The ownership and manner of use of built heritage brings out intense emotion among people. This is true whether the heritage belongs to society at large or even when it is owned by private parties as evocatively shown in the popular film, Gulabo Sitabo. Meha Mathur’s maiden book, Preserving the Past: Approaches to Built Heritage Conservation since the British Rule is a subject of contemporary interest. The book in 14 chapters covers a wide canvas, with 38 pictures in black and white of the various heritage sites discussed in it. The book ranges from the period before the British arrived in India, the colonial period and the struggles for preserving and conserving heritage which are taking place in India. The author takes the reader on a veritable heritage tour from the mountains of Shimla and Nainital to the metros of Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Mumbai where heritage preservation efforts have been decided in courts with mixed outcomes. The book discusses the law, important legal cases and makes recommendations for saving heritage. Historian Swapna Liddle in her endorsement states that the book reveals the very concept of heritage as a highly contested field where governments and law courts play a crucial role, for good or evil.
Evolution of Heritage Conservation in India
Sudha P Rao
PRESERVING THE PAST: APPROACHES TO BUILT HERITAGE CONSERVATION SINCE THE BRITISH RULE by Meha Mathur Vrinda Publications, Delhi, 2020, 180 pp., 390.00
April 2021, volume 45, No 4