When Mughal empress Nur Jahan, the wife of Emperor Jahangir, built a tomb for her Persian father I’timad-Ud-Daulah in Agra between 1622 and 1628, it turned out to be an imposing architectural masterpiece, an artistic symbol of filial devotion and a statement of her royal power.
A free guided walk on February 9, conducted as part of the second edition of India Heritage Walk Festival (IHWF), will offer a chance to the participants to uncover how the position of a mausoleum in Mughal India metamorphosed into its peculiar stylistic character, providing immortality not only to the deceased and to the patron, but also to that particular time.
Agra is among 37 cities hosting the month-long, multi-city IHWF 2019, organised jointly by Sahapedia (sahapedia.org), the online resource on Indian arts and culture, and UNESCO, to encourage citizens to explore the tangible and intangible heritage of their cities and towns. All bookings for the festival are powered by Odigos, a product by the Bird Group, is an online marketplace that connects tourists to certified guides in India. Odigos app provides a seamless way for travellers and locals alike to understand and explore the iconic sites of our country.
Shivani Gupta, who pursued Masters in Fine Arts from Maharaja Sayajirao University, Vadodara (Gujarat) and is currently a research assistant at IIT Kanpur working on the subject of hunting miniatures in Indian painting, will lead the walk to explore what makes this medieval wonder so pioneering and distinctive, introducing visitors to elements of Mughal architecture.
Another guided walk in Agra, slated for February 10, will explore the bylanes of the city where one can be absorbed by the aroma of the different spices, various food stalls and diverse cuisines.
Whether it is the century-old spice shops at Rawatpada or the delectable mutton stew at Pakiza Meat Shop, it is a wonder how different spices and flavours blend into the living history of the city, and how modern alterations to the original dishes have created new flavours that retain the cultural significance of the dish.
Anal Jha, a flautist, poet and designer who has worked with several fashion accessories brands across the globe, will lead this culinary tour across the old city, taking the attendees through a journey of myriad palates, ranging from Mughlai non-vegetarian cuisine to braj ke bhalle, and discuss how the different spices/preparations used by generations have influenced the food and living culture of the city. Agra Heritage Walks is the event partner for this heritage trail.
The IHWF, which received the prestigious PATA Gold Award 2018 for its maiden edition organised last year, is a one-of-its-kind month-long festival covering 37 cities, with nearly 100 heritage walks and outreach events. The month long festival is being supported by NMDC, a state-run mineral producer and explorer. The events’ bookings are facilitated by Odigos, an app that makes travel and discovery easier in India.
Vaibhav Chauhan, Festival Director (IHWF) and Secretary, Sahapedia, said: “We want to democratise access to local history and culture. One might be living in the same neighbourhood for years, but there is a big chance that an important landmark, tucked away in a back alley, has been missed and forgotten. The IHWF is that opportunity to discover the hidden gems linked to the history of a place, town or city.”
Junhi Han, Head and Programme Specialist for Culture, UNESCO New Delhi office, said, “The IHWF programme addresses knowledge of local architectural heritage, sustainable tourism, with a special focus on gender-related issues and accessibility in cultural heritage facilitating more inclusive and better outreach. The festival is expected to involve, engage and sensitize more people, in particular the youth, about their cultural heritage.”
Details about the walks, registration and other programmes of IHWF 2019 are available on https://www.odigosguides.com/India-heritage-walk-festival
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