Posted On Sunday, September 16, 2012 at 10:46:55 AM
Dr Kiran Shinde doesn’t like it when you use the word ‘heritage’ loosely. After publishing over 25 scholarly papers on various aspects related to religious tourism, sacred landscapes and environmental issues faced by pilgrimage sites, he has amassed a prolific insight into the subject.
Given his area of expertise, Shinde is invited by organisations like The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) to sensitise people regarding the upkeep of heritage sites and also to hopefully inspire people to think a little deeply about the topic.
Shinde, who’s the principal of Bharati Vidyapeeth University College of Architecture, displays an innate knowledge when the talk veers to temple towns.
“There were times when people used to travel by foot while going on a pilgrimage, but these days, vehicles are used while following such routes. The flipside of this is, many important sites are being totally forgotten, owing to the customised nature of the pilgrimage,” informs Shinde.
His subtle statements force you to think. “Is a wada owner justified in demolishing the old structure to make way for a new building?” he questions. Adds Shinde, “When you forget certain facets of your heritage, what exactly are you trying to interpret?” And these are the questions Shinde throws at you, challenging your notions and at the same time showing you the myriad possibilities the subject poses.
Shinde immediately corrects you when you ask him why the model followed in Rajasthan which incorporates converting palaces into luxury hotels is difficult to be replicated in Pune. “Those structures are big enough to accommodate such changes and most importantly, there must be a willingness to carry out such projects,” says Shinde who feels heritage tourism hasn’t flourished in Pune.
To state a point, Shinde draws parallels by giving examples of Italy and how the country is using its heritage sites to boost its economy. “The old and the new exist in perfect harmony in Italy. For that matter, even London is a classic example of how old structures can coexist peacefully with new buildings.
But it took years of proactive planning to attain this level of development. One can’t expect to achieve such changes within a short span of time in India,” says Shinde.
Given the stark comparison, he is positive small steps towards sensitising people on this topic will help in the long run. “I feel INTACH is doing a good job of highlighting such matters by organising events like heritage tours. This is a small step, but hopefully we will get there,” says Shinde.
Until then, it is for the likes of him to take the step to spread the message which is complex — preserving the past by remaining true to the roots and also by remaining open to suggestions and ideas. Shinde delivered a lecture on Religious and Cultural Heritage In Temple Towns in India at Dnyaneshwar Hall, on Saturday.
► When you forget certain facets of your heritage, what exactly are you trying to interpret?