Preserving Mughal architecture with American help

July 6th, 2008 - 1:04 pm ICT by IANS  


New Delhi, July 6 (IANS) The splendour of Mughal architecture - its mosques, tombs and other structures - is in danger of being lost to neglect and pillage of time but an American university has taken up the task of documentation of neglected Islamic monuments in India. The American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS), a consortium of leading US universities, hopes to prepare database of these monuments to preserve them for future reference and research.

“These monuments are of great importance for research scholars who are studying the Mughal architecture in India. We plan to document and prepare a database of these monuments,” said Vandana Sinha, director of AIIS centre in Gurgaon, a suburb of the national capital.

AIIS has selected 100 monuments of the Mughal period in Punjab and Haryana. These include various tombs, mosques and step wells constructed by the Mughal rulers in 16-19 century AD, Sinha said.

“The documentation includes preparation of architectural maps, photographs and site plans which are of great importance to the scholars,” she added.

The monuments selected for documentation include structures like Kabuli Bagh in Panipat that is said to be the only surviving mosque among the many constructed by the first Mughal emperor Babur.

The Mughal empire was the dominant power in the Indian subcontinent from the mid-16th century to end of the 19th century. Founded in 1526 by Babur, it survived nominally until 1857, when it was overthrown by the British.

The first phase of the project, likely to begin in August, would cost around $100,000.

AIIS was established in 1961 by a group of American scholars involved in programmes of Indian studies in US universities. It facilitates research on Indian culture and history.

It also provides fellowships for senior American scholars and doctorate candidates apart from providing on-site training in Indian languages.

The photo-archives of the institute contains a unique collection of more than 140,000 meticulously documented photographs, slides, architectural drawings and site plans of South Asian art and architecture.

The institute has documented about 3,000 monuments from 2,000 sites and 300 museums so far.

These include sculptures, coins, manuscripts and miniature paintings from Buddhist, Jain, Hindu and Islamic architecture in the region.

Some 5,000 scholars use its facilities every year and depend on the institute for their research.

The photo-archive is now being placed online in a searchable database to serve wider audiences. About 50,000 images of the total of 140,000 are available online.

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