Friday 16 December 2016

Avantipur Ruins

Interest in heritage leads to observations and explorations beyond one's own neighbourhoods. One starts to value diversity and multiplicity of heritage and its manifestations across the length and breadth of India.

Avantipur Ruins

- By Janhvi Dahiphale

King Avantivarman, who ruled Kashmir from 853AD to 888AD built two temples- Avantiswami Temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, and Avantisvara Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The two temples dating from 9th Century are only one kilometer apart. The Avantisvara Temple is renovated and now in use, however, Avantiswami Temple is now a ruin and that constitutes a part of the great heritage of India.

In 18th Century, Avantiswami Temple was excavated by the British. Some idols were taken to a museum in England but quite a few can still be seen in the SPS Museum in Srinagar.

The temple was buried under ground for centuries until the British carried out the excavation.
Today's ground level can be seen by the houses behind the temple.

The small columns outlining the temple were the small temples within
the Avantiswami temple as are found in most of the temples.

The Royal Family carved on the main stairs leading towards
the main base of the temple

This is a carving of King Avantivarman
himself along with his queens
The guide also told us that in the northern part of India you can find a lot of temples of Lord Shiva.
But it is difficult to find one of Lord Vishnu and this temple is one of them.

Tuesday 6 December 2016

गेटवे आॅफ इंडिया - भारताचे प्रवेशद्वार

- By Uma Kabe

१९११ मध्ये इंग्लंडचे राजे पंचम जाॅर्ज राणी मेरी यांच्यासह भारताचा दौरा करण्यासाठी मुंबई बंदरात आले. त्याची आठवण म्हणून ही भव्य वास्तू उभारण्याचे काम सुरू झाले. हे काम १९२४ साली पूर्ण होऊन ४ डिसेंबर १९२४ रोजी ही वास्तू जनतेसाठी खुली झाली.

इंडो-सारसेनिक वास्तु रचनेच्या पद्धतीच्या गेटवेचे वास्तुरचनाकार जाॅर्ज विटेट होते.

एका बाजूला विशाल अरबी समुद्र, दुसरीकडे मुंबईची ऐतिहासिक गोदी तर तिसरीकडे जगप्रसिद्ध ताज महाल हाॅटेल यांच्या मधोमध वसलेला गेटवे, पर्यटकांचे मुंबईतील महत्त्वाचे आकर्षण स्थळ आहे. कदाचित त्यामुळेच इथे नजीकच्या भूतकाळात २००३ व २००८ मध्ये अतिरेक्यांचे हल्ले झाले .

१९२४ मध्ये गेटवे उभारल्यानंतर त्याच्या भव्य कमानींखालीच भारतात येणारे नवे गव्हर्नर्स व हाईसराॅय यांचे स्वागत होत असे.

याच गेटवेने २७ मे १९४८ला ब्रिटिश सैन्याच्या शेवटच्या तुकडीला - साॅमरसेट लाईट इन्फन्ट्रीला निरोप दिला व ब्रिटिश साम्राज्यशाहीचे अस्तित्व संपवले.

असा हा गेटवे आॅफ इंडिया ! त्याला वाढदिवसाच्या शुभेच्छा देऊया !

Images provided by Uma Kabe, Image source: unknown

Wednesday 23 November 2016

World Heritage Week 2016: How students perceive heritage...IV

Threat to Living Heritage: Case of BEST Buses

- By Yash Agrawal

I fear that drastic changes would occur in the infrastructure of the city in the name of development, that would lead to radical changes in our lifestyle. As I come across the various news articles about the plans that government has for various routes of metros to be built, while others may feel excited, I feel uneasy and disappointed. I don’t wish to give up the joy of travelling in buses with openable windows in exchange for travelling in the boring air-conditioned metros. I am disappointed that the government is spending enormous amounts of money for the construction of metros while neglecting the bus transport system and not implementing cheaper yet effective measures to improve transportation in the Mumbai region.

This has happened elsewhere too. In Delhi over focusing on building metro lines, the government neglected the Ring Rail, the local railway of Delhi. In Kolkata a lot of money has been spent on metro construction while the historic trams were ignored. Transport experts repeatedly opine that more money should be put into BEST by the government and it should take measures to improve bus services. This will be far more beneficial than the costly and time-consuming solution of constructing metro lines everywhere. Increasing population and income is leading to increasing number of private vehicles and consequently traffic. This also causes a lot of pollution. Over the past decades the government has prioritised private transport over public transport by constructing flyovers. This is beneficial to private vehicles only, as buses mostly don’t use them. Flyovers have also not solved the traffic problem.

One of the major measures to improve bus services is to reserve lanes on major roads especially for buses. This is called Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS). This has been successfully done in some cities in India such as Ahmedabad, Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. In Mumbai this has been in planning since many years, however yet there is just one route on which bus lanes are in action - Bandra-Kurla Complex. If this is done successfully all over Mumbai traffic will reduce and public transportation will get encouragement.

This requires efforts, willingness and co-ordination on part of the authorities. If value of heritage is well understood and integrated within urban planning, it will surely contribute to sustainable development of the city as well.

Tuesday 22 November 2016

World Heritage Week 2016: How students perceive heritage...III

Living Heritage of Mumbai: BEST Buses

- By Yash Agrawal

As I travel by BEST bus everyday to and from college, I enjoy the breeze blowing over my face and the sunlight falling upon me through the window. I wonder how would it be if in the future I don’t get to experience this.
Model of a Bus, BEST Museum, Anik Depot

The iconic red-orange BEST buses are a part of the city’s heritage. Along with the local trains they are the most important means of public transport. It is necessary to preserve them, not in museums, but as living heritage. We have to save them, and bring back their glory. The trams of Mumbai could not be saved. We have to ensure that buses don’t have the same fate. As for trams, I feel that they could be revived in South Mumbai, running on segregated lanes and not in common traffic. This would not only be a heritage revival but also actually speed up transport and also be a tourist attraction.

It is unfortunate that not a single tram car of Bombay was preserved. They were all sold as scrap. However, there is at least a museum run by BEST in Anik depot, which has various models created by enthusiasts, and objects on display. Interestingly, there are also groups of ‘bus lovers’ on Facebook. These things demonstrate that there are people who care about their heritage.
Models of Trams, BEST Museum, Anik Depot

A couple of months ago this year, BEST Undertaking put up a proposal to change the colour of the city’s public buses. Colour scheme of white with yellow stripes was suggested by the JJ School of Arts. This immediately drew criticism from the citizens, who asserted that the red colour of the buses was an important part of Mumbai’s heritage and must not be changed. The Best Undertaking also realised the futility of the proposal.

As new proposals like this keep coming, I wonder whether I would be able to enjoy travelling in the way as I now do. So I try to enjoy every movement of the present. The future is uncertain. What is there now, what is available today, may not be possible in the future. So enjoy the present moment to the fullest!

Sunday 20 November 2016

World Heritage Week 2016: How students perceive heritage...II

Many people think of heritage as old, static, redundant. But heritage evolves with changes in society. Heritage acquires new uses, new associations and therefore new meanings.

Adaptive reuse of heritage buildings is sought by many as a way of preserving heritage and ensuring its continuity. Many historic buildings have been turned into museums, forts and palaces into hotels and resorts, old railway stations into cafes and restaurants and so on. When old buildings fall into disuse, this strategy helps give a new life to these structures. When these projects are carried out keeping in mind the original historic, aesthetic and other aspects of the place, they add to the value of the place and attract local people and tourists in great numbers.

Bristow Hotel, Cochin- Adaptive Reuse

- By Asit Kulkarni

After a week in the interiors of Kerala, I arrived in Kochin today afternoon.  am staying in an old light house, now turned into a hotel. It is named after Sir Robert Bristow, the Chief Engineer of Madras Presidency under Lord Willingdon. The hotel is mostly occupied by foreigners and is situated inside Fort Cochin.

Saturday 19 November 2016

World Heritage Week 2016: How students perceive heritage...

Happy World Heritage Week 2016!! It's time to celebrate Indian heritage...

But what exactly is Indian heritage? Is it only monuments like Taj Mahal, Qutb Minar, forts like Red Fort, caves like Ajanta, Ellora, colonial structures like CST, grand temples like Konark, Brihadeshwara Temple, churches of Goa, Buddhist monuments like Sanchi...only the places inscribed in the World Heritage List of India?

Heritage is of course much's an imprint of human activity in the past, that has survived in the present and should be preserved for future generations. It also includes customs, traditions, festivals, dances, music...every aspect of culture one can think of.

What's interesting about heritage is its association and interaction with people. People ascertain meanings and values in heritage. Some celebrate one aspect of heritage, neglect the other. Some see economic value in a particular heritage place, others see religious or aesthetic or other value. The relationship between society and heritage is a crucial factor determining its preservation and sustenance.

As we celebrate World Heritage Week this year, students were asked how they perceive heritage. What associations they can draw with heritage.

Here are aspects of heritage through students' lenses.

Tripuri Purnima Festival at Mandapeshwar Caves, Mumbai

- By Uma Kabe

Tripuri Purnima is a festival associated with worship of Hindu God Shiva. Legend has it that Shiva killed demon Tripurasura on this day and lights are lit in temples to celebrate his victory. Mandapeshwar caves being the abode of Shiva, Tripuri is celebrated here by people by drawing rangoli and lighting traditional lamps. This social value of heritage ensures continuity and relevance of heritage for the local communities.

Monday 14 November 2016

Session 4 2016 - Money Matters in Mumbai by Dr. Mahesh Kalra

Visit to RBI Monetary Museum led by Dr. Kalra, a numismatic expert, gave students interesting insights into the monetary history!!

Session 3 2016 - Heritage Walk by Shraddha Bhatawadekar

This heritage walk from CST station to Flora Fountain via Bazaar Gate Street offered glimpses into the nuances of heritage manifested through a railway station, a bazaar, a church, fountains, etc. outlining the thriving cityscape of Mumbai.

Session 2 2016 - Tracing Roots of Indian Railway by Rajendra Aklekar

Tracing the original blueprint of the lines is like looking for a hidden treasure; the pleasure is indescribable!- Halt Station India

The second session of the course offered a great opportunity to listen to Rajendra Aklekar, the author of Halt Station India. He spoke about the beginning of Railways in India, and how Mumbai was a pioneer in establishing the network. The first hand account of his explorations and adventures, tracing the roots of the first railways, was exciting and very informative.

Students with Rajendra Aklekar