World Heritage Week: Celebrating India’s cultural legacy

The Heritage Week (November 19-25) like the Heritage Day in April is one of the rare occasions to reach out to children and youth of the country to ingrain the values of reservation of heritage.

By: PTI | New Delhi | Updated: November 20, 2015 9:23 pm
Rani ki Vav, a stepwell lightened up on the eve of World Heritage Week at Patan, Ahmedabad on Thursday. (Source: PTI) Rani ki Vav, a stepwell lightened up on the eve of World Heritage Week at Patan, Ahmedabad on Thursday. (Source: PTI)

From theme walks to photography exhibitions, a whole host of activities has been planned by ASI, INTACH and other heritage-conscious organisations across the country to celebrate the architectural and cultural legacy of India during the ongoing World Heritage Week.

In Delhi, the city-based Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) and Delhi government yesterday co-hosted cultural programmes near Jehaz Mahal in historic Mehrauli area to mark the occasion.

“The Heritage Week (November 19-25) like the Heritage Day in April is one of the rare occasions to reach out to children and youth of the country to ingrain the values of  reservation of heritage. Besides the cultural programme this year, we are focussing on our outreach programme and especially municipal schools.

“During these seven days our volunteers would go to as many schools as possible and develop in children a sense of appreciation and respect for the heritage they see around, but often either miss or feel ignorant about,” Convener, INTACH Delhi Chapter, A G K Menon said.

Headquartered in Delhi, INTACH, a non-profit organisation established in 1984, besides the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), works on protection, conservation and promotion of tangible and intangible heritage, through its numerous chapters spread in various cities.

In Agra, the ASI has also planned a host of events to mark the week designated by UNESCO as a period to celebrate heritage around the world.

“We hold a series of activities every year on this occasion, and this year we are hosting a special exhibition to portray the history of our region that predates the Islamic heritage…Most people assume that Mughal-era and Islamic civilisation are the only predominant elements in the history of this area, but there’s more to it.

“So, our exhibits, spanning in length to over 200 ft would display the old photographs and texts relating to excavation of areas associated with ancient history, such as Hastinapur (1960s excavations) and Ahirchatta (1940s excavations) mounds, and other segments of the history of Agra and the neighbouring region which existed before the arrival of the Mughals, before Taj came up,” ASI’s Superintending Archaeologist, Agar Circle, Bhuvan Vikram, told PTI over phone.

The Agra ASI chief also said that during the Week, a reverse outreach programme has been planned for school children.

“This time, instead of taking the children to monuments and sites, we will take the country’s heritage wonders to them, using multi-media presentations and talking about our glorious architectural and cultural wealth that many youth today are unable to assimilate into their lives, now so much defined by material and commercial intent,” he said.

A view of Rani ki Vav on World Heritage Week at Patan, Gujarat on Thursday. (Source: PTI) A view of Rani ki Vav on World Heritage Week at Patan, Gujarat on Thursday. (Source: PTI)

INTACH Delhi yesterday also held a session of ‘Dastangoi’ which is a traditional way of storytelling through theatrical narratives, and a ‘Dhrupad’ performance will be showcased today, a senior INTACH official said.

Delhi, motley of ancient, medieval as well as modern history, including the British legacy, has three world heritage sites – Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb and Qutub Minar.

Incidentally, the national capital was earlier sent as a nomination from India for inclusion into the World Heritage List, the results for which were announced this year.

However, the BJP-led Modi government had withdrawn the nomination, drawing sharp reactions from heritage experts and lovers alike.

Even AAP-led Delhi government had expressed its surprise and unhappiness over the sudden decision, and had said that it would fight for the coveted tag for the city.

INTACH’s Patna Chapter, one of the oldest city units of the heritage body, has also planned a few activities during the week-long celebrations.

“We will be holding an interactive session on ‘Conservation of Heritage’ at NIT Patna’s Department of Architecture on November 25, where a noted historian from the city has been invited as a speaker,” Bihar Chapter Co-Convener Arun Kumar Prabhat said.

“We have organised walks, painting and essay competitions and seminars on various topics in the past. This year too we wish to engage school children and educate them about the value of heritage of our country, of which we are only the trustees and custodians,” INTACH’s Patna Chapter founding member, S K Sinha, told PTI over phone.

Sinha, a retired state government engineer, in his 80s, rues that unlike states like Rajasthan, Bihar could never project its heritage in the right way, except a few sites like Mahabodhi Temple in Gaya, the state’s only world heritage site, and Nalanda university ruins in Rajgir, which were recently inspected for inclusion into the World Heritage List, the results of which would be announced by UNESCO next year.

In Ahmedabad, where the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, had become one of the first municipal bodies in the country to open a ‘heritage cell’, a whole host of colourful activities are lined up to observe the week.

World Heritage Week is marked around the world from November 19-25, after the UNESCO declared the designated period a few decades ago.

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