Our heritage is our inheritance, and India is the richest! The rich culture and heritage that we, as a country, boast of is astounding. India - as one of the oldest civilizations - is a kaleidoscope of cultures. The myriad cultures and heritage influenced by eras of different rulers are what define our country as the land of diversity.
A physical manifestation of our cultural heritage is our monuments - the monuments which
exhibit the eminence of our country’s sumptuous history.
Planning a trip soon? If it’s to one of India’s cultural hotspots, then chances are there will be a couple of monument visits on your itinerary. These popular tourist spots are also the very pride of our nation. These built structures provide us with an opportunity to relive the rich history of India. They are proof of our background – evidence of our past. India’s monuments are marvels of architecture, which stood as testimonies of their time. Every monument has a story to tell – a story of our ancestral generations, of a time we couldn’t live to see, but we are now able to be a part of - all thanks to our fine monuments. Appreciating and preserving these works of art for generations – the past, present, and future – is our duty as a country.
In this blog, we will explore these monuments in all their glory. Read on to also understand the threats posed at them and what we can do to help conserve them and ultimately, preserve our culture and heritage.
THE WANING WONDERS
An heirloom of the Nizams, this 16th-century monument is located in the old city,
right amidst the city’s bustling traffic. Over the years, the very location of Charminar has taken a great toll on it. The vehicular pollution has resulted in the deterioration of its lime plaster. The monument, said to be built by the Nizams to commemorate the city’s victory over a deadly plague, in the present day is succumbing to man-made pollution. This is also turning the monument black, along with the peeling of its plaster. The constant vibrations due to the moving vehicles add to the decay. The state of the monument’s foundation is also in trouble due to the heavy amount of traffic in its vicinity.
The ASI (Archaeological Society of India) also blames the setting of Charminar for its
deterioration. Regularization of the traffic movement around the structure is vital in the
process of its conservation. Strict traffic laws should be enforced in the area to curb vehicular noise and pollution. Re-plastering areas of decaying lime plaster and stringent quality measures are to be undertaken while immense care must be taken while rework is done with lime.
All is not lost! The monument’s lost charm can always be regained – possible only when
the government and the citizens stand in solidarity with their 4-pillared masterpiece.
Taj Mahal, Agra
A symbol of love - built by Shah Jahan as a token of his deep affection for his wife, Mumtaz, this exquisite white marble mausoleum has become the face of India. The monument holds the power of evoking a deep feeling of endearment in all its visitors. So, what’s wrong? This
universally admired structure is now vulnerable due to the threat it faces. Its majestic marble,
which once shone a dazzling white is now a deadbeat yellow.
The culprit behind this? Pollution.
The various industries and factories near the Taj are responsible for its deterioration. This epitome of beauty has suffered extensively due to acid rains which, reacting with the marble, completely changed the façade. The marble marvel we all hold so dear to our hearts is in danger!
The city has taken various steps for conserving one of the seven wonders of the world. There are pollution stations across the city, monitoring the quality of air round the clock. Under the supervision of the Taj Trapezium Authority (TTZ),a ‘no construction zone’ has been declared within 500m of the Taj Mahal. Battery-powered vehicles have been introduced to take the tourists to the Taj. Relocation of refineries and industries from the vicinity has helped in saving what’s left. SPA, Delhi has also been asked to prepare a comprehensive action plan for the safeguarding of the Taj. With actions like these, the government aims for improvement in the air quality for the protection of the mausoleum along with its surroundings.
If these safety measures are not kept up, there is potential of losing the ‘world’s most beautiful building’!
India Gate, Delhi
Making an appearance in Rang De Basanti and serving as the backdrop for all our republic day parades, India Gate was built in commemoration of over 80,000 Indian soldiers who have lost their lives during WW1. Today, this beautiful memorial is almost invisible! The memorial has been engulfed in smog, due to the pollution in the city which has never been worse. This takes a toll on its monuments as well.
Conserving their prized memorial is in the hands of Delhi’s residents themselves. It is their duty to do their part to help curb the amount of pollution in their city. Only once the atmosphere in Delhi gets better, can India Gate stand tall like it once did, without compromising its magnificent architecture.
Lotus Temple, Delhi
Open to all people, regardless of their faith and beliefs, this monument is a paradigm of our
nation’s diverse heritage. Lotus temple, with its flowerlike structure, is termed the ‘Mother
Temple of the Indian Subcontinent’, and for good reason. With the lotus flower as the concept behind the temple, it is sad to see this exquisite monument wilting.
Once again, the pollution in Delhi seems to be withering away the petals of this iconic structure as well. The automobile emissions in the temple’s vicinity are turning the white marble grey. The pollution also led to corrosion in the structure, not to mention the alarming rates of noise pollution which proves as a nuisance to all the worshippers. Especially since the temple is located in the southeast, one of the most congested areas in Delhi, the threat it faces increases manifold.
Experts say the only solution to this problem is controlling automobile pollution. This can be
done by preventing the choking of roads with traffic which adds to the amount of toxins to the suffering air of Delhi. The government must take actions like up with serious intent and in the long run, preserve their heritage-rich monuments.
Golden Temple, Amritsar
“Old is gold”, they say. Glistening in the Amrit Sarovar pool stands the Golden temple in all its glory. An architectural marvel, catching a glimpse of this gurdwara during the nighttime is a real feast to the eyes. A symbol for the Sikhs, it also bears great cultural significance. Although, pollution has dulled its sparkle. The bright golden magnificence the structure once was, is not seen today.
Industrial pollution along with vehicular emissions have proved to be the bane of India’s heritage. The Bhagtanwala dump, a dumping site spread over 8 hectares, is at a kilometer distance from the temple. The pollutants and dust from the dump affect its sheen, turning it dull and dreary. Various campaigns have been launched by religious leaders and environmentalists in hopes of saving their beloved monument, but with little impact. After all, what pollution has incurred on us, and our memorials is absolutely frightening.
Our monuments do not just hold a cultural connection to us, but also an emotional one. These are buildings built by our ancestors as testimonials to their time. Losing these monuments indeed means losing our heritage. Generations are bound together through these glorious structures, and it is our responsibility to save them. Conserving our memorials has never been more crucial. Together with the help of our government, we must implement the necessary to ensure that our monuments, as reminders of the past, are not going to be just a memory of the past, but an aspiration for our future.