Folk and Tribal Art:
India had always been known as the land that portrayed cultural and traditional vibrancy through its conventional arts and crafts. The 35 states and union territories sprawled across the country have their own distinct cultural and traditional identities, and are displayed through various forms of art prevalent there. Every region in India has its own style and pattern of art, which is known as folk art. Other than folk art, there is yet another form of traditional art practiced by several tribes or rural population, which is classified as tribal art. The folk and tribal arts of India are very ethnic and simple, and yet colorful and vibrant enough to speak volumes about the country’s rich heritage.
Folk art in India apparently has a great potential in the international market because of its traditional aesthetic sensibility and authenticity. The rural folk paintings of India bear distinctive colorful designs, which are treated with religious and mystical motifs. Some of the most famous folk paintings of India are the Madhubani paintings of Bihar, Patachitra paintings from the state of Odisha, the Nirmal paintings of Andhra Pradesh, and other such folk art forms. Folk art is however not restricted only to paintings, but also stretches to other art forms such as pottery, home decorations, ornaments, cloths-making, and so on. In fact, the potteries of some of the regions of India are quite popular among foreign tourists because of their ethnic and traditional beauty.
Moreover, the regional dances of India, such as the Bhangra dance of Punjab, the Dandiya of Gujarat, the Bihu dance of Assam, etc, which project the cultural heritage of those regions, are prominent contenders in the field of Indian folk art. These folk dances are performed by people to express their exhilaration on every possible event or occasion, such as the arrival of seasons, the birth of a child, weddings, festivals, etc. The government of India, as well as other societies and associations, have therefore made all efforts to promote such art forms, which have become an intrinsic part of India’s cultural identity.
Tribal art, like folk art, has also progressed considerably due to the constant developmental efforts of the Indian government and other organizations. Tribal art generally reflects the creative energy found in rural areas that acts as an undercurrent to the craftsmanship of the tribal people. Tribal art ranges through a wide range of art forms, such as wall paintings, tribal dances, tribal music, and so on.
Click on the following links to know more about some of the famous Folk and Tribal Art of India:
- Tanjore Art:
Folk art is linked with the forgotten art of story telling. Paintings are used to depict the visual counterpoint in narration in every region of India. Art forms of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Bengal narrate the myths and legends of local heroes and deities and construct a kaleidoscopic image of our glorious past and rich cultural heritage. Each work is a complete narration in itself, giving us a glimpse of the past, which has been kept alive by talent and devotion of our artists.’Religious paintings with a royal heritage’ is the best definition for Thanjavur paintings, now better known as Tanjore paintings. Tanjore painting ranks among the greatest traditional art forms for which India is noted worldwide. Their themes are fundamentally mythological. These religious paintings demonstrate that spirituality is the essence of creative work. Few art forms match the beauty and grace of Tanjore paintings.Originating in Tanjavur about 300 kms from Chennai, this form of art developed at the height of cultural evolvement achieved during the rule of mighty Chola empire. The art form evolved and flourished under the patronage of successive rulers. These magnificent paintings adorned the royal dwellings and later found their way into every household.
An extraordinary visual amalgamation of both art and craft, Tanjore paintings mainly consist of themes on Hindu gods and goddesses, with figures of Lord Krishna in various poses and depicting various stages of his life being the favourite. The characteristics of the Tanjore paintings are their brilliant colour schemes, decorative jewellery with stones and cut glasses and remarkable gold leaf work. The liberal use of gold leaf and precious and semi-precious stones presents a splendid visual treat. These give life to the pictures such that the pictures come alive in a unique way. Adorned with rubies, diamonds and other precious gemstones, and trimmed with gold foil, Tanjore paintings were true treasures. Nowadays, however, semi-precious stones are used in place of real ones, but the use of gold foil has not altered. The shine and glean on the gold leaves used by the Tanjore style paintings, lasts forever.
- Madhubani Painting:
Madhubani painting, also referred to as Mithila Art (as it flourishes in the Mithila region of Bihar), is characterized by line drawings filled in by bright colours and contrasts or patterns. This style of painting has been traditionally done by the women of the region, though today men are also involved to meet the demand. These paintings are popular because of their tribal motifs and use of bright earthy colours. These paintings are done with mineral pigments prepared by the artists. The work is done on freshly plastered or a mud wall.For commercial purposes, the work is now being done on paper, cloth, canvas etc. Cotton wrapped around a bamboo stick forms the brush. Black colour is obtained by mixing soot with cow dung; yellow from turmeric or pollen or lime and the milk of banyan leaves; blue from indigo; red from the kusam flower juice or red sandalwood; green from the leaves of the wood apple tree; white from rice powder; orange from palasha flowers. The colours are applied flat with no shading and no empty space is left.Figures from nature & mythology are adapted to suit their style. The themes & designs widely painted are of Hindu deities such as Krishna, Rama, Siva, Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Sun and Moon, Tulasi plant, court scenes, wedding scenes, social happenings etc. Floral, animal and bird motifs, geometrical designs are used to fill up all the gaps. The skill is handed down the generations, and hence the traditional designs and patterns are widely maintained.
In order to create a source of non-agricultural income, the All India Handicrafts Board and the Government of India have been encouraging the women artists to produce their traditional paintings on handmade paper for commercial sale. Madhubani painting has become a primary source of income for scores of families. The continuing market in this art throughout the world is a tribute to the resourcefulness of the women of Mithila who have successfully transferred their techniques of bhitti chitra or wall painting to the medium of paper.
- Warli Folk Painting:
Maharashtra is known for its Warli folk paintings. Warli is the name of the largest tribe found on the northern outskirts of Mumbai, in Western India. Despite being in such close proximity of the largest metropolis in India, Warli tribesmen shun all influences of modern urbanization. Warli Art was first discovered in the early seventies. While there are no records of the exact origins of this art, its roots may be traced to as early as the 10th century A.D. Warli is the vivid expression of daily and social events of the Warli tribe of Maharashtra, used by them to embellish the walls of village houses. This was the only means of transmitting folklore to a populace not acquainted with the written word. This art form is simple in comparison to the vibrant paintings of Madhubani.Women are mainly engaged in the creation of these paintings. These paintings do not depict mythological characters or images of deities, but depict social life. Images of human beings and animals, along with scenes from daily life are created in a loose rhythmic pattern. These tribal paintings of Maharashtra are traditionally done in the homes of the Warlis. Painted white on mud walls, they are pretty close to pre-historic cave paintings in execution and usually depict scenes of human figures engaged in activities like hunting, dancing, sowing and harvesting.Stylistically, they can be recognized by the fact that they are painted on an austere mud base using one color, white, with occasional dots in red and yellow. This colour is obtained from grounding rice into white powder. This sobriety is offset by the ebullience of their content. These themes are highly repetitive and symbolic. Many of the Warli paintings that represent Palghat, the marriage god, often include a horse used by the bride and groom. The painting is sacred and without it, the marriage cannot take place. These paintings also serve social and religious aspirations of the local people. It is believed that these paintings invoke powers of the Gods.
In Warli paintings it is rare to see a straight line. A series of dots and dashes make one line. The artists have recently started to draw straight lines in their paintings. These days, even men have taken to painting and they are often done on paper incorporating traditional decorative Warli motifs with modern elements such as the bicycle, etc. Warli paintings on paper have become very popular and are now sold all over India. Today, small paintings are done on cloth and paper but they look best on the walls or in the form of huge murals that bring out the vast and magical world of the Warlis. For the Warlis, tradition is still adhered to but at the same time new ideas have been allowed to seep in which helps them face new challenges from the market.
- Pattachitra Painting:
Pattachitra style of painting is one of the oldest and most popular art forms of Odisha. The name Pattachitra has evolved from the Sanskrit words patta, meaning canvas, and chitra, meaning picture. Pattachitra is thus a painting done on canvas, and is manifested by rich colourful application, creative motifs and designs, and portrayal of simple themes, mostly mythological in depiction.Some of the popular themes represented through this art form are Thia Badhia – depiction of the temple of Jagannath; Krishna Lila – enactment of Jagannath as Lord Krishna displaying his powers as a child; Dasabatara Patti – the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu; Panchamukhi – depiction of Lord Ganesh as a five-headed deity. More than anything, the themes are clearly the essence of the art form, conceptualising the meaning of the paintings. It is no surprise therefore that the process of preparing the paintings engages undeterred concentration and careful craftsmanship, stretching the preparation time of the patta alone to around five days.Making the patta is the first thing that comes in the agenda, and the painters, also called chitrakars, go about their work in preparing a tamarind paste, which is made by soaking tamarind seeds in water for three days. The seeds are later pounded with a crusher, mixed with water, and heated in an earthen pot to turn it to a paste, which is called niryas kalpa. The paste is then used to hold two pieces of cloth together with it, and coated with a powder of soft clay stone a couple of times till it becomes firm. Soon as the cloth becomes dry, the final touch of polishing it with a rough stone and then a smooth stone or wood is given, until the surface becomes smooth and leathery, and is all ready as a canvas to be painted on.Preparing the paints is perhaps the most important part of the creation of Pattachitra, engaging the craftsmanship of the chitrakars in using naturally available raw materials to bring about indigenous paints. The gum of the kaitha tree is the chief ingredient, and is used as a base for making different pigments, on which diverse raw materials are mixed for diverse colours. Powdered conch shells, for instance, are used for making a white pigment, while lamp soot is used for a black pigment. The root of the keya plant is usually used for making the common brush, while mouse hair is used on the requirement of finer brushes, to be attached to wooden handles.
The creation of the Pattachitra paintings is a disciplined art form, and the chitrakars maintain rigidity in their use of colours and patterns, restricting the colours to a single tone. Limiting themselves within the boundaries of some rules, the chitrakars come up with such remarkable paintings depicting stark emotional expressions that it is a surprise shading of colours is a taboo. In fact, it is this display of emotions of the figures expressed in the paintings, which is the crème de la crème of the art form, and the chitrakars put in their best to bring out the most through their rich colourful motifs.
With the passage of time, the art of Pattachitra has gone through a commendable transition, and the chitrakars have painted on tussar silk and palm leaves, and even created wall hangings and showpieces. However, this kind of innovativeness has never proved to be a hindrance in their customary depiction of figures and the use of colours, which has remained intact throughout generations. This constancy is the key factor that has maintained the effervescence of Pattachitra, backed with the fact that the setting up of some special centres for the art form in Odisha speaks volumes for its popularity.
- Rajasthani Miniature Painting:The art of Miniature painting was introduced to the land of India by the Mughals, who brought the much-revealed art form from Persia. In the sixteenth century, the Mughal ruler Humayun brought artists from Persia, who specialized in miniature painting. The succeeding Mughal Emperor, Akbar built an atelier for them to promote the rich art form. These artists, on their part, trained Indian artists who produced paintings in a new distinctive style, inspired by the royal and romantic lives of the Mughals. The particular miniature produced by Indian artists in their own style is known as Rajput or Rajasthani miniature. During this time, several schools of painting evolved, such as Mewar (Udaipur), Bundi, Kotah, Marwar (Jodhpur), Bikaner, Jaipur, and Kishangarh.These paintings are done with utmost care and in minute details, with strong lines and bold colours set in harmonious patterns. The miniature artists use paper, ivory panels, wooden tablets, leather, marble, cloth and walls for their paintings. Indian artists employed multiple perspectives unlike their European counterparts in their paintings. The colours are made from minerals and vegetables, precious stones, as well as pure silver and gold. The preparing and mixing of colour is an elaborate process. It takes weeks, sometimes months, to get the desired results. The brushes are required to be very fine, and to get high-quality results, brushes even to this very day are made from hair of squirrels. Traditionally, the paintings are aristocratic, individualistic and strong in portraiture, where the plush court scenes and hunting expedition of royalty are depicted. Flowers and animals are also the recurrent images in the paintings.
The Kishangarh province in Rajasthan is known for its Bani Thani paintings. It is a totally different style with highly exaggerated features like long necks, large, almond shaped eyes, and long fingers. This style of painting essentially depicts Radha and Krishna as divine lovers, and beautifully portrays their mystical love. Kishangarh miniature painting reached a peak in the eighteenth century, during the rule of Raja Sawant Singh, who fell in love with a slave girl, Bani Thani and commanded his artists to portray himself and her as Krishna and Radha. Other themes of Bani Thani paintings include portraits, court scenes, dancing, hunting, music parties, nauka vihar (lovers travelling in a boat), Krishna Lila, Bhagavata Purana and various other festivals like Holi, Diwali, Durga puja, and Dussehra.Today, many artists continue to make miniature paintings on silk, ivory, cotton, and paper. However, with the passage of time, the natural colours have been replaced by poster colours. The schools of miniature have also been commercialized, and the artists mostly replicate the work produced by the old painters.
Names like Rangoli, Kolam etc are not new to us, and neither is the tradition of drawing them at the entrance of homes and temples. In fact it is part of the domestic routine in Hindu households, who consider it auspicious to draw certain patterns at the doorstep and courtyard to welcome a deity into the house. This art form is a harmonious blend of Aryan, Dravidian and Tribal traditions.Kalam (Kalamezhuthu) is unique form of this art found in Kerala. It is essentially a ritualistic art practiced in temples and sacred groves of Kerala where the representation of deities like Kali and Lord Ayyappa, are made on the floor. Various factors need to be considered when deciding the nature or figure on the ‘Kalam’, which include the presiding deity of the temple or sacred grove, the religious purpose that calls for the ritual of Kalamezhuthu and the particular caste that does it. In each case the patterns, minute details, dimensions and colour choice are decided in observance with strict rules. The patterns vary considerably depending on the occasion, but rarely by the choice of the artist.Kalamezhuthu is practiced using natural pigments and powders, usually in five colours. The drawing is done with bare hands without the use of tools. The pictures are developed from the centre, growing outwards, patch by patch. The powder is spread in the floor, letting it in a thin stream between the thumb and the index finger. The figures drawn usually have an expression of anger or other emotions. The powders and pigments are all extracted from plants – rice powder for white, burnt husk for black, turmeric for yellow, a mixture of lime and turmeric for red and the leaves of certain trees for green. Lighted oil lamps placed at strategic positions brighten the colours. Kalamezhuthu artists are generally members of communities like the Kurups, Theyyampadi Nambiars, Theeyadi Nambiars and Theeyadi Unnis. The ‘Kalams’ drawn by these people vary in certain characteristics.
Ritual songs accompanied by a number of instruments (namely ilathalam, veekkan chenda, kuzhal, kombu and chenda) are sung in worship of the deity, on completion of the ‘Kalam’. These songs form part of an oral tradition; the rituals being performed by the artists themselves. The type of song varies considerably, from folk to classical depending on the deity being worshipped. The drawing of a ‘Kalam’ is started at an appointed time and it is erased immediately after the rituals related to it are over.
- BENGAL PAT:Like the Patachitra in Orissa, the indigenous art form that developed in Bengal came to be known as Bengal Pat. Paintings are made with dyes made from spices, earth, soot, etc. and reflect the life and times of the society and folklore. The traditional colors used in Bengal Pat are red, indigo, green, black and ochre. Bengal Pat has a very interesting angle to it. Some paintings depict spoofs on retrograde social practices, thus attempting to highlight them for change.This art form of Bengal developed hundreds of years back when roaming minstrels used to sing about incidents of the distant past and popular lore to villagers. Some of these artists started depicting these stories on cloth scrolls for preservation and beatification.
- MINIATURE PAINTING:
As the name suggests, miniature paintings refer to paint works that are small in size but capture great detail of subject and expression in the work. In India, miniature paintings form a broad category, including an abundance of Mughal miniature paintings that depict the court life and the contemporary personalities, events and actions of the Mughal times. The main characteristic of the miniature paintings is the intricate brushwork and the vibrant colours made from semi-precious stones, conch shells, gold and silver.
Developed during the Mughal Period (16th – 19th century), Indian miniature paintings have a touch of Persian miniature. Though miniature paintings developed in the Mughal courts, the style was adopted by the Hindus (Rajputs) and later the Sikhs. Mughal miniatures flourished under the reign of Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan. There are quite a few of these paintings curated and preserved.
- GOND ART:Gond art is a form of tribal art developed by the Gonds of central India. This art has been inspired by the hills, streams and forests in which the Gonds live. Nature and social customs are depicted by the Gond artists with a series of dots and dashes intricately arranged into forms. Gond paintings are made on walls, ceilings and floors of village houses in honour of customs and festivals. The Gonds also believe that their paintings are infused with a luck factor.The paintings are a combination of earth tones and vibrant hues, which bring the canvas to life.The technique of Gond art can be traced back to the old art of tattooing which is common among the Gonds. The paintings began with an attempt to record folklore and tribal stories sung by wandering poets and singers. Capturing stories in art has been a common practice in India.
- KALAMKARI:This style of painting has got its name from the method of craftsmanship – ‘kalam’ meaning pen and ‘kari’ meaning work. The artists use fine pens made of bamboo dipped in vegetable dyes to draw. Drawings are made up of fine lines and intricate designs. This style of painting was developed in Kalahasti near Chennai and Masulipatnam near Hyderabad. Kalahasti kalamkari developed near temples and therefore has mythological theme. Some Kalamkari paintings show touches of Persian influence in motifs and design.Kalamkari painting flourished during the Maratha rule and developed a style called the Karuppur. It’s a worked on fabric which is enhanced with gold brocade for the royal families.
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The Indian literary tradition is the oldest in the world. It is primarily one of verse and essentially oral. The earliest works were composed to be sung or recited, and were so transmitted for many generations before being written down.
India has 22 officially recognised languages, and a huge variety of literature has been produced in these languages over the years. Hindu literary traditions dominate a large part of Indian culture. Apart from the Vedas, which are a sacred form of knowledge, there are other works such as the Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, treatises such as Vaastu Shastra in architecture and town planning, and Arthashastra in political science. The most famous works in Sanskrit are the Hindu holy texts like the Vedas, Upanishads, and Manusmriti. Another popular literature, Tamil literature has a rich literary tradition spanning over 2000 years, and is particularly known for its poetic nature in the form of epics, and philosophical and secular works.
Other great literary works, which marked the golden era of Indian literature, include ‘Abhijanam Shakuntalam’ and ‘Meghdoot’ by Kalidasa, ‘Mricchakatika’ by Shudraka, ‘Svapna Vasavadattam’ by Bhaasa, and ‘Ratnavali’ by Sri Harsha. Some other famous works are Chanakya’s ‘Arthashastra’ and Vatsyayana’s ‘Kamasutra’.
The most famous works of the Indian literature can be traced in the vernacular languages of the northern Indian cults of Krishna and of Rama. Also included are the 12th-century poems by Jaydev, called the ‘Gitagovinda’ and religious love poems written in Maithili (eastern Hindi of Bihar). Literature was also produced in the form of Bhakti (a personal devotion to a god) addressed to Rama (an avatar of Vishnu), most notably in the Avadhi (eastern Hindi) works of Tulsi Das; his ‘Ramcharitmanas’. The early gurus or founders of the Sikh religion, especially Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Arjun Dev, also composed bhakti hymns to their concepts of deity. In the 16th century, the Rajasthani princess and poet Mira Bai addressed her bhakti lyric verse to Krishna, as did the Gujarati poet Narsimh Mehta.
Hindi literature started as religious and philosophical poetry in medieval periods in dialects like Avadhi and Brij. The most famous figures from this period are Kabir and Tulsidas. In modern times, the Khadi dialect became more prominent and a variety of literature was produced in Sanskrit.
Chandrakanta, written by Devaki Nandan Khatri, is considered to be the first work of prose in Hindi. Munshi Premchand was the most famous Hindi novelist. The other famous poets include Maithili Sharan Gupt, Jaishankar Prasad, Sumitranandan Pant, Mahadevi Varma, and Ramdhari Singh ‘Dinkar’.
In the British era, a literary revolution occurred with the influence of Western thought and the introduction of printing press. Purposeful works were being written to support the cause of freedom struggle and to remove the existing social evils. Ram Mohan Roy’s campaign for introduction of scientific education in India and Swami Vivekananda’s works are considered to be great examples of the English literature in India.
During the last 150 years, many writers have contributed to the development of modern Indian literature, written in a number of regional languages as well as in English. One of the greatest Bengali writers, Rabindranath Tagore became the first Indian to win the Nobel Prize for literature (Gitanjali) in 1913.
Several other writers also became famous in the modern period of India, such as Mulk Raj Anand, who wrote famous novels like ‘Untouchable’ (1935) and ‘Coolie’ (1936), R.K. Narayan, who wrote novels and tales of village in southern India like ‘Swami and Friends’. Among the younger authors is Anita Desai, who wrote famous novels like ‘Clear Light of Day’ (1980) and ‘In Custody’.
The other well-known novelist/ writers are Dom Moraes, Nlissim E Zekiel, P. Lal, A.K. Ramanujan, Kamala Das, Arun Kolatkar and R. Parthasarathy, Toru Dutt, Sarojini Naidu, Aurobindo, Raja Rao, G.V. Desani, M. Ananthanarayanan, Bhadani Bhattacharya, Monohar Malgonkar, Arun Joshi, Kamala Markandaya, Khushwant Singh, Nayantara Sahgal, O.V. Vijayan, Salman Rushdie, K.R. Sreenivasan Iyengar, C.D. Narasimhaiah and M.K. Naik.
Among the latest are Vikram Seth (‘A Suitable Boy’), Allan Sealy (‘The Trotter-Nama’), Sashi Tharoor (‘Show Business’), Amitav Ghosh (‘Circle of Reason’, ‘Shadow Lines’), Upamanyu Chatterjee (‘English August’) and Vikram Chandra (‘Red Earth and Pouring Rain’).
In the recent past, a whole new genre has started with the popular writings of women authors like Arundhati Roy, Booker Prize Winner for ‘God of Small Things’, Jhumpa Lahiri, 2000 Pulitzer Prize winner in Fiction, Shobha De, etc.
Handicrafts are the creative products made by the skill of the hand without the help of modern machinery and equipments. Nowadays, hand-made products are considered to be a fashion statement and an item of luxury.
India’s rich cultural heritage and centuries of evolutionary tradition is manifested by the huge variety of handicrafts made all over the country. Handicrafts are a mirror of the cultural identity of the ethnic people who make it. Through the ages, handicrafts made in India like the Kashmiri woollen carpets, Zari embroidered fabrics, terracotta and ceramic products, silk fabrics etc. have maintained their exclusiveness. In the ancient times, these handicrafts were exported to far off countries of Europe, Africa, West Asia and Far East via the ‘silk route’. The entire wealth of timeless Indian handicrafts has survived through the ages. These crafts carry the magnetic appeal of the Indian culture that promises exclusivity, beauty, dignity and style.
Indian handicrafts could be broadly divided into three categories: folk crafts, religious crafts and commercial crafts. Popular folk crafts that are modified according to the demands of the market become commercial crafts. Myriads of handicrafts are made for the diverse rites and rituals associated with the religious faiths of the varied ethnic groups of India. Some of the handicrafts basically meant for the religious purposes are also liked by the people for their aesthetic value.
One of the most enduring achievements of Indian civilization is undoubtedly its architecture. Indian architecture, which has evolved through centuries, is the result of socio-economic and geographical conditions. Different types of Indian architectural styles include a mass of expressions over space and time, transformed by the forces of history considered unique to India. As a result of vast diversities, a vast range of architectural specimens have evolved, retaining a certain amount of continuity across history.
Indian architecture, belonging to different periods of history, bears the stamp of respective periods. Though the cities of Indus Valley provide substantial evidence of extensive town planning, the beginnings of Indian architecture can be traced back to the advent of Buddhism in India. It was in this period that a large number of magnificent buildings came up. Some of the highlights of Buddhist art and architecture are the Great Stupa at Sanchi and the rock-cut caves at Ajanta.
With the establishment of Hindu kingdoms in South India, the south Indian school of architecture began to flourish. The most notable achievements of the Pallava rulers were the rock-cut temples of Mahabalipuram and the temples of Kanchipuram. The Chola, Hoyasala and Vijayanagar rulers also did remarkable job in the field of architecture. The temples at Thanjavur, Belur and Halebid bear testimony to the architectural excellence of the South Indian rulers.
In north India, there developed a new a different style of architecture. This was called as the Nagara style architecture. In central India, the Chandela rulers built a magnificent temple complex at Khajuraho. With the coming of the Muslim rulers, there developed a new architectural style in India- the Indo-Islamic architecture. The Indo-Islamic style was neither strictly Islamic nor strictly Hindu. The architecture of the medieval period can be divided into two main categories. They are the Delhi or the Imperial Style and the Mughal Architecture.
It was followed by a new style of architecture that developed as a result of colonization of India. This style of architecture came to be called as Indo-Saracenic. The Indo-Saracenic architecture combined the features of Hindu, Islamic and western elements. The colonial architecture exhibited itself through institutional, civic and utilitarian buildings such as post offices, railway stations, rest houses and government buildings.
Colonial Architecture: Like all other aspects, colonization of Indian also had an impact on architecture style. With colonization, a new chapter in Indian architecture began. The Dutch, Portuguese and the French made their presence felt through their buildings but it was the English who had a lasting impact on architecture.
Indo Islamic Architecture: The medieval period saw great developments in the field of architecture. With the coming of Muslims to India, many new features came to be introduced in buildings. The development of Muslim Style of Architecture of this period can be called the Indo-Islamic Architecture or the Indian Architecture influenced by Islamic Art. The Indo-Islamic style was neither strictly Islamic nor strictly Hindu.
Ancient Architecture: Indian architecture is as old as the history of the civilization. The earliest remains of recognizable building activity in the India dates back to the Indus Valley cities. Among India’s ancient architectural remains, the most characteristic are the temples, Chaityas, Viharas, Stupas and other religious structures.
Cave Architecture: The cave architecture in India is believed to have begun in the third century BC. These caves were used by Buddhist and Jain monks as places of worship and residence. Initially the caves were excavated in the western India. Some examples of this type of cave structure are Chaityas and Viharas of Buddhists.
Rock Cut: The Rock-cut structures present the most spectacular piece of ancient Indian art specimen. Most of the rock-cut structures were related to various religious communities. In the beginning, remarkable Buddhist and Jain monuments were produced in areas such as Bihar in the east and Maharashtra in the west.
Temple Architecture: In ancient India, temple architecture of high standard developed in almost all regions. The distinct architectural style of temple construction in different parts was a result of geographical, climatic, ethnic, racial, historical and linguistic diversities. Ancient Indian temples are classified in three broad types. This classification is based on different architectural styles, employed in the construction of the temples.
Tangible Heritage(32 Sites)
- Agra Fort (1983): (Uttar Pradesh)The Red Fort and the Taj Mahal bear an exceptional and complementary testimony to a civilization which has disappeared, that of the Mogul Emperors. Agra’s history goes back more than 2,500 years, but it was not until the reign of the Mughals that Agra became more than a provincial city. Humayun, son of the founder of the Mogul Empire, was offered jewellery and precious stones by the family of the Raja of Gwalior, one of them the famous Koh-i-Noor. The heyday of Agra came with the reign of Humayun’s son, Akbar the Great. During his reign, the main part of the Agra Fort was built.The Red Fort of Agra is a powerful fortress founded in 1565 by the Emperor Akbar (1556-1605) on the right bank of the Yamuna; it is placed today on the north-west extremity of the Shah Jahan Gardens which surround the Taj Mahal and clearly form, with them, a monumental unity.This bastioned fortress, with walls of red sandstone rising above a moat and interrupted by graceful curves and lofty bastions, encompasses within its enclosure walls of 2.5 km, the imperial city of the Mogul rulers. Like the Delhi Fort, that of Agra is one of the most obvious symbols of the Mogul grandeur which asserted itself under Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan.The wall has two gates, the Delhi Gate and the Amar Singh Gate. The original and grandest entrance was through the Delhi Gate, which leads to the inner portal called the Hathi Pol or Elephant Gate. But now the entrance to the fort is only through the Amar Singh Gate.Emperor Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal, was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb in Agra Fort, from which he had a view of the building erected for his deceased wife. Shah Jahan is said to have died in the Musamman Burj, a tower with a beautiful marble balcony.
- Ajanta Caves (1983): (Maharashtra)The style of Ajanta has exerted a considerable influence in India and elsewhere, extending, in particular, to Java. With its two groups of monuments corresponding to two important moments in Indian history, the Ajanta cave ensemble bears exceptional testimony to the evolution of Indian art, as well as to the determining role of the Buddhist community, intellectual and religious foyers, schools and reception centres in the India of the Gupta and their immediate successors.The caves are situated 100 km north-east of Ellora, 104 km from Aurangabad and 52 km from Jalgaon Railway Station. They are cut into the volcanic lava of the Deccan in the forest ravines of the Sahyadri Hills and are set in beautiful sylvan surroundings. These magnificent caves containing carvings that depict the life of Buddha, and their carvings and sculptures are considered to be the beginning of classical Indian art.The 29 caves were excavated beginning around 200 BC, but they were abandoned in AD 650 in favour of Ellora. Five of the caves were temples and 24 were monasteries, thought to have been occupied by some 200 monks and artisans. The Ajanta Caves were gradually forgotten until their ‘rediscovery’ by a British tiger-hunting party in 1819.
- Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi (1989): (Madhya Pradesh)From the time that the oldest preserved monument on the site (Asoka’s column with its projecting capital of lions inspired by Achaemenid art) was erected, Sanchi’s role as intermediary for the spread of cultures and their peripheral arts throughout the Maurya Empire, and later in India of the Sunga, Shatavahana, Kushan and Gupta dynasties, was confirmed.Sanchi is the oldest extant Buddhist sanctuary. Although Buddha never visited the site during any of his former lives or during his earthly existence, the religious nature of this shrine is obvious. The chamber of relics of Stupa 1 contained the remains of Shariputra, a disciple of Shakyamuni who died six months before his master; he is especially venerated by the occupants of the ‘small vehicle’ or Hinayana. Having remained a principal centre of Buddhism in medieval India following the spread of Hinduism, Sanchi bears unique witness as a major Buddhist sanctuary to the period from the 3rd century BC to the 1st century AD.When it was discovered in 1818 by General Taylor, Sanchi had lain abandoned for 600 years. The site, 45 km from Bhopal, was overrun with vegetation. Excavations began in somewhat disorganized fashion until the Archaeological Survey of India stepped in and took control. Gradually, as the hill was cleared, the ruins of about 50 monuments were uncovered, revealing one of the most remarkable archaeological complexes in India.
- Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park (2004): (Gujarat)The Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park with its ancient Hindu architecture, temples and special water-retaining installations, together with its religious, military and agricultural structures, dating back to the regional capital city built by Mehmud Begda in the 16th century, represents a perfect blend of Hindu and Muslim architecture, mainly in the Great Mosque (Jami Masjid), which was a model for later mosque architecture in India. This special style comes from the significant period of regional sultanates. It is furthermore an outstanding example of a very short-lived capital, making the best use of its setting, topography and natural.The sites are at the foot of and around the Pavagadh hill, surrounded by lower hillocks, escarpments and plateaux, all result of volcanic eruptions and lava flows. At the top of the hill is the temple of Kalikameta. The site itself comprises fortifications, water installations and standing structures from the 8th to 14th centuries as well as a deserted city of Mahmud Begharha. It includes also the living village, Champaner, within the area of the historic town. There are two precincts. The first is the Royal Enclosure, fortified by high defensive stone walls, with towers and gates, which formerly housed palaces, gardens, royal mosque and administrative buildings, and is now the site of the modern village and government offices. Most of the precinct is buried and unexcavated.A processional way links the royal palace, through the city gate, with the mosque, outside the precinct. The second precinct, called Jahanpanah, is also unexcavated. It was the capital of Begharha, and abandoned in the mid-16th century when conquered by the Mughal Empire. The urban plan has been studied by exposing the main road system, comprising well-built and paved streets, all leading from the surrounding fortifications to the centre of the city.The whole area is now an excavation site which includes residential areas for the wealthy and more common people, with gardens and water channels being part of the design; shops and commercial areas along some streets; pavilions and public gardens; mosques located in and near residential areas. Next to the mosques there are graveyards and mausolea, temples, located mainly on the Pavagadh hill, belong to different Hindu deities. The temples are richly decorated, mainly with stone carvings.
- Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) (2004): (Maharashtra)Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is an outstanding example of late 19th-century railway architecture in the British Commonwealth, characterized by Victorian Gothic Revival and traditional Indian features, as well as its advanced structural and technical solutions. It became a symbol for Bombay (now Mumbai) as a major mercantile port city on the Indian subcontinent within the British Commonwealth.The site on which this property is situated is associated with the origins of Mumbai as a city. Bombay Island had formed a coastal outpost of the Hindu in western India, but was not used for commerce. It was first passed to the Portuguese and then, in 1661, to the British. In 1667, the island was transferred to the East India Company, who was principally responsible for its commercial development. Merchants settled here from elsewhere, and the shipbuilding industry and the cotton trade prospered.The town flourished, especially after the building of railway connections with the inland and the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. With the development of trade, the Governor of Bombay planned a series of works aiming at the construction of a more representative city.
- Churches and Convents of Goa (1986) (Goa)These monuments of Goa exerted great influence in the 16th-18th centuries on the development of architecture, sculpture, and painting by spreading forms of Manueline, Mannerist and Baroque art throughout the countries of Asia where Catholic missions were established. In so doing they illustrate the work of missionaries in Asia.The Portuguese explorer Alfonso de Albuquerque conquered Goa in 1510 and the Portuguese ruled the territory until 1961. The colony of Goa, which has its centre in Old Goa, became the capital of the vast eastern Portuguese Empire, sharing the same civic privileges as Lisbon. By 1635, the successive waves of Europeans brought about the inevitable decline of Goa.In 1542 the Jesuits, who were driven by the ardour of medieval crusaders, arrived in the city and Francis Xavier, one of the founders of the Society of Jesus, rapidly became the patron saint of Goa. The churches in Old Goa aimed to awe the local population into conversion and to impress upon them the superiority of the foreign religion. The facades were accordingly made tall and lofty and the interiors were magnificent, with twisted Bernini columns, decorated pediments, profusely carved and gilded altars, and colourful wall paintings and frescoes.
- Elephanta Caves (1987) (Maharashtra)The island of Elephanta, the glorious abode of Lord Shiva and an epitome of Hindu cave culture, consists of seven caves on an island in the Sea of Oman close to Mumbai which, with their decorated temples and the images from Hindu mythology, bear a unique testimony to a civilization that has disappeared. Here, Indian art has found one of its most perfect expressions, particularly in the huge high reliefs in the main cave.The island of Gharapuri, the ‘City of Caves’, situated about 10 km from Mumbai on the east side of the harbour, owes its name to the enormous stone elephant found there by Portuguese navigators. This elephant was cut into pieces, removed to Mumbai and somehow put together again. It is today the melancholy guardian of Victoria Gardens Zoo in Mumbai, the great metropolis of Maharashtra State and India’s second city population-wise.The date of the famous Elephanta Caves is still very much debated and varies from the 6th century to the 8th century according to different specialists. They constitute one of the most striking collections of rock-art in India. There are two groups of caves. To the east, Stupa Hill (thus named because of a small brick Buddhist monument at the top) contains two caves, one of which is unfinished, and several cisterns. To the west, the larger group consists of five rock-cut Hindu shrines. The main cave is universally famous for its carvings to the glory of Shiva, who is exalted in various forms and act ions. The cave consists of a square plan mandapa whose sides measure about 27 m.
- Ellora Caves (1983) (Maharashtra)The Ellora Caves not only bear witness to three great religions (Buddhism, Brahminism and Jainism) but they also illustrate the spirit of tolerance, characteristic of ancient India, which permitted these three religions to establish their sanctuaries and their communities in a single place, which thus served to reinforce its universal value. The caves, with their uninterrupted sequence of from 600 to 1,000 monuments, bring to life again the civilization of ancient India.These 34 monasteries and temples, extending over more than 2 km, were dug side by side in the wall of a high basalt cliff, not far from Aurangabad, in Maharashtra. Ellora, with its uninterrupted sequence of monuments dating from AD 600 to 1000, brings the civilization of ancient India to life. Not only is the Ellora complex a unique artistic creation and a technological exploit but, with its sanctuaries devoted to Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism, it illustrates the spirit of tolerance that was characteristic of ancient India.This rupestral ensemble constitute one of the most beautiful expressions of the art of the Indian Middle Ages; they are noteworthy as three major Indian religions have laid joint claim to the caves peacefully since they were created. These breathtaking caves are definitely worth visiting for their remarkable reliefs, sculptures and architecture. It is not, like that of Ajanta, the expression of a single belief; rather it is the product of the three principal religions of ancient India.
- Fatehpur Sikri (1986) (Uttar Pradesh)Fatehpur Sikri bears exceptional testimony to the Mughal civilization at the end of the 16th century. It offers a unique example of architectural ensembles of very high quality constructed between 1571 and 1585. Its form and layout strongly influenced the evolution of Indian town planning, notably at Shahjahanabad (Old Delhi).The ‘City of Victory’ had only an ephemeral existence as the capital of the Mughal empire. The Emperor Akbar (1556-1605) decided to construct it in 1571, on the same site where the birth of his son, the future Jahangir, was predicted by the wise Shaikh Salim Chisti (1480-1572). The work, supervised by the great Mughal himself, was completed in 1573. In 1585, however, Akbar abandoned Fatehpur Sikri to fight against the Afghan tribes and choose a new capital, Lahore. Fatehpur Sikri was to be the seat of the great Mughal court only once more for three months in 1619, when Jahangir sought refuge there from the plague that devastated Agra. The site was then finally abandoned, until its archaeological exploration in 1892.This capital without a future, some 40 km from Agra was, however, considerably more than the fancy of a sovereign during the 14 years of its existence. The city, which the English traveller Ralph Fitch considered in 1585 as ‘considerably larger than London and more populous’, comprised a series of palaces, public buildings and mosques, as well as living areas for the court, the army, servants of the king and for an entire population whose history has not been recorded.
- Great Living Chola Temples (1987): (Tamil Nadu)The Great Chola Temples of southern India are an exceptional testimony to the development of the architecture and the ideology of the Chola Empire and the Tamil civilization in southern India. They represent an outstanding creative achievement in the architectural conception of the pure form of the Dravida type of temple (characterized by a pyramidal tower).The Cholas were the second great historic dynasty of the Tamil Nadu, the Tamil country, which was the home of the ancient Dravidian culture whose influence was so considerable in the whole of south-east Asia. The great temple of Tanjore was built in a few years, from 1003 to 1010, during the reign of the great king Rajaraja (985-1014), true founder of the Chola Empire which spread throughout the whole of southern India, part of Ceylon and the Maldive and Laccadive archipelagos. Richly endowed by the sovereign, the sanctuary, which also bears his name – it is sometimes called Rajarajesvaram – had a permanent staff of several hundred priests, 400 devadasi (sacred dancers), and 57 musicians, according to inscriptions and chronicles. The Brihadisvara’s income in gold, silver and precious stones during the Chola period has been precisely evaluated. These vast resources were efficiently managed and provided not only for the upkeep and improvement of the buildings (which was continued until the 17th century) but also for real investments to be made. The temple lent money, at rates which could sometimes reach 30%, to shipowners, village assemblies and craft guilds. Dedicated to Shiva, the Brihadisvara stands to the south-west of the historic city. A first rectangular surrounding wall, 270 m by 140 m, marks the outer boundary.
- Group of Monuments at Hampi (1986): (Karnataka)The city of Hampi bears exceptional testimony to the vanished civilization of the kingdom of Vijayanagar, which reached its apogee under the reign of Krishna Deva Raya (1509-30). It offers an outstanding example of a type of structure that illustrates a significant historical situation: that of the kingdoms of South India which, menaced by the Muslims, were occasionally allied with the Portuguese of Goa.The austere, grandiose site of Hampi was the last capital of the last great Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar. Its fabulously rich princes built Dravidian temples and palaces which won the admiration of travellers between the 14th and 16th centuries. Conquered by the Deccan Muslim confederacy in 1565, the city was pillaged over a period of six months before being abandoned.As the final capital of the last of the great kingdom of South India, that of the Vijayanagar, Hampi, enriched by the cotton and the spice trade was one of the most beautiful cities of the medieval world. Its palaces and Dravidian temples were much admired by travellers, be they Arab (Abdul Razaak), Portuguese (Domingo Paes) or Italian (Nicolò dei Conti).Conquered by the Muslims after the battle of Talikota in 1565, it was plundered over six months and then abandoned. Imposing monumental vestiges, partially disengaged and reclaimed, make of Hampi today one of the most striking ruins of the world.
- Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram (1984): (Tamil Nadu)Mahabalipuram is pre-eminently testimony to the Pallavas civilization of south-east India.The sanctuary, known especially for its rathas (temples in the form of chariots), mandapas (cave sanctuaries), and giant open-air reliefs, is one of the major centres of the cult of Siva. The influence of the sculptures of Mahabalipuram, characterized by the softness and supple mass of their modelling, spread widely (Cambodia, Annam, Java).Founded in the 7th century by the Pallavas sovereigns south of Madras, the harbour of Mahabalipuram traded with the distant kingdoms of South-East Asia: Kambuja (Cambodia) and Shrivijaya (Malaysia, Sumatra, Java) and with the empire of Champa (Annam). But the fame of its role as a harbour has been transferred to its rock sanctuaries and Brahmin temples which were constructed or decorated at Mahabalipuram between 630 and 728.Most of the monuments, like the rock-cut rathas, sculptured scenes on open rocks like Arjuna’s penance, the caves of Govardhanadhari and Ahishasuramardini, and the Jala-Sayana Perumal temple (the sleeping Mahavishnu or Chakrin at the rear part of the Shore temple complex) are attributed to the period of Narasimhavarman I Mamalla.
- Group of Monuments at Pattadakal (1987): (Karnataka)Pattadakal represents the high point of an eclectic art which, in the 7th and 8th centuries under the Chalukya dynasty, achieved a harmonious blend of architectural forms from northern and southern India. An impressive series of nine Hindu temples, as well as a Jain sanctuary, can be seen there.Three very closely located sites in the State of Karnataka provide a remarkable concentration of religious monuments dating from the great dynasty of the Chalukya (c. 543-757). There are the two successive capital cities – Aihole (ancient Aryapura), Badami, and Pattadakal, the ‘City of the Crown Rubies’ (Pattada Kisuvolal). The latter was, moreover, for a brief time the third capital city of the Chalukya kingdom; at the time the Pallava occupied Badami (642-55). While Aihole is traditionally considered the ‘laboratory’ of Chalukya architecture, with such monuments as the Temple of Ladkhan (c. 450) which antedate the dynasty’s political successes during the reign of King Pulakeshin I, the city of Pattadakal illustrates the apogee of an eclectic art which, in the 7th and 8th centuries, achieved a harmonious blend of architectural forms from the north and south of India.
- Hill Forts of Rajasthan (2013): (Rajasthan)Within the State of Rajasthan, six extensive and majestic hill forts together reflect the elaborate, fortified seats of power of Rajput princely states that flourished between the 8th and 18th centuries and their relative political independence.The extensive fortifications up to 20 kilometres in circumference optimized various kinds of hill terrain, specifically the river at Gagron, the dense forests at Ranthambore, and the desert at Jaisalmer, and exhibit an important phase in the development of an architectural typology based on established “traditional Indian principles”. The vocabulary of architectural forms and of ornaments shares much common ground with other regional styles, such as Sultanate and Mughal architecture. Rajput style was not ‘unique’, but the particular manner in which Rajput architecture was eclectic (drawing inspiration from antecedents and neighbours) together with its degree of influence over later regional styles (such as Maratha architecture) do make it distinctive.Within the defensive walls of the forts, the architecture of palaces and other buildings reflects their role as centres of courtly culture, and places of patronage for learning arts and music. As well as housing for the court and military guard, most had extensive urban settlements within their walls, some of which have persisted to the present day. And some also had mercantile centres as the forts were centres of production and of distribution and trade that formed the basis of their wealth.
- Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi (1993): (Delhi)Exemplifying the formative stage of the Mughal structural style, Humayun’s Tomb stands as a landmark in the development of Mughal architecture, and also represents the earliest extant specimen of the Mughal scheme of the garden tomb, with causeways and channels. It is a well-developed specimen of the double-domed elevation with kiosks on a grand scale. This building tradition culminated in the Taj Mahal, constructed a century later. Despite being the first standardized example of this style, Humayun’s Tomb is an architectural achievement of the highest order.The tomb of Humayun, second Mughal Emperor of India, was built by his widow, Biga Begum (Hajji Begum), in 1569-70, 14 years after his death, at a cost of 1.5 million rupees. The architect was Mirak Mirza Ghiyath. It was later used for the burial of various members of the ruling family and contains some 150 graves. It has aptly been described as the necropolis of the Mughal dynasty.The tomb itself is in the centre of a large garden, laid out in char baah (four-fold) style, with pools joined by channels. The main entrance is on the south side, and there is another entrance on the west side. A pavilion and a bath are located in the centre of the eastern and northern walls respectively. The mausoleum itself is on a high, wide, terraced platform with small arched cells along the sides.
- Khajuraho Group of Monuments (1986): (Madhya Pradesh)The complex of Khajuraho represents a unique artistic creation, as much for its highly original architecture as for the sculpted decor of a surprising quality made up of a mythological repertory of numerous scenes of amusements of which not the least known are the scenes, susceptible to various interpretations, sacred or profane.Khajuraho is one of the capitals of the Chandella rulers, a dynasty of Rajput origin which came into power at the beginning of the 10th century, and reached its apogee between 950 and 1050. Of the 85 temples which were constructed at Khajuraho during the Chandella period (and which were still resplendent: when the great traveller Ibn Battuta noted them in 1335), 22 still exist, disseminated within an area of about 6 km2.As, monuments of two distinct religions, Brahminism and Jainism, the temples of Khajuraho are nonetheless distinguished by a common typology: they comprise an elevated substructure, over which rises the body of the richly decorated building, the ‘jangha’, covered with several registers of sculpted panels on to which open-work galleries are opened. This is crowned by a series of bundled towers with curvilinear contours, the Sikharas.The most important group of monuments is massed in the western zone, not far from the archaeological museum, including the temples of Varaha, Lakshmana, Matangeshwara, Kandariya, Mahadeva Chitragupta, Chopra Tank, Parvati, Vishwanatha and Nandi. But the east and south groups also comprise noteworthy complexes (the temples of Ghantai, Parshvanath, Adinath, Shantinath, Dulhadeo, Chaturbhuja).
- Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya (2002): (Bihar)The Mahabodhi Temple, one of the few surviving examples of early brick structures in India, has had significant influence in the development of architecture over the centuries. balustrades, and the memorial column. The present temple is one of the earliest and most imposing structures built entirely from brick in the late Gupta period. The sculpted stone balustrades are an outstanding early example of sculptural reliefs in stone.The Temple Complex has direct associations with the life of the Lord Buddha (566-486 BC) as the place where in 531 BC he attained the supreme and perfect insight while seated under the Bodhi Tree. It provides exceptional records for the events associated with his life and for subsequent worship, particularly since Emperor Asoka made a pilgrimage to this spot around 260 BC and built the first temple at the site of the Bodhi Tree. The Mahabodhi Temple Complex is located in the very heart of the city of Bodh Gaya. The site consists of the main temple and six sacred places within an enclosed area, and a seventh one, the Lotus Pond, just outside the enclosure to the south.The most important of the sacred places is the giant Bodhi Tree (Ficus religiosa ). This tree is to the west of the main temple and is supposed to be a direct descendant of the original Bodhi Tree under which the Buddha spent his First Week and where he had his enlightenment. To the north of the central path, on a raised area, is the Animeshlochan Chaitya (prayer hall) where the Buddha is believed to have spent the Second Week. The Buddha spent the Third Week walking 18 paces back and forth in an area called Ratnachakrama (Jewelled Ambulatory), which lies near the north wall of the main temple. The spot where he spent the Fourth Week is Ratnaghar Chaitya, located to the north-east near the enclosure wall. Immediately after the steps of the east entrance on the central path there is a pillar which marks the site of the Ajapala Nigrodh Tree, under which Buddha meditated during his Fifth Week, answering the queries of Brahmins. He spent the Sixth Week next to the Lotus Pond to the south of the enclosure, and the Seventh Week under the Rajyatana Tree currently marked by a tree.
- Mountain Railways of India (1999):The development of railways in the 19th century had a profound influence on social and economic developments in many parts of the world. The two Mountain Railways of India on the World Heritage List are outstanding examples of the interchange of values on developments in technology, and the impact of innovative transportation system on the social and economic development of a multicultural region, which was to serve as a model for similar developments in many parts of the world.The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is intimately linked with the development of Darjeeling as the queen of hill stations and one of the main tea-growing areas in India, in the early 19th century. The densely wooded mountain spur on which Darjeeling now stands was formerly part of the Kingdom of Sikkim. It was adopted by the British East India Company as a rest and recovery station for its soldiers in 1835, when the area was leased from Sikkim and building of the hill station began, linked to the plains by road. In 1878 the Eastern Bengal Railway submitted a detailed proposal for a steam railway from Siliguri, already linked with Calcutta to Darjeeling. This received official approval and construction work began immediately, and by 1881 it had been completed. Since 1958 it has been managed by the State-owned Northeast Frontier Railway.
- Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi (1993): (Delhi)
Lalkot is the first of the seven cities of Delhi, established by the Tomar Rajput ruler, Anang Pal, in 1060. The Qutb complex lies in the middle of the eastern part of Lalkot. Building of the Quwwatu’l-Islam (Might of Islam) congregational mosque was begun in 1192 by Qutbu’d-Din Aibak and completed in 1198, using the demolished remains of Hindu temples. It was enlarged by Iltutmish (1211-36) and again by Alauld-Din Khalji (1296-1316).
The Qutb Minar was also begun by Qutbu’d-Din Aibak, in around 1202 and completed by his successor, Muhammad-bin-Sam. It was damaged by lightning in 1326 and again in 1368, and was repaired by the rulers of the day, Muhammad-bin-Tughluq (1325-51) and Firuz Shah Tughluq (1351-88). In 1503 Sikandar Lodi carried out some restoration and enlargement of the upper storeys. The iron pillar in the mosque compound was brought from elsewhere in India. It bears a Sanskrit inscription from the 4th century AD describing the exploits of a ruler named Chandra, believed to be the Gupta King Chandragupta II (375-413). Of the other monuments, the Tomb of Iltutmish was built in 1235 by the ruler himself and Alai Darwaja was built in 1311 by Alauld-Din Khalji, who also began the construction of the Alai Minar.
- Rani-ki-Vav (the Queen’s Stepwell) at Patan, Gujarat (2014): (Gujarat)Rani-ki-Vav, on the banks of the Saraswati River, was initially built as a memorial to a king in the 11th century AD. Stepwells are a distinctive form of subterranean water resource and storage systems on the Indian subcontinent, and have been constructed since the 3rd millennium BC. They evolved over time from what was basically a pit in sandy soil towards elaborate multi-storey works of art and architecture. Rani-ki-Vav was built at the height of craftsmens’ ability in stepwell construction and the Maru-Gurjara architectural style, reflecting mastery of this complex technique and great beauty of detail and proportions. Designed as an inverted temple highlighting the sanctity of water, it is divided into seven levels of stairs with sculptural panels of high artistic quality; more than 500 principle sculptures and over a thousand minor ones combine religious, mythological and secular imagery, often referencing literary works. The fourth level is the deepest and leads into a rectangular tank 9.5 m by 9.4 m, at a depth of 23 m. The well is located at the westernmost end of the property and consists of a shaft 10 m in diameter and 30 m deep.
- Red Fort Complex (2007): (New Delhi)The Red Fort Complex was built as the palace fort of Shahjahanabad – the new capital of the fifth Mughal Emperor of India, Shah Jahan. Named for its massive enclosing walls of red sandstone, it is adjacent to an older fort, the Salimgarh, built by Islam Shah Suri in 1546, with which it forms the Red Fort Complex. The private apartments consist of a row of pavilions connected by a continuous water channel, known as the Nahr-i-Behisht (Stream of Paradise). The Red Fort is considered to represent the zenith of Mughal creativity which, under the Shah Jahan, was brought to a new level of refinement. The planning of the palace is based on Islamic prototypes, but each pavilion reveals architectural elements typical of Mughal building, reflecting a fusion of Persian, Timurid and Hindu traditions The Red Fort’s innovative planning and architectural style, including the garden design, strongly influenced later buildings and gardens in Rajasthan, Delhi, Agra and further afield.The planning and design of the Red Fort represents a culmination of architectural development initiated in 1526 AD by the first Mughal Emperor and brought to a splendid refinement by Shah Jahan with a fusion of traditions: Islamic, Persian, Timurid and Hindu. The innovative planning arrangements and architectural style of building components as well as garden design developed in the Red Fort strongly influenced later buildings and gardens in Rajasthan, Delhi, Agra and further afield. The Red Fort has been the setting for events which have had a critical impact on its geo-cultural region.
- Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka (2003): (Madhya Pradesh)The Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka are in the foothills of the Vindhyan Mountains on the southern edge of the central Indian plateau. Within massive sandstone outcrops, above comparatively dense forest, are five clusters of natural rock shelters, displaying paintings that appear to date from the Mesolithic Period right through to the historical period. The cultural traditions of the inhabitants of the twenty-one villages adjacent to the site bear a strong resemblance to those represented in the rock paintings.Bhimbetka reflects a long interaction between people and the landscape. It is closely associated with a hunting and gathering economy, as demonstrated in the rock art and in the relicts of this tradition in the local adivasi villages on the periphery of the site.The site complex was discovered by V. S. Wakankar in 1957. Almost 100 years earlier, in 1867, rock paintings had been discovered in Uttar Pradesh and the first scientific article on Indian rock paintings was published by J. Cockburn in 1883. Bhimbetka was first mentioned in 1888 as a Buddhist site, from information obtained from local adivasis. Two shelters were excavated in 1971 by Bajpai, Pandey and Gour.
- Sun Temple, Konârak (1984): (Orissa)Konârak is an outstanding testimony to the 13th-century kingdom of Orissa. It is directly and materially linked to Brahmin beliefs, and forms the invaluable link in the history of the diffusion of the cult of Surya, which originated in Kashmir during the 8th century and finally reached the shores of eastern India.On the eastern coast of India, south of the Mahanadi Delta, is the Brahmin temple of Kimarak (still spelled as Konârak or Konârka), one of the most famous Brahmin sanctuaries of Asia. Konârak derives its name from Konârka, the presiding deity of the Sun Temple. Konârka is a combination of two words, kona (corner) and arka (Sun). It was one of the earliest centres of Sun worship in India. Built around 1250 in the reign of King Narasingha Deva (1238-64), it marks the apogee of the wave of foundations dedicated to the Sun God Surya; the entire temple was conceived as a chariot of the Sun God with a set of spokes and elaborate carvings.The present Sun Temple was probably built by King Narashimhadev I (1238-64) of the Ganga dynasty to celebrate his victory over the Muslims. The temple fell into disuse in the early 17th century after it was desecrated by an envoy of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. The legend has it that the temple was constructed by Samba, the son of Lord Krishna. Samba was afflicted by leprosy and after twelve years of penance he was cured by Surya, the Sun God, in whose honour he built this temple.
- Taj Mahal (1983): (Uttar Pradesh)The Taj Mahal, an immense mausoleum of white marble, built in Agra between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, is the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage. It no doubt partially owes its renown to the moving circumstances of its construction. Shah Jahan, in order to perpetuate the memory of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in 1631, had this funerary mosque built. The monument, begun in 1632, was finished in 1648; unverified but nonetheless, tenacious, legends attribute its construction to an international team of several thousands of masons, marble workers, mosaicists and decorators working under the orders of the architect of the emperor, Ustad Ahmad Lahori.Situated on the right bank of the Yamuna in a vast Mogul garden of some 17 ha, this funerary monument, bounded by four isolated minarets, reigns with its octagonal structure capped by a bulbous dome through the criss-cross of open perspectives offered by alleys or basins of water. The rigour of a perfect elevation of astonishing graphic purity is disguised and almost contradicted by the scintillation of a fairy-like decor where the white marble, the main building material, brings out and scintillates the floral arabesques, the decorative bands, and the calligraphic inscriptions which are incrusted in polychromatic pietra dura. The materials were brought in from all over India and central Asia and white Makrana marble from Jodhpur. Precious stones for the inlay came from Baghdad, Punjab, Egypt, Russia, Golconda, China, Afghanistan, Ceylon, Indian Ocean and Persia. The unique Mughal style combines elements and styles of Persian, Central Asian and Islamic architecture.
- The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur (2010): (Jaipur)The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur, is an astronomical observation site built in the early 18th century. It includes a set of some twenty main fixed instruments. They are monumental examples in masonry of known instruments but which in many cases have specific characteristics of their own. The Jantar Mantar is an expression of the astronomical skills and cosmological concepts of the court of a scholarly prince at the end of the Mughal period.The Jantar Mantar observatory in Jaipur constitutes the most significant and best preserved set of fixed monumental instruments built in India in the first half of the 18th century; some of them are the largest ever built in their categories. Designed for the observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye, they embody several architectural and instrumental innovations. The observatory forms part of a tradition of Ptolemaic positional astronomy which was shared by many civilizations. It contributed by this type of observation to the completion of the astronomical tables of Zij. It is a late and ultimate monumental culmination of this tradition.Through the impetus of its creator, the prince Jai Singh II, the observatory was a meeting point for different scientific cultures, and gave rise to widespread social practices linked to cosmology. It was also a symbol of royal authority, through its urban dimensions, its control of time, and its rational and astrological forecasting capacities. The observatory is the monumental embodiment of the coming together of needs which were at the same time political, scientific, and religious.
- Great Himalayan National Park (2014): (Himachal Pradesh)This National Park in the western part of the Himalayan Mountains in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh is characterized by high alpine peaks, alpine meadows and riverine forests. The 90,540 ha property includes the upper mountain glacial and snow meltwater sources of several rivers, and the catchments of water supplies that are vital to millions of downstream users. The GHNPCA protects the monsoon-affected forests and alpine meadows of the Himalayan front ranges. It is part of the Himalaya biodiversity hotspot and includes twenty-five forest types along with a rich assemblage of fauna species, several of which are threatened. This gives the site outstanding significance for biodiversity conservation.
- Kaziranga National Park (1985): (Assam)In the heart of Assam, this park is one of the last areas in eastern India undisturbed by a human presence. It is inhabited by the world’s largest population of one-horned rhinoceroses, as well as many mammals, including tigers, elephants, panthers and bears, and thousands of birds.The site is on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra River at the foot of the Mikir Hills. The park lies in the flood plains of the Brahmaputra. The riverine habitat consists primarily of tall, dense grasslands interspersed with open forests, interconnecting streams and numerous small lakes (bheels ). Three-quarters or more of the area is submerged annually by the flood waters of the Brahmaputra. Soils are alluvial deposits of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries.There are three main types of vegetation: alluvial inundated grasslands, tropical wet evergreen forests and tropical semi-evergreen forests. Grasslands predominate in the west, with tall ‘elephant’ grasses on the higher ground and short grasses on the lower ground surrounding the bheels . They have been maintained by annual flooding and burning over thousands of years. Tropical wet evergreen forests, near Kanchanjhuri, Panbari and Tamulipathar blocks, are dominated by trees. Tropical semi-evergreen forests occur near Baguri, Bimali and Haldibari.
- Keoladeo National Park (1985): (Rajasthan)The site is situated in eastern Rajasthan, the park is 2 km south-east of Bharatpur and 50 km west of Agra. The area consists of a flat patchwork of marshes in the Gangetic plain, artificially created in the 1850s and maintained ever since by a system of canals, sluices and dykes. Normally, water is fed into the marshes twice a year from inundations of the Gambira and Banganga rivers, which are impounded on arable land by means of an artificial dam called Ajan Bund, to the south of the park. The first time, usually in mid-July, is soon after the onset of the monsoon and the second time is in late September or October when Ajan Bund is drained ready for cultivation in winter. Thus, the area is flooded to a depth of 1-2 m throughout the monsoon (July-September), after which the water level drops. From February onwards the land begins to dry out and by June only some water remains. For much of the year the area of wetland is only 1,000 ha. Soils are predominantly alluvial – some clay has formed as a result of the periodic inundations.In a semi-arid biotype, the park is the only area with much vegetation, hence the term ‘Ghana’ meaning ‘thicket’. The principal vegetation types are tropical dry deciduous forest, intermixed with dry grassland in areas where forest has been degraded. Apart form the artificially managed marshes, much of the area is covered by medium-sized trees and shrubs. Forests, mostly in the north-east of the park, are dominated by kalam or kadam, jamun and babul. The open woodland is mostly babul with a small amount of kandi and ber. Scrublands are dominated by ber and kair. The aquatic vegetation is rich in species and is a valuable source of food for waterfowl.
- Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (1985): (Assam)Manas takes its name from the Goddess Manasa. The site is noted for its spectacular scenery, with a variety of habitat types that support a diverse fauna, making it the richest of all Indian wildlife areas. The park represents the core of an extensive tiger reserve that protects an important migratory wildlife resource along the West Bengal to Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan borders. Its wetlands are of international importance. It is also the single most important site for the survival of pygmy hog, hispid hare and golden langur.The park, which includes part of Manas Reserve Forest and all of North Kamrup Reserve Forest, constitutes the core of Manas Tiger Reserve located in the forest divisions of Kachugaon, Haltugaon, Western Assam Wildlife and North Kamrup.Lying in the foothills of the Outer Himalaya, the area is low-lying and flat. The Manas River flows through the western portion of the park, where it splits into three separate rivers, and joins the Brahmaputra some 64 km further south. These and other rivers running through the tiger reserve carry an enormous amount of silt and rock debris from the foothills, resulting from the heavy rainfall, fragile nature of the rock and steep-gradients of the catchments. This leads to the formation of alluvial terraces, comprising deep layers of deposited rock and detritus overlain with sand and soil of varying depth, shifting river channels and swamps. The area of the Boki basin, in the west of the park, is sometimes inundated during the monsoon. The three main types of vegetation are: tropical semi-evergreen forests in the northern part of the park; tropical moist and dry deciduous forests (the most common type); and extensive alluvial grasslands in the western part of the park.
- Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks (1988): (Uttaranchal)The Nanda Devi National Park is one of the most spectacular wilderness areas in the Himalayas. It is dominated by the peak of Nanda Devi, which rises to over 7,800 m. No people live in the park, which has remained more or less intact because of its inaccessibility. It is the habitat of several endangered mammals, especially the snow leopard, Himalayan musk deer and bharal.The park lies in Chamoli district, within the Garhwal Himalaya. It comprises the catchment area of the Rishi Ganga, an eastern tributary of Dhauli Ganga which flows into the Alaknanda River at Joshimath. The area is a vast glacial basin, divided by a series of parallel, north-south oriented ridges. These rise up to the encircling mountain rim along which are about a dozen peaks, the better known including Dunagiri, Changbang and Nanda Devi East.Nanda Devi West, India’s second-highest mountain, lies on a short ridge projecting into the basin and rises up from Nanda Devi East on the eastern rim. Trisul, in the south-west, also lies inside the basin. The upper Rishi Valley, often referred to as the ‘Inner Sanctuary’, is fed by Changbang, North Rishi and North Nanda Devi glaciers to the north and by South Nanda Devi and South Rishi glaciers to the south of the Nanda Devi massif. There is an impressive gorge cutting through the Devistan-Rishikot ridge below the confluence of the North and South Rishi rivers. The Trisuli and Ramani glaciers are features of the lower Rishi Valley or ‘Outer Sanctuary’, below which the Rishi Ganga enters the narrow, steep-sided lower gorge.
- Sundarbans National Park (1987): (West Bengal)The site lies south-east of Calcutta in the District of West Bengal and forms part of the Gangetic Delta, which borders on the Bay of Bengal. The Sundarbans, covering some 10,000 km2 of mangrove forest and water, is part of the world’s largest delta formed from sediments deposited by three great rivers, the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna, which converge on the Bengal Basin.The whole Sundarbans area is intersected by an intricate network of interconnecting waterways, of which the larger channels are often a kilometre or two in width and run in a north-south direction. These waterways now carry little freshwater as they are mostly cut off from the Ganges, the outflow of which has shifted from the Hooghly-Bhagirathi channels progressively eastwards since the 17th century. This is due to subsidence of the Bengal Basin and a gradual eastward tilting of the overlying crust. In the Indian Sundarbans, the western portion receives some freshwater through the Bhagirathi-Hooghly river system but that portion designated as the tiger reserve is essentially land-locked, its rivers having become almost completely cut off from the main freshwater sources over the last 600 years. Thus, waterways in the tiger reserve are maintained largely by the diurnal tidal flow, the average rise and fall being about 2.15 m on the coast and up to 5.68 m on Sagar Island.
- Western Ghats (2012): (Kerala)Older than the Himalaya mountains, the mountain chain of the Western Ghats represents geomorphic features of immense importance with unique biophysical and ecological processes. The site’s high montane forest ecosystems influence the Indian monsoon weather pattern. Moderating the tropical climate of the region, the site presents one of the best examples of the monsoon system on the planet. It also has an exceptionally high level of biological diversity and endemism and is recognized as one of the world’s eight ‘hottest hotspots’ of biological diversity. The forests of the site include some of the best representatives of non-equatorial tropical evergreen forests anywhere and are home to at least 325 globally threatened flora, fauna, bird, amphibian, reptile and fish species.
Intangible Cultural Heritage
Culture plays an important role in the development of any nation. It represents a set of shared attitudes, values, goals and practices. Culture and creativity manifest themselves in almost all economic, social and other activities. A country as diverse as India is symbolized by the plurality of its culture. Article 29 of the Constitution of India, 1950 forebears the dictum of Unity in Diversity to which this ancient civilization adheres to:
“…Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same”.
Article 29 (2) of the Constitution of India speaks of Cultural and Educational Rights also refer to the protection of interests of minorities:
“…No citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the State or receiving aid out of State funds on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them”.
The plurality and multiplicity of the Indian Culture is evident to the whole World as India has one of the world’s largest collections of songs, music, dance, theatre, folk traditions, performing arts, rites and rituals, languages, dialects, paintings and writings that are known, as the ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ (ICH) of humanity. Thus, on this premise was born the philosophy and the concept of having academies of national importance.
The year 1950 was a milestone to an epoch-making decade in India’s history, since that was the year India declared itself as a sovereign republic. The Planning Commission of India was set up on 15 March 1950. This Commission in its very first plan envisaged that culture is integral to the Planning process as a whole. That it is intrinsic to the concept of planned national development.
With every subsequent Plan periods, the Government of India founded a number of institutions that determined its cultural policy and also thereby determined, for several other agencies, the dominant paradigms for the ‘arts & culture’ field as a whole. Among the major ones are the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (1950), the Sangeet Natak Akademi (1953), the National Museum, the Sahitya Akademi, the National Gallery of Modern Art and the Lalit Kala Akademi (all set up in 1954, following a Parliamentary Resolution initiated by India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru and first Education Minister, Maulana Azad), the Film Institute of India (1959), the National School of Drama (1959) and the National Institute of Design (1961).
The role of these cultural institutions fits mainly within a very different concept of cultural nationalism. In brief, national cultural policy, as guided by the Planning Commission of India, in the period right after Independence adhered to the following five definitional criteria:
- First, that India’s cultural policy presumes that India’s cultural resources, represented by the artisans, stakeholders, practitioners and craftsmen, are a repository of national resources as well, and as such are central to the very enterprise of nationalism, informing all of its programmes.
- Second, that they contribute a crucial component to India’s nationalist project of identifying and protecting its national heritage.
- Third, while the protection and sustenance of the artisan has a cultural justification as representative of national heritage, it is nevertheless its economic component that gives it such visibility and has to be adequately dealt
- Fourth, that the administrative elements of culture that arise from such a cultural policy therefore most directly impact the field of education
- And five, that under the Nehruvian Socialism, the philosophy of then cultural policy sought a synergy between the support and development of artisanal practices on the one hand and the stated nationalist goals of industrialism and the emphasis on science and technology on the other.
Based on these guiding principles Government of India has formulated and undertaken several measures to take care of the development of Tangible/Intangible Arts of the State. After ratification of the Convention of Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2005, Government has placed further serious efforts through its various agencies, Semi-Government agencies, and Regional Government agencies, NGOs that support the elements of Intangible Cultural Heritage by various ways for their growth, sustenance, further visibility, and development.
The intangible cultural heritage constitutes a set of living and constantly recreated practices, knowledge and representations enabling individuals and communities, at all levels, to express their broad conception through systems of values and ethical standards. The following multi-pronged system has been delieanated to safeguard the Intangible cultural heritage of India:
- At National level: Academies (Sangeet Natak Akademi, Sahitya Akademi & Lalit Kala Akademi), autonomous bodies (Like I.C.C.R.), Subordinate Bodies (Like Anthropological Survey of India) and various autonomous institutions, missions and surveys are constituted
- At State level: various Zonal Cultural Centres, covering the states of India zone wise, are ordained- East Zone, North Zone, North Central Zone, South Central Zone, South Zone and the West Zone
- Creates among communities a sense of belonging and continuity by fostering community participation at regional, district and grassroots level
National Gallery of Modern Art, Bengaluru
The National Gallery of Modern Art, Bengaluru set up in the premises of the Manikyavelu Mansion at 49 Palace Road, Bangalore was opened to the publicon 18th February, 2009. Spread over an area of 3.5 acres, the gracious heritage building was transformed from a residence into an Art Gallery, with a display space of 1551 square meters to which a new gallery block with a display space of 1260 sq. m. was added. The architecture of the additional block was designed in such a fashion that it merges with the style and ambience of the heritage Manikeyavelu Mansion while at the same time fulfilling the requirements of a modern museum. The Gallery stands as a repository of the cultural ethos of the country and showcases Indian art starting from the early 18th century till the present times.
The collection of NGMA mainly comprises of paintings, sculptures, graphic prints and examples of early photography in India which showcased the historical development of modern art in India. The display includes Indian miniatures, colonial artists, Bengal School and post-independence artists which led to the birth of modern and post-modern art of today. In addition to permanent display of the paintings and sculptures, this NGMA also showcases national and international exhibitions regularly.
National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai
The National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai (NGMA), is a subordinate office of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. NGMA Mumbai, a Grade one Heritage building, was inaugurated by Shri S. R. Bommai, the then HRD Minister, Government of India, on 23rd December 1996. It is situated at the famous Cowasji Jehangir Public Hall (C. J. Public Hall), M. G. Road, Fort Mumbai.
The Government of Maharashtra, in the year 1984, gave this building on lease for 30 years to the Ministry of Culture, Government of India for establishing the NGMA.
National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi
The National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), founded in 1954, is the only institution of its kind in the country representing evolution and pictorial transformation in visual arts over the last more than 150 years. NGMA functions as a subordinate office under the superintendence and administrative control of the Ministry of Culture.
The main objectives of the NGMA are to create an understanding and sensibility among the Indian public towards the visual and plastic arts in general and to promote the development of contemporary Indian art in particular. In 2009, NGMA inaugurated the opening of its New Extension Wing at New Delhi which increased its display spaces by more than 6 times.
Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad
The Salar Jung Museum of Hyderabad is a repository of the artistic achievements of diverse European, Asian and Far Eastern countries of the world. The major portion of this collection was acquired by Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan popularly known as Salar Jung III. The zeal for acquiring art objects continued as a family tradition for three generations of Salar Jungs. In 1914, Salar Jung III, after having relinquished the post of Prime Minister to H.E.H., the Nizam VII, Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan, devoted rest of his entire life in collecting and enriching the treasures of art and literature till he lived. The precious and rare art objects collected by him for a period of over forty years, find place in the portals of the Salar Jung Museum, as rare to very rare pieces of art.
After the demise of Salar Jung-III, the vast collection of precious art objects and his Library which were housed in “Dewan-Deodi” the ancestral palace of the Salar Jungs, the desirability of organizing a Museum out of the Nawab’s collection dawned quite soon and Sri M.K. Velodi, the then Chief Civil Administrator of the Hyderabad State approached Dr.James Cousins a well known art critic, to organize the various objects of art and curios which were lying scattered in different palaces of Salar Jung III to form a Museum.
With a view to perpetuate the name of Salar Jung as a world renowned art connoisseur, the Salar Jung Museum was brought in to existence and was opened to the public by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India on 16th December, 1951.
However, the administration of the Museum continued to be vested in the Salar Jung Estate Committee till 1958. Thereafter, the heirs of Salar Jung Bahadur graciously agreed to donate the entire collection to the Government of India through a Compromise Deed based on a High Court Decree on 26th December l958. The Museum continued to be administered directly by the Government of India till 1961. Through an Act of Parliament (Act of 26 of 1961) the Salar Jung Museum with its Library was declared to be an Institution of National Importance. The administration was entrusted to an Autonomous Board of Trustees with the Governor of Andhra Pradesh as its Ex-officio Chairman and ten other members representing the Government of India, the State of Andhra Pradesh, Osmania University and one from the family of Salar Jungs.
The Museum has a magnificent global collection of art objects and antiques not only of Indian origin, but mostly from countries Western, a sizable collection hails from Middle Eastern and Far Eastern origins. In 2000 AD, under museum expansion programme two more buildings were added on either side of existing central building.
Basing on the nature of collections, the Western /European collections were displayed in the Western Block and Eastern collections in the Eastern block. Mixed collection including Children’s section, Rebecca, Musical clock, Jade, Ivory etc., galleries were located in the central building. A rich reference library which contains reference books, large collection of rare manuscripts etc. is also located the in the central building. Thus, this Museum has become popular, not only as a place of interest but also as an institution for education.
Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata
The Victoria Memorial Hall (VMH) was founded on the initiative of Lord Curzon as a period museum in memory of Queen Victoria with particular emphasis on Indo-British history. Built on a 57-acre land and called the ‘Taj of the Raj’ because of its recognition as the finest specimen of Indo-British architecture in India, the VMH was formally opened to the public in 1921, and declared an institution of National importance by the Government of India Act of 1935. Currently, the VMH is by far the most-visited museum in India, with nearly 20 lakh people visiting its galleries and more than 13 lakh people touring the gardens separately in 2013-14.
The VMH collection has 28,394 artefacts displayed in nine galleries that encapsulate the history of our nation extending over three centuries beginning from 1650 A.D.
National Council of Science Museums (NCSM)
National Council of Science Museums (NCSM), an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India was registered as a society on April 4, 1978. Presently NCSM administers and manages 25 science museums/centres spread across the country and it is the world’s largest network of science centres and museums that functions under a single administrative umbrella. For last 35 years the Council has developed a nationwide infrastructure of 48 science museums ¢res. The NCSM is managed by a Society whose President is the Hon’ble Minister of Culture. There is also a Governing Body comprising of Ex Officio Members and Experts. The Chairman of the present Governing Body is Prof. R.C.Sobti.
The Council has been engaged in creating awareness on Science & Technology, developing scientific temper in society and promoting science literacy throughout the length and breadth of the country. Its outreach activities throughout the year aspire to develop a culture of science and innovation by engaging people from all segments of the society in the process of science & technology.
Allahabad Museum, Allahabad
The Allahabad Museum is centrally located in the Civil Lines area of the city in a lush green thickly forested historic park called Chandrasekhar Azad Park. It is about 3 kms from the Allahabad Railway Station with almost equidistant from Prayag and Rambagh Railway Stations and about 12 km from Bamrauli Airport.
In 1863, the Board of Revenue requested the Government of North-Western Provinces for the establishment of a public library and a museum. With donations from the provincial government, the famous Orientalist Sir William Muir and the Maharaja of Vijaynagaram, a superintendent of library and museum was appointed and an ornate building was inaugurated in 1878 to house the collection. For unforeseen reasons the museum closed down in 1881. The initiative to reopen the museum was taken by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the President of the Allahabad Municipal Board in 1923-24. Under the operational direction of Pandit Brij Mohan Vyas, the then Executive Officer of the board, a museum was opened in the Municipal Building in 1931. Under the tutelage of pandit Vyas, the musum acquired important collections, including ancient sculpture from Bharhut ( Satna district of MP) and Bhumra (MP). In 1942, S.C. Kala the first curator gave the much needed impetus to enriching the collections of the museum, especially adding the Nehru personalia Collection and the Bengal School Paintings. As space became a constraint, it was decided that the museum should be shifted from the Municipal Board building to the present building at the Company bagh or Chandrasekhar Azad park. The foundation stone of the present museum building which was then called as Prayag Sangrahalaya was laid on 14th December 1947 by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and the museum was opened to the public in 1954.
There are sixteen galleries in Allahabad Museum. It houses a variety of collections those include Stone Sculptures, Terracottas, Miniature Paintings, Modern Painting, Archaeological objects, Coins, Arms and Armour, Textile, Manuscript, Farmans etc.
The sculptural art collection comprising of an abacus of an Ashokan pillar (3rd century BCE), 58 fragments of sculpture from the Bharhut stupa (2nd century BCE) including scenes from the Jataka stories, pillars, crossbars and coping stones are displayed in the Early Sculpture Gallery. The Medieval sculpture section is still more nice and varied, displaying the Vaisnava, Satka, Saiva and Jaina images. It has also a rich collection of Miniature Paintings and Modern Art. The Miniature Paintings belongs to the of Rajasthani, Pahari, Mughal and Company schools of paintings. Paintings of Anagarika Govinda and those of the Russian artists Nicholas and Svetoslav Roerich occupy a pride of place in the Modern Art Gallery. The Bengal School collection comprises the works of Asit Kumar Haldar, Abanindranath Tagore, Gaganendranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose, Jamini Roy and Sudhir Ranjan Khastgir are the exquisite collection of Allahabad Museum. The Museum has an important personalia collection of manuscripts and letters of literary luminaries like Sumitranandan Pant, Mahadevi Verma, Suryakant Tripathi ‘Nirala’, Maithili Saran Gupta, Ram Kumar Verma and others. The Arms and Armour Collection of the Allahabad Museum has unique pistols, rifles, guns, swords and body armour from the 18th century to 19th century CE. The textiles and decorative arts collection includes fine gold Zari work and exquisite wooden artifacts.
Galleries of Allahabad Museum:
- Introductory Gallery
- Archaeological Gallery/Rock Art Gallery
- Terracotta Gallery
- Early Sculpture Gallery
- Medieval Sculpture Gallery
- Miniature Painting Gallery
- Literary Gallery
- Natural History Gallery
- Gandhi Gallery
- Nehru Gallery
- Decorative Art Gallery
- Arms, Armours and Bronze Gallery
- Textile Gallery
- Modern Indian Painting Gallery
- Freedom Struggle Gallery
Museum has published number of Books, Catalogues, and Seminar proceedings in order to encourage research. It has also printed picture postcards, guide books and prints for the visitors to take them as souvenirs from the museum.
National Research Laboratory for conservation of Cultural Property Lucknow
National Research Laboratory for Conservation of CulturalProperty, Lucknow is a subordinate of office to the Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India and was established in 1976. It was recognized as scientific institution by Department of Science and Technology in the year 1985. The aims and objectives of the laboratory are as under.
- To develop conservational capabilities through scientific research and training.
- To advance conservation practices through development and implementation of field projects.
- Dissemination of information through conferences, workshops and publishing research papers in scientific journals.
- Setting up of conservation laboratories.
- Collaboration with international professional organizations.
NRLC activities are carried out through scientific research, training andundertaking of field projects for conservation and preservation. Over the years this laboratory has published many research papers in the journals of national and international repute. With the sanction of deposit head for field projects in the year 2011, the laboratory has been receiving request for conservation work from different museum, archives, libraries and other institutions. Currently field projects of NRLC are progressing at Sir J.J. School of Arts, Mumbai, Central Museum Nagpur, SMM Theatre Craft Museum New Delhi, Sri Manjusha Museum Dharamasthala, Mysore Palace Board Mysore, State Museum and Zoos Thiruvananthpuram, Regional State Archives Ernakulum, Kerala and Governor House at Lucknow.
National Museum, New Delhi
National Museum is a Subordinate Office of the Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India. Set up in 1949, the Museum possesses more than 2 lakhs artifacts. The main objectives of the National Museum are as given under:
- To collect antiquities and art objects of Historical, Cultural and Artistic significance for the purpose of their protection and interpretation (research).
- To disseminate knowledge about the significance of the objects in respect of history, culture and artistic excellence and achievements.
- To serve as a cultural centre for enjoyment and interaction of the people in and around artistic and cultural activity.
- To serve as epitome of national identity.
National Museum Institute of History of Art, Conservation& Museology New Delhi
The National Museum Institute (NMI), an autonomous organization fully funded by the Ministry of Culture was established as a Society in January 1989 and declared a Deemed to be University in April 1989. This is the only University in India, exclusively devoted to the subjects related to museums. It is presently functioning in the premises of the National Museum at Janpath, New Delhi. Hon’ble Minister for Culture is the Chairperson of the Society and also the Chancellor of the University. The Director General, National Museum is the ex-officio Vice-Chancellor of the Institute.The main objectives of the Institute are as follows:
- To provide courses of study, training and research in different fields of History of Art, Conservation and Museology.
- To provide and offer facilities for fundamental research in the above fields of study.
- To collaborate with other national institutions dealing with the cultural property in order to share the material, curatorial/technical expertise and facilities.
- To interact on a continuous basis at the national level to improve standards of teaching in the above fields.
In pursuance to the above objects, NMI offers M.A. and Ph. D courses in History of Art, Conservation and Museology; conducts three months certificate courses (short term courses) namely India: Art & Culture and Art Appreciation in English and Bhartiya Kalanidhi in Hindi; holds national and international seminars, workshops and symposia and arranges special lectures of eminent scholars on topics of relevance; and publishes its works. In the 10th Convocation of NMI held on 3rd June 2013, degrees to the successful MA/Ph.D students were conferred by the Hon’ble Minister of Culture.
Indian Museum, Kolkata
Established on 2nd February, 1814 at the cradle of the Asiatic Society, the earliest museum in the Asia Pacific region underwent multi-linear phases of fruitful existence. The concept of establishing a Museum for such composite objects was brainchild of Dr. Nathaniel Wallich, a Danish Botanist. The Indian Museum, earlier known as Asiatic Museum and subsequently as Imperial Museum, grew into the largest institution of its kind of the country as an epitome of human civilization. The architect being W. L. Granville and the present Victorian edifice was completed in 1875, and on 1st April 1878 the Museum was thrown open to the public.
The Museum aims at acquisition, preservation, study in all objects of national importance and dissemination of knowledge and recreation through them. The collection of highlights the oriental culture, history and natural sciences and contains some specimen of other countries also.
With countless objects of art and nature and of infinite variety showcased in a number of galleries spreading over almost eight thousand square meter area of its six sections viz. Art, Archaeology, Anthropology, Zoology, Geology and Botany with about one million holdings, Indian Museum with its multi-disciplinary activities, has been included as an important national institution in the constitution of the Republic of India.
The Archaeology Section includes collections dating back from 5th BC to 17th AD. Indian coins of early, mediaeval and modern times are also displayed. Art Section is divided into Paintings, Textiles and Decorative Arts of India. The Anthropology Section consists of human evolution and cultural anthropology galleries. The scientific sections administered by Zoological, Geological and Botanical Surveys of India, have a good number of galleries displaying fish, reptile, bird, mammals; fossils, rock and mineral; and medicinal plants, vegetable fibers, dyes and tans, gums and resins, timber, oil and oil seeds collections.
The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 defines an ‘ Ancient Monument ’ as follows:-
Ancient Monument means any structure, erection or monument, or any tumulus or place of interment, or any cave, rock-sculpture, inscription or monolith which is of historical, archaeological or artistic interest and which has been in existence for not less than 100 years and includes—
- Remains of an ancient monument,
- Site of an ancient monument,
- Such portion of land adjoining the site of an ancient monument as may be required for fencing or covering in or otherwise preserving such monument, a
- The means of access to, and convenient inspection of, an ancient monument;
The section 2(d) defines archaeological site and remains as follows:
Archaeological site and remains means any area which contains or is reasonably believed to contain ruins or relics of historical or archaeological importance which have been in existence for not less than one hundred years, and includes—
- Such portion of land adjoining the area as may be required for fencing or covering in or otherwise preserving it, and
- The means of access to, and convenient inspection of the area;
Protection of monuments
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) under the provisions of the AMASR Act, 1958 protects monuments, sites and remains of national importance by giving a two-month’s notice for inviting objections, if any in this regard. After the specified two-month’s period, and after scrutinizing the objections, if any, received in this regard, the ASI makes decision to bring a monument under its protection. There are at present more than 3650 ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance. These monuments belong to different periods, ranging from the prehistoric period to the colonial period and are located in different geographical settings. They include temples, mosques, tombs, churches, cemeteries, forts, palaces, step-wells, rock-cut caves, and secular architecture as well as ancient mounds and sites which represent the remains of ancient habitation.
These monuments and sites are maintained and preserved through various Circles of the ASI spread all over the country. The Circles look after the research on these monuments and conservation activities, while the Science Branch with its headquarters at Dehradun carries out chemical preservation and the Horticulture Branch with its headquarters at Agra is entrusted with the laying out gardens and environmental development.
Various Branches and Circles of the ASI carry out archaeological excavations in different parts of the country. Wing. Since independence various agencies like the Archaeological Survey of India, State Departments of Archaeology, Universities and other research organizations have conducted archaeological excavations in different parts of the country. Based on the information available in the Indian Archaeology – A Review a list of the sites, excavated during last century, is given state wise. Excavations conducted since 2000 are given in this section. Arranged state wise they include brief information on the site and important finds.
Conservation & Preservation
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), as an attached office under the Department of Culture, Ministry of Tourism and Culture, is the premier organization for the archaeological researches and protection of the cultural heritage of the nation. Maintenance of ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance is the prime concern of the ASI. Besides it regulate all archaeological activities in the country as per the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958. It also regulates Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972.
For the maintenance of ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance the entire country is divided into 24 Circles. The organization has a large work force of trained archaeologists, conservators, epigraphist, architects and scientists for conducting archaeological research projects through its Excavation Branches, Prehistory Branch, Epigraphy Branches, Science Branch, Horticulture Branch, Building Survey Project, Temple Survey Projects and Underwater Archaeology Wing.
Library service comes under the aegis of State Governments and the States vary in their size, population, literacy rate, production of literature in regional languages and library infrastructure.
HH Sayaji Rao Gaekwad III, Maharaja of Baroda, pioneered the development of Public Library System in India as early as 1910.The Maharaja insisted that “libraries should not limit their benefits to the few English knowing readers, but should see to it that their good work permeates through to the many”, and that “the vernacular libraries should be encouraged” so that every citizen of the State “may enrol himself as a pupil in the peoples’ university-the library. He established a Library Department with Mr. W. A.Borden as the first full time Director of State Libraries. A Central Library at Baroda with a nucleus collection of 88,764 volumes including the Maharaja’s private collection of 20,000 books was established with a full time Curator. The Maharaja also established an Oriental Institute and Library with 6,846 printed books and 1,420 manuscripts in Sanskrit, Gujarati and other languages. He was the first to initiate the publication of Gaekwad’s Oriental Series in 1915.
It is mind-boggling to learn that even a century ago the Maharaja arranged to purchase a Photostat camera and a camera projector by the State. The projector was utilized to view the silent films etc. He started Library Associations from Taluk level, organized ‘Mitra Mandal’ in the town & villages and organized regular library conferences. Mobile library service was organized to cater to the book need at remote villages.
THE DEVELOPMENT and PUBLIC LIBRARY LEGISLATION
In India, there are 54,856 public libraries starting from English Colony Library at Chennai in 1661. 1972 was declared as International Book Year with the slogan BOOKS FOR ALL.Even before Independence, Kolhapur Princely State, in the Western India passed Public Libraries Act in 1945. 19 States of the Indian Union have successfully passed the library legislation. In the coming few years, there is greater possibility for a library law being enacted in the remaining States.
RELATIONSHIP OF MINISTRY OF CULTURE
THE DEPOSIT OF BOOKS, NEWSPAPERS & ELECTRONIC PUBLICATIONS IN LIBRARIES BILL 2013
A new Act “The Deposit of Books, Newspapers and Electronic Publications in Libraries Bill 2013” repealing the old Act is under consideration.
THE NATIONAL MISSION ON LIBRARIES (NML)
The National Mission on Libraries (NML) was launched by the Hon.’ble President of India on 3rd February,2014. NML has a budget allocation of Rs. 400 Crores with the objective of establishing a National Virtual Library of India, establishment of Model Libraries, quantitative/ qualitative survey of Libraries and capacity building. Under the scheme, 6 libraries under the Culture Ministry, 35 Central Libraries in states and 35 District Libraries are to be developed as model libraries , with emphasis on developing these libraries in economically backward districts. Further, 629 district libraries across the states would be provided network connectivity.
COLLABORATION WITH INTERNATIONAL & NATIONAL INSTITUTIONS.
On the International scenario, Ministry of Culture has an agreement with more than 100 Libraries in the world for exchange of resources and personnel. The International Book Fair is held every year at New Delhi in the month of February World Book Day (23rd April) is celebrated as Vishva Pustak Diwas in India. The Jaipur Literature Festival, the biggest literary festival in Asia which attracts thousands of writers and visitors from all over the world is held in Jaipur every year in the month of January. One of the unique attractions of this festival is the live performances given by famous musicians. Jaipur Literature Festival has been taking place in Jaipur since the year 2006.
The National Library Week is celebrated from 14th to 21st November every year in India
THE MINISTRY OF CULTURE EXERCISES ADMINISTRATIVE SUPERVISION OVER SIX PUBLIC LIBRARIES.
The National Library is the apex body of the library system of India and functions as a subordinate office of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. It has a dual function, as a National Library and as a public library.
The Rampur Raza Library at Rampur, an autonomous body under the Ministry of Culture, was founded by Nawab Faizullah Khan in 1774 is a treasure house of Indo Islamic learning and arts ,inherited collection of valuable rare manuscripts, historical documents, Mughal miniature paintings, books and other works of art kept in the Nawabs Toshakhana.
The Khuda Baksh Oriental Public Library, Patna, an autonomous body under the Ministry of Culture,stands a unique repository of about 21000 Oriental manuscripts and 2.5 lakh printed books. Though founded earlier, it was opened for public in October, 1891
Delhi Public Library was started as a UNESCO project in 1951 & was inaugurated by Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. It has developed into a premier Public Library System in the metropolitan city of Delhi. DPL has a network of Zonal Libraries, Branches & Sub-branches, R.C.Libraries, Community Libraries, Deposit Stations, Mobile Library, Braille library, spread all over Delhi. DPL is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Culture.
The Central Secretariat Library under Ministry of Culture is one of the oldest libraries of the Government of India. It dates back to 1891 when the Imperial Secretariat Library was established in Kolkata (Calcutta).In terms of size of collection it is the second largest Central Government library after the National Library, Kolkata.
Thanjavur Maharaja Serfoji’s Sarasvati Mahal Library, Thanjavur is a priceless repository of culture and a time defying treasure house of knowledge, built by the Nayaks and the Marathas of Thanjavur. The Library houses a rich and rare collection of manuscripts on art, culture and literature. Conceived and christened as the Royal Palace Library by the Nayak Kings of Thanjavur and the Maratha rulers nourished it for intellectual enrichment.
Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation (RRRLF) established in May, 1972is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Culture. The RRRLF is vested with the responsibility of promoting library movement in the country. The RRRLF works in close association and active cooperation with different State Govts. and Union Territory Administrations through a machinery called State Library Planning Committee (SLPC/SLC) set up in each state at the instance of the Foundation. Besides it being a funding body, the RRRLF also functions as a national agency for coordinating, monitoring and developing public library service in the country.
ENGAGING WITH THE PAST:
India’s manuscripts have for centuries captured the imagination of the world. As early as the seventh century Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang took back hundreds of manuscripts from India. Later in the late eighteenth century, the Nawab of Awadh gifted a superb illuminated manuscript of the Padshahnama to King George III of England. Today, it is considered one of the finest pieces in the Royal Collection. When the English East India Company first came to India, they acknowledged the sub-continent as the bearer of a great and rich civilization that abounded in intellectual and artistic endeavour. Great scholars took an avid interest in many facets of the culture of the sub-continent as found in the vast treasure of handwritten manuscripts on a variety of materials including palm leaf, paper, cloth and even gold and silver.
THE EARLY PHASE OF CATALOGUING:
As early as 1803, the idea of a “catalogue of all most useful Indian works now in existence with an abstract of their contents” was put to the Asiatic Society (as quoted in M. L. Saini “Manuscript Literature in Indian Languages” in ILA Bulletin , 5.1, Jan-Mar 1969, pp 6-21). Four years later, H. T. Colebrook as the Society’s fourth president appealed to the Government to set aside an additional grant of five or six thousand rupees per annum to undertake such a catalogue. This early phase of cataloguing by the Orientalists took place amidst a fervent phase of institution building (the establishment of the Benarus Sanskrit College, the universities in the three Presidencies and Oriental Research Institutes among others) and the rise of Western education in India.
NEW CATALOGUS CATALOGORUM:
Meanwhile, European Indologists had begun to undertake landmark translations of ancient and medieval literary and scientific works based on manuscripts they had found. F. Max Muller’s translation of the Rigveda in 1849 was one such landmark. Another was the release of Theodore Aufrecht’s Catalogus Catalogorum (“Catalogue of Catalogues”) in the years 1891-1903 of Sanskrit manuscripts that was compiled with considerable personal effort and expense. the great librarian of the Mysore institute, R. Shama Shastri, Madras University undertook the publication of the New Catalogus Catalogorum in 1937 and reached the letter ‘bh’. The project was suspended after the publication of the first fourteen volumes
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India was aware of the intellectual heritage of India took a personal interest in ensuring that the Gilgit manuscripts, to date India’s oldest manuscripts from the sixth century A.D., were brought from Kashmir to the National Archives of India to be preserved for posterity.
The National Mission for Manuscripts:
The Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Government of India, established the National Mission for Manuscripts in February 2003 as an ambitious project with the specific objectives of locating, documenting, conserving and disseminating the knowledge content of India’s manuscripts. A unique project in its programme and mandate, the Mission seeks to unearth and preserve the vast manuscript wealth of India. India possesses an estimate of five million manuscripts, probably the largest collection in the world. These cover a variety of themes, textures and aesthetics, scripts, languages, calligraphies, illuminations and illustrations. Together, they constitute the ‘memory’ of India’s history, heritage and thought.
The National Mission for Manuscripts revived the New Catalogus Catalogorum programme in 2003 with Madras University. Till date thirty six volumes have been published.
Working with specially identified Manuscript Resource Centres (MRC-s) and Manuscript Conservation Centres (MCC-s) in states all over the country, the Mission collects data on manuscripts located in a variety of places, from universities and libraries to temples, mathas, madrasas, monasteries and private collections.
The genesis of the National Archives of India may be traced back to the year 1860 when Sandeman, the Civil Auditor, in his report stressed the need of relieving the offices of congestion by destruction of the papers of routine nature and transfer of all valuable records to a ‘Grand Central Archive’. Nothing could come out, however, in concrete shape until 1889 when Professor G.W. Forrest of Elphinstone College, Bombay was entrusted the job to examine the records of the Foreign Department of the Government of India. Earlier he had earned reputation as an Archivist for his work in the Bombay Records Office. In his report, he made a strong plea for transferring all records of the administration of East India Company to a Central Repository. As a result, Imperial Records Department (IRD) came into existence on 11 March 1891 which was located in Imperial Secretariat Building at Calcutta (Kolkata). Professor G.W Forrest was made its Officer in Charge. His main task was to examine, transfer, arrange and catalogue records of all the Departments and to organise a Central Library in place of various Departmental Libraries. After G.W. Forrest, the work at Imperial Records Department (IRD) progressed well under S.C. Hill (1900), C.R. Wilson (1902), N.L. Hallward (1904), E. Denison Ross (1905), A.F. Scholfield (1915), R.A. Blaker (1919), J.M. Mitra (1920) and RaiBahadur A.F.M. Abdul Ali (1922-1938) who were scholars as well as Records Keepers in their own right.
Subsequent to the transfer of the National Capital from Calcutta (Kolkata) to New Delhi in 1911, Imperial Records Department (IRD) shifted to the present building in 1926. After independence, the IRD was rechristened as National Archives of India and Head of the Organization was designated as Director of Archives from Keeper of Records. Dr. S.N. Sen, who succeeded A.F.M. Abdul Ali and held office till 1949 gave an overall orientation to the activities of Imperial Records Department/ National Archives of India. For the first time, records were thrown open for bonafide research in 1939 and by 1947 all pre 1902 records were available for consultation. A Conservation Research Laboratory (CRL) was established in 1940 to conduct researches into problems relating to conservation which was, Dr Sen’s visionary contribution. Training in Archives Keeping was introduced in 1941 and in 1944, a scheme of Post War Re-organisation of Archives offices in India was laid down by the Indian Historical Records Commission. In 1947, the Departmental Journal The Indian Archives came into existence which contains research papers on source material of modern Indian history, conservation of documents, records-management, reprographics, archival awareness and all other allied aspects of functional archives.
Thus, National Archives of India marched towards the path of progress after independence to play a more dynamic and inspiring role in the archival field of the entire country. It witnessed manifold expansion of its activities since then in the field of accession of public records, acquisition of private papers/ collections and library material, records management, research and reference, publication, training, conservation, reprography, outreach programmes, coordination at national and international level and expansion of office at regional areas. The Department witnessed further impetus to its status in June 1990 when the office of the Director of Archives was re designated as Director General of Archives. At present National Archives of India is an attached office under the Ministry of Culture and has a Regional Office at Bhopal and Records Centres at Jaipur, Puducherry and Bhubaneswar.
- The National Archives is making earnest efforts to ensure longevity to documents in its custody through preventive, curative and restorative processes.
- The Department has conservation Research Laboratory which was setup in 1941. Since its inception, it is engaged in research and development work like developing indigenous technique for restoration, testing of materials required for restoration and storage.
- The Laboratory is equipped with latest models of Paper Testing Machines viz. Tensile Tester, Folding Endurance Tester and Bursting Endurance Tester etc to facilitate examination of various kinds of preservative material.
- A unique process of repairing and rejuvenating documents with the help of cellulose acelate foil and tissue paper which is known the world over as Solvent or Hand Lamination process has been invented by the Department.
- The Laboratory has been successful in formalizing a process for rejuvenating palm leave that have gone dry and cracking because of age or loss of flexibility.
- Another very significant achievement has been fabrication of a portable thermostatically controller airtight vault which is a multifunctional chamber and could be used for sterilization, vapour phase de-acidification and drying of documents, books and other material.
- The National Archives is as well trying to ensure longevity to documents in its custody through an elaborate Microfilming Programme which is being practiced by it for over 3 decades now,
- Microfilming is being used as a measure for preservation of records against deterioration from use or loss due to natural ageing and fading of inks.
- The Reprography Division equipped with modern machines not only attends to the needs of scholars apart from its normal function but is also engaged in the gigantic task of preparing security microfilm of valuable records as a precautionary measure against loss by fire, flood, war and sabotage.
- his set of negative copies of microfilm rolls is being kept in the Regional Office at Bhopal. The Division is also converting the analogue microfilm images to digital images to incorporate the same with the specially tailored, Archival Information Management System Software.
- The Reprography Wing has also a mobile Microfilming Unit which visits various parts of the country to Microfilm documents that cannot be brought over to the National Archives in New Delhi or its Regional Office/ Records Centres in Bhopal, Jaipur, Pondicherry and Bhubaneswar.
NATIONAL COUNCIL OF SCIENCE M– USEUMS (NCSM):
National Council of Science Museums (NCSM), an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India was registered as a society on April 4, 1978 on the recommendations of a Task Force constituted by the Union Planning Commission in early 1970’s to assess the activities of the Science Museums both existing and upcoming. The Task Force also recommended setting up Science Museums/centres in different parts of the country at National, State and District levels. Presently NCSM administers and manages 25 science museums/centres spread across the country and it is the world’s largest network of science centres and museums that functions under a single administrative umbrella. For last 35 years the Council has developed a nationwide infrastructure of 48 science museums/centres. The NCSM is managed by a Society whose President is the Hon’ble Minister of Culture. There is also a Governing Body comprising of Ex Officio Members and Experts. The Chairman of the present Governing Body is Prof. R.C.Sobti.
The Council has been engaged in creating awareness on Science & Technology, developing scientific temper in society and promoting science literacy throughout the length and breadth of the country. Its outreach activities throughout the year aspire to develop a culture of science and innovation by engaging people from all segments of the society in the process of science & technology.
The idea, the word, ‘folk’ has wide range of understanding and connotations – ranging from ‘natural’ to ‘native’ to ‘traditional’ to ‘rural’ and in some cases ‘from the heart.’ The ‘outpourings from the heart’ of native or traditional people later takes the form of folklore.
All folklores are oral traditions, the lore, traditional knowledge and beliefs of cultures often having no written language and they are transmitted, generally, by word of mouth. Like the written literature they contain both prose and verse narratives in addition to myths, dramas, rituals etc. All the cultures have their own folklores.In contrast and traditionally, literature is understood to mean any written work.
All folklores do more than merely conveying heart-pourings of natives about the nature around them. They are often, nay, always the carriers of culture, of social mores, customs and forms of behaviour – that is a society, nay, life in a nutshell. Folklores contain the lofty thoughts of yore and highest metaphysical truths, normally incomprehensible to laymen, in a subtle, story forms.
Literature, in written form, helps in preserving the folklores and oral traditions. But for the literature in this form, the world would have lost almost all the folk and oral traditions. Written books, as recordings of folklores help in passing on the lofty thoughts and ideas to posterity with no or very little changes in contrast to oral traditions where they often get lost in transition. Literature also can highlight the relevance of the stories of the past to the generation of the present, something which the oral traditions cannot strongly do.
Indian Literature, compared to any other literature in the world, played a dominant role in the preservation and propagation of oral traditions and folklores. Very ancients of this land, India, were past masters of all art forms that is folk. Sama Veda, to name one, is probably oldest form of folk music that has survived till date. Even if one takesSama Veda as a rusty folk music, then it is the finest and ancient folk music that the world has ever witnessed.
From the Epics of India, Ramayana and Mahabharata to Jataka tales of Buddhism to PanchaTantras and Hitopadesha toKatha Saritsagarain the medieval period to mystic songs of Bauls of Bengal to numerous works in almost all the main languages of India, the scholars, saints and writers have kept the oral traditions and folklores alive by writing down many a tale.
What is more unique to Indian attempts over centuries in preserving the folklores is the role played by women in it. The roles played by Gargi and Maitreyi of the distant past to Andal of Tamil Nadu at the beginning of the previous millennium to Lalleswari of Kashmir to Molla of Nellore in Andhra Pradesh to AkkaMahadevi of Karnataka to Sahajo Bai, is nothing short of stellar.
India remains one of the world’s richest sources of folktales. Not merely folktales but all forms of oral traditions – proverbs, aphorisms, anecdotes, rumours, songs, impromptu folk street plays – mirror the culture and values of the land in which they take place. They have also helped in binding vastly differing mores and customs of even a single given place. India is one place where the speech of even the most illiterate farmer is filled with lofty thoughts and metaphors.
By preserving and adopting many a tale and numerous songs and plays peppered with the proverbs and aphorisms of the region, Indian Literature has played a huge role in binding together vast cultures in an unseen way. The role of Indian Literature in maintaining and fostering cultural unity and identity in the vast land such as India cannot be diminished.
Indian folk literature holds out a strong and loud message for other parts of the world where these art forms have disappeared thick and fast in consonance with rapid industrialization and globalization. Folk literature and folk art forms are not merely carriers of culture or philosophical poems, but rather the expressions of strong self-reflections and deep insights accrued therein. Simple life, self-reflection and treading the path of the righteous contained in traditions. Again, folk traditions are not merely platforms for holding high moral ground having no relevance to the present day reality. Several folk plays like ChaakiyarKoothu and VeethiNaatakam are used even today as satire plays and commentaries on the current social and political reality. Same holds true for many folk songs from the vast pages of Indian literature.
It is also true that when recorded and propagated in a printed form these folk literatures also gain mass reach which is otherwise confined to a smaller space and reach out only to smaller groups and communities. Through medieval Indian literature to 20th century we see the reality of Indian literature holding up for oral traditions contrary to popular perception when it is very true of European cultures and others where they have almost completely lost folk literature. Most recent example of this phenomenon we can see in the effort of famous Rajasthani folklorist, Sri Vijay Dan Detha.
In the modern democratic India, folk literature is pursued both within the academia and outside it unlike many other cultures. Efforts of Sahitya Akademi and other similar organizations form part of this collective attempt to preserve and disseminate Indian folk literature.
Sahitya Akademi, India’s premier institution of letters is devoted to the preservation and promotion of Indian Literature in all the 24 languages recognized by it. The core of the Akademi’s work is translation among various Indian languages including minor languages and dialects with the objective of promoting cultural unity in India and enhancing regional co-operation in a vastly diverse country with so many languages, traditions and cultures. The Sahitya Akademi also promotes Indian folk literature in all possible ways – by giving awards to folk literature; by holding conventions and giving awards in minor languages, languages without scripts and tribal dialects; publishing folk stories in its journals in the form of second tradition; publishing folk literature books and has centres to preserve and promote oral traditions within India.
Festivals & Arts:
- Republic Day
- Ram Navami
- Mahavir Jayanti
- Good Friday
- Buddha Purnima
- Idu’l Fitr
- Independence Day
- Gandhi Jayanti
- Dussehra (Vijay Dashami)
- Idu’l Zuha (Bakrid)
- Diwali (Deepawali)
- Guru Nanak Jayanti
- Makar Sankranti, Pongal
- Raksha Bandhan
Hampi Dance Utsav: Organized during the month of October and November, Hampi festival is one of the major tourist attractions of Karnataka, a southern state of India. The festival, which features an scintillating performances of dance, drama and music, is organized amidst the rocks and ruins that date back to hundreds of years. The village of Hampi, situated near Vijaynagar, is filled with the enchanting music, dance and drama, when the Hampi festival is held. The Government of Karnataka organizes the festival every year. Puppet shows, fireworks and spectacular processions are some of the highlights of this festival.
Mamallapuram Utsav: Apart from its temples that represent the architectural beauty of the ancient India, Mahabalipuram, a small city in Tamil Nadu, is also famous for its vibrant Mamallapuram Dance Festival. Indian classical dances including Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Mohiniattam, Odissi and Kathakali are performed in this festival, which is held annually, during the months of January and February. Apart from the classical dances, folk dances are also performed in the festival. The cultural event is promoted by the Tamil Nadu Tourism Department. The four-week dance festival has evolved as one of the major cultural attractions of the southern state of India.
Nishagandhi Festival: Nishagandhi Dance Festival popularly known as Nishagandhi Nritya Utsav is celebrated twice a year, once in the month of October-November and then in the month of March-April in the Nishagandhi Theatre, in Kanakunnu palace compound, in the city of Trivandrum or Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. This festival is about a week long and witnesses participation from artisans all over the country. The artists who are keen on promoting the diverse Indian heritage are an integral part of the Nishagandhi Dance Festival as this festival provides them platform to reach to a wider section of audience.
The Nishagandhi Dance Festival is organized by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation. It is also at times co-hosted by other states. West Bengal and Rajasthan have recently co-hosted this celebration.
Natyanjali Utsav: Natyanjali Dance Festival is held every year during the months of February and March in the Prakara of the Chidambram temples in the city of Chidambram in Tamil Nadu. It is a five day festival which begins on the auspicious occasion of Mahashivratri. This dance festival is dedicated to the Lord of Dances and the Cosmic Dancer, Lord Natraja. The Natyanjali dance festival exhibits the rich dance culture of India and its amalgamation with the devotional feeling of religion.
The Natyanjali Dance Festival or Natyanjali Nritya Utsav is jointly organized by The Department of Tourism, Government of Tamil Nadu, The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India and The Natyanjali Trust, Chidambaram. Organized in the famous 1000-year old temple of Chidambram, this dance festival has an aura of artistic and religious amalgamation, which makes this festival special in every regard.
Taj Mahotsav: Taj Mahotsav is one of the most cherished cultural festivals of India, admired by the foreigners and locals alike. Held every year, between February and March, it is a ten day feast of classical dances, folk art and light music. This grand carnival takes place in Shilpgram, a place located very close to the Taj Mahal, Agra. Taj Mahotsav is an ode to the rich cultural heritage of Uttar Pradesh. This special Mahotsav is organized by Uttar Pradesh Tourism. It is one of the major attractions for tourists and draws thousands of visitors to Agra every year, from India as well as abroad.
Bharatanatyam, Tamil Nadu (Southern India): Bharatanatyam of Tamil Nadu in southern India has grown out of the art of dancers dedicated to temples, and was earlier known as Sadir or Dasi Attam. It is the first of India’s traditional dances to be refashioned as a theatre art and to be exhibited widely both at home and abroad.
Bharatanatyam rests on principles of performance and an aesthetics set down in classics such as Bharata’s Natyashastra. It has a rich repertoire of songs in Telugu, Tamil and Sanskrit. The present-day format of a Bharatanatyam recital, as well as a valuable part of its musical compositions, were created by the famed ‘Tanjore Quartet’ of the nineteenth century: the brothers Ponniah, Chinnaiah, Sivanandam and Vadivelu. Bharatanatyam has a highly evolved language of nritta, abstract dance, and nritya which unfolds the narrative. The themes have a wide range spanning human and divine love, and are generally classed under the rubric of shringara (romantic love) and bhakti (devotion). The music of Bharatanatyam belongs to the Carnatic system of southern India. The musicians accompanying a dance recital include at least one vocalist, a Mridangam (drum)-player, and a flutist or violinist or Veena (lute)-player. The group also includes a nattuvanar, or dance conductor, who recites the dance syllables as he plays a pair of small bronze cymbals.
Manipuri Dance, Manipur (North-eastern India): Manipuri dance, evolved in Manipur in north-eastern India, is anchored in the Vaishnava faith of the Meiteis, or people of the Manipur valley. The temples of Manipur are still among the principal staging venues of the dance. Therefore the predominant theme of Manipuri dance is devotion, and the rich lore of Radha and Krishna lends it episodic content. Over a period of centuries, the traditional art has gone through various stages of development to become the sophisticated theatre art it is today.
Manipuri dance is introverted and restrained compared to most other dances of India – the artist never establishes eye contact with the audience. The movements are circular and continuous, each merging into the other. Mudras or hand-gestures are subtly absorbed in the flow of the movement overall. The facial expression is subdued and never exaggerated. These features are evident even in the more vigorous masculine dances.
Jagoi and cholom are the two main divisions in Manipur’s dance, the one gentle and the other vigorous, corresponding to the lasya and tandava elements described in Sanskrit literature. They constitute independent streams and an artist spends a lifetime perfecting any form within the spectrum. The jagoi element is predominant in Ras Leela and similar votive performances. In such dances the legs are bent and the knees held close together. This helps the feet land softly on the ground and lends a floating swing to the movements. The footwork is never audible as in several other dances of India, where it is often used to mark the rhythm. The Pung, a drum, and flute are the principal instruments used in Manipuri dance.
Kathak (Northern India): Kathak is the principal dance of northern India, and is widely practised in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, and even parts of western and eastern India today. It is believed to be connected with the narrative art of Kathakaras or story-tellers who have expounded the scriptures, the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, and puranic literature to the lay masses since ancient times. Expanding and refining its movement and vocabulary of expression, this art possibly transited to a courtly milieu in medieval India, and achieved its finest flowering under Mughal rule. Later, in the nineteenth century, the princely courts at Lucknow, Jaipur, Raigarh, and other places emerged as leading centres of Kathak dance. During the twentieth century, as training and practice of Kathak increasingly received the support of public institutions, choreographic work involving groups of dancers has claimed more space in Kathak practice. Kathak’s thematic content today straddles various worlds, even though the lore of Krishna still has a special place in its repertoire. Kathak is characterized stylistically by its footwork and pirouettes, and is pre-eminently a dance of rhythm-play. A recital opens with an amad and moves on to that, gat nikas, paran and tatkar, segments that offer scope for dance to varying rhythms and tempos, and both abstract and expressive dance. The music of traditional Kathak consists of the Thumri and other lyrical song-forms, and the essential musical instruments are the Tabla, Pakhawaj, and Sarangi. The sitar and other plucked strings are also associated with Kathak performed today.
The Thumri is a popular genre of Hindustani music characterized by a lyricism that gives expression to various shades of romantic love. It acquired a special connection with Kathak dance in the court of Wajid Ali Shah at Lucknow in the nineteenth century. Typically, a Thumri has a short text of two to four lines which are repeated sometimes using a sthayi-antara form. The singer extracts and projects new shades of meaning from the reiteration of each line of text by vocal inflections and melody changes—a process known as bol banana. The Thumri is highly ornamented, employing melodic filigree and tiny turns of voice (murki) and shakes. It is usually set to a slow tala, with
occasional lively drum interludes called laggis. There are several different styles of singing thumri, the most prominent being the Punjabi, Purabi (of Lucknow), and Benaras styles.
Odissi Dance, Orissa (Eastern India): Odissi dance has its origins in Orissa in eastern India, where in its rudimentary form it was performed as part of temple service by ‘maharis’ or female temple servants. The traditional dance was remoulded as a theatre art towards the middle of the twentieth century with reference not only to the existing dance art, but representation of dance in Orissa’s medieval sculpture, painting, and literature. In its remodelled form, Odissi dance has spread quickly across the country. The Vaishnava faith of Orissa is intrinsic to Odissi dance and the lore of Krishna and Radha supplies its content. Love lyrics from Jayadeva’s Sanskrit work Gitagovindam therefore have pride of place on the Odissi dance repertoire, together with songs in Oriya by medieval and early modern poets such as Upendra Bhanja and Banamali Das. These are interpreted by the dancer employing a grammar of hand-gestures of hastas. Codified footwork of ‘padabheda’, gaits and walks termed ‘chalis’, and spins or ‘bhramaris’ are other components of the technique of Odissi dance. Recreated as it has been partly from sculptural representation of dance, Odissi in its performance appears sculpturesque, particularly in its serpentine ‘tribhangi-s’ or the firm, square stance called chowk. The movements are soft and graceful. The dancer is supported by a singer, a drummer who plays the Pakhawaj, flute and Sitar. The dance conductor also sits with the musicians reciting the rhythmic syllables and keeping time with his cymbals.
Kathakali: Kathakali or ‘story play’ took shape in Kerala in southern India in the seventeenth century under the patronage of the prince of Karnataka, who wrote plays for performance drawn from the epic Ramayana in Malayalam, the language of the region. Stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharata provide the content of most Kathakali plays, which have come down to us in a steady stream over three centuries.
Kathakali categorizes its characters according to their nature and employs make-up and costume to build them up as symbolic personalities. The faces of actors are painted according to the type of character they represent – green for heroes, kings, and divinities, red and black for the evil and fierce, etc. The main feature of the costume is a large, billowing skirt for male characters and various elaborate headdresses
The actor’s performance in a Kathakali plays is completely speechless: the ‘libretto’ is sung by two singers on the stage who keep time on gong and cymbals, while a pair of drummers also on the stage play the Chenda. The story is enacted using a vocabulary of facial expressions and hand-gestures.
A traditional performance of Kathakali starts in the evening after preliminaries that include an invocatory drumming on the Maddalam, and concludes only at daybreak. Though earlier only one play was enacted through the might, today select scenes from two or three plays are presented.
Mohiniattam: Mohiniattam, which belongs to Kerala in southern India, takes its name from the mythic enchantress Mohini. It is dance of feminine grace, and has grown out of performances connected with Kerala’s temples.
The prince Swati Tirunal of Travancore, a patron of arts and an artist himself, was one of the chief architects of the dance in the nineteenth century and composed a large repertoire of songs which accompany the performance. Characterized as it is by femininity, Mohiniattam has no heavy steps or rhythmic tension: the footwork is gentle, soft, and sliding. The dancer’s body rises and falls with an easy grace, with the emphasis mainly on the torso. Restraint in movement is the hallmark of the dance.
Mohiniattam uses rhythms that are special to Kerala: the rhythmic syllables used are those of the Maddalam, a drum which provides accompaniment for female roles in the Kathakali theatre. The main percussion instruments in the performance are the Edakka. The other musical instruments are the Mridangam, the Veena, the Flute, and the Kuzhitalam or Cymbals. The oscillations in the melody accord with the movements in the dance.
Kuchipudi (Southern India): Kuchipudi, one of the major dance forms of India was originated from Andhra Pradesh, where it grew largely as a product of Bhakti movement beginning in the 7th Century AD. Kuchipudi derives its name from the village Kuchelapuram, where it was nurtured by great scholars and artists who built up the repertoire and refined the dance technique. The Kuchipudi is a dance-drama of Nritta, Nritya and Natya. The Nritta consists of teermanams and jatis, the Nritya of Sabdams, and the Natya of acting with mudras for the songs. Nritta encompasses steps and movements in the form of patterns of dance which, though ornate in themselves, have no meaning to convey.
Kuchipudi, combines speech, Abhinaya (mime) and pure dance. The Kuchipudi dancer is a multiple person on the stage and this multiplicity is achieved by the swift change of mime which depends more on the combination of the naturalism of the dramatic content and the symbolism of the poetic intensity of feeling of an episode. The consequence of this is the emphasis laid on the dynamics of movement and expressionism of feeling.
Kuchipudi dance is accompanied by Carnatic Music. Kuchipudi today is performed either as a solo, duet or a group presentation, but historically it was performed as a dance drama, with several dancers taking different roles.
Sattriya Dance: ‘Sattriya dance’ refers to the body of dance and danced drama developed in the sattras or monasteries of Assam since the sixteenth century, when the Vaishnava faith propagated by the saint and reformer Shankaradeva (1449-1586) swept the land. It is a distinct genre within the fold of classical Indian dance, with an evolved language of hand gesture (hasta), footwork (pada karma), movement and expression (nritta and abhinaya), and a repertoire centered on devotion to Krishna.
Since the latter part of the twentieth century, when this monastic art was embraced by artists outside the sattras, Sattriya dance has been practised also as a modern theatre art. On the stage today, an artist presents a programme adapted from the traditional repertoire, sometimes supplemented with new choreography. Typically, it may start with an invocation to the deity, Krishna or Rama, followed by the dance of the sutradhar, the conductor of performances in the sattra. The dancer may then present a mix of pure dance and abhinaya based upon the vast literature of the sattras, the items chosen to give full play to her accomplishment in these departments of the dance. Ramdani, Chali, Mela Nach and Jhumura offer scope for nritta, while abhinaya may be explored in the form of Geetar Nach. Group dances are also common in traditional and modern Sattriya dance, and these may be prefaced with a brief musical ‘interlude’ on drums, the Gayan Bayan, performed by a group of musicians. Entirely original dance dramas in the mould of the traditional Sattriya dance are also presented on the stage today. The musical component of the dance is rich and varied in its rhythmic, melodic, and lyrical aspects.
Chhau (Eastern India): The Chhau dance of Eastern India — Orissa, Jharkhand, and West Bengal – is a blend of martial traditions, temple rituals, and folk and popular performance of this region. episodes from the epics Mahabharata, Ramayana, Puranas, traditional folklore, local legends and abstract themes through the medium of dance and a music ensemble that consists primarily of indigenous drums. In its traditional context, the dance is intimately connected with the festivals and rituals of this region. Important among these is the Chaitra Parva celebrated in the month of April. The month of Chaitra celebrates the advent of spring and the start of the harvesting season. The melody is interwoven and is provided by reed pipes like the Mohuri, Turi-Bheri and Shehnai. Though vocal music is not used in Chhau, the melodies are based on songs from the Jhumur folk repertoire, the devotional Kirtan, classical Hindustani ‘ragas’, and traditional Oriya sources. Dhol, Dhumsa, Nagada, Chadchadi and Jhanj provide accompaniment to Chhau dance
Chaturprahar: Chaturprahar is an annual Indian classical music festival held at National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) in Mumbai, India. It is based on the concept of association of time with the ragas.
Kakinada Beach FestivalITC SRA Sangeet Sammelan is an annual Indian classical music festival organised by ITC Sangeet Research Academy held in various cities in India.
Kakinada Beach Festival: Kakinada Beach Festival also Sagara Sambaralu is a music festival held in Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh. It was declared as an annual festival by the government of Andhra Pradesh. It is a three-day event where many artists perform.
Mausam: Maritime Routes and Cultural Landscapes
Project ‘Mausam’ is a Ministry of Culture project to be implemented by Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), New Delhi as the nodal coordinating agency with support of Archeological Survey of India and National Museum as associate bodies.
The unique idea of this project to showcase a Transnational Mixed Route (including Natural and Cultural Heritage) on the World Heritage List has been well appreciated during the Project Launch by India at the 38th World Heritage Session at Doha, Qatar on 20th June, 2014. The Director General UNESCO appreciated India’s initiative in launching this unique project and ambassadors of several countries including China, UAE, Qatar, Iran, Myanmar, and Vietnam expressed great interest in this multifaceted cultural project.
Focusing on monsoon patterns, cultural routes and maritime landscapes, Project ‘Mausam’ is examining key processes and phenomena that link different parts of the Indian Ocean littoral as well as those that connect the coastal centres to their hinterlands. Broadly, Project ‘Mausam’ aims to understand how the knowledge and manipulation of the monsoon winds has shaped interactions across the Indian Ocean and led to the spread of shared knowledge systems, traditions, technologies and ideas along maritime routes. These exchanges were facilitated by different coastal centres and their surrounding environs in their respective chronological and spatial contexts, and simultaneously had an effect on them.
The endeavour of Project ‘Mausam’is to position itself at two levels:
- At the macro level, it aims to re-connect and re-establish communications between countries of the Indian Ocean world, which would lead to an enhanced understanding of cultural values and concerns;
- At the micro level, the focus is on understanding national cultures in their regional maritime milieu.
The Project scope falls under several themes to be explored through various UNESCO Culture Conventions to which the Government of India is a signatory with the Ministry of Culture and ASI as nodal agency.