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Books > Art and Architecture > Buddhist > Custodians of The Past- 150 Years of The Archaeological Survey of India
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Custodians of The Past- 150 Years of The Archaeological Survey of India
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Custodians of The Past- 150 Years of The Archaeological Survey of India
Look Inside the Book
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About The Book

This commemorative volume celebrates 150 years of the establishment of the Archaeological Survey of India, the country's premier organization committed to the preservation and care of its national monuments. The book offers a brief narrative of the foundation and history of the ASI, lavishly illustrated with images selected from the Survey's vast photographic and drawing archives. The early photographic image form the 19th and beginning of the 20th century printed here include some never before published photographs of india’s monuments as well as rare photographs showing archaeological excavations and conservation works in progress, and provide a visual overview of the subcontinent’s greatest monuments.

Preface

The idea of publishing a volume to celebrate 150 years of the Archaeological Survey of India took birth during a meeting with Dr Pratapaditya Pal at the Marg office in Mumbai. We started with the premise that the book would include 150 select images from the ASI's vast photographic archives in Delhi. We were acutely aware that the ASI library and archives were established only in the early 20th century and would be lacking in images from the foundation years between 1861 and 1902, most of these being in the India Office Collection of the British Library in London. But there were surprises in store for us.

Over six months, an exploration of the Photo Section in the ASI office at Delhi, which involved sifting through hundreds of heavy albums, yielded a vast treasure of images, many never before published. These were broadly catalogued by geographical zone, based on Archaeological Circles. Thus, the Punjab Albums included photographs of the North West Frontier Province, Lahore and West Punjab (now in Pakistan), and Delhi, East Punjab, Himachal and Haryana. Volumes labelled "Indian Tibet" yielded rare. photographs of Ladakh, Spiti, Sarahan and other Himalayan sites. Albums marked Bombay included the erstwhile Bombay Presidency with rare photographs of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Bijapur and other parts of Karnataka, while the Madras Albums contained images of monuments across the southern states.

And then, the unexpected happened! Photographs began revealing their secrets when they were scanned in high resolution and enlarged on a monitor. As mentioned above, we had been resigned to getting only post-1902 images for this volume, but hidden in the branches of a tree in an image of a ruined temple in Kashmir, we found a marking "Baker & Burke". Another Burke signature was camouflaged by a thatched roof, in a corner of a black-and-white panoramic view of Srinagar. A photograph of the Sanchi Stupa from the Central India Albums had "D. Diyal" marked on a stone in the foreground, and markings of the studio Wiele & Klein, Madras and Ootacamund appeared in many photographs of temples in Tamil Nadu. The initials JJ appearing in photographs of Ellora were later found to be those of the photographer John Johnston of the 1870s, and a photograph of a temple in Vrindavan carried the marking of Samuel Bourne. Many others were copies of photographs which were sent to the India Office, now in the British, Library's Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections. On some images of Fatehpur Sikri and Lucknow Residency, we found markings of the firm Shepherd & Robertson dating to the 1860s, while many photographs of Gujarat and Karnataka bore the initials H.C., for Henry Cousens.

Thus was revealed a repository of early Indian photography in the ASI photo archives, including rare 19th-century photographs by Captain T.H. Biggs, John Johnston, Alexander Rea, William Henry Cornish and John Burke among others. While monuments in Orchha and Datia and sites in Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan are not technically protected as National Monuments by the ASI, we have included these early images as they were taken by archaeological officers or photographers commissioned by the Survey to make a nationwide study of India's monuments. Similarly, photographs of sites in Afghanistan, Myanmar (Burma), Pakistan and Bangladesh with which the Survey was involved have been included to accurately represent a comprehensive narrative of the ASI's work over the last 150 years. Our attempt is to represent the vast spectrum of India's monumental heritage through drawings and photographs and recount the association of the ASI with the subcontinent's monuments since its inception.

This volume is the result of the invaluable contribution of many individuals and organizations. We owe a debt of gratitude to Shraddha Bhatawadekar and Aparajita Das who tirelessly worked with us to ferret through hundreds of albums in the ASI archives, poring over photographs to look for photographer markings on faded images. Our grateful thanks to Shovan Chatterjee, Rajbir Singh and Teja Singh of the Photo Section of the ASI who worked beyond office hours to scan the thousand-plus photographs that were selected before making the final cut for the book. Sincere thanks to Rakesh Sardana and the staff of the Drawing Section of the ASI as well as to the Agra, Vadodara, Guwahati, Delhi, Bhopal, Mumbai and Chennai Circles for sharing archival drawings and information on past repairs. We acknowledge the National Archives of India and the ASI Central Library for access to documents in their collection, and the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts for images &omits Deen Dayal Collection. Our sincere thanks to John Falconer of the British Library for allowing us to reproduce five key images from the Asia Pacific and Africa Collections and for information on early photographers.

This book would not have been possible without the active encouragement and guidance of the Honourable Minister of Culture, Kumari Selja. We are indebted to her for her keen interest in the project. We are also grateful for the guidance and support of the Ministry of Culture under former Secretary, Shri Jawhar Sircar and Smt. Sangita Gairola, Secretary Culture.

A special word of appreciation for all our colleagues in the ASI for their enthusiasm and support. Finally, a big thank you to the editorial, design and production teams at Marg for all their inputs.

**Contents and Sample Pages**










Custodians of The Past- 150 Years of The Archaeological Survey of India

Item Code:
NAX455
Cover:
HARDCOVER
Edition:
2012
ISBN:
9789350861998
Language:
English
Size:
9.50 X 11.00 inch
Pages:
220 (Throughout B/W Illustrations)
Other Details:
Weight of the Book: 1.63 Kg
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$85.00
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About The Book

This commemorative volume celebrates 150 years of the establishment of the Archaeological Survey of India, the country's premier organization committed to the preservation and care of its national monuments. The book offers a brief narrative of the foundation and history of the ASI, lavishly illustrated with images selected from the Survey's vast photographic and drawing archives. The early photographic image form the 19th and beginning of the 20th century printed here include some never before published photographs of india’s monuments as well as rare photographs showing archaeological excavations and conservation works in progress, and provide a visual overview of the subcontinent’s greatest monuments.

Preface

The idea of publishing a volume to celebrate 150 years of the Archaeological Survey of India took birth during a meeting with Dr Pratapaditya Pal at the Marg office in Mumbai. We started with the premise that the book would include 150 select images from the ASI's vast photographic archives in Delhi. We were acutely aware that the ASI library and archives were established only in the early 20th century and would be lacking in images from the foundation years between 1861 and 1902, most of these being in the India Office Collection of the British Library in London. But there were surprises in store for us.

Over six months, an exploration of the Photo Section in the ASI office at Delhi, which involved sifting through hundreds of heavy albums, yielded a vast treasure of images, many never before published. These were broadly catalogued by geographical zone, based on Archaeological Circles. Thus, the Punjab Albums included photographs of the North West Frontier Province, Lahore and West Punjab (now in Pakistan), and Delhi, East Punjab, Himachal and Haryana. Volumes labelled "Indian Tibet" yielded rare. photographs of Ladakh, Spiti, Sarahan and other Himalayan sites. Albums marked Bombay included the erstwhile Bombay Presidency with rare photographs of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Bijapur and other parts of Karnataka, while the Madras Albums contained images of monuments across the southern states.

And then, the unexpected happened! Photographs began revealing their secrets when they were scanned in high resolution and enlarged on a monitor. As mentioned above, we had been resigned to getting only post-1902 images for this volume, but hidden in the branches of a tree in an image of a ruined temple in Kashmir, we found a marking "Baker & Burke". Another Burke signature was camouflaged by a thatched roof, in a corner of a black-and-white panoramic view of Srinagar. A photograph of the Sanchi Stupa from the Central India Albums had "D. Diyal" marked on a stone in the foreground, and markings of the studio Wiele & Klein, Madras and Ootacamund appeared in many photographs of temples in Tamil Nadu. The initials JJ appearing in photographs of Ellora were later found to be those of the photographer John Johnston of the 1870s, and a photograph of a temple in Vrindavan carried the marking of Samuel Bourne. Many others were copies of photographs which were sent to the India Office, now in the British, Library's Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections. On some images of Fatehpur Sikri and Lucknow Residency, we found markings of the firm Shepherd & Robertson dating to the 1860s, while many photographs of Gujarat and Karnataka bore the initials H.C., for Henry Cousens.

Thus was revealed a repository of early Indian photography in the ASI photo archives, including rare 19th-century photographs by Captain T.H. Biggs, John Johnston, Alexander Rea, William Henry Cornish and John Burke among others. While monuments in Orchha and Datia and sites in Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan are not technically protected as National Monuments by the ASI, we have included these early images as they were taken by archaeological officers or photographers commissioned by the Survey to make a nationwide study of India's monuments. Similarly, photographs of sites in Afghanistan, Myanmar (Burma), Pakistan and Bangladesh with which the Survey was involved have been included to accurately represent a comprehensive narrative of the ASI's work over the last 150 years. Our attempt is to represent the vast spectrum of India's monumental heritage through drawings and photographs and recount the association of the ASI with the subcontinent's monuments since its inception.

This volume is the result of the invaluable contribution of many individuals and organizations. We owe a debt of gratitude to Shraddha Bhatawadekar and Aparajita Das who tirelessly worked with us to ferret through hundreds of albums in the ASI archives, poring over photographs to look for photographer markings on faded images. Our grateful thanks to Shovan Chatterjee, Rajbir Singh and Teja Singh of the Photo Section of the ASI who worked beyond office hours to scan the thousand-plus photographs that were selected before making the final cut for the book. Sincere thanks to Rakesh Sardana and the staff of the Drawing Section of the ASI as well as to the Agra, Vadodara, Guwahati, Delhi, Bhopal, Mumbai and Chennai Circles for sharing archival drawings and information on past repairs. We acknowledge the National Archives of India and the ASI Central Library for access to documents in their collection, and the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts for images &omits Deen Dayal Collection. Our sincere thanks to John Falconer of the British Library for allowing us to reproduce five key images from the Asia Pacific and Africa Collections and for information on early photographers.

This book would not have been possible without the active encouragement and guidance of the Honourable Minister of Culture, Kumari Selja. We are indebted to her for her keen interest in the project. We are also grateful for the guidance and support of the Ministry of Culture under former Secretary, Shri Jawhar Sircar and Smt. Sangita Gairola, Secretary Culture.

A special word of appreciation for all our colleagues in the ASI for their enthusiasm and support. Finally, a big thank you to the editorial, design and production teams at Marg for all their inputs.

**Contents and Sample Pages**










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