A grand display

Last Updated: Sat, Dec 29, 2012 18:40 hrs

On till January 31

Spread across over 3,000 sqft at the National Museum are some of the rarest archaeological finds in India in the past half a century — including one dating back 1.5 million years. With the aim to bring the country’s historical treasures to its people, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is showcasing some of the greatest finds since 1961 — an array of priceless tools, seals, implements, artifacts, pottery, figurines, sculptures, ornaments and inscriptions.

Discovered after extensive excavations across Bhimbetka and Sirpur (Madhya Pradesh), Burzhom and Gufkral in the Kashmir Valley, Harappan sites at Dholavira (Gujarat) and Kalibangan (Rajasthan), Mathura and Vaishali (Bihar), each artifact comes with textual panels, maps and photographs to help the visitor understand its history and significance. Perhaps the most fascinating of all is the portrait of Emperor Ashoka — the only one ever excavated. Other interesting finds include stone tools dating back over 1.5 million years, bone implements, the now rusting iron implements of 1000 BC found in Kottayam district in Kerala, a 6th century stone image of Lord Vishnu, a 4th century stone statue of Mahishasura Mardini, and a 13-14th century Garuda in bronze. Don’t miss the 10th century Standing Buddha that was discovered in Bodh Gaya, smuggled to US, and finally confiscated and brought back to India.

On till December 30

The country’s first astronomy-photography festival “India Astro Photo Festival” showcases the works of professional and amateur photographers at Nehru Planetarium. Organised by the Amateur Astronomers Association Delhi, the festival creates awareness about one of the least-explored branches of photography among astronomy and photography enthusiasts. Astro-photographers from across 20 countries are exhibiting their photographs; these include detailed telescopic images of deep-sky objects like galaxies and nebulas. The major attractions are the photos of celestial events like eclipses and the recent Venus transit. In another section are photographs of Indian monuments and heritage sites captured under a starry sky. Don’t miss the telescopic deep sky images by Terry Hancock and Suresh Mohan, nightscapes by Ajay Talwar, and photos of greek monuments by Theofanis N Matsopoulos.

On till January 25

If you walk to Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), you will find a simulation of the splendid Bhimbetka caves, an important rock-art site accorded UNESCO World Heritage site status, situated in the Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh. The walls depict pictures of various man-made rock formations from across the world — India, the US, Europe, Australia. Adding to the surreal atmosphere are hunting scenes, ancient rituals, and mythical beings. These rock art images found in Bhimbetka have been painstakingly recreated.

There are two life-size figures with one perched on a machaan and painting a wild boar on the caves.

The photographs and replicas of painted natural stones are intended, presumably, to convey a sense of tradition and continuity.

Part of The International Rock Art Festival put together by IGNCA, the comprehensive exhibition “Adi Drishya — A Primeval Vision of Man” attempts to simulate the experience of walking in a natural setting with stones bearing human markings such as animal motifs and geometric patterns.

IGNCA’s team of local experts, scholars, geologists, botanists, anthropologists have documented and studied 15 per cent of rock art in the country. IGNCA has also trained 20 scholar guides to give guided tours to the visitors, specially students. Plans are afoot to take the exhibition to China and Cuba.

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