Saturday, December 12, 2009

Opportunity to Preserve Our Past

By A. K. Khanna

Heritage is our legacy from the past, that we live today and that we pass on to the future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage is both priceless and irreplaceable source of life and inspiration. The World Heritage Sites, Cultural as well Natural Sites belong to all people of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.

In 1972, the General Conference of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) adopted a resolution with overwhelming enthusiasm, thereby, a convention concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, by which countries recognize that the sites located on their national territory and which have been inscribed on the World Heritage list, without prejudice to national sovereignty or township, constitute.

India is a grand repository of ancient cultural and natural treasure of exceptional value, is a state party to the convention concerning the protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage from 1977 and has been working in close cooperation with other international agencies like ICOMOS (International Council of Monuments and Sites) IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) and ICCORM (International Center for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property). India is also an elected member of the World Heritage Committee since 1985 and is contributing regularly for the promotion of World Heritage.
As on 2008, India has 22 Cultural and 5 Natural sites, which are inscribed, as UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, they are:Ajanta Caves (1983), Ellora Caves (1983), Agra Fort (1983),Taj Mahal (1983), Sun Temple, Konark (1984), Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram (1984), Kaziranga National Park (1985), Churches and Convents of Goa (1986), Khajuraho Group of Monuments (1986), Group of Monuments at Hampi (1986), Fatehpur Sikri (1986), Group of Monuments at Pattadakal (1987), Elephanta Caves (1987), Great Living Chola Temples (1987 & 2004), Sundarbans National Park (1987), Nanda Devi National Park (1988), Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi (1989), Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi (1993), Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi (1993), Indian Mountain Railways (IMR) (1999), Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya (2002), Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka (2003), Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park (2004), Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) (2004)Red Fort (2007)

The ICOMOS, a wing of UNESCO, has declared April 18 of every year as a World Heritage Day. The Ministry of Culture and Archaeological Survey of India apart, from observing the World Heritage Day and augmenting various practical measure in respect of conservation of the World Heritage Monuments have been observing the World Heritage Week (18th – 25th Nov). The World Heritage Week coincides with the birthday of Smt. Indira Gandhi, the late Prime Minister of India, whose love and concern for the Cultural and Natural Heritage well known. These annual events specially aimed to involve the youth of the country in such work as creating awareness, in preservation and propagation of the rich cultural heritage for which our country is World famous.

The World Heritage Day offers an opportunity to raise public awareness concerning the diversity of the World’s Heritage (tangible, intangible & Natural) and the efforts that required to protect and conserve for the future generation as well as to draw attention to its venerability. There are two major issues to the theme of ‘Heritage and Science ‘that has been chosen for International Day for Monuments and Sites or World Heritage Day on 18th April, 2009. One being the role that the science and the scientific process has played in the creation of heritage and the other being the contribution that science and technology offers to the study of heritage. The term Science and Technology are twin sisters, science defined as a system of process that and a body of knowledge about the physical world cannot exist without technology .As technology is a system of tools and procedure concerned with modifying the physical World and to a great extent is based on science.

The bulk of the World tangible or build-in heritage excluding purposes completely natural landscapes is the result of the practical application of knowledge under science and technology.

The most important tangible heritage of Jammu region is Mubarak Mandi Complex. Clearly reflects the influence of Science and Technology into its construction, the application of science in terms of architectural design, also in mining of stone, making of lime mortar / plaster, Casting of iron girders / grills / railings / pipes etc. In the means Transportation of the raw material from England and to organized skilled and unskilled components that made the structure possible in terms of the palace complex. Apart from this hydrology (Science of water lifting system) mechanic (lifting of load) and requirements of tools suitable for the quarry of stone, placing the large girders, execution of wood work and frescoes on walls and doors. Fundamentally without science and technology, no monument of structure could exist. The contribution that science and technology can now make to the conservation, preservation and even understanding of cultural heritage or tangible heritage is rapidly evolving and expanding with experience of the Archaeological Survey of India in last 147 years of the existence. For example, the use of lasers beam for the treatment of surfaces and measurement of shape and form, non destructive methods of exploration and excavation, chemical and compounds for clearing the artifacts and building structures, the analysis of compounds using x-ray diffraction and mass spectrometers, the use of information system to store and analysis data/ modeling as a means of planning repairs works and even use of information technology for dissemination of research and development.

The celebration of the International Day for Monuments and Sites offers an opportunity to review and acknowledge the role of science and technology in cultural heritage. It also provides incentives to discuss potential benefits and threat that science also posses in the future with respect to the safeguarding of’ the thing we want to keep.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Payer Temple


Payer Temple is the most intact and an elegant temple located on the opposite side of a rivulet in the village of Payer in Pulwama district, 38 kilometer from Srinagar, the summer State capital of Jammu & Kashmir. Payer village is 3 km away from south Pulwama town.

The ancient temple of Payer is of intrinsic beauty and elegance. The superstructure is built of ten stones only, four rectangular stones cut out into doorways, the other four with square trefoil arches and one hemispherical dome stone completing the tri-foliage pediment and the last round in the form of amalaka.

The edifice has been encircled by the newly constructed wooden houses from three sides and is the best preserved example of Kashmiri Hindu shrine in the valley. The single square chamber temple is situated on a square piece of land. It is fenced and has a beautiful garden. The sanctum sanctorum reached by a flight of steps is built on a high square moulded platform of dressed Deveri stones to avoid flooding of the temple structure by the rivulet passing through the village. The temple is square internally and built on a high base. The base has a plain torus in the middle and a filleted torus on the top. Over the base of high platform, the temple of Payer is built of ten pieces of rectangular, square, hemispherical and round stones. The cult image of the temple is a Siva ling, which has an octagonal base. The temple is a naturally protected monument and not under worship.

It is open from four sides and approached through flight of steps. The most important aspect of the temple super structure is built of ten stones. The four door ways have been cut out of four large thick rectangular stones surmounted by a trefoil arch, which in turn is enclosed by a pediment slabs of sand stone. The four trefoil ached stones form the upper part of the temple. These have been placed on a square temple base. The ninth part has a unique feature of pyramidal roof with an inverted dome carved out of a thick sand stone slab to provide the curvature of a dome. Tenth being the amalaka of the temple. The sculptured tympanums over the four doorways with two stone compose the pyramid roof in the form of 8 feet by 4 feet in height, stone carved or chiseled out from interior in the shape of a dome.

The top hemispherical stone hollowed out from inside with expanded lotus in the interior act as pyramidal roof to prevent the accumulation of snow.

The top hemispherical stone hollowed from inside, the lower edge of which is decorated with the straight edges fillets and the beaded circle is a reflection of the Greek Roman architecture The central slab is decorated with expanded lotus the usual feature of Hindu Temple architecture in Indian sub-continent.

An octagonal base at the Linga within the sanctum is a form of Shiva which is installed in the centre. The temple reflects the the original style of the Kashmir valley architecture in true sense which survived in the valley. The elegant small temples reflect the original character of bigger temple like Avantipur, Martand and Naranag temple of the valley which lost their upper part.

The figure of Lakulisha a form of Lord Siva carved on the doorways confirms that the temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Lakulisha is the founder of systemister of the Pushupati sect. The sanctorum can be approached from four sides . The entrance is through the east four doorways are rectangular and topped by a trefoil arch, which in turn is enclosed by a pediment, a usual feature of Kashmir's temple architecture. The pilasters on which pediments rest are surrounded by capital bearing pair of geese with long stylized foliage tails and the pilasters form trefoil arch springs crowned by two beautiful carved sitting miniatures humped bulls with a common head and two horns each. The bull has scarves tied to their humps which again is a foreign feature on the sculptures of the temple.

The eastern trefoil arch is enclosed by a relief in which Lord Shiva is seen seated cross legged on a throne under the canopy of an overhanging tree.

On the north side, the relief represents Bhairva, the terrible manifestation of Lord Shiva presuming a human being who turns towards him in an attitude of a supplication - behind the Bhairva has a long plain trunk of an elephant. On the western side is the animated figure of six armed dancing Shiva or Nat raja the upper two arms are gesticulating, the lower left-hand holds a lotus and in right the trident, in the left lower corner of the group is a musician plying on a vina or flute, on the right another beating a drum as accompaniment.

The Southern relief depicts a three headed Lord Shiva seated cross legged on a wicker-work pedestal. On the left lower corner is a seated female, probably, his consort Parvati. The remaining three figures are emancipated and are perhaps those of the ascetics. Over the Shiva is seen the flying figure of Gandhava. The corner pilasters are crowned by very beautiful floral, capital

The interior of the walls are plain, roof is hollowed out in a hemispherical dome with small pattern of expanded lotus flower. The gem of Kashmiri temple architecture is in original form, material and style is worth visiting which survived the ravages of time and manmade vagaries in the form of a small scale replica of specimen of Hindu shrine in the valley.

An octagonal base at the Linga within the sanctum is a form of Shiva which is installed in the centre. The temple reflects the original style of the Kashmir valley architecture in true sense which survived in the valley. The elegant small temples reflect the original character of bigger temple likes Avantipur, Martand and Naranag temple of the Valley.