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Roshni B.. (For justice and dignity)     12 December 2010

Indi's cultural heritage may disappear soon

Many Indian forts, palaces at risk of disappearing


Many Indian forts, palaces at risk of disappearing

New Delhi, Dec 11 :

Three hundred photographs and texts of more than 60 forts of medieval and colonial India have been compiled by photographer Joginder Singh and noted conservationist Amita Baig, who says there is 'a very real risk' that in another generation, these heritage structures will disappear.




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The new heritage compendium, "Forts and Palaces of India", showcases the country's 5,000 years of archaeological heritage.

"I started work on the book 25 years ago. It is a culmination of my life's efforts to preserve and promote Indian heritage," Baig told IANS.

Published by Om Books International, the pictorial anthology was launched by the Nawab of Pataudi, Mansur Ali Khan, and his wife Sharmila in the capital late Friday.

Baig, who for the last 25 years hasd been committed to the preservation of the country's cultural heritage, has promoted new methods for the protection of historical sites. She has been at the forefront of the conservation movement in India, facilitating conservation with stakeholders' partnership.

She was the director-general of the architectural heritage division at the Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) before becoming an independent consultant. Baig is currently consultant to the World Monuments Fund for its India programme.

"India has thousands of forts. In Maharashtra alone, there are 1,300 forts. I have just touched the tip of an iceberg. Each fort needs its own book."

When asked about her favourite fort, Baig said the "Padmanabhapuram Palace Fort - a mud and wood fort - in Kerala is the one I like most".

"I feel it's a sad reflection of our perceptions of conservation and management that concern about the quality of monuments supersedes that of the citizen. There is today a very real risk that in another generation these beautiful forts and palaces which have kept our heritage and culture intact might not be there."

"Hence there is more of a reason why it is now that we must understand the need to conserve these. My book depicts the richness of such monuments in India and even presents how they came into being," Baig said.

Explaining the dynamics of her conservation work, Baig said her work tried to bridge the chasm between an inherited colonial system of protection and a more inclusive one - vis-a-vis forts.

"The fundamental difference lies in the fact that Indian forts were built to protect the people while the colonial forts were built to fortify themselves from the people". As a result, partnership and inclusion as concepts in preservation of forts were missing in the country.

"For example today, the Jaisalmer Fort is heavily encroached with hotels transplanting homes. And exploitation of heritage is rampant. After 20 years of struggling to build a consensus for solutions to save the Jaisalmer Fort, a small group of youngsters called the Desert Boys stepped in and said they would fight to protect the 'kila'...for me the Desert Boys are the success story," she said.

The book with its opulent photographs - a labour of love and extreme hardship by photographer Joginder Singh who travelled around the country for two years - divides the forts into 10 categories.

The heads include Rajput Forts, Bundelkhand Fort, Sultanate Fort, Southern Kingdoms, Mughal Forts, Maratha Forts, Sikh Forts, Hill Forts, Eastern India and Colonial Settlers.

Some strategic forts covered in the book are Jodhpur (Mehrangarh) Fort, Jaisalmer Fort, Bikaner, Bundi, Jaipur, Deeg, Tughlaqabad, Feroze Shah Kotla, Bidar, Gulbarga, Bijapur, Daulatabd, Golconda, Gaur and Hazarduari.

Ajay Mago, publisher of OM Books, said he started work on the book three-and-a-half years ago as an exercise to promote heritage tourism in the country.

"Initially, we had thought of sourcing some photographs from the archives and commissioning a few. But the quality of two did not match. Hence, we commissioned Joginder Singh to shoot all the photographs to retain uniformity in quality. We have covered nearly 70 percent of the forts," Mago told IANS.

He said a sequel would follow soon.

Architect-photographer Joginder Singh said, "I don't know if I have grown as an architect or a photographer in this project - the forts and palaces captured in the book have a very high degree of craft that respond to location and were built with a lot of attention to detail."

The book is priced at Rs.3,000.


 2 Replies

Bhartiya No. 1 (Nationalist)     12 December 2010

We r not sensitive about our heritage, ASI (Archeological Survey of India) too is not able to protect them.


Wellcome the reality and we all accept it .

Hope indian can take care of our indian heritage.

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