Delhi, Hyderabad ‘Green Renaissance’ celebrated in UK exhibition

Delhi, Hyderabad ‘Green Renaissance’ celebrated in UK exhibition

London, Nov 22 (PTI) The concept of leveraging cultural assets as a springboard for development under a public-private-partnership model promoted by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in Delhi and Hyderabad is at the heart of a new UK exhibition.

‘Delhi and Hyderabad: A Green Renaissance’, formally launched at the Ismaili Centre in London on Tuesday evening in partnership with the High Commission of India, aims to spotlight the success of the regeneration drive spearheaded by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in the two cities over the past 23 years to a wider audience.

“The Trust’s support to historic communities demonstrates how conservation and revitalisation of the cultural heritage, in many cases the only asset at the disposal of the community, can provide a springboard for social development,” His Highness the Aga Khan notes in a statement.

The free week-long exhibition walking visitors through the transformation of Humayun’s Tomb and the wider Nizamuddin Basti area in New Delhi and Qutub Shahi Heritage Park project in Hyderabad is accompanied by expert talks by academics, artists and chefs.

“What we're trying to do is demonstrate in India how conservation and development can go hand in hand like a horse and carriage,” explained Ratish Nanda, Chief Executive of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, overseeing the regeneration projects.

“The aim of all of our projects is to create a model. The Humayun’s Tomb Gardens restoration was a gift of the Aga Khan to India on the 50th anniversary of India's independence. And every year since we completed it, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has earned Rs 10-20 crores a year in ticket sales. Now, which other investment has that rate of return. So, imagine if all of India’s sites were restored in that manner,” said Nanda.

The conservationist delivered a detailed presentation of the wide-ranging impact of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture’s restoration work in Delhi and Hyderabad, reviving traditional crafts, providing employment opportunities and championing women’s empowerment within a sustainable model by rejuvenating historic stepwells and planting thousands of trees.

“In the Nizamuddin and Sunder Nursery area we have restored 60 monuments, including the World Heritage site of Humayun’s Tomb, resulting in a 1,000 per cent increase in visitor numbers. That led to 14 additional monuments being inscribed on the World Heritage list by UNESCO in that very zone in 2016. In Hyderabad, we have a very incredible partnership with the government of Telangana for five sites and we have already restored over 100 monuments,” added Nanda.

A brand-new museum, expected to be India’s first underground museum, is nearing completion next year in Delhi’s Nizamuddin and is aimed at building upon the 2 million visitors being attracted to the heritage site by providing the cultural context of the historic monuments.

“The concept of a Green Renaissance refers to the efforts to put water back where water existed, put greenery back where it was always intended to be and indeed put people back where they belonged,” said Indian High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswami at the launch of the exhibition.

'In many senses, the many cities that constitute today’s Delhi were always about places structured around greenery; it is central to be able to live in the city. These projects reflect how history, heritage and greenery are all part of the same piece,' he said. PTI AK AMS

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