Indian Decade

Neglecting History

India has some awe-inspiring historical buildings. So why don’t Indians seem to care?

During the trip I talked about earlier today, I took in Mysore and visited the famous Mysore Palace–once the seat of the government of the Wodeyar dynasty that ruled over this southern principality from the 14th century until a few decades back when India abolished the privy purses of royal kingdoms.

But far from being awed by the palace's undoubtedly beautiful Indo-Saracenic architecture that blends together Hindu, Muslim, Rajput and Gothic styles, I came back dismayed at the negligence these monuments contend with. The neglect isn't something restricted to the Mysore Palace. Our heritage sites and historical monuments for most parts are woefully maintained despite several federal and state departments that have been instituted to do just this.

At the Mysore Palace, we were shepherded around by an elderly guide who rattled off details–dates of coronations, number of minarets, amount of gold used–as if  he was on auto pilot, making seem humdrum even the interesting, glamorous lives of the kings who resided here.  Several artefacts are in urgent need of restoration, and labelling on the paintings and other items on display are faded, sloppily worded and ineffectively positioned.

I wonder why this happens in India–there has to be an explanation beyond the callous attitude of our governance. Is it possible that as a people, we live so much in the present, and supposedly have such a great future to look forward to, that the past isn't something we bother to cherish?