“It is our moral responsibility to keep our traditions alive and keep the future generations informed of our rich past. This can only be done by properly preserving our heritage and its proper presentation to the visitors. This will enhance the sustainability of the tourism sector. “it was said by Mr Sarwan Singh Phillaur while inaugurating the international conference on Interpretation of built heritage here at Chandigarh. The conference is being organized by Punjab Government at Hotel J W Marriott, Chandigarh.Deputy Commissioners of various districts, number of officials of Punjab Government and 85 national and international delegates were attending the conference.
In his keynote address Mr. Sarwan Singh Phillaur said that Under the Infrastructure Development Investment Program for Tourism (IDIPT), which is being jointly funded by Government of Punjab and the Asian Development Bank, the Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board (PHTPB), is implementing various tourism-development projects. These projects would be implemented in different parts of the State in two phases. In the on-going first phase, projects in the Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts are being taken up. In the second phase, projects will be implemented in other districts, namely, Rupnagar, Mohali, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ferozepur, Kapurthala, Tarn Taran and Patiala.He said that under IDIPT, a workshop based on the theme of Heritage Conservation and Management was organized by PHTPB on 27 September 2012 at Amritsar. As its sequel, the theme of this conference was centered upon the interpretation of such monuments, with a view to inform and educate visitors about Punjab’s rich heritage. The theme of this international conference is: “Interpretation of Built Heritage”, Experts associated with international agencies like UNESCO, UNWTO (United Nations’ World Tourism Organization), ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites), ECCOFORT (European Cooperation Centre for Fortified Heritage), National Association for Interpretation (United States) attended the conference. Indian experts associated with the Archaeological Survey of India, the National Monuments Authority, INTACH and reputed academic institutions will also be a part of the conference.
Geetika Kalha, Principal Secretary (Tourism) informed that this kind of initiative is being undertaken in India for the first time. Generally, the emphasis of Indian authorities has been on conservation and restoration of historical monuments. Their interpretation to the visitors is limited to the printed books and brochures, guides, and on-site boards. In these, the monument is merely a backdrop for the historic actors. She emphasized that it was for the first time that effort was being initiated to make the monument the ‘hero’, to see why and how it was built and the skills used. In recent times, more technological methods have become popular in the form of audio-guides, CDs/DVDs, sound & light shows, etc. However, an emphasis on analyses of monuments is lacking which can be offered to the visitors for a comprehensive experience.
In his presentation Mr. Alonzo Addison, Director - Centre for Design Visualization, University of California at Berkeley and Advisor-UNESCO World Heritage Centre emphasized that it was highly essential to protect out cultural heritage in the current times of globalization. Tracing the digital growth of interpretation of built heritage, his presentation explored the potential benefits, from basic conservation, to socio-economic development, of emerging technology for interpretation today.
The theme of Session 1 was ‘Analysis and Interpretation of Heritage Monuments’. Dr. Hans-Rudolf Neumann, Scientific Coordinator, ECCOFORT-Europe gave an introduction about the on-going European funding project “FORTE CULTURA”. Through a pictorial presentation, he showed the historic development of fortifications in Europe and its typology in modern age. He also mentioned about the linkages among fort styles in India and Europe. He informed about his planned international fortress study tour in February 2015 to Punjab.
The second session of the day was chaired by Mr. S.S.Channy, Principle Secretary Culture Affairs. Dr. Giles Tillotson, who has written many books on Indian architecture, art and history, spoke about the analysis and interpretation in Indian context, citing examples of the Taj Mahal, Chittorgarh and the capitol complex at Chandigarh. Mr. Tom Addyman presented details of the methods of analyses adoted at Gobindgarh Fort, Amritsar under IDIPT project. He presented interesting facts about the historic layers found in different parts and structures of the fort.The theme of Session 2 was ‘Technology, Media & Strategy - New Frontiers in interpretation of Built Heritage’. Mr. Alonzo Addison made a presentation on Interpretive Methods and their Value - Emerging Technologies, covering an expert perspective on interpretation, best examples of interpretation centres, application of modern technology in interpretation and strategic options under different circumstances. Dr. Russell Staiff, an expert from UNWTO, described use of modern tools / gadgets in interpretation. He elaborated about the advantages of each type of gadget. He concluded that digital connectivity and convergence will increase, intensify and encompass more and more of the planet’s population, and the future of cultural heritage is a digital future. Meera I Dass, Member, National Monuments Authority asserted that the conference added an innovative dimension to the conservation practices in India. She identified a number of guidelines that may be adopted in developing interpretation materials in India. Earlier in the day Mrs. Raji Srivastawa, Secretary Tourism formally welcomed the delegates.