Conservation Of Heritage Buildings In India

Conservation of Heritage buildings in India. Arjun Hareendran143701324Faculty of Architecture, Manipal Academy of Higher Education AbstractHeritage in all its forms are considered to be of utmost importance, as it plays a major role in defining/providing identity to a space or its people. It serves as an evidence of the cultural development made over the years, by keeping a track of our beginning and the progress. Since Indian history is well evident of events such as wars, colonialism, partition, terrorism etc. causing decay and demolition to our rich and glorious heritage, it is always under direct danger of extinction. Preserving such a factor essential for the future development of that place, becomes crucial.

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This paper studies the ways in which heritage conservation activities are carried out in India and the governing bodies involved in it with their roles and contribution in it. It also lists out the previously occurred advents of unexpected destruction of heritage buildings in India and their immediate causes. Moreover the paper will analyze why the conservation activities are not very effective and what are the possible fields we need to reconsider in order to strengthen its impacts. It also discusses about the few already attempted projects in conservation of the old heritage buildings in India.

Keywords: Heritage, Identity, Conservation, Effectiveness,Maintenance. IntroductionBuilt heritage consists of all aspects of the man-made historic environment such as houses,factories, commercial buildings, places of worship, cemeteries, monuments and builtinfrastructure. It not only includes beautiful buildings and monuments of exceptional valuebut also includes small modest vernacular buildings and settlements that embody otherequally important historical, social or even archaeological values rendering them just assignificant. Our built heritage, as the physical evidence of our cultural development, is one of our most important cultural assets. Built heritage helps us to understand where we have come from and who we are today. It allows us to maintain a link with the past, defining a sense of place andidentity for communities, both urban and regional. But our history is well evident of wars, colonialization, partition, religious disputes and other mass destructive acts responsible for deterioration of these built heritage, and proves to risk the individuality of that place. Hence the need for a governing body was felt and various measures were made to sustain,rebuilt, restore these vital part of our history. This paper discusses on the crucial aspects ofconservation of built heritage in India and aims to look into the gaps in conservation leading to impactless consequences causing unexpected demolition of them.


The aim of this research is to study different aspects of conservation of old heritage buildings in India and to point out the odds or gaps reducing its intensity.

Research Objectives

  • To understand the role of heritage of a place and its significance in society.
  • Learning about few example of heritage conservation measures undertaken previously, to understand the methods and challenges involved in it.
  • To list out the bodies involved in conservation activities of Indian heritage buildings.
  • To find out the level of participation by the central and the state government in India in the heritage conservation activities.
  • To figure out the major reasons in Indian scenario that are not allowing proper conservation of them

Research statement

To present possible ideas to strengthen the heritage conservation processes in India. ScopeThe scope of this study focuses mainly on old heritage buildings in India from the British Era.


  • Different heritage spaces have different functioning or characteristics, hence only monumental structures are considered
  • Only social, cultural and economic impacts are discussed, all the other parameters are not considered Research Methodology
  • A literature review is done about the evolution of the concept of Conservation and Rehabilitation of heritage.
  • A literature review is done on the sustainable conservation of heritage projects (in non-western context)
  • Secondary case studies are to be done on various heritage conservation and restoration projects undertaken previously, including Hampi
  • Secondary case studies are done in UK context for sustainable conservation of their heritage buildings, considering the similarities in style of architecture.
  • A narrative approach is used to present each case study and cross case analysis will be used to compare the findings and merits of each methods of practice.

Literature Review

Sustainable Heritage Development: Learning from Urban Conservation of Heritage Projects in Non Western Contexts(European Journal of Sustainable Development,2013)The paper aims at exploring the merits of six conservation and rehabilitation projects which have received considerable coverage and recognition on a national and international level. Projects identified for this study are selected from Egypt, Palestine,Tunisia and Uzbekistan. Merits of these projects are analyzed and highlighted in the article to work as an archetype for similar projects around the world. Impact of Heritage decline on Urban social life (Hanaw Mohammed Taqi M. Amin,2017)-Residents’ behavioral responses are not related to their emotional responses and place identity and place dependence. It is related to the condition of the place, which was seen as dilapidated and derelict that had been neglected by the government due to financial and political instability. Heritage is mainly governed by two main factors namely place identity and place dependence.

The Conservation and Preservation of Heritage in the Caribbean (Elizabeth F. Watson,2014)

  • This paper has explored a number of issues that impact the conservation and preservation of the heritage of such states.
  • Heritage is esential as the future generations will be able to see and experience that which contributed to making them what they are as a people.
  • The preservation and conservation of heritage is a solemn obligation that must be undertaken by each generation. Factors affecting the deterioration of heritage-
  • Natural calamities, ageing and weathering effects of the atmosphere.
  • Wars, hurricanes, tsunamis and other events often have a long lasting negative impacts.
  • During enslavement and prior to independence, in many of these states, determined steps were taken to eradicate,suppress or devalue the heritage of the “Other”. (Journal of Environmental Psychology,Hanaw Mohammed Taqi M. Amin,2017)
  • The failure to provide finance at levels that facilitate the conservation and preservation of the cultural heritage in SIDS states. (The Conservation and Preservation of Heritage in the Caribbean,Elizabeth F. Watson)
  • Religious intolerance is the cause of the destruction of these significant heritage signifiers. (The Conservation and Preservation of Heritage in the Caribbean,Elizabeth F. Watson)Building Conservation and Sustainability in the United Kingdom ( P. J. Godwin 2011)Traditional building materials and methods of construction are generally robust and should be more widely promoted and used on the basis that historic buildings normally have a life span well in excess of modern buildings.

Case study

Conservation Intervention by,The World Heritage Committee, UNESCO. Site- Group of Monuments at Hampi (India)

Factors affecting the property in 2003

  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Legal framework
  • Management systems/ management plan

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

  • Major increase in heavy goods traffic (issue resolved)
  • Dismantling and reconstruction of an important historic monument (issue resolved)
  • Serious problems in the implementation of cultural heritage policies and regulations
  • Lack of a comprehensive management approach and plan
  • Lack of co-ordinating authority
  • Rural development pressure and ad-hoc public works, including the construction of two suspension bridges

Measures Undertaken by the State Ruling Party

  • (1) Demolition of the foot bridge;
  • (2) Suspension of completion work of the vehicular bridge; pending construction of a by-pass road to ensure deviation of traffic away from the core area as recommended by UNESCO expert mission of 1999/2000;
  • (3) Official establishment by special legislation of the Hampi World Heritage Management Authority composed of Central Government (Archaeological Survey of India), Karnataka State Government, local authorities, community representatives and NGOs;
  • (4) Adoption of State regulations banning stone quarrying within the World Heritage protected area (core and buffer), and designation of new quarrying area elsewhere;
  • (5) Adoption of official decision to remove illegal informal commerce and squatters from the historic arcade which had been deformed by illegal construction of additional floors and extensions;
  • (6) Purchase by State Government of land to build a visitor centre near the main temple to accommodate tourist buses, shops, and other amenities, the design of which is under preparation;
  • (7) Initiation of legal measures for purchase of land for the by-pass road (total 4. 6 kms of which some 2. 5 kms stretch of land under ownership of 21 proprietors)
  • (8) Allocation of special central and State Government funds for monument conservation, archaeological surveys, management planning, etc.
  • The UNESCO mission was received by the Minister of Culture and Tourism of the Central Government, State Ministers of Culture and Tourism, and senior officials of the Central and Karnataka State Governments, and was assured that: the vehicular bridge will not be completed until the by-pass road is constructed; that the squatters being removed from the historic arcade will be provided with alternative shops and residence, and that the Hampi Management Plan currently under preparation will take into consideration the feasibility of a new road for through traffic to divert transit passage away from the World Heritage area.
  • The authorities accepted to reduce the width and elevation of the by-pass road and to follow the natural contour as recommended by the UNESCO mission and welcomed its involvement in the design of the new visitor centre. The mission expressed concern over the anarchic growth of the Kamalapuran and Anegundi villages and recommended planned extensions of the two settlements with architectural design and urban regulations. Mobilization of the important budget for social housing was discussed as a means of realizing the village extensions and to house the squatters to be moved from the core monument areas. Funding from the World Heritage International Assistance to co-finance the Hampi Management Plan will take into consideration the integrated needs of the region.
11 February 2020

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