Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has declared Chaukhandi stupa located in Sarnath, UP as protected area. This was notified by the Ministry of Culture. This notification will allow ASI to undertake restoration and preservation works at the site. Chaukhandi Stupa is a Buddhist site and has served as a place of relics of Buddha. It is called Chaukhandi because of four armed plan. This site finds mention in Hiuen Tsang, traveler during Harsha’s period. This site was renovated during Mughal perod by Raja Todarmal to commemorate Humayun visit.

Site of national Importance:  Archeological Survey of India declares specific sites as ‘national importance’ if the Site has remains of ancient artifacts if it has a monument, or the site is important for the access to the monuments. Why in News?  In Sadikpur Sinauli, Baghpat district of Uttar Pradesh the ASI has found remains of a warrior class, which is believed to have lived 4000 years ago. This site was excavated in 2018 and ASI has decided to declare it as the site of national importance

What is it?  Ambubachi Mela is a 4 day fair which marks the annual menstruation of the goddess at Kamakhya temple, centre for Tantra worship. Kamakhya, near Guwahati, Assam is one of 51 shakti peethas or seat of Shakti followers, each representing a body part of Sati, Lord Shiva’s companion. Why in the news?  Recently Assam celebrated ambubachi Mela at kamakhya.

Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay: He was an Indian writer, poet and journalist. He is widely regarded as a key figure in literary renaissance of Bengal as well as the broader Indian subcontinent. Chattopadhyay’s earliest publications were in Ishwar Chandra Gupta’s weekly newspaper Sambad Prabhakar; His first fiction to appear in print was Rajmohan’s Wife. It was written in English and is regarded as the first Indian novel to be written in English. After he felt the pulse of nationalism, started writing in Bengali. He wrote 13 novels, of them Kapalkundala, Mrinalini, Devi chaudrani, Chandrasekhar are some of them. His Anandamath was the story of a group of monks (sanyasis) who fought the British. This was the source for our national song Vande mataram. Vande Mataram and Bangadarshan are magazines he published.

Why in news? Members of parliament of Trinamool Congress are demanding a statue of Bankim Chandra Chattopadhayay in parliament premises.

Amravati school of art: Ancient Indian architecture contains 3 major schools – Gandhara, Mathura and Amravati schools.  Amravati school of art has evolved and flourished for nearly six centuries commencing from 200-100 BC.  It was patronized first by the Satavahanas and later by the Ikshvakus and also by other groups. It is completely indigenous art style and have mainly Buddhist artifacts. To make artifacts white marble was widely used. The sculptures of Amravati art are mainly narrative and are inspired by jataka tales. Human forms are shown in tribhanga style (3 bends). Amravati had a huge stupa whose remains are kept in Chennai museum now.

Why in news?  A limestone pillar of 3rd century, belonging to Amravati school was found in Parkasm district of Andhra Pradesh.  It is said to be a part of Buddhist monastery during Ikshvaku period.

What are classical Languages? In 2004, the Government of India declared that languages that met certain requirements could be accorded the status of a “Classical Language in India”. Tamil, Sanskrit, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, and Odia are the six languages so far considered as the classical language. The Criteria: The language must have high antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500–2000 years. A body of ancient literature/texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers. The literary tradition should be original and not borrowed from another speech community. The classical language and literature being distinct from modern, there may also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offshoots. Benefits being as a classical language: There shall be a Centre of Excellence for Studies in Classical Languages declared. The UGC can be requested to create a certain number of professional chairs for classical languages, for scholars of eminence in the concerned language in Central Universities. Two major annual international awards for scholars of eminence in the classical language. About Marathi Language: It is the official language of Maharashtra and co-official language in Goa. Marathi is descended from the ‘Mahārāṣṭrī Prākrit, Marāṭhī literature can be written in Devanāgarī script or cursive form of Devanāgarī called Modi script. Marathi gained prominence with the rise of the Maratha Empire beginning with the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji (1674–1680). Why in News? Union Minister of State (independent charge) Culture and Tourism said that the proposal for granting Marathi the status of a classical language was under “active consideration.

Why in News ? Rath Yatra festival in honour of Puri’s Lord Jagannath was celebrated in Puri, Odisha. It is also known as the ‘Festival of Chariots’.  About: The presiding deities of the temple, Sri Mandira, Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra, with the celestial wheel Sudarshana are taken out from the temple precincts in an elaborate ritual procession to their respective chariots. The chariots are called of Lord Jagannatha, Balbhadra and Goddess Subhadra are called Nandighosha, Taladhwaja, and Devadalana respectively. The huge, colourfully decorated chariots, are drawn by hundreds and thousands of devotees on the bada danda, the grand avenue to the Gundicha temple, some two miles away to the North. After a stay for seven days, the deities return to their abode in Srimandira in Puri. New chariots for all the three deities are constructed every year using wood even if the architect of the chariots remains similar. Four wooden horses are attached to each chariot.

UNESCO World Heritage Committee (WHC) : The World Heritage Committee is composed of representatives of 21 States Parties to the World Heritage Convention who meet annually. The Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage is an international agreement that was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO in 1972. It is based on the premise that certain places on Earth are of outstanding universal value and should therefore form part of the common heritage of humankind. It basically defines the kind of natural or cultural sites which can be considered for inscription on the World Heritage List. The Committee is in charge of implementing the Convention. To date, 1,092 sites in 167 countries have been inscribed on the World Heritage List. Jaipur city : The walled city of Jaipur in Rajasthan, was founded in 1727 AD under the patronage of Sawai Jai Singh II. It also serves as the capital city of the state of Rajasthan. Unlike other cities in the region located in hilly terrain, Jaipur was established on the plain and built according to a grid plan interpreted in the light of Vedic architecture. Its streets feature rows that intersect in the centre and create large public squares called chaupars. The city’s urban planning shows an exchange of ideas from ancient Hindu and modern Mughal as well as Western cultures.  Designed to be a commercial capital, the city has maintained its local commercial, artisanal and cooperative traditions to this day. The iconic monuments in the city include the Govind Dev temple, City Palace, Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal etc.

Why in the news? Jaipur (Rajasthan),was declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site at the 43rd session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee (WHC) which met at Baku, Azerbaijan, from 30th June – 10th July, 2019. The city was nominated for its value of being an exemplary development in town planning and architecture that demonstrates an amalgamation and important exchange of ideas in the late medieval period. Jaipur has become the second city of the country after Ahmedabad to get the recognition. With Jaipur’s inclusion as a cultural site, the number of heritage sites across India that are on the UNESCO World Heritage list, has grown to 38, including 30 cultural properties, 7 natural properties and 1 mixed site. Cultural (30) : Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara at Nalanda, Bihar (2016), Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park (2004), Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) (2004), Fatehpur Sikri (1986), Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram (1984), Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya (2002), Mountain Railways of India (1999,2005,2008) Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi (1993), Rani-ki-Vav (the Queen’s Stepwell) at Patan, Gujarat (2014),The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement (2016), Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai (2018)Natural (7): Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area (2014), Kaziranga National Park (1985), Keoladeo National Park (1985), Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (1985), Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks (1988,2005), Sundarbans National Park (1987), Western Ghats (2012) Mixed (1): Khangchendzonga National Park (2016)

About Menhirs: Menhir is a Tall Upright Stone of a kind erected in Prehistoric Times in western Europe. It can be found solely as monoliths, or as part of a group of similar stones. The Pothamala hills housed hundreds of cobbled stone structures, pointing to the existence of a structured graveyard of a prehistoric civilisation. The largest menhir found was 20 ft tall and 6 ft wide with a thickness of 5 ft. They were planted in a Specific Geometrical Pattern on a cluster of hills. Why in the news? The sighting of new menhirs, perhaps the largest-ever recorded in Kerala, on the Pothamala hills in Udumbanchola taluk on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border, has thrown light on the possible existence of a major prehistoric necropolis there. The researchers suggest that there should be a proper research and excavation by archeological survey of India. It is predicted that a civilisation lived here some 4000 years ago. It will be a great reveal if we find a great civilisation in south India.

Why in News?  The World Heritage Committee (WHC), which supervises and advises on conservation of UNESCO world heritage sites, has “regretted” the lack of response from local authorities on “concerns” raised about developmental projects in the world heritage site of Hampi.  About Hampi:  With the decline of the power of the Chola dynasty in the13th century, the Vijayanagara Dynasty captured and brought under its control the region from Hampi to Trichy with Hampi serving as its capital near the river Tungabhadra. Vijayanagara or “city of victory” was the name of both a city and an empire. The empire was founded in the fourteenth century by two brothers, Harihara and Bukka. In its heyday it stretched from the river Krishna in the north to the extreme south of the peninsula.  The name Hampi is derived from a local mother goddess, Pampadevi.  In 1565 Rama Raya, the chief minister of Vijayanagara, led the army into battle at Rakshasi-Tangadi (also known as Talikota),where his forces were routed by the combined armies of Bijapur, Ahmadnagar and Golconda.  At the time of the Battle of Talikota, the Mughal Empire was expanding under its famous Emperor Jalal ud-din Muhammad Akbar. The ruins at Hampi were brought to light in 1800 by Colonel Colin Mackenzie.

Why were some temples not destroyed by the armies of Sultans? In 1565, most of the anger of the invading Sultans was directed at the Sri Vaishnava temples: Vithalaswami, Tiruvengalanatha, Udayagiri Krishna temples. They were axially attacked, rendering subsequent worship impossible. Towards the end of 15th century, Vaishnavism had become the most important religion of the Vijayanagara kings, especially the cults associated with Sri Vaishnavism. Other Vishnu temples not destroyed, such as Hazara Rama, were abandoned because of lack of local patronage. A major symbol of Vijaynagar Empire, the Virupaksha temple was not destroyed, could be because: 1. Virupaksha temple as a Shiva temple in a period of Vaishnava ascendancy was less likely to be attacked; 2. As it was not associated with Tuluva or Ramaraya but with the previous dynasty, it was less likely to be attacked; 3. Because the shrine predates Vijayanagara;  Varaha is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and is worshiped by Hindus. But Muslims consider pig/boar to be impure. This was the flag of the Vijayanagara Empire . The symbol of the Vijayanagara Empire had the sun, the moon, a sword, and most importantly symbol of Lord Varaha.

Important temples located at Hampi: Virupaksha Temple  It is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva was built by the Chalukyas in the 7th century. It was subsequently greatly improved by the Vijayanagara kings of the 14th-16th century.  Krishna Deva Raya (KDR) added its Tamilstyle gopura. It is also popular for its yearly chariot festival. Vittala Temple  The temple is dedicated to Vaishnava deity Lord Vitthala. Vittala Temple in Hampi is known for its exquisite craftsmanship and extraordinary architecture in the Dravidian Style. Its peculiarity is the huge and decorative stone chariot, though not a monolithic structure. Hazara Rama Temple Hazara Rama comes from the word Hazarumu which in Telugu means Entrance Hall.  This place has one of the most beautiful and intricate carvings, lot of them describing what happened back in Ramayana and some of them depicting various Vishnu avatars. It was also a private temple of the royal family.  Jain Temples: Jainism remained an important religion even during the Vijayanagara Empire due to their highly tolerant attitude for all religions.  Vijayanagara Paintings :Important Characteristics: The faces of the figures are shown in profile (a representation of something in outline, especially a human head or face represented or seen in a side view), with large frontal eyes.  The figures have narrow waists. Figures and objects were generally shown two-dimensionally.

About Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Bal Gangadhar Tilak is one of the freedom fighters because of whose selfless sacrifice we are independent now. Born in a Brahmin family, Tilak was a teacher, advocate, journalist, scholar, mathematician, philosopher, and a reformer who helped lay the foundation for India’s independence by building his own defiance of British rule into a national movement.  Facts about Tilak: Bal Gangadhar Tilak, was popularly known as Lokmanya, and dedicated his life for the cause of “Purna Swaraj” (complete self-rule).  He was called ‘The Father of the Indian Unrest’ by the British people who ruled India till 1947. Being the first and foremost leader of the Indian Independence Movement, Bal Gangadhar Tilak became popular as the ‘Father of Swaraj’.  To ensure that youngsters in India attain quality education, Bal Gangadhar Tilak found the Deccan Education Society in 1884. Bal Gangadhar Tilak joined the Indian National Congress Party in the year 1890.Before Independence, Bal Gangadhar Tilak started weeklies such as Kesari (The Lion) and Mahratta. Kesari was Marathi language weekly while Mahratta was English weekly. Through these newspapers Tilak became widely known for his criticisms of British rule. Bal Gangadhar Tilak had popular leaders such as Bipin Chandra Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai as his political companions. The three were popularly known as ‘Lal-Bal-Pal triumvirate.’  When Bal Gangadhar Tilak was imprisoned during the freedom struggle, he wrote a book titled ‘Gita-Rahasya’ from behind the bars. Bal Gangadhar Tilak founded the Indian Home Rule League and served as its president and in 1916 he concluded the Lucknow Pact with Mohammed Ali Jinnah, which provided for Hindu-Muslim unity in the nationalist struggle.

A coin was launched by the Government of India to commemorate his 150th birth anniversary. Famous slogans by Tilak: Our nation is like a tree of which the original trunk is swarajya and the branches are swadeshi and boycott” .“If God is put up with untouchability, I will not call him God”. “If the history of any nation is drawn back into the past, we finally reached a period of myths and traditions that eventually fade into impenetrable darkness”. Why in news? Nation remembers his contribution on his 163rd birth anniversary on July 23.

Why in news? The Kapil Muni temple on Sagar Island in the Sunderbans, located 400 mts above the sea level, where a large number of devotees gather every year during the Gangasagar fair, is facing the threat of rising seas and will be submerged in the next few years. The issue – The sea is advancing at the rate of 15 meters a year. If the trend continues, there will be a need to relocate the temple.  The solution : The construction of sea walls using offshore submerged geotubes (sand-like material filled into geo-textile tube. comprehensive plan for “beach protection and coastal erosion protection for 2,300 metres along the stretch of the Kapil Muni temple and the Gangasagar mela ground. The temple – an ancient heritage  According to legend, King Bhagirath, after a long penance, brought the Ganga down from the Himalayas to liberate his ancestors, who were burnt to ashes in front of the Kapil Muni temple on Sagar Island. It is also believed that the temple is located at the point where the river meets the sea.

Human habitation in Sagar started in 1811, and according to the records available, this might be the fourth. The existing temple was built in 1973. Deity in the temple, a stone block considered to be a representation of Sage Kapil, was installed in 1437 by Swami Ramanand.  Kapila Muni – he was the son of Kardam Muni and Debadyuti. It is written in the old book that he was part of Lord Vishnu. He is the founder of the Samkhya school of Hindu philosophy. Kapila of Samkhya fame is considered a Vedic sage, estimated to have lived in the 6th-century BCE, or the 7th-century BCE. Rishi Kapila is credited with authoring the influential Samkhya-sutra, in which aphoristic sutras present the dualistic philosophy of Samkhya. Ramananda a bhakti saint was the founder and head of the Uddhav Sampraday. Ramanand Swami adopted the Vishishtadvaita doctrine (qualified non-dualism) of the Vaishnava which was first propounded by Ramanuja several centuries earlier.

Why in news? State Department of Archaeology has found a tank-like brick structure and terracotta pipelines during the excavation at Keezhadi. The structures were found at different trenches spread across a sprawling area. “Major structures have been found in the fifth phase of the excavation.  Structures found –Brick-mud wall structure ran nearly 15 meters at the south west area of the present site of excavation. A brick channel a concealed channel, constructed using brick and mud. A tank-like structure, the rectangular tank, of four feet by three feet with one-meter depth, also has its bottom lined with bricks.  Keezhadi Excavation: In 2013-14, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) carried out explorations in 293 sites along the Vaigai river valley in Theni, Dindigul, Madurai, Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram districts. Keezhadi in Sivaganga district was chosen for excavation and artefacts unearthed by the ASI in the second phase of the excavation at Pallichanthai Thidal of Keezhadi pointed to an ancient civilisation that thrived on the banks of the Vaigai. Carbon dating of charcoal found at the Keezhadi site in February 2017 established that the settlement there belonged to 200 BC. The excavations thus proved that urban civilisation had existed in Tamil Nadu since the Sangam age.

Why in news? The products — the Dindigul lock and the Kandangi saree — were given the GI tag by the Geographical Indications Registry in Chennai. Dindigul lock : The famous Dindigul locks are known throughout the world for their superior quality and durability, so much so that even the city is called Lock City.  The abundance of iron in this region is the reason for the growth of the lock-making industry. government institutions like prisons, godowns, hospitals and even temples use the older pattern locks. These lock manufacturing units are limited to an area of 5 km in and around Dindigul. There are over 50 varieties of locks made by the artisans. But over the last few years, this industry has been slowly dying due to competition from Aligarh and Rajapalayam. Kandangi saree : The original Kandangi saree is manually made using a winding machine, loom, shuttle and bobbin. It is a team effort of the families who live in the town of Karaikudi and it forms part of their livelihood. These sarees are characterised by the large contrast borders, and some of them are known to have borders covering as much as two-thirds of the saree. The sarees are usually around 5.10 meters – 5.60 meters in length. The Kandangi sarees exude brilliant colours like bright yellow, orange, red and a minimal black in the traditional pattern of stripes or checks with broad borders woven in coarse cotton.

Over the years, more interesting colours have been introduced for the saree, which is worn in a particular manner. Geographical Indications of Goods are defined as that aspect of industrial property which refers to a country or to a place situated therein as being the country or place of origin of that product. What is a G.I. Tag?Geographical indications are covered as an element of IPRs under the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property of World Intellectual Property Organisation.  They are also covered under the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights TRIPS) Agreement of the World Trade Organisation. India, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999. It is administered by the Controller General of Patents, Design and Trademarks or Registrar of G.I.

The inclusion of Kongthong village in the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage for preserving its practice of giving each child a unique tune called jingrwai ïawbei in the Khasi language  instead of a name has been proposed recently.  The whistling culture 22 other villages around Kongthong have a similar practice of mothers composing a tune for her child until they attain a certain age to be called by “normal” names. Out of the 53 villages in the Khat-ar Shnong area, 23 communicate through whistling and calling each other by a tune. Khat-ar means an area belonging to 12 clans of the Khasi community and Shnong means village. The area comes under the Sohra Hima (a kingdom-like traditional administrative unit) headed by a syiem or chieftain. Sohra is the local name for Cherrapunjee in East Khasi Hills district. UNESCO Intangible heritage list – its significance. It includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts. It is inclusive, representative, community based and traditional as well as contemporary at the same time.

While fragile, intangible cultural heritage is an important factor in maintaining cultural diversity in the face of growing globalization. An understanding of the intangible cultural heritage of different communities helps with intercultural dialogue, and encourages mutual respect for other ways of life.  The importance of intangible cultural heritage is not the cultural manifestation itself but rather the wealth of knowledge and skills that is transmitted through it from one generation to the next. The social and economic value of this transmission of knowledge is relevant for minority groups and for mainstream social groups within a State, and is as important for developing States as for developed ones.

Indian History Bengal Famine: Around 1.5 to 3 million people perished in the man-made Bengal famine of 1943. However, it continues to be perceived as a tragic occurrence and not an atrocity. Everyday thousands of emaciated dead had to be removed from the streets of Calcutta by police and governmentfunded corpse disposal organisations. Voluminous official records from that period available in the India Office Records section of the British Library establish that the famine was not the outcome of a lack of food grain. Rather, political machinations, greed, hoarding and bureaucratic bungling on a massive scale led to Bengal Famine. The fundamental causes of the famine:The need to feed a vast Army diverted foodstuffs. ▪ Rice imports from Burma and South-East Asia had been stopped. The famine got aggravated by gross mismanagement and deliberate profiteering; rationing methods were belated and were confined to big cities.  Famine Commissions during British Rule in India: First Famine Commission: Set up in 1878 under the Chairmanship of Sir Richard Strachey, Second Famine Commission: Set up in 1897 under the Chairmanship of Sir James Lyall , Third Famine Commission: Set up in 1900 under the Chairmanship of Sir Anthony McDonnell