HERITAGE The Museum Branch of ASI puts up a photo exhibition to promote archaeological tourism

Thinking of going on a vacation? Drop by the Government Arts College before you make plans. The college plays host to ‘Tourism and Archaeology', an informative photo exhibition on India's history, heritage and culture, held as part of World Tourism Day celebrations. The event, organised by Museum Branch, Southern Region of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), in association with the Department of Tourism, Government Arts College, and ADEONA Tourism Association, showcases photographs of monuments, antiquities, inscriptions, sculptures and paintings to promote culture and heritage tourism.

Culture calling

This year's theme for World Tourism Day is ‘Linking Cultures'. “In India, since ASI preserves and protects the country's heritage and culture, we decided to organise this photo exhibition,” says Neeti Anil Kumar, assistant archaeologist, ASI.

“The idea of tourism has changed. We find foreigners appreciating our country's heritage and culture more than we do. We want people to plan heritage-based tours,” says K. Moortheeswari, deputy superintending archaeologist. The exhibition aims to aid people in understanding the richness of Indian culture and “selecting places for travel, wisely”.

Every wall and beam of the hall has pictures, number 500, pasted on it. The beams accommodate pictures of the collections from the eight museums administered by the Museum Branch. There are photographs of Buddha's relics, transplanted monuments and carvings of Jataka stories from Nagarjuna Konda museum, a unique island museum. The ASI offers a generous peek into the Kondapur museum (with its 2000-year-old terracotta pendants and seals, carnelian beads and semi-precious stones), Amaravathi, Tipu Sultan, Chandragiri and the Fort museums. Photographs of the Mattanchery Palace museum stand out. From Shiva's Chitrathandava and Putra Kaamishti Yagya murals to the lifestyle and portrait galleries, images of this former Dutch palace woo the viewer.

There are also photographs of world heritage sites in India — rock shelters of Bhimbetka, Sanchi Stupa, Pattadakal group of monuments, churches and convents of Goa, Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, Chola temples and more. There are some more pictures, classified zone-wise.

Moortheeswari and Neeti flaunt pictures of Chinese sculptures, Buddhist bronzes, and the famous terracotta Chinese warriors. “China's State Administration for Cultural Heritage (SACH) and AEC, in association with the ASI, are conducting a photo exhibition of their country's antiquities in Kolkata,” says Neeti. “It might not be possible for everyone to go see the exhibition there. Through this exhibition, people in Coimbatore get to know about Chinese culture as well,” adds Moortheeswari.

ASI's epigraphy department has also put up a few pictures of inscriptions and various Indian scripts. Slide shows and videos are also being screened as part of ‘Tourism and Archaeology'. The exhibition, which is open to all, concludes today.