Hoysala Temples of Karnataka enter UNESCO Heritage list

UNESCO inscribed Karnataka’s Sacred Ensembles of Hoysalas in Belur, Halebid and Somnathapura in the World Heritage list. The ancient site was part of UNESCO’s Tentative list since 2014.

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> These temples were developed under the rule of the Hoysala Empire between the 11th and 14th centuries, mostly concentrated in southern Karnataka.

> Hoysala temples are sometimes called hybrid or vesara as their unique style seems neither completely Dravida nor Nagara, but somewhere in between – a completely novel ‘Hoysala Temple’ form.

> The Hoysala temples, instead of consisting of a simple inner chamber with its pillared hall, contain multiple shrines grouped around a central pillared hall and laid out in the shape of an intricately-designed star (stellate-plan).

> Since they are made out of soapstone which is a relatively soft stone, the artists were able to carve their sculptures intricately. This can be seen particularly in the jewellery of the gods that adorn their temple walls.

Amrita Sher-Gil’s ‘The Story Teller’ becomes the most expensive Indian artwork to be auctioned

An auction on September 16, 2023 held at The Oberoi, New Delhi, created a new record for Indian contemporary art. An Amrita Sher-Gil painting titled The Story Teller, signed and dated 1937, fetched a staggering 61.8 crore, becoming the most expensive painting by an Indian artist, to be sold in an auction, ever. It surpassed Sayed Haider Raza’s Gestation, which was sold for 51.75 crore, merely ten days earlier.

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Amrita Sher-Gil is perhaps the most renowned female artist from India. Here are three stories from her short-lived life:

>Early Life and Background: Amrita Sher-Gil was born on January 30, 1913, in Budapest, Hungary. She was the elder of two daughters of a Hungarian mother, Marie Antoniette Gottesmann, and a Sikh father, Umrao Singh Sher-Gil.

>Artistic Training: Sher-Gil’s family moved to India when she was a child, and she began her formal art education in Shimla and later in Lahore. At 16, she entered the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where she was influenced by the work of Paul Cézanne, Amedeo Modigliani, and Paul Gauguin.

>Tragic Death: Amrita Sher-Gil’s life was tragically cut short when she passed away at the young age of 28 in 1941. Her legacy continues to thrive, and her works are highly sought after by collectors and art enthusiasts around the world. In 1976, the Indian government declared her works to be national treasures, recognizing their cultural significance.


Rabindranath Tagore’s Santiniketan becomes UNESCO World Heritage Site

After years of being on the tentative list, UNESCO finally approved Santiniketan in the list of its World Heritage Sites.

It was in 2010 that the Government of India had first tried to get the World Heritage tag for Santiniketan. It mounted its campaign again in 2021, exactly a hundred years after a ‘world university’ was established by Rabindranath Tagore.

The large tract of uninhabited land was bought by his father Maharshi Debendranath Tagore when it was known as Bhubandanga, named after a local dacoit Bhuban. Its name was changed to Santiniketan, literally meaning the ‘abode of peace’.

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Visva-Bharati becomes the first living university (which is functioning), to get the heritage tag from UNESCO.

It is the only central university in Bengal. PM Narendra Modi is the current Chancellor of this Institute of National Importance.

In 1940, when Mahatma Gandhi came to Shantiniketan to visit Rabindranath Tagore, the latter, then critically ill, urged him to take charge of Visva-Bharati after he was gone. Tagore passed away in 1941. Until Gandhiji was assassinated in 1948, he acted as a guardian of the institution.

Jawaharlal Nehru was urged by Gandhi to look after Visva-Bharati. It was under him in 1951, Visva-Bharati became a Centrally funded university. Nehru once said how attending the convocation ceremony of the institution was like an annual pilgrimage to him.

Shantiniketan has an illustrious list of people as its alumni/alumnae. Some of the most prominent names include Indira Gandhi, Amartya Sen, Satyajit Ray, Maharani Gayatri Devi.

Ariana Huffington, the co-founder of the famous media outlet The Huffington Post, was a student of comparative religion at Visva-Bharati.

Mumbai to bid adieu its famed double decker buses

The iconic red double-decker buses, that had become an inseparable part of Mumbai’s cityscape since 1937, will be removed from the streets by October 2023. Mumbai has been the only city in India with so many double decker buses active in public service. The last service of these non-AC double-decker buses left Marol Depot on the morning of September 15.

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The first double-decker bus in India open to public was launched in Kolkata in 1926 by Walford & Company, imitating London’s Routemasters.

In the western part of India, apart from Mumbai, the cities of Ahmedabad and Vadodara too ran red double decker buses till about three decades ago.

On August 18, 2022, India’s first electric double-decker bus was launched in Mumbai by the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST).

PM Modi gives unique lotus-shaped gifts to G20 delegates

All state heads and foreign dignitaries at the G-20 summit in New Delhi received this unique memento from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

> It is a hand-made artefact of brass in the shape of a lotus, named ‘Kamalam’.

> The artefact is five inches tall with 16 petals— eight big and eight small.

> The memento has been crafted by Manmohan Saini, a metal craftsman and a national award winner from Mahoba in Bundelkhand, UP.

> It took him 3 months to craft 50 such brass lotuses.

“Once it is opened the artefact resembles a lotus in full bloom, and when it is closed all the petals are closed inside and a lotus bud is visible,” said Saini.

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Uttar Pradesh is the largest brass and copper making region in the world with thousands of establishments spread all over for articles made out of one or more pieces of metal.

Mahoba is known nationwide for its exquisite gaura stone craft. Gaura stone craft is made of radiant white-colored stone that is predominantly found in this region.

1000-year-old mummy belonging to the Yschsma culture found in Peru

Archaeologists have discovered a mummy in Peru’s capital, Lima – thought to date back to 1,000 A.D, belonging to the Yschsma culture, inhabitants of whom lived south of Lima.

The mummy, believed to be of an adult individual, was discovered at the Huaca Pucllana archaeological site (seen in picture above). It was found alongside two ceramic vessels and textiles. It was found seated with bent legs, with its jaw and long hair still preserved.

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The Huaca Pucllana site is viewed as a Pandora’s Box and archaeologists anticipate that many more artifacts could be found. The mummy was discovered here on 6 September 2023.

In June 2023 archaeologists had found another pre-Hispanic mummy surrounded by coca leaves on top of a hill in Peru’s capital next to the practice field of a professional soccer club.

In March 2023, a Peruvian man was arrested and charged after a mummy believed to be 600 to 800 years old was found his cooler delivery bag.

The Ychsma society was one of the most important civilizations developed between 900 and 1532 CE in Lima, the present Peruvian capital, situated on the central coast of Peru. The Ychsma territory included the lower basin of the Rímac and Lurín valleys in the current city of Lima (Peru).

World’s tallest Nataraj all set to welcome G20 delegates

To greet the G20 leaders a magnificent 27-foot Nataraja, the tallest statue of Lord Shiva’s dancing form in the world has been installed in the front of the Bharat Mandapan in New Delhi’s Pragati Maidan.

Made of Ashtadhatu, the 18-ton-weight statue is an important symbol of cosmic energy, creativity and power.

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The G20 statue was transported over two days via a specially created green corridor of some 2,500km from Tamil Nadu to Delhi.

The statue has been sculpted by renowned sculptor Radhakrishnan Sthapaty of Swami Malai in Tamil Nadu and his team in a record 7 months.

34 generations of Radhakrishnan have been making idols since the Chola Empire period.

Situated on the banks of the river Kaveri, the small town of Swami Malai is famed for its bronze icons which sthapathys (sculptors) have been carving using the traditional lost-wax technique since the time of the Chola empire.

Swami Malai bronze icons now have the coveted GI tag too.

Thiruvalluvar’s statue made with Tamil letters installed in Coimbatore

As part of enhancing tourism near the Kurichikulam lakefront under the Smart City Mission, the Coimbatore Corporation has installed a steel statue of the celebrated Tamil poet-saint Thiruvalluvar.

The sculpture is designed in a sitting posture and with linguistic characters. The 1,330 letters of the Tamil language that adorn the statue are meant to denote the 1,330 Kurals (couplets) written by the poet.

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Thiruvalluvar is best known as the author of Tirukkuraḷ, a collection of couplets on ethics, political and economic affairs. One of his more famous statues can be seen at Kanyakumari.