Thursday, 24 October 2013

"... and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage"

My sister, who lives in Dublin, Ireland, called home few days back to tell us about her trip to a small town called Killybegs in Donegal. She was explaining about her sight-seeing experiences and then jokingly said, “Those people have preserved a tiny stone inscription that is just few hundred years old, and they were so proud about it!! We have so many buildings in our country that are thousands of years old!” We laughed about it for some time and after a pause, we realised how sad we all were.

Yes, we do have so many buildings that are thousands of years old, almost in every city, every town and every village in India. But are we really taking pride in the fact that our country has such a rich heritage? Is it just because, there is so much in abundance that we are very ignorant about it? If that is the case, aren’t we all committing a deadly sin?

There is always an argument about how westernised our “culture” is becoming. Maybe it is time, we start worrying about certain things that we are not western about - celebrating our heritage structures. It is a known fact that, our country boasts of so many historical monuments which date back to thousands of years. What about the other half, the monuments that we have forgotten to celebrate? What about the ones that is already in the process of dying? What about the ones that have already been buried beneath our feet? Well, what can we do after all! We are normal Indian citizens. We have enough issues to worry about like the petrol prices and the onion prices – where is the time to preserve all these old buildings? But yes, we do have time for protests about dress-codes, rallies against how our “culture” is getting spoiled due to western influence!

We have learnt and unlearnt so many things from the West. But I feel, one of the most important things that we have somehow not learnt or probably forgotten, over the years, is – celebrating our history!

Every time I visit an old temple, it always amazes me that I am walking on the stone that was laid by skilled craftsmen thousands of years ago. When I touch the walls and the sculptures, I imagine how sculptors would have done this back then. I always feel wonderful that I am alive to see this structure, walk around and feel the spaces that were made centuries ago. But the feeling disappears when I see scribbling like “I love you Hema”, images of heart with an arrow, signatures, cell phone numbers,etc., on that wall. I think these people should start using their bathroom walls for their emotional let out (as well)

It is very disheartening to see these beautiful old structures turning into large garbage dumping yards, a forest of thorny bushes or a doodle wall for “creative cartoonists”. These structures were once the dream of a royal king. His dream would have been to create a monument, so powerful, that will stand tall for centuries to tell his fame. It did stand alright. If only he knew what was going to happen to it, he would have probably created them in wood or mud that would have been demolished long back.

Some well preserved monuments DO exist in our country. The number is very very negligible, considering the rich history of this land, we are all proud of. Even among these well preserved monuments, some of them are in fact well preserved, just because they are religious in nature. Why does it always have to be either religious or political? For example, a very famous temple in India would also be a historically and architecturally significant building. But unfortunately, we end up highlighting only the “religious” part of the structure, and fail to appreciate the beauty of the structure and the whole vision with which it was built. Is it because I am an architect, that I feel this way? I don’t think so.

It is just not fair to these beautiful structures to come under just one tag – “religion”. It should be much more than that. People should be made to realise the significance of that building in history, made to realise why this was not done in any other part of the world before, why our land is filled with rich heritage. People should be banned from smearing oil or kumkum all over the temple walls. Temples and religious structures built by the kings were not only meant for worship. It was a stamp of their powerful establishment, a standing proof of what they were capable of, an exhibition of their skilled craftsmanship.

If not celebrate, let’s at least try not to destroy them. Let us preserve that last few traces of our rich history at least for our kids. The irony is, to those few people who travel all the way from the west to learn about our culture, we welcome them with a bold sign that says, “non- hindus not allowed inside”

I love my country and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage. I shall always strive to be worthy of itWell, we don’t really mean it! Do we?


karthik said...

Big slap to all the people who thinks religion as god...keep going :-)

Vighnesh said...

yes, we are proud is saying this verbally everyday or once a week during our school prayers and stopped there! ;) the action part is missing. may be we should try to bring it back to action! ;)

Anonymous said...

I like to bring a small awareness to our notice that.
When we cross Tanjore city , you can’t miss View of the Big temple from your vision .But at the same time it’s not happening on Trichy Srirangam temple. Srirangam Temple tower is 237 ft and Tanjore big temple is 216 ft . Apart from that Srirangam is located in a Island .Practically the location, environment and the height Everything is better in Srirangam when compare to Tanjore .
But we Can’t See the heritage and the beauty of the art in Srirangam. Why ?
Tanjore City Municipal Corporation folows the strict rules, that no building should exceed the height of ground + 1. They are not encouraging any peti shops inside the temple and no way of making waste paper to spoil the environment .No Cable EB, Telephone, CCTV wires running exposed inside the temple campus . No Telephone towers and unnecessary parking are not happening inside the premises. Posters banners are also prohibited in temple campus.
Nowhere these things were happening almost in all other temples. Not only just because of the negligence of the officials. It’s a disorder happening from macro to micro level .It’s a deviation of overall town planning done by pubic like us. Flower vendors, Puja Item vendors every one occupying temple premises and keeping sign board everywhere even on the temple tower. Keep dumping the garbage’s at a corner of the temple mostly next to the temple tank , and hotel keep the wash area and drain in the road itself .ect ..ect ..

We can’t always blame government, government officials and politicians, Who are those flower vendors, telephone cable man, sign board people and all they them . They may be our father, uncle or brother or our neighbor some of the friends father may be even a government officials who responsible to keep temple in good manner.

It’s not possible to teach Self disciplines to everyone. We should bring the art of appreciating our heritage and culture.
That may be solution given to public like us, to be conscious to preserve our monument that shows our culture and heritage. As Like dream’s Wrold, we should make our surrounding people and our future generation to understand the importance of the monuments is not only for religious purpose that mainly reflect our culture and heritage.

Deeps said...

one word "tourists", ppl and the gov in the west promote tourism and make lump sum of it and in turn can employ ppl for maintenance, well that again comes to one that are truly intended to preserve not for the one who wants to make money, well that goes for taking care of the streets too. So know where we stand, not even on the same book let alone we get close enough to the same page of the western practice!