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44 IA&B - MAY 2009

DISCOVERING THE INCOGNITO Saptarshi Sanyal describes the hidden landscape of Rabindranath Tagore’s creative and intellectual response in the site of Santiniketan and further, how the environment catered to the artistic expressions of some of the most eminent artists in the country.


he notion of “incognito” can be interpreted as the latent, the invisible or the lesser known. It embodies the concept of subtlety, of that which is not apparent, but exists, nevertheless. This essay discusses the site of Santiniketan, in West Bengal, associated with Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), one of modern India’s leading literary, artistic and cultural figures. It shares some findings from studies that reveal the lesser known facets of this site, which are very relevant in understanding its significance as heritage. This is qualified through three levels of analysis: the context i.e. the time period of genesis, the agent; the personality, Rabindranath Tagore, whose response resulted in a unique and prolific expression, the site itself1.

This expression shall form the focus of this essay, as an exposition into how Tagore created a cultural atmosphere and an environment, both built and natural, that survive today as the “spirit of the place”, in architecture, landscape and continuing traditions. The genesis of Santiniketan pre-dates Rabindranath’s endeavours. His father, Maharishi Debendranath’s ideals of liberal Brahmo values2 resulted in the creation of a spiritual retreat, a process begun in 1861. This took shape as the house, Santiniketan(meaning “the abode of peace”), a constructed landscape and eventually formed the ashram, with a meditation temple or Upasana Mandir, completed in the 1890s.





incognito Rabindranath’s own experiences and exposures to the prevailing cultural dilemma3 and resulting indigenous revival in the arts and education4 hold a special relevance to understanding the site’s heritage components. His failure with formal anglicised as well as native educational content and environments are some of the key reasons for Rabindranath’s decision to establish a school here in 1901, and its resulting form. His naturalistic sensibilities5 and sensitivity to spatial6 and environmental aspects also help us appreciate the character of this site. The following citation describes Santiniketan as Rabindranath saw it while instituting the school:

in 1923, in its schools’ curricula, their architecture, their landscape and cultural environment. This was also a direct consequence of the many travels of Tagore, and his knowledge of culture’s manifestations.

“I selected a beautiful place, far away from the contamination of town life, for I myself, in my young days, was brought up in that town in the heart of India, Calcutta, and all the time I had a sort of homesickness for some distant lane somewhere, where my heart, my soul, could have its true emancipation.. I knew that the mind had its hunger for the ministrations of nature, mother-nature, and so I selected this spot where the sky is unobstructed to the verge of the horizon. There the mind could have its fearless freedom to create its own dreams and the seasons could come with all their colours and movements and beauty into the very heart of the human dwelling” 7.

Santiniketan is quintessentially a unique man-made landscape, created over the dry, leached, lateritic soil of Khoai8 in western Bengal. Its landscape is characterised by many features, which have evolved over time, and range from the existing natural entities of the Ajay and Kopai rivers, constructed tanks like the Bhubandanga, designed tree-lined avenues complementing the architectural instances, like Salvithika and Amrakunja, which were created to articulate spaces and paths, as well as open gathering spaces. The place also incorporates the cultural dimensions in the living settlements of the existing Santhals 9, which Tagore considered integral to the rural context that existed, and today they are thus, integral to the landscape of Santiniketan. A unique example of an educational space, the first of its kind here, incorporating the ancient tapoban model in India, are the open tree classrooms in Santiniketan, a direct consequence of Tagore’s own experiences with confining spaces in the existent schools. It is best summed up in his own words:

Equally relevant is the effort put into the conscious discovery of an Indian, eastern identity, brought forth through the institution, Viswa Bharati, started

“Our bodies are contained within three and a half cubits but…it would never work to construct a house whose outer limits were comprised of the same three and a half



6 1-4. Upasana Griha, Brahmo temple, source: author. 5-8. Outdoor classrooms in Santiniketan, source: author; Rabindra Bhavan Photo archive.





cubits…if education is limited to a small area, that means the child is kept within bounds of (only) the very essential; even his mind will never have the space to develop…”10 Like the landscape, the architecture of Santiniketan represents a range of ideas and value systems. As a heritage component, its significance emerges through the range of typologies and experimentation, as a response to what constituted the globalising architectural scenario then, in a colonial context11. The Upasana Griha emerges as a unique religious typology, a temple with no deity, representing Brahmo ideals of worship and prayer. Sublime examples of environmentally benign architecture also come forth through instances like the Talodhwaja, a mud structure, enveloping a palm tree, also manifested in the Kalo Bari (black house), today a hostel within the Arts School and his own house, Shyamali (the dark one). These represent the stress that Tagore was continuously trying to lay upon a bucolic approach to life and education, while incorporating cultural aspects.






In discussing architecture, nothing qualifies the relevance of the incognito, as opposed to the monumental, as suitably as Rabindranath’s own residential enclave, Uttarayan. It is a representation of his most personal side, of his sensitive poetic approach to space, light, views as well as the discovery of the “eastern” or Pan-Asian Indian identity through architectural vocabulary. A fantastic example is the house Konarka (1919-25), the slanting ray, with an east facing portico that allows the first rays of the morning sun to pour into its core, the living room. Eclecticism in architectural vocabulary is also very important and peculiar to Santiniketan. The apparent amalgamation of architectural language from many sources, a representation of Tagore’s notion of “the eastern”, is best seen in his house, Udayan (the dawning, 1921-1941) and the library building Patha Bhavana(1905)12. These structures use a variety of column capitals, fenestrations and other such elements to attempt in defining what he considered as the complete Indian architecture in the prevailing context. Its significance lies in the consciousness of its intent, in how it represents the transition from neo-classical as the official vocabulary, to the

9-11. Naturalistic and environmentally benign, Talodhwaja and Kalo Bari, source: author. 12 & 13. Architectural eclecticism: Patha Bhavana and Udayan, source: author. 14 & 15. Outdoor landscape art as a contributor to environmental quality, source: author.

“…before you take your leave of Santiniketan, I make my fervent appeal to you…. accept this institution under your protection…giving it an assurance of permanence… Visva Bharati is like a vessel which is carrying the cargo of my life’s best treasure…”

indigenous revivalist one, in independent India, before the advent of modernism that ensued from the establishment of Chandigarh.

Santiniketan is not only a site, but functions as India’s foremost centre of culture, Viswa Bharati15, which makes the conservation challenge immense: given the significance of its heritage components, and the need for growth and continuous evolution. The basic premise here is that, the incognito, the intangible idea of the spirit is what is embedded in the physical entities. They are thus integral to this site’s values and its significance, and that the understanding generated about this should lie at the core of guiding conservation action.

An indispensable heritage component within the site of Santiniketan is the artistic one. A number of leading luminaries of modern art in India contributed to the creation of embedded artworks within the landscape spaces as well as the architecture. The Kala Bhavana (Art School) became a focus of these activities and the works of a




number of eminent artists redefining the visual arts scene in India. Figures such as Ramkinkar Baij, Nandalal Bose, Binodebehari Mukhopadhyay, and many others were based out of here and were instrumental in creating the unique artistic environment built on indigenous, folk, and nature inspired themes. A number of artworks also represent the practices that were peculiar to Santiniketan and its celebration of major festivals13. Within the scope and space of this essay, it is not possible to discuss the specifics of continuing practices within Santiniketan, inclusive of the above artistic endeavour, most of which happened after Rabindranath’s demise. Nonetheless, Santiniketan’s festivals and intangible heritage are an integral component of this unique site, occurring within the landscape that was created. Of particular relevance is the Vriksharopana, or the annual tree-planting festival, which is a living practice that sustains the natural component14. Visually, Santiniketan is not a monumental site. Its image and character are manifestations of a movement that represents a historical time. Its significance lies in the fact that it is perhaps the most sublime and complete expression of the personality, Rabindranath Tagore, who, in spite of his prolific contribution to literature, was most invested in this place; his school, his home, his university, and the base for all his activities. This becomes evident from a letter written to Mahatma Gandhi in 1940, shortly before his death:

1. This essay is based on the author’s masters thesis in Architectural conservation, “Rediscovering-SantiniketanSriniketan”, where the focus was to articulate the values and significance; Sanyal, Saptarshi(2008)Redis covering Santiniketan-Sriniketan(thesis, unpublished), School of Planning and Architecture, Department of Architectural Conservation 2. Debendranath Tagore has been described by Lord Ronaldshay in his book The Heart of Aryavarta as “an austere figure, driven relentlessly to and fro over the land by an absorbing quest – no less than that of God”. Sanyal, Hirenkumar & Tagore, Rabindranath (1986) Santiniketan 1901-1951, p.19; Kopf, David (1979), The Brahmo Samaj and the Shaping of the Modern Indian Mind .p 184 3. Tagore, Rabindranath (1940) “City and Village” (ed.) Das, Sisir K. (1996) The English Writings of Rabindranath Tagore, Vol.3. A Miscellany, , pp.517-518 4. Kathleen M. O’Connell, in a recent study, examines the theme of integral linkage of Tagore’s life and his educational mission. The scope of O’Connell’s study about Santiniketan and Sriniketan is over the last forty years of Tagore’s lifetime, addressing the institution of Viswa Bharati in its evolution, principles and its structure. O’Connell, Kathleen M. (2002) Rabindranath Tagore: The Poet as Educator; Rabindranath describes with resentment the city of Calcutta in his childhood : swallowing the countryside and the river with a predominant concern of commerce, in which the factories have been referred to as “smoke belching iron dragons”.Das Gupta, Uma (2006) Rabindranath Tagore: My life in my words, p.10 5. Rabindranath himself describes his preoccupation with nature and natural processes while working as a zamindar in eastern Bengal, managing his family’s estates; Tagore, Rabindranath (1920, 1970) Glimpses of Bengal, pp.55-60 6. Tagore’s first conscious experience of architecture as described by him, is his stay at Shahjahan’s Gardens and palaces at Shahi Bagh, Ahmadabad, then the house of his brother Satyendranath who was posted as an ICS officer, a judge. This is a rare account of architecture and a designed space that Tagore recounts in these early writings, in which he mentions garden terraces, stone-built water tanks and Mughal niches in walls. Shahi Bagh’s experience also found an echo in a much later story, called “The Hungry Stones”. Tagore, Rabidranath (1917, 2008) My Reminiscences, pp.147-148 7. Tagore, Rabindranath (1931) “My School” (ed.) Das, Sisir K. (1996) The English Writings of Rabindranath Tagore, Vol.3. A Miscellany, , p.642 8. Khoai is a naturally occurring geographical microfeature in this region, formed by rain water creating gullies in a steep path toward the natural basin. This feature is seen today in the area south of the Kopai river near Santiniketan 9. Santhals are the largest surviving tribal community in India today, and the inhabit parts of Bengal, orissa and Bihar 10. Tagore, Rabindranath,(writes in his essay) Sikshar Herpher (meaning “the alteration of education”) , cf. O’Connell, Kathleen M.(2002) p.118 11. Thakur, Nalini: Post 1857 Architecture as Expression of the “First Globalization” power politics, All India Radio, 2006 12. Rabindranath was more comfortable using elements of indigenous and eastern architecture because of his belief in the pan-Asian creative unity of cultures. He however had reservations in using western classical expressions as he perceived them to be alien. Tagore, Rabindranath (1917, 2007) “What is Art?” Personality, pp.15-16 13. Sanyal, Saptarshi(2008)Rediscovering Santiniketan-Sriniketan(thesis, unpublished), School of Planning and Architecture, Department of Architectural Conservation 14. O’Connell, Kathleen M.(2002) Rabindranath Tagore: the Poet as educator, p. 200 15. Viswa Bharati, by an Act of the Parliament, in 1951, was declared an institution of national importance. Op.cit. 13; Sanyal; p.94

Saptarshi Sanyal has completed his Masters in Architectural Conservation in 2008 from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. He has previously written on the subjects of contemporary relevance of traditional architecture and technological & structural significance of historic architecture. His interest areas lie in the application of the knowledge systems’ approach to heritage conservation and the dimension of adaptive reuse.

48 IA&B - MAY 2009

CITY AS A HYDROďšşCENTRIC CONSTRUCTION Anitha Suseelan throws light on the ancient south Indian city of Kumbakonam which civilised around the Cauvery delta imbibing the potentials of surrounding landscape and has structured its societal hierarchy around the water course over time. Photographs/Diagrams: Courtesy the author



In this era of decreasing natural diversity and potable water supply, increasing floods, weakening natural barriers and inefficient water structures, Kumbakonam represents a sustainable model of an organised human settlement set within the Cauvery delta region in Tamil Nadu. The morphology of the settlement has been, to a large extent, shaped by the way the water runs through its landscape and historically how man has dealt with it. Kumbakonam is about 313kms from Chennai on the north, and 40kms from Thanjavur on the west. Located in Thanjavur district, this ancient South Indian City is also known as Kashi on Cauvery. Its position in Hindu mythology, urban configuration of temples & tanks, palaces & civic buildings, institutions, religious scholarships, brahmin elite, arts & crafts, all lead to the traditions of urbane Tamil culture [1]. The urban tissue explains the integrated appropriations at the social, economic and environmental levels thus bridging the stratified urban conditions in cities.

THE REGIONAL SETTING The Urbane Tamil City The city today occupies an area of 12.58 sqkm, a population of 1.4 lakh and has a firmly established urban social space, building typology and landscape. The site interpretation echoes environmental aspects related to very specific waterscape [2]. Unlike other religious centres organised around a single core, Kumbakonam is unique being one of the very few multi core temple cities.



The urban fabric includes temples, matams, chattrams, agraharams, paditorais (ghats), making it one among the best surviving ancient Tamil cities. The Religious Centre in the Cauvery Delta In India the settlements along certain holy rivers have grown into religious centres or holy cities. Kumbakonam is one such example located in the delta between the Cauvery and its distributary Arasalar. Its strategic location renders it as an ecologically sensitive zone. Its continuous habitation since ninth century adds to its strong socio religious significance.

WORLDVIEW NARRATIVES Portraying the History The sacred-royal configuration of Kudamukku (Kumbakonam) - Palaiyarai, together with a wider network of subsidiary agglomerations, constituted one of the earliest settlements of the Cholas in the Cauvery. It was developed as a religious centre organised around several temples. Most of the old Shiva temples, mandapam and padithore belong to this period. The Nayakas made additions to the existing Shiva temples and made new Vaishnava temples. Later, the city was recognised for its importance as a centre for handicrafts and artifacts. The British established the city’s municipality, magistrate court, institutes, road and rail connectivity. The city has been a seat of intellectual legacy, hence commonly referred to as the Cambridge of South India.



The Myth Related to Water Evolving as a Structuring Technique Kumbakonam is associated with the cosmogonic myth of Shiva as “Adikumbeshwara” or “Lord of the Pot”. As per the Myth, “the creator (Brahma) seeks to preserve the most precious things from destruction, places the Hindu scriptures and the seed of creation in a golden pot, which floats south on the cosmic flood, till it is shattered by Shiva’s arrow, thereby, releasing the embryonic amrita (nectar), which flows and congeals to form Kumbakonam’s tanks and temples, marking the start of a new creation [3]. The two holy tanks of Kumbakonam, Mahamakam tank and Pottramarai tank, are considered the most sacred and beautiful, as they tie up with the legend The Mahamaham festival happens once in 12 years, during the Tamil month of Masi, inviting pilgrims from all over the country.

THE URBAN TISSUE – THE CONCEPT OF HYDRO-SOCIAL CITY The resultant urban tissue, which grew around these genius loci, the main religious institutions and water tanks, illustrates an urbanity structured by water. The ritual topography, and the urban morphology stresses on the ambivalent relationship between urban and rural, manmade and natural and accommodative and resistive forces. It also projects how a hydro-centric strategy can trigger sustainable form of urbanism. Landscape Layer – Tracing the Topography and Natural Water Courses The area is strewn with a number of water channels flowing from west to east. It has a shallow slope down from north to south with the many ridgelines running east west.



4 1. The regional setting of River Cauvery. 2. Cauvery Delta. 3. Myth and the spatial elements. 4. The Mahamakam Tank. 5. Ridge–Valley diagram. 6. Water channels system. 7. Spatial Configuration. 8. Type 1: Mahamakam Tank. 9. Type 2: Reddirayar Tank. 10. Type 3: Varahakulam Tank










4. A school building. 5. One of the palaces. 6. Typical corner detail. 7. Columns.

15 Traditionally, the tanks could be classified into three types, as 1. those which are associated with the temple rituals, 2. those which are part of the irrigation system and 3. those which are the intermediate over flow tanks in the surface drainage system. The former type has religious institutions as part of the physical landscape and streets built around the edges. The second type varies in size and is essentially a part of the hinterland. The tanks which are a part of the surface drainage network remain as ponds surrounded by the urban fabric. These are most susceptible to conversion into slums, parks, playgrounds due to the changing meaning and associations of these elements. The Water Sensitive City - Water Structuring Urbanity Different spatial organisation or grouping of water distribution has been very sensitive to the waterscape of the city evolving an urbanity which integrates social engineering and accepts water as a cycle. The sophisticated system of hydraulic control for rice cultivation in the beginning necessitated a strict civic, social and political discipline creating an interdependant urban water morphology. The temple city has been conceived with the underlying canonical principles in its overall structure. The plan contemplates the Swastika Mandala, a diagram that allows the flexibility to be marked out into a square, rectangle or any other shape. a. The Ritual Topography. The city is defined by reciprocities and relationships between ritual and civic life and their embodiment in architectural settings [3].

16 The urban realm in the sacred city is a continuum of ritual space articulated through a hierarchy of localised levels, ranging from the public domain of the temple to the private socio-microcosms of its agraharams and residential sectors of various jatis [3] and has been structured within a well articulated network of canals and tanks with a hierachical order defined by its role in the landscape. b. Response of Street Network to the Water-Course. Though deeply ingrained to cosmological principles in the structuring of the town, the physical construct of it responds to the geographical context invariably. The State highway acts as a main spine of Kumbakonam that runs through the ridge with all the secondary and tertiary streets meeting it. c. The Linear Urban Blocks. The urban block is primarily defined with the main temple at its core, thus rendering a multi loci configuration to the urban fabric. It is also defined by the streets with the contiguous built form abutting it, leaving an extensive collective backyard that forms the larger system of open spaces with the canal in the centre running in the east-west direction. The peripheral blocks respond to the configuration of the streets. The average size of a block varies from 180m x 300m to 400m x 600m. Streets run parallel to the water network giving access to the private plots, which are often subdivided perpendicular to the watercourse thus facilitating access to

17 the water as well as to the watershed zone. The average plot size is 2.5m x 120m running perpendicular to the canals. This system of alternating strips of urban-water morphology illustrates a distribution of responsibility from the whole to the part. The kulams, canals, temples of varying hierarchy and the streets abutting the block often lend to its imageability with its associated myths religious functions and historicity, which makes the setting more meaningful.

18 11. Main spine and institutions. 12. The Canonical Principle Swastika. 13. The Urban tissue. 14. The Land use Plan. 15 &16. The Cauvery & Arasalar Edge. 17. The Ritual topography Map. 18. The Street Hierarchy. 19. The Figure Ground map. 21-22. The morphological evolution of the Urban Block.

20 d. The Continuum of Open Spaces - the Green Corridors. The figure ground relationship in the early phase represents a balanced system of built and open with the larger concern to maintain the rear set backs as a collective open space to conserve the watershed. The network of surface run off canals thus accommodated as part of this collective private green open spaces. This concept of green corridors, which over lapped with the water shed zone also allowed for future densification. The rear set backspaces could be converted into new plots by introducing a new road with a common consent amongst the landowners and the block could thus be densified. The speculated scene of the urban block shows an increase in the built, and the introduction of new streets.

CONCLUSIONS Urban centres, often portrayed as economic engines, where water is sanitised, cleaned, hidden and detached and water channels misinterpreted as waste water drains need to be readdressed. The paper highlights a paradigm of hydro-social city where the water structures the urban morphology and is viewed as a resource rather than as a waste. Though the concept has been radically altered in recent years, it offers an opportunity to re-establish the link of water to cities and the ambivalent relationship between the man made and the natural. A well planned hydrological infrastructure with the normative mobility/ transport network and land use proposals offer possibility to protect the collective public realm of rapidly urbanising cities.




REFERENCES 1. Carl, P., Dallapicola, A., Michell, G., Nanda, V., Kumbakonam – Art, Architecture & Urbanism: Space, Ritual & Meaning in a Sacred – Royal City of South India, Cambridge University, U.K, 1998. 2. Regional Directorate, Tiruchirapalli Region, Master Plan – Kumbakonam, Local Planning Authority, Kumbakonam, 2004. 3. Carl, P., Dallapicola, A., Michell, G., Nanda, V., “Cambridge Kumbakonam Project – Kumbakonam: A Ritual Topography”, Architecture Design, Vol.66, 1998, pp. 7-12. 4. Urban Design Studio 2 - 2007, A Report on Kumbakonam: the Temple City; the Cauvery Delta Studio Unpublished M.Arch Studio Project Report, School of Architecture, R.V.College of Engineering, Bangalore, (2008). 5. Urban Design Studio Project, Kumbakonam – An Urban Study, Unpublished B Arch Studio Project report, Periyar Maniammai College of Technology for Women, Vallam, Thanjavur, (2005). 6. Action Plan for the provision of basic amenities & infrastructure development works in Kumbakonam town for the Mahamaham festival, Local Planning Authority, Kumbakonam, (2004). 7. National Atlas & Thematic Mapping Organisation, District Planning Map Series - Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, Survey of India, 1997. 8. Operations Research Group, Integrated Development Plan for Heritage Areas in Tamil Nadu Kumbakonam Town, Directorate of Town & Country Planning, Chennai, 1999. 9. Priya, M.R., Master Plan – Kumbakonam – Manifestations of a Traditional Setting, Unpublished B.Arch. Project Thesis Report, N.I.T., Trichy, 1998. 10. Feyen, Jan, et al., Water and Urban Development Paradigms, CRC Press Taylor & Francis Group, UK, 2009.

Anitha Suseelan is an Assistant Professor at the School of Architecture, R V College of Engineering (V T U), Bangalore.

52 IA&B - MAY 2009

INVADING STRONGHOLDS Tina John opens up strategies for intervention and architectural interface within the Maritime forts of the Konkan Belt which have corroded over time due to neglect. Photographs: Courtesy the author

“Every architectural intervention represents destruction, destroy intelligently.” -LUIGI SNOZZI


ndia’s built heritage, much like its diverse natural setting, is unique and varied. It provides a link to glories of the past and can rationalise the future. Protecting and preserving this built environment poses a real challenge given the tropical conditions, lack of awareness, deficient funding, unregulated development and the exponential growth of tourism. These factors are leading to a vulnerable state of the monuments as well as the immediate vernacular setting. Similarly, the cultural heritage of a plethora of historic sites in India is under constant threat. These sites are an indisputable part of the people’s heritage and pride; but actions taken to safeguard these structures from degradation or over-use lacks cohesive effort. For some of these buildings to survive in time it is important to give them a new role. In the words of Kerr, the best way to preserve our heritage is to give it a sympathetic new use. Till recently our understanding of heritage and its regeneration was limited to the literal idea of conservation which most often dealt with the physical preservation or restoration of a monument. Buildings outlive their function and have continuously been adapted to new uses. Intervention architecture or adaptive reuse revives the life of a building by providing it with a new function that is compatible with the old physical form but also adds a contemporary layer. This new dimension in regeneration has added value to the banal materialist conservation of built heritage. The aim is no more just preservation, but transformation of ‘an architectural, rather than sentimental or historic approach, to creating new form out of old fabric’ (Powell, 1999). Amongst the multitude of heritage structures and monuments a specialised genre is forts and fortifications. Forts have been an important component of the form and development of cities throughout history. They are categorised by their commonality in function and distinctly different architectural characteristics. The state of Maharashtra alone accounts for about 350 forts. They range in typology depending on the locations that they were built at


1. Aerial view of Alibaug Fort. 2. Architectural features of Murud Janjira Fort. 3. Entrance to the Kulaba Fort.


1 and their military function. The shilpashatras describe 19 typologies of forts; of which some of the most intriguing are the jaldurgs (island forts) and abdurg (coastal forts). The Konkan coast is strewn with 20 such Maritime forts; starting with Arnala in the north up to Redi in the south. Built by the Marathas, Portuguese, Dutch and Siddhi rulers these forts stand as a silent testimony to these once powerful dynasties. These forts provide us with an insight into military planning and architecture; with imposing bastions and ramparts that house intricately carved structures, step wells and temples. The picturesque locations that the forts like Savarnadurg and Kanakdurg are sited in added value to its historical significance. Vijaydurg with its treble row of fortifications was considered an impregnable fort, while the Kolaba fort is known as the last seat of power under Shivaji’s Rule. Each of these forts has its idiosyncratic reference in history.


With time the presence and importance of these structures has begun to dwindle. There is an urgent need to rejuvenate these once thriving areas and to create a sustainable link between the forts and their locale, which will facilitate both economic regeneration of the area as a whole well as help preserve the cultural ethos. These forts render themselves as highly adaptable and conducive to reuse. A comprehensive conservation proposal that will address the area as a whole is needed. Any proposed schemes must aim to maintain the cultural heritage while prompting economic growth, given the present situation recycling buildings for a new use will only lead to potential gains. Stringent guidelines adapted from the ICOMOS Venice chapter that integrates local requirements and reflects our contextual concerns can be incorporated into the local development agenda. Any proposal for intervention needs to respond to growth and development of not only the fort itself but along with it the immediate surrounds. A definitive approach in terms of the physical preservation or restoration of the built form and one that will add value to these structures is required. Any proposed architectural interface must respond to the inherent sprit



4 of place and ambience of the historic structures; not just its outwardly physical appearance. With the ever increasing rate of tourism in India sustainable eco-tourism could provide an equitable solution to the pressing need for the conservation of these forts. The area if designated and development guidelines implemented; will facilitate both the state tourism authority as well as individual initiative from the private sector towards furthering the development of these forts. There are multiple examples of forts that have been adapted in near past the Ahhichatraghar Fort, Mehrangarh Fort, Fort Aguada etc. have been huge successes. These maritime forts if restored will offer a completely different set of design parameter, owing to their size location and scale. An architectural interface may be achieved by using then as a platform to project the rich Konkan culture that showcases dwindling arts & crafts, performing arts and cuisine. Converting these forts as linked linear heritage attractions with each fort asserting a different theme in the scheme of a larger proposal will ensure


4. A panoramic view of Vijaydurg Fort. 5. Agarkot Fort.

that the tourist is provided with a variety of options while each fort retains its unique identity; resulting in the diversification of economic activities of the local population. One of the greatest reasons that crippled any development in the Konkan region was its poor accessibility. The Konkan Rail has opened up a whole new avenue. Though not all forts area easily accessible, redevelopment of a few forts in time will present possibilities for the entire zone and act as a catalyst in development. Some of the forts that have the potential for immediate adaptive reuse are Vijaydurg, Kolaba, Murud-Jangira, Agarkot, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg. Vijaydurg can be converted into a specialised tourist resort, its connection to the mainland and existing infrastructure will facilitate services and the project can generate employment to regenerate the surrounding areas. On similar lines the costal forts of Ratnagiri and Agarkot can also be adapted into facilities that accommodate tourist. This reuse presents a specialist typology wherein the visitor not only experiences the fort and its history but also has a chance to relive history by staying in these fortifications.

The forts of Murud- Jangira and Sindhudurg on the other hand being bound by sea on all sides present a different setting. These forts house a number of heritage structures which display specific architectural styles and will be best adapted with minimal interventions. These forts could be converted into a cultural centre and a naval museum respectively. The possibilities are infinite. These forts have the potential of not only being restored to its past glory but also being adapted for a new use that will enhance its viability in the present time. Every intervention if innovatively conceptualised and implemented will have a positive impact on the structure and augment its longevity.

Tina John has graduated from Rizvi College of Architecture and has a masters degree in Regeneration & Development. She currently works with Hunter Evans Ltd a multidisciplinary practice based in London.

56 IA&B - MAY 2009

DESIGNATING BUILT HERITAGE Conservation Architect Jhilmil Kishore explores the significance of developing a (value-based) system for preservation and regeneration of historic buildings.

Photographs: Courtesy the author


he Indian subcontinent has a long tradition of town planning guidelines in ancient scriptures, and special skills existed for different tasks from planning to execution. Many of these rules were, however, defeated with the invasion of Huns, the introduction of Islam, and the arrival of Europeans, due to which the architectural heritage of India and the subcontinent has greatly suffered (Jokilehto 1999).


Who is making these decisions, and what is the incentive behind selecting certain building types and ignoring some? What kind of philosophy and policies are we basing our entire ‘conservation movement’ on? This article explores the need and outlines the significance of developing a (value-based) system that could form a basis of selection for designating historic buildings.

Fortunately, this is now changing. Archaeological Survey of India has over 5000 protected ancient monuments and archaeological sites on its database. Today India also has 27 designated World Heritage Sites, and there is a progressive formalisation of Listed Buildings database, establishing a system of sorts to grade them on the basis of their importance, historicity, and state of preservation. This again is primarily an initiative of a few NGOs and some individuals. In this entire ‘modern movement’ of conserving our built heritage - our historic cores, our walled cities, our colonial legacy, our modernist buildings, our katras and mohallas are inevitably ignored. Why only large monuments? Is it deliberate, or is it because there are so many monuments in urgent need of attention, that there is no time (or inclination) to address the diversity of the existing built heritage, or is there more to it?

The question arises ‘what value should be placed on a building or structure in order to decide its merit for statutory designation, in other words for it to be listed?’ And in addition to this, what benefits does ‘listing’ provide? We must understand and agree that “listing” is not a preservation order, preventing change. Listing is an identification stage where buildings are marked and celebrated as having exceptional architectural or historic special interest, before any planning stage which may decide a building’s future. In England, (for example) a building has normally to be over 30 years old to be eligible for listing. As a result, in England the three main categories are: • Grade I buildings are of exceptional interest, sometimes considered to be


2 internationally important. • Grade II* buildings are particularly important buildings of more than special interest. • Grade II buildings are nationally important and of special interest.

1. Neemrana Fort-palace: a 15C Fort now successfully converted into a luxury resort. 2. Cannaught Place- could definately benefit from listed building designation.

cultural heritage.

Today England has approximately 373,000 listed building entries and still growing, perhaps in some areas it could be said that too many have been identified and greater discretion might have ensured a greater degree of success.

A listed building (worldwide) enjoys the strongest legal, cultural and historical protection available. Listed buildings can range from a 16 th century palace to a cinema from the 1950s. The listing should not be restricted to buildings per se; parks, gardens or other sites of cultural or historical significance should also be protected by law. Listed buildings recount the passage of history and how the society has changed over time.

Will this keen interest in saving our heritage, remove them from what has been shown to be a ‘normal’ cycle of decay and replacement, with attendant financial and social implications? While England is busy re-assessing the chain reaction set by its ever-growing listed building database, are there any valuable lessons to be learnt? Why should we be listing buildings at all?

Designation necessarily requires the assessment of the importance of specific heritage value of a place. Moreover, the significance of a place should influence decisions about its future. The high level values could range from evidential, which is dependent on the inherited fabric of the place, through historical and aesthetic, to communal values which derive from people’s identification with the place.

The purpose of listing buildings and environments is to protect traces of history that have had great significance for the understanding of today’s society and should be able to guarantee people’s access to their

First and foremost, it should be a special regard to the desirability of preserving the building or its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest which it possesses. The setting is often an essential part


3. Regal Cinema - 20C Cinema Architecture – losing out to multiplexes worldwide and heritage policies?

of the building’s character, especially if a garden or grounds have been laid out to complement its design or function. Also, the economic viability as well as the character of historic buildings may suffer and they can be robbed of much of their interest, and of the contribution they make to townscape or the countryside, if they become isolated from their surroundings, e.g. by new traffic routes, car parks, or other developments. In summary the following three key criteria emerge relevant to consideration of listing a building: 1. The importance of the building, its intrinsic architectural and historic interest and rarity, its association with an important historical figure or a well known architect, in both national and local terms; 2. The particular physical features of the building (which may include its design, plan, materials or location); and finally 3. The building’s setting and its contribution to the local scene. Listed buildings can be altered or extended within government planning guidance once the case has been made. There are many examples of historic buildings (worldwide including India) accommodating successful adaptation and heritage-led regeneration. Success of Neemrana hotels (although not listed, but sensitively adapted) is just one case in point. Listing does not and should not ‘freeze’ a building in time; it simply means that appropriate permissions (listed building consent) must be applied for in order to make any changes to that building which might affect its special interest. The local authority (or appropriate government authority) should be able to use ‘listed building consent’ to make decisions that balance the site’s historic significance against other issues such as its function, condition or financial viability. The biggest drawback of adopting, unquestioningly is well demonstrated by the case of the Ancient Monuments Act; however there is much to be learned from the UK experience. The development of policy for listed buildings to the present Act of 1990 in England does provide, if not ideal, but a sound base and case study for a similar effort for the Indian subcontinent. Continued

3 development, of whatever kind, may mean that area character changes. As is true for the success of any development oriented policy, it would have to be revisited, reanalysed and be flexible towards re-evaluation. In the last six decades of operating in the UK, listed building system suggests that this is a strong and popular planning concept and is likely to continue. It is far from perfect, but has proved to be an important ingredient which led to a chain reaction that has made the user identify with and take pride in ones immediate environment; it has initiated a dialogue that aims to strike the vital balance between the historic and the contemporary in order to develop and maintain the genius loci, the sense of place, and to ensure the continuing economic and environmental vitality of historic buildings. Finally, far from obstructing change, a listed building policy can be viewed as a powerful catalyst for renewal and as a stimulus to high quality new design and development. As change is inevitable, an effective heritage policy can provide a more sensitive appreciation of the dynamics and processes of change, a basis for better philosophical approach to conservation, in which parallels from other fields can help a more flexible and local approach to planning. The way in which the evolution of a language often reflects wider changes in society, industry, or profession; conservation is no exception. We have come a long way since the drafting of the Charter of Athens in 1931 and the Charter of Venice in 1964. There is a difference between conservation in the 1960s and today. Today conservation has evolved into a science and a discipline of its own. If this is recognised and accepted, those working in the field of conservation of cultural property will be able to make themselves understood and be more effective. Jhilmil Kishore is a graduate from SPA, New Delhi, India. She completed her masters as Charles Wallace Scholar from De Montfort University, UK and is currently working as a Conservation Architect with Aukett Fitzroy Robinson plc in London, UK.

59 IA&B - MAY 2009



Professor Binumol Tom rationalises the canonical stories and attempts at reviving traditional conservation practices of timber heritage of Kerala. Photographs: Courtesy the author


raditional timber architecture forms a repository of the insight, wisdom and knowledge of the previous generations. They should be regarded as sources of inspiration and living evidence of methods of sustainable building practices; with understanding of material science (dravyavigyan) which though is adapted to local conditions, introduces globally applicable ways of thinking. This paper intends to bring out before oblivion specific construction and conservation methods and techniques, which were followed by the traditional craftsmen of Kerala (southern most state of India) in timber construction. Timber, though a perishable building material, if correctly selected, processed and finished, and rightly used in construction, can bear living testimony to many generations. There always existed a perfect ecology of materials, a natural dependence between the building materials and components to create a balance of strength, movements

due to changes in humidity and temperature in traditional timber construction of Kerala. In traditional architecture the whole process of the construction of an edifice revolved around the concept of respect for nature. The canonical philosophies that formed the basis of construction of an edifice ‘Prasada’, is the Sargaprakriya (creation), which is the union of Prakriti (nature) and Purusa (prasadapurusa or the building). Accordingly, a seed (the foundation stone) sown into the womb of the earth at the auspicious time (garbanyasa) grows above the surface as superstructure, into a full-fledged edifice with all its components (organs) and becomes a living thing (Prasadavastu). At a conceptual level, this philosophy creates a balance between nature and structure that is built. 1. Traditional timber superstructure displaying fine craftsmanship.



2 The traditional architecture of Kerala comprises of temples and palace complexes along with tharavads (traditional houses) that reflects the unique wooden construction system of the region and is characterised by a high level of craftsmanship and building skill. Climate played a major role in deciding the architectural character of the place. Combined with the warm, humid climate of Kerala, the region’s heavy rainfall dictated to a great extent the form and layout of traditional buildings. The availability of timber and laterite from the dense jungles of Kerala produced a unique vocabulary of architecture. The roof pitched at angles between 30 to 40 degrees placed over low walls forms the main visual and functional element that renders a distinct identity. The dominating roof forms were embellished with intricately carved gables protruding from the roof with heaping overhangs sometimes supported by wooden brackets. Traditional knowledge in construction indicated special stands that people knew would provide excellent materials for construction purposes. There was strict quality control at every stage, starting from, selecting the tree, from which timber would be taken and the auspicious day for tree felling, the processing of timber including its hewing, cutting into logs and seasoning, shaping the components, finishing works, and ending at assembling them during construction. In tree selection the most attractive in the eyes of the traditional craftsmen were the mature species of Tectona Grandis (Teak), Artocarpus Integrifolia (Jack) and Artocarpus Hirsuta (Aini) because of their high content of heartwood, which made them strong, stable and highly resistant to decay. A mature tree could be distinguished according to several criteria, such as the shape and size of the trunk, height and diameter and position of knots. Accordingly, trees were classified as either male, female or neutral, a classification based on the consistency in the diameter of the tree trunk. Neutral trees were never used in construction. Trees with natural defects were completely avoided. Very old trees, twisted ones, grown near streets, religious buildings and burial grounds, ones struck by lightning, infested by insects and termites, honey bees, snakes, birds and animals, trees with medicinal value and affected by strong winds were avoided for construction purposes to eliminate weaker trees. This elimination process ensured quality control in selecting the tree to be used in construction.

Moreover, trees grown and felled in the same locality of the construction site were only used. In traditional construction it was believed that, the timber used in construction should not be brought to the construction site by crossing the Raja veedhi (King’s way). The reason may be the understanding that trees grown in the same environment may acclimatise effectively, when converted into lumber and later erected as components of the structure, than the ones brought from other areas. Or, it may be to employ the locally available craftsmen and hence safe guard the local interest of the traditional carpenters. All these quality control traditions aid in creating a balance of strength and movements due to changes in humidity and temperature, as it is well understood that wood in service, absorbs and dissipates moisture, according to the fluctuation in temperature and humidity levels of the surrounding ambient air. This balance would prevent structural disturbances, which might occur due to unequal moisture movement within the components of the structure. According to canons of traditional construction trees were felled on specific days (non-padahari days) depending on the apogee and perigee of moon, suggesting the influence of the position of the moon in timber felling and associated processing activities and the previous generation’s awareness about it. The days (padahari) when tree felling is prohibited, come under the following stars: Aswini (Aswati), Bharani, Swati (Chothi), Vishakha, (Vishakam), Anuradha (Aniyam), Jyeshta (Triketta), Moola (Moolam), Sravana (Thiruvonam), and Satabisha (Cathayam). The full moon caused an increase in moisture content in timber, making it vulnerable to decay and rot, if cut at this time. The best time for felling trees for timber is when the moon is on the decline as trees are weaker and yield more easily to the axe during the moon’s wane, depending on its apogee and perigee. To choose the right size of the tree, the carpenter starts out with the dimensions of the elements for which the tree was needed, with the guiding principle that no tree bigger than, what was required should be felled. The timber is hewed and cut into logs with a handsaw and seasoned from months to years in shade. Each piece is then cut into the form of the component, for which it is intended, using chisels and wooden hammer. Then

by using the timber-smoothing plane the surfaces are finished along the grains. The timber components are provided with absolutely smooth finish, which prevents adsorption of moisture and associated penetration of water, making wood resistant to biological decay. The side grain surfaces of the timber components are rubbed and polished using the semi dried leaves of Therakam (Ficus Aspirina), a tree locally grown in abundance. This excellent finish of timber components goes a long way towards explaining why a large percentage of original timber can still be found in the surviving specimens bearing living testimony of the timber craftsmanship of Kerala. Timber is the healthiest of all naturally available building materials, and it is paradoxical to “poison” it in the name of modern preservation philosophy,

2. The front courtyard of Padmanabhapuram palace at Thiruvananthapuram. 3 & 4. Traditional system of structural construction only through the use of wooden members.


especially when the traditional non-toxic preservation methods, which were absolutely environment friendly, can be used to protect it along with good design measures. The understanding of the environmental hazards occurring due to excessive use of chemical preservation methods along with the paradox of poisoning, the otherwise healthy building material prompts one to make a relearning of the traditional technology of timber construction, which has withstood the ravages of time. The traditional timber preservative oil (Ettenna) of Kerala prepared from herbal extracts and resins from trees (Dried and powdered Katukka (seed of Terminalia chebula/ Chebulic Myrobalan), Vayambu (root of Acoras Calamus), Manjal (Curcuma longa / Indian Saffron/ Turmeric), Kuntirikkam (Frankincense, gum from Benjamin tree), Kolarakku (wax from Zyzyphus Jujuba) and Cencayam (Resin of Pinus Dammas) are added to boiling gingely oil in specific proportion and stirred well. To this, dried and powdered tuber of Neelakoduveli herb (Blue Plumbago, Blue Leadwort) is added till the oil begins to froth. The preservative is then allowed to cool and applied over timber pieces (to keep them safe from the attack of termites, fungus and insects) is found to be an excellent fungicide and insecticide, and it’s strength has already been proven over centuries. Among the ingredients, Terminalia Chebula, Blue Plumbago, wax from Zyzyphus Jujuba, resin from Pinus Dammas, Curcuma Longa and Acoras Calamus have anti fungal and antibacterial properties. The pungent smell repels beetles, bugs and worms. This oil protects the timber when it is moist, from fungal and bacterial infections. The traditional structures follow the prefabricated system of construction. Using woodwork joints, the components are cut and shaped, to fit into one another. In traditional construction the structural members such as the sill beams, pillars, wall plates, rafters and ridges are constructed out of teakwood and for the structurally less significant components such as trelliswork; panels and reapers, Aini and Jack wood are used. As their physical properties of hardness, weight, grain, modulus of rupture, modulus of elasticity and compressive strength are almost similar, theoretically, when the relative humidity and temperature of the ambient air varies, all the wooden components would show consistency, in dimensional change and maintains the structural integrity of the buildings. This in turn imparts a natural balance between all the components constituting the traditional structure. Many regard the traditional techniques of craftsmanship as purely practical skill. The search into the construction methods and practices followed in the traditional palaces is about the description and analyses of processes, not ‘stationary’ buildings. Such knowledge can only partly be verbalised, as it is transmitted or transferred through actual work. In the repair and preservation work of timber structures, the potential of effectively duplicating the choices that, the previous generations made, is one aspect, that can be researched and encouraged. This will help in preserving traditional knowledge, though we have a stigma attached to old techniques, considering them outdated. The very existence, of such an autonomous, immortal knowledge of timber construction is there, for us, to use and modify for our contemporary needs.


Dr. Binumol Tom is an Asst. Professor at the School of Architecture, Government Engineering College, Thrissur in Kerala.

62 IA&B - MAY 2009

ABODE OF GODS AND KINGS Surya S talks about restoring Thripunithura’s architectural heritage which combines traditional features of Kerala supplemented by Portuguese and Dutch edifices. 1 Photographs: Courtesy the architect


hen they first heard about this study on Thripunithura’s Architectural Heritage and Conservation, the collective response of a few elderly members of the Royal family in Thripunithura was, ‘Wait for a few years, then you may not have anything left to study – as it is, we have lost most of it, and we are losing the remaining few structures also very fast’. One can understand that this is only too true when one sees the fast pace in which modernisation changes the face of this Royal Temple Town.

HISTORY Located 9km South East of Ernakulam, Kerala, Thripunithura Municipality has an area of 18.69sqkm. The famous Sree Poornthrayeesa temple here has its deity believed to be originally installed by Arjuna, one of the Pandavas. There are historical evidences of the original temple being destructed in 1265, reconstructed in 1270, which again was burnt down in 1921. The temple in today’s form was constructed in 1932. The Western Gopuram survived the fire and the age of this Gopuram is still a mystery. The main idol has an unusual posture, and is made of panchaloham1. Thripunithura was the capital of the erstwhile Kochi Royal family (also known as Perumpadapu Swaroopam). Portuguese and later the Dutch took charge of

the Kingdom during 17th Century. In 1760s Kochi was overrun by the Travancore forces and later by Mysore army. With the defeat of Tipu Sultan, the British reduced Kochi to one of their princely state. Soon after India’s independence Kochi State was merged with the Indian Union.

ARCHITECTURE AND PLANNING The Dutch rule resulted in the construction of many structures in the Dutch style. Hill Palace, which was the Headquarters of the Royalty, is a very good example. Originally an Ettukettu2, the Hill Palace received additions of lofty columns and arches by Europeans, and was completed in 1898. The palace complex, about 2.4km from Thripunithura town, remains to be a majestic and imposing construction with wooden ceiling, wooden staircase and flooring with rare varieties of imported tiles in pleasing colours. Standing in well-landscaped premises, it is converted into an archaeological museum now. At the centre of Thripunithura town is the fort area around the main temple complex. The grid-iron pattern divides the fort area into eleven blocks, apart from small patches owned by the government, temples and municipality. The types of buildings within the Fort include large and small temples, kovilakams3, palaces, maalikas 4, naalukettus5 etc. Also the town has churches, Christian,

incognito Tamil Brahmin and Konkani settlements. The buildings here do not possess the intricate carpentry details of Travancore, or the grandeur of palaces in North India. These are simple, down to earth buildings constructed in an architectural style suitable to the social system and climate of Kerala. Eastern and western entry to the fort are formed by East Fort Gate and the Iron Bridge respectively. The fort had gates on north and south, which once were elegantly proportioned semi-circular arches. Only a part of the supporting wall remains at the South Gate. The North Fort Gate collapsed when a bus ran straight on to it in 2004. The sight of the collapsed heritage landmark is shocking and saddening for those who saw it. In an effort to reconstruct it, the authorities found that no proper documentation of the Gate was available for reference. Now even though it is reconstructed, its elegance and grandeur could not be reproduced. Thattumalika 6 and dining hall inside the temple complex and the clock tower in front of the temple are of architectural importance. “Kalikkotta Palace”, near the temple is a structure built in Dutch style, with thick, lime-plastered walls and large semi-circular arch windows. It is an entertainment auditorium to the erstwhile Royalty, featuring dance, drama and plays, although it functions largely as a marriage hall today. The building needs renovation and with a little effort at re-planning and conservation this heritage treasure can be well preserved. The Hindus and native rulers in Kerala followed matriarchal system till the 1950s which explains the planning of houses and palaces in Thripunithura. Most houses are Naalukettus, with spacious central courtyards, verandah that goes around the house, large living and dining spaces, small bedrooms, sick rooms, prayer rooms,

storage rooms and granaries. They mostly have a pond and kulappura7 with steps leading to the pond. The wives of the rulers used to stay in Kovilakams outside the main palace and their children could inherit their mothers’ assets only. The crown was inherited by the nephew of the ruler. The palaces have an elaborate verandah, a living room and only one bed room. If it is a maalika, upper floors also have large living spaces and balconies, along with smaller bedrooms. The planning method makes it difficult for use as residence in today’s context. The palaces have a small temple also within the complex. The rooms with wooden false ceiling and small wooden windows are dimly sunlit. They have well proportioned, sloping, tiled roofs with overhangs, gables and eaveboards.

CONSERVATION ISSUES Within the fort, about forty one heritage structures still stand intact, whereas about twenty five were demolished in recent years. The ones demolished include part of Puthen Bungalow used as residence by the king during 1860s and many maalikas and naalukettus in the fort. “Most members of the new generation are abroad, while many of the older generation stay back. The cleaning and maintenance of the large houses and palaces becomes difficult for them. So, many prefer a smaller, well-lit and functional house or flat. As a result of this the heritage treasures were sold to builders, and most of these structures are pulled down and replaced by multistoried concrete buildings.” The proximity of Kochi City, where land prices are skyrocketing, causes its population to expand Thripunithura. The general worry among house owners that once the conservation efforts start, they will be stuck with their houses and not allowed to sell them caused a negative effect and people started selling off palaces at a very fast rate.


1. West Gopuram of the temple. 2. Clock tower. 3. North Fort Gate reconstructed.

• A heritage master plan can be prepared with the help of conservation






4. A school building. 5. One of the palaces. 6. Typical corner detail. 7. Columns.

• • • •


architects, politicians, builders and people here, in which, keeping in mind the growing need of the city, land can be demarcated for high rises and the area inside the fort at least could be protected. Detailed documentation of the heritage structures should be prepared. With proper guidance and support, the house owners can put these beautiful monuments for adaptive reuse. The control of traffic within the fort or even completely pedestrianising it has to be considered. The tourism potential of the place is immense. The colourful Athachamayam ceremony during Onam is very famous. Vrischikotsavam is a festival of elephants and here one can enjoy most of Central Kerala’s traditional dance forms and music. RLV College of Music and Fine Arts, Sanskrit College, Ayurveda College and Centre for Heritage Studies function here. The beautiful heritage monuments can be converted to museums, theatres, offices, guest rooms for tourists, pilgrims or research scholars - which can be run either by the owners themselves or by an efficient agency that represents them, thereby generating income for the owners without selling the heritage building.

However, only an immediate action plan can save us from losing our treasured heritage. REFERENCES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: 1. Panchaloham - Traditional five-metal alloys of gold, silver, brass, iron and copper used for making Hindu temple icons 2. Ettukettu - House with eight rectangular rooms each with veranda on one or more sides around two courtyards. 3. Kovilakam - Houses of Kshatriyas 4. Maalika - Bungalow which are two or three storied palaces 5. Naalukettu - Traditional Kerala house with a central open courtyard. 6. Thattumalika - Balcony inside temple complex for the Royal family members to watch festivals in temple. 7. Kulappura - Bathing area with overhanging, tiled roof attached to a pond 1. 2. 3. 4.


“Pathombatham Noottandile Keralam”- Sri. P Bhaskaranunni, Kerala Sahitya Akademi Press, 1988. Viswa Vijnana Kosham- Vol 3, 9 Sri. Anujan Varma, Thripunithura Sri. Kunjikkuttan Thampuran, Thripunithura

Surya. S is a lecturer at School of Architecture, Government Engineering College, Thrissur.

IA&B - MAY 2009



GREENER PASTURES Amita Sinha outlines a strategy to preserve historical gardens, which not only adorn the ancient architectural masterpieces, but would also give us an idea of the environmental context that existed during those times. Vilayaiti Bagh serves as a sample for garden restoration and heritage tourism. Photographs: Courtesy the author


istoric gardens have not received adequate attention from heritage conservationists in India although in the recent past there have been successful attempts to restore lost gardens such as Mahtab Bagh in Agra and temple gardens of Khajuraho. Gardens are usually regarded as appendages to monuments, managed by the horticultural division of the Archaeological Survey of India with little respect for authenticity. Historic gardens however can be a powerful source of identity of a region or a city embodying a sense of place, local water management practices and horticultural skills. Gardens represent the larger landscape and even though their plantings may include exotic floral species, their native vegetation and fauna root them in a place. Garden conservation is a paradox as the inherent dynamic aspect of a landscape needs to be reconciled with the need to preserve a historic relic of a certain time and place. Since landscapes cannot be frozen in time, the act of restoration becomes an imaginative exercise, often involving compromises. What is often unacknowledged and left unaddressed are changes in views of nature, recreational activities, and the fact that historic gardens were always private enclaves of royalty and nobility but as heritage sites are part of the public realm now and need to be managed accordingly.

and gardens that were situated to take advantage of the river’s expansive views, cooling breezes, and ready availability of water. The river was a path of movement that not only allowed entries to buildings and gardens but also afforded views thereby ensuring a memorable image of the city. Vilayaiti Bagh was one such riverfront garden built by Nawab Nasir-uddin Haidar for his foreign born wife in the early eighteenth century. A walled garden with a chahar bagh design pattern, it represented the late Mughal garden tradition, similar to Rajput gardens of central and western India. William Howard Russell described the garden in 1858 : “It must have been a very pretty spot, opening on the river by a flight of steps, with alcoves, covered walks, orange trees, kiosks, abundant statuary in plaster, a platform for dancing, an orchestra, the ornamented roofs covered with gilded bosses and spires, tall cypresses and tamarinds bordered the orange plantations, and a wilderness of flowers sprang up in their neglected beds”. 1. Vilayaiti Bagh on Gomti Riverfront.

The above issues are addressed in the proposal for restoration of Vilayaiti Bagh, a Nawabi garden on the banks of the river Gomti in Lucknow. The article addresses both the theory and methodology of garden conservation using this garden as a case study. It outlines a conservation approach suitable for dynamic entities that are gardens and describes a conservation methodology based upon surface archaeology as no archival records of the historic garden exist. Design alternatives for garden restoration are suggested based upon the premise that Vilayaiti Bagh can represent the lost gardens of Nawabi Lucknow and become a final destination for boat travel along the river Gomti beginning with the old city. Nineteenth century Lucknow was a famed city of gardens, many on the Gomti riverfront. The riverbank edged the urban linear growth, at least the monumental part consisting of palaces, mansions, country retreats


66 2. View of Vilayaiti Bagh. 3. Excavation Plan of the Historic Site. 4. Restored Vilayaiti Bagh.

In Lucknow after the uprising of 1857, a large scale landscape transformation occurred. Pitched battles were fought on the riverfront and other gardens, the only available open space within the city. Their post-mutiny destiny was mixed – Sikandar Bagh became the Lucknow Botanical Gardens, and Banarasi Bagh the Zoological gardens; others were built over with time – Muhammad Bagh became European Club in the Cantonment, Badshah Bagh became the grounds of Lucknow University, Char Bagh was the site of the Railway Station. The English picturesque guided the transformation of the Nawabi Char Bagh into the irregular landscape of spreading lawns and winding paths. The uses changed from being purely recreational spaces of the elite to sites of botanical and zoological collection and production signaling the transformation of privately owned and used space into institutional and public realm. Situated near the Lucknow Cantonment away from city, Vilayaiti Bagh is the only surviving Nawabi garden although derelict with crumbling

3 Landscape archaeology using a non-invasive method that enables the excavator to obtain a great deal of information with minimal impact on the site itself is recommended. Surface excavation along the linear mounds in the four square pattern will expose the pathways and their adjacent water channels. It will also reveal if the garden was terraced and if so how the levels were negotiated. Water tanks and/or wells as the source of gravity fed water channels can also be located. Pollen analysis will be useful in determining the historic plantings. The first step in garden restoration would be to clear the pavilions and walls of their vegetation and accumulated debris and repair them using lime plaster over lakhauri bricks. The historic pavilion on the southwest after restoration can find an adaptive reuse as an exhibition area displaying historic paintings and photographs of the 19 th century Gomti Riverfront. The garden can function as an authentic chahar bagh with rebuilding pathways and water channel. Further recursive division of quadrants can be done through terracing,

2 walls. Abandoned with the passing of the Nawabi era, it has survived as a protected ASI site, although no effort has been to restore it. Two historic pavilions and a couple of recent graves and wells dot the landscape. Although its tree cover is gone likely due to extensive grazing, its extant features – chahar bagh terraces, pavilions and walls – make it an appropriate site for restoration. Aerial photography reveals the chahar bagh pattern clearly although there are no traces of water channels and pathways on the ground. Dense vegetation surrounding the seven acre site creates enclosure and feeling of openness to the river from within the garden. There is a gradual slope of 20’ towards the river.


husainabad tank & clock tower

kuriya ghat “chikan park” ambedkar memorial chattar manzil & farhat baksh

jama masjid chota imambara lakshman tila bara imambara

historic complex riverfront plaza riverfront orchards wetlands floodplain farm inhabited area unprogrammed riverfront existing riverfront recreation

moti mahal begum hazrat mahal park

shah najat imambara & botanical gardens

tomb of nawab saadat ali khan residency la martiniere estate


raised walkways and plantings. This articulation of spaces would create settings for recreational activities, a form of adaptive reuse of the garden in keeping with contemporary cultural needs. The 19 th century garden was a private enclave meant primarily for passive recreation of the elite. For it to function as a public park, new ways of using open spaces need to be accommodated. In other words, garden traditions have to be regenerated and reinvented on a heritage site. For example, activities that engage the public at large – playfield, fruit picking in mango groves, marriage and other celebrations in tents


5. Gomti Riverfront Heritage Corridor.

Although Gomti is no longer an edge or a path, it remains the only venue from where large stretches of the historic and the contemporary city can be glimpsed and accessed. The last decade has witnessed vigorous efforts by the state government to ‘beautify’ the riverfront but missing in these endeavors has been a conscious effort to celebrate Lucknow’s cultural heritage. Gomti can be visualised as an aquatic heritage trail with boat rides to historic buildings and gardens arrayed along its banks. Vilayaiti Bagh can be the last destination in a boat ride down the river intended to acquaint the visitor with Lucknow’s history and its garden heritage.

installed periodically in the terraced lawn – should be permissible. The garden would offer ample opportunities for passive recreation – taking a stroll, enjoying long views of river and solitary contemplation of

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT Students in Design Workshops LA 336/438 in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign developed design alternatives for restoration of Vilayaiti Bagh in Spring ’08.

nature. Mango and citrus groves could be planted in the upper terrace while lower terraces could have brilliantly coloured flower garden and moonlight garden with aromatic night flowering plants, to keep the views open to the river. Since the site gradually slopes down to the river, terracing would not only create long viewsheds to the other bank and surroundings but also water channels, fed by rainwater harvested in storage tanks and/or wells can irrigate the garden with gravity flow. The garden, however, would be subject to flooding when the Gomti rises. Terracing close to

BIBLIOGRAPHY i. Moynihan, Elizabeth (ed.) The Moonlight Garden: New Discoveries at the Taj Mahal. University of Washington Press, 2001; Landscape and Conservation Projects. Special Issue of Journal of Landscape Architecture, India, vol. 5(1), 2007. ii. D. Fairchild Ruggles. Islamic Gardens and Landscapes. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009. iii. Moore, Charles, William Mitchell, and William Turnbull Jr. The Poetics of Gardens. MIT Press, 1988. iv. Sinha, Amita. “Decadence, Mourning and Revolution - Facets of Nineteenth Century Landscape of Lucknow, India,” Landscape Research, U.K., No. 2 (Spring 1996): 123-136. v. William Howard Russell. My Diary in India, in the year 1858-59. London: Routledge, 1860. vi. Miller, Naomi and Kathryn Gleason (eds.) The Archaeology of Garden and Field. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994. vii Nagpal, Swati and Amita Sinha. “The Gomti Riverfront in Lucknow, India: Revitalization of a Cultural Heritage Landscape”, Architecture+Design, India, June 2008, vol. XXV, no. 6, pp.58-66.

the river, similar to ghats, can confine and retain water in a small area of the site, leaving rest of the garden less prone to damage caused by high water levels.

Amita Sinha is a Professor at the Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, USA.

68 IA&B - MAY 2009 1

ETHICS OF REUSE Vani Bahl stresses upon the adaptive reuse of historic structures, which are an important contributor towards the preservation of the physical, cultural and socio-economic energy of a place.


oday’s renewed interest in ‘green society’ should heighten attention to the ethics of adaptive reuse, as a cornerstone of sustainability. Now that the idea of recycling waste has permeated our culture, we should adopt the slogan, ‘recycle wasted architecture.’ After all, architectural residue from the past is a repository of vast physical, human, and cultural energy. Construction costs are growing, we can’t afford to rebuild the environment over every generation. By every accepted economic index, including increased tax revenues and increased business activity, recycling in architecture proves its viability. The need for adaptive reuse of historic buildings is not only cultural, but in today’s economic climate- a necessity. Ironically many attributes of traditional buildings and patterns of development have been recognised as indigenous, renewable, logical responses to climate and easy on fossil fuels; and are being championed as ‘green’. Even urban planners have projected that a city of 2050 will look a lot like a development of 1850. However these historic, inherently sustainable, models are being replaced

by buildings which are energy hogs. LEED 1 which has become the only tool to evaluate energy efficiency of buildings in USA, Canada, and even in a few projects in India, accounts for only 2 points in 69 for the reuse of buildings. BREEAM 2 , like LEED, lacks in effectively considering performance, longer life cycles, and embodied energy of historic materials. In India, the seventh largest country by geographical area and home to one of the oldest architectural legacy, the Archaeological Survey of India has only 3650 historic monuments and archaeological sites protected under its guidelines. It has been pointed out that the State of Uttar Pradesh, which has roughly the same area as UK, has only 863 ASI protected monuments which is miniscule when compared to UK’s 500,000 listed buildings.

CONSERVATION OF PHYSICAL ENERGY Preservation, restoration, and rehabilitation in architecture cause much less destruction to our natural resources than new construction. To appreciate this, architects must be sensitive to the Life Cycle Assessment studies- energy used in

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1. Charles Street Jail (Boston, MA), designed by architect Gridley James Fox Bryant in 1851, was the best examples of ’Boston Granite School’ of architecture, and fine model for prison architecture of mid 19 th century. Now restored for reuse by Cambridge Seven Associates as a four star luxury hotel, The Liberty, it is vital commercial development featuring 300 guest rooms meeting high end hospitality industry standards. Photo Credits: Peter Vanderwark and Cambridge Seven Associates. 2. Individually listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks, Charles Street Jail was designed in a cruciform shape, with a 90-foot tall central rotunda and four extending wings of jail cells. Declared unfit for prisoners and abandoned in 1970. Photo credit: Peter Vanderwarker. 3. Patrons may enter the hotel’s gourmet restaurant via a separate doorway, one through which prisoners were once transferred from paddy wagons to their cells. A café offers views of the central rotunda, and the chance to sit among the former cell walls. Photo credit: Peter Vanderwarker and Cambridge Seven Associates. 4. For the first time in 150 years, this iconic structure is open to general public. Arriving guests ascend one level to the floor of the central rotunda which is lit by huge circular windows and the cupola above, and ringed by upper level balconies connecting guest rooms and conference areas. The interior features exposed brick walls, and in several locations the original cells remain. Once a place where guards watched prisoners, today the rotunda is a place to ‘see and be seen’. Photo credit: Peter Vanderwarker and Cambridge Seven Associates. 5. Crumbling ruins of Qila Mubarak, Patiala. These low tech and un-engineered predecessors to the monuments of today are repositories of unlimited physical energy, time energy, human energy, and of course cultural energy. Should we let them go waste? Photo credit: Vani Bahl 6. Ornate ceiling in gold, Qila Mubarak Patiala. Recycle abandoned spaces, rich interiors come ready made. Photo credit: Vani Bahl.








the production and assembly of materials needed for new buildings, from their origin to their end of life and subsequent reuse. Statistics reveal that building construction consumes 40 percent of the raw materials entering the global economy every year. Interestingly, about 85 percent of the total embodied energy in materials is used in their production and transportation. Even before they reach the construction site, building materials have consumed large quantities of fossil fuels. If all the hidden costs were spelled out in the balance sheet, the recycling of architecture would be perceived as the only rational strategy for the management of material resources. Demolition of existing buildings wastes the embodied energy as well as the energy consumed in tearing the building down, which can be considerable, given the quality and strength of older structures. Add to this the cost of incinerating demolition debris, and the wasteful use of land in-fill sites. Modern construction methods are incredibly wasteful of resources. Up to 40 percent of the total waste generated in the United States, India, and other countries is directly attributed to building, construction, and demolition activities. These — often hidden — waste products can be environmentally hazardous and polluting, both as solids and in the atmosphere. By contrast, adaptive reuse is much more labor-intensive than new construction, because it involves the reconditioning of the existing structures to adapt to modern day requirements. However, this dependence on human resources rather than material resources encourages the local community to participate and potentially revives a vernacular rhythm in architecture. Very likely, the old structure was strategically placed to get the best views and optimum orientation to the sun and wind and climate. It might have been built to ensure security of the occupants and to strike a balance between the built mass and the open spaces. Features like high ceilings, thick sound proofing, spacious halls, beautiful marble or gold ceilings, wood and metal ornamentation delights that are economically difficult to replicate today but found in abundance in historic buildings offer to meet the standards of today’s luxury life style. Though damaged, wall and ceiling surfaces can be restored,

9 providing ready-made rich interiors. We can benefit from the several-centuryold craftsmanship, preserving that embodied human energy.

CONSERVATION OF CULTURAL ENERGY The adaptive reuse of historic building extends itself to reinforce the historic and cultural identity of the town within its four walls. When a building of historic merit is preserved or restored for adaptive reuse, its cultural energy is also ‘recycled’, history brought back to active duty. A city without old buildings is like a man without memory. Italo Calvino writes in Invisible Cities, ‘The city does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the banisters of the steps…every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls.’ The evolution of our societies, our culture, and our identity, is reflected in our building types and styles. Any town or district must mingle buildings that vary in age and condition which Jane Jacobs states, in Life and Death of American Cities, as ‘one of the four conditions to generators of diversity’. However, current corporate approach to architecture, lacking in the richness and complexities of cultural evolution, has even devalued Louis Sullivan’s ‘form follows function’, and rendered Satish Gujaral’s ‘form follows culture’ outdated.



7. Overlooking San Francisco Bay (California), THE CANNERY was originally built in 1907 as a fruit and vegetable canning plant for the California Fruit Packers Association. By 1909, it was the largest fruit and vegetable cannery in the world with a capacity of 200,000 hand-soldered cans per day and employing 2,500 people. Operations ceased in 1937 as a result of Depression-era economics, slated for demolition in 1960s. Photo credit: The Cannery. 8. In 1963, Leonard Martin purchased the brick-walled Del Monte Fruit Cannery. THE CANNERY, now a charming ‘city within a city’, is a vibrant waterfront marketplace featuring one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants, offices and live entertainment, and a world-class jazz club. Photo credit: The Cannery. 9. THE CANNERY’S European charm, unique shops and restaurants, and award-winning architecture make it one of the finest shopping and dining experiences in the world. Photo credit: The Cannery . 10. The brick warehouse was converted into three levels of winding walkways, balconies and bridges surrounding an inviting courtyard with 130-year-old olive trees and several outdoor cafes. Photo credit: The Cannery. 11. THE CANNERY overlooking the San Francisco Bay as seen in 1908. This Illustration shows that the waterfront location was well suited for THE CANNERY, providing berthing for ships, a rail system for bringing fruit and other produce directly from California’s fertile agricultural valleys, an ample population base for the labor force, and a convenient way to ship finished cargo on ocean-bound vessels. Photo credit: The Cannery.

Razing historic buildings to plant replicas of energy wasteful skyscrapers which can function only on imported technologies is an attempt towards cultural assassination. Old buildings preserve the local culture and identity and create a sense of belonging. In a way, we recycle embodied human resource energy along with material energy. We bring alive the past to be a part of the future, creating important connections through time.

increased tourism, progressive management plans should be established to formulate limits of acceptable change due to impacts of tourist flow on physical and cultural integrity, and intrinsic life style of host community. All sustainable development strategies should be directed towards benefiting the host community at all levels through education, training, job opportunities, socio-economic life style upgrades, ensuring that their cultural integrity is not degraded.


Architecture of old buildings is a living text book of both climate and energy sensitive design, and cultural lessons. Do we wish to erase the link by dumping the stone that has witnessed passing phases of humanity into some land-fill site? Or, is it truly “green” to avoid the landfill and grind up community memory into bulk aggregate? When do we start to value real architecture above a consumptive fascination with mere newness and fashion?

While socio-economic prosperity is a by product of the life around the historic buildings restored for reuse as hospitality venues, commercial or tourist centres, it is imperative to formulate policies to demarcate ‘use of culture for tourism’ from ‘tourism as culture’. If heritage diversity is accomplished, tourism will follow. UNWTO3 reports ‘culture’ as component of 40% of world tourism. Tourism facilitates accessibility, understanding, and appreciation of historic buildings and places as unique cultural expressions as well as aid in continuous research on human heritage. However, overlapping domain between value of heritage resources and tourism is dynamic, generating opportunities as well as conflicts. While responding to the aspirations of heritage tourists, it is imperative that authenticity of historic buildings and heritage communities are maintained and respected. Before any building or community is promoted for

1. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Green Building Rating System, developed by the United States Green Building Council. 2. Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method, established in the UK. 3. United Nations World Tourism Organization.

Architect Vani Bahl, Principal ARCRIAM Associates, has worked on design and research projects in her native India and in the United States. Her work includes hotel design and planning, campus planning, housing projects, vernacular architecture, and historic preservation.

72 IA&B - MAY 2009

PLANNING FOR SUSTAINABLE CONSERVATION Vasanta Sobha calls for the formation of an institutional body which would take care of the health of heritage after it is conserved. Diagrams: Courtesy the author


hen the unfinished Anegundi Bridge at Hampi, a new construction causing much distress to the conservation team there, collapsed recently, the consultant shared the ‘good news’ with the conservation community, saying nature gave a good answer to the ‘mistake’ being made in the name of development.

and intervention. From this theoretical perspective, the present conservation boom in India is still in the form of spurts of efforts initiated by passionate individuals/groups at different places and not as a comprehensive policy, planning or programme of the country.

Yes, indeed, God has been rather kind to heritage in India. The roof of the Tarapore Montessori School building in Hyderabad collapsed within seconds after the last student walked out of the room in the evening, sparing loss of lives and injuries. It is sheer good luck for the conservation field that a chip of the ceiling fell on the feet of Dr. Haripriya Rangarajan, wife of the then Governor of Andhra Pradesh, at their official residence Raj Bhavan in Hyderabad a few years ago. With due regard to the first lady who was slightly injured, this incident served to make the Governor initiate a good scientific study of heritage buildings.


It is a fact that though these freak incidents of nature have brought good luck to heritage buildings, they donot add to the credits of conservation efforts by professionals and that we donot lie back and pray for storms, hurricanes and torpedoes to sweep away wrong developments and inactions. The Indian conservation movement has seen a definite growth in the last two decades, both in terms of number of people fighting for the cause as well as the number of places where there has been considerable impact. There are more policies and also more projects. But these efforts still remain sporadic and random rather than uniform. This is evident when we ask a few questions. Are the on-going conservation efforts evenly distributed geographically across the country? If there are a number of projects generated in one area, does it imply that there isn’t any heritage worthy of preservation in other areas? Are the provision of conservation infrastructure and expertise commensurate with the conservation needs of an area? As conservation theory goes, the rich heritage of any country should be inventoried at national, state and local level and their historic, architectural and other values are to be assessed and graded. Conservation needs of each place/area/building are assessed. It is then that conservation projects are prioritised for investment

From the days of the 19th century Archaeological Acts of the country to this day, conservation of monuments and historic buildings is structured independent of the mainstream planning policies and institutions in India. India works through a three-tier planning system of national, state and local levels, with district level as an intermediate planning unit, which has a defined functional framework and revenue flow mechanisms from level to level. The Town Planning, Urban Development, Municipal Corporation, Municipality Acts/Organisations are made for preparation of Master/Development Plans, their implementation, provision and operation of services etc. at the local levels, where heritage buildings are located. For many years, the Master Plans followed the ‘Urban Renewal’ approach to deal with old parts of cities/towns and prepared ‘redevelopment’ plans. Depending on the physical condition and state of preservation, the old areas were either given the treatment of ‘clearance’, ‘rehabilitation’ or ‘conservation’. Historicity, architectural/ urban character, values etc., were not necessarily considered, but for the occasional sensitive planner who took interest in these aspects while dealing with planning issues. Around 1980s, the concept of ‘listing of historic buildings’ and demarcation of ‘heritage precincts, and their inclusion in the master plans was introduced at the local levels in different cities in India. The era of policies for heritage regulations has begun and separated inner core cities from mainstream planning.

BEYOND POLICY… The United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS Habitat) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) through the Sustainable Cities Programme (SCP) defined ‘Institutionalisation’, for Environmental Planning and Management, as something “ be absorbed and integrated into the institutions and normalisation of the city, with the SCP ideas being accepted and acted upon. It means that the activities of the SCP process will have become normal and routine activities of the various organisations and interested groups. It means the new practices of environmental planning and management will be carried on and sustained, no longer dependent upon the initiative of a special project”.

the gulf TIER 1: Government of India

Planning Commission under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister


x NĂƟŽŶĂů Plans/ Five Year Plans / Annual Plans x Sector wise prioriƟes & targets

Central Annual Budget & Revenues

SECTORS: Agriculture, ĚƵĐĂƟŽŶ͕ Employment, Environment & Forests, Health, Mineral, Industry, Infrastructure, Rural Development, Science &Technology, Social JusƟce, Others ( ŽŵŵƵŶŝĐĂƟŽns & IT , Environment &Forests, Power &Energy, Women Empowerment, Water Resources)

Other Sectors

Budget allocaƟŽŶ to Central Government Ministries

Culture, Tourism & ĚƵĐĂƟŽŶ x Archaeological Survey of India x Tourism

Budget allocaƟŽŶ to States & UTs BY Gadgil Formula

Urban Development

Govt of India regional ŽĸĐĞƐ in States

State Revenue

State Annual Budgets EducĂƟŽŶ͕ Culture & Tourism x Department of Archaeology & Museums x Departments of Tourism & Culture

Municipal AdministrĂƟŽŶ &Urban Development x Department of Town & Country Planning

x Other sectors & departments including Roads & Buildings

Revenue from Govt of India Ministries & Departments funded schemes to Sate & Local Governments / any other agency. (example: JNNURM)

The making of the Archaeological/Ancient Monuments Acts have led to the creation of new independent establishments of the Archaeological Survey of India and the State Departments of Archaeology, for taking up conservation, maintenance and management of the Protected Monuments under their jurisdiction. These organisations have in-house expertise consisting of not only archaeologists, engineers, chemists and administrators, but also seek support of architects and conservators, whenever required. The organisations have the necessary laboratory and construction infrastructure for taking up large-scale conservation works. Over the last three decades, many places in India have not only initiated ‘Listing’ of historic buildings locally but have made heritage policies and regulations and have at some places, integrated them into statutory Master Plans. Realising the role of trained conservation personnel, various Municipal Corporation, Municipalities, other local bodies are seeking consultancy services from architects and engineers. But the efforts for creation of infrastructure and establishment in support of conservation implementation end here. Conservation of historic buildings not only requires heavy investment, infrastructure and equipment, but also sourcing of materials and skills, which are extinct and no longer available in the market. The conservation movement in India cannot be comprehensive, complete and sustained unless these support systems are created and made available to the private conservation practitioners

TIER 2: State Governments

Districts – Intermediate Planning Unit

District allocaƟŽŶ

AůůŽĐĂƟŽŶ to MunicipaliƟes, CorpoƌĂƟons, Urban Development ƵƚŚŽƌŝƟĞƐ

TIER 3: Local Governments

1. Planning tiers revenue flow in India.

TOWARDS INSTITUTIONALISATION…. The new conservation movement in India, preservation of historic buildings, areas and cities – those other than the Protected Monuments – need suitable establishments and institutional support for successful implementation and long-term sustenance. If not new institutions, it is time we worked on ways of integrating conservation into existing, mainstream planning systems and institutions of the country. According to the UNCHS /UNEP Sustainable Cities project, the institutionalisation process includes changes on a number of levels: (1) Building and strengthening institutional structures (2) Changing or adjusting mandates (3) Identifying and tasking “anchor” institutions (4) Linking to strategic policy instruments (5) Developing skills (6) Modifying legal and administrative frameworks (7) Providing funds to support expenditure & equipment (8) Maintaining knowledge support and the learning process.

74 In the early 20th century and post-independence period, unique systems were adopted in Hyderabad for dealing with existing urban situations (renewal & redevelopment of old cities). The first one was the City Development Plan prepared by Sir Visweswaraya after the city was devastated by floods in Musi River in 1908. The city was surveyed and urban renewal/regeneration along with development plans were prepared. To implement these proposals, a City Improvement Board, an entity separate from the Municipal Corporation, was set up in 1912, which carried out works till 1940s and its abolition and merger with the Housing Board in 1961. The second one was the Quli Qutb Shah Urban Development Authority (QQSUDA), a special entity in the name of the founder of the city in 1591, for the development of the old city of Hyderabad. It has been set up in the 1980s. The QQSUDA, formed as a society, is known to have carried out development works in the old city with people’s participation and active involvement of politicians. But now, one can see that the QQSUDA is barely alive and surviving, with dwindling budgetary allocations by the state. The period of the late 1970s-the early 1980s was the time when the concept of ‘listing’ of heritage buildings/precincts has started in Hyderabad. The buildings/ precincts listed by a report from the Hyderabad Urban Development Authority have taken the shape of Heritage Regulations in 1995/1998. This is the time when institutions started and ended with Commissions and Committees. The Urban Arts

Commission was constituted under the provision of AP Urban Areas Act, 1975, which operated from 1976 to 1982, without any establishment and budgets. With the notification of Heritage buildings regulations, a Heritage Conservation Committee was formed in 1996, for sanctioning of modification/repair plans on the listed buildings. In 2001, Rs. 50lakh was sanctioned by the Municipal Administration & Urban Development Department of the State Government to the Heritage Conservation Committee as an initial contribution for setting up a Heritage Fund. The money is yet to be released. The city of Hyderabad then had a Municipal Corporation covering a core area of 167sqkm, surrounded by 10 Municipalities. These were merged in 2007, forming a Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC). The limits of HUDA were extended and a new Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA) has been formed. The responsibility of the Listed heritage buildings and the Heritage Conservation Committee are presently with the GHMC. As a positive development, the GHMC made an Additional Commissioner in charge for Heritage and the Charminar Pedestrainisation Project but creation of adequate technical staff in the department and regular budgetary allocation is still due. As of date, neither the GHMC nor the HMDA have special expertise or a department for conservation of heritage. A maximum number of the 170 listed and thousands of unlisted heritage buildings fall within the jurisdiction of erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad,

presently the inner core of both the GHMC and HMDA. These are under both public and private ownership. Among the government agencies which are using the historic buildings and responsible for their upkeep and maintenance the major ones are the Roads & Buildings Department, Cantonment Board, CPWD, South Central Railways and Osmania University, but none of them have in-house conservation expertise apart from Architectural and Engineering and Planning wings. GHMC and some of the other agencies have empanelled conservation architects/ specialists for providing advice and consultancy. But, conservation of heritage, being an offshoot of the construction industry, needs many more hands and materials than just architectural advice and conservation recommendations. In the 19th century, a huge establishment was set up for the ASI, not only for the ‘survey’ of monuments but also for their conservation, maintenance etc. The same was the case with the Nizam’s Archaeology department, whose jurisdiction spread beyond the present day Andhra Pradesh, covering parts of Maharastra and Karnataka. These organizations, with their establishment in scale, geography, investment, manpower etc are functioning even today, for the conservation/upkeep of a few thousands/hundreds of sites. It is time we focused on creating such support systems for thousands of listed/unlisted heritage buildings at local levels

2. Maps of Hyderabad showing past & present administrative jurisdictions of local bodies with respect to location of heritage structures and areas. 3. Organisational Chart and Budget of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.

Greater Hyderabad Municipal CorpoƌĂƟon- OrganiƐĂƟon Chart

Services: x Property tax x Trade licence x Births and deaths x Town Planning x Building permissions x ^ĂŶŝƚĂƟŽŶ x Senior ŝƟzens

Departments/Wings: x Engineering Wing x Health Wing x Town Planning Wing x ,ŽƌƟĐƵůƚƵƌĞ Wing x Electrical Wing x Urban Community Development Wing x ElecƟŽŶƐ

Heads of Departments ĚĚŝƟŽŶĂů Commissioners

Addl. Commissioner Planning Projects

Addl. Commissioner Works & urban Health Mission

VEHICLES (24.45)

Addl. Commissioner Sports, Social Forestry &`AdverƟƐements

Addl. Commissioner Health & ^ĂŶŝƚĂƟŽŶ

Addl. Commissioner TransporƚĂƟon, MMTS & others

Addl. Commissioner Housing, Parks, IT & Aasara



Addl. Commissioner Admin, Estates & Legal

Addl. Commissioner Electrical

Addl. Commissioner Finance

Addl. Commissioner Urban Community Development

Addl. Commissioner, Heritage & Charminar PedeƐƚƌŝĂŶŝƐĂƟŽŶ Project




CONCLUSION Conservation in India needs strategic planning for combating the challenges of development. It may be apt to have heritage as a part of the ‘Culture’ and ‘Education’ sectors of the government, but conservation of heritage is definitely not just creation of school clubs, heritage walks and coffee table books. Conservation of heritage is engineering and science. It needs as much investment and infrastructure as any big construction project, if not more. The need for revival of dead skills and materials in India is as essential now as it was for the SPAB in the 19th century in England. While efforts by private groups, investors and individuals deserve to be applauded, the need for a good governing policy and institutional framework and the role of the governments should not be overlooked. Often, movements fuelled by passion die down when the leading individuals/groups move on and, therefore, institutionalisation of efforts is fundamental for sustainable conservation of historic buildings. Insititutionalisation is needed not only for the purposes of development of support systems for facilitation of comprehensive conservation by experts but also for formalisation and consolidation of the subject into the existing planning systems. India operates on a three tier planning system, where there are established routes for budget sanction and revenue flow, annually and by Five-Year and National Plans. Establishment of institutions is important for chanellising automatic flow of revenue for heritage conservation. Institutionalisation is also necessary for making conservation sustainable in the long run. It is important to understand the functioning of systems of planning, development and governance in India and find ways to dovetail conservation into the mainstream for its long term sustenance.

REFERENCES 1. Institutionalising the Environmental Planning and Management (EPM) Process, The SCP Source Book Series, Volume 5, 1999, by United Nations Centre for Human Settlements ( UNCHS Habitat), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Sustainable Cities Programme (SCP). 2. Development Plan for Hyderabad, Director of Town & Country Planning, Hyderabad, 1967 3. INTACH Heritage Annual 1997: ‘Conserving Hyderabad’s Urban Architectural Heritage, 1976-1996’ by Dr. Vasant Kumar Bawa; ‘INTACH – New Vistas’ by Mr. Shravan Kumar, former Chairman of Heritage Conservation Committee. 4. City Improvement Board Annual Progress Reports, 1931 to 1942. 5. A.P. Urban Areas (Development) Act, 1975 6. City Development Plan, GHMC 7. ‘Hyderabad Master Plan Review- Preliminary Report’, Master Plan Unit, HUDA. 1990 8. Quli Qutb Shah Urban Development Authority – Memorandum and Articles of Association 9. Vasanta Sobha Turaga, unpublished theses and reports: ‘Colonial Heritage of Hyderabad: A Conservation Strategy’, M.Arch, SPA, 1997; ‘Framework for Hyderabad Metropolitan Region: Metropolitan Regional Planning in the Era of Globalisation- Theory, Relity, Practice’, AITP, ITPI, 2008; ‘Architectural Heritage of Hyderabad’ a document prepared for Govt. of Andhra Pradesh, 2003. 10. Websites of Archaeological Survey of India, AP State Department of Archaeology & Museums, HUDA & HMDA, GHMC and others.




UCD (1034.67)

ROADS & PAVEMENTS (494.21) LAND & LAND IMPROVEMENTS(111.02)(5.08%) BUILDINGS (96.35)(4.41%) BRIDES, FLY-OVERS &SUB-WAYS (83.80)(3.83%) ROADS & PAVEMENTS (494.21)(22.63%) UCD (1034.67)(47.38%) MULTI-MODEL TRANSPORT (110.20)(5.05%) WATER SUPPLY & SEWERAGE (18.11)(0.83%) STORM WATER DRAINAGE (127.50)(5.84%) STREET LIGHTING (63.38)(2.90%) VEHICLES (24.45)(1.12%) MACHINERY & EQUIPMENT(18.11)(0.83%) FURNITURE & FIXTURES(1.36)(0.06%) OTHER WORKS (0.85)(0.04%)

Vasanta Sobha Turaga is an M Arch AIIA AITP, Conservation Architect and an Urban-Regional Planner.

76 IA&B - MAY 2009


Laxmi Priya talks about protecting the tangible and intangible heritage of Ta Prohm temple in Cambodia, a conservation project undertaken by the Archaeological Survey of India.

Photographs: Courtesy the author



ne of the most challenging international projects undertaken by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is the conservation of the Ta Prohm temple in the World Heritage Site of Angkor. This project commenced in February 2004 and since then a team from India is working at the site. ASI is working in coordination with the local Authority for Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA National Authority) under the guidelines of International Coordination Committee (ICC) set up by UNESCO. A multidisciplinary integrated approach has been adopted by ASI for protecting the authenticity of this monument and translating the theoretical base into practice. Professionals and experts from the fields of archaeology, history, epigraphy, structural engineering, hydrology, geology, geo-technology, arboriculture, botany and architecture are working together to achieve the goals of conservation.

INTRODUCTION This temple was constructed in 1186 AD by Jayavarman VII, who was one of the

most illustrious rulers of the Khmer empire that ruled Cambodia from 834 AD to 1431 AD. He was a great builder and a Buddhist monarch of the Mahayana sect. He built this large monastic Buddhist temple as a Rajavihara, the ‘royal monastery’ for his mother. The main deity in the temple is Prajnaparamita, ‘perfection of wisdom’ personified by the Mother of Buddha. This temple functioned as a mini city supporting a population of 12,640 residents other than the monks between the outer enclosure and the fourth enclosure wall. The temple is concentric in plan, enclosed within an area of 1105m X 663m having five rectangular enclosures and entrances in all the four directions. Two moats are provided inside the temple complex and one has a causeway along the east-west axis. There are numerous structures such as interconnected galleries, shrines, pavilions and hall of dancers in the temple complex. The temple is built of dry sand stone masonry with laterite core in the foundation and has corbelled vaulted roof over the galleries and entrances. It is decorated

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1. The Ta Prohm temple at the World Heritage Site of Angkor in Cambodia 2. The symbiotic relationship between the trees and the temple. 3. The conservation strategy revolves around the fundamental concept of conserving both the natural and the built heritage.


with Apsara figures, Naga canopies besides mythological figures and detailed carvings. The principal decorative features seen are the images of Bodhisattva and the four faces of Avalokiteshvara sculpted on the towers of the entrance gopuras. The sculptures and reliefs in the temple complex reveal the myths and legends associated with Mahayana Buddhism and episodes from the life of Buddha such as ‘the great departure’ is carved on the walls. The temple stands amidst a dense forest, engulfed by approximately 150 trees of different species. It is popularly known as the ‘Tree Temple’ and visitors to the complex experience this exceptional symbiotic relationship between the trees and the monument. The most commonly found species is ‘Tetrameles Nudiflora’ locally known as ‘sponge’ tree which stands on various structures in the temple. The project aims to conserve this imposing unique coexistence of the trees and the built heritage and pass on this legacy to the future generations.

THE CONSERVATION STRATEGY The conservation strategy revolves around the fundamental concept of conservation of both the natural and built heritage. Guiding principles for conservation and restoration of the Ta Prohm temple complex which are framed around the concept of preservation and restoration as advocated in the Venice Charter and Nara Document of Authenticity, are as follows: a. Interventions will be minimum and shall be undertaken to improve the structural integrity of the built heritage. b. No hypothetical restoration shall be carried out. c. New stones , wherever required, will be dressed and carved to match with the original, but at the same time should be identifiable on close look. d. No historical evidences will be damaged in the process of conservation. e. All interventions shall be undertaken in consultation with ICC (UNESCO) and APSARA National Authority. f. The stipulated methodology approved by UNESCO shall be adopted. g. All interventions shall be carried out under the supervision of trained, experienced archaeological conservation professionals. h. All interventions shall be completely documented so as to facilitate future interventions.

3 Based on the above mentioned principles, a ‘Project Implementation Programme’ was prepared by ASI and submitted to the International Coordination Committee set up by UNESCO. This document integrates the inferences, of all the multi-disciplinary studies conducted by various experts, gives an overview of the temple complex and highlights the significance of the temple. The recommendations, the conservation strategy and the action plan elaborated in this document are aimed at protecting the significance of the monument, thereby translating the theoretical basis into the implementation mode. The document was examined by experts from ICC (UNESCO) and APSARA National Authority and several discussions were held with them. As per their suggestions and recommendations the document was appropriately revised and a “Revised Project Implementation Program” has been prepared. Conservation works are currently being undertaken based on the “Revised Project Implementation Program”.


THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PROJECT The three pronged approach adopted by ASI to implement the conservation works aims at addressing the issues of structural stability, protecting the trees (natural heritage) on the site and ensuring the safety of the visitors. Another important component of the project, identified by the experts is to remove the water stagnation in the temple complex. The civil engineering and structural engineering department of Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai was involved in the study of the soil mechanics, foundation and structural engineering aspects of the temple. The hydrological studies were entrusted to the engineers from Water and Power Consultancy Service, India Ltd. (WAPCOS). The horticulture department of ASI and scientists from Forest Research Institute, Dehradun have carried out the botanical and arboriculture studies of the trees. The archaeological investigations and studies are being conducted by local Cambodian archaeologists working closely with the ASI team. Five locations in the temple complex have been proposed for undertaking the conservation and restoration works. Work is currently going on in two locations in the temple. The study reports and the proposals are submitted to the International Coordination Committee (ICC) and the APSARA National Authority for their review. A technical presentation is made during the ICC technical session held each year. There is a consistent effort to bring all the experts together so that the guidelines set by UNESCO are adhered to and work is carried out in accordance with the advice of ICC and APSARA National Authority. The technique of anastylosis (as mentioned in the Venice charter), that is, reassembling of the existing dismembered parts is being adopted for undertaking conservation works on site.


The salient features of the project are as follows: a. Documentation is a key component of this exercise. Prior to the commencement of conservation works, a thorough documentation of the temple was undertaken using the technique of laser scanning. Conservation works that have been completed are also being documented. It is a continuous ongoing exercise. b. Material testing was carried out to understand and match the properties of sandstone and laterite stone used in the temple and the quarry adjacent to the temple so that new compatible stone is used in the restoration works.

4. One of the dilapidated structures in the complex.

c. Structural analysis was accomplished by finite element modelling and wind analysis to understand the various forces acting on the structures which were causing structural failure of the various components of the temple. d. Geotechnical studies were conducted through trial pits to understand the nature of the foundation soil and its composition. e. Ground Penetrating Radar Survey were used to map the movement of tree roots under the soil so that the tree roots are not damaged during archaeological investigations and conservation activities. f. Arboriculture studies were undertaken to prepare detailed inventory of trees and prepare a conservation strategy for protecting the trees in the temple complex. Detailed study of 131 trees within the fourth enclosure was undertaken. It was found that the age of the trees ranged from 80 years to 120 years. The trees were categorised as low, medium, high and very high risk category and twenty two trees have been identified as belonging to the very high risk category g. Monitoring systems have been installed in the temple to monitor the tilt, displacements, cracks, etc and provide information about the structural behaviour of the various components of the monument. h. Hydrological studies were conducted to understand the topography of the area along with metereological studies, flood control and drainage studiesy, and hydro-geological studies. A trenchless technology has been suggested for addressing the issue of water stagnation in the temple complex. i. Temporary Reversible Interventions: To facilitate visitor circulation and ensure the safety of the visitors, nine locations in the temple complex have been proposed for temporary reversible structural interventions. The temporary reversible interventions have been proposed to support the dangerously perched stones and prevent the collapse of the structure due to tree-root action. Supports are provided in the form of props and trusses designed to counteract the various forces acting on the built form. This project has highlighted the importance of coordinated efforts and effective communication between all the professionals involved in the field of conservation to bridge the gap between theory and practice and for its successful implementation.

NOTES 1. MOU signed between Archaeological Survey of India and the Authority for Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap in 2002 2. Coedes George, Articles sur le pays Khmer, EFCO, Paris –’La stele de Ta Prohm’, The Indianized States of South East Asia, (Honolulu, Hawaii press, 1968) 3. David L Snellgrove, Khmer civilization and Angkor, Orchid Press, (Bangkok 2001) 4. Ta Prohm Temple, A Conservation Strategy, Archaeological Survey of India,, 2006 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This paper is based on the contents of the publication, ‘Ta Prohm Temple - A Conservation Strategy’ published in November 2006. The contents for this publication were prepared by me, under the guidance of the Director General, ASI and assisted by the ASI team and the multidisciplinary team working on this project. I was also entrusted the responsibility of the preparation of the ‘Project Implementation me and the ‘Revised Project Implementation Programme’ assisted by the ASI team working on the project. The photographs have been procured from the ASI team at Cambodia and the drawings have also been prepared by them. REFERENCES ASI Publication, M.M.Kanade, T.Lakshmi Priya, Ta Prohm temple- A Conservation Strategy, (New Delhi-2006) B.Narasimhaiah, India’s Contribution in Conservation 1986-1993, Angkor Vat, 1986-1993, MASI, no 91(New Delhi 1994) Briggs, L.P., The Ancient Khmer Empire, White Lotus Press, (Bangkok 1999) Chakravarti, Adhir, Royal Succession in Ancient Cambodia, Asiatic Society Monograph, (Calcutta 1982) Coedes George, Articles sur le pays Khmer, EFCO, Paris –’La stele de Ta Prohm’, The Indianised States of South East Asia, Hawaii press (Honolulu, 1968) David Snellgrove, Angkor Before and After, a Cultural History of the Khmers, Orchid press (England, 2004) David L Snellgrove, Khmer civilization and Angkor, Orchid Press, (Bangkok 2001) Freeman Michael, A guide to Khmer Temples in Thailand and Laos, (Bangkok 1996) Gourango Singha, 3D laser scanning survey at Ta Prohm, magazine/years/2004/jun/3dlaser.asp Hall, D.G.E., A History of South East Asia, Macmillan Press (London 1955) Japanese Government Team for Safeguarding Angkor, The Master plan for the Conservation and Restoration of Bayon complex, (June 2005) Jean Laur, Angkor an illustrated guide to the Monuments, English Language edition, Flammarion (2002) Mahesh Kumar Sharan, Studies in Sanskrit Inscriptions of Ancient Cambodia, Abhinav Publications, New Ed edition June, India (15, 2003) Nicholas Tarling, The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia: Volume 1, from Early Times to C.1800, Cambridge University, (Singapore Press 1994) Michael D.Coe, Angkor and the Khmer civilization, Thames and Hudson, (United Kingdom 2003) Michael Freeman and Claudes Jacques, Ancient Angkor, River Books Ltd., (Thailand 2003) Nick Ray, Lonely Planet Cambodia, Lonely Planet, (August 2005) R.C.Majumdar, Hindu colonies in the Far East, General printers and Publishers Limited, (Calcutta 1944) R.C.Majumdar, Inscriptions of Kambuja, The Asiatic Society, Monograph series Vol VIII, (Calcutta 1953) Sarkar H.B., Cultural relations between India and South East Asian countries, (Delhi 1985) Vickery, Michael T, Cambodia after Angkor, Ph.D Thesis, (December 1977) Vittorio Roveda, Khmer Mythology Secrets of Angkor, (Weatherhill 1998) Vittorio Roveda, Sacred Angkor The Carved reliefs of Angkor Wat, River Books Co.Ltd, (Thailand 2003) Woodward ,Jr.Hiram W, Practice and belief in Ancient Cambodia: Claudes Jacques , Angkor and the Devaraja question ,Journal of South East Asian Studies, (Bangkok, June 2001) Aphisit W., History of Cambodia, Cambodia-Angkor Vat, Travel Professional,

Lakshmi Priya has received her Masters in Architectural Conservation from School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), New Delhi. She is currently working as a conservation consultant with Archaeological Survey of India at Delhi and is a visiting faculty at her alma mater.

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FIXING TIME IN SPACE Meenakshi Jain elaborates the various measures taken to preserve the ingenuous astronomical observatory Jantar Mantar, Jaipur. Photographs: Courtesy the author


the domain



ISTORY AND BACKGROUND Jaipur is one of the most famous cities of India, romanticised by its pink colour. The city was commissioned by Sawai Jai Singh-II in 1728 as an alternative capital to Amber. His fascination and involvement with astronomy, astrology and architecture are well manifested in the making of Jantar Mantar. Jai Singh was aware of the Arabic instruments and their limitations. He was also in consultation with experts in India. India’s intimate connections with Persia, the Arab world and further west are, of course, well-chronicled.

1. Lead infill had come off from the marble pieces. 2. Damage due to water runoff. 3. Doubly curved marble pieces lead infill had come out.

The complex of Jantar Mantar is part of the central institutional core of Jaipur. Studies on site and archival material suggests that it was probably a part of a court of the city palace and not separated as it is now. Today the approach to Jantar Mantar is through a road carved out on its northeast corner. The 16 Yantras constitute the primary focus of Jantar Mantar. The fantastic agglomeration of sundials has been described as “the most realistic and logical landscape in stone. Its 16 instruments resemble a giant sculptural composition.” 1 They seem to be placed at a random distance from each other occupying a total area of 1,89,035sqm. They were organised according to the celestial configurations depending upon their function. Apart from the Yantras, there are visitor amenities, the landscape – pathways, trees and gardens, railings, services and temples in the complex. It is very clearly established that Jantar Mantar is not a whimsical agglomeration of form and geometry but a meticulous construction of scholarly intent. The Yantras are simple geometrical forms in stone masonry. These forms allude to platonic solids. They can be understood as a system of supports




4 like arcaded walls with steps, the measuring elements like the Gnomon or Polos that cast shadows and the surfaces on which the calibrations are made. The instruments are of varying sizes depending upon their functions. Each of these instruments is at different levels of accuracy showing a high level of experimentation going on at the time. Markings were made on a very hard and high quality marble that has borne the brunt of weathering and human touch so far. These markings were inlaid with lead for precision. The marble pieces had all been finely polished, further enhanced with time and are about three inches thick. They were sized, dressed and curved precisely, often in two planes. They are evidence of the skill and high quality artisanship available at the time. The Yantras were very accurate in three dimensions. The Jantar Mantar deteriorated very fast and by the end of the 19 th century, only ruins and foundations were found. Maharaja Ram Singh undertook the task of reconstruction in 1901 and what we documented in 2005 was largely this reconstruction. Most crucial of his contribution is replacing the plaster calibrations on the instruments with the engraved stones seen today. The floorscape of paved paths and lawns in-between the instruments in its present pattern is not historic. However, some variations in soft and hard landscape seem to have existed. The trees have grown and matured over time. The boundary wall on the northwest is also a much later addition. Presently,




8 the historic connections with the City Palace and other parts of the core are all but lost. SIGNIFICANCE Jantar Mantar’s significance lies not only in its architectural presence, but also as a representation of the knowledge of the times in the fields of astronomy, mathematics and geometry. It is a link in a worldwide network of observatories of ancient times. It is by far, one of the most accurate of those observatories and is a visible record of the experimentation of the times to improve readings of planetary and other cosmic movements. The fields of astronomy and astrology as perceived in contemporary society were not distinct, but were intimately connected. By its very scale and magnitude, Jantar Mantar was also an assertion of royal power and access to knowledge. Simultaneously, the scale demanded the creation of a public realm, though controlled. It also gives clues about the transfer of intellectual knowledge in the 18 th century. CONDITION BEFORE CONSERVATION IN 2005 Damages on the site can be broadly categorised as those to the Yantras and to the elements like landscape, other buildings, services etc. Within these broad categories, there were damages due to weathering, due to human interventions like vandalism, incongruous structures and due to ageing of material. Combined, they presented a picture of general apathy. The monument was standing mainly because of its own strength of construction. Some structures had deteriorated greatly while in some scales and markings’ infill were affected by abrasion. It was also unsafe for visitors due to inadequate railings. The lawns were endangering foundations of the Yantras and existing structures from water seepage. Efflorescence and dampness were a problem due to which ugly patches appeared on the surfaces. If left unchecked, the efflorescence would have caused further damage to the plaster and eventually to the stone beneath. The encroachments, congestion, parking facility and obstacles in the form of new structures, erection of transmission towers endangered the historic site. Inadequate funds and manpower become the major constraints, causing hindrance in maintenance, visitor amenities, signages, parking, illumination etc. CONSERVATION POLICIES AND APPROACH Conservation is a multi-faceted, all inclusive and holistic program. It included preservation of the historic, tourist management as well as addition of facilities, without disturbing the Yantras in any way. The spirit of minimum



4. A larger entrance plaza accommodating the visitors and some other yantras after conservation. 5.Dakshina bhiti yantra with high contrasting parapet which prevented the reading of the callibration. 6.Flaking. 7. The parapet of the stair was removed from the Dakshina Bhiti yantra which now allows the callibration. 8.Disha Yantra before conservation, also known as Jai Singh’s seat.. 9.Investigating below the surface in the disha yantra. 10. Full concentric rings were found after investigations in the Disha Yantra.

intervention was the guiding principle with no deviation to the form, location and material of the Yantras. All repair and restoration was considered with due respect to historic ambience. Tourism in India is just beginning to acknowledge the significance of proper management of heritage monuments for their longevity and ambience. 6,81,615 tourists visited Jantar Mantar in 2005–2006. Thus, tourism held a valuable key to the success of the conservation program. It was the revenue generator, crucial for regular maintenance, but was also damaging to the Yantras. The policy here was to encourage people to learn more about the science involved in the Yantras and not just view them as objects of fascination. Respect would lead to care. Services were a necessity to accommodate the present milieu. They were discreetly inserted with due consideration to both, the Yantra and contemporary needs. CONSERVATION ACTIONS a. Structural damages required immediate attention. They were repaired and retrofitted as required. b. Surface plaster was removed where it was fragile and likely to be dangerous to people. It was re-done in lime and natural additives gave a weathered hue. At other places, the plaster was stabilised. c. Flaked and eroded stones were replaced. d. Drainage system was opened, cleared and re-connected for rainwater run-off thereby protecting the monument for longevity. An overall plan was developed through documentation and inferences. e. The lead infill in the calibrations was redone. f. Staircases were repaired so that the upper levels of Yantras and terraces are approachable. g. Graffiti and garbage is now managed by a professional system and penalty is proposed. h. Railings along the pathways were removed. New railings were placed around the Yantras, so that visitors’ movement is not hampered and the Yantras are protected.



12a 11. Great Rama Yantra detail. 12. Narivalaya Yantra before and after conservation. 13. Jai Prakash Yantra.

i. All incongruous later additions were removed, so that proper reading of the sundials is possible. j. Many small shrubs have been removed for clarity and visibility of the Yantras. k. End walls were reconfigured to historic ambience. The temple side was opened. l. Uneven flooring re-laid in proper slopes. m. The movement of people across the Yantras was critical to both, the preservation of the Yantras as well as to their experience. The conservation strategy reworked the tourist movement. It is proposed to open the historic gates and thus re-open the historic movement across the monument. n. Audio guide to facilitate transfer of the knowledge has been proposed.


12b The project envisages the development of Jantar Mantar into a world-class monument. The nature of the monument is such that it can be enjoyed from a distance. Simultaneously, the place must increase the dwell-time of the tourists. Adequate amenities, and related activities like a visitor facilitation center cum musuem, along the lines of a sundial museum of the world would be a step towards that. The development of an Astronomical Society will be considered. These activities contribute towards the continuation of traditional knowledge that is endangered – very few people can presently read the dials. The conservation policy thus looks, not only at the built form, but also the embedded cultural heritage. Meenakshi Jain has studied under Kahn at Pennsylvania for her Masters in Architecture. She teaches at CEPT, Ahmedabad, since 1971, in Architecture and Urban Design. Housing and conservation of historic buildings has been one of her major interests.

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the gulf


NEGOTIATING PAST IN PRESENT Looking beyond simply the physical restoration of old dilapidated structures, Shikha Jain tries to address the problem of preserving living heritage through examples of the fort of Jaisalmer and the City Palace, Jaipur. Photographs: Courtesy the author


NTRODUCTION India and more specifically, Rajasthan presents some of the most unique issues that the contemporary conservation discipline has to deal with. While theoretically, conservation of built heritage often rests on the revival and restoration of structures that are dilapidated or in disuse; in India we come across situations where built heritage has been continuously in use for centuries. In such situations, communities have been living in the recently notified ‘heritage area or buildings’ since years and have subsequently

evolved indigenous methods and norms for protection and survival of their heritage through various times. To prescribe conservation guidelines in these areas as per recently established Eurocentric norms may itself tantamount to an intervention. Clearly, India needs to set its own guidelines that integrate indigenous circumstances and continuing traditions in an increasingly global context of conservation. Conventional conservation and its conflict 1. Jaisalmer fort showing a small temple below on left near the fort wall – an encroachment as per conservation but now an essential part of the social-religious structure.




verandah open steel cover manhole waste dumping area

house soil settlement

solid waste blocking sewer pipe walkway

sewer line

manhole overflow

soil & solid wastes cracks in manholes sewer line junction leakage, water mixing with soil

6” dia sewer pipe


with ‘living heritage’ or the ‘continuity value’ that needs to be increasingly recognised in Indian context is best exemplified in two case studies from Rajasthan, presented in this paper. THE FORT AT JAISALMER Probably one of the oldest living forts with people residing in it for the past nine centuries since its establishment around 1156 AD, it currently houses about 2700 people in about 367 residential and commercial properties. A monument of national significance, the site has multiple stakeholders such as Archaeological Survey of India, Rajasthan State Government, local municipal authority, the royal family and local residents. However, the lack of an integrated approach amongst these organisations and insensitivity to the tradtional water and sewage systems is what may have possibly led to a perpetual loss of the country’s most significant heritage. The fort has been facing serious structural threats since one of the bastions caved in during the heavy monsoon flooding in 1999. Initiatives by World Monuments Fund (WMF) and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) since then involved geotechnical investigations carried out by Geological Survey of India (GSI) with the architectural and historical survey conducted by Bombay Collaborative. The project resulted in recommendations with respect to the outer walls, bastions and slopes of the Jaisalmer fort. While the fort has been a subject of studies and reports for the last two decades, the WMF-ASI report

in 2008 entails the first scientific documentation carried out for the Jaisalmer fort till date. However, its focus area was limited to the walls, bastions and slopes of the site which is essentially the jurisdiction of ASI. The most crucial fact established in the report was identification of the failed infrastructure as the major threat to the fort and the hill. Though the responsibility of sewerage and drainage infrastructure comes under the local municipal corporation, the sanction for this as well as for any modifications to the houses inside requires approval of ASI. There are practical issues in satisfying this condition both at ASI and the local level; consequently leading to illegal encroachments by impatient residents that has burdened the already stressed fort structure. The current project ‘Heritage Infrastructure for Jaisalmer Fort’ under the Rajasthan Urban Infrastructure Development Project (RUIDP) finally addresses the crucial issue of failing infrastructure within the Jaisalmer fort. The proposal for heritage infrastructure of the fort, still under review is a result of a consultative process between experts, ASI, WMF, RUIDP, Jaisalmer Municipal Corporation and an on ground dialogue with the fort residents. While ASI is concerned about the increasing commercial activity and hotels in the fort that may have led to the extra load and failure in the previous infrastructure; the hoteliers and residents are now equally concerned about their survival and the effectiveness of the new infrastructure. They have

2 come to terms with the fact that encroachments need to be removed and, are themselves requesting the administration for heritage bye-laws to guide changes in their properties. Since Jaisalmer Fort comes under the administrative purview of multiple authorities, the biggest challenge is to synergise the design, implementation and long term maintenance of the fort amongst these. It is not so much the plan documents and the policies that will make a difference here, but their acceptance by the locals, phase-wise monitoring and implementation by the government and long term maintenance by the locals and the authorities. THE CITY PALACE COMPLEX, UDAIPUR As a contrasting case to Jaisalmer is the City Palace at Udaipur, another living heritage site of equivalent significance but, exclusively maintained and reused through a Trust (Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation) created by the

2. Lakeside view of the City Palace Complex, Udaipur where much of the traditional fabric has remained intact even in the absence of a formal conservation approach.

royal family. Managed by one of the oldest surviving royal dynasties of the Rajputs, it is an excellent example to understand the evolving strategies in heritage management through changing Indian conditions from pre to post independence scenario. The recent Conservation Plan preparation of the City Palace Complex, Udaipur is twice funded through the Architectural Planning Grant by the Getty Foundation, LA (2005-07; 2008-09). The Conservation Plan along with all secondary plans – Use Plan, Interpretation Plan, Environmental Plan, Risk Management Plan and the Cultural Heritage Tourism Plan prepared by a multidisciplinary team present an exhaustive planning as per the prescribed international norms for heritage conservation. While preparing the plan document, several concerns inherent to the site specifics were identified and the unique characteristics were identified in its ‘continuity value’. The site has seen continued patronage of the royal family since centuries. With it’s pre-independence (administrative and residential) role coming to an end with democracy; the custodianship of the site continued under MMCF as a foundation. The continued custodianship reflects the way the site was used, maintained or taken care of, using the best known contemporary approaches as well as a continuity of traditional processes. Few traditional craftsmen associated with the royal family are retained over generations enabling this continuity. The traditions that were associated with the life of the royal family such as the annual celebration of regal festivals continue to have citizen’s participation even today. The religious spot of Dhuni Mata, the


3. Placing kalash during restoration of Naqqarkhane ki Chatri taken as a pilot project to establish policies foe the conservation plan City Palace Udaipur. 4. A closed well inside the fort.

3 point of origin of the palace complex continues to be revered with the lighting of the flame. The royal family has continued linkages with the site as patrons and users of the site. The temples within the complex are worshipped by the royal family till today and royal ceremonies are still carried out in the ritual courtyard of the City Palace complex. This continuity value can be read and appreciated as the ‘tradition’ and ‘cultural association’ that had kept the City Palace complex intact till 2005 even in the absence of a formal conservation approach. The continuity of use and adaptations to suit the needs of the time by the custodians has enabled the sustainability of the resource. What is exceptional and of importance in the City Palace complex is the ‘process’ that has evolved over generations around the unique site with continuous exchange and interactions of space, place and people thereby becoming an established mode of practice. The plan making for the site records the dialogue between theory and practice on the site and negotiations between age old traditions and new concepts of conservation for the site.

4 centuries of association with the site, it becomes essential for the conservation professionals to first engage with the site and understand it in its entirety, before deciding as to what extent the proposed theory (plans, frameworks, guidelines) needs to dialogue with the on-ground situation (stakeholders, use centuries old traditions of conservation). The most crucial aspect of a successful conservation plan is its acceptance and ownership by the local stakeholders. Conservation practice specifically for mega living heritage sites of this nature cannot be merely judged by exhaustive documentation and reports created in a few months, even though these are essential prerequisites for any conservation work on site. It is only the long term implementation, maintenance, project impact and subsequent adaptation of the plan through years that can determine its true success. Theoretical frameworks often need to be tested and evolved through demonstrative pilot projects on these sites that help both the stakeholders and professionals in establishing the appropriate conservation methodology for the site.

Hence the plan aims at an approach that not only results in effective conservation of the site but also creates a dialogue between the traditional practices and present conservation theories as well as contributes to a much needed initiative of reinforcing the national charters in the Indian context. CONCLUSION Both case studies advocate a value based, process oriented conservation planning that balances theory with practice. In such situations, where stakeholders have

The author is Director of DRONAH and currently involved as Senior Heritage Expert for Heritage Infrastructure Project, Jaisalmer Fort, GoR and consultant to the Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation, Udaipur.


the gulf

IA&B - MAY 2009

INTEGRATED CONSERVATION AS PREFERRED DEVELOPMENT POLICY Architect Poonam Varma Mascarenhas splits apart the meaning of conservation and preservation by laying out principles for preserving our rich past. Photographs: Courtesy the author



‘Conservation’ is often thought of as being nostalgic and stylistic; the concept is romanticised and confused with ‘preservation’ by both public and professionals. The stereotypical impression of a heritage conservationist is most often a khadi-clad educated professional, who is anti-development and anti-progress. Amongst conservationists it is more about ‘managing change’, ensuring ‘continuity’ and ‘recycling’ of old buildings by adaptive reuse in an environmentally conscious manner. The value of India’s vast cultural inheritance has been overlooked in an era of ‘modernisation’, growth and urban development. We need a different development model, ‘which would not polarise the situation but would reconcile the imperatives of tradition and modernity’ (Menon 1989:3). Gunnar Myrdal opined


2 that India should have ‘modernising ideals but indeed not follow modern solutions’. Sir Bernard Fielden (1987) summarised the dilemma thus: “the situation of historic centres in developing countries is more serious because urban conservation planning is low priority compared with modernisation.” He suggests that one way of making it high priority is to conceive of conservation (managing change) as a preferred form of development. Poor communication between the decision-making disciplines of planning and conservation is the single largest factor hampering sustainable development. Our policies are reactive, not pro-active. When urban conservation, urban planning and urban tourism are pursuing parallel courses of development, the experts directing them rarely communicate. Tourism

development policies are often contradictory to heritage conservation, while infrastructure policies are seldom informed of the imperatives of either. Besides, local community participation in decision-making is virtually non-existent. It is proposed that conservation-led urban development can potentially enhance the historic qualities of an area, sustaining the ‘sense of place’ as a key constituent of contemporary living environments.

HERITAGE CONSERVATION AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT An illusion of modernism has influenced the development and planning policies in post-independent India. 1. Contexual sensitivity! – what's that? 2. Weapon of mass destruction – FAR 200.

92 Comparing the last decade to the earlier ones, there have been a phenomenal number of inputs from many disciplines and organisations to make cities better places to live. Yet one mostly encounters degradation of environment. Is it the diversity of cultures within India or the coexistence of the past and present, that confuses the plan policies? Or both? Clearly, India needs a different development model which reconciles the imperatives of tradition and modernity. We need urban planning policies that recognise the need for ‘evolutionary process of development through a series of negotiated decisions between the planner and the planned’ (Menon). Rooting development initiatives within cultural parameters could generate a mechanism of reconciling the often contradictory demands in a living environment. This necessitates a planning approach that includes voluntary agencies and citizen participation in the process, thereby ensuring transparency, and safeguarding government servants from political manipulations.

policy of socio-economic development, and of urban and regional planning.

undermine the authenticity of the historic town or area.

The values to be preserved include the historic character of the town and all those material and spiritual elements that create this character, especially: i. the urban patterns as defined by lots and streets; ii. the relationship between buildings and green and open spaces; iii. the formal appearance, interior and exterior, of buildings as defined by scale, size, construction, materials, colour and decoration; iv. the relationship between the historic town and its surrounding natural and man-made setting; and v. the roles that a historic town has acquired over time and threats to these values which would

Revitalisation of towns concerns first and foremost the residents. Planning in and around a historic town demands prudence, sensitivity and precision without rigidity, since each case presents a specific problem (ibid). The Indian city is an ensemble of diverse characteristics, thus not amenable to a single type of planning intervention, however broad or comprehensive its scope. A proposed normative strategy for Integrated Conservation-led development: • Conservation should be development oriented: It should be equated to ‘managing change’. The study of built character and spatial founding within the identified precincts should dictate the formulation of building bye-laws in

The evolving saga of Regional Plan Goa 2011 to 2021 is one example wherein the public had to step in and claim their right to be involved with planning, in line with the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments, amidst strong resistance of the government and its policy dischargers. Such activism is a deterrent in the long run and is increasingly becoming the norm, out of sheer need of people to feel secure in their own land. The main principles and objectives for conservation of our heritage rich areas : For the conservation of a historic town to be most effective, it should be an integral part of a coherent





3 & 5. Save Goa from RP-2011. 4. Oh yes, past and present sure live side by side. 6. Save Goa Rally December ‘06. 7. Sliver of memory but heck! lets just do it in. 8. Standing heritage being burried alive. 9. Then commercial district of Panaji related to the activity; today concept of FAR-200 means oppurtunity to bury the memory.


9 like ours, where each state can boast of many historic city centres.

CONCLUSION The Urban Planning Commission has initiated urbanisation programmes on a war-footing. Integrated Conservation offers direct contribution to the process. It is in the interest of our culturally rich nation to develop strategies where the relationship between care-taking and commodification is explicitly balanced. Planners and policy makers need to be cohesive, discerning and inclusive.

8 respective areas. Proposals for restoration and re-use of certain buildings and development of appropriate housing should follow. • Development should be ecologically appropriate: The characteristic feature of traditional settlements was their ecological equilibrium, often now insensitively destroyed by contemporary development. • Development should reduce the dependence on materials, skills and technology external to the area: Area distinctiveness of historic towns is

mainly due to creative use of the local materials, resulting in a harmonious built-up as apparent in walled city of Jaipur. A need for reviving the traditional building methods with locally available materials also makes better ecological and environmental sense. • Implementation should be coordinated: Potential scenarios of planned development, while conserving, enhancing the environment and benefiting from the economic prosperity through planned tourism are plentiful in country

BIBLIOGRAPHY Feilden B.M.(1991) ‘Management of World Heritage Cities’, Safeguarding Historic Urban Ensembles in a Time of Change, Proceedings of the International Symposium on World Heritage Towns: Quebec City, Canada, 30 June - 4July, 1991:19-33 Menon, A.G.K. (1989) Cultural Identity and Urban Development, New Delhi:INTACH:1-9 Myrdal, G. (1968) Asian Drama: An Inquiry into the Poverty of Nations, Pantheon, New York NOTE The article is based on ‘Integrated Conservation and Sustainable Tourism in Goa: Vision for Panaji; unpublished research undertaken by Verma M. Poonam (2001) for MA Conservation at York, U.K.

Poonam Verma has completed her her M.A. in conservation of heritage buildings from University of York, U.K in 2000. She was coordinator projects in the Asia Development Bank funded Rajasthan Infrastructure Project which had Heritage building conservation of Jaipur and Amber as a component. She is currently based at Goa, and her firm Archinova is engaged in encapsulating and reviving the inherent wisdom of traditional building technology through their works.

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Manish Chalana tries to bridge the gap between modernity and tradition in Delhi by rethinking heritage beyond the ‘monuments and sites’ framework.


NTRODUCTION As a capital city Delhi has retained a unique position in India’s historical geography. It has continued to be a gateway to North India through which global capital and ideas flow into other parts of the country. In the recent decades due to rapid urbanisation, fuelled in part by globalisation, the city has seen considerable shifts in urban infrastructure and development. Since the neoliberal reforms of the 1990s, Delhi has actively participated in the global economy and embraced modernity in design and planning – a process that begun at the turn of the 20 th century with Edward Lutyens’ design of New Delhi, but by no means complete. The pursuit of modernity is certainly not “un-Indian”, but it has associated costs, including increasing neglect for various forms of traditional heritage that give Delhi its distinct urban characters. Yet retaining some of these traditional built environments is crucial for maintaining a sense of time and place for residents and visitors alike. It is necessary to focus on the everyday historic environments of Delhi to underscore the importance of a comprehensive approach to heritage conservation that is beyond the ‘monument and site’ framework used in current practice. The article proposes that using an expanded framework would ensure that Delhi remains ‘local’ without missing out on the promise of the ‘global’ in the years to come.

PAST AND FUTURE COLLIDE Delhi prepares to play host to the 2010 Commonwealth Games where it hopes to present to the world an image of a global metropolis with a historic soul. But in the face of rapid urbanisation and infrastructure development this may be an uphill task. In an attempt to modernise the city the new master plan: MPD 2021 proposes to abolish previous height restrictions that gave Delhi its low and sprawling urban form. Furthermore to develop modern amenities and infrastructure Delhi is participating in a massive urban renewal program of the central government: Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and using the monies earmarked for that purpose (a lion’s share of which is dedicated to major cities including Delhi). With increasing flow of capital funding urban and infrastructural development projects (including a mass transit system) the city’s past is literally colliding with its future in dramatic ways. However none of the urban upheaval has faded the appeal of Delhi among global prospectors and rural populations despite urban planners attempt at popularising “dual track” urbanisation to promote smaller and midsized cities in India. SCATTERING OF MONUMENTS AND SITES Amidst all the urban restructuring Delhi has been fairly successful in safeguarding its historic monuments and site through the work of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) that manages 172 properties in the Delhi Metro Region. The list comprises largely of exceptional monuments and archaeological sites like the Red Fort and Humayun’s Tomb. However the bulk of the historic environment outside of the monument and site framework that ASI uses for listing purposes remain neglected and threatened by rapid urbanisation. As a result non-listed properties are routinely lost to development including the recently in the news Lal Mahal in Hazrat Nizamuddin that was partially demolished in Nov 2008. In the recent decades the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), has argued for an expanded definition of heritage to include historic district and “living heritage” designations. In addition, INTACH also proposes inventorying sites over 50 years (compared to the 100 year cut off ASI uses), and of varying significance at local, regional and national levels. In an attempt to demonstrate the wealth of Delhi’s heritage, INTACH produced an exhaustive listing of over 1200 properties in the city (compared to ASI’s 172) that it considers retaining archaeological, historical or architectural significance. The listing numbers alone between INTACH and ASI exemplifies inherent ideological difference between the two agencies over what constitutes as ‘heritage’. Although INTACH defines heritage more broadly it has limited statutory powers to designate historic sites, or prevent bad things from happening to them. EXPANDING MANDATE OF HERITAGE CONSERVATION The Delhi Urban Arts Commission (DUAC) aspires to see Delhi become a world class historic destination, a task that would be difficult to achieve if the city continues to focus on preserving monuments and sites alone at the cost of surrounding historic (and vernacular) urban fabric. Imagine Paris without its unique arrondissements (districts) that retain historic (and contemporary) environments in mix use neighborhoods with distinct flavors. Paris would

the gulf not be a world class city today if it had only preserved edifices like Notre Dame and Eiffel Tower. Cities around the world from Prague to Providence have invested, to varying degrees, on their historic built environment that is not monumental. There is no doubt that monuments enrich our lives with meaning and provide a sense of history, but as David Lowethal notes, interpreting the past entirely from grand sites runs the risk of presenting a skewed perspective on history, which may be far from reality. “Although monuments act as great bundles of symbolism in the collective memories of a nation”, notes cultural geographer Peirce Lewis, they alone are like “punctuation marks in a sentence” and while important for understanding the words, “meaning cannot be preserved by collecting punctuation marks.” In the last century Delhi has collected numerous “punctuation marks” as visitors’ shuttle from one World Heritage Site to another, missing out on the richness of the built fabric surrounding these sites. RETHINKING HERITAGE CONSERVATION PRACTICE Perhaps it is time for Delhi to consider an approach to heritage conservation that might work better for managing its rich historic environments outside of the monument and site framework. For one, the city should consider expanding the types of designations to include different types of sites such as heritage areas, districts, landscapes, trails, and regions. The multiplicity of designations would allow for the development of unique treatments suited for different property types. Second, the city should also consider integrating heritage conservation with planning so that preservation practice is not isolated from the urban context. Third, the roles and responsibilities of different agencies and organisations around heritage conservation work should be streamlined to consolidate efforts and avoid duplication. The case of Lal Mahal is emblematic of the need for intra-agency coordination as it clearly demonstrated that three heritage lists maintained by different agencies (MCD, ASI and INTACH) were insufficient to prevent the demolition of a 13 th Century Islamic palace. Finally, Delhi should promote adaptive use of historic structures. Given the range of available historic stock in the city a variety of innovative projects could emerge from adaptive use such as the Olive Restaurant on Kalka Das Marg in Mehrauli that takes advantage of the historic ambience of an old Haveli to enhance the contemporary dining experience. AFTERTHOUGHTS Delhi’s historic fabric is unparalleled in the world, but at the same time the bulk of it remains vulnerable to pressures of urbanisation. The city’s planners and policymakers need to reconsider the value of urban heritage not just for the visitors, but also for the residents who have a greater stake in their immediate environment. Already there is a growing awareness in Delhi on the value of places like Shahjahanabad, even if the policies to protect them are not yet in place. A growing engagement with and around heritage in Delhi has found avenues in heritage walks, seminars and workshops that allow Delhiites to experience their city’s rich history through the lens of the everyday historic environment. While planning, policy and legislation may lag behind in ensuring that these neighborhoods will continue to remain part of the city’s changing fabric, there seems to be increasing grassroot participation challenging the status quo around issues of heritage conservation.


3 1. Historic image of Lal Mahal, Source: Unclear; Date Unknown. Used by permission from 2. 9 th Arrondissement of Paris; Boulevard Haussmann seen from the roof of Galeries Lafayette. Photo taken by Thierry Bézecourt, November 2005. Used with permission under the “GNU Free Documentation License”. on May 16, 2009. 3.Olive Restaurant on Kalka Das Marg in Mehrauli. Photo by Stuart Henshall, Used by permission.

REFERENCES 1. Anonymous [2006] Commonwealth Games 2010: conservation,restoration and upgradation of public amenities at protected monuments proposal. Delhi, Archaeological Survey of India. 2. Anonymous [2007] MPD-2021, Master Plan of Delhi. Delhi, Akalank Publications. 3. Anonymous [2009] 8-year delay hurts heritage but damage is done: The Times of India, 14 May, 2009. Retrieved on Sat, May 16, 2009 from heritage-but-damage-is-done/articleshow/4526462.cms 4. Anonymous [2009]. Save Lal Mahal! Historic Monuments falling prey to uncontrolled urbanization: http:// Retrieved on May 16, 2009. 5. Dalrymple W [2004] The rubble of the Raj. Manchester: The Guardian, 13 Nov 2004. Retrieved on May 16, 2009 from 6. Groth P [1988] Generic buildings and cultural landscapes as sources of urban history, Journal of Architectural Education. 7. Jackson J.B. [1970] Landscapes: selected writings of J. B. Jackson, Amherst, University of Massachusetts Press. 8. Lewis P. [1987] Taking down the velvet rope; cultural geography and the human landscape, in: Blatti J, ed. Past meets present: essays about historic interpretation and public audiences. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press. 9. Logan W.S. [2002] The disappearing Asian city: protecting Asia’s urban heritage in a globalizing world, New York, Oxford University Press. 10. Lynch K. [1972] What time is this place? Cambridge, MIT Press. 11. Ridge M. [2008] Historic buildings lost to Indian’s urban boom: Christian Science Monitor, Nov 26, 2008. Retrieved on Sat, May 16, 2009 from

Manish Chalana is a PhD in Planning and Design from University of Colorado. He is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Urban Design and Planning at University of Washington, Seattle. Dr Chalana’s has published in numerous journals on topic of heritage preservation planning. He is affiliated with the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH); Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) and the Council of Educators of Landscape Architecture (CELA).

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COMMUNITY AS CATALYST Parul Zaveri and Nimish Patel of Abhikram lay down the genesis of their initiative and involvement in Amber, Jaipur – a heritage movement spanning two decades.


mber, the cradle of Jaipur, remained the capital of the Kachhawah Rajputs for over 600 years, during which it developed as well as flourished in many directions, having as many as 100 different types of arts and crafts. It abounded in more than 200 temples and many beautiful Havelis. Its system of water harvesting and water conservation is a lesson from history, which even today surprises the professionals and the administrators. For many decades in recent past, the city has stood abandoned, neglected or abused. Its ruins are being used as a source of building materials for making new buildings, which shows neither any respect for the past, nor any responsibility towards its future. It still remains, however, one of the oldest surviving examples of our traditional attitudes to sustainability, in the planning and in the use of our settlements, in a holistic manner. IT DEMONSTRATES EVEN TODAY THAT: • Despite its relatively small scale in area and population, it has every element of a complete settlement • Adverse conditions, such as the difficult landforms with undulating contours, and scanty rainfall of the area, can be converted to derive advantages for itself that other settlements do not offer; • It is possible to judiciously utilise and intelligently manage the scarce resources, such as the water, by harvesting the rainwater from the surrounding areas and collecting it for use in the form of man-made lakes; • The approach and attitude of sustainable development continues to be relevant even after eight centuries of existence. THE INITIATIVES AND THE CONSEQUENCES OVER A 20 YEAR PERIOD: In 1988, we became involved in the conservation of Amber town, with the initiation of J. P. (John) Singh, Secretary, INTACH Jaipur Chapter. This was the beginning of an extremely educative, enlightening, eye opening and rewarding journey that had the fortune to see its culmination in the Heritage Conservation Movement, the central intent of the journey, which is experienced in Jaipur and Amber today.

1989-98 took us through the holistic understanding and detailed studies of the context, as well as conservation proposals, with the help of INTACH, students of architecture from India & Australia. These enthused a few well meaning Government officers from the Jaipur Municipal Corporation, Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation and the Rajasthan Housing Board, to undertake isolated efforts towards the cause. With each presentation of our studies and proposals, we could see the increasing awareness levels about the heritage as well as the need for its conservation. This cumulative work was recognised by the Indian Institute of Architects with a Conservation Award. Traditional craft persons began to find more opportunities for employment of their skills and knowledge. The major milestone came after the recognition of the conservation of a haveli ruin (now known as the Anokhi Museum), which received the UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Conservation 2000 Award in the ‘Excellent’ category. A visionary Government of Rajasthan administrator took an unprecedented step of allocating Rs 50 crores for the heritage conservation of Jaipur and Amber as a part of Rs 500 crores investment in Jaipur, by the Rajasthan Urban Infrastructure Development Project (RUIDP). INTACH Jaipur chapter, under our leadership, and with the help of young and inexperienced, but enthusiastic professionals, undertook the mammoth task of appropriate utilisation of this single largest allocation by any Government since independence, to the cause of heritage conservation. 2001-04 saw this team establish the methodologies, the procedures and the documents, for observing the heritage buildings, recording the observations, identifying the interventions and converting them into proposals as well as tenders, confirming to the constraints of the Government, as well as those of financing institutions. Major pitfalls of non-availability of contractors with heritage conservation experience, were overcome by convincing and training the inexperienced contractors, assisting them with experienced supervision. The heritage conservation work under the RUIDP from 2001-2004 has proved to be the most significant invention in heritage conservation efforts in the recent past anywhere in the country. Large-scale Heritage conservation projects and establishment of the Amber Development & Management Authority followed soon.

Meagre resources, non-existent Government support and a holistic understanding of our cultural heritage led to the inclusion of people within the extended definition of resources. The meaning of heritage was not restricted to buildings only, but included the entire Heritage Fabric of the settlement. The beginnings were humble and basic. The intent was to make people aware of the importance of our cultural heritage, its continued relevance in their present lives, and the need to conserve it.

Parallel to this, the ideas and the projects initiated by the original team of 1989 were pursued in the form of annual Jaipur International Heritage Festival, beginning with 2002, which now hosts more than 100 events spread over 40 venues, and attracts close to a lakh people from Jaipur, various parts of India and abroad. Most of the initiatives have expanded beyond our expectations, and continue to gather momentum. The lessons for us have been to continue to initiate actions, which are so inherently appropriate for the purpose, the cause and the context that they snowball by themselves.The tipping point seems to have arrived in 20 years.





movements Faith Singh, the initiator of the Jaipur Virasat Foundation shares the development of a ground-up, community-based approach to conservation and heritage management in the context of India’s modernising democracy in Jaipur, Rajasthan. Photographs: Faith Singh & Abhikram


ur journey is of a group of concerned citizens working in Rajasthan, mostly from the base of Jaipur. We were a group of people who cared and were in the fortunate position of having time or skills to engage, and we got together in the early 80s to conserve the extraordinary heritage of our region. My personal experience was Anokhi – the successful and contemporary repositioning of a traditional Rajasthan skill into the modern economy through creative and innovative management, that has created year-round livelihood opportunities for large numbers of people for the past three decades. For the historic built environment we were fortunate to encounter Abhikram from Ahmedabad and this association opened for us windows into the rich and unknown world of Rajasthan’s stone building skills and traditional technologies. We worked voluntarily through INTACH Jaipur and Rajasthan Chapters, and from the outset it was a holistic conservation approach. Magnificent buildings and monuments in sorry states of neglect and disrepair – let’s get them restored for a start! As we worked at the ground level through the 80s and 90s we discovered what a treasure of skills, crafts, artistry and knowledge this word loosely referred to as ‘Indian heritage’ represents. We also discovered that we had to unlearn most of what we thought we knew. These were not just skills in a mechanical sense. Nor are they mere evidences of a past no longer relevant or with us! They are living knowledge and living wisdom and living appropriate technologies that still lie with many people. We saw that the skills and know how that we encountered through our interest in ‘heritage’ represent centuries of practice and practical wisdom, honed and refined to make life sweeter in a harsh and demanding climate, in the context of particular materials, scaled to particular economies, and to support specific values and life styles. Our heritage in all its diversity and richness represents India’s unique ability to absorb, adapt and create wonders from often very simple and inexpensive materials as it cares for and nourishes its peoples. The result is a most particular and highly sophisticated knowledge bank reflecting so many aspects of our unique national character! It is inseparable



from our distinctive Indian-ness. If we lose it, we lose our connectivity with the living roots that feed and renew our particular nature. By the 90s, as development accelerated, in spite of our attempts at conservation, we were increasingly alarmed to see the entire character of our city and country changing and our heritage disappearing before our eyes – skylines, landscapes, community spaces, settlements, buildings, arts, crafts, food habits, health practices, water conservation practices: the list has no end. As we witnessed and noted the problems, we asked ourselves what could be done to prevent the loss. Lack of ownership and perceived lack of relevance led to rapid deterioration of newly restored buildings and public monuments: how can the public get engaged? Enlightened civil servants took initiatives which were then disturbed mid-project due to transfers: can mechanisms be devised to provide continuity in spite of shifts in the administration? Non government agencies and experts took on projects and came a cropper as local government agencies failed to complete payments: how can this be avoided? State government falling foul of its own constraints as it implements sensitive conservation work with inadequate skills and capacity and damages heritage sites irretrievably rather than preserving them and the conservationist’s adage “Benign neglect is preferable to wrong intervention”: could the administration be the enabler and outsource professionals to plan and manage specialist work of this nature? By the millennium, we saw the need for a local body, a citizen movement no less, so we registered Jaipur Virasat Foundation (JVF) as a society in 2002. JVF was born out of the need to create an identity that local people could feel was theirs. We had seen that conservation interventions that do not engage a wide public constituency have only limited value - when poverty is widespread and severe, the investment has to make a palpable difference to people’s lives. Ours is a vibrant democracy; the people make their demands. Our hope through JVF was to find this link of ‘making a difference’. Only with that link in place

1. Precision and ingenuity of a 3’ staircase cantilevered from masonary wall. 2. Traditional Dome Construction in Stone & Lime near Jaipur(2). 3. Traditional Mirror work (Thekri) in Progress, 2009. 4. Use of Traditional Technology in Udaipur, 2009. 5. RUIDP Conservation Work 2001-04, Preparing Lime Plaster Mix. 6. Ongoing Conservation Work in Amber-Post, 2004.


7 could a space be embedded in the public mindset – the people, government, civil society and the development sector – for heritage-based and heritage sensitive development.

RIFF, an international festival of folk music. Most importantly, we believe, we have learned that rather than thinking of the heritage challenge as one of conservation, the need is to look at it as resource management.

So we set about catalysing public discourse to involve all key local stakeholders. We started a city festival, based in our local living heritage – the folk arts alongwith fine arts and crafts and traditions within traditional (heritage) spaces of our historic city and region. People were invited from all walks of life to participate either in the content itself, or in shaping content through small special interest groups. Children and young people were engaged. We sought to reach out to all segments. The need was clearly for new strategies – ground up strategies that could be useful in the heritage rich, traditional society that still prevails in much of India and is in a hurry to be modern and like the West.

Our country has to progress and modernise and many people are desperate for a better life. With appropriate management, investment and capacity building amongst their custodians – mostly traditional peoples who are anyway marginalised by the past decades of industry and technology-based development – our heritage resources can support steady livelihood for many by becoming revenue generating assets for a contemporary, creative economy. India’s arts, crafts and traditional skills are unparalleled. Increasing numbers of people worldwide support themselves through creative economies – making new ways of earning livelihood based on human skills and resources. Unlike the oil based economy that set the pattern and expectations for our modern times, human and heritage based resources are infinitely renewable and endlessly sustainable.

JVF has now existed for seven years. In these seven years the word virasat has become almost a brand in Rajasthan. For most people who know it and feel for it, it is not connected with JVF but rather it refers to our dynamic, living heritage. Creative festivals are much better understood now for their wide reaching potential. And to reposition the folk arts of our region - one of the strongest elements and attractions of our still living cultural heritage - JVF has worked with the Mehrangarh Museum Trust to create the annual Jodhpur

If heritage resources are to be conserved and invested for the benefit of the people, there is an acute need for new management mechanisms. At present the Rajasthan government is exploring the possibility of a single over-arching body for the conservation, management and development of

both tangible and intangible heritage in the state. There is a need for this as they are interconnected. We need ways to give structure and value to the management of all heritage assets, not just our forts and historic landmarks. Too long have we defined heritage as monuments in the care of the underfunded ASI and departments of art and culture – backward looking and of historic relevance only! Perceived as integral to and inseparable from contemporary urban planning, rural development, and the management of the environment – heritage management is the management of an irreplaceable and highly diverse resource bank. While we develop and provide infrastructure, roads, water, housing, transport – all that we need to function as a modern society - we can at the same time nourish our roots, feed them and care for them. And what are these roots – our traditional peoples, their knowledge, skills and arts and the built evidences of earlier times.

7. RUDIP conservation work in progress on one of the city gates. 8 & 11. Anokhi UNESCO award winning Haveli before and after restoration. 9. Pabuji ka Phad expert workshop. 10. Folk artists perform during the Jaipur festival.





For successful, sustainable heritage management, on the scale that India demands (given its extraordinary resources and urgent need for people centric development) conservation has to be the self-perpetuating outcome of culture-based economic activity, owned widely by the people. Equal to restoration and conservation, the focus has to be to catalyse income generating activities based in ‘heritage’ through local knowledge, skills, arts, crafts which vest with the local people. There are increasing numbers of specialised agencies working in these differing creative fields, both NGO and entrepreneurial who can be engaged to kick start such an approach all over India. The investment moreover may be seen as an effective development focussed interpretation of the community awareness and participation program usually planned as part of public conservation budgeting. The time is right for progressive, holistic and grand scale management of India’s heritage. If we don’t do it now, the odds are most of our heritage will be lost within the span of the next generation – hardly twenty years from today. The need is critical.

Faith Singh is the Founder Trustee of Jaipur Virasat Foundation, a charitable trust, started to catalyse heritage-based social and economic development in Rajasthan and co-founder of Anokhi, an alternative role model for good social entrepreneurship, and the ongoing revival of traditional textile skills in Jaipur.

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CITY FOR THE PEOPLE Debashish Nayak and P V Nair introduce us to the efforts that have been taken in Ahmedabad to sensitise the city towards their heritage including educational trails and awareness programmes by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation as well as international collaborations. Photographs: Courtesy the authors


NTRODUCTION Familiarity breeds contempt. Citizens get accustomed to their environment and gradually become less aware of it. The city becomes a habit. Herein lies the need to make the citizens aware of the importance of their built environment and to help them develop a harmonious and contemporary relationship with it. In a sense, urban renewal does not just rebuild the city; it rebuilds people’s relationship with the city. There lies a need that the old buildings and older areas of the city be looked upon as assets rather than as liabilities because they represent the history of communities, embodying their tradition, heritage and culture through architecture and the urban form. BACKGROUND Ahmedabad, a city with more than 600 years of continuous history and culture was founded by Sultan Ahmedshah-I on the ancient sites of Ashaval

1. Arts Reverie before and after conservation. 2. Binaben Bhrambhatt’s house before and after conservation.

movements and Karnavati in the year 1411 (AD). The city was taken over by the Mughals in 1574 followed by Marathas, and later administered by the British from 1818, until 1947. Ahmedabad is well known for its highly ornate historic mosques and tombs built in sand stone and artistic Hindu and Jain temples. The city which was known as “Manchester of the East” has acquired its new found fame due to its association with India’s freedom movement and Mahatma Gandhi. Ahmedabad now with an urban population of over 50 lakhs, is the seventh largest city of India and is poised to acquire Mega City status. Ahmedabad’s built heritage is not limited to historic monuments. The carved wooden domestic architecture in the Pols of the old city is in no way artistically inferior to the historic stone mosques or temples. The traditional houses of the rich in the Pols, called Havelis display fabulous wood work and sculpture (Pol is a traditional micro neighbourhood with cluster of residential buildings protected by a gate, generally occupied by people belonging to a particular caste, religion or profession). There are nearly 600 Pols in the Walled city of Ahmedabad. EDUCATIONAL INITIATIVES Heritage educational programme, like any other similar programmes can be successful only when the community comes forward to support and initiate related activities. This is possible when the local people, to whom the very heritage belongs understands its value, takes pride and establishes a sense of belonging. One of the well known ways to make any programme successful and sustainable is to involve young people particularly school children. “Catch them young” approach will be more rewarding, as they grow up and become responsible citizens, they will not only carry on the cultural heritage initiatives, on their own, but also pass on the same tradition to the generation next and then the

process will continue automatically. This process can be termed as shaping of attitudes. Centre for Environment Education (CEE), Nehru Foundation for Development, Ahmedabad conceived a programme called ‘Cultural Trails’. School Children were taken to the monuments in the walled city to understand the history and cultural heritage of the city. THE ROLE OF AHMEDABAD MUNICIPAL CORPORATION Concerned with the rapid decline of cultural heritage resources, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation with the help of Ford Foundation, New Delhi undertook a study in 1985 to initiate policies for better preservation of heritage of Ahmedabad. Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) invited The Conservation and Research of Urban Traditional Architecture (CRUTA) Foundation, Kolkata to help take measures to arrest decay and preserve the city’s heritage in 1996. The AMC with the expert assistance from CRUTA had set up a Heritage Cell within the Municipal Corporation in 1996 with the following aims and objectives: · Create awareness regarding heritage resources and develop a comprehensive plan for the conservation of the old city of Ahmedabad. · Promote the traditional built forms. · Support participatory action programme. · Coordinate efforts of different disciplines, stake holders and authorities. · Undertake tasks related to the promotion of traditional built forms, mobilising finance and resources that were not otherwise available to the area. · Interface with concerned citizens public and private sectors.





The following explains the strategic interventions undertaken, over several years, by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) towards heritage conservation and development of built heritage in the Walled City of Ahmedabad. After undertaking a number of surveys, studies and initiatives, and learning from its experiences, AMC is now in a position to articulate the methodology of these initiatives. We believe that this methodology is replicable in many old city centres to conserve our cultural and architectural heritage. HERITAGE WALK In order to propogate and popularlise the city’s heritage the AMC in association with the CRUTA Foundation launched a heritage walk through the historic core of the old city in 1997. The first such walk ever was started by the CRUTA Foundation in Kolkata in the year 1988. Now the Heritage Walks of Ahmedabad has become a national model and many cities like Jodhpur, Udaipur, Jaipur, Amritsar, Pondicherry, Cochin and Delhi etc. are replicating it. It will not be in-appropriate, if we state that launching of the Heritage Walk was the turning point for the conservation movement in Ahmedabad. AWARENESS PROGRAMMES Educational awareness programmes like freedom walk around the houses connected with the history of the Indian freedom struggle, celebration of the birthday of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose at Dhobi-ni-pol and Kavi Sammelan (poets’ meet) were organised to arouse local pride, which resulted in the installation of statues of prominent Gujarati Poets, Kavi Dalpatram and poet-seer Akha Bhagat in the respective areas where they lived.



Street signage have been provided at the entrance of the pols to provide recognition and identity to the residents, heritage products “pothi” (Traditional account book), miniature models artifacts, mats, coasters calendars etc. have been prepared to promote heritage. STREET SIGNAGE PROGRAMME A street signage programme was launched where street plaques bearing the name of the area and municipal symbols were displayed at the entrance of each pol, providing recognition and identity. REVIVAL OF PANCH SYSTEM A project to revive old panch system (local self-governance) in the walled city with the help of public participation was started in collaboration with the Ahmedabad Community Foundation (ACF). The project aims at recognising the panch, the key persons for information dissemination, as formal representatives and thus helps improve living conditions in the pol, ensuring continuity of the local self governing system.

3. Bird feeder at Dev ni Sheri before and after conservation. 4. Hatkeshvar Temple before being conserved and after conservation. 5. House of Arvind Soni - comparing before and after. 6. Jagdeep Mehta’s house - original and restored. 7. Karanj Chabutro’s original state and revival. 8. Conservation of Stepwell at Guptanagar.

7 Street plays with participation of the local community and eminent personalities from the area were organised, bringing people together on a common platform to understand the issues related to tangible and intangible heritage in the city. INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION • AMC-FRENCH GOVERNMENT COLLABORATION International partners should be involved to share the experiences of various agencies working in this field. This will give a wider perspective and awareness of the methods and approaches. On 14 th of January 2000, the AMC signed a MOU with the French Government for a scientific study of the Walled City. The AMC-France collaboration has produced a very valuable document titled ‘Recommendations for the Conservation and Revitalisation of the Walled City of Ahmedabad.’ Another significant activity conducted under this collaboration is identification and tentative listing of more than 15000 heritage properties in the old city, out of which 500 are of exceptional value. • WORLD MONUMENTS FUND LISTING Walled City of Ahmedabad was included in the list of endangered heritage sites by the World Monuments Fund during the year 1998-1999. This was used to intensify the conservation activities in Walled City and generate international attention. • HUDCO-AMC COLLABORATION Housing finance and building repair loan segment could play an important role. On 31 st January 2000, HUDCO board has approved the heritage exploration with investment in the septennial of a Heritage sector. On the 18 th of April, on the occasion of World Heritage day a MOU was signed between AMC and HUDCO for detailing the financial implication in this sector. Six heritage property owners have already availed building repair loan from HUDCO. • CHABUTARA (BIRD FEEDER) RESTORATION Chabutaras are one of the major elements in the Walled city of Ahmedabad and they are under destruction due to various reasons. They are being identified, restored and used properly. An initiative has already been taken by Jain Trust, citizen groups and AMC to comprehend the situation. • CHILDREN’S BOOKS ON STORIES ABOUT THE CITY Books depicting the history of the city are being published in simple language thus creating the awareness among children. The first book showing the character of Manek Baba, a saint character connected to Ahmedabad

8 Foundation is under preparation for primary schools. Recently a small book for children titled “Memories of My Pol in Old Ahmedabad” has been published by a city based publisher with the help of the Heritage Cell. • WATER CONSERVATION There are a number of underground Traditional tankas (Water Tanks) in many of the old city houses and these can be reused for rainwater harvesting and water conservation. In-fact a number of abandoned tankas in the old city houses how been revived and put to reuse. • CELEBRATION OF HERITAGE FESTIVALS Heritage festival coinciding World the Heritage Week are being regularly organised with public private participation in Ahmedabad, incorporating heritage related activities, such as guided visits to historic areas, museums, painting and essay competitions, talks and varieties of cultural programme in order to directly connect the community to heritage. • CONSERVATION RESTORATION PROJECTS UNDERTAKEN In fact, like any other disciplines, in the field of conservation also theory alone is of no use unless it is brought in to practice. In the context of heritage conservation the end results that enable us to safely hand over the heritage to the future generations matter the most. In Ahmedabad over a hundred heritage properties, some of them with exceptional values like city walls, bird feeders, temples, havelis, woodcrafted pol houses, step wells and Institutional buildings have been conserved and restored using locally available traditional building material and skills. As many numbers of private properties are also restored/repaired with the technical guidance of the Heritage Cell. This process has helped the local craft persons, technicians and restoration agencies to upgrade their skill. • THE CHALLENGE AHEAD In-spite of having achieved some satisfactory results in Ahmedabad and few other cities in our country, cultural heritage preservation, particularly the built heritage, poses a formidable challenge. For restoration of heritage properties, restoration of mind set and developing of attitudes amongst citizens is of utmost importance. Proper education and awareness, legal frame work, listing and maintaining regional and National registers, allocation of finance, training artisans, technicians, engineers and architects could ensure a dignified and healthy existence of our built heritage.

Shri Debashish Nayak is the Advisor, Heritage Programme at the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation & Shri P.K.V. Nair is the Heritage Conservation Consultant at the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation.

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Any response model for urban safety must largely emerge from a perception of what constitutes this phenomenon under special circumstances. Defensive, reflexive, adaptive or preventive…? In a land once scarred by the ravages of partition and violence… normative notions may be limiting. Cultural Resource Conservation Initiative, CRCI explores a unique potential of ‘Heritage’ in purging the physical, social, economic and spiritual insecurities of the communities in Punjab. Text: Jinisha Jain Photographs/Drawings: Courtesy CRCI



hen asked how Gurmeet Rai, the Director and Founder of Cultural Resource Conservation Initiative (CRCI), defined her role as a conservation architect, she quipped, “I do not define my role to a title but to a particular work at a project site…I feel like a doctor and go in as one with a remedy for each site.” In contrast to a methodology that aims on the physical treatment of historic structures as a means to extend their life, CRCI’s ‘remedies’ are both pragmatic and culturally-healing. The corpus of its works in Punjab is immense. In offering comprehensive conservation assistance for tangible and intangible heritage, cultural reserves are seen as not only the symbols of past but as opportunities for capacity building and as anchors of a community’s secure future. Heritage goes hand in hand with health, education, gender parity and livelihoods in creating environments that are safer. Safety means: wellbeing, protection of people and their possessions, sharing responsibilities, eliminating fears and minimising uncertainties. As Gurmeet expresses, “Heritage conservation can be used as a tool for enhancing urban safety. Urban safety for me is when the civil society absorbs the insecurities of the local communities. A lot has to do with the perception of safety, the unknown is always threatening. Heritage conservation can potentially provide the platform necessary for an essential dialogue in perceiving/ creating an environment to be safe. This idea was reinforced in our minds with the Culture of Peace project that has been truly the foundation of our work. The first of course was the identification of the elements through the listing process. A great learning indeed…” From this learning, CRCI discovered what would evolve to be a salient feature of its existent methodology – to reach out to the community, draw them out (through their participation and involvement) and finally make them available their heritage in a manner that is meaningful to them and sustainable for heritage. Interestingly, CRCI has come a full circle, as now it is substantially using the same database that it built in its initial years to make Conservation and Management Plans, Master Tourism Plans, Destination Development Plans and many other large and small scale proposals for numerous sites in Punjab. The last two years have seen the organisation explore the perspective of sustainable





106 tourism. To quote Gurmeet, “Tourism can be seen as a tool for peace… it has a lot of resource available and it has the potential to improve infrastructure and encourage people to interact and experience in more ways than one but this has to be guided. Tourism does not have to be sensationalised…it must provide for the needs of the user yet not compromise the values. We need to set good examples of doing this. As a recent instant, the development of Amritsar as a tourism destination funded by the Government of India explores tourism and urban renewal under areas of health, education, habitat and livelihood.” The composite cultural heritage conservation strategy adopted in the small 17 th century princely town of Nabha has been a good demonstration of this process, though it was catalysed by a privately-funded body, the Nabha

1 (previous page) & 3. Roof Conservation of Kishankot temple. 2. Consultant explaining the project plan to Baba Kirtan Singh, the head of the Tarna Dal of the Nihang Sikhs. They are the caretakers of the site as all historical sites associated with the sixth Sikh Guru are managed by the Nihang Sikhs. 4. The community clearing the jungle around the complex. 5. School children being informed of the historical and cultural significance of the site by a research scholar associated with the project. 6 &7. Examples of religious structured conserved and maintained with help from community. 8. (previous page) Front Elevation of Guru ki Maseet. Only emergency stabilisation was undertaken in the phase 1 for a total sum of 8 lakhs by mobilising the community. 9. Map showing location of various sites for conservation. 10. Langar for workers. 11. Work in progress at Krishan Mandir.

CULTURE OF PEACE PROJECT- FOUNDATION OF CRCI’S CONSERVATION APPROACH The firm founded in 1996, took off with the first major task being the listing and compilation of inventories for some 2000 old structures in Punjab. The turn of a new millennium marked a turn for CRCI as well. Their Peace Project as part of UNESCO’S Culture of Peace Programme in the year 2000, was a special project meant to find ways of overcoming uncertainties introduced by violence and ethnic strife over several hundred years of Punjab’s volatile past. While there is a conspicuous lack of ‘monumental heritage’, unprotected ‘little heritage’ in the form of sacred structures, forts and palaces of local importance, abounds the rural and urban Punjab. Consequently, CRCI used a unique approach of restoring monuments as ‘an act of faith’. The monuments were seen as common symbols and spaces that address the discontinuities introduced by time and history; as means of filling up social vacuums and strengthening the sense of community as linked to the sense of a shared heritage. The Krishan Mandir in Kishankot village-Gurdaspur-Punjab, a small project of some 300 sqm. which got the first UNESCO award of distinction to the organisation in 2001, illustrated practically the concept of Restoration as a Social Process. Built in 1830’s, the temple houses wall paintings on themes concerned with Hindu gods, the fabled poet Kabir, the 10th Sikh Guru and scenes from Ranjit Singh’s court. Moreover, the Hindu temple is looked after by the Sikh community living around. It was one of the three sites chosen for the Peace Project. The local community provided input not only in the form of seva (voluntary service) and waged labour, but also in the form of suggestions and ideas. Similarly, restoration of the muslim dargah of Baba Shah Badr Diwan in Masanian, looked after by the Christian community and Guru ki Maseet, a 17th century mosque on the river Beas, built for his Muslim subjects by the 6th Sikh Guru Hargobind and maintained by the Nihang Sikhs, became another critical exercise in discovering and conserving democratic values. Cutting across religious, gender and age boundaries, the conservation works tried to involve women, children and elderly members of the community, the most vulnerable groups of the society, while also empowering them. Non-formal education, recreation, waste-disposal, health-awareness and other local community needs were met, besides craft-revival. In the absence of available statutory mechanisms; alternative ways of engaging the professionals, the community and the State were explored fundamentals which were thoroughly absorbed and developed in the later projects.

7 Foundation. An extract from the Project Document states: Nabha has a 6 primarily agrarian economy, and is facing the problems of an agricultural and environmental crisis, a stagnant economy, health issues including HIV AIDS and social concerns including demotivated youth, gender marginalisation and lack of educational and employment opportunities. As such it portrays the picture of a typical small town in Punjab at the vanguard of urbanism sated with a range of problems the most critical being a fast-diffusing cultural identity. As a response that may become a



9 role-model for implementation in other places, Nabha Foundation has formulated a multi-programme strategy integrating various sectors. As part of its Cultural Heritage Programme, it has selected strategic sites that can engage the community and the policy makers. The privatisation of Qila Mubarak and its proposed reuse as an institution of higher education, and conservation of Samadhi of Raja Hamir Singh, Samadhi of Jaswant Singh and the only surviving city gate-Duladhi Gate have already initiated programme implementation. To draw a small example in illustrating how culture underpins mainstream development in these pilot projects by CRCI – adjacent to the complex wall of Hamir Singh’s Samadhi, is the home of the Sevadar, an old lady, who had been given the ritual service (seva) of sweeping the area and performing a small daily ritual at the shrine. Their family has been engaged in a dialogue and her granddaughter been given a scholarship to complete her higher education.The family now looks after the whole site, interacts with visitors and reports on any threats. The site earlier used as a garbage-dump has now become the much-required open space of the densely built neighbourhood, where children can play and the residents relax. Moreover, a sustainable substitute model for the safety of such legally unprotected cultural heritage and those living around has been put in place. Needless to say, the unique approach of engaging different sections of community in restoring Monuments as Seva, while not compromising the scientific bases of an interdisciplinary methodology and reinforcing a judicious selection of programmatic actions for implementation by multiple sectors, in the right balance between the State, Market and Civil Society, is truly the foundation of CRCI’s works. Currently, a programme for sustainable tourism development through two important cultural rubrics in underway: the Freedom Struggle and the notion of Pilgrimage. These encapsulate the most significant values and aspirations of the people of Punjab, and are inextricably linked across history by a common thread. The latest is a proposal for creation of a Trans-Border Peace Park, inspired by the Hiroshima Peace Park. The sacred geography of the NorthWestern part of East Punjab along the borders of Pakistan, particularly the area between the rivers Beas and Ravi in the districts of Amritsar and Gurdaspur, is punctuated with sacred sites that signify cultural coexistence and compositeness. The region is thus seen as appropriate



for the development of ‘Trans-National Peace Park’ or ‘Goodwill Destination’. The sacred journey would unfold between two nodal pointsfrom the town of Sultanpur Lodhi in India where Guru Nanak attained enlightenment and uttered his first message to the world ‘there is no Hindu, no Musalmann’, to nine other consecrated destinations in India before finally terminating at the Kartarpur Gurudwara in Pakistan where Guru Nanak spent his last years, preaching rightful living, communal harmony and a culture of peace. The pilgrimage circuit prepares the building blocks which would eventually lead to the creation of the Peace Park. As part of this, conservation planning of Dargah of Baba Shah Badr Diwan in Masanian; sites at Batala; Guru ki Maseet, Sri Hargodindpur and Palace of Maharaja Sher Singh in Batala (Campus of Christian Baring College) will ensure engagement of the multi religious groups directed by common objectives . Also as Guru ki Maseet, enters its second phase of conservation and the Gilani family, the original Muslim caretakers of the Masanian Dargah come from Lahore, (1) to offer their silent prayers at the shrine of Baba Shah Badr Diwan and extol the Christian caretaker who has faithfully kept his inherited promise made 60 years ago; one is re-assured that the culture of peace is to stay. Better still, it is to extend.

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CONSERVATION IS VIABLE Manish Chakraborti & Soham De explain the different approaches they have used to restore a Parish church and a residential bungalow built in Kolkata in the 18th and the 19th century respectively. Photographs: Courtesy the authors

2 1. The wooden spiral staircase of Tagore Hall, Kolkata. 2. The restored spiral staircase of Tagore Hall, 2008. 3. The sagging roof of the living room of Tagore Hall, before. 4. The balcony of Tagore Hall, unutilised and the leaking roof. 5. The conserved living room of Tagore Hall, 2008. 6. The conserved Tagore Hall, with a traditionally designed marble flooring, 2008.



/s. Continuity, a conservation design practice, founded in 1998 by conservation architect Manish Chakraborti has a core competence in conservation of heritage buildings and has a wide network of professional associates and is one of the leading firm based in Kolkata. Continuity is passionately engaged in conservation advice, conservation planning, and conservation projects in Kolkata and Rajasthan for the last several years ranging from residential houses, to churches and chapels, to forts and urban conservation. The first project was Conservation of house of Vidyasagar in the year 1998. Vidyasagar (whose name means Ocean of Learning) bought this 1840s two-storied house in North Kolkata to keep his collection of 20,000 books

and to accommodate his relatives and friends from neighbouring villages. Following his demise, his family members rented the house. Slowly the house slipped into decay over the years and the tenants were unwilling to leave the property. Finally the government of West Bengal settled with the tenants with a financial package and decided to restore, for posterity. The house is a load bearing brick structure with traditional lime mortar and plastered surface with projecting arched and louvered verandah. When we saw the structure, the roof was leaking from all corners, the walls were damp, the dampness was rising, the plasters debonded and wooden beams were sagged. Following a detailed documentation and estimation for its repair, the work was undertaken using traditional materials for its

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plaster, strengthening and removing the wooden beams, repairing the wooden louvers and recasting the lime concrete roof, wherever necessary and appropriate. The house was restored in a span of nine months at a cost which was three to four times less as compared to bringing up a new building in the same area, thus making conservation of the house economically viable. The project of Vidyasagar taught us many lessons and informed us about many practical issues for executing conservation projects. The sourcing of authentic materials like limestone and shell lime, sand blasted cast iron, lime punning (araish) as opposed to plaster of Paris; the use of lime paint for the exterior and to make it more durable by traditional admixtures;

the traditional method of lime terracing are all possible and a continuing tradition. Above all, celebrating conservation works by investing in traditional masons and not so much on new materials always, gave a new meaning to our conservation and design practice. We present two of our recent projects in Kolkata last year. The first one is St John‘s Church built in 1787 which is a nationally protected monument and one of the first Parish churches of Bengal which inspired many church designs in India. The second is Tagore Hall, a residential two-storied bungalow built around 1840s in Kolkata. The conservation approach was responsive to the difference in significance of the two structures.


7 ST JOHN’S CHURCH The Conservation of exterior façade of St John’s Church of 1787 is one of the oldest cathedral in India was planned and drawn by M/s Continuity and supported by the American Express through the World Monuments Fund. The church was built in same style and form as St Martin’s in the fields in London and is an inspiration to many churches in India. The project entailed a detailed documentation, survey, testing of mortar and plaster composition and structural assessment of the historic fabric in order to identify items of repair works and draw a detailed specification for its authentic conservation. The project started in August 2008 and was completed in March 2009. Absolutely essential repair works were undertaken and the use of compatible materials was the key strategy of its conservation. The continuity of the same traditional material for plastering the debonded plaster was followed. The rising dampness was addressed by grouting polymer modified lime surkhi to create a watertight zone to arrest the rising damp. The tower was pointed with cement, the trees were growing freely, and the limestone cladded surface was having deposits of black soots. The de-weeding of the roots was done by gradual application of non toxic chemical. The previous cement pointing was scraped and repointed with lime surkhi mortar and the stone surface was cleaned

8 7. The vegetative growth, the cement pointing of the tower of St John’s Church before conservation. 8. The conserved St John’s Church in 2009. 9. The debonded plaster, and dilapidated house of Vidyasagar. 10. The conserved house of Vidyasagar, 1998.

using a non-ionic surfactant. The entire exterior surface was then lime-washed as original. TAGORE HALL The conservation of Tagore Hall, a two-storied bungalow in South Kolkata, was timely recovered from a state of extreme dilapidation into a very high end quality space for residential living for the group Chairman of Goodricke Group Limited, a part of the Camellia PlC UK, the largest tea producer in the world. The house belonged to Rathindranath Tagore, brother of the illustrious Rabindranath Tagore. The building was unsafe as a portion of the roof had collapsed and the beams and runners supporting the ceiling had sagged, the central wooden

staircase too had collapsed. In the absence of any plan of the bungalow, a detailed documentation, condition survey and inspection was conducted to draw a Conservation Plan and an Adaptive Reuse Plan for residential use by giving back the the original space layout of the building. A portion of the roof was re-laid with reinforced precast tiles supported by renewed rolled steel joist where necessary, covered by a screed concrete. Thus the method of construction was continued similar to traditional terracotta tiles and lime concrete over beams and runners, but the material used was steel and not wooden beams, RCC precast tiles instead of terracotta tiles, screed concrete instead of lime concrete. The walls were deplastered, pointed, and joint sealed and replastered with composite mortar. The strategy for conserving Tagore Hall was not material conservation, like in the St John’s Church, where it was important to retain as much as the original material of the fabric, but to adopt a responsive repair method that continues akin to the spirit and method of constructing the structure of Tagore Hall. This was also to accommodate the services for modern living like concealed wiring for electricals and air-conditioning. The original spiral wooden staircase was strengthened and restored, and the bed rooms and living/drawing rooms which were subdivided by partition walls were recovered and aesthetically presented with period furnitures as a part of the idiom of interior design. 9


Thus we see different approaches and strategies of conservation responsive to difference in significance of the structures. In Kolkata and many cities of India, conservation is shrouded with misunderstanding that it is not possible to conserve and recover a heritage building with a lesser cost. In other words conservation is expensive. This argument is often created by developers to curb the slightest opportunity to even think of weighing an option in favour of conserving a structure. However we learnt through our practice and firmly believe that Conservation means judicious, informed, responsive and appropriate repair to recover a building for the present and future use which makes it economical and viable.

Manish Chakraborti is a conservation architect who practices architecture and conservation from his firm M/s Continuity in Kolkata and Rajasthan. Soham De is an architect working with M/s Continuity.

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Divay Gupta and Akhila Agrawal narrate the story of the revival of Gohar Mahal in Bhopal the political nucleus during the reign of Qudsiya Begum. Photographs: Courtesy the author


NTRODUCTION Bhopal with its wide roads, lush greenery, luxuriant urban spaces and modern buildings holds an exceptional position in the history of the country. Most of the historic structures are in a ruined and uncared for state but some have stood the testimony of time and are still being used by the public. Besides these monuments another attractive feature of this historic city is the presence of numerous lakes. The largest and oldest of the lakes called Bara Talab (upper lake) is a thousand year old heritage and still supplies the city with water. Equally old is King Bhoja’s dam that holds this talab. Till about 1819 AD this city did not witness any major construction of historic significance due to the repeated attacks by outsiders. In that year a treaty with the East India Company came to effect that ensured a security against invasions and thus started the era of economic prosperity of the city. QUDSIYA GOHAR JAHEN BEGUM (RULE: 1818-1837) Bhopal being the second most important Muslim state after Hyderabad has a unique history of being ruled by women Nawabs for more than a century

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(1819-1926).These rulers contributed greatly towards the architectural, cultural and administrative reforms that marked a golden era in the history of this well planned and fast developing city. The first of these women rulers who came to power was Qudsiya Begum (born in 1801). Her reign began when she was only seventeen years old after she became a widow at a young age. She rose to a powerful position by exhibiting exceptional administrative qualities in spite of being completely illiterate. The waterworks and the pipelines in this state today are her greatest contributions towards the welfare of the people. Not only that she also initiated the construction of the Friday Mosque (Jumma masjid) that still stands in the centre of the city and is the pride of its residents. Another building of architectural and historical significance is the Gohar Mahal (named after her) which is considered to be the first palace of Bhopal. It was built around 200 years ago and became the seat of power when the administrative centre was shifted from Fatehagarh fort. It not only served as


1. The algae affected columns at the first court of Gohar Mahal before conservation. 2. Cleaning and re-plastering to retain the original design in the restoration process. 3. Dying building crafts were revived in the process of restoration. 4. Diwan-e-khas after restoration.





the royal residence but also the place from where the affairs of the state were conducted by the Nawab. ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE OF GOHAR MAHAL Built in the south-west part of the city on the banks of the Bara Talab and spread across 4.65 acres of land, Gohar Mahal formed the political nucleus during the reign of Qudsiya Begum. The complex is a magnificent expression of the fusion of Hindu and Mughal architecture – cusped arches, massive gateways, screen windows at upper level, extensive mouldings, decorative plaster and squat domes with jharokhas. The palace contained both private and public spaces. The mahal was located on a sloping site with the Bara Talab in the south and a plateau in the north. The palace was built in levels and had four courtyards. The lower level in the south was the public space and durbar area which was approached through a large arched gateway. The northern upper level had private living spaces. The plateau in the north later developed into the administrative and residential Khirniwalla Maidan complex (called so because of abundance of Khirni trees therein). This palace was the first building of such an intricate ensemble. DECLINE OF GOHAR MAHAL Like her mother Sikander Jahen Begum was also one of the finest rulers of this state. After her mother’s death she constructed the Moti Mahal close to Gohar Mahal in 1847 which led to its decline. It was relegated as a secondary palace and further lost its significance due to the construction of Taj Mahal in 1901 away from the Khirniwalla Maidan. The splendid Gohar Mahal was converted into a record office and was later used for government offices and lost in oblivion.

8 REVIVAL A road widening scheme in 1990’s led to the rediscovery of this palace and it was saved from demolition. It was handed over to Madhya Pradesh Hastshilp Avam Hathkarga Vikas Nigam (MPHHVN) who collaborated with INTACH in 2001 for technical consultancy and with Development Commissioner Handicrafts & Handloom, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India for financial support to restore this edifice of cultural heritage to its former glory and reuse it for socially relevant purposes. CONSERVATION STRATEGY It was decided to reuse the building as an Urban Haat, to serve as the Cultural Hub of the State. During the initial survey a significant deterioration of structural members was discovered and the condition was considered a probable risk to the building. Thus a proper conservation strategy was worked out. The main aim of this conservation process was to restore the original historic character while strengthening the building for new use. The spaces were reorganised for better utilisation for the new use of the building as a Haat. RESTORATION PROCESS For the restoration work traditional materials and techniques were used and some of the dying building crafts were revived in the process. The façade of the courtyard was restored by cleaning, repairing, repainting of columns, arches, chajjas etc. Damaged slabs were relayed and the base columns were strengthened. The corridors were restored to their former glory by repairing the columns and ceilings and new flooring was laid down along with re-plastering of walls. Algae affected columns were restored by cleaning and re-plastering and retaining the original design. The roof which consisted of

9 timber members was strengthened and decayed members were changed with new wood. As most of the members were affected by termites chemical treatment for the same was also done. The roofs were waterproofed using traditional methods of lime concreting. One of the highlights of the project was the restoration of decorated mirrored and painted rooms using the expertise of local workers. As part of the restoration process the old materials were also recycled. Since the building was to be reused as a Haat new electrical, sanitary services and rainwater disposal systems were also introduced

5. Replacing the damaged slabs at the upper level and strengthening the timber-framed roof. 6. Lime concrete was used to waterproof the newly laid roof. 7.Corridors were restored by repairing and replastering the columns. 8. Re-using the building as an Urban Haat. 9. Bringing back the glory to Gohar Mahal.

The conservation process involved local craftspeople and artisans including the stoneworkers, painters and lime workers. GOHAR MAHAL AS A HAAT The hard work of all the agencies and the workers brought back the former magnificence of this palace in 2005 when it was inaugurated and opened to public. The shops on the ground floor were allotted to artisans from across the country and training centres were planned in the plazas all around. The courtyard served the purpose of easy circulation and gave effective breathing space for the entire setting. Also it served as a platform for holding small open air performances that could be easily and effectively viewed by the public. Emporia, Museums, and Exhibition Spaces were housed on the First Floor.


: Madhya Pradesh Handicrafts & handloom Development Corporation.


: Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage (INTACH),

Conservation Architect

: Divay Gupta, Site


: Ramesh Bhole.

Architectural Heritage Division ,

Contractor Savani Construction Mumbai Funded by

: Development Commissioner Handicrafts & Handloom, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India.

With the successful restoration of the Gohar Mahal the city got an exclusive platform dedicated to the promotion and preservation of handloom and handicrafts from across the country as well as the opportunity to the visitors to savour the local cuisine. It has become a centre of attraction not only for the residents but also the tourists who come to the historic city of Bhopal and cherish the past but preserved glory of this splendid and amazing monument.

Divay Gupta is a Conservation Architect with postgraduate specialisations in Architectural Conservation and Heritage Management from School of Planning & Architecture, New Delhi and University of Birmingham, UK, respectively. He has been involved in conservation and management of cultural heritage resources in India for the past 12 years. Akhila Agrawal has her degree in MSc Micro Biology and also in Computer Application. A keen traveler, she is also associated with crafts revival and heritage conservation.

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CONSERVING HILLSIDE HERITAGE Andre Alexander helps us in understanding the contribution of the Tibet Heritage Fund towards the conservation of the historic Tibetan urbanscape. Photographs: Courtesy the architect



adakh is an autonomous region within India’s State of Jammu & Kashmir. Located on the western edge of the Himalayan plateau with an average altitude of above 3000m, Ladakh is a barren region, with a dry climate and cold winters. For over half the year, the motorable road to the rest of India is blocked by snow. Leh was an important caravan crossroads for inner Asian trade until the late 1950s. Ladakh originally was an independent Tibetan kingdom, founded on the western edge of the Himalayan high plateau in the 9th century by descendents of the last king of the central Tibetan empire. Ladakhi cultural identity is partly based on Tibetan language and religion. Leh, the historic royal Ladakhi capital, lies at an altitude of 3500m above sea level. Modern Leh has a permanent population of 35,000 inhabitants. 2000 people live in the old town. There is a large floating population during the short summer season (June to October), when temporary migrant workers and tourists treble the population size. 15,000 tourists needing regular showers and flush toilets and producing mountains of garbage (water bottles, food wrappings, toilet paper etc.) are putting a severe strain on Ladakh’s fragile economy. Fortunately, there are several important local efforts to promote ecological development and tourism, thanks to such local NGOs such as LEDEC and Women’s Alliance. To protect the unprepared rural Ladakhis from economic competition, the state constitution makes it impossible for outsiders to acquire land. Even opening businesses or working requires permits and often a Ladakhi partner. Thus the Ladakhis can benefit directly from tourism. Old Leh is dominated by the former Royal Palace, a nine-story stone structure erected around 1600s in the Tibetan style made famous by the slightly

1. A panoromic view of the city of Leh with the Royal Palace in the background.


later Potala Palace in Lhasa. There are also a number of important Buddhist temples and monasteries from the 15th and 16th centuries. The buildings of historic Leh reflect the ancient cultural ties to Tibet. The old town, consisting of two hundred stone, mud and timber houses, is located on the slope below the palace, still accessed through a number of ancient stupa gateways. After the changes in Lhasa, Leh is perhaps the most significant ensemble of historic Tibetan urban architecture and townscape. TIBETAN HERITAGE FUND (THF) STUDY OF LEH In 2003-2004, aTHF team carried out a survey of social conditions and historic building structures. The average monthly household income according to the survey for over 50% of all households is between 2000 and 6000 Indian Rupees, i.e. between 37 and 111 Euro. According to HUDCO, Housing and Urban Development Corporation, this qualifies as Low Income Group (LIG). The lower end of the scale is below the official UN poverty line. There are only five public water taps in the central area. As a result, residents of central Leh get less than 10% of the drinking water amount recommended by the Indian government (100 lpd) by tap. Over 60% of all buildings in the old town are inhabited by the owners, either exclusively (37%) or with some rooms rented out (26%). 10% of all buildings are vacant, often in very dilapidated condition. Only a quarter of buildings in the old town are in good or very good condition, while over 50% of all buildings are in poor to bad condition. A lot of very dilapidated houses are still inhabited.

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1. A panoramic view of the city of Leh. 2. Working in adverse climatic conditions. 3. Wall painting in the Red Maitreya Temple in Leh. 4. An old settlement in Leh.

Drainage is a problem, there are only a handful of open channels that are frequently blocked (or frozen). Heavy rainfalls or a neighbour’s washing day can trigger the flooding of one’s basement. In stark contrast to booming modern Leh, the old town is in a visible decline. The former centre of the country has, in effect, become a slum.


THF identified 6 areas of major problems: 1. Poor quality of living conditions. 2. Decline of old town, government inactivity. 3. People without land are trapped in poverty. 4. Loss of cultural identity due to migration and rapid economic changes. 5. Loss of traditional skills that are no longer useful in modern economy. 6. Sectarian tensions. THF’S INTERVENTION STRATEGY The social data we obtained during our survey strongly suggested interventions to improve people’s livelihood and living conditions. This was matched by a generally expressed desire by many community members to reverse the decline of the old town. THF opted for an integrated approach, developed by the two THF founders, André Alexander and Pimpim de Azevedo, for the Lhasa Old City Conservation Program (Lhasa 1996-2000). This was set up in cooperation with the local government, the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, and with local community groups.


THF currently works on a planning framework for Leh. In the meantime, they have set up an action plan consisting of four components: 1. Improve infrastructure and services to reverse the decline with popular support, starting with a rehabilitation model area. 2. Provide local ownership of project though co-financing for housing




5 & 6. Restoration of historically important public buildings is carried out by THF. 7. Construction using locally available materials for sustainability.

upgrading, balancing conservation with satisfaction of local needs (upgrading instead of restoring). 3. Restore important public monuments such as Buddhist temples, Muslim places of worship and historic fortifications. 4. Engage local artisans and workers on a preferred basis to generate local employment, and organise a training program in the required skills as well as preserve and support traditional building skills. Regarding local ownership, THF/LOTI are offering 50% co-financing for adequate rehabilitation of homes, on the condition of using mainly indigenous labour and indigenous skills are used. They also offer free planning advice, for improvements such as bath rooms with drains, increasing natural lighting, improving the composting pits of the traditional latrines and increasing the efficiency of traditional clay mixes for interior finishes and water-proofing of roofs. For sustainability, a local organisation was built up and registered, the Leh Old Town Initiative (LOTI) consists of local experts and community representatives and to whom the project can be handed over in the future. THE REHABILITATION MODEL LANE The Stagopilog area serves as one of the main access routes into the old town, leading through an old stupa gate past some of Leh’s most beautiful (if dilapidated) historic homes. The lane had no paving or drainage and lies at the bottom of a slope. A drainage channel from the neighbourhood situated higher up abruptly ends at the upper end of the alley. All toilets in the old town are of the composting type, so grey water is dumped into the streets. The Stagopilog community is active and well-organised, thanks to their community leader, Mr. Namgyal. The community members and THF’s AndrÊ Alexander and John Niewoehner have designed a drainage channel covered with removable metal grills and paving with sturdy slate stone. The government assisted the project by building a soakpit at the end of the new drain.


THF is a registered non-profit organisation in Germany, India and Mongolia, and recognised as non-profit cooperation partner in China.

IA&B - MAY 2009


the gulf



THE PATH, THE POSSIBILITIES, THE Architects Parul Zaveri and Nimish Patel of RELEVANCE Abhikram delve on India’s heritage of wisdom, The strength and the presence knowledge and craftsmanship to endorse of the enormous, as well as their inclusion in new paradigms of modern wide ranging cultural heritage of India, in the present milieu, Indian architecture for their sustainability is in direct conflict with the and our identity. demonstrative aspirations of Photographs: Abhikram & Hardev Singh In the past two decades, the the practicing architects, more role of the living and continuing so in recent past. The confusion traditions of Indian architecture arising out of the conflicting vis-à-vis the contemporary paradigms has given rise to the practices of the profession has been questioned. It has raised the awareness emergence of developments, which are less responsible towards the environment, levels amongst its professionals, the related fields and amongst the people the context and the resources, and they lack appropriateness in their direction. This at large. It is time to take this understanding, a step forward in practice, as well is a consequence of adopting less relevant role models for the development, and of as in our actions. Through this awareness, the profession of architecture has been our having neglected the process of understanding our own heritage about how it able to project the “products” as a significant part of our heritage. Now is the time has evolved, sustained and continues to be relevant even today. 1. Stonework in the lily pond in the entrance courtyard of Udaivilas. to also concentrate on the “processes” that made these “products”. HE PREMISE Conservation of cultural heritage is a responsibility every Indian must live up to. The Heritage provides adequate range of roles for everyone to make a meaningful contribution to the cause of its conservation.



2 THE CASE STUDY, THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS, A LUXURY HERITAGE RESORT AT UDAIPUR The Oberoi Udaivilas, a newly built heritage resort at Udaipur, India, demonstrates the beliefs and convictions of an architectural practice, spanning 13 years, in finding appropriate balance in modern Indian architecture between continuity with the past without fossilising it and the change for the future without making it incongruent with its context. It has addressed the issues of environment, heritage sensitivity, congruent development, revitalisation of crafts, eco-sensitive and green principles of design, rocky outcrop/tree cover/water that the site has been associated with for centuries, etc. in a holistic and


4 balanced manner. This has been achieved without compromising with the needs and conveniences of the 21st century, and while blending the use of State of the Art technologies, but with maximising the use of traditional materials, technologies and craftspersons. The project is an emerging perspectives on modern Indian architecture located in and around the historic settlements. THE CONTRIBUTION OF THE PROJECT Udaivilas has made significant contributions in all these aspects. They are: To the Environment: It has established that it is possible: • To respect the land, the land form, the rocks, the


In our practice, we have educated ourselves about our heritage and related aspects, through an exploratory process, not an academic one. Our views are a result of our explorations, experiences and understandings through our involvement in heritage conservation projects, as well as in the new development projects, in and around historic settlements. Our heritage and the wide range of background that we all come from, provides all of us with adequate range of roles, through which each one of us can make a meaningful contribution to the cause of heritage conservation. A 2

tree cover, the skyline, and other natural features of the site, despite being a project of such a magnitude and complexity. • To adhere to all the statutory provisions of pollution control, water treatment and disposal of used water, etc without compromising the project needs. To the End-User It has established that: • Contemporary needs can be blended well with the historic ambience of the product, without compromising with any of the bottom lines of the end-user. • Architectural, interior and landscape design panoramas can be created within the product

6 clearer understanding, of the issues involved, will go a long way towards maximising the utilisation of our scarce resources. THE NEED Through our aspirations and explorations in design practices, we need to • Extend the boundaries of the constituents of our cultural heritage, and redefine the objectives for its conservation; • Attempt to establish the relevance of the cultural heritage as a tool for

itself to make them experience the historic ethos of Udaipur. • The crafts of Mewar are very much a part of its living traditions and can contribute significantly in enhancing the guestexperience in a holistic manner. • Local traditions and richness of crafts has a quality of timelessness that transcends nationalities and technologies to redefine grandeur in public spaces. To the Context: It has established that it is possible: • To achieve a balance between continuity with the past without fossilising it and, a change for the future without making that change

incongruent with its contextual surroundings. • To design and build within the constraints of the landforms, existing trees and rocks, and still provide for all the needs of the project. • For new constructions to become a responsible role model for new development projects in the historic settlements.

• Traditional aesthetics and contemporary taste are not at cross-purposes if used in a balanced manner. • It is possible to evolve India’s own definition of Indian modern architecture, which does not have to emulate the western influences, even if it uses its latest technologies.

To the Profession: It has established that: • It is possible to balance continuity with change, accommodating growth. • The use of traditional materials, technologies and craftsmanship base in contemporary context is a relevant phenomenon, worth pursuing in new developments in historic contexts.

To the Region & the Nation: It has: • Offered a world class Indian resort, which sets international standards through greater use of its own historicity. • Provided a direction of development, which will enhances its sense of pride about its own vast as well as rich cultural heritage.

7 the economic development of area, and its importance in the lives of the people; • Re-establish the relevance and the use of the traditional decision making processes and maximising the use of traditional materials, technologies and craftspersons in the contemporary works; • Increase the awareness that the ‘Processes’, that made our historic built environment worthy of being called Heritage, need more attention and resource inputs;



2. Rocky outcrops of trees and landforms of the site being blended with new construction. 3. The thekri work – traditional mirror work in one of the 200 niches in the walls. 4. View of the Oberoi Udaivilas in the foreground overlooking lake Pichola and the historic settlement of Udaipur. 5. Thekri work – detail in the ceiling. 6. Detail of the traditional painting from a procession on 100m long wall. 7. Traditional ghutai work (reflective limeplaster) on the staircase balustrade. 8. Corner details of entrance driveway – stonework executed to precision. 9. Entrance courtyard flooring derived from traditions to create optical dynamics as one walks.



10 10. View of landscaped water body and the fountain connecting the public area with the suites.

• Attempt to conserve the wealth of knowledge about our materials and processes carried by the building crafts communities for centuries; • Attempt to generate employment for the skills of the traditional craftspersons, so as to ensure the continuity of the wealth of their knowledge; • Attempt to bring heritage sensitivity to all our development objectives and processes. IN SUMMARY It is time we, the architects, the engineers, the designers, the developers, and all other decision makers, realise and recognise what the country has in its own backyard. This will help us divert our respective efforts

from emulating the unsustainable Western models of development, and focus on rediscovering the strengths of India. It is these strengths and the assets that will be of substantial assistance in all developments across the country. To undermine this resource would be not dissimilar to emulating an Ostrich. Can India afford such an approach? We firmly believe it cannot.

Parul Zaveri and Nimish Patel established Abhikram to explore a direction and process in design to make the built environment functionally and environmentally contextual and comfortable. Abhikram has made room for Panika, a consultancy firm concentrating on dissemination of experience and knowledge, by undertaking projects which attempt to re-establish the relevance of traditional decision making processes in contemporary context.

IA&B - MAY 2009


last word

CULTURE COUNTS The heritage issue becomes the foundation for some of the issues which will be further analysed by global experts brought together in the column “Culture Counts” curated by conservation activist/ activator Amita Baig. Here she lays the precursor. Photograph: Courtesy the author



he growth from a small band of concerned citizens twenty years ago to a very large number of highly committed professionals heralds the growth of the conservation movement across India. Conservation of heritage now has a clearly defined road map. Each study and research opens up new avenues about how issues can be tackled, not only from the point of view of scientific or technical skill but also efforts are focussed on assessing their role and acceptance in the society. It is really this aspect which is most challenging as each site has its own unique needs and aspirations, while in others there is a complete disinterest. The historic fabric of India has changed irreversibly, much has changed in terms of context, environment and more critically its relevance. How we mediate this will define an Indian conservation process. It is essential for conservation architects, or indeed anyone intervening in a historic site to continuously question their motivations, their road map and its application. Conservation architects require to be philosophers, historians and social anthropologists as they grapple with the diversity and complexity of working in Indian heritage sites. It is essential to remind oneself that we are only a small comma in the life of a monument. Conservation is after all no more than an experiment to prolong the life of a building; too much or too little; we need to remind ourselves that we risk its future. At the same time we must recognise the tendency of conservation in our country to veer towards conservatism. Lost in the complexities of original processes, valorising its historicity, we lose our way in the present and often exclude the aspirations of an upwardly mobile nation. A vibrant emerging global power has to have a vision for its past and how it is positioned today. Conservation is not just about our technical skills; it is about whether we have the capacity to engage in the restoration of a sacred space while addressing

2 the stakeholders’ perceptions of their heritage. If preservation of heritage is to become mainstream and not an exclusivist pursuit, then conservationists must embrace these challenges. We need to search within ourselves significance and values that we seek and are we applying our empirical knowledge of the past. An interesting example is Grosse-Ille in Canada which was nominated as World Heritage by the State as an Irish celebration of their arrival in Canada. The Irish Canadian community viewed Grosse- Ille as a commemorative site, mourning the loss of their own homeland following the great famine in Ireland. Public surveys turned this entire nomination on its head giving it a completely different significance and value. The Canadian authorities rose to the challenge changing its significance from celebratory to commemorative. Similarly at a public meeting at Quila Mubarak in Patiala some years ago the project proponents were completely focussed on restoring its most splendid painted chambers and associated halls; but for the local citizens who had never entered the palace before, the restoration of the route to the jyot or sacred lamp became priority, changing the course of the project. It is this process which we require to engage in, much more expansively, as preserving the heritage is not just about superb lime rendering or exquisitely painted rooms…it is just about how every man connects with his own past. This applies not merely to the monumental heritage, but even to the future of familiar and cherished neighbourhoods, sacred sites and geographies. Today demands of society for modernity dominate even as society remains fundamentally conservative. This raises multiple layers of conflict, not only in valorising the past but in grappling with the transitions. The future battles will not necessarily be against what are seen as rapacious developers but to ensure


3 a place for the historic past in contemporary society. As conservationists we must recognise that the future of our historic cities will hugely depend on our ability to be contemporary as we negotiate this. Our perception of the heritage must not be restricted to the monuments or ancient cities of a hoary past but also to the cultural values ascribed to it. Similarly the values ascribed to the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai following the 26/11 attack are reflective of the quantum shift in the public perception of heritage. This exclusive, high-end hotel has become a symbol of contemporary cultural significance. Its exclusivity notwithstanding, this hotel has become the cameo of the violation of India’s sovereignty today and thus appropriated into the public domain... even as we know that 99% of Indians have never, nor will ever enter its portals. We need to understand this dynamic, and not undervalue the current cultural temperament. This was so palpable in the sms poll run by a small Swiss agency two years ago to vote for the Seven Wonders of the World. Voting for the Taj Mahal to be included in the list galvanised national pride across India - this was individual national pride. It had nothing to do with conservation, World Heritage Status, or any public administrative modus operandi which determines its fate. This issue has discussed the challenges and opportunities which conservation architects face in the course of their work. It looks at many facets of the process from inadequate laws, or worse, lack of will to implement the law; tourism and a diverse map of cultural heritage programs across India. Conservation architects have absolute ability on how they reconcile the past, the present though is often seen as unsympathetic to the historic fabric of an ancient civilisation. In valorising the past we must remember that no fort, palace or streetscape was ever finite, they grew with each generation and our

1 - 3. No comments: The newly constructed Khajuraho Railway Station edifice.

cities reflect that. History is not static and we have the luxury in our country of keeping our heritage vibrant and contemporary. This is the opportunity ahead – will we have the confidence to walk the line, to be the connectors, or will we remain secure in merely harking back? In the issues ahead, professionals will debate changing values, evolving significance and contemporary road maps to valorise the past. Are we ready in India to accept a Glass Pyramid in the centre of our most visible site or will we always falter and produce cheap imitations of our heritage? Does the conservation professional risk becoming as exclusive as governments as we seek define values, values largely based on our historic or architectural bias, or will we invest in creating an Indian road map for conservation where renewal and creative reuse can secure the heritage as the bulwark for the future? We hope to generate a debate through Indian Architect & Builder, not about what and how, but are we ready to be genuinely inclusive and progressive; to invest in culture in its most expansive sense.

Amita Baig is a Heritage Management Consultant with experience in managing heritage conservation projects and working towards developing paradigms for the management of historic sites in India and the Asia region. Presently, she is the India Projects Consultant to World Monuments Fund, New York and advisor to the Namgyal Institute for Research on Ladakh Art and Culture and the Jaipur Virasat Foundation, as well as founder Trustee of the Jaisalmer Heritage Trust in Rajasthan. She is also consultant to the Indian Hotels Company for the conservation and restoration of the Taj Mahal. She joined the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage at it inception in 1984 and was the Director General of the Architectural Heritage Division from 1993 to 1999. She has also worked as a consultant to the Gulbenkian Foundation, Portugal and UNESCO.

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