Delhi, being an old imperial city, holds an abundance of history and heritage. Over the years, as Delhi became a modern metropolitan city, its rich heritage lost its luster and was consigned to the pages of history. Over the years' the heritage of the city got lost, encroached, abused, fell to the vagaries of time and was almost forgotten. That is when Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) appeared on the scene with an aim to protect, preserve and celebrate this lost heritage. INTACH's Delhi chapter has done noteworthy work in this direction in the last couple of decades.
On the evening of April 25, 2022, INTACH Delhi Chapter organised 'Heritage Awards 2022'. The event was dedicated to celebrating those who are doing commendable work to not just preserve but also appreciate Delhi's heritage and keep its elements alive in contemporary times.
Prof. K.T. Ravindran, Dr C.T. Mishra, Anita Singh, Prof. AGK Menon among others were present at the panel to address the crowd. Prof. K.T. Ravindran talked about how a lot of history lies in Delhi which is being neglected and with the 'Delhi Chapter', INTACH aims at preserving it and connecting people with it. He further shed light on Delhi Chapter's contributions and works over the years.
Dr C.T. Mishra, while addressing the crowd, hinted at a few youngsters present at the event, while the majority of the audience consisted of elderly members of INTACH. Said she, "I see some youngsters have joined us and I hope they take a message back with them that Delhi deserves to be preserved." She further goes on to talk about how, along with the buildings, the intangible heritage needs to be saved. She said, "It is our intangible heritage, our morals and values and art which glues us to to the past and has an emotional impact on us. It needs to be preserved."
Following this, Prof. AGK Menon talks about the history of INTACH and how, since its inception in 1984, the organization has made several efforts to preserve Delhi's heritage. He specifically talks about the projects of 'Delhi Chapter' and how 'Listing', one of the most important activities of INTACH came about. He calls it a 'momentous' journey and says, "Listing, over the years, has become more complicated and technical."
He also further talked about Delhi Chapter's efforts that crushed such as 'Modern Heritage' and about PILs filed by INTACH. According to him, "Heritage doesn't often get its due. We need to make people aware by quandering over it." At last, he said that the Delhi Chapter has carried on the spirit of INTACH- 'people-oriented, people generated, for the people.'
It was now time to present the awards. Anita Singh, from the panel, announced the award and Ashok Vajpeyi, chief guest, presented them. Among the awarded were Sohail Hashmi, a history enthusiast; Talent Group, a group from Old Delhi keeping the tradition of Qissagoi alive and Sumegh Batra of Sunrydge India Heritage.
Sohail Hashmi's daughter, Sanya Hashmi received the award on his behalf and read a note written by her father to the audience.
The Talent Group presented a small performance of Qissagoi, the art of storytelling.
Further, Ashok Vajpayee took to the stage and talked about how our heritage is being insulted, especially in contemporary times. He further talks about how the present-day political climate is unsuitable for the preservance of our heritage and how our physical, as well as intangible heritage, is being destroyed, in the name of 'restoration'.
Following this was Dr Swapna Liddle's lecture named 'The Aura of Delhi'. In the lecture, Dr Liddle gives a brief account of the extensive history of Delhi. She talked about the first evidences of present-day 'Delhi'. She goes on to throw light on what Delhi was through the times of Tomars and Tughlaqs and the inscriptions found in Delhi play a huge role in tracing its heritage.
She said that Delhi evolved and garnered the reputation of being the centre of power throughout the reign of different dynasties and has managed to hold that reputation even in the contemporary times.