An emblem of linkages through the ages

To understand and celebrate the significance of the Silk Route, the “caravan sarais” and the roads that linked India to the West and Central Asia both economically and culturally in ancient times, a five-day international seminar and a ten-day exhibition began at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) here on Tuesday.

Inaugurating the seminar-cum exhibition, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said India enjoyed historical and cultural linkages with countries from the region and the shared ethos and culture made for an ideal platform to develop ties that were suited to meeting modern day challenges of securing development and combating terrorism.

Emphasising the need to designate the Silk Route as a “heritage route”, IGNCA president Chinmaya R. Gharekhan said the route contributed to the cross pollination of Indian and Central Asian cultures and resulted in the flowering of a great urban civilisation alongside it.

Renowned scholar of Indian classical dance and Indian art and architecture Kapila Vatsyayan emphasised the need to conduct archaeological excavations to bring to light the shared cultural ties which lie buried.

“This will tell us of the history and the dialogue then, when there was no need for a dialogue,” said Dr. Vatsyayan. She added that the travellers and the caravans did not only carry just material on their journeys but also ideas and cultures.

Past, present and future

Dr. Vatsyayan said revelations about the past were necessary to build up the present and the future.

The seminar will discuss the magnificent physical, spiritual, ideological and cultural infrastructure raised in Central Asia as a collaborative venture over thousands of years.

“The discussion on cities, roads and caravan sarais is a symbolic opportunity to remember the forgotten cart and camel drivers and guides, the architects and calligraphers, the poets and philosophers, the adventurers, soldiers and pilgrims who faced incredible suffering and risk to create the Central Asian civilisation,” said IGNCA member-secretary K. K. Chakravarty.

During the inauguration, artists from Central Asian countries presented a glimpse of their culture.

The seminar is being attended by delegates from countries like Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Mongolia and China.

The exhibition, “Cities, Roads and Caravan Sarais: An Emblem of Linkages Through the Ages (India, West and Central Asia)”, will be on view up to January 18.

Prashant Pandey