
went to the Pampa Sarovar and the Lakshmi temple there,”
enlightens Virupaksha. We climb further to see an
ancient entrance to the fort, the ruins of a palace and
“Kishkinta means a forest where
monkeys lived,” explains Virupaksha, about the Hanuman
Temple atop the Anjanadri Hill, which takes 400 steps to
As we lose ourselves in the green
fields below, bordered by the boulders, Virupaksha says
the last coracle will leave for Hampi soon.
A few minutes later, sitting
precariously on the coracle that's carrying two bikes
and a dozen people, I cross the Tungabhadra. My thoughts
move to a passage in the book “A Forgotten Empire:
Vijayanagar” by Robert Sewell which narrates
observations by a 16th Century Portuguese traveller
He mentions that the coracle was
used even then to carry “fifteen to twenty persons and
even horses and oxen can cross in them if necessary”.
Paes adds: “People cross to this place by boats which
are like baskets, inside they are made of cane and
outside of leather… and the boats are always turning
round, as they cannot go straight like others; in all
the kingdoms where there are streams there are no other
boats than these”.
It is interesting, I think, as we
reach Hampi, that the coracle lives along with the
monuments from the Vijayanagar days…
4 October 2010, Hindu
Where the Sarus thrives...
Sarus cranes abound in landscapes dominated by crops. K S Gopi Sundar, a Bangalorean who is developing a new programme called ''Sarus Scape'', has sought to understand factors that maximise persistence of birds in the rice-wheat belt of Uttar Pradesh, writes Sunil Kumar M
To say K S Gopi Sundar is interested
in cranes would be an understatement. Hailing from
Bangalore, he spends most of his time trying to save
cranes and their habitats across south Asia with
governments, NGOs, scientists, naturalists and anyone
else who cares. He has been selected for a project on
Sarus cranes at the Wildlife Institute of India. Gopi
discovered hitherto unknown facts about this elegant
species, and was subsequently invited by the
International Crane Foundation (ICF) to continue his
work on Sarus cranes.
Gopi is an invited member of several
IUCN specialist groups, author of scientific papers and
popular-science features. He is currently developing a
new programme ‘Sarus Scape’ for ICF to be housed in
Explaining the relevance of saving the Sarus crane with
reference to India, he says, “The Sarus crane is unique
in having most of its population occurring outside of
Protected Areas in India. The primary breeding
population of this species occurs in paddy fields in
Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. This means that a
conservation ethos limited by protected areas would be
wholly inadequate for the Sarus crane and species like
Impact on other species
He points out that work focusing on Sarus cranes has led
to important findings on other species. For example, he
says that it is now fairly well-established that the
maximum population of the declining and near-threatened
black-necked storks also occur in landscapes dominated
by crops. This is based on previously published
information on this species that said that relatively
large and undisturbed wetlands are required for the
Gopi Sundar’s research throws light on the importance of
semi-wild patches near agricultural fields. Northern
India, his research shows, is one of the four most
intensively cultivated landscapes globally. Most of the
landscape has been converted to croplands in Punjab,
Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, and most of the fields
produce multiple harvests each year.
Pointing out that these systems are not your classic
locations for wildlife, he explains that they are still
performing amazingly well as landscapes that provide
food to humans and retain concentrations of globally
threatened species like Sarus cranes.
Studies in Uttar Pradesh have revealed the importance of
non-crop patches – like wetlands, woodlands, grasslands
and scrub – in helping maintain populations of Sarus
cranes and other species. Sarus crane numbers mirror the
amount of wetlands – more wetlands mostly mean more
cranes, particularly when the primary crop during the
monsoon is flooded paddy. Areas with more non-crop
patches invariably have more number of bird species and
more birds per se.
Sundar’s studies show that a combination of favourable
farmer attitudes and their habit of retaining some
non-crop patches have helped conserve over 300 species
of birds. Most non-crop patches are commonlands,
especially wetlands and grasslands useful for grazing
cattle and collecting natural products like lotus,
reeds, clay and silt. These patches are used greatly by
the needy, leading to panchayat-level institutional
mechanisms that disallow conversions of these areas to
Linked to high human populationn
Ironically, a high human population and use of such
patches by humans have led to improving the landscape
for birds in these areas. Attrition of these non-crop
patches, however, continues in part due to corruption
and due to changing climatic conditions that sometimes
force farmers to expand croplands into these erstwhile
Gopi Sundar’s current work seeks to understand factors
that maximise persistence of birds in the rice-wheat
belt of Uttar Pradesh. His work has improved
understanding of the distribution and habitat
requirements of over 200 species of birds. Species
previously regarded as being largely “woodland species”
such as the Bluethroat, were seen in good numbers in
rice and/or wheat fields suggesting a much wider ability
by some species to adapt to changes in land use. Some
species previously not known to occur widely in Uttar
Pradesh were found to be widespread. For example, the
Grey-headed Lapwing, Spotted Redshank, Marsh Sandpiper,
Brown Rockchat and Red-headed bunting occur throughout
the Gangetic floodplains in the winter.
The Sarus crane (Krauncha) is revered in Hindu
mythology. Is this helping its conservation? Explains
Gopi Sundar, “The Ramayana begins with the story of the
sage Valmiki walking along the Ganga and encountering a
pair of Sarus cranes dancing. One was shot by an arrow
of a hunter causing anguish to the sage who cursed the
hunter in verse.
“This is an example of the human emotions that this
species evokes. A pair of Sarus Cranes is thought to
bond for life – in the event that one dies, the other is
supposed to die in grief. These and other similar
stories in rural India have helped in farmers developing
great reverence towards the species.”
5 October 2010, Deccan Herald
Many new species found in Indian Ocean
The blue ocean encircling India from both sides has revealed many new species, including two deep-sea sponges, as part of the world’s most exhaustive marine life survey that revealed close to 2,50,000 new under-water varieties.
The Census of Marine Life, which has
taken years, also indicates that there may still be
7,50,000 more new creatures in the ocean. And the Indian
Ocean remains virtually unexplored.
“The Indian Ocean is poorly explored
scientifically when compared to other oceans. According
to available literature, over 24,000 marine species
(plants and animals) are recorded from the region. But
it is based on very limited surveys.
“A detailed coastal as well as deep sea study have to be
initiated by India, if we are concerned in knowing ‘what
is available where’ in our EEZ and beyond,” Baban Ingole,
a scientist from the National Institute of Oceanography
(NIO), Panaji, told Deccan Herald.
Ingole and his colleagues at the NIO are part of a team
that contributed to the global Census, results of which
were released in London on Monday.
The NIO team recorded four new species, including two
deep sea sponges, from the Andaman Sea. One of the
sponges was found in a volcanic sea mount at a depth of
705 metre near the Andaman Islands. The team is working
on establishing the novelty of two other new species.
“In addition, we do have many new species which are
reported for first time from the Indian Ocean region.
They include deep-sea brachiopods, spongen and small
lobstor. Also, there are many species such as nematode
worms, a spider, hipe corals, deep-sea brittle stars and
gorgonian and crustaceans, which are yet to be
identified,” he said.
More than 2,700 scientists have helped to compile the
census, with more than 540 expeditions to visit all of
the world’s oceans. The new species discovered include
the blind lobster with a long, spiny, pincer, which were
found 300 metre below the surface in the Philippine Sea.
“This inventory was needed as marine species suffered
major declines—in some cases 90 per cent losses—due to
human activities and may be heading towards extinction,
as happened to many species on land,” said Mark John
Costello, professor at the University of Auckland.
For every marine species, Census scientists estimate
that at least more are yet to be discovered. Scientists
believe more than 70 per cent of fish species have been
discovered, but for most other groups likely less than
one-third are known. Scientists believe that the
tropics, deep seas and southern hemisphere hold the most
undiscovered marine species.
With India’s exclusive economic zone all set to
increase, discoveries of economically important species
are certainly considered significant, said Ingole.
5 October 2010, Deccan Herald
Colours of Haveri
Haveri district has many surprises. Ancient temples, a peacock sanctuary, a black buck sanctuary and old tanks all add up to the rich culture and heritage of the district. But many places are yet to become major tourist attractions owing to inadequate information about these spots.
Haveri district is known for its
rich culture and heritage. It is well-known for its
contribution to literature, folklore and communal
harmony. The Haveri region also has several places of
The district headquarters, Haveri,
is home to the 12th century temple called
Purasiddeshwaraa. The temple was constructed during the
time of Armadi Vikramaditya in 1109 AD. The brilliant
architecture of the temple is difficult to describe in
words. The Ugra Narasimha temple in the town is also
known for its beautiful sculpture.
The historic Heggeri Kere is just two kilometres away
from Haveri. The tank, spread across 100 acres looks
like a sea, when one spots it from the National
Highway-4. The tank attracts several migratory birds
Travel 40 kms from Haveri, and you’ll find the
Galaganatheshwara temple built at Galaganatha village.
The temple has been built in the style of the Kalyana
Chalukyas. The star-shaped foundation, the huge Linga
all draw attention. The temple has the idols of deities
such as Vishnu, Saraswathi, Janardhana, Ganapathi, Surya
and Mahishasura Mardhini among others.
The famous Someshwara temple that has been built on the
banks of the Tungabhadra in Haralahalli of Haveri taluk
is also an important tourist attraction. The temple has
a mix of Hoysala and Chalukyan architectural styles. The
temple has three sanctum santora, but a common navaranga.
The Nagareshwara temple in Shiggaon taluk is housed in a
big fort spread across 139 acres. The main draw of the
temple, built in the Chalukyan style, are the huge
pillars, sixty in number. A huge storage tank carved out
of a single stone is another attraction in the temple.
Forty five kilometres from Haveri is the Ekakutachala
Tarakeshwara temple at Hanagal. It has a multi-angular
shaped foundation. There are pictorial descriptions of
episodes from the Ramayana, Mahabharatha and Bharatha
around the temple. The sanctum sanctorum houses a linga.
Chowdadanayyapura, 35 kilometres from Haveri is the
birthplace of 12th century Vachana composer Ambigara
Chowdayya. The ‘seat’ of Chowdayya has been built on the
banks of the river Tungabhadra. It is said that Palegars
who belonged to the ‘Gutta’ clan built the Mukteshwara
temple in the village. The Shanteshwara temple (in
nearby Satenahalli), Balambida’s Rameshwara temple,
Ratti halli’s Kadambeshwara temple and Chinna Mulgund’s
Chikkeshwara temple all mirror the rich architectural
legacy of the region. All these temples are in excellent
condition, and are well-maintained.
Home to peacocks
Shiggaon taluk’s Bankapura, 22 kilometres from Haveri,
is home to a rare peacock sanctuary. The bird sanctuary
spread across 134 acres, is home to over 2,000 peacocks.
You can get to watch flocks of them everyday before 7 am
or after 6 pm. Bus facilities are available from Haveri
Twenty six kilometres away from Haveri and ten
kilometres from Shiggaon is Bada village, the birthplace
of the great Kanakadasa, a sixteenth century devotee,
poet and composer.
There is a temple dedicated to the great man here. In
the excavations that were conducted nearby, remains of a
palace belonging to Kanakadasa, and other artefacts of
those times were found. The Kaginele Development
Authority is overseeing the development of this region.
The Authority was formed by the government in 2007 with
the aim of converting Kaginele into a tourist centre of
international importance. Kaginele was where Kanakadasa
is said to have spent his years, and is 15 kilometres
from Haveri. Kaginele houses the Keshava temple, where
Kanakadasa is said to have prayed.
The tomb of another famous mystic poet Shishunala
Shariff is situated 42 kilometres from Haveri. His
spiritual mentor Guru Govind Bhat’s samadhi is also
nearby. The state government has given the go-ahead to
construct a Yatri Nivas for tourists at a cost of Rs 50
Then, there is the birthplace of Sarvagna. Abalur, which
is in Hirekerur taluk, 40 kilometres from Haveri, was
once a Jain centre, and then a Shaivite place of worship
post-12th century. The birthplace of the medieval
composer Sarvagna is home to many temples. The
government installed the statue of Sarvagna here, some
Black buck sanctuary
There is a black buck sanctuary near Ranebennur, spread
across 125 acres belonging to the forest department.
This protected sanctuary has over 6,000 black bucks.
The district is a treasure for every tourist, but thanks
to a lack of publicity and inadequate information, it
has not quite become a major tourist draw.
5 October 2010, Deccan Herald
A wealth of weaves
With the onset of Commonwealth Games, the National Museum is entertaining tourists with impressive merchandise and Indian handicrafts from across the country, says Ila Sankrityayan
With dazzling shelves, elegant
designer knick-knacks and collectables, Handicrafts and
Handlooms Export Corporation at the National Museum is
the best bet for those looking to buy unique and elegant
Thanks to the tourist traffic due to Commonwealth Games,
the shop has been renovated with black coloured painted
walls and attractive shelves. The renovation took a
total of three months. “We approached HHEC and advised
them to make the store more beautiful and well
presentable as hundreds of foreign tourists are expected
during CWG. We gave special attention towards the proper
display of everything,” Nishee Kumari, the marketing
executive of the shop. On the front wall of the shop is
a traditionally designed red coloured wall hanging and
on the right wall a maverick painting depicts Purana
Quila, Qutub Minar, Jama Masjid, autoswalas and gardens.
Below the painting stands a wooden shelf showcasing
inlay work on marbles from Agra and paper mache
potteries with golden carvings from Kashmir. “All these
works depicts different styles from Kashmir, Agra and
Gujarat. For instance, this round pot is called moss
agate and comes from Gujarat,” Kumari says, pointing at
There is also an interesting amalgamation of daggers
with silver koftgari inlay work from Jaipur and bindri
craft from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka including black
coloured bowls, bangles, flower vases, surahi and
The shop also boasts of shirts with Dara Shikov and
Jahangir paintings, scarves and shawls using crape with
miniature paintings. Kumar explains, “All these items
are designed by Vivek Sahni and the use of Mughal art is
very evident on these fabrics.”
Potteries and shivling made of clay, bronze statues of
Ganesh, Vishnu, Shiva and other religious gods designed
by artist Narsimahan from Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu also
make a part of the collection. notepads, diaries and
books on art and literature, woolen and miniature
painting shawls, chandi thal from Jaipur and statues
made of fibre glasses that are museum reproduces.
The shop has exotic range of bracelets, ear rings, neck
pieces and rings made up of semi precious stones and
silver with gold plating. “Most of these jewellery
pieces come from Jaipur except the rudraksha and silver
beads,” reveals Kumari.
Looking around the shop one can see magnificent
Madhubani art on window panes. Other collectables of
shop include cushions with Mughal coins and well
decorated woman over it, funky hand bags and laptop bags
and a wall-hanging with cow motifs designed by Delhi
based designer Vikram Goel. “This wall hanging is based
on Pichwai art in Rajasthan around Shrinath temples in
Udaipur, being a avatar of Lord Krishna cow motifs are
used as Krishna loves cows,” concludes Kumari. The price
range starts from 100 rupees and goes upto one lakh
5 October 2010, The Pioneer
Wildlife Resources in Orissa Face Doomsday
Massive urbanisation and
industrialisation in Orissa is now taking its toll on
the wildlife resources. This apart, the alleged apathy
of the state government also threatens the very
existence of the wildlife.
Although it is mandatory that the
State Board for Wildlife must meet every six months to
oversee implementation of the wildlife conservation
programmes, the high-power body, chaired by the chief
minister Naveen Patnaik, has not met even once in the
last two years. Similarly, there has been no meeting of
the honorary wildlife wardens for the last two years,
according to wild life experts.
“During the ongoing Wildlife Week celebrations, poachers
are busy hunting endangered wildlife in Orissa’s forest
areas. The forest department, which has a constitutional
mandate to protect wildlife, has some misplaced
priorities in place as it has turned into a contractor
executing various works like National Rural Employment
Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), tourism projects and tribal
livelihood projects. With a state obsessed with mining
and industrialisation, wildlife has little chance to
survive in face of rapid loss of habitat,” said Biswajit
Mohanty, secretary, Wildlife Society of Orissa, on
Orissa is unique in many ways in the country’s wildlife.
About 19 species of amphibians, 110 species of reptiles,
476 species of birds, 86 species of mammals are reported
from the state. The country’s largest migratory fowl
(more than 700,000) congregation is found at the Chilka
lake and the world’s largest mass nesting site for sea
turtles is at Gahirmatha.
Similarly, the presence of Irrawaday dolphins in the
Chilika lake is unique in the world attracting
But the wild animals are under threat from greedy
poachers. “Way back in April 1996, on the basis of our
information, the forest department seized 21 leopard
skins exposing rampant illegal trade in big cat body
parts. In 2005, eleven leopard skins and a pistol were
seized from various traders and poachers in Phulbani and
Gajapati district,” Mr Mohanty lamented.
Official reports say that 231 elephants were killed by
poachers, 166 died due to accidents and 173 died to
natural causes in the last 19 years. In the last decade,
at least 155 elephants have died due to electrocution.
The recent mass killings of elephants in Simlipal Tiger
Reserve, a protected area exposed the nexus between
poachers and the local official, who even destroyed
bodies of dead elephants.
“From 226 tigers in 1993, we have now about 50 in 2008
(All India tiger census done by Wildlife Institute of
India) in Orissa. Due to active operation of poachers
inside Simlipal, the local tiger population is believed
to be almost wiped with the WII census reporting less
than 20 tigers in 2008,” Mr Mohanty added.
Thousands of endangered Olive Ridleys turtles perish
every year due to illegal trawling and non-use of Turtle
Excluder Devices (TED). More than 1,40,000 turtles have
been killed during the last 14 years. “Crocodiles, water
monitors and snakes are regularly trapped and killed for
skins. More than 700 juvenile gharial crocodiles were
released in the Mahanadi river Satkosia gorge during the
1970s and early 1980s. Only two survived since most of
them have been killed for their skins,” Mr Mohanty
6 October 2010, The Asian Age
Fire destroys Nainital heritage bldg
A major fire apparently sparked off
by a short-circuit swept through the century-old
Collector's Building in Nainital on Tuesday morning and
reduced the heritage building to ashes.
No casualty was reported, the police
said, adding the blaze lasted about five hours. All the
16 spacious rooms of building housing Uttarakhand
government offices were gutted, sources said. The
Collectorate Building, built in 1898, is located at
Tallital area of Nainital.
Nainital District Magistrate Shailesh Baigauli said
while the exact cost of the property is yet to be
ascertained, the overall losses could be to the tune of
6 October 2010, The Times of India
British shame fetches cash in Britain
A British auction house today sold
for £769,250 a series of 24 rare paintings commemorating
almost the worst defeat suffered by the British in
The sale price was “very near the
top estimate for the lot” — £650,000-850,000 — that had
been predicted by Sotheby’s in London.
In the Battle of Pollilur, which took place on September
10, 1780, Tipu Sultan and his father, Haydar Ali, of the
kingdom of Mysore, inflicted a heavy defeat with many
casualties on the forces of the East India Company
commanded by Colonel William Baille.
Pollilur is near the city of Kanchipuram in present-day
The 24 “preparatory” paintings, which were done on rice
paper shortly after the battle — “the colours are so
vivid they emanate the noise and fury of battle”— were
originally part of two long scrolls, each 7ft by 30ft.
They were included among 400 lots that went under the
hammer at Sotheby’s biannual “Arts of the Islamic World”
sale, with the auction house expecting to realise more
than Pound10 million.
Following the Battle of Pollilur, Tipu commissioned a
mural which was duly installed in the Daria Daulat
Palace, Seringapatam in1784. The preparatory paintings,
almost certainly the work of an Indian artist — or
possibly a master working with his pupils — were used to
draw the mural.
While the British lost this particular battle, Sotheby’s
points out, they went on to defeat Tipu Sultan at the
Battle of Seringapatam on May 4, 1799 — “the final
confrontation of the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War between the
British East India Company and the Kingdom of Mysore”.
In 1791, the mural had been painted over following the
Treaty of Mysore, when Tipu was forced to surrender his
two sons as hostages. It says much for the British that
the mural was subsequently restored, even though it
featured a British defeat. The restoration was done
using the preparatory paintings for referencing.
The British love of Indian art got the better of them,
according to experts at Sotheby’s.
The restoration is attributed to one of the commanding
officers who attended the siege in 1799, Colonel Arthur
Wellesley, later 1st Duke of Wellington, “one of the
most celebrated and renowned figures in British military
The scrolls with the preparatory paintings were chopped
up into 24 paintings which have survived in remarkably
The paintings were acquired by Captain John William
Freese in approximately 1802. Freese was a member of the
Madras Artillery and played an important role in the
siege of Seringapatam in 1799; in 1802 he was appointed
Commissary of Stores at Seringapatam.
7 October 2010, The Telegraph
Arunachal language ‘found’, doubt creeps in
A previously unknown language has
been uncovered in the far reaches of Arunachal Pradesh,
researchers have said.
Koro, a tongue apparently new to the
world and which is spoken by just 800 to 1,200 people,
could soon face extinction as younger speakers abandon
it for more widely used Hindi or English.
Koro is unlike any language in the various branches of
the Tibeto-Burman family, a collection of 400 related
languages used by peoples across Asia, according to the
two National Geographic researchers who announced the
discovery on Tuesday.
The findings will be published in the journal Indian
The researchers, linguists K. David Harrison of
Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and Gregory D.S.
Anderson, director of the Living Tongues Institute for
Endangered Languages in Salem, Oregon, said they were
not sure yet how old Koro was or how it developed.
Anderson and Harrison, along with Indian colleague
Ganesh Murmu, came across Koro by chance in 2008.
(However, the Assam chapter of Indian National Trust for
Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) has disagreed with
the report, saying Koro was not an unknown language in
the region and linguistic experts were aware of
existence of the language, adds our Guwahati Bureau.
Dinesh Baishya, the convener of the state chapter of
Intach, told The Telegraph that an international
conference on endangered languages of India last year
discussed the language.
“I attended the conference. Uday Narayan Singh, a
professor of Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan, and former
director of the Central Institute of Indian Languages,
Mysore, presented a paper on ‘Sense of Danger and
Overview of Endangered Languages’ during the conference.
Among other languages of Arunachal Pradesh, the paper
talked about Koro language,” Baishya added.
Baishya said although Koro might have few speakers, one
could not claim that the language was “discovered”. He,
however, said efforts should be made to preserve and
protect the language.
Educationist Tabu Ram Taid, who is closely associated
with the preservation and development of endangered
tribal languages namely his mother tongue Mising, said
he had not heard about Koro. He said a language became
extinct or died when it was not spoken by the people.
“Koro might have met the same fate. But the point is now
to preserve Koro. Apart from speaking, one must develop
writing the language to prevent it from vanishing,” Taid
Harrison said the speakers of Koro had remained
invisible to outside observers because their bright red
garments, the rice beer they made and other details of
their lives seemed no different from that of the
speakers of Aka, the socially dominant language in the
“There’s a sort of a cultural invisibility; they’re
culturally identical in what they wear, what they eat,
the houses they live in.... They just happen to have a
different word for everything,” Harrison said.
Koro also blends in because its speakers frequently
marry Aka speakers (who number 4,000 to 6,000) and
people who use another tongue, Miji (who number 6,000 to
And because the villages had been largely cut off from
the outside world for so long, the languages in the
region remain poorly studied. “I expect that there are
many such hidden languages around the world,” said M.
Paul Lewis, who edited the 16th edition of Ethnologue:
Languages of the World. “The lesser-known languages
quite often are overlooked and understudied.”
The researchers had been told about the so-called
dialect of Aka. But when they sat down to record the
words of a villager they assumed to be speaking it, they
were surprised by the unfamiliarity of the words and
could tell this was no mere dialect. “We noticed it
instantly,” Anderson said. “We started with a body part
word list, and there wasn’t a single word in common.”
7 October 2010, The Telegraph
Lighting up Lodhi history
A glossy little marker — part
stylish, part nothing special. Gol Gumbad, the 15th
century Lodhi dynasty tomb at the intersection of Lodhi
Road and Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg, has become one of
Delhi’s must-see monuments. Last month, the unremarkable
tomb, tucked in a corner of Centenary Methodist Church,
got a new look. In a project funded by the Ministry of
Tourism, and executed by INTACH, Delhi Chapter, the
monument was set up with night-time illumination. The
effect is pure magic.
Reach after sunset. Rows of tube
lights are fitted on the floor; the domed roof is bathed
in a bright orange glow. As you enter from the side gate
(on Lodhi Road), the white light falling off the tomb’s
wall shows you the way. A few trees are lit subtly;
others are left in darkness. Inside, the chamber is
washed in a deep-gold shade; strobe lamps are arranged
artistically at several vantage points. Someone outside
the complex could mistake this blaze for fire. Delhi
hasn’t seen anything like this.
Actually, there is no reason to dislike the unlit,
ignored, even abused ruins. It is thrilling to mess
around in an abandoned tomb; the overgrown grass, the
damp walls, the musty smell, the bird droppings on the
floor and bats flapping their wings on the roof. You may
not know about the ruin’s history but you feel it in the
air. Civilising the savage, however, runs the risk of
losing his wild streak. The unwise placement of a single
lamp could have rendered Gol Gumbad soulless. Then it
would have merely been vulgarly lit; its secrets sucked
out and its sad romanticism smashed. No such mishap
The tomb is a passion statement — a new way to look at
monuments. The electric lights have not diminished its
mysteries. The radiance coming out of the recessed arch
on each of the four sides is intense. There are many
Lodhi-era tombs in Delhi and all are alike: stone
flooring, walls of random rubble masonry and locked
stairways. The uniformity and the fact that we have no
clue of the buried men make these structures banal. But
the beamy atmosphere in the chamber of this tomb is
The light rays cast melancholic shadows on the austere
niches. The dome’s artwork catches the eye easily. In
the night, standing alone inside the illuminated tomb,
you spin into a roller-coaster ride of longing, love and
regret — just what a ruin should do.
7 October 2010, Hindustan Times
US linguists find 'hidden' language in Arunachal
WASHINGTON: Say " kaplaye" to a
hidden language that's emerged from remoteness of
India's famed diversity – the word means "hello" in Koro,
a previously unknown language that linguists say they
have identified and recorded in Arunachal Pradesh.
At a time of rapid globalization,
when languages are dying at the rate of one every
fortnight, Koro could be the latest addition to the 6909
known tongues recorded in Ethnologue, a journal that
chronicles languages of the world. The hitherto
unrecognized vernacular, initially mistaken for a
dialect of a language called Aka because of the cultural
similarities of its speakers, was identified during a
2008 expedition conducted as part of National
Geographic's Enduring Voices project.
In a conference call in Washington DC on Tuesday,
researchers who stumbled on the latest hidden language
said Koro, spoken by only 800-1200 people, could soon
face extinction in the same way as Bo, the Andamanese
language whose last speaker died earlier this year.
Younger speakers are abandoning Koro for more dominant
and widely used languages such as English or Hindi, the
researchers said, citing the example of a father, Katia
Yame, who was a torchbearer for the language, while his
son, Sunil Yame, had taken to Hindi.
The researchers, linguists David Harrison of Swarthmore
College in Pennsylvania and Gregory Anderson of the
Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages in
Oregon, recounted how they came across Koro by chance
during an expedition with their Indian colleague, tribal
language specialist Ganesh Murmu, to Arunachal Pradesh,
a state with some 120 languages which they had
previously identified as a linguistic hot spot.
They were initially led to believe Koro was a dialect of
the more dominant Aka (spoken by 4000-6000 people)
because speakers of both languages dressed similarly,
had similar dietary preferences, and they intermarried.
But when they sat down to record the 'dialect' they
found it had a different word for everything. "It is a
distant sister language but quite distinct... like
English and Russian," Harrison, who has documented dying
languages in his book The Last Speakers, said.
In terms of classification, Koro belongs to the belongs
to the Tibeto-Burman language family, a group of some
400 languages of which more than 100 are spoken in India
The researchers said Koro had not been included in the
Indian census or in any study of languages in India. In
part, this may be because the area is isolated and not
much linguistic work has been done here; even Indian
nationals need special permits to visit the region.
The researchers said they will be publishing their
findings in the journal Indian Linguistics and hope to
have it listed in Ethnologue, which continues to
document new hidden languages even as half of the
world's 6900+ languages are considered endangered and
expected to die in this century.
"We hope it will be accepted in Indian and international
charters," Anderson said, adding that the demise of Bo
had highlighted the fragility of languages and
identified India as a language hot spot.
An area is considered a language hot spot when it has a
high degree of language diversity with high endangerment
and low level of scientific record.
The researchers said endangered languages need
technological support (they plan to put it Koro on You
Tube) for their survival, so that the knowledge base on
everything from medicine to cuisine passed down through
the language could be preserved. Koro, incidentally,
only has an oral tradition; no script.
"New languages are noticed and documented from time to
time; it is rarely considered to be newsworthy," Dr
Harrison said. "But we are in the middle of a language
crisis... Unless the trend is reversed, we will lose our
diversity in the next century."
"Preserving languages contributes to human history," he
7 October 2010, The Times of India
Out of a Picture Book
Stately deodars, sprawling meadows, picturesque trails, friendly people... all the reasons why you should holiday at Chakrata, roughly 300 km from Delhi
Cantonment towns change over the
years, becoming noisy and overcrowded. I hoped that
wouldn’t be the case with Chakrata, a place I had
visited several years ago. Pretty and pristine, it had
woven a spell around me and I knew I would go back some
day. I did. We left Delhi at six one morning and were
soon on NH 58 that would take us, via Meerut, Roorkee
and Dehradun, to Chakrata. Crossing the crowded township
of Modinagar, the road led us to Meerut bypass.
Further ahead, the Dehradun-Chakrata stretch became
confusing. There was one route directly from Dehradun to
Chakrata via Vikasnagar, but my guidebook suggested we
take a detour from Mussoourie. From Library Point at
Mussoorie, we were to turn towards Chakrata via Kempty
Falls. As it turned out, we hadn’t taken the right
decision. The road was so crowded that it made Delhi’s
Chandni Chowk seem deserted. Large tourist buses were
negotiating hill tracks that were meant for one-way car
traffic. After an hour of frustration, we managed to
leave the crowds at Mussoorie and Kempty behind,and head
towards Yamuna Pul.
The Yamuna at the Yamuna Pul Bridge was sparkling
clean;and as we climbed again, the views got even more
spectacular. The route to Chakrata from Yamuna Pul is
dramatic, with rugged, bare mountains, deep gorges, and
a glint of the river below, through a quiet, uninhabited
region. However, the narrow road condition is pathetic,
and road signs conspicuous by their absence. There was
also a surprising lack of villages. The 50-km journey
took two and-a-half hours. We reached Chakrata by good
guesswork slightly the worse for wear by seven. The
evening had closed in, but directions to the Forest Rest
House (FRH) were easy to come by.
The 100-year-old FRH stood at a vantage point and
afforded splendid views. The generous verandah with two
chairs and a table hinted at a time of grace and
leisure. Unfortunately, the interiors of the rooms
needed some maintenance and cheering up, but I was told
that renovations were to begin shortly.
CATING A SPELL
Our vehicle disgorged its luggage, including bed linen
(The FRH provides bed sheets and blankets
though), comforters, a lamp, books, and a two-in one, and
within an hour, I was home and dry, and ready to enjoy
Chakratas charm over the next three days. The sleepy
hill station was set up by Colonel Hume and other
officers of the British army 125 years ago. It is
located atop a ridge, which means there are plenty of
great walks among oaks, rhododendron and deodars. As I
walked to the Chakrata bazaar, I noticed plenty of
evidence to suggest that it was a cantonment town. Along
the three-kilometreodd walk, we saw many officers.
Chakrata bazaar consists of a row of shops on both sides
of the road selling basic vegetables, grocery and
general merchandise. There were a number of tea stalls,
but only a few eating joints. We tried the most
promising of these Sher-e-Punjab and continued our
patronage of this dhaba all through our stay in Chakrata.
The simple dal-rotivegetable-chicken fare suited us
The 13-km road to Deoban was not in good shape, but the
scenic splendour of the destination made it worthwhile.
Located at a height of 9,400 ft, Deoban is a pristine
meadow surrounded by deodars, the stillness broken only
by the harsh call of the Himalayan crow. The FRH, more
than 100 years old, was atop a crest, and under
renovation. The chowkidar brought us tea that refreshed
us. The simple lunch, which we had on the verandah, was
made special by the magnificent snow views, the
fragrance of the pine and the whistle of the wind.
Next morning we were headed for Kanasar. The 28-km drive
showed us scenes straight out of a picture book.
Colourful patchwork of green wheat and yellow mustard
was interspersed by red fields of mudwa. We also got
glimpses of the lifestyle of the Jaunsars, the tribe
that inhabits the region in and around Chakrata. Whether
herding their sheep and goats, sitting by the roadside
or spinning wool, they were ever ready to give us
To get to the rest house, we had to weave our way around
a hill. At the top stood the stone structure. Almost
hidden by the tall deodars that surrounded it, the rest
house was like a childs hiding place. Utterly quiet,
except for the sound of the wind, it was hard to believe
that this oasis of solitude was less than 300 km from
BACK TO BASICS
There was no electricity here, no cooking facilities
either; a fact we had been told in Chakrata. So we had
picked up alu-paranthasand pickle, along with chutney,
specially made at a bus-stop dhabain Chakrata. It was a
spicy blend of onions, garlic, green chillies, coriander
leaves and salt, coarsely ground together and garnished
with fresh lime juice. The picturesque settings served
as the perfect foil to this simple meal, which we
rounded off with dry fruit and oranges.
After a post-lunch laze in the sunshine that filtered
through the trees, we decided to walk down the hill to a
really large clearing by the road, where a group of
young boys played cricket. At one end stood a small
temple dedicated to Goddess Durga. Tiny red flags
fluttered in the wind as we paid obeisance. On the other
side of the road were giant deodar trees including the
one reported to be the largest (6.5-m diameter) in Asia.
Although we were impressed by the statistics, it was
really the hamlet that made Kanasar a must-revisit
The next day was our last in Chakrata. The sleepy hamlet
is not for those who love to do things on holiday. But
if you are looking for tranquillity, you know where to
Trek to Deoban. The views en route are fantastic and
worth capturing in your camera. Take a walk to the local
bazaar in the evening. If you fancy military coats, caps
and jackets, check out Har Mohan Anands shop. You also
get good quality walnuts in Chakrata. Sit under a clear
sky late evening and admire the stars. If you have plans
to travel beyond Chakrata, carry your own food. There
are practically no places where you can get a decent
meal. Since there are several military installations in
this town, dont be surprised if you have to go through
several checkpoints. Ask your hotel for an east-facing
room. The sunrise is worth dying for. If you want to see
natures tapestry of colours, visit Chakrata in the
monsoon. Or else in winter, when a white sheet covers
Chakrata was set up as a military base by Col Hume of
the 55th Regiment of the British Indian army in 1855,
but it was only in 1869 that troops and officers started
occupying the cantonment. The checkpost at Kalsi allows
visitors to enter only at specific timings in the day
based on the season in which they are travelling. If you
miss one timing,it could mean a wait of at least 2.5
hours before you can go in. From October, the gate opens
at 7.30 am. The Special Frontier Force, also known as
Establishment 22,is based in Chakrata. It is the only
traditional Tibetan unit of the Indian army after the
Indo-China War of 1962.In spring, the landscape is a
riot of red with the burans flower beginning to blossom.
The juice extracted from the petals is used to make
gulal for Holi.
8 October 2010, The Times of India
Monuments adorned to present Delhi’s heritage
A number of monuments have been
conserved and protected, apart from being illuminated.
The work was taken up under the
department of archaeology, Delhi government, to present
an aesthetic view of the rich heritage of Delhi during
the Commonwealth Games (CWG), said Chief Minister Sheila
Dikshit had visited a few monuments along with a media
team last evening.
She had visited the Mutiny Memorial or Fateh Garh at
Northern Ridge, Turkman Gate, Asaf Ali Road, Gole Gumbad
near Lodi Road Flyover, Tomb of Bijri Khan, R.K. Puram,
Sector-3; Bara Lao Ka Gumbad and Baradari, Vasant Vihar;
Tomb near M.B. Road crossing, Lado Sarai. Other
monuments illuminated by the department are - Mosque of Darwesh Shah, Gulmohar Park, Tomb of Muhammad Quli Khan,
Mehrauli Archaeological Park near Qutab Minar, the tomb
behind National Stadium, Phuta Gumbad, adjoining
Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Maqbara Paik, GTK bypass,
Turret near Gate number.3, Lodi Garden, Mosque near
Butterfly Park in Lodi Garden, the mosque and four walls
of an enclosed garden with its entrance gateway near
Rose Garden in Lodi Garden and Munda Gumbad, inside Deer
Park, Hauz Khas.
The conservation of monuments involve material like --
lime, surkhi, badarpur, brick-zeera, gur, belgiri and
curd among other things. These were used in a
traditional way like -- preparing lime mortar and
special surface finish given by providing lime punning
which involves specific preparation of materials. The
chemical preservation has also been carried out by
applying specific chemicals to remove the soot, dirt,
moss and lichen deposit that have collected on the
surface of monuments.
Some monuments have been beautified by landscaping.
8 October 2010, The Tribune
India's sporting heritage on display at National Museum
Indian wrestlers, weightlifters and
archers are doing India proud at the ongoing
Commonwealth Games. While everyone's cheering not many
may know about the history of these sports. An
exhibition at the National Museum is giving you a unique
opportunity to know about Indian sports such wrestling,
weightlifting, archery and chess through the centuries.
The exhibition titled 'Games and
Sports in Indian Art' which was inaugurated on October 4
and will continue till November 4, showcases history of
Indian games through various styles of paintings such as
Kangra and Pahari.
A painting called Ragaputra Nat
depicting both male and female acrobats is part of the
exhibition. The painting is based on Indian classical
music dating back to 1790s and depicts the harmony
between sports and art. An interesting fact that emerges
from the paintings is that a lot of women are shown
participating in various sports.
"The exhibition is meant to
showcase the best of Indian art and culture. Growth and
development of games practices with regional variations
are captured through various mediums such as paintings,
stone, wood and metal sculptures," said CV Ananda Bose,
administrator, National Museum.
Apart from paintings depicting
wrestling, polo, acrobatics, weightlifting, archery,
swimming, talwarbazi (fencing), kite flying, kabutar
bazi (a game with pigeons), few other eye-catching
objects such as terracotta and wooden toys, rattles,
dolls, yo-yos, a silver top, chessmen and different
shapes and forms of chaupar (dice game) are on display
To ensure that visitors can see the
exhibition after office hours the museum authorities
have extended the timings till 9 pm. Also adding colour
to the exhibition are performances of the regional
dancers from various parts of the country at the lawns
of the museum.
After the Games are over, the
National Museum plans to organise trips and competitions
for city schoolchildren so that they can learn from the
various exhibits on display.
9 October 2010, Hindustan Times
Colours of Ramayana
Themes from the epic have remained a favourite subject in works of art over the centuries, writes Kanwarjit Singh Kang
The Ramayana has had tremendous
influence on the Indian culture. Themes related to Rama
have inspired innumerable poets, bards, dramatists,
painters, sculptors, muralists and craftsmen through the
ages, not only in India but also in several countries of
The Ramayana tradition found visual
representation in art since an early time. Although a
complete sequential representation of the Ramayana is
rare, collectively taken, the whole of Ramayana is
covered. There is, however, a decided precedence for
themes having dramatic content as we see in popular folk
drama, the Ram Lila. Nevertheless, Rama is invariably
seen as a god and themes about him are always suggestive
A second-century terracotta from the archaeological site
of Kausambi, preserved in Allahabad Museum, depicting
the abduction of Sita by Ravana, is considered the
earliest representation of a Ramayana theme in art. From
about the 4th century, sculptural depiction of popular
episodes of the Ramayana have been found in abundance.
Terracotta plaques from Shravasti and Chandraketugarh
show scenes from the Ramayana and several panels from
the earliest temple at Deogarh pertain to this epic. A
stone sculpture of the 4th-5th century in the
Archaeological Museum, Mathura, shows Ravana shaking
Sculpted panels in numerous temples throughout India
depict various episodes of the epic, notably in the
temples at Pattadakal, Aihole, Ellora, Badami, Nachna,
Khajuraho, Bhubaneshwar, Helebid and Belur.
The Ramayana theme has remained a favourite subject in
miniature paintings, which are scattered in several
museums and libraries in India and abroad, as well as in
private collections. A significant illustrated Ramayana
manuscript of the Rajasthani school was executed in the
17th century at Udaipur during the reign of Rana Jagat
Singh and his successor Rana Raj Singh. Four of its
seven volumes are in the British Library, London, having
been given by Maharaja Bhim Singh to James Tod, the
famed author of the Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan.
The painting work is ascribed to Sahib Din, the
principal artist working in the Udaipur court-studio in
the 17th century.
Mughal emperor Akbar had the epic translated into
Persian and one of its outstanding illustrated
manuscript is to be seen in Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II
Museum at Jaipur. In Freer Gallery of Art, Washington,
there is another Persian Ramayana with 130 paintings and
this copy of the epic was made for Akbar’s general Abdur
Rahim Khan-i-Khana. A profusely painted manuscript
of Ramcharitmanas, executed in the 18th century at
Mahishadal in Midnapore is preserved in the Ashutosh
Museum of Indian Art, Kolkata. The Guler set of the same
period by painter Pandit Seu in the Government Museum
and Art Gallery, Chandigarh, is of equal significance.
The National Museum, New Delhi, possesses a group of
Ramayana paintings done in Kulu bearing the influence of
Basohli style. In Bharat Kala Bhavan at Varanasi is a
unique set of the early 19th century Ramayana drawings
drawn by a Kashmiri painter named Sudarshana. The list
of such works is too numerous to mention here.
Mural paintings depicting themes from the
be seen throughout India. Although regional variations
in style and technique are apparent in these murals but
so far as the themes are concerned, there is complete
homogeneity. Most popular themes illustrate Rama killing
ogress Taraka; breaking the bow at Sita’s svayamvara;
going in pursuit of the golden deer; fighting with
Ravana and killing him and assuming his position as the
king of Ayodhya. As compared to other themes the scene
of fierce fighting between Rama and Ravana in the murals
cover more space on the walls and the painters, at
different places, had conceived differently the vast
armies engaged in the dreadful combat. There are several
edifices in Punjab and Haryana, where murals, based on
the Ramayana themes, were painted in the 19th century.
Some of these have obliterated due to natural causes and
very many due to coats of whitewash on the walls.
Prominent edifices where murals related to the epic
stories were painted include the temple of Palkiana
Sahib in district Tarn Taran; thakurdwara of Daryana
Mall in Katra Mohar Singh and the temple of Maya Nath in
Katra Doolo, both at Amritsar; temple of Raja Sahib
Dayal at Kishankot and Dera of Baba Lal Ji at Dhianpur,
both in Gurdaspur district; Bairagi thakurdwara at Ram
Tatwali in district Hoshiarpur; Samadhs of Lala Balak
Ram and Jamuna Das at Jagadhri and Haveli of Rani Chand
Kaur at Pehowa.
The Ramayana and the visual arts depicting themes from
the epic, transcended the geographical limits of India
to reach Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia and
Indonesia. In these countries, each culture has
interpreted the Ramayana slightly differently and this
process is referred to ‘indigenisation of Ramayana’, but
the core of Rama legend remains unaltered.
10 October 2010, Tribune
Delhi showcases its heritage & history
This is the best chance to
understand your city. With several exhibitions, which
put Delhi's rich past in focus, being part of the
ongoing celebrations for the Commonwealth Games, people
have a golden opportunity to take a peek into our
Exhibitions like 'Historic Delhi' at
the National Gallery of Modern Art or 'Dillinama' at Red
Fort and Habitat are all all part of the Games
Early images of Delhi's monuments like Sacred Heart
Cathedral, the statue of John Nicholson, who played a
significant role in the 1857 Mutiny and whose statue was
removed after the Independence, Flagstaff Towers, Jama
Masjid, Jantar Mantar, Chandni Chowk and Purana Qila are
all on display at the 'Historic Delhi' exhibition.
Aninditha Srivastava, an amateur photographer and
student, said: ''I go to as many exhibitions as possible
to be able to understand photography better. Some of my
favourite photographs here are those of Old Delhi and
what it used to look like all those years ago.''
The exhibition also shows images of places inside
monuments where visitors do not have access like the
hamam (king's bathing room) inside Red Fort or the
interiors of Moti Masjid. Images of the tomb of Jahanara,
the begum of Bhopal, at the homage ceremony at Delhi
Darbar etc are catching viewers' attention.
Andrea Wales, a UK national and freelance photographer,
had come with a large group of tourists to see the
exhibition. She wants to capture similar images in Delhi
while she is here.
The exhibition, which draws from the extensive Alkazi
collection of photography, was inaugurated on October 1
and will remain open till November 7. According to
officials, photography was introduced in India in the
1840s. Gradually various photographic societies were set
up in Calcutta, Bombay and Madras.
Officials from the culture ministry said modern Delhi
started taking shape after the Uprising of 1857. ''Most
of the sites therefore captured by photographers during
that period are those affected by the Mutiny.
Similarly, the transfer of power to the British Crown
and the Durbars of Delhi in 1877, 1903 and 1911,
conducted under the supervision of the three Viceroys,
led to Delhi being visualized as an imperial capital,''
Another exhibition showing Delhi's history, Dillinama,
organized by Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC) in Red
Fort, is yet to find too many visitors, most likely
because of inadequate publicity and awareness for the
At Habitat, however, officials said the response was
comparatively better. The four-week long exhibition here
traces the history of Delhi from the early settlements
to a modern metropolis through images, maps and other
10 October 2010, The Times of India
Athletes at Village miss out on Delhi heritage trip
Though most events are over,
security concerns, tight schedule & poor guide
facilities mar plans of foreign delegates to go on
shopping and sightseeing tours.
Aweek into the Games and many of
the 7000-odd athletes from the 71 participating nations
have neither been able to explore their host city nor
experience its rich culture. And with several
competitions already over, some of the athletes might
just have to return without any souvenirs for family and
friends back home. Security concerns, tight schedules
and lack of information seem to have kept the visiting
athletes from going around town.
While Agra's Taj Mahal continues to
the most favoured destination, Delhi's own World
Heritage Sites — Qutub Minar, Humayun's Tomb and Red
Fort — are yet to host international visitors. Many
athletes complained they were not being guided on the
city's popular tourist destinations and also, where they
could go shopping.
A group of Malyasian athletes, who
wanted to pick up some souvenirs, looked extremely
disappointed. Curiously, the group had been told that
they could go to Noida's Sector 18 market and Palika
Bazaar. "The market in Noida had no souvenirs and Palika
Bazaar was closed on Sunday. No one had informed us
about that," complained one of the athletes, Nataliya
Sinkova. A Malaysian athlete, who was advised to take
the Metro, recalled his horror. "The train was so
crowded that I could barely find space to stand," said
Onn Kwang Tung.
Moreover, to prevent any untoward
incident, most athletes have been advised not to step
out of the Games Village in their uniform. "We were told
we should not venture out in our uniform only at the
last moment and I hadn't packed any other clothes. It
seems I will have to buy some clothes at the Village
stores to be able to go out," said Joanna Parker from
England. Tamisha Gittens fromBarbados added, "Security
is one of the main concerns so we've been asked not to
go out in large groups. But I really want to visit Red
Fort and see some of the markets to buy present for
Delhi Police, meanwhile, maintained
there is no specific threat to athletes leaving the
Village in their uniforms. "There is no threat to
athletes going out in their uniforms; Delhi Police has
not given out any such advisory. The tours and
programmes are all handled by the organising committee
for which we are providing security," said Rajan Bhagat,
Delhi Police spokesperson.
Time constraint is proving to be
another hassle. "I definitely want to pick up souvenirs.
But I can go shopping only after my competitions are
over," said Durly Emmanul Lucas, an athlete from
Trinidad and Tobago. Anna Rita Strydome, a team official
from South Africa, said, "Most of us still do not know
where we should go. Many athletes opted for Akshardham
Temple because it's right next door. Several of our team
members are now returning home without getting the
chance to explore Delhi."
The biggest attraction for visiting
athletes has been the Akshardham Temple. Entire
contingents from the participating countries are being
taken there on guided tours even as many of them are
completely unaware that the temple is right next to the
The temple administration has set
up a counter at the Games Village to facilitate movement
of people to the temple. "We wanted to ensure that
athletes see the very best of India and go back with a
good feeling. Since the Village was coming up right next
door, we decided to start free guided tours for
foreigners and give them a glimpse of Indian
architecture and culture," said Girish Patel, a temple
volunteer who has come all the way from England only for
Several volunteers from around the
world are volunteering at Akshardham to guide tourists
to the main mandir area, three exhibition halls and
On Sunday, over 70 athletes from
England, Canada, Bahamas, Scotland, Jersey, Malaysia,
Forkland Islands and South Africa visited the temple.
Till now, over 500 athletes have
been to Akshardham.
11 October 2010, Times of India
Illegal mining threatens Sarisk
Despite crores being spent in the
name of conservation and Project Tiger, illegal mining
activity is back in full gear in the protected area of
Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary.
"Rampant mining is going on at
Jaisinghpura, Malana, Goverdhanpura, Palpura and Jamwa
Ramgarh, in spite of the Supreme Court's 1991 order
banning mining in the area. After SC's order, 215 mines
were closed. But recently, some of them have restarted
activity in the middle of the sanctuary," said Rajender
Singh, the waterman of Rajasthan, whose NGO Tarun Bharat
Sangh had filed the writ petition in the apex court.
Singh added that these villages fall in the protected
area and are a rich reservoir of dolomite. "Nearly 30-40
mines have begun operation again, some of them run by
leading names in the industry," he said. According to
Singh, mining had picked up in Project Tiger area's
buffer zones and was causing irreparable damage to tiger
habitat and the sanctuary's ecosystem. "Mine owners'
money and muscle power has made officials and
politicians turn a blind eye to the illegal activity,"
said Singh who claimed he was attacked thrice by the
Confirming Singh's statement, Delhi-based Tarun Kanti
Bose, who has done extensive research on mining in
Rajasthan, said, "While public sector mines remain
closed as per the apex court's ruling, many mines in the
unorganized sector have again started mining marble in
the belt, which has good deposits."
In villages like Tilwad and Tilwadi in Alwar, marble
mining operations are taking place right in the middle
of the villages on private agricultural land. Many large
landholders in the villages are today keen on selling
their agricultural land as they are getting high returns
for it, he said. "Mining is expanding rapidly in an area
which has some of the most fertile lands with plenty of
water," said Tarun.
Tarun said in all the big mines operating in Sariska,
local people seem to be playing the roles of contractors
and middlemen. They are also employed as cashiers and
administrators. "Ranges in Sariska are covered with
densely forested slopes, home to the tiger and other
wildlife and an entire ecosystem. But it is fast
dwindling with mining and other commercial activity," he
12 October 2010, The Times of India
When all of Mysore is aglow
With the consolidation of power in 1610 under Raja Wodeyar, the Dasara celebrations and the Vijayadashami procession became a constant feature of the Mysore kingdom. This year marks the 400th year of this great tradition, writes Vikram Sampath
Come September-October, India begins
to sway to the chants of the Mother Goddess as the
country gears up to celebrate the second Navaratri of
This is the Dakshinayana Navaratri
that is celebrated in the inauspicious period of the
Hindu calendar, the one that marks the Southern movement
of the sun resulting in shorter days and longer nights.
Dasara is among the most widely celebrated Hindu
festivals and reinforces the pre-historic idea of the
worship of the Mother Goddess as the symbol of valour
and fertility. But perhaps the roots of this
cosmopolitan appeal for the festival come from the
edicts of the Bhavishya Purana, the eleventh of the
Puranas which states: “Goddess Vindhyavasini Durga
should be worshipped by people everywhere- in cities,
houses, villages and forests, by joyful and orthodox
Brahmins, as well as by Kshatriyas, kings, devoted
Vaishyas, Shudras, even the mllecchas (foreigners),
dasyus (outcastes), people from Anga, Banga, Kalinga, by
Kinnaras and Sakas (Scythians).”
Dasara has thus assumed a pan-Indian appeal and almost
consequently each of these groups invoke the Divine
Feminine through their own distinct modes of worship, be
it animist or pure.
The most potent symbolism of the festival however comes
from the Devi Mahatmyam in the Markandeya Purana where
the Goddess as Chamundeshwari or Durga, armed with
weapons from all the celestial beings, devours the
buffalo-headed demon Mahishasura after a fierce seven
day battle. She has thus been an inspiration for royal
military conquests and victories thereby, but also for
the ultimate triumph of good over evil which remains the
cornerstone of Hindu philosophy. Mythology has it that
Yudhistira worshipped Goddess Durga after the incognito
period that he and his brothers had to undergo,
reclaimed the weapons hidden atop the sacred Sami tree
and waged the fierce Kurukshetra war against his
tyrannical cousins, the Kauravas. It was the benediction
of the Goddess that ultimately secured victory for the
Roots in the Vijayanagara Empire
The Dasara tradition in Mysore has its roots in the
Vijayanagara Empire. The accounts of the visiting
foreign travellers like Nicolo Conti, Domingo Paes and
Abdur Razzaq clearly indicate the predominance of this
tradition. Krishnadevaraya had the famous Mahanavami
Dibba platform constructed in 1513 after defeating the
Gajapatis of Orissa. This became the focal point for
festivities on the 10th day of Dasara, Vijayadashami.
Royal processions, musical soirees, dance performances,
wrestling bouts, fireworks and animal sacrifices marked
the ten-day long festivities. Along with the ritualistic
worship of this benefactor of success, the Goddess,
Dasara also became an occasion for the Emperor to
re-assert his power, display the splendour of the Empire
to his citizens and send a message of warning to
potential errant rebels.
With the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire, the hitherto
feudatories of the Empire like the Nayakas of Tanjore,
Madurai, Ikkeri, Ginjee and the Wodeyars of Mysore
slowly began asserting their political autonomy in the
The Wodeyars inherited several of the cultural
traditions of the glorious Empire and Dasara was
certainly one of them.
Raja Wodeyar’s contribution
With the consolidation of the Wodeyar power in 1610
under Raja Wodeyar, the Dasara celebrations and the
Vijayadashami procession became a constant feature of
the Mysore kingdom. Accounts of the times detail the
several rituals followed in the Palace on each of the
ten days. Govinda Vaidya’s Kanthirava Narasaraja Vijayam
sketches a graphic account of the celebrations under the
chivalrous Ranadhira Kanthirava Narasaraja Wodeyar.
Quite intrinsically linked with the Dasara tradition of
Mysore is the worship of Amaladevathe, the manifestation
of Rani Alamelamma.
After being persecuted by Raja Wodeyar for her jewels,
Alamelamma, the wife of the Viceroy of Vijayanagara, had
ended her life in the Cauvery at Talakad with a terrible
curse on her lips condemning the Wodeyars to
childlessness. Raja Wodeyar is said to have repented for
his misdemeanor and got a bronze stature of hers
installed which is worshipped to this day on the
Mahanavami. The priests tie a white cloth on their
mouths as a symbol of shame and repentance and seldom
make eye-contact with the idol.
During Dasara, the swords, the war chariots, royal arms
and ammunition, the State horse, the State elephant are
all seen as representatives of the Goddess and as being
bestowed with Her energy. Hence a worship of all of
these as part of the Ayudha Puja was an important
The Vijayadashami procession on the tenth and last day
of the festival was symbolic of the Seemollanghana or
crossing of the borders of the Kingdom to acquire new
territory. Seated atop a bedecked elephant on a golden
howdah, the Jamboo Savari of the Maharaja of Mysore
through the thoroughfares of the city was a sight for
sore eyes. Music bands and military marches added a dash
of colour to this glorious procession. It culminated at
the Banni Mantapa with the worship of the Sami tree,
once again linking back to the Mahabharata tradition.
The importance of the festival in the cultural psyche of
the people of the State could be gauged by the fact that
both Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan allowed its continuance,
even during the Interregnum period when they usurped
Mysore from the Wodeyars. The titular Wodeyar was
permitted to carry out the rituals in a low-key fashion.
Post-Independence, the Government of Karnataka too has
adopted Dasara as a naada habba or a State festival. But
apart from the Palace festivities, true to the edict of
the Bhavishya Purana, Dasara has always been a people’s
festival, one that resonates with their aspirations and
The installation of dolls in all houses and creating
decorative scenarios for them has been an un-dated
tradition. It perhaps links up to the worship of the
Goddess as Kannike, the virgin.
Hence children and their entertainment too form a vital
component of this Gombe Puje or dolls worship. Be it the
Saraswati Puja to propitiate the Goddess of Learning or
the ayudha puja in each home, Dasara continues to be an
occasion to thank the eternal life-giving energy of the
Mother Goddess and invoking Her in Her many
12 October 2010, Deccan Herald
Discovery of language questioned
Barely a week after two US linguists
claimed they uncovered a hidden language in Arunachal
Pradesh, an academician based in the frontier state said
his post-doctoral work in 2008 dealt extensively with
the issue. But Gibji Nimachow would rather not stake any
claim to have discovered Koro, which he says is a
dialect and not a language as Americans K. David
Harrison and Gregory DS Anderson announced.
"To say one has uncovered a language
known to many in our reasonably educated state is a bit
too much," Nimachow told Hindustan Times. "That is half
as ridiculous as turning a dialect into a language."
Anderson is director of Living Tongues Institute for
Endangered Languages in Salem, US, and arrison is a
linguist at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. They
said they uncovered Koro during a trip to Arunachal
Pradesh in 2008. Their findings will be published in the
journal Indian Linguistics.
Nimachow, assistant professor of geography at Rajiv
Gandhi University near state capital Itanagar, belongs
to the Aka tribe, which is divided into two sub-groups —
Hrusso and Koro. Besides, he had researched various
aspects of his tribe for his thesis.
Arunachal Pradesh Director (Research) Tage Tada agreed.
"I don’t think Koro, or for that matter any dialect or
language of Arunachal Pradesh, needs to be discovered,"
13 October 2010, Hindustan Times
250 monuments identified for conservation
The Delhi Government's Department of
Archaeology has identified 250 monuments across the
Capital for its conservation plan under which it will
not only protect these places of historic and tourist
interest, but also illuminate them properly to make them
centres of attraction. As part of the first phase of the
plan, work has been undertaken on 17 monuments.
According to the Department of
Archaeology , these monuments have been conserved,
protected and illuminated ahead of the Commonwealth
Games and as a result have already started attracting a
large number of tourists. Work related to the
illumination and conservation of these monuments is
being personally supervised by Delhi Chief Minister
Sheila Dikshit who has also been visiting them
“The monuments have been illuminated by using
pre-dominantly metal halide for greater efficiency and
long life with lesser electricity consumption. Special
care has been taken to avoid visual clutter and for
highlighting the architectural details,'' said an
official of the Department.
The conservation of these monuments has been done
through use of traditional materials like lime, surkhi,
badarpur, brick-zeera, gur, belgiri and curd. “Besides,
traditional techniques have been used for preparation of
lime mortar by grinding it in the lime mortar mill, and
for providing special surface finish by providing
arayish/lime punning which involves specific preparation
of materials,'' the official said.
The chemical preservation has also been carried out by
applying specific chemicals in order to remove the black
soot, dirt, moss and lichen deposits which had
accumulated on the surface of the monuments over time.
Some of the monuments have also been beautified by
suitable landscaping and lying down pathways to enhance
Among the 17 monuments where work has been undertaken in
the first phase are Mutiny Memorial/Fateh Garh in
Northern Ridge; Turkman Gate at Asaf Ali Road; Gole
Gumbad near Lodi Road flyover; Tomb of Bijri Khan at R.K.
Puram; Bara Lao Ka Gumbad and Baradari in Vasant Vihar;
and the tomb near M.B. Road crossing and Lado Sarai.
The other monuments that have been illuminated by the
Department are Mosque of Darwesh Shah, Gulmohar Park;
Tomb of Muhammad Quli Khan, Mehrauli Archaeological Park
near Qutab Minar; tomb behind National Stadium; Phuta
Gumbad adjoining Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium; Maqbara Park
at GTK by-pass; turret near Gate No.3, Lodi Garden;
mosque near Butterfly Park inside Lodi Garden; mosque
and four walls of an enclosed garden with its entrance
gateway near Rose Garden inside Lodi Garden; and Munda
Gumbad inside Deer Park, Hauz Khas.
According to the Department, the conservation and
illumination would highlight that Delhi is a confluence
of many visions and dreams, magnificent forts and
palaces, splendid temples and mosques, grand mausoleums
and lofty towers, all of which are meshed in a unique
blend of beauty and design.
The Department officials point out that to protect and
conserve the monuments of local importance, the Delhi
Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological
Sites and Remains Act, 2004, was enacted by the Delhi
The list of 250 monuments to be conserved or protected
in a phased manner that has been prepared by the
Department primarily pertains to lesser known monuments.
However, they have great historical significance. Since
they have deteriorated and were in a dilapidated
condition because of lack of preservation and
encroachments, the need was felt to restore them to
their past glory.
13 October 2010, The Hindu
Back in time to Ashoka's India
The Nehru Memorial Museum and
Library is hosting a special photo exhibition, “Ashoka
and the Making of Modern India”, at its Teen Murti House
premises here these days.
Highlighting places associated with
the Mauryan emperor on the subcontinent, the exhibition
has widened its ambit by organising visits to these
A glimpse into Ashoka's life is being presented through
half-day heritage tours in the Capital on Friday,
Saturday and Sunday. The tour is designed bearing in
mind domestic and foreign tourists that have flocked to
Delhi to watch the Commonwealth Games.
“Our tour titled ‘Afsana-e-Ashoka' covering various
locations connected with the Emperor has so far received
an overwhelming response. The Ashokan edict at East of
Kailash, the in-situ rock edict along an ancient trade
and pilgrim route, the Ashokan pillar at Ferozeshah
Kotla and the Ashokan pillar at Bara Hindu Rao are being
covered. We plan to have these heritage tours every
weekend from next week onward,” says Library Director
Curated by Professor Janice Leoshko of the Department of
Art History at the University of Texas, the exhibition
acknowledges the ongoing dialogues of the past with the
present, particularly its significance for the
The exhibition highlights many significant messages of
Ashoka that have been found inscribed through South
Asia. The King of the Mauryan dynasty was synonymous
with the inscriptions that are not simple records. Among
the earliest writings in India, the epigraphic texts
emphasise Ashoka's views on dharma. They shed light on
how he crafted and promoted an ideology of dharma that
Most of the inscriptions have been written in Brahmi
script in the eastern or western (Gandhari) dialects of
Prakrit. “Although some time after Ashoka's reign these
messages could no longer be read, they continued to
attract attention, and sometime later rulers added their
own inscriptions,” say Museum authorities.
The two-month-long exhibition is being hosted by the
Museum in cooperation with the American Institute of
Indian Studies and the Center for Art and Archaeology.
13 October 2010, The Hindu
It’s destination Taj for athletes
They might have been one of the most
vocal critics of arrangements in Delhi for the
Commonwealth Games but now, the Aussies, the Kiwis, the
Scots, and the Canadians can't get enough of “Incredible
India”. These countries have been in a majority in the
groups of athletes and officials from 71 countries
visiting the Taj Mahal on the free train ride to Agra
arranged by the Organising Committee with the Indian
After a lukewarm response to the
daylong trip to the Agra in a special train prepared by
the railways, the athletes are warming up to the “Taj
Of the 1,645 athletes that have so far made the trip,
almost 1,000 went only in the last two days. And at 113,
the Australians have formed the major chunk of visitors
from one country.
The Kiwis, the Canadians and the Scots, too, have sent
around 70 each of their athletes through the week. The
booking list for the next two days also consists of
athletes mostly from these countries.
“The monument is awesome, nothing like we have seen
anywhere. We also enjoy the scenes on the way to Agra,”
said an Aussie athlete at the Commonwealth Games
Officials from smaller countries such as Papua New
Guinea, Falkland Islands, Bangladesh, Trinidad and
Cyprus have also been taking part in the journey. The
trip begins at Safdarjung station at 7 am and culminates
and returns at 8 pm after a day-long tour of the
historical monuments at Agra.
“The Taj is one of the best brand ambassadors of India.
Athletes who are aware of the beautiful monument are
keen to experience it. We expect maximum rush now that
most of the events have ended,” said Priya Singh Paul,
head of Communications at the Organising Committee.
On its part, the railways have give the train a Games
look. Consisting of one executive chair car, eight AC
chair cars and two luggage and generator car coaches,
the Taj Commonwealth Express has been modelled on the
Shatabdi Express with new coaches.
“Being the lead partner of the Games, it is a great
honour to be taking the athletes to our country's pride
— the Taj,” said Manish Tiwari, Northern Railway
13 October 2010, Hindustan Times
Anatomy of Expression
Dance and temples have an undefined
bond; the aesthetic commonalities between temple
architecture and the architectures of Indian dance are
many. How dance originated, with the incorporation of
the immortal sculptures that have designed the pattern
of dances, is well known. In dance, of late, the
architecture of the temple and ritualistic explorations
of its spaces add a third dimension to the dance, for
this is something that is worked upon extensively. With
many dance productions exploring the aspect of dance and
architecture, it seems like we are going back to our
roots to find an entirely new meaning to dance.
Temple architecture deserves a
holistic view — it is the source of movement in dance.
Moving beyond the convention of the temple standing as a
symbol of faith, it speaks much more of culturally rich
traditions that define myriad movements and signify the
various postures, movements and repertoires.
The temple is primarily a structure that stood as a
living example of the social, political and economic
situations that prevail in society. S. Jayachandran, a
Bharatanatyam dancer and assistant professor at
Kalakshetra Foundation, Chennai, says there are multiple
ways of correlating temple architecture and dance. “Any
architectural structure is meant to serve a purpose.
Temples have served multiple utilities from being a
university (a case in point is Kanchi University) to
apartment structures and melting points of exchanging
ideas,” says Jayachandran. In this scenario, he places
dance with a societal background and explains the role
of the dancer as sociological. “Every temple has a
ritual specialist. The male ritual specialist is the
priest who performs the daily puja while the female
ritual specialist would be the dancer. She shows her
devotion through dance and music and her body becomes an
instrument of communication. She treats God with utter
devotion and becomes his female consort. Devadasis would
ward off the evil eye from the precincts of the temple
and that was one of the core rituals. They would simply
dance for God, facing the deity inside the temple,” he
Dance is endowed with very different meanings when its
history, context, and the times in which it evolved are
understood. The movements get a new significance and
more than accepting it as pure, rigid tradition, one can
decode the pattern easily. “I simply felt more confident
as I went about exploring the relation between dance and
temple architecture. The historical aspects help you
understand the choreography of traditional items in a
much easier way. I wanted to investigate further and
discover why some movements are designed in a particular
fashion and the cobwebbed perceptions about such aspects
were brushed away when I went back to the temples,” says
The placement of dance matters the most and plays a
significant role in the way movements are structured.
The mandap or the stage where a dancer performs makes
much of a difference. Earlier the king would sit at a
height above the ground and watch the dancer perform
from there. And the dancer would be in centre watched
upon by the audience on three sides. But the dynamics
are different today. The stage that a dancer performs on
is at a greater height above the audience and most of
the times the dancer only has to face the audience from
one side. Earlier one would have a dancing arena where
the dancer would face audience from three sides or all
the four. The dancing courtyard in a king’s palace would
be surrounded by audience from three sides. “Temple
space goes much beyond the metaphysical aspect. I feel
it is the best form of a codified, planned management
organisation,” says Jayachandran.
Surupa Sen, an Odissi exponent who conceptualised and
choreographed “Sacred Space”, a dance production that
explored the journey from outside of the temple to
inside. Along with an architect Surupa studied the
spaces of the temple, inside and the outside. “A temple
for me stands as a foundation for human body. It stands
as a journey of an individual. The outer space of a
temple is ornamental with elaborate décor and sculpted
beauty and as one proceeds to the most divine, one
realises the purity and sheer contrast of the inside and
outside. It’s shedding about all inhibitions, all ego
and gaining pure consciousness,” says Surupa.
She draws an analogy with the traditional repertoire in
Odissi by starting off with an invocation and moving
onto a lyrical piece and tracing the journey of
architecture. The last piece is Moksha invoking the Gods
and surrendering oneself to the Lord. “Hinduism is an
inclusive religion and it incorporated Jainism, Buddhism
and all of these religions. And Indian architecture is a
repository of all these traditions and faiths,” says
Surupa. “For me personally the temple represents a
person’s journey as a symbol of faith and expression. It
is the physical expression of the inner aspiration to
merge with the infinite,” she adds further.
A research by British architect Adam Hardy looks into
the correspondence between a temple and dance, which is
a form of artistic expression. He studies how temple
goes beyond an expression of movement and seems to be
progressing on the patterns of growth in multiple
directions. One of the common grounds is bringing about
a thought process and understanding the significance of
traditional choreography which can channelise into
innovative forms of creativity.
Madhu Natraj, well-known Kathak and contemporary dancer
choreographed a piece for the Purana Qila festival by
studying the iconographical aspect of the Persian and
Hindu culture. She says, “I look at the philosophy of
the space by studying its architectural meaning which is
then conceptualised and interpreted through dance. Dance
for me would be an architectural extension in this
context. The geometry and the foundation of a temple
space is an extremely important aspect,” says Natraj.
14 October 2010, The Asian Age
CM infuses life... in lesser known monuments of Delhi
The glorious 5,000-year-old history
of Delhi is best testified by the numerous monuments
which adorn the landscape of the city. These
architectural wonders are the real legacy of the past
and give a glimpse of the architectural grandeur and
artistic excellence achieved during the glorious history
of Delhi. Several of these historical monuments have
been given a facelift and illuminated for the
Commonwealth Games, giving tourists a glimpse of our
rich cultural past.
The rich cultural heritage of Delhi
gets best manifested through the beautiful monuments
that have been dotting the landscape of the city since
ages. Delhi's historical monuments give a glimpse of the
architectural grandeur and artistic excellence achieved
during the glorious history of Delhi. Each heritage
building has its own story to narrate as one walks down
the city roads. From the ruins of Indraprastha to the
architectural marvels constructed for Commonwealth
Games, Delhi has inherited a rich legacy in terms of
art, architecture and culture. Jama Masjid, Turkman
Gate, Lodi Garden, Mutiny Memorial, Tomb of Bijri Khan,
Gol Gumbad, Safdarjung Tomb, Quli Khan's Tomb, Mosque of
Darwesh Shah, the list is endless and their popularity
immense. Many of the beautiful monuments of Delhi have
been declared world heritage sites also. These include
Humayun's Tomb, Qutub Minar and its monuments and the
Red Fort complex.
The glorious 5,000 years old history of Delhi is best
testified by the numerous monuments which adorn the
landscape of the city. These monuments have on one hand
witnessed the many bygone eras and now they are ready to
see the ever-increasing stature of the city. These
architectural wonders are the real legacy of the past.
Throughout the chequered history of Delhi many kings and
emperors came from outside and established their own
townships giving rise to the composite culture of Delhi.
The ruins of these ancient and medieval cities can be
seen at Indraprastha, Lal Kot, Quila Rai Pithora, Siri,
Jahanpanah, Tughlakabad, Firozabad, Dinpanah and
Shahjahanabad. The remains of the buildings prove that
Delhi has always been intrinsically identified with
power and imperial sway throughout its history. And now
as we compete to make a mark in the world, these
souvenirs come as our biggest advantage. What has
further enhanced the popularity of historical monuments
are the cultural events that are being organized here
from time to time. Purana Qila, Qutab Minar Complex, Red
Fort are known for their musical evenings and light and
sound shows. Infact Qutab Minar is the second most
visited site in the country after Taj Mahal. Several
historical monuments have been given a facelift and
illuminated for the Commonwealth Games, giving tourists
a glimpse of our rich cultural past.
Undoubtedly, being a repository of diverse cultures
Delhi is truly a city with rich legacy, vibrant future
and mysterious eternity.
14 October 2010, The Times of India
Heritage bodies ensure city’s monuments shine on
The Capital’s monuments, specially
illuminated for the ongoing Commonwealth Games, have
been silently attracting foreign and domestic visitors.
This, thanks to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)
and the state Department of Archaeology efforts to light
up the heritage structures.
The ASI and Archaeology department
have illuminated 28 monuments that fall on the routes of
the Games venues. The Lodhi Garden tombs, Gol Gumbad
near Lodhi Road, Purana Quila, Sher Shah Gate and Sabz
Burz in Nizamuddin, to name a few, have attracted the
attention of most passersby. The ASI had roped in the
India Tourism Development Corporation to illuminate a
total of 14 monuments, while the Archaeology department
commissioned the Indian National Trust for Art and
Cultural Heritage (INTACH) to conserve and illuminate 14
The 14 monuments (which include 18 heritage structures)
illuminated by INTACH use softer LED lights highlighting
the features of each monument. A G K Menon, convenor,
INTACH told Newsline, “The lighting has been sensitively
designed so that the features of the monuments are
highlighted. The colour of lights is different for
different monuments and in keeping with the old stone
used in the monument.”
The INTACH has roped in lighting expert Manav Bhargav,
who runs Mandala Designers, for the project. A look
inside the monument’s structure through the ‘jaalis’
will reveal interiors highlighted with a different
shade. “We have used loud as well as cold lights to
match the look of the monuments’ structure. The LED
lights are softer on the monument and instead of falling
flat, carefully highlight the features well. They also
consume less electricity,” Menon added. The ASI on the
other hand, though initially running behind schedule,
managed to light up 14 significant monuments. They are
Purana Quila, Sher Shah Gate and Masjid, Khairul Manzil,
Subz Burz, Shakri Gumti and Chhoti Gumti in Green Park,
Dadi Poti in Green Park, Khan-e-Khana and Barakhamba in
Nizamuddin, Safdarjung Tomb, Najaf Khan Tomb in Jorbagh
and Kotla Feroz Shah, all of which feature prominently
on the venue routes.
The monuments will continue to be illuminated even after
the Games are over and with the surroundings of the
heritage structures also being specially landscaped,
these are expected to continue to attract attention. “A
lot of money has been invested to arrange special
fixtures and now the monuments lend a different look to
the entire city. Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, in a
meeting, has rightly said she chose to work on the
monuments as they are the best example of public art
installations in the Capital,” Menon said.
14 October 2010, The Indian Express
India's freedom struggle told through puppets & shadow
Turn the pages back. There are tales
of courage, sacrifice and heroic death in our freedom
struggle. Depicting the lives of some unsung heroes
Madam Bhikaji Cama, Matangini Hazra of the Indian
independence movement is a docu-drama using puppets and
shadow, recently performed by the Katkatha Puppet Arts
Trust at Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML).
Kuch Unkhule Panne: Some Unopened
Pages is part of a host of activities, including nature
walks, exhibitions and cycle walks organized by NMML to
run along with the Commonwealth Games.
Commissioned by Sangeet Natak Akademi for the
celebration of 150 years of the First War of
Independence in 1857, Kuch Unkhule Panne was first
performed in 2008. "The idea was to talk about the
unsung heroes of the freedom movement, those who don't
feature much in our daily lives,'' says director Anurupa
Different factors influenced the choice of freedom
fighters for the show. "We chose Bhikaji Rustom Cama
because there's a huge office complex called Bhikaji
Cama Place. We take the Ring Road all the time but many
people we asked had no clue who she was,'' says Roy.
For the show they use an interesting combination of
puppets, shadow and projections. They also use rare
photographs from the NMML archives for the biopics. The
hunt was quite a job. There were plenty of photos of
Bhikaji Cama at the archives for she came from a wealthy
family and had her photos clicked on many occasions.
"For the others, there were either 'wanted' photos or
'dead' photos,'' says Roy. They went with rare photos of
marches and rallies and every freedom-movement
chronicler's last resort images of Gandhi. Madam Cama
would hoist the Flag of Indian Independence red, yellow
and green in 1907 in Berlin.
Matangini Hazra was included because she was old in her
60s when she joined the freedom movement. As the show
informs, Matangini was called Gandhi Budi or Budi Gandhi
Mahila by folk. And finally, Roy and her team chose
Surya Sen as they wanted a true-blue revolutionary who
wasn't a Gandhian. "His trial is very famous as it was
completely fudged and we wanted to show the torture he
faced in jail,'' explains Roy.
Sen's time in jail is probably one of the longest parts
in the entire show; on stage, the scene of Sen having
his tongue pulled out with a set of pliers for
constantly repeating Vande Mataram is performed in
shadow but is no less disturbing for that a quiet hiss
goes around the audience. For the biographies, they use
a mix of narration, photographs, shadow play, reading
from documents and newspaper clippings.
Show over, one girl in the audience shouts "very well
done'' and most of the audience a bunch of kids and
their guardians crowd to the stage on Roy's invitation
to inspect the puppets. She uses a string-puppet for
Bhikaji Cama, a rod puppet she herself operates with two
others for Matangiri Hazra and another rod puppet for
Surya Sen except, in this case, it is used as a dummy
and that only for a few seconds as it suddenly shoots up
vertically to nearly touch the stage's roof depicting a
14 October 2010, The Times of India
Lucknow becomes new destination for memorials
Lucknow famous for culture,
etiquette and literature in the entire world, besides
being Capital of the State is now known as the new
destination for memorials in Independent India. A large
number of tourists used to visit Lucknow for Imambaras
built by Nawabs. But, a new transformation is becoming
apparent in Lucknow today. A new skyline has emerged
here, which has created a niche in the world.
Chief Minister has constructed
memorials, museum, statues and parks in the memory of
saints, gurus and great men who sacrificed their lives to
establish society based on equality changing the unequal
social system. These memorials, museum, statues and parks
are unique examples of architecture, which reveal the soul
of Indian culture and different dimensions of construction
art. Besides, several projects are being completed in a
speedy manner with a view to developing infrastructure
facilities in Lucknow, owing to which the Capital of the
largest State of the country has been transformed. Such an
example is difficult to find throughout the country.
At present, a large number of people visit Lucknow in order
to see the memorials, museums, parks etc. from the different
corners of the country. These memorials constructed in the
honour of great men who took birth in Dalit and backward
sections of the country from time to time, have become the
symbol of faith and self-pride of crores of people of
deprived sections of the country. The people of Sarvjan
Samaj feel pride on visiting these memorials. Besides, these
memorials and parks have emerged as the new centres of
attraction for other tourists visiting the historic
buildings of Nawabi age. People in large numbers visit these
It may be recalled that Hon'ble Chief Minister had dedicated
to the people Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar Samajik Parivartan Sthal
Dwar, Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar Vihar, Samtamulak Chowk, Samajik
Parivartan Gallery, Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar Smarak Drishya
Sthal, Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar Samajik Parivartan Pratibimb
Sthal, Samajik Parivartan Sangrahalaya, Manyawar Shri
Kanshiram ji Smarak Sthal on June 25 last year.
All of these memorials are unique from architectural point
of view. The dome of Manyawar Sri Kanshiram ji Smarak Sthal
is the largest dome of country, the construction of which is
a unique example of engineering. Similarly, both domes of
Samajik Parivartan Sangrahalaya are recognised as the
specific achievements of engineering and architecture today.
Besides, Bauddh Vihar Shanti Upvan was also dedicated to the
people on June 25 last. All of these places have become
important destinations of faith and tourism today.
The citizens of Lucknow were continuously feeling the
necessity of a large and magnificent green eco-garden at the
central place of Lucknow. Keeping this in view, the
development of Manyawar Sri Kansiram ji has been started in
the midst of Lucknow city. After the completion of green
eco-garden, it would be a unique, splendid and magnificent
garden not only in the country but the entire world.
Now, Lucknow is ready to welcome the tourists with its new
14 October 2010, The Pioneer
In the essay, “Temple Terracottas of
Bengal”, published in the Illustrated Weekly of
India(November 25, 1951), the artist, Mukul Dey
(1895–1989), writes, “Thousands of Siva, Vaishnava and
Kali temples are scattered all over Birbhum. They are
built of brick, sand and lime plaster.... Most of these
temples lie in ruins. But in many of them still remain
beautiful specimens of baked clay terracottas depicting
figure compositions in decorative panels.”
A student of Santiniketan during
Rabindranath’s days, Dey was one of the earliest
documenters of Birbhum’s temple architecture, much of
which is still unknown. Dey took photographs of the
temples he visited. Since many of the temples no longer
stand, these pictures are the sole reminders of an
architecture that was becoming derelict even in Dey’s
time. It is good to know that the Santiniketan Chapter
of the Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural
Heritage has taken up the task of documenting the
archeological sites of Birbhum. MONUMENTS AROUND
SANTINIKETAN (Shubhi, Rs 995), edited by Pialee
Mukherjee, gives a “cursory glimpse” of some of the
sites documented between 2001 and 2004. The short
write-ups accompanying the colour and black-and-white
plates give readers a fair idea of the legends
associated with the sites, as well as of their
Part one of the book, entitled
“Santiniketan: Abode of the Poet”, is about the
buildings in Santiniketan that carry the imprimatur of
Rabindranath’s vision. Top right is “Shyamali”, that
stands beside the Konarka at the far end of the
Uttarayana complex. This house, on which Rabindranath
had composed a poem, was one of his favourites. It is
unique in its mud walls, its façade reminiscent of
Buddhist chaityas, and the reliefs, three of which were
made by Ramkinkar Baij.
Top left is the Gauranga Mahaprabhu
temple in Hattala, Illambazar. The 24 columns and the
octagonal roof give the temple an unusual appearance.
The outer wall of the temple is decorated with
terracotta plaques depicting scenes from the Ramayan and
Krishnalila. The panel on bottom left, featuring
long-robed Arabian Muslims and European Christians
wearing high hats, is from the Hatakali temple in Itanda.
Bottom middle is the famous black
stone Durga of Deuli. In 1560, Kalapahar, the Hindu
general of Sultan Suleman Karnani, had broken the nose
of the figure and demolished the temple, which was later
reconstructed. On bottom right are two of the four Char
temples of Panchra that have white and black Shiva
While Intach should be lauded for
its efforts to document, and so, in a way, preserve the
sites, it could have paid better attention to the design
of this book. Most of the pictures are of poor quality,
and have been cropped badly. Notwithstanding space
constraints, photographs placed side-by-side that eat
into each other’s space cannot quite add to a book’s
15 October 2010, The Telegraph
From folk music festivals to plush
resorts, Jodhpur is about a magical experience, says
There have always been good reasons
to visit Jodhpur — the spectacular Mehrangarh Fort, the
desert, and the Walled City. But in October there is
another: the Jodhpur RIFF or Rajasthan International
Folk Festival celebrating Indian and international folk
This annual festival is timed to
coincide with the brightest full moon of the year in
north India. The combination of a full moon and the
venue of Mehrangarh Fort, voted Asia’s Best Fortress by
Time magazine and called ‘the work of giants’ by Rudyard
Kipling, cannot be beaten for beauty and atmosphere.
For five glorious days from October
21-25, 150 musicians and performing artists will bring
the fort alive, the sound of their music wafting down
the cliff to the city sprawled out below. You need to
book rooms fast, though, because the city’s hotels are
Fortunately, as I saw during my
visit in September, there are some fabulous new
additions such as Raas, located inside the Walled City
and Mihirgarh, an Arabian Nights-style fantasy fortress
a short drive away in the ‘desert’. I use apostrophe
marks because, thanks to this year’s bounteous monsoon,
the land has turned from usual dry scrub into a lush
Like a doctor delicately inserting
a stent, one of Jodhpur’s gilded youths, the former polo
player Nikhilendra Singh, has tucked Raas, a luxurious
boutique hotel, into a crevice of the Walled City. Singh
bought a 150-year-old haveli lying in ruins at the foot
of Mehrangarh Fort, restored it and added rooms,
restaurants and a pool using local materials that mesh
perfectly with the original structures. It’s a striking
juxtaposition of international chic with antiquity.
From the entrance, you approach a narrow, high walled
passage that reminded me of the long narrow gorge at
Petra that opens out into the famous Treasury.
At Raas, the passage opens out onto
a Mughal garden and there, right in front of you, is the
fort standing on its rocky escarpment. The balcony of
every room has this spectacular view and it’s a view
that made my heart dance with delight.
Right outside the hotel is the
Walled City which hums with life. In a five minute
stroll around the sprawling bazaar under the famous
Clock Tower, I saw a pile of bulbous clay pots that
artist Subodh Gupta would be proud of, a bangle maker
using hot coals and tools dating back five generations,
an ‘Elephant Man’ striding along challenging anyone to
stare at him, and a man selling antique locks whose side
business — his roadside stall displays two hand-painted
smiles — is dentures.
The fort is the greatest of India’s
desert forts and is probably one of the best-maintained
monuments in India. The Museum has a gift shop and a
café and there is plenty to see inside — gilt palanquins
and bejewelled daggers. Avoid a guide and take the
excellent audio tour. The Museum not only displays
elephant howdahs, weapons, costumes and rare textiles
but also some of the world’s finest miniature paintings.
Children will love the armouries and dungeons.
The view of the city from the fort
is sublime. Jodhpur’s name, the Blue City, comes from
the blue houses of Brahmins that shimmer in the sunshine
following a monsoon shower. Standing high above the
city, I could see children on the rooftops flying kites.
From the mosques came the haunting sound of the azan.
In the horizon stands Umaid Bhawan,
an art deco palace of red sandstone that can rival the
greatest of European cathedrals in its lofty grandeur.
Staying here is only for the super-rich but if you can
afford a meal in the restaurant Pillars, it’s worth it
for the views of the immense gardens.
The other great appeal of Jodhpur
is that, after a mere 10-minute drive, you can be out in
the countryside having tea with members of the Bishnoi
Known as ‘the world’s first
environmentalists’ owing to their love of wild animals
and protection of the environment, the Bishnois are now
famous. Any number of travel agents will be able to
organise tours to Bishnoi villages where you can ride on
camels and see black buck antelopes.
The antelopes (now a protected
species) trust the Bishnois so much that they stay close
to their villages knowing they will come to no harm.
Arjun Ram Bishnoi and his splendidly bejewelled wife
Devi, showed me a black buck antelope grazing near their
As we chatted later, drinking
masala tea, the laconic Arjun stroked the goat which
lives inside his hut with his family and remarked: “Some
animals give you more love than your own children.”
Drive another 30 minutes from the
Bishnoi villages and the desert proper begins and this
is a magical experience. The sense of a raw, rugged,
dusty vastness is thrilling. The Rohet Garh Wilderness
Camp is run by Sidharth Singh who owns Rohet Garh, the
palace where the late writer Bruce Chatwin spent six
months writing The Songlinesin1985 before this feudal
estate was turned into a hotel.
Madonna and Guy Ritchie were more
recent visitors. Singh, an accomplished horseman, was
impressed with Madonna’s stamina; she rode 30km a day on
the Marwari desert breed of horse, which Singh is
working to protect against extinction. The Wilderness
Camp is six tents on a sand dune in the Thar Desert. At
night, there is nothing but silence, moonlight,
infinity, stars and a soft breeze.
Singh and his wife Rashmi have just
opened another resort, a fortress made of mud on a high
sand dune at the desert’s edge from where, as far as the
eye can see, there is no human or animal life, just a
vast open plain stretching into the horizon.
Mihirgarh, or Sun Fortress, boasts
all the accoutrements one expects of a luxury
establishment but also celebrates the crafts of Jodhpur.
Virtually every single object in the nine palatial
suites has been hand-made by Jodhpur artisans. It is
part rustic Rajasthan with its divans and cushioned
niches carved into the mud walls in the rooms,
courtyards, terraces and balconies, and part ultra-cool
Reclining by the pool on the
terrace, I watched the sun set over the wilderness. All
was tranquility and stillness. It felt like a
dreamscape. Then, as an attendant appeared to replenish
my Darjeeling and Madeleine, I realised it was real.
What a relief.
READY RECKONERGetting there: From Calcutta you can fly to Jodhpur via
Delhi. The nearest railhead is the Jodhpur Railway
Station. Jodhpur is about 589km by road from Delhi.
Staying there: Accommodation is
available to suit all budgets. Expect to shell out Rs
15,500 per night for a double room at Raas. Mail to
16 October 2010, The Telegraph
Dredging on to restore glory of Dal Lake
A dredging project was carried out
in the Dal Lake as part of the state government’s
efforts to restore its pristine glory, a spokesman said
About five hectares inside the water
body was dredged by sophisticated machines this year.
Also nearly 2.56 lakh square metres skimming was cleared
by two water masters and three other machines, he said.
The manual cleaning of the lake, a star attraction for
tourists visiting the Valley, was badly affected due to
The spokesman said Minister of State for Tourism Nasir
Aslam Wani took stock of the cleaning and dredging of
the lake yesterday. He also directed the Lakes and
Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) to speed up the
manual cleaning by engaging the maximum number of
labourers in shifts.#
The minister also called for activating the technical
wing of the LAWDA to take the maximum work from the
deweeding machines round the clock to clear the worst
patches of the lake, the spokesman added.
16 October 2010, Tribune
An ancient story carved in stone
For over two years, traditional
artisans from Dholpur in Rajasthan — with knowledge of
an art passed down through the ages — have been working
at Humayun's Tomb
Sixty-year-old Atar Singh no longer
has to go around supervising over the other artisans as
they polish, cut and carve intricate designs on the red
sandstone. The light drizzle or even the visitors at the
Humayun's Tomb are no distraction for the stone-cutters
as they work tirelessly under blue plastic tents. Over
the last two years, the stone-cutters — traditional
artisans from Dholpur district in Rajasthan — have been
working at Humayun's Tomb, taking only a brief break
during the harvest season, when they go back to their
At a time when Indian
conservationists are arguing in favour of reconstructing
crumbling heritage structures instead of preserving them
as ruins, artisans like Atar Singh have been their
strong point in this debate. While most countries across
the globe no longer have traditional workers left to
reconstruct and restore heritage structures, India still
has people whose forefathers worked on monuments and
passed on the knowledge to them.
But, says Singh, today the youth in
Singh's village, Donari, and also neighbouring
villages--Saipu, Santnagar, Sehejpur, Badi--want to
learn how to work on computers in air-conditioned
offices than on stone out in the open. “But the
knowledge of this art will never be lost. There are
still a large number of young boys in the villages who
are being taught to work on stone. There were a few
elders in the village who taught us, and now we teach
the next generation,” says Singh.
But the stone work taught in the
villages is mostly crude, and it is only here that
experts from the Aga Khan Trust for Culture conduct
training workshops to polish their traditional skills
before they start replicating the jaalis and pillars,
using traditional tools and building techniques that
were used 500 years ago while Humayun's Tomb was being
It is a straight eight-hour work
schedule, after which the workers usually hangout at
neighbouring markets, the weekly Bhogal bazaar being
their favourite haunt. Bishnu, 20, from Ganeshra village
and Ajay, 19, from Dholpur, the youngest in the team,
say they don't really miss home. “It has been just a
year that we came to Delhi and we quite like it here. We
are trainees and are learning to cut and carve the
stones,” says Bishnu.
The work is not easy. Though some
designs are similar, the size and shape of each slab or
pillar is different. The measurements are given by
on-site architects, while the practised hands of the
stone-utters are quick to draw and carve out.
Singh says it is not easy to find
work that calls for such skills. The project at
Humayun's Tomb has been a steady source of income and
also an opportunity to keep the art alive. The AKTC
conducts special workshops during the summer months for
the younger children and family members of the artisans.
17 October 2010, The Indian Express
In the heritage hot seat
From agriculture to culture is a
long haul even for a battle scarred bureaucrat. But CV
Ananda Bose who took the hot seat as the first
administrator of the long-forsaken National Museum, says
he means to take it one day at a time.
"My mandate is to get the museum
back on the rails and I have a wealth of recommendations
from experts on what needs to be done," says Bose who
has set himself a target of 100 days, starting Friday,
15th October, to spruce up the housekeeping.
There are problems galore. A
staggering 109 posts lie vacant. Given its size and
treasures — 20,000 artefacts, of which only some are on
display for lack of manpower — the museum could do with
all the staff it can get. Twenty of the museum's 27
sections are open to the public. The building has
structural problems, especially leakage. For a long time
now, the museum has been headed by a joint secretary in
the ministry of culture. The last bureaucrat to head the
institution was Dr V S Madan, a joint secretary in the
ministry who held additional charge as the director
general of the National Museum. The lack of a dedicated
head has meant no long-term vision for a long time.
The effects are there to see.
Digitisation, which is absolutely imperative for the
conservation of rare and precious manuscripts, has yet
to happen.The signage is old and unhelpful. Visitors
pretty much have to fend for themselves. There are
issues of humidity and temperature control that need
However, what is perhaps most
depressing is the museum's take-it-or-leave-it air. It
simply does not reach out and engage with visitors. "The
museum has to become a focus for cultural exchange and
we definitely need outreach programmes to interest
people in its activities," says Bose. Recently, it tried
to do so during the just-concluded Commonwealth Games
with an exhibition of artefacts that dealt with sports.
The ministry of culture, of which
the prime minister is in charge, had been looking for a
professional museologist to head the institution. Having
drawn a blank, it appointed Bose, with sole charge of
the museum, and as an administrator. The search for a
professional continues in the meantime.
Bose says he is not rattled. "I
refuse to get intimidated by any assignment. I take a
while to understand how I can get it done in the
shortest possible time and then proceed to do it. I am
open to advice from domain experts," he says.
He is no stranger to controversy. His last posting as
managing director of the corruption-prone NAFED was
fraught with confrontation. Just months ago, he was
arbitrarily sacked by the federation's boards, which are
mainly made up of politicians. He was accused of
misusing funds. The agriculture ministry reinstated him
barely a week later, clearing his name and reaffirming
his mandate to clean up the NAFED stables.
"I seem to be the obvious choice
for problem posts," quips Bose who continues to head the
Kochi based Coconut Development Board. But the
bureaucrat is not all that alien to the world of
heritage. With a doctorate in habitat technology and
environment from BITS, he had steered the low cost
housing project in Kerala, Nirmitee Kendra, using
vernacular architectural techniques.
17 October 2010, The Times of India
World Heritage tag for nine locations?
Nine locations of the Western Ghats
region in the State are being proposed to be declared as
World Heritage Sites.
The river valleys of Bhadra,
Sharavati, including Jog Falls are being proposed to be
included in the list prepared by the Western Ghats Task
Force. Also on the list is Kudremukh-Agumbe-Somes- hwara
cluster, Bedthi and Kali river valleys in Uttara Kannada
district and Khanapur forest region of Belgaum.
An effective policy will be
promoted aiming at the conservation of bio-diversity in
all these regions along with participation of local
communities, who would have responsibility and as well
as share in financial benefits emerging out of
eco-tourism and any other eco-friendly activities in the
18 October 2010, Deccan Herald
Remains of the day
Nidgal, once called Kalanjana Giri, Kalanjana Durga and Neelavathi was a prosperous town and a capital under the Gangas, Nolambas, Hoysalas, Cholas, Mysore Wodeyars and Sultans, writes M B Sadashivaiah
Nidgal Betta, with its relics and
ruins including many crumbling structures, has much to
offer to historians, researchers, tourists, trekkers and
archaeologists. Also, it is home to some rare species of
flora and fauna.
This hill with a lot of historic significance is at a
distance of 25 kms from Pavagada, labelled as a backward
taluk, in the district of Tumkur. The Nidgal Fort area,
once called Kalanjana Giri, Kalanjana Durga and
Neelavathi was a prosperous town and a capital under the
reign of the Gangas, Nolambas, Hoysalas, Cholas, Mysore
Wodeyars and Sultans. Following the decline of the
Vijayanagara empire, the Amara Nayakas or Palegars who
came to prominence ruled this province either as
independent chieftains or as tributaries till 1798 with
Veera Thimmanna Nayaka as the last Palegar.
Architectural beautyStanding tall in the midst of a nearly 60-km radius of
mountain ranges, the hill with its unique fort, makes
for a grand picture. The huge fort, built with
heavy-sized stones, has seven portals with stone idols
of door keepers (dwarapalakas) carved on either side.
The rest houses and the stone mantapas all reflect the
military readiness of the then rulers. The citadel has
innumerable caves and underground passages for safety.
Nidgal is home to many architectural marvels with
carvings on stone pillars which portray wild animals
like lions, wolves, elephants, bears, serpents etc. You
can also spot engravings of rishis in meditative
postures, chariots in a drawn position and other
innumerable designs which all tell tales of yore. At
every hundred yards, you will spot a temple or a basadi
with many stone edicts inside them that speak about the
builder or the donor of the same. Nidgal is a land of
countless number of temples of multiple gods and
goddesses of Shaiva and Vaishnava sects.
Apart from architectural wonders such as temples and
forts, the region also has Jain basadis and masjids, all
in a dilapidated state with moss growing all over and
haunted by bats. A few prominent places of worship that
have been renovated with prayers being held even today
are the Lakshminarasimha Swamy temple, Veerabhadra Swamy
temple and Parshwanatha Jaina basadi. On the last Monday
of Shravana, the entire hill is full of pilgrims and
tourists who throng every temple and make a beeline to
the peak of the hill.
mutilated stone idols of Nandi, the peetas of Shivalinga,
Hanuman and other snake stones strewn across the thorny
bushes on either side of the paths make for a sorry
spectacle. At every hundred steps that lead to the
summit, you can spot water bodies, some small, some
large, some dried up and some with stagnant water
covered with bushes, plants and creepers. Today’s Nidgal
area has two tiny hamlets where people still follow the
traditional type of agriculture and cultivate ragi,
jowar, flowers and vegetables on small plots. Water is
supplied to these fields from the century old wells by
way of the picotta system. Cattle and sheep rearing
provide another means of livelihood to poor farmers who
find themselves answering curious questions from
travellers and passers-by about local history.
Panoramic views of landscapeWhile scaling the hill, at every step, you will be
treated to beautiful panoramic views of the landscape
below and the hill scape around. The ruined fort palace
with eroded granite structures, rusting canon that
remain at the top have all seen better and glorious
days. The rich flora and fauna of the deciduous forest
here presents another attraction to the visitor. Though
rain dependent, the region has large, tall trees of many
varieties making it a region of dense vegetation. The
landscape is interspersed with wild flowers of myriad
colours making it picture postcard pretty. Wildlife like
the cheetah, wolf, bear, rabbit, peacock abound in this
forest. In spite of centuries of enemy invasions in the
past and decades of aggressive treasure hunters raiding
the area, Nidgal Fort still stands. It is an area of
immense tourist potential, and need to developed along
the line of Hampi.
19 October 2010, Deccan Herald
Open up our treasure chests
It is heartening to see that the Ministry of Culture,
presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and
administered by Secretary Jawahar Sircar, is actively
considering amending the 1972 Act on Antiquities. Few
laws have borne such bitter fruit as the Indian
Antiquities and Art Treasures Act of
1972, ushering in a Dark Age for the heritage it sought
to protect. What prompted the then Government to enact
this legislation was to prevent smuggling and help
develop public interest in our heritage. The time has
come honestly to appraise its effects.
The Act has destroyed legitimate domestic trade in
antiquities, thereby making smuggling an attractive
option. Its onerous provisions for registration
(requires registering of objects more than 100 years
old, 75 years in the case of textiles, with details of
the purchaser, seller, price, origin of the piece along
with photo documentation) and licensing have made
antiquities a no-go area, to the extent that even
scholarship and research into our heritage has gone into
sharp decline. The chickens are now coming home to
roost. The Government cannot find scholars of repute to
head its museums and their specialised departments. More
than 50 per cent of all our public museums (including
the National Museum), home to the bulk of the nation’s
artistic patrimony, are headless.
Art and art scholarship depend on patronage and a lively
market place. It requires a network of collectors,
dealers and scholars to authenticate individual pieces,
guide collectors and educate the public. The Act
destroyed this network, the complexities of registration
and possibility of prosecution deterring collectors. No
collection of any significance has been formed since
1972, in sharp contrast to the numerous collections
between 1947 and 1972. The licensing of dealers and the
requirement of a detailed inventory for each object
drove the trade underground. I am told there are only
two dealers who ever took a licence.
The study of antiquities also withered. The story of the
two auction houses which attempted to revive domestic
trade in Indian antiques is well-known. Sotheby’s in
1992 and Bowring’s in 2004 were auctioning registered
pieces. The CBI and Archaeological Survey of India
hounded them, forcing them to close shop. Bowring’s case
is still under adjudication after it won in the High
Court but the ASI chose to file an appeal in the Supreme
The Antiquities Act was flawed in its scope and
ambition. No distinction is made between humble art
objects and works of art of high value. In the event,
only a small proportion of the total was actually
registered. The registration papers are scattered all
over the country, often misplaced, requiring owners to
re-register their collections.
The Indian contemporary art scene is fuelled by the new
rich. Galleries, curators and auctions have mushroomed
while prices have been benchmarked. The trading value of
contemporary art runs into thousands of crores. There
is, however, no means of evaluating the price of an
China, which destroyed its own priceless heritage during
Mao’s Cultural Revolution, has realised the importance
of its inheritance. We, who are envious of its economic
track record, should be equally so of what it is doing
to protect its heritage. Its museums are now
world-class. Though it has a ban on antique exports,
China has opened up its domestic market. Chinese
antiques are being sold to China’s new rich at prices
higher than in Western salerooms. Foreigners owning
valuable Chinese artworks are increasingly selling these
through Chinese auction houses. India’s new rich, like
their Chinese counterparts, have the appetite and
resources to buy heritage art. My estimate is that
benchmark valuations will grow exponentially once the
competitive urge to acquire takes hold of rich Indians.
The Indian Antiquities and Art Treasures Act was passed
during the heyday of the licence raj, an era brought to
its end by none other than Dr. Manmohan Singh. It would
be in the fitness of things if he could now free
antiquities from the clutches of the bureaucracy with
similar beneficial effects. Antiquities must once again
become objects to cherish, not shun.
Suresh Neotia is Chairman, Ambuja Cement Foundation
and art collector. The views expressed by the author are
20 October 2010, Hindustan Times
Booklets & brochures hardsell Delhi delights
The Commonwealth Games proved to be
a watershed moment for tourism in Delhi. Recently
introduced booklets and pamphlets like Metro map,
tourist guide, bed & breakfast directory, hop-on-hop-off
guide and monument-specific literature are not only
helping foreign tourists but also making it easier for
Delhiites to know their city better.
Introduced by the tourism department
during the Games, over two lakh copies of the booklets
have already been printed. The information brochures and
booklets have been made available at the airport,
hotels, Metro stations, monuments and at over one
hundred tourism kiosks.
''We want to tell about Delhi to as
many people as possible. We gave over 15,000 brochures
to OC so that they can reach athletes and dignitaries,''
said Delhi tourism MD Reena Ray.
Encouraged by the initial response,
the tourism department is planning new brochures on the
flora and fauna in Delhi and specific guides for popular
monuments like Red Fort and Qutub Minar. ''Soon, we will
give out information guides on parks in Delhi. They will
have information on bio-diversity rich areas and Delhi
ridge. A detailed series on how to explore monuments is
also in the offing,'' added Ray. Officials said the
booklets will be updated regularly.
International cities like London,
Paris and Rome are known for distributing informative
pamphlets for tourists. ''The feedback we've received
told us that the literature from these cities are
considered the best in the world and we wanted something
like that in Delhi. The Games gave us an opening to
introduce these brochures to the public,'' said an
A major objective of these booklets
is to make visitors at tourist destinations independent
and not fall victim to touts. ''Touts are a problem
especially at monuments, but they are there because most
visitors generally require guidance. It is the same in
the case of tour operators, they will take you for
shopping and eating only where they earn a commission.
Family based tourism is our objective and through the
information brochures, you can make your own decisions
on where to eat, visit and shop,'' said tourism
20 October 2010, Times of India
ASI's objections delay three parking projects
There seems to be no end to the
city's parking woes. Out of the three new multi-level
automatic parking lots that were to come up in the New
Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) area before the
Commonwealth Games, not even one is ready. To make
things worse, the much-publicised, multi-level parking
lot on Kasturba Gandhi (KG) Marg might not take off at
all, according to sources.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)
has still not granted approval to the KG Marg parking
lot, even though the NDMC has provided the ASI all the
approvals required for granting permission.
While two multi-level parking lots
were supposed to come up at Baba Kharak Singh (BKS) Marg
and KG Marg, the other one was to be constructed in
The ASI had refused to grant
permission to the NDMC for the proposed automated
multi-level parking lot at KG Marg, as it falls within
300 metres of a centrally-protected monument - Agrasen
Besides, ASI had raised objections
to the parking site's height too.
"We had got all relevant clearances
from concerned agencies, including the Delhi Urban Arts
Commission (DUAC). The digging work had also begun,”
said a senior NDMC official.
“But after the government passed an
amendment, envisaging a total ban on construction in the
prohibited area of ASI-protected monuments, the ASI has
now asked us to stop construction work," the official
After completion, the 6,219-sq ft
parking lot was to hold 1,582 cars.
"In view of the recent amendment to
the Act, we have not given permission for the
multi-level parking on KG Marg, as it falls within 300
metres of the ASI-protected Agrasen Ki Baoli," said a
senior ASI official.
As per the amendment, a National
Monument Authority is to be formed, which would give
The NDMC is now worried that the
project might be scrapped, as the ASI will take a final
decision on the matter.
"We have been continuously asking
for permission to go ahead with the construction but
nothing has come about," said Anand Tiwari, NDMC
20 October 2010, Times of India
Tourism at crossroads
Adventure. Heritage. Wildlife.
Cost-effective healthcare. From jungle lodges to
Ayurvedic massages, from tiger trips to hang gliding,
India is eyeing a new future in tourism. And not just
for dollars anymore. As the economy grows at 8 per cent
and middle class Indians hunt for exotic holidays and
unwinding opportunities, be it for weekends or long
summers, the promise has never been as great as it has
been for India.
“God’s Own Country” — Kerala, and
the orchids of Sikkim are matched by heart surgery
carried out in Bangalore or an eye surgery in Chennai.
The variety and the opportunity are breathtaking and
yet, India has a long way to go.
It is still only a fringe player on the global tourism
circuit, with a mere 0.58 per cent share of
international tourist arrivals, which the country
expects to double its share to around 1 per cent by
2020. In absolute numbers it means close to 16 million
tourists, strongly up from 5.1 million in 2009.
With 35,000 hotel rooms expected to be added over the
next four years, and roads, airports and promotions on
the rise, things could get better.
“We earned $9 billion last year through the sector and
the numbers will grow much more but favourable
conditions need to be created. We only need to promote
our self,” said S.M. Shervani president Hotel &
Restaurant Association of Northern India.
But that reveals only part of the story.
Consider this: India has only 120,000 hotel rooms in all
inspite of its huge size, which is far less than even
city zones such as Las Vegas, Dubai and Bangkok.
“The shortage of hotel rooms leads to higher room rates
that adversely affects our competitiveness and deters
tourists from planning a visit to the country,” said
P.R.Srinivas, leader, travel, hospitality & tourism, at
consultancy Deloitte India.
Sudeep Jain, vice president at consultancy firm Jones
Lang LaSalle Hotels said that lack of infrastructure
status to the industry means debt at higher rates for
developers of hotels.
The recent Commonwealth Games in Delhi failed to deliver
tourists despite the build-up, showing that hotel rooms
alone are not the issue.
“The fact remains that tourist arrivals did not
materialise as expected and bookings were at an all time
low. Otherwise, October is a vacation month and industry
celebrates the month," explained Shervani, underlining
the irony of the situation.
Even Indians who travel abroad far outnumber the influx
of tourists in India.
Around 8 million Indians go abroad and 5 million come
into the country. In 2008, 10 million foreign tourists
were targeted and the hospitality industry actually
faced a shortfall of 130,000 rooms in all categories
across India. In Delhi and NCR alone there was a
shortfall of 40,000 hotel rooms.
As compared with other Asian countries like Thailand
India still is looked upon as a costly destination,”
said Srinivas. Despite this, medical tourism, religious
tourism, heritage tours and adventure packages were
growing in India, though on a small base, he said.
Industry officials say even domestic tourists who travel
abroad can be wooed to stay back and tour within India
if the industry gets its act together. For instance, in
the US, as much as 87 per cent of the tourist traffic is
23 October 2010, Hindustan Times
An equal music
It is that time of the year again
when the deserts of Rajasthan come alive with strains of
sarangi and soulful folk renditions. The fourth edition
of the Rajasthan International Folk Festival (RIFF) is
underway in the blue city of Jodhpur, drawing together
stalwart performers and music connoisseurs from all
over. The sprawling Mehrangarh Fort is alive with the
thumping of dholaks, the sound of khartals, guitar riffs
and well, murmurs about the presence of Mick Jagger. The
legendary grand old man of Rolling Stones is the patron
of the festival, along with the Maharaja of Jodhpur, but
he is nowhere to be seen.
So far, at least. The first day of
the festival, that began on Thursday under a moonlit
zenana courtyard, was not as delightful as one has come
to expect of the festival. Last year, for instance, folk
artiste Bhawari Devi’s stellar opening concert had set
the mood for a spectacular festival. This year though,
the Maand performance by Ali Mohammad and Chironji Lal
was sedate, but hardly inspired. The only redeeming
factor was the beautiful sarangi rendition by Zaffar
The second performance of the day began with a classical
recital by Ashwini Bhide, who sang a couple of bhajans,
a maand and a khayal. Her maand could be called the
highlight of the day as it drew the maximum applause
from a house which was far from being packed. “I belong
to the Jaipur Atrauli gharana. However, I have no
connection with the beautiful desert state. My maand is
a tribute to this city and the good old folks of
Rajasthan,” said Bhide, who performed at the venue for
the first time. The final performance of the day had a
group of Polish dancers from Warsaw who showcased the
Polish country carnival. Not many stayed on to cheer for
this one though.
Lacklustre performances aside, the opening day also saw
some organisational crises. To add to the woes of the
organisers— Jaipur Virasat Foundation— popular Pakistani
rock band Mekal Hasan members have been denied visas.
“We will have Delhi-based band Advaita play in their
place on the second day,” assured the festival director,
Divya Bhatia. But Advaita’s guitarist Abhishek Mathur
says the band never confirmed their participation. “We
wanted to play at a prestigious festival like this, but
nobody figured out our travel arrangements. They merely
assumed we will be playing there,” he says.
Day two however, began on a more promising note, with
devotional recitals at dawn by Maali Devi and Jamuna
Devi at the Jaswant Thada, the royal burial ground near
the Fort. The intimate gathering swayed to the lilting
melodies, as the musicians sang tributes to divinity.
“We are used to doing jagrans all night. It’s God’s
service,” said Jamuna Devi, who belongs to a community
where women are not allowed to perform in public.
The first day may not have begun at its best, but over
the next few days there are some engaging performances,
including an interesting collaboration between guitarist
Sam Mills, Susheela Raman, an acclaimed British musician
of Indian origin, and local folk percussionists. There
is also a flemenco and Kalbeliya collaboration and a
finale with multi-percussionist Pete Lockett. Living up
to its reputation might not be so difficult, after all.
23 October 2010, Indian Express
Believe it or not!
Our might not find them in glossy
tourist guides or Google maps. But they could be located
in your city, underneath a bridge, in a cramped mohalla
or on a college campus. They're the memorials, relics
and structures you probably wouldn't expect to see in
your city because hardly anyone knows they're there.
Here are a few we found:
Benaras ki Rani
Varanasi: Leaping across slushy puddles and dodging
stray dogs in downtown Varanasi, one wouldn't bet on
coming across anything even mildly interesting. But
then, India is the land of the unexpected. If you happen
to be in Bhadaini mohalla in the Assi area, keep your
eyes peeled for a small plaque on a dilapidated wall.
The inscription reads "Kashi ki kanya, Jhansi ki Rani."
This then is the birthplace of Rani Lakshmi Bai of
It's easy to miss because nothing marks the spot other
than the plaque and its bald announcement. But the
district gazetteer records that "in the city of Varanasi
in 1835 was born to Moropant Tambe (a Maratha scholar)
and his wife Bhagirathi a girl whom they named Manu Bai
and who later came to be known as Lakshmi Bai." Manu Bai
reportedly lived here for four years. In 1839, Peshwa
Chimmaji Appa died. Tambe was at his court so he took
his family away from Varanasi to Bithoor, the court of
Peshwa Balaji Bajirao.
But the Rani of Jhansi was really a Benaras girl. Her
story is the stuff that legends are made of. Married to
the middle-aged king of Jhansi when she was just seven,
she ruled the kingdom after his death, challenged the
British on the battlefield and died in 1858. She is
venerated for her role in the 1857 revolt and her
exploits have been immortalized in Subhadra Kumari
Chauhan's poem "Khoob Ladi Mardani..."
But for the last 153 years, this brave queen's
birthplace has known nothing but official apathy. Broken
concrete slabs, a forlorn hand pump, dilapidated walls
hardly make for a royal memorial. Rajendra Pratap Pandey,
secretary of the Maharani Lakshmi Bai Nyas, says the
state government had once provided money to create a
fitting memorial here but it was diverted to other
The queen's 175th birth anniversary is on November 19
and historians say they hope attention is lavished at
last on Varanasi's hidden historical gem.
A Madrasi Yale
Chennai: Scores of students walk past the narrow
tombstone in the Government Law College's leafy campus,
never giving it a second look. "It looks like a masoodi
(mosque)," says third-year student Madan S, on being
invited to look at it critically.
He is way off the mark but then hardly anyone in Chennai
— and even fewer outside it — know that the obelisk has
a profound Ivy League connection. Here lies buried
David, son of Elihu Yale who later became a benefactor
of a Connecticut college that went on to become Yale
University. Also buried alongside is Joseph Hynmer, a
British East India Company official who was the first
husband of Elihu Yale's wife. Yale married Hynmer's
widow Catherine. Their son, David died young and was
buried under the obelisk in 1688. Elihu set up the
Madras Corporation and became governor of Fort St
George. By the time he left the East India Company, he
had amassed considerable wealth. It was a part of this
that he bequeathed to the college that went on become
famous as Yale.
But there is more to the obelisk than its Ivy League
link. It is one of the last relics of a burial ground
used by the French as they fought the British for
control in the 18th century. In "Vestiges of Old
Madras", Henry Davison Love writes, "The great cupolas
and obelisks which filled the burial ground in old black
town afforded so much cover to the French during the
siege that it was resolved (by the British) to dismantle
them". A new town came up and everything was consigned
to the dustbin of history till excavations for a law
college in the 1890s unearthed bones, says Love. The
cemetery was rediscovered.
The Mystere-ous bird
Delhi: This bird of war lacks a nose, its sheen has
gone and its wings are sometimes used to dry the
laundry. But there's still no denying the faded majesty
of the Mystere Mark IV fighter-bomber that sits in the
compound of the Rajya Sainik Board (RSB), across the
road from the Tis Hazari courts.
Hardly anyone knows it is there and the supplicants who
throng the courthouse never glance across the road at
the plane that incongruously sits there. Visitors to the
Jammu and Kashmir State Tourism Board office can hardly
fail to see the plane parked in the forecourt, but there
is nothing to explain why it is where it is.
It was one of the 110 Mystere IV-As that the Indian Air
Force bought from French firm Dassault in 1957. In May
that year, squadron leader Dilbagh Singh, who went on to
become Chief of Air Staff, flew a Mystere Mark IV to
demonstrate the first official supersonic bang over
The Mysteres performed exemplarily in both the 1965 and
1971 wars against Pakistan. They were instrumental in
immobilizing enemy armour during the battle of Chawinda
in 1965 and the routing of the Pakistan Ist Armoured
Corps' 67th Infantry Brigade at Fazilka in 1971. After
the war, the Mysteres were decommissioned and sent off
to different institutions.
Sources said the aircraft arrived at its unlikely
location "from Hindon air base sometime after 1987 when
the RSB set up base here." The single-pilot plane sits
on a platform in the RSB compound but remains unmarked
and unregarded in every other respect. Those in know say
it more than money is needed to showcase the plane.
"It's the right attitude that's missing".
The IAF washes its hands off the whole matter,
reportedly offering to do no more than dismantle it and
take it away because it would cost at least Rs 80,000 to
refurbish it. IAF PRO, wing commander T K Singha points
out, "Once these planes are given to institutions etc,
they become the guardians."
So a war veteran of the skies now rusts in the shadows,
even as the shiny Delhi Metro streaks by right above it.
Ole for Pele!
Bangalore: A soccer-crazy slum and it's not even in
Kolkata. Gowthampaura seems an aberration in the heart
of Bangalore — almost every child here aspires to be,
not an IT professional, but a footballer. At the
entrance to the slum, which is known as 'Little Brazil',
stands a five-foot statue of a football legend — not
Bhutia — but Pele. He wears Brazilian colours.
Early in 2002, when the locality decided it wanted a
footballer for a statue, the question was who?
Gowthamapura has produced a clutch of football stars of
its own, including P Kannan, known as 'Asian Pele'; the
'Indian Pele' Ulaganathan and Olympian S A Bashir. So it
was a delicate diplomatic task to avoid upsetting one or
the other. This is how the Brazilian legend became the
unanimous choice. Of course, Pele never came to pose;
they had to rely on posters and photographs to create
Football jersey is the area's dress code. It has a team
too, Bangalore Mars, which competes in the 'A' Division.
Team manager Divyanathan says, "Football is everything
to us. We make sure all youngsters in our locality play
it, boy or girl. The only thing that gets us moving is
football whether we are watching or playing." The
beautiful game is the only thing orderly in the local
On Curzon's trail
Guwahati: The 110-year old building seems to stand tall
in defiance of long neglect. Its courtyard is used as a
parking lot for the city corporation's pushcarts. But
that cannot dim the grandeur of the Nabin Chandra
Bordoloi Library, formerly known as Curzon Hall, in the
very heart of the Assamese capital.
It was built when Lord Curzon, then viceroy of India,
visited Assam in 1900. Locals reportedly pooled about Rs
14,000 to build something they thought would indicate
the warmth of his welcome. They weren't to know that he
would go on to partition Bengal just five years later.
The Hall fairly bustled with the life of British
officialdom till 1947. In 1969, the Guwahati Municipal
Corporation (GMC) took it over and it was renamed after
the Assamese freedom fighter in the 1980s.
Bhaben Das, who works at the library, says it is popular
and "the visitors keep it alive". But few know what it
once was and why it was built. Perhaps not even the GMC,
complain conservationists, who are appalled at the
Corporation's demand that the land be used for other
24 October 2010, The Times of India
$1bn World Bank aid for Mission Ganga
The World Bank has agreed to provide
$1 billion for the Mission Clean Ganga being implemented
by the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA)
headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for restoring
the “wholesomeness” of the river system by minimising
its pollution level, the Centre has informed the Supreme
The first meeting of the authority
decided to ensure that no untreated municipal sewage and
industrial effluents would be allowed to flow into the
Ganga by 2020, Attorney-General and Additional
Solicitor-General Mohan Jain informed a three-member
Bench headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia on Friday.
The meeting, chaired by the PM, also approved an action
plan to achieve the objectives of the mission that would
restore the purity of the Ganga system and improve its
ecological health, according to documents submitted to
the apex court by the AG and ASG.
Importantly, the mission would use both scientific
application of modern tools and technologies and
“traditional wisdom”. For this, a joint team comprising
postgraduate and doctoral students of all seven Indian
Institutes of Technology would prepare a comprehensive
river basin management plan. An agreement has been
signed recently between the Environment Ministry and the
IITs, the SC was informed.
The NGRBA has set up a standing committee headed by
Pranab Mukherjee to take quick decisions and
periodically review and assess the work. For better
coordination and implementation of the conservation
activities at the state level, the empowered State Ganga
River Conservation Authorities has been notified for all
the NGRBA states, Uttarakhand, UP, Bihar, Jharkhand and
25 October 2010, The Tribune
Andhra, too, has a Shravanabelagola
A new place in South India is
gaining importance as a pilgrim centre among Jain
devotees, apart from the famed Shravanabelagola in
About 100 km from Hyderabad at
Kolcharam in Medak district is the temple of Parsvnath,
the 23rd Jain Theerthankar, which is being visited by
community members from not only Andhra Pradesh but also
from the adjoining states.
Legend says the idol installed in
the temple was found at the site where villagers were
trying to construct a colony. Efforts to build houses on
the deserted piece of land was getting repeatedly
affected, as the half-built houses used to catch fire.
A 11-foot-tall black basalt rock idol of
Vighnaharaneswar Parsvnath was then unearthed from the
site. It was only after this that the villagers could
build the houses. During excavation, the idol was found
hidden deep into the soil and it took a large army of
men to dig it out.
The villagers first took the idol to be Lord Shiva’s, as
it was of a man with a seven-hooded serpent over his
head, and began offering prayers accordingly.
But a Jain traveler passing though the area noticed the
idol and identified it as the 23rd Theerthankar’s.
He informed the community members in Hyderabad about it,
who sent experts to confirm that it was indeed that of
The Jains tried to take over the idol but failed as they
needed permission from the Archaeological Survey of
India. In 2000, the All India Jain Digambar
Theerthsamrakshani Mahasabha took initiative and
purchased the land for construction of a temple there.
A temple and a dormitory were consequently built after
which devotees from different parts of the state started
arriving for darshan, particularly on Sundays.
Bathing of the idol in milk or Ksheerabhishekam is done
to the idol as in the case of the monolithic structure
of Gomateswara Bahubali, the first Theerthankar, at
Much like the idol of Gomateswara gets completely bathed
after the Mahamastabhisheka or the bathing of the statue
from its head, here, too, the milk poured from the top
travels through the seven hoods of the serpent, the
shoulder of Parsvnath and finally touches the feet of
The locals, meanwhile, believe Parsvnath to be a deity
that brings a good harvest. Even after the idol was
handed over to the Jain community, they still offer
prayer at the beginning of the agriculture season.
25 October 2010, Deccan Herald
Throwing light on Big Temple
Almost two decades ago, the
Government of India funded-IGNCA launched an elaborate
project to study the Brihadisvara temple at Thanjavur.
It planned to bring out a series of publications,
including a multilingual bibliography and a compendium
of epigraphs, to disseminate the findings of the study.
However, only one comprehensive publication saw the
light of day. Pierre Pichard's excellent work on the
temple architecture was the first book to be published,
and that was in 1995. Nagaswamy's book under review is
the second one in the promised series. The millennium
celebrations of the Brihadisvara temple probably
provided the impetus.
There are more than 600 sculptures
ranging from the large wonderful ones found in the
niches of the vimana (temple tower) to the smaller ones
in the cornices of the temple. The book, which
identifies almost every one of them, describes them
elaborately, and explains the associated legends, should
serve as a useful compendium for the scholars as well as
others interested in the subject.
An equally important feature of the book is the
exhaustive explanation it offers about the ‘form' of the
temple in terms of its plan and structure. Nagaswamy
strongly disagrees with earlier studies that see the
form and sculptures as an expression of personal power.
At the core of his contention is the point that the
architecture and the sculptural layout of the temple are
manifestations of liturgical ideas and that they were
not driven by the “temporal ambition” of Rajaraja I
(985-1014 CE). Take, for instance, the several identical
sculptures seen in the vimana featuring persons with
long bows and arrows. Drawing support from the
descriptions found in the religious texts, he identifies
them as Sata Rudras, rejecting the commonly held view
that they represent Tripurantaka, Siva as the vanquisher
of three cities. This interpretation is significant
since the alternative theories cite these sculptures as
important evidence of royal symbolism. Temples emerge at
the intersection of many factors and any deterministic
viewpoint — whether political or religious — will only
tell a part of the story.
On the strength of some architectural and sculptural
evidences, Nagaswamy concludes that the Brihadisvara
temple was based on the Makutagama, a Saiva agama
(liturgical text) that invokes
‘Paramananda-Tandava-murti' (the dancing aspect of
However, there are places where the book suggests that
the temple was not exclusively based on any one agama
but combined in itself aspects of several agamas. For
example, the sculpture in one of the niches of the
vimana identified as ‘Aghora murti' — an important
factor in establishing the core concept of the temple —
is from ‘ Aghora-Sivacarya-paddhati', not Makutagama.
Also, some key aspects of the temple such as the shape
of the linga do not entirely accord with the tenets of
Interestingly, the Brihadisvara temple, which boasts a
large number of inscriptions that speak of a wide range
and variety of things related to it, has none that
throws light on the agamic aspect. This is in contrast
to the Sundaravaradaraja temple in Uttiramerur (Kancheepuram
district), where the inscriptions contain specific
references to the use of liturgical texts. The inclusion
of a chapter dedicated to a discussion on the dates and
chronology of agamas would have helped in clarifying
their role. Its absence is conspicuous and acutely felt
particularly because the premise on which the book is
based and the alternative view are text-related.
The section on karna (dance postures) sculptures is
quite appealing. Brihadisvara is the earliest temple
that has 81 of the 108 karnas depicted. Over 400 dancers
had dedicated themselves to the service of god. Apart
from providing a detailed description of the panels, the
book cites ancient commentaries to explain and locate
the sculptures within the history of Indian dance
tradition. It also establishes that the temple followed
the southern recension of Bharata's Natyasastra and the
panels were carved before Abhinavagupta's commentary
reached Thanjavur. The layout of this section and many
others could have been more reader-friendly. For
example, placing illustrations alongside descriptions
would have made it easier for the reader.
Based as it is on newly found inscriptions, many of them
discovered by the author himself, the book offers
refreshingly new insights into the history and
sculptures of the temple. Going by an inscription
datable to the Rajaraja's period, Nagaswamy adds seven
more metal images deified in the temple to the 60-plus
which historians have listed so far. He thinks it is
possible a few more had existed.
One of the most interesting, but intriguing, finds is an
inscription, somewhat damaged, in the inner gopura
(entrance tower). Nagaswamy is of the view that it
suggests the entire vimana had been covered with gold.
Does it? Or, could it be a case of poetic liberty
wherein a simple offering of gold is romanticised as a
lavish covering of the entire tower? The book is certain
to provoke constructive debates on this and many other
26 October 2010, The Hindu
Sikh Heritage award for Vikramjit
Delhi resident and Padma Shree
awardee Vikramjit Singh Sahney was presented with the
Sikh Heritage award for leadership at a gala evening in
New York public library. Sahney is the international
president, World Punjabi Organization.
He has been working on enriching the
Sikh history and culture.
The award was presented by Hardip Puri, Indian
ambassador to the United Nations in presence of Prabhu
Dayal, Indian consul general; hotelier Sant Singh
Chatwal and Teji Bindra, president, Sikh Art & Film
26 October 2010, The Tribune
Municipal Corporation seeks temporary accommodation
With the Asian Development Bank (ADB)
approving Rs 20 crore for restoration of the historic
Town Hall building along with beautification of the
Mall, the local Municipal Corporation (MC) has written
to the government to provide them with an alternative
The MC office housed in the
British-time Town Hall will have to move out to
facilitate restoration of the building on the lines of
the Gaiety Theatre. With the MC providing several public
services, the alternative accommodation provided to them
will have to be centrally located so that people do not
“We had earlier written to the government to provide us
the US Club accommodation from where the Public Works
Department has moved out to its own office, Nirman
Bhawan, so that we can start preparing for the
restoration project to take off,” said AN Sharma,
With the government giving the US Club building to the
Tourism Department for setting up of a museum and club
for public, it is not certain whether the accommodation
can be provided to the MC.
He said with the money likely to be released next month,
they would have to look for alternative accommodation at
the earliest. The MC has also suggested that the
building housing the DIG office on the Kali Bari road
can also be given temporarily to them, he added.
The conservation project of the Gaiety Theatre was
completed last year after almost a decade-long work
commissioned under the strict supervision of
conservation architects and experts who had undertaken
conservation of stone structures, especially of the
The Town Hall being a landmark of the British era is a
heritage structure which has started showing signs of
crumbling and is in the need of major restoration and
conservation work. The ADB team during its last visit
had inspected the Town Hall building as well as the
Ridge area which had developed major cracks due to
“We intend to undertake restoration of the Town Hall as
well as stabilisation of the Ridge along with
beautification works in and around the Mall,” said
He said the experts from the Geological Survey of India
(GSI) were also of the opinion that a lightweight
structure would have to be erected to stabilise the
sinking portion above the Tibetan market.
26 October 2010, The Tribune
Artists, corporates join hands for tiger conservation
Contemporary Indian art is conveying
powerful messages. One of them is concern for
environment and tigers.
A unique public art initiative,
Artiger, is bringing 57 renowned artists, 50 corporate
houses, 52 public spaces and the Ranthambore Foundation,
the non-profit development groups and the common men
under one umbrella to work for the cause for conserving
Conceived by curator and gallerist Aparajita Jain, art
collector and promoter Swapan Seth and Delhi-based youth
activist Nandita Kathpalia Baig, the project will
facilitate dialogue between the common people and the
stakeholders about tiger conservation with display of
tiger art in public spaces.
The four-month project will be launched early December
with the unveiling of '57 life-size fibre glass tigers'
at locations across the capital.
Billed by the team as one of the largest public art
displays in the country, it will feature prominent
artists like Anjolie Ela Menon, Arpita Singh,
Chittrovanu Mazumdar, G.R. Iranna, Jayasri Burman, Manu
Parekh, Satish Gujral and several more.
Some of the corporate sponsors on the list include
Abhishek Dalmia and Deepali Dalmia, Ambuja Realty,
Apollo Tyres, Apolloindia (Raaja Kanwar), Artemis
Hospital (Dr. Katariya), DLF and Borosil.
Announcing the project Friday, co-organiser Aprajita
Jain said: 'Art in public spaces is a highly potent
awareness tool in a diverse country like India as it
transcends boundaries. The overwhelming response that we
have received proves we will make a difference.'
The project will be implemented by Saath Saath Arts, an
NGO that uses art to generate funds and awareness about
Commenting on the initiative, Swapan Seth, managing
partner of art house Henry S. Clark, said: 'Artiger was
a remarkable testimony to the coming together of
artists, corporates and government to leave behind an
imprint on public spaces. It is often felt that Indian
art has never received a collective corporate or
The 57 fibre glass sculptures have been booked by
corporate organisations. The funds raised from the
corporates will be donated to Ranthambore Foundation,
one of India's oldest and most well-known organizations
working in the field of tiger conservation.
26 October 2010, The Pioneer
Huge amber deposit discovery in western India
Hundreds of prehistoric insects and
other creatures have been discovered in a large haul of
amber excavated from a coal mine in western India. An
international team of fossil hunters recovered 150kg of
the resin from Cambay Shale in Gujarat province, making
it one of the largest amber collections on record. The
tiny animals became entombed in the fossilised tree
resin some 52 million years ago, before the Indian
subcontinent crunched into Asia to produce the Himalayan
Jes Rust, a paleontologist at Bonn
University, said the creatures, including ancient bees,
spiders, termites, gnats, ants and flies, were in
remarkably good condition considering their age. In
total, the team has identified more than 700 arthropods,
a group of animals that includes insects, crustaceans
Well preserved with details
“They are so well preserved. It's
like having the complete dinosaur, not just the bones.
You can see all the surface details on their bodies and
wings. It's fantastic,” Rust told the Guardian. The
remains of two praying mantises were also found.
Insects and other small animals may be trapped in resin
flowing down tree bark, or as it covers their dead
bodies on the forest floor. The resin hardens into a
translucent yellow material that preserves them.
The amber is the oldest evidence
scientists have of tropical forests in Asia. Tests
linked the amber to a family of hardwood trees called
dipterocarpaceae, that make up 80 per cent of the forest
canopy in South-East Asia.
Fossilised wood from these trees
was found alongside the amber deposits. Rust said that
much of India may have been covered in forests at the
time the amber formed.
The trapped insects give a
revealing snapshot of life in India before it collided
with Asia. India was once attached to Africa but
separated some 160 million years ago. For the next 100
million years, India's landmass moved towards Asia at
around 20 cm a year.
India was isolated for so long that
it could have evolved unique flora and fauna, but the
encased insects suggest this did not happen. Writing in
the U.S. journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences, the team describe life forms in the amber
closely related to those in Asia and Europe. As India
moved towards Asia, the encroaching continental plates
may have created an arc of islands that connected the
two landmasses like stepping stones long before 50
million years ago, said Rust. This would allow species
from India, Asia and Europe to mix.
“We think that, before the final
collision between India and Asia, some sort of island
arc was established. Our findings suggest that the
mixing of fauna was already so strong, that it was
already happening for several million years,” said Rust.
Once species from India had crossed into Asia, they
could have spread further, eventually reaching
Michael Engel, curator of
entomology at the University of Kansas, said: “What we
found indicates that India was not completely isolated,
even though the Cambray deposit dates from a time that
precedes the slamming of India into Asia. There might
have been some linkages.” The team has so far recorded
100 different arthropod species, but Rust said they
expect to find more, some of which are likely to be
close relatives of animals in Africa and Madagascar.
27 October 2010, The Tribune
To beautify Walled City, DDA ropes in help from Barcelona
In a bid to ensure development of
the Walled City, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA)
has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the
Barcelona Strategic Urban Systems, AIE, Spain who
represent the Barcelona City Council.
The MoU, signed at Raj Niwas on
Tuesday afternoon, looks to “initiate cooperation in the
fields or urban planning, especially in the areas of
heritage conservation, public spaces and urban renewal
of the Walled City, and its extension,” said
Lieutenant-Governor Tejendra Khanna.
As per the MoU, the DDA and
Barcelona City Council have also decided to undertake
“joint research activities”. “The Walled City —
Shahjahanabad — needs special treatment to conserve its
heritage value while retaining the residential
character,” read DDA’s statement. It also listed
redevelopment of government-owned and private properties
The move will, however, put the
Authority in direct confrontation with the already
existent Shahjahanabad Redevelopment Corporation, whose
objectives are almost the same.
The MoU also holds that the two
parties will also strive to “formulate a policy for
integrating historical monuments and precincts in the
layout plans and formulating building controls in
relation to height material for the buildings in the
vicinity of these monuments.”
Barcelona’s public squares are
globally renowned and DDA’s ambitious plans include
setting up similar squares in the Capital, for which it
hopes to seek advice from experts in the Barcelona City
Microbrewery at IGIThe Delhi Development Authority, in its meeting held on
Tuesday, also approved the plan to bring in a minor
amendment in the Masterplan 2021 to allow for setting up
a microbrewery at the Indira Gandhi International
Airport. The microbrewery proposal has already been
approved under the Excise Policy and by the Central
Pollution Control Board. DDA’s technical committee has
now forwarded the proposal for clearance to the Ministry
of Urban Development.
Housing maintenance policyWith the DDA ready to announce its biggest housing
scheme ever — with 15,000 houses to be sold — in
November, the land owning agency also approved its new
housing maintenance policy on Tuesday. Under this
policy, common portions, and exteriors of DDA flats will
be maintained by the DDA for a period of 30 years, and
an amount for this service will be included in the cost
of the flat at the time of allotment. The special
maintenance includes “grit wash every 10 years,
stairwell plaster and whitewash once every 3 years,
flooring once every 5 years, and sanitary line drainage
once every 3 years”, among other things.
27 October 2010, The Tribune
ASI pulled up for illegal demolition
The ASI has been fined by Delhi high
court for forcibly entering private properties situated
near an ancient monument in south Delhi and demolishing
some parts of them.
Justice S Muralidhar gave two weeks' time to ASI to
restore ownership of two adjoining properties in Kotla
Mubarakpur area to its owners who had been forcibly
evicted and to compensate them by paying Rs 10,000 each.
"The action of ASI on December 23, 2003 to enter both
properties in question, demolishing the constructions
and forcibly taking over possession are held to be
without authority of law," the court noted while ruling
in favour of petitioners 'Nahata Traders & Builders' and
'Nahata Group of Builders & Financiers', who approached
HC against the demolition followed by eviction.
The petitioners informed HC that they purchased land
in 1982 after which it was mutated and numbered by the
27 October 2010, The Tribune
Promoting tiger conservation through art
As the need to conserve tigers in
the country becomes imperative, more and more
individuals and organisations are coming up to support
the cause. This coming December, 57 renowned artists, 50
corporate houses, the Ranthambhore Foundation and
non-government organisations would come together to
present a public art initiative for tiger conservation
Conceived by art curator Aparajita
Jain, art house Henry S. Clark's managing partner Swapan
Seth and NGO Youthreach board member Nandita Kathpalia
Baig, the four-month project would see installation of
57 life-size fibreglass tigers at 52 locations across
Delhi. The initiative is aimed at promoting public
awareness about tiger conservation through art.
“Art in public spaces is a highly
potent awareness tool, especially in a diverse country
like India as it transcends all boundaries. The
overwhelming response that we have received from all
ends allows me to believe that together we can and
together we will make a difference,” says Ms. Jain.
Participating artists include
renowned names like Anjolie Ela Menon, Satish Gujral,
Jayasri Burman and Chittrovanu Mazumdar. Implementation
of the project would be carried out by Saat Saath Arts,
an NGO that uses art to generate funds and awareness on
Among the corporate sponsors are
Apollo Tyres, DLF, Fortis Hospitals, Jindal, Patni
Computers, Punj Lloyd and Borosil who have already
booked the tiger installations.
Funds raised through these
corporates would be donated to the Ranthambhore
Foundation, an NGO that works for tiger conservation.
The funds raised from Artiger would go towards
empowering women, educating children in villages
surrounding Ranthambhore National Park and working with
local “poaching tribes”.
Talking about the initiative,
Ranthambhore Foundation chairman Bharat Kapur said: “The
tiger gets talked about. The issue of the very urgent
need to actively engage in the tiger's survival in the
wild gets ‘aired' and through the application of the
resources generated, there is direct intervention on the
ground with work to save the tiger in India's wilderness
28 October 2010, The Hindu
Humayun's Tomb integration plan may miss UNESCO’s Dec deadline
Archaeological Survey of India's (ASI)
plans to re-integrate the 16th century Neela Gumbad with
World Heritage Site Humayun's Tomb could be put on hold
for six years. Sources say the extension plans for
India's world heritage sites have to be submitted to
Unesco by December as part of the six-year periodical
review. But with ASI yet to get an official consent from
Northern Railways, though the matter has been pending
for nearly three years, there seems little chance of the
deadline being met.
The Railways has to officially sign
on an agreement it reached with ASI earlier this year to
hand over 34 metres of land on the north and south of
Neela Gumbad to ASI and allow the road bifurcating the
two sites at present to be shifted to the structure's
eastern side. However, while the Railways has agreed to
the plan in principle, ASI officials allege that it has
since then been resorting to delaying tactics and
signing the agreement.
"I have written to ASI with draft
agreements on the plan over six months ago but not
received a signed copy from them," said Mohit Lila, a
senior official of the Railways. ASI officials, however,
claim that they have sent signed agreements to the
Railways on at least two occasions. "Plans for linking
Neela Gumbad and the Humayun's Tomb complex have been in
the making since 2007. It is critical as Neela Gumbad
was originally a part of this complex and now it's
inaccessible to visitors. But getting the Railway's
cooperation for this has been a mammoth task," said a
Integration plans aside, ASI
officials alleged that the Railways has been using the
area around Neela Gumbad as a dumping ground and the
area has become a complete eyesore. Garbage and filth,
besides track material of the Railways, can be seen all
around the site. Officials said Railways has also
constructed temporary labour huts in one corner.
"In the last few months, more
construction material has been dumped next to this
monument. The matter has now been taken up by secretary,
culture, with the railways board," said an ASI official.
ASI has already lodged two complaints against the
railways for unauthorised construction around Neela
A spokesperson for railways said
they were facing a "peculiar" problem. "There is no
other entry/exit point for material to be taken in and
out of Nizamuddin railway station. There is Millenium
Park on one side which is sealed and Barapullah Nullah
on the other. So, we have to use this one access. But we
try to ensure our material is not left in the open," he
28 October 2010, The Times of India
Adivasi affair with nature
With the deep green, bright red and
soothing blue, each painting here brings out the
connection of nature with human beings. If you are a
nature lover, then the paintings will not only be a
visual treat but will also offer you to be a part of the
thought process of some of the contemporary Gond
artists. The exhibition titled Jangarh Kalam - a
Contemporary Art of the Adivasis by Pardhaan community
displays the brilliant work of some of the contemporary
Gond artists Durga Bai Vyam, Ram Singh Urveti, Bhajju
Singh Shyam and Mayank Shyam who skillfully play with
various colours to give life to their imaginations on
Gond tribal paintings are the
tribal folk art paintings. They are extremely popular
among most tribes in Madhya Pradesh.
The Gond paintings are the living
expressions of the people of the tribal village that are
deeply linked with their day to day lives. Horses,
elephants, tigers, birds, Gods, men and objects of daily
life are painted in bright and multicolored hues in
One of the paintings titled Jad
Chetan by Ram Singh Urveti brings out the life cycle of
a tree and through the painting the artist tries to
convey how a small effort by the human beings can help
the tree flourish. “Jad Chetan brings one closer to the
reality of origin of life. It depicts the efforts being
made by the couple of people to bring life to nature and
how the nature rewards them in return,” says Urveti and
adds that besides this painting, the other one that
compares a life of a bird with that of a human is his
favourite. “The painting is titled Baniya Pakshi and I
have used my favourite colours to depict the life of a
bird since its birth, how it learns to fly and finally
reaches the sky. In the same way humans learn to walk
and for their entire life they are running to get
success in various fields of life. The idea is different
and it compels anyone to think about the life of human
beings which is mostly wasted in running after
materialistic things,” adds Urveti.
The other painting tiled Tithi
Pakshi too describes the life of birds. Conceptualised
by Bhajju Singh, the painting brings out the efforts of
the mother bird to save its eggs from the clouds. The
way the artist has used the mix of colours and the
perfection with which he brings out the emotions
reflected on the mother bird’s face is commendable.
After birds, even fishes are a part
of this exhibition. The fishes are used as a symbol to
showcase life under water in the form creatures and
plants. “The painting shows a fish with a tree painted
in its womb. I thought nothing could be better than this
idea to showcase the life that exists under water,” says
The other artist Ram says that as
his works are just based on nature, it is the elements
of nature that give him the inspiration. “I take an
inspiration from the elements of nature and use
different ideas to put across my thoughts on the
canvas,” says he.
28 October 2010, The Times of India
Frescoes survive municipal apathy
Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s Summer
Officials and conservationists have
been pleasantly surprised by the discovery of some
resplendent frescoes found on the terrace of Maharaja
Ranjit Singh’s summer palace here. The only room on the
terrace had been out of bounds for the visitors and had
remained locked for several decades. But when it was
opened at last, they were captivated by the frescoes
painted on the walls.
The wall paintings display
intricate floral patterns and episodes from the ‘Raas
Leela’ of Lord Krishna.
The palace, built during the reign
of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1801-1837), used to be the
office of the Deputy Commissioner during the British
period and was later used by the Municipal Committee. It
was converted to a museum in 1975. But the frescoes
remained largely unknown. Even Prof Balwinder Singh, a
city based conservationist who has been visiting the
museum since 1992, is surprised to see the photographs.
He was not aware of the existence of the frescoes, he
While much of the ground floor was
turned into the museum, the terrace inexplicably was
neglected. Frescoes however have survived official
indifference and the colours still remain bright. There
are rough edges though and callous attempts at creating
windows have damaged several parts of the paintings.
Now that the heritage building is
being restored under the supervision of the Punjab
tourism department, officials hope to get the assistance
of the Archaeological Survey of India and
conservationists to restore the art work.
The priceless frescoes are an
invaluable part of Punjab’s heritage and experts are
both dismayed and baffled at the finding. They are
dismayed because of the criminal negligence of the MC
which paid no attention to restoration or preservation
of the artwork. They are also baffled at the absence of
similar frescoes in other parts of the palace.
“ The presence of frescoes on the
terrace indicate a strong possibility that similar
frescoes were painted on other walls also in the
palace,” says Prof Balwinder Singh, an expert in
conservation and former Head of the Guru Ram Das School
of Planning, GND University. The only conclusion, he
says, is that paintings on other walls were mindlessly
destroyed during the British period. But then why were
frescoes in this room spared ?
He recalled that the period of
Maharaja Ranjit Singh was a rennaisance period in Punjab
when art and architecture flourished under the patronage
of the ruler. “The restoration should be carried out on
a war footing,” he said.
The summer palace underwent several
changes during the British period and new walls were put
up between pillars to make rooms that destroyed the
aesthetic structure of the Darbar Hall, said Balraj
Singh, Tourism Officer. Attempts are now being made to
restore the Darbar Hall as it originally was.
29 October 2010, Tribune