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IHWF: Shillong Heritage Trails to Re-discover North-Eastern Heritage

In Nation
January 31, 2019

Shillong, known for its lush green hilly terrain, is a new entrant to the India Heritage Walk Festival (IHWF) calendar, the second edition of which is set to begin on February 02.

As part of the heritage walks organised in and around the Meghalaya capital, the diverse flora, fauna and local customs and traditions of the North-Eastern region will be re-discovered in two separate walks during IHWF, organised by Sahapedia in collaboration with UNESCO. 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.

Shillong-born Naphibahun Lyngdoh, a postgraduate architecture student with an interest in exploring new historical sites, will be conducting a nature walk to the Mawlongbna Fossil Park on February 03.

Located in the Mawlongbna Village of Mawsynram, within the East Khasi Hills district, the region is a short drive from the capital city of Shillong. It is surrounded by forests that are home to several species of birds, plants and fish), and abound in lakes, caves, rivers and streams. The park is known to have fossils of different sea creatures. The free guided tour is scheduled from 10 am to 12 noon.

In another walk, scheduled on February 09, Naphibahun will be guiding participants through the Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures, which is located in Mawlai, Shillong. The museum, which is hexagonal in shape with seven storeys, preserves the rich cultural heritage of North-East India and contains over 15 galleries displaying various cultural artefacts and paintings. Each gallery focuses on a different aspect of the region,including agriculture, art, basketry, ornaments and costumes, fishing and hunting, food, housing, language and musical instruments.

The museum highlights the various Catholic churches of thearea, the different tribes, the tools and weapons they used in the earlier days, the varied musical instruments, craft items, the different traditional attires and cultures of North-East India.The guided tour will take place from 10 am to 12:30 pm.

The Shillong heritage trails are part of the guided tours organised in the eastern zone of the IHWF 2019, which is also divided into four other regions: north, west, central and south.

In Itanagar, DuliEte, Assistant Professor from the Department of History, Dera Natung Government College, will be conducting a walk at Gekar Sinyik, popularly known as Ganga Lake, one of the prominent tourist sites in Itanagar. Even though the lake, with its lush vegetation, provides a cathartic retreat from the city, it has a turbulent undercurrent of folklore that has been passed down for centuries. The guided tour will be held on February 16, 10:30 am onwards.

Other heritage walks in this zone include a series of tours in Kolkata, focusing on an art walk at the Victoria Memorial, the confluence of cultures at the Bow Barracks of Burrabazar, the heritage of Shovabazar and Kumortuli,India’s Oldest Chinatown and a tour titled “The British Calcutta and World War II Walk”.

Bhubaneswar will host two separate walks, on February 03 and 17, respectively:“Uncovering the Mysteries of the Vaital Temple” and “Udayagiri – Decoding the Unknown Tales of the Sunrise Hill”.

“A Heritage Trail to Darbhanga House” will be conducted in Patna on February 10. Another walk in Patna, on February 17, will have participants reminiscing the capital’s 19th century past.

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 February 02-28 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