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Documenting Heritage, students retold stories

Stories by students

Active participation of history enthusiasts, activists and filmmakers stirs the young minds

Stories by studentsNew Delhi: The sight of young students trailing around with video cameras and filming a historical monument is not very usual. Yet, retelling stories, documenting history and creating an online buzz about monuments are now in vogue with school and college students in India.

A result of initiatives undertaken by history enthusiasts, activists, filmmakers and students have actively involved to help conserve historical monuments, raise awareness about the varied heritage therefore, develop a connect with their roots.

To help college-going students realize the importance of heritage structures, Cultural Resource Conservation Initiative (CRCI), a Delhi-based body working towards interdisciplinary, community focused heritage conservation is set to kick-start its initiative to educate the young on September 16.

The initiative, aims to bridge “the disconnect with the history of the Grant Trunk road in Punjab.”

“Students cannot relate with historical monuments because they are unable to connect with the past. There are no memories that they can relate with,” director CRCI, Gurmeet Rai told PTI.

This drive, in collaboration with the British Council targets college students, who learn to document, conserve and therefore develop a connect with historical monuments under expert guidance.

“Our first project involves training twelve students of Mata Gujri College in Punjab about heritage conservation, specifically revisiting the Aam Khas Bagh,” she said.

The plan involves, dividing into three groups of four, a total of twelve students, who will work towards conservation of Aam Khas Bagh in Sirhind.

After receiving training in the importance of heritage conservation, documentation and new media skills the organization hopes students will be able to retell stories of monuments.

Emphasizing on the importance of developing a contemporary relationship with history, Rai says, “Monuments are no isolated architecture of historical importance. They must be related to people and seen through the lens of ‘people’s monuments’. It’s importance to retell stories to be able to develop a sense of belonging to our past.”

The CRCI also plans to upscale this project to several cities, highlighting the role of college students in retelling historical stories. In its newest chapter, Film It India, an initiative by INTACH’s Heritage Conservation and Education services (HCES) guided school children to film diverse culture and heritage of the city under guidance of documentary filmmakers.

The initiative spread across 30 schools in Delhi began with a workshop highlighting the importance of content students must look for, followed by a film-making workshop by filmmakers Sushmit Ghosh and Rintu Thomas, well known for their environmental documentary “Timbaktu”.

“In this non-competitive documentary film making module, students came up with brilliant concept about heritage conservation, restoration and clubbed it into two-five minute documentaries,” Abhishek Das, Program Coordinator, HCES, says.

He adds. “It’s important for students to understand and feel connected with our cultural heritage.”

Based on the similar lines, Delhi by Foot, an organization run by history enthusiasts, aims to sensitize people about the importance of historical monuments by organizing heritage walks to lesser known areas in the city.

“Heritage walks are important in recreating a connect with historical monuments. Additionally, we are also trying to approach corporate companies to ‘adopt and look after’ a monument with a no-profit motive,” Ramit Mitra, co-founder, Delhi by Foot, says.

The organization has formulated a plan for pitching to corporates to include heritage restoration as a part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR). They have also written to INTACH and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for further approval.

“A similar approval to maintain the remains of Sheesh Mahal in Farrukhnagar town is underway. A lot is being done by the government to restore heritage sites. Yet, there are many lesser known heritage monuments which need utmost care. For instance, Hauz-e-Shamshi, one of the biggest man-made reservoirs in Mehrauli is not in a satisfactory state,” adds Ramit.


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