Sunday, July 06, 2014

Day 6 - Indophiles, Everest's house, and neglected heritage

I took a course on Coursera last year, "Archaeology's dirty little secrets," conducted by Brown University.  It opened up new worlds to me.  I started reading up about the history of archaeology in India, which led me to British Indophiles, who did so much to bring India's lost history to light.  
The measurement of the Great Indian Arc is one such stupendous story, in which crazy-genius Brits are involved.  I urge you to read The Great Arc by John Keay.  Or start by reading this article "The men who measured earth's curves." I bet you'll come back wondering how it is that we don't know more about all this.  
One of the Brits involved in the measurement of the Arc was Sir George Everest, so when we visited Everest's house in Mussoorie, which was the centre of activity during this phenomenal effort, I was terribly disappointed to see what a state it was in.  Yes, we are famous for not recognizing or appreciating or preserving our heritage, and this is one of the more appalling examples.

Here are some extra pics:
The other side of the house overlooks the doon valley. This side overlooks the mountains.

It lies on a grassy hilltop terrace.

The inside of the house.

One of the observatories near the house.

The view of the doon valley from the house.
If you thought the interior was bad, apparently it was worse.  If you have the stomach, see this video.  Don't know when it was taken though.  But I'm sure you can make out how it must have been in its heyday!
 In 1990, it had been announced that the State Govt was planning to acquire it and turn it into a tourist/excursion spot, but there is no sign of it.  A couple of friends I spoke to told me that INTACH is trying to get control over it to restore it, but I couldn't find any official confirmation on it.

Honestly, I wouldn't want it to become a "tourist" spot, but some care and maintenance, and steps to keep defecating cows out, wouldn't be amiss.


Srividhya G said...

Great article. Planning to read both Ashoka and India Discovered soon. I don't know why most of these precious places are not taken care of properly?

austere said...

I wonder who owns it now?

Shruthi said...

Srividhya, enjoy the books! A whole new world!

Austere, not sure - I got conflicting reports. I'll let you know if I get to know.

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