Three cheers for India’s heritage
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