HomeInterviewsEmbracing the Past and Lost Heritage; Professor Snehal Nagarsheth

Embracing the Past and Lost Heritage; Professor Snehal Nagarsheth

‘Development is seen as force towards the future and hence seems opposing heritage. However, we must remember that we are also creating a future heritage and hence must embrace our past in the moves towards development’, says Professor Snehal Nagarsheth, Anant National University School of Architecture, Ahmedabad


This year’s theme is on ‘Complex Pasts: Diverse Futures’. Tell us about it.

Our Heritage as we see it today is complex as it has so many hidden layers which are lost and it has the possibility of interpretation which allows for diverse possibilities. These need to be all accepted as possible and diverse realities of this complex past.

Development versus heritage – a symbolic shift?

Yes! Unfortunately Development is seen as force towards the future and hence seems opposing heritage. However, we must remember that we are also creating a future heritage and hence must embrace our past in the moves towards development.

The Archaeological Survey of India has a list of 24 monuments which remain still untraceable – tell us about it.

The Archeological Survey of India began its journey in 1861AD i.e. 160 years that the listed monuments needed to survive till now. And the pressures most monuments face is of both neglect and disuse. Also there is the hazard of encroachment that it has to endure. This must have caused the loss that we face today. And, if we are not careful we shall see this list more affected.

Do we have urban heritage in India? 

I see the concern increasing but in small circles of professionals involved in such spaces. Also, there is a loss of public and civic society in our life, to add to that the pace of life does not allow us to celebrate and generate public norms to allow for public spaces to develop. The inequality in society also does not allow developments to evolve and hold the society’s aspirations to develop public spaces. We have not appreciated the value of cultural space. In the name of public spaces, we have had temples. Mughals gave us royal spaces and the British legacy is of bureaucratic spaces.

Do you think cultural heritage issues have been mainstreamed into the overall urban planning and development framework?

No absolutely not.

The Havellis of Mumbai – built more than 50-70 years wear down over time, but if regularly maintained, can’t we avoid this?

Surely maintenance is a big and difficult proposition in our country. We do not have an attitude towards regular maintenance, that can surely enhance the life of buildings. We can also keep them in use to help them survive.

How can we as responsible citizens justify destroying our heritage structures in the name of religion?

We absolutely should not.

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