Indian team reflects on Ta Prohm restoration

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The Archaeological Survey of India has been working to restore the Ta Prohm temple for over a decade now. The temple is famous for the trees growing into the structure (and was the picturesque backdrop to one of the Tomb Raider movies), but this state of nature interacting with architecture brings with it a unique set of conservation challenges.

Cambodia-2593 - We have to get to the root of the problem..

Restoring Cambodia’s Ta Prohm temple challenging: ASI
India Gazette, 07 May 2015

The overlapping of trees and man-made structures at Cambodia’s Ta Prohm temple made the Archeological Survey of India’s restoration work difficult, so they had rope in IIT-Chennai to instruct them in structural engineering.

In a video “India-Cambodia Relations – A Labour of Love” highlighting the role Indian has played in restoration of Ta Prohm, the third most visited site after Angkor Wat and the Bayon temple in the Angkor region, posted online by the external affairs ministry on May 5, Indian archaeologists spoke about the challenges they faced in restoration.

“The restoration work at Ta Prohm temple was quite a challenging task as about 150 huge trees are growing in the complex, and some of them are growing over the structures,” ASI director general Rakesh Tewari in the video.

When the ASI took over the restoration charge in 2003, Tewari noted the temple was “all crumbled down” and resettling the monument wasn’t an easy job.

Full story here.

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Vietnam, India strengthen links over archaeology

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Vietnam and India strengthen archaeological cooperation over a conference about the My Son Sanctuary last week, where India pledged aid to help conserve the world heritage site.

Cham form cultural link to India [Link no longer active]
Viet Nam News, 27 June 2012

Cham civilisations in the spotlight [Link no longer active]
VNA, via Tuoi Tre News, 27 June 2012

India helps to restore My Son heritage site [Link no longer active]
VNA, via Tuoi Tre News, 22 June 2012

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Nalanda, the view from the sky

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The Archaeological Survey of India is embarking on a project to survey the Nalanda University complex via satellite. Why is this getting some air time on SEAArch? Because there’s an exhibition going on about Buddhism in Asia at Singapore’s Asian Civilisations Museum, with Nalanda as the focal point.

Satellite survey of Nalanda ruins begins in Bihar
Nerve News, 20 December 2007
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Disputed Khmer temple to be renovated by Archaeological Survey of India

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19 November 2007 (Earthtimes.org, Bangkok Post) – Preah Vihear, a hotly contested khmer temple that straddles between the Thai and Cambodian borders is to be renovated by a neutral party – the Archaeological Survey of India. The temple sits on a high cliff and rests on Cambodian soil; however, entrance into the temple is via the Thai side of the border. I’m not sure how this move resolves any diplomatic tensions over the site, however.

The other interesting aspect of the two stories is the involvement of the Archaeological Survey of India, which has been active in restoring many Hindu temples throughout Southeast Asia. Notably, it had helped restore the Prambanan temples in Indonesia after it as damaged during last year’s earthquake as well as the Ta Prohm, another Angkoran temple.

Preah Vihear, Creative Commons image by Hintz Family
Creative Commons image by Hintz Family

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Vietnam and India announce strategic partnership, includes archaeology

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07 July 2007 (Viet Nam News) – Vietnam and India have penned a joint declaration of a strategic partnership; while the partnership is centred around building close bilateral relations in the areas of economy, politics and technology, there is also a small mention about the survey of the Archaeological Survey of India in India and the restoration of Cham monuments.

Viet Nam, India issue joint declaration

Viet Nam and India have agreed to establish a new strategic partnership as part of relations, according to a joint declaration signed in New Delhi yesterday during Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s State visit to India from that ended yesterday.

In the agreement, Prime Minister Dung and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated that India-Viet Nam relations had been extremely friendly and cordial since the foundations were laid by President Ho Chi Minh and Prime Minister Nehru more than 50 years ago. They also mentioned satisfactory results during an earlier meeting in the Philippines this past January 2007 regarding the ASEAN Summit.

Both leaders noted with satisfaction the expansion of bilateral co-operation in the fields of culture, education and human resource development. The two sides also agreed to expedite a survey by a team of specialists from the Archaeological Survey of India and take its advice regarding the restoration of the Cham monuments in Viet Nam. The Vietnamese side welcomed India’s contribution to the restoration project.

Read more about the joint partnership between Vietnam and India.

Books about the Cham and Champa:
Southeast Asia: From Prehistory to History by P. S. Bellwood and I. Glover (Eds) (contains a chapter on the Coastal States of Champa)
The Art of Champa by J. Hubert
Hindu-Buddhist Art Of Vietnam: Treasures From Champa by E. Guillon