Three cheers for In­dia’s her­itage

Mid Day - - Daily Dossier -

There was much to In­dia’s her­itage move­ment as three of the 16 awards emerged from the coun­try at this year’s UN­ESCO Asia-Pa­cific Awards for Cul­tural Her­itage Con­ser­va­tion. The LAMO Cen­ter in Ladakh, Leh won the pres­ti­gious Award of Dis­tinc­tion while city land­marks — Ra­jabai Clock Tower and Univer­sity of Mum­bai Library Build­ing and the Rut­ton­see Mul­jee Jetha Foun­tain — won in the Honourable Men­tion cat­e­gory. The jury met in Au­gust in Penang to fi­nalise the win­ners from 41 en­tries sub­mit­ted by eight coun­tries. Mum­bai-based re­searcher Dr Mon­isha Ahmed who is at­tached to the LAMO Cen­tre restora­tion felt that the award was a god­send, “Hope­fully, it will draw at­ten­tion to the Old Town of Leh, one of the last sur­viv­ing his­toric towns in the Hi­malayas, where the list­ing of her­itage build­ings and struc­tures is ur­gently needed. Her­itage laws need to be drawn up with leg­is­la­tions in­volv­ing both pol­icy plan­ners and stake­hold­ers,” she said. Vikas Di­lawari whose project, the Mulji Jetha Foun­tain won, felt that the site im­pressed the jury as it was a suc­cess story not just for its ar­chi­tec­tural restora­tion but also for its wa­ter en­gi­neer­ing. “The foun­tain will go a long way in trans­form­ing and gen­tri­fy­ing the area,” Di­lawari felt. The third city con­nect was Brinda So­maya (So­maya & Kalappa Con­sul­tants) whose work for the Bom­bay Gothic spec­ta­cle, was ec­static. Speak­ing from New York, she told this di­arist that close on the heels of the UN­ESCO WHS tag, this recog­ni­tion tells the story of how a city is aware and con­cerned about preser­va­tion.

“It is a col­lec­tive ef­fort and ev­ery­one should take credit for it, from her­itage cham­pi­ons to the gov­ern­ment,” she said.

(From left) Rut­ton­see Mul­jee Jetha Foun­tain, LAMO cen­tre, Ra­jabai Clock Tower (in­set) Dr Mon­isha Ahmed

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