Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

Festivals in news: Kheer Bhawani MelaPrelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kheer Bhawani Mela

Mains level : NA

In the UT of Jammu and Kashmir, the Annual Kheer Bhawani Mela in Tulmulla village of Ganderbal district has been cancelled by its religious trust.

Match the pair based question can be asked from festivals as such. Recently, the following festivals were in the news: Ambubachi Mela, Thrisoor Puram, Meru Jatara, Nagoba Jatara etc.

Try this:

Q. Consider the following pairs:

Traditions                                            Communities

1. Chaliha Sahib Festival              —          Sindhis

2. Nanda Raj Jaat Yatra                —          Gonds

3. Wari-Warkari                               —          Santhals

Which of the pairs given above is/are correctly matched ? (CSP 2017)

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) None of the above

Kheer Bhawani Mela

  • The festival witnesses lakhs of Hindu pilgrims from across the country largely the Kashmiri Pandit Community, who throngs the famous Ragyna Devi Temple which is popularly known as “Mata Kheer Bhawani”.
  • The festival falls on the auspicious day of “Zeshta Ashtami”.
  • The term kheer refers to rice pudding that is offered in the spring to propitiate the Goddess, which became part of the name of the temple.
  • The devotees have been asked to cooperate with the authorities and perform the worship of the Goddess at their homes only.
  • However, the holy rituals and Aarti of the Deity will be conducted as per the tradition which will be shared with the devotees via social media.


  • Kheer Bhawani Mela is one of the biggest religious functions of Kashmiri Pandit Community.
  • It is believed and rather has been seen that the colour of the water in the spring around the Kheer Bhawani Temple changes its colour with the change in the circumstances of the Kashmir valley.
Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

Rail adukku pathiram Utensils of Tamil NaduPrelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Rail adukku pathiram

Mains level : NA

The rail adukku pathiram a traditional set of kitchen utensils in Tamil Nadu has become the gathered attention of all over the past few days.

The traditional ‘rail adukku pathiram’ set of utensils are very unique in itself. However, one must note that it does NOT carry any GI tag and is completely out of use. Still, there is a possibility of it being asked in match the pair type questions asking – Q) Which among the following artefacts from Tamil Nadu carries a GI Tag?

Rail adukku pathiram

  • The rail adukku pathiram consists of 14 vessels of different sizes, neatly placed in a compact manner inside the largest container.
  • The vessels were earlier used by families to carry groceries and cook food during train journeys.
  • These vessels were used to cook food for a mini-wedding. The interesting aspect is the compact size and easy to carry.
  • It has two vessels to cook vegetables, a sippal plate to boil rice, a frying pan, a sombu, a bronze pot to carry water and vessels of varying sizes to cook food.
  • Many in Tamil Nadu had forgotten about the existence of these multi-layered vessels until a video surfaced online recently.
Posted on | The Hindu
Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

Toda Embroidery of the NilgirisPrelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Toda embroidery

Mains level : Not Much

Many women and indigenous Toda artisans from the Nilgiris are producing thousands of stylish, embroidered masks for local residents, police, and sanitary workers.

Recently, the Assamese Gamosa was in new. Now the Pukhoor Embroidery has made it into the list. Keep a note of all such handicrafts. We can expect a match the pair based prelim question.

Toda Embroidery

  • The Toda Embroidery, also locally known as “pukhoor” is an artwork among the Toda pastoral people of Nilgiris, in Tamil Nadu, made exclusively by their women.
  • The embroidery, which has a fine finish, appears like a woven cloth but is made with the use of red and black threads with a white cotton cloth background.
  • Both sides of the embroidered fabric are usable and the Toda people are proud of this heritage.
  • This handicraft product is listed as a geographically tagged product and is protected under the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act (GI Act) 1999.

Related facts

  • The local terms used to describe the embroidery work are ‘kuty’ or ‘awtty’ meaning “stitching” and ‘kutyvoy’ meaning the embroidered piece.
  • The materials used in this work are roughly woven white cloth, woollen black and red threads with use occasionally of blue threads and manufactured needles.
  • The designs developed relate to nature and the daily cycle of life.
  • The patterns used in Toda embroidery do not cover many floral motifs but generally cover celestial bodies (like Sun and Moon), reptiles, animals, and horns of buffaloes, made in crimson and black colours.
  • Rabbit ears are a constant depiction on the boundary of the embroidered cloth. Another common design in the form of black triangles in a box design is done in honour of their first priest.
  • Women who do embroidery consider their work as a “tribute to Nature”.
  • As a traditional garment, it is worn by both men and women at all ceremonial occasions and also at funerals. Elderly people of the community wear this cloth daily.
Posted on | The Hindu
Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

Festival in news: Chithirai FestivalPrelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Chithirai Festival

Mains level : Not Much

For the first time, in place of Madurai’s Chithirai Festival, a simple celestial union is set to take place that will be streamed online.

Match the pair based question can be asked from festivals as such. Recently, the following festivals were in the news: Ambubachi Mela, Thrisoor Puram, Meru Jatara, Nagoba Jatara etc.

Chithirai Festival

  • Chithirai Festival or Chithirai Thiruvizha is an annual celebration celebrated in the city of Madurai during the month of April.
  • It is celebrated during the Tamil month of Chithirai.
  • It lasts for one month of which the first 15 days mark the celebrations of the coronation of Goddess Meenakshi and the Marriage of Lord Sundareswara and Goddess Meenakshi.
  • The next 15 days mark the celebrations of the Journey of Lord Alagar from Kallazhagar temple in Alagar Koyil to Madurai.

About Meenakshi Temple

  • The ancient city of Madurai, more than 2,500 years old, was built by the Pandyan king, Kulashekarar, in the 6th century B.C.
  • But the reign of the Nayaks marks the golden period of Madurai when art, architecture and learning flourished expansively.
  • The most beautiful buildings in the city including its most famous landmark, the Meenakshi temple, were built during the Nayak rule.
  • Located in the heart of the city, the Meenakshi-Sundareshwarar temple is dedicated to goddess Meenakshi, the consort of lord Shiva.
  • The sculpted pillars are adorned with the exquisite murals that celebrate the ethereal beauty of princess Meenakshi and the scenes of her wedding with Lord Shiva.
  • The pillars depict scenes from the wedding of Meenakshi and Sundareswarar. There are 985 richly carved pillars here and each one surpasses the other in beauty.
Posted on | The Hindu
Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

Raja Ravi Varma, the painter who helped Indians bring their gods homePrelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Europeanized school of painting in India

Mains level : NA

April 29 is the birth anniversary of the famed Indian painter Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906), remembered for giving Indians their western, classical representations of Hindu gods and goddesses.

Raja Ravi Varma

  • Varma was born into aristocracy at Kilimanoor in the erstwhile Travancore state of present-day Kerala and was closely related to its royal family.
  • At the age of 14, Varma was patronised by Ayilyam Thirunal, the then ruler of Travancore, and went on to receive training in watercolours from Ramaswamy Naidu, the royal painter.
  • Later, Varma studied oil painting with the British painter Theodore Jensen.
  • Apart from Travancore, Varma also worked for other wealthy patrons such as the Gaekwad of Baroda.

Major works

  • A prolific artist, Varma is believed to have made around 7,000 paintings before his death.
  • Varma worked on both portrait and landscape paintings and is considered among the first Indian artists to use oil paints.
  • Apart from painting Hindu mythological figures, Varma also made portraits of many Indians as well as Europeans.
  • His most famous works include Damayanti Talking to a Swan, Shakuntala Looking for Dushyanta, Nair Lady Adorning Her Hair, and Shantanu and Matsyagandha.

His legacy

  • He continues to be regarded as the most important representative of the Europeanized school of painting in India.
  • His 1873 painting, Nair Lady Adorning Her Hair, won Varma prestigious awards including Governor’s Gold Medal when it was presented in the Madras Presidency and Certificate of Merit at an exhibition in Vienna.
  • In 1904, the British colonial government awarded Varma with the Kaiser-i-Hind Gold Medal.
  • In 2013, a crater on the planet Mercury was named in his honour.
Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

Festivals in news: Ambubachi MelaPrelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ambubachi Mela

Mains level : NA

The Ambubachi Mela at Guwahati’s Kamakhya Temple has been cancelled this year due to COVID-19.

Many festivals this year have been cancelled for the first time in their recorded history. Few of them were – Thrisur Pooram Festival, Pandharpur Jatara and now, the Ambubachi Mela. Do read about the Medaram Jatara (held in February) as well. Take note of each of them and their speciality along with the respective state of celebration.

Ambubachi Mela

  • Ambubachi Mela, a four-day fair to mark the annual menstruation of the goddess at Kamakhya temple in Guwahati has begun.
  • Legends say the temple atop the Nilachal Hills, whose northern face slopes down to the Brahmaputra River, was built by the demon king Narakasura.
  • But records are available only from 1565 when Koch king Naranarayana had the temple rebuilt.
  • Kamakhya is one of 51 shaktipeeths or holy sites for the followers of the Shakti cult, each representing a body part of the Sati, Lord Shiva’s companion.
  • The temple’s sanctum sanctorum houses the yoni – female genital – symbolised by a rock.


  • Temple priests said the ritualistic fair celebrating the Goddess’ period is one of the reasons why taboo associated with menstruation is less in Assam compared to other parts of India.
  • The attainment of womanhood of girls in Assam is celebrated with a ritual called Tuloni Biya, meaning small wedding.

Similar place

  • A similar custom is followed at the Devi Temple at Chengannur town in Alleppey district of Kerala.
  • The temple is shut for the days the Goddess there is believed to undergo her period.
Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

Festival in news: Thrissur PooramPrelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Thrissur Pooram

Mains level : NA

For the first time since its inception, Thrissur Pooram, considered as mother of all poorams in Kerala, has been cancelled earlier this month.

Note the cultural terms in the newscard. As the name itself suggests the state of celebration, it very unlikely to be asked in the ‘fest-state’ format.  Rather UPSC can ask – “The  terms X, Y, Z …. are associated with which of the following reknown festival?”

Thrissur Pooram

  • Thrissur Pooram is an annual Hindu festival held in Kerala.
  • It is held at the Vadakkunnathan Temple in Thrissur every year on the Pooram day – the day when the moon rises with the Pooram star in the Malayalam Calendar month of Medam.
  • It is the largest and most famous of all poorams.
  • Thrissur Pooram was the brainchild of Raja Rama Varma, famously known as Sakthan Thampuran, the Maharaja of Cochin (1790–1805).

Actual course of the festival

  • The Pooram is centred on the Vadakkunnathan Temple, with all these temples sending their processions to pay obeisance to the Shiva, the presiding deity.
  • The Pooram officially begins with a flag hoisting ceremony (Kodiyettam).
  • All the participating temples of Thrissur Pooram are present for the ceremony, and there is a light firework to announce the commencement of the festival.
  • The seventh day of the pooram is the last day. It is also known as “Pakal Pooram”.
Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

[pib] National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)PIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UNESCO heritages in India

Mains level : Not Much

The Union Ministry for Culture has launched the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of India.

Various art forms (either tangible or intangible) are hotspots for Prelims. We can expect a direct description based question. For example, a question based on Manipuri Sankirtana was asked in CSP 2017.

National List of ICH

Following UNESCO’s 2003 Convention for Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, this list has been classified into five broad domains in which intangible cultural heritage is manifested:

  • Oral traditions and expressions, including language as a vehicle of the intangible cultural heritage
  • Performing arts
  • Social practices, rituals and festive events
  • Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe
  • Traditional craftsmanship

Why need such a list?

  • India houses a repository of unique ICH traditions, 13 of which have also been recognized by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
  • The National ICH List is an attempt to recognize the diversity of Indian culture embedded in its intangible heritage.
  • The list aims to raise awareness about the various intangible cultural heritage elements from different states of India at the national and international level and ensure their protection.
  • This initiative is also a part of the Vision 2024 of the Ministry of Culture.

Pls go through this link for complete details of  13 ICH : https://www.indiaculture.nic.in/national-list-intangible-cultural-heritage-ich

Posted on | Custom
Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

Meru Jatra FestivalPrelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Meru Jatra

Mains level : NA

Odisha’s Ganjam district administration has banned the Meru Jatra festival and congregations related to it at temples on the occasion of Mahavishub Sankranti.

Festive fairs in India are known for their age-old traditions and some historic background.  Meru Jatra is one of such fairs. We can expect a match the pairs question on such fairs.

Meru Jatra

  • In Southern Odisha, the Meru Yatra festival is celebrated as the end of the month-long Danda nata dance festival.
  • Thousands of devotees gather at the Shakti Pitha shrine in the Taratarini Temple because it is one of the auspicious days during the Chaitra Yatra.
  • People from all over the state eat festive chhatua and drink Bel Pana to mark the occasion.

What is Danda nata?

  • Danda as the name implies, is self-inflicted pain, which the danduas (people who participate in the festival) undergo to pay their obeisance to the lord Kali.
  • It is also a form of worshipping the lord Shiva and his consort Parvati.
  • The origin of the festival is generally traced to 8th and 9th AD after the decadence of Buddhism in Orissa.
Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

[pib] Diverse names of harvesting festivalPIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Harvesting festivals across India

Mains level : Not Much

The nation today celebrates the festival of harvest, Vaishakhi under diverse names. Vaisakhi celebrates the solar new year, based on the Hindu Vikram Samvat calendar.


  • Vaisakhi also known as Baisakhi is a historical and religious festival in Sikhism.
  • It is usually celebrated on 13 or 14 April every year which commemorates the formation of Khalsa panth of warriors under Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.
  • In Sikhism, Vaisakhi marks the start of the Khalsa in 1699 by Guru Gobind Singh.

Other names

  • Maha Bishuba Pana Sankranti (Odisha)
  • Bikhu or Bikhauti (Kumaon region of Uttarakhand)
  • Bisu (Tulu region of Karnataka)
  • Bohag Bihu (Assam)
  • Puthandu (Tamil Nadu)
  • Vishu (Kerala)

Note: Harvest festivals are significant events. Do try to remember their names as one can expect a match the pair question.

Posted on | Custom
Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

Assamese Gamosa Prelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Assamese Gamosa

Mains level : Not Much

The COVID-19 pandemic has made the Assamese gamosa, a decorative cotton towel, evolve from memento to mask.


  • The Gamosa is an article of significance for the people of Assam.
  • It is generally a white rectangular piece of cloth with primarily a red border on three sides and red woven motifs on the fourth (in addition to red, other colors are also used).
  • Although cotton yarn is the most common material for making/weaving gamosas, there are special occasion ones made from Pat silk.


  • Assam has traditionally had two types of gamosas the uka and the phulam.
  • The uka or plain kind is used to wipe sweat or dry the body after a bath.
  • The phulam is decorated with floral motifs to be gifted as a memento or during festivals such as Bihu.


  • Cultural historians say the gamosa came to symbolise Assamese nationalism in 1916 when the Asom Chatra Sanmilan, a students’ organisation was formed, followed by the Assam Sahitya Sabha, a literary body.
  • Wearing the phulam gamosa around the neck became a standard for cultural identity.
  • Thegamosa’s graph as a symbol of protest rose during the anti-foreigners Assam Agitation from 1979 to 1985.
  • The gamosa staged a comeback as a political statement with the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act from mid-December 2019.
Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

[pib] National List of Intangible Cultural HeritagePIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage

Mains level : Cultural heritage of India and its intergration

Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA) is preparing the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage

  • SNA is an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Culture is the nodal agency for the Scheme for ‘Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage and Diverse Cultural Traditions of India’.
  • As of now, SNA is collaborating with Zonal Cultural Centers of Ministry, collating and preparing a list of ICH elements for National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
  • List of ICH elements is being compiled and at least 100 elements will be documented by March, 2020 and the aim is to document at least 20 new elements in ICH list every year.
  • Along with this establishment of an ‘Indian Institute for Culture’ is at conceptual stage and a mission called National Culture Mapping portal is being conceptualized for aggregating art forms and artists. It is in pilot phase.
Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

Nagoba JataraPrelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nagoba Jatara

Mains level : Not Much

The month long Nagoba Jatara recently concluded in Adilabad dist. of AP.

Nagoba Jatara

  • Nagoba Jatara is a tribal festival held in Keslapur village, Inderavelly Mandal[1] Adilabad district, Telangana, India.
  • It is the second biggest tribal carnival and celebrated by Mesaram clan of Gond tribes for 10 days.
  • Tribal people from Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh belonging to the Mesram clan offer prayers at the festival.
  • It starts in pushya masam. A ceremony of ‘bheting’ is it’s integral part where the new brides are introduced to the clan god during first jatra afer their marriage
  • The few hundred Raj Gond and Pardhan Adivasis, men clad in pure white dhoti-kurta and the pagdi headgear and women in the traditional colourful nau-vari Maharashtrian style saree.
  • The temple for which a new structure is coming up is dedicated to the serpent god, known as Shri Shek to the aboriginal people, and is the centre of all activities during the week long festivities.
Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

Epiphany festivalPrelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Epiphany Festival

Mains level : NA

The Epiphany festival was celebrated in parts of India, such as Goa and Kerala. In Goa, the celebration is known by its Portuguese name ‘Festa dos Reis’, and in parts of Kerala by its Syriac name ‘Denha’.

Epiphany or Three Kings’ Day

  • Epiphany is among the three oldest and major festival days in Christianity, the two others being Christmas and Easter.
  • It is celebrated on January 6 by a number of Christian sects, including Roman Catholics, and on January 19 by some Eastern Orthodox churches.
  • In the West, the duration between December 25 and January 6 is known as the Twelve Days of Christmas.
  • Epiphany is a feast day, or a day of commemoration, which in Christianity marks the visit of the Magi (meaning the Three Wise Men or Three Kings) to the Infant Jesus (Christ from his nativity until age 12).
  • According to Christian belief, the Magi — Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar (or Casper), the kings of Arabia, Persia, and India, respectively — followed a miraculous guiding star to Bethlehem to paid homage to the Infant Jesus.
  • The day also commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River.

Celebrations in India

  • In Goa, the Magi or Three Kings are called ‘Reis Magos’ in Portuguese.
  • The Reis Magos fort, and church, in Bardez, and the Three Kings Chapel in Cansaulim, get their name from the belief.
  • Communities in Bardez, Chandor, Cansaulim, Arossim, and Cuelim are known to celebrate Epiphany.
  • In Kerala, at the St. Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Cathedral in Piravom, ‘Denha’ is an important annual celebration, in which a big congregation takes part.
Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

[pib] Hornbill Festival 2018States in News


Mains Paper 1: Arts and Culture| Salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Hornbill Festival, Great Indian Hornbill

Mains level: India’s rich cultural treasure and ways to preserve it


  • Union Home Minister has inaugurated hugely popular Hornbill Festival 2018 in Kohima, coinciding with the Formation Day of Nagaland.

Hornbill Festival 2018

  1. The Hornbill Festival is a celebration held every year from 1 – 10 December, in Kohima, Nagaland.
  2. The first festival was held in the year 2000.
  3. The festival is named after the Indian hornbill, the large and colourful forest bird which is displayed in the folklore of most of the state’s tribes.
  4. Organized by the Nagaland State Tourism and Art & Culture Departments, the Festival showcases a mélange of cultural displays under one roof.
  5. Festival highlights include the traditional Naga Morungs exhibition and the sale of arts and crafts, food stalls, herbal medicine stalls, flower shows and sales, cultural medley – songs and dances, fashion shows etc.

About Great Indian Hornbill

  1. The great hornbill (Buceros bicornis) also known as the great Indian hornbill or great pied hornbill, is one of the larger members of the hornbill family.
  2. The great hornbill is long-lived, living for nearly 50 years in captivity.
  3. It is predominantly fruit eating, but is an opportunist and preys on small mammals, reptiles and birds.
  4. Its impressive size and colour have made it important in many tribal cultures and rituals.
  5. IUCN status: Vulnerable (uplisted from Near Threatened in 2018). It is also listed in Appendix I of CITES.
Posted on | PIB
Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

UNESCO lists wrestling, reggae and raiho-shin rituals under “intangible heritage”IOCR


Mains Paper 1: Arts and Culture| Salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Intangible Cultural Heritage mentioned in the newscard

Mains level: India’s rich cultural treasure and ways to preserve it


  • Jamaican reggae, Georgian wrestling and Japanese rituals are among the six new elements added by UN cultural agency UNESCO to its list of “intangible heritage” for the world to treasure.

Chidaoba Wrestling

  1. From the border between Asia and Europe, in Georgia, it added Chidaoba, which combines elements of wrestling, music, dance and special garments.
  2. The practice encourages a healthy lifestyle and plays an important role in intercultural dialogue, according to UNESCO, which called its code of conduct “chivalric”.
  3. It noted that occasionally the wrestlers leave the arena with a Georgian folk dance.

Jamaican Reggae

  1. It is a style of popular music with a strongly accented subsidiary beat, originating in Jamaica.
  2. It became widely known in the 1970s through the work of Bob Marley; its lyrics are much influenced by Rastafarian ideas.
  3. Reggae contributes to international discourse on issues of injustice, resistance, love and humanity underscores the dynamics of the element as being at once cerebral, socio-political, sensual and spiritual.

Japan’s Raiho-shin rituals

  1. They are used to admonish laziness and teach children good behavior.
  2. Stemming from folk beliefs that deities visit communities and usher in the new year or season, local people dress in outlandish costumes and visit houses as deities.
  3. By performing the rituals, local people — notably children — have their identities moulded, develop a sense of affiliation to their community, and strengthen ties among themselves.


Intangible Cultural Heritage

  1. The term ‘cultural heritage’ has changed content considerably in recent decades, partially owing to the instruments developed by UNESCO.
  2. Cultural heritage does not end at monuments and collections of objects.
  3. It also includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.

9 Indian Arts in the UNESCO’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage


  1. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) based in Paris.
  2. Its declared purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific, and cultural reforms etc.
  3. UNESCO implements its activities through the five programme areas: education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, culture, and communication and information.
  4. It designates projects and places of cultural and scientific significance, such as:
  • Global Geoparks Network
  • Biosphere reserves (Programme on Man and the Biosphere (MAB), since 1971)
  • City of Literature
  • Endangered languages and linguistic diversity projects
  • Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity
  • Memory of the World International Register, since 1997
  • Water resources management (International Hydrological Programme (IHP), since 1965)
  • World Heritage sites
  • World Digital Library
Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

[pib] 17th World Sanskrit Conference in Vancouver, CanadaPIBPriority 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the World Sanskrit Conference, Keywords Mentioned

Mains level: Not Much


Human Resource Development Minister to inaugurate the 17th World Sanskrit Conference to be held at Vancouver, Canada from 9th July to 13th July 2018.

Aim & Objective

To promote, preserve and practice the Sanskrit language all over the world by the people.

Particulars of the Conference

  1. The World Sanskrit Conference is being held in various countries across the globe once in every three years and so far it has been held thrice in India.
  2. The Delhi International Sanskrit Conference of 1972 is considered to be the first World Sanskrit Conference.
  3. This year more than 500 scholars and delegates from over 40 countries will be participating and exchange their knowledge by presenting papers on various subjects followed by discussions from amongst the members.
  4. There will be a special panel discussion on over a dozen topics like;
  • History & Education of Women in Vedic Literature;
  • Sanskrit Buddhist Manuscripts;
  • Mimamsa Beyond the Yagasala;
  • The Yuktidipika Forging a Place for Sankhya;
  • Introducing Bhagavata Purana Commentaries;
  • Research on the Gargiyajyotisa.
Posted on | PIB
Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

Celebrating the goddess who bleedsPriority 1States in News


Mains Paper 1: Arts and Culture | Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Ambubachi Mela and some terminologies used in the newscard

Mains level: Popular culture symbolizing awareness about menstrual health


Four-day Ambubachi Mela begins in Guwahati

  1. Ambubachi Mela, a four-day fair to mark the annual menstruation of the goddess at Kamakhya temple in Guwahati has begun.
  2. Ambubachi Mela is also an occasion to promote awareness on menstrual hygiene.
  3. Priests at the temple said doors of the temple were shut for visitors at 4 p.m. to let the goddess go through her period.

About Kamakhya Temple

  1. Kamakhya, atop Nilachal Hills in Guwahati, is one of 51 shaktipeeths or seat of Shakti followers, each representing a body part of the Sati, Lord Shiva’s companion.
  2. The temple’s sanctum sanctorum (garbhgriha) houses the yoni — female genital — symbolized by a rock.

Menstruation – a celebration in Assam 

  1. The ritualistic fair celebrating the goddess’ period is one of the reasons why the taboo associated with menstruation is less in Assam compared with other parts of India.
  2. The attainment of womanhood of girls in Assam is celebrated with a ritual called ‘Tuloni Biya’, meaning small wedding.

Popular Culture

  1. The only ones that avoid the temple are the descendants of the medieval Koch royalty, who had reconstructed the Kamakhya temple in 1565.
  2. This is because the goddess is believed to have cursed the royalty after the king and his brother Chilarai — one of Assam’s revered generals — had secretly watched her dance.
  3. Researchers said there are legends about the goddess dancing when Kendukoli, a priest during Naranarayan’s reign, performed puja with his eyes shut.
Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

The Vaishnav monks of Assam’s Majuli islandPriority 1States in News

Viashnav monks put on their costumes for a village performance on the Majuli island of Assam. Photos: Sankar Sridhar


Mains Paper 1: Arts & Culture | All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Srimanta Sankardev, Sattriya Nritya, Majuli island, Sangeet Natak Akademi

Mains level: Various art forms prevailing in India and threats posed by them

History of Vaishnavism in Assam

  1. Vaishnava saint Srimanta Sankardev came to Majuli island in the 15th century
  2. He along with his disciples, set up 65 sattras—which is said to translate to “unique monasteries”
  3. Sankardev developed an equally unique way of worship through dance and drama, called the Sattriya Nritya
  4. The neo-Vaishnavite movement, held together by Sankardev, saw a division into four sub-sects after his passing

About Sattriya Nritya

  1. It is a dazzling retelling of the Ramayan and Mahabharat—complete with comedy, action, suspense and make-up to match
  2. Until the 20th century, it was the preserve of male monks but has since brought women into the fold
  3. In the year 2000, the Sangeet Natak Akademi recognized this dance form as classical

Majuli Island

  1. It is the world’s biggest river island in the Brahmaputra River, Assam
  2. In 2016 it became the first island to be made a district in India
  3. The island is formed by the Brahmaputra river in the south and the Kherkutia Xuti, an anabranch of the Brahmaputra, joined by the Subansiri River in the north
  4. Hidden chars (temporary islands formed by sedimentary deposits) and sandbars are features of this island
Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

[pib] India to host European Union Film FestivalPIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: EUFF

Mains level: Not Much


  1. Putting a spotlight on the latest European cinema, the European Union Film Festival (EUFF) will premiere in New Delhi on 18th June, 2018 at the Siri Fort Auditorium.
  2. 24 latest European movies from 23 European countries are to be screened.
  3. Slovakian Movie Little Harbour to be the opening film for the festival
  4. The festival will traverse through 11 cities in India including New Delhi, Chennai, Port Blair, Pune, Puducherry, Kolkata, Jaipur, Visakhapatnam, Thrissur, Hyderabad and Goa from 18th June till 31st
  5. Celebrating diversity, the EUFF will screen movies from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.
  6. The European Union Film Festival, organized by the Directorate of Film Festivals, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, and European Union will be hosted at the Sirifort Auditorium Complex.


European Union

  1. The EU consists of 28 countries, has the world’s largest economy and its third largest population, after China and India.
  2. The Maastricht Treaty established the European Union in 1993 and introduced European citizenship.
  3. They have set up common institutions so that decisions on matters of joint interest can be made democratically at European level.
  4. By creating a frontier-free single market and a single currency (the euro) which has been adopted by 19 Member States, the EU has given a significant boost to trade and employment.
  5. UK was the last member to leave EU after Greece , popularly known as Brexit.
Posted on | PIB
Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

Modi honours Tibetan institute


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Secularism

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Buddha Purnima, Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies (CIHTS), Vaisakh Samman Prasasti Patra, International Buddhist Confederation (IBC), Buddhist Circuit

Mains level: India’s soft power and Buddhism’s role in it

Honoring Buddhist Institute

  1. PM Modi honored a prominent institute of Tibetan studies as part of celebrations to mark Buddha Purnima
  2. He awarded Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies (CIHTS) with the Vaisakh Samman Prasasti Patra
  3. This was done at the Buddha Jayanti celebrations organized by the Ministry of Culture in collaboration with the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC)

Buddhist Circuit

  1. The government has also initiated the process for the development of the Buddhist circuit
  2. This will help in developing Buddhist spots in U.P., Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and A.P.
  3. The Buddhist Circuits are the Places of all High Significance Holy Sites of Buddhism; where Lord Buddha was born, attained Enlightenment, preached the first Sermon and reached Nirvana


Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies (CIHTS)

  1. CIHTS is a centrally funded institute that was started in 1967 following a discussion between Dalai Lama and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in the early 1960s
  2. This was later turned into an autonomous body under the Ministry of Culture
  3. It is situated in Sarnath
  4. The Central Tibetan Administration, the authority of the Tibetans in exile has several programmes for cultural preservation at CIHTS and thus it is a unique institution in India
Posted on | The Hindu
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Over 40 Indian languages, dialects heading to extinction

Image source


Mains Paper 1: Arts & Culture | All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Census Directorate, scheduled languages, UNESCO

Mains level: Demand for inclusion of various languages in the eighth schedule

Endangered dialects

  1. More than 40 languages or dialects in India are considered to be endangered
  2. They are believed to be heading towards extinction as only a few thousand people speak them

Languages in the country

  1. According to a report of the Census Directorate, there are 22 scheduled languages and 100 non-scheduled languages in the country
  2. These are spoken by a large number of people — one lakh or more
  3. There are 42 languages which are spoken by less than 10,000 people
  4. A list prepared by UNESCO has also mentioned about the 42 languages or dialects in India are endangered and they may be heading towards extinction


Scheduled languages

  1. The Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India lists the official languages of the Republic of India
  2. At the time when the Constitution was enacted, inclusion in this list meant that the language was entitled to representation on the Official Languages Commission
  3. And that the language would be one of the bases that would be drawn upon to enrich Hindi, the official language of the Union
  4. As per Articles 344(1) and 351 of the Indian Constitution, the eighth schedule includes the recognition of the following 22 languages
  5. The Government of India is now under an obligation to take measures for the development of these languages
  6. In addition, a candidate appearing in an examination conducted for public service is entitled to use any of these languages as the medium in which he or she answers the paper
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Will the Theatre Olympics give Indian theatre the boost it desperately needs?

Image source


Mains Paper 1: Arts & Culture | All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Theatre Olympics, Bharat Rang Mahotsav

Mains level: Theatre tradition in India and its evolution

India to host ‘Theatre Olympics’

  1. India will host the Theatre Olympics for the first time
  2. It has been held across the world every few years since 1995 and will be hosted in India starting February 17

History of Theatre Olympics

  1. A Greek theatre director, Theodoros Terzopoulos conceptualized Theatre Olympics
  2. It was held for the first time in Delphi, Greece
  3. The idea was to gather together the best theatre practitioners from around the world and create a forum for exchange — of ideas, cultures, forms, and practices
  4. It was also to be another kind of exchange, between eras, trying to find a continuum between the past, present, and future of theatre

Why is theatre special for India?

  1. India has a rich theatre history going back to at least 200 BCE and flowering luxuriously until 11 CE
  2. Kalidasa, Bhavabhuti, Sudraka, and Bhasa produced their masterpieces
  3. Simultaneously, an equally fertile landscape produced tribal, subaltern and folk theatre that morphed and thrived down the ages


Bharat Rang Mahotsav

  1. Bharat Rang Mahotsav was established a decade ago by the National School of Drama to stimulate the growth and development of theatre across the country
  2. Originally a national festival showcasing the work of the most creative theatre workers in India, it has evolved to international scope, hosting theatre companies from around the world
  3. It is now the largest theatre festival of Asia
  4. Bharat Rang Mahotsav is accompanied by a shorter festival in a second city, with selections from the main repertoire, extending the scope of the Mahotsav and sharing its fare with theatre lovers outside Delhi
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‘Kohinoor represents sentiments of people’

  1. Issue: The Centre told the SC that the diamond, though a “symbol of victory” for the British Empire, represented the “sentiments of the people of India”
  2. It also said India’s credentials regarding the ownership of the Kohinoor diamond was based on historical evidence and could not be doubted
  3. The views were given in an affidavit in response to a petition filed by the All India Human Rights and Social Front against the High Commissioner of the U.K.
  4. India and the U.K. are signatories to the UNESCO Convention on Means of Prohibiting and Preventing Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property
  5. But a restitution of Kohinoor would require a “special agreement” between both countries
  6. The affidavit said the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act of 1972 was toothless in this case
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A temple in the clouds, run by the Army II

  1. Hanuman Tok has been with the army for decades, before the temple came up on in the 1950s, local people worshipped a stone idol
  2. The temple’s legend says Lord Hanuman rested at the spot while taking the Sanjeevani life-saving herb from the Himalayas to Lanka, to save Lord Rama’s brother Lakshmana
  3. Where: It is located in Sikkim, at 7,200 feet
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A temple in the clouds, run by the Army I

  1. Hanuman Tok is a temple that is maintained by the Army
  2. Soldiers from all religions, such as Islam, Christianity greet visitors with tilak and distributing sweets in the sanctum santorum
  3. Similarly, Hanuman Tok is a destination for visitors of all faiths
  4. During peak season, about a thousand tourists visit
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Australia returns stolen sculptures to India

  1. The National Gallery of Australia has returned to India three sculptures
  2. Sculptures: A 900-year-old stone statue of Goddess Pratyangira and a third century rock carving of worshippers of the Buddha & another sculpture called the Seated Buddha
  3. Earlier: In 2014, former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott handed over to Prime Minister Narendra Modi two antique statues of Hindu deities that were stolen from temples in Tamil Nadu before being bought by art galleries in Australia
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Five museums from India among top 25 in Asia

  1. Indian Top 5: Hall of Fame (Leh), Bagore Ki Haveli (Udaipur), Victoria Memorial Hall (Kolkata), Salar Jung Museum (Hyderabad) and Jaisalmer War Museum (Jaisalmer)
  2. The Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horse in China topped the Asia list
  3. Globally: No museums from India feature in the top 25 world list
  4. Global list is topped by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, followed by Art Institute of Chicago, State Hermitage Museum and Winter Palace, Musee d’Orsay, Paris and National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico
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A proud moment, says Modi

  1. Context: Canonisation of Mother Teresa, the tiny nun who cared for the world’s most unwanted and became the icon of a Catholic Church
  2. Pope Francis declared Mother Teresa a saint at a Sunday morning Mass
  3. Made her the model of his Jubilee Year of Mercy and in some ways his entire papacy
  4. For Pope Francis, Mother Teresa put into action his ideal for the church to be a merciful field hospital for the poorest of the poor both materially and spiritually
  5. PM Modi: Sainthood for Mother Teresa is a memorable and proud moment
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ICHR plans encyclopedia of village folklore from across India

  1. News: The Indian Council of Historical Research will document stories and legends relating to villages and towns across India into an encyclopedia
  2. Aim: To connect people better with the oral and folk traditions
  3. Other initiatives: Study of the princely States of modern India and studies to fill the gaps between the Harappan civilisation (the first Indian urbanisation) and the 6 century BC (the second urbanisation)
  4. ICHR would seek part funding by corporate houses for its projects
Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

ICHR plans encyclopedia of village folklore from across India

  1. News: The Indian Council of Historical Research will document stories and legends relating to villages and towns across India into an encyclopedia
  2. Aim: To connect people better with the oral and folk traditions
  3. Other initiatives: Study of the princely States of modern India and studies to fill the gaps between the Harappan civilisation (the first Indian urbanisation) and the 6 century BC (the second urbanisation)
  4. ICHR would seek part funding by corporate houses for its projects
Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

Puppetry with Gondi dialect showcased at freedom fete

  1. News: Integrated Tribal Development Agency in Adilabad (Telangana) showcaseed a puppetry programme on health awareness among tribals
  2. Unique: It has been developed and executed by a group of four Adivasi youths from different parts of Adilabad, in Gondi dialect to boot
  3. The show was titled Maava jeeva, maava asthi or my health is my wealth
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More about Khangchendzonga National Park

  1. Khangchendzonga National Park (KNP) combines the religious and cultural practices of Buddhism as well as the ecological significance of the region
  2. Exhibits one of the widest altitudinal ranges of any protected area worldwide, boasts of a unique diversity of lowlands, steep valleys and snow-clad mountains
  3. Home to the world’s third highest peak, Mt. Khangchendzonga and also numerous lakes and glaciers
  4. KNP covers 25% of Sikkim and is home to a significant number of endemic, rare and threatened plant and animal species
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3 sites from India added to World Heritage Site list

  1. News: Khangchendzonga National Park (KNP) in Sikkim, archaeological site of Nalanda Mahavihara (Nalanda University) in Bihar and the Capitol Complex in Chandigarh were added to World Heritage Site list
  2. KNP: The first mixed heritage site from India to make it to the list
  3. Mixed site: Exhibits qualities of both natural and cultural significance
  4. Nalanda University: The most ancient university of the Indian Subcontinent, engaged in the transmission of knowledge for over 800 years
  5. Capitol Complex: Includes the Legislative Assembly, Secretariat and High Court and was designed by French architect Le Corbusier
  6. India’s total tally: 35 sites from India are notified as World Heritage Sites, including 27 cultural properties, 7 natural sites and 1 mixed site
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Ancient civilisations knew how to adapt to seasonal changes

  1. Context: Findings from the study of 2 geo-archaeologists conducting research in India and China
  2. Early civilisations in both India and China were aware of seasonal change and understood and utilised the landscape around them accordingly
  3. There was evidence of pre-historic civilisations adapting to floods, dry spells as well as monsoons
  4. All the pre-historic sites around Alamgirpur (western UP) were located on the floodplains of an erstwhile tributary of the Yamuna
  5. The pre-historic people were clever enough to settle their site on a levee (natural embankment of rivers)
  6. So that they received the benefits of flood from the river, and at the same time, the site itself could not be affected by the floods
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1,000 year inscription on Kapalikas found

  1. News: A nearly 1,000-year- old rare stone inscription on Kapalikas has been discovered in Raichur, Karnataka
  2. Kapalikas: Worshippers of Bhairava, a manifestation of Shiva
  3. Mysterious cult who may have practised human sacrifice and immolation
  4. Importance: First time an inscription that throws light on the presence of Kapalikas has been found in South India
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Digitising data on ‘stolen’ Buddhist relics

  1. Context: China is engaged in a major international effort to digitally accumulate information on the priceless cultural treasures of the Buddhist caves in Dunhuang
  2. What? It will digitise the info on the murals, statues and manuscripts that were taken away by Western expeditions
  3. Where? Most of the artworks, controversially removed from the iconic Mogao caves, found their way in the British Museum in London, the National Museum in New Delhi and The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg
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Taj Mahal turns green, Akhilesh orders probe

  1. Context: UP CM ordered a probe into the discolouring of the World Heritage monument Taj Mahal because it is turning green
  2. Cause: Due to release of faeces and dirt by insects name as the Geoldichironomus (Chironomus calligraphus)
  3. Reason: Due to increase in water pollution levels, the breeding of insects in the river is rising
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Ancient Buddhist site found in Amaravati


  1. Context: Remains of 1st century Buddhist site found in the hill region of Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh
  2. Three mounds studded with brickbats and pottery in red colour are found in search conducted by the Cultural Centre of Vijayawada
  3. The remains of bricks belonged to the Satavahana era (1st Century B.C.)
  4. Also Huge fragments of terracotta and brick tiles found in the region
  5. They were used to cover chaityas and viharas
  6. This shows that Buddhism existed from 1st century B.C to the 5th Century AD
  7. But later the region came under the influence of Saivism in the Vishnukundin era, and under Vaishnavites between the 13th and 17th centuries AD
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Oldest known axe found in Australia


  1. Context: Australian scientists claimed to have unearthed a fragment of the world’s oldest known ground edge axe
  2. Age: It was created up to 49,000 years ago, around the time humans first arrived on the continent
  3. Earlier: In Japan such axes appear about 35,000 years ago
  4. But in most countries in the world they arrive with agriculture after 10,000 years ago
  5. This discovery shows that early Aboriginal technology is not as simple as has been previously suggested
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About Shalimar Pavilion

  1. Shalimar Bagh was developed by the Emperor Jahangir (1605-27 AD)
  2. It was completed around 1620 AD
  3. Consider as high point of Mughal Architecture
  4. There are three terrace
  5. First: A public garden or the Diwan-e-Aam made up of black marble
  6. Second: Has two shallow terrace & Dewaan-e-Khaas lies here
  7. The ceilings and rare naqashi work in both Dewan-i-Aam and Dewan-i-Khaas
  8. Third: In this, water channel flows through the Zenana garden
  9. It has been on UNESCO’s list of World heritage Sites since 2010
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Shalimar pavilion restored in Indo-German effort

  1. Context: National Monument Authority of India is trying to restore the glory of the Dewan-i-Khaas of Shalimar garden with the help of Germany
  2. It is made up of wood & hence it has decayed due to wood rot
  3. Also its supports had loosened over the years with insect and fungal infestation
  4. The restoration has been done using old technique paper-maché
  5. Germany has supported 50 conservation projects across India
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Govt. aims at harnessing the soft power of zero

  1. News: India has sponsored a conference on ancient Indian contribution to mathematics in Paris
  2. Background: India’s efforts for International Yoga Day and a Sanskrit conference at the UNESCO showcasing its soft power
  3. Purpose: It will showcase Indian contribution to maths and sciences which are not known much to the world
  4. Significance: UNESCO is a fantastic global forum to showcase India’s soft power in all fields
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Everlasting Flame International Programme

  1. News: Minister of Finance inaugurated the months long cultural spectacle The Everlasting Flame International Programme
  2. Context: Zoroastrianism and Rig Vedic Hinduism are sister cultures that share linguistic and cultural commonalities
  3. Relevance: Celebrates Multicultural Ethos of the Parsi-Zoroastrian Community
  4. Exhibition: Programme will present exhibitions that takes the visitor on a journey from earliest days of Zoroastrianism to its emergence as the foremost religion of imperial Iran
  5. Objective: Exhibition examines their growth as an immigrant community under British rule in India and the later expansions
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Chapchar Kut celebrated across Mizoram

  1. Context: It is a spring festival celebrated every year in month of March with great fervour and gaiety by Mizos after completion of their Jhum cultivation
  2. Jhum: Shifting agriculture by clearing jungle by burning and cultivating in remnants of burning
  3. Celebration: by dressing in their traditional attire and dancers danced to the tune of typical music and songs
  4. Popular Mizo dances: Cheraw, Chheihlam, Sarlamkai and Khuallam are performed by various cultural groups
  5. History: Chapchar Kut Festival is estimated to have started in 1450-1700 A.D. in a village called Suaipui
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Kondane cave art depicts myth and daily life


  1. News: 40 rock paintings were discovered in the Kondane caves in Raigarh district in Maharashtra
  2. Paintings include: a hunter standing with a bow and arrow, a Barasingha, footprints, palm impressions and some trees
  3. The images were found in both natural caverns and man-made caves
  4. Significance: Man-made caves also feature Buddhist architecture such as a ‘chaitya’ (prayer hall) and a monastery
  5. Type of images: A striking image found was that of a mythical figure, perhaps a demon
  6. Buddhist rock-cut architecture found in these caves belongs to the Hinayana phase of Buddhism
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Muziris Heritage Project set for launch

  1. News: The prestigious Muziris Heritage Project of the Kerala Tourism department will be inaugurated by President Mukherjee in Thrissur district
  2. Why? To reinstate the historical and cultural significance of the legendary port of Muziris
  3. Context: Muziris Heritage Project is an effort to conserve and showcase a culture of more than 3000 years
  4. History: From as early as 3000 BC, Kerala had established itself as a major centre for spices, with the ancient port of Muziris as its hub
  5. Muziris mysteriously disappeared one day and researches point to the port’s location then as the mouth of the Periyar river in Kodungalloor
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Destination North East-2016 festival

  1. Organiser: Ministry of Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER) and Ministry of Culture
  2. Context: Showcase the inherent economic, social and cultural strength of the North East Region (NER) at the national level
  3. Themes: Three-day mega event include theme specific Business Summit consisting of sectors like Tourism, Agriculture, IT, Handloom & Handicrafts, and Start ups etc.
  4. Cultural events: The event will also have cultural programmes to showcase the rich culture and folk dances of North East India
  5. Destination North East will enable various Central Ministries to showcase their initiatives in North East India
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Chettinad cotton saree wins Indian Handloom tag


  1. The Chettinad cotton saree has won the ‘India Handloom’ tag for its unique designs and identity.
  2. The Textiles Committee, Union Ministry of Handlooms and Textiles, Mumbai, has registered the Chettinad cotton saree under the Indian Handloom Brand Scheme
  3. The Chettinad saree inherits the intricacies of now out-of-vogue and over a century-old‘ Kandangi’ pure silk sarees
  4. The sarees are already popular in few North Indian states in the country
  5. Also popular in other countries such as Malaysia and Singapore
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Heritage development projects for Andhra Pradesh, Telangana approved

The approval in this regard was given by an inter-Ministerial HRIDAY National Empowered Committee

  1. For improving tourist infrastructure in heritage places of Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh and Warangal in Telangana
  2. The funds sanctioned will be used for developmental works at 1000 Pillar Temple and Kazipet Durgah and rejuvenation of pond at Padmakshi Temple in Warangal city
  3. Amaravati and Warangal are among the 12 cities included in the Heritage Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) for improving the social, cultural and economic ecosystems
  4. By augmenting necessary infrastructure with the objective of conserving the rich cultural heritage and enabling better facilities for tourists and pilgrims
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Declare Kumbakonam a heritage town, seers urge Prime Minister

  1. Seers have appealed to Prime Minister to take steps to declare Kumbakonam a heritage town.
  2. Kumbakonam is the temple city of South India situated in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu.
  3. Historical Importance – In the 7th Century, it was the Capital of Chola Kings and a culturally rich place where music and art flourished
  4. Cultural Importance – It has several shrines which are centuries old, including the globally famed Darasuram Temple along with ancient mutts and Veda Patasalas
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Tamil Nadu celebrates Pongal with fervour

The festival of Pongal is celebrated to thank the Sun, rain and farm animals.

A busy market ahead of Pongal in in Ramanathapuram
A busy market ahead of Pongal in in Ramanathapuram

  1. People of Tamil Nadu celebrated Pongal with fervour, getting up early, donning new clothes and visiting temples.
  2. At homes, the aroma of ghee-fried cashews, almonds and cardamom wafted through as the traditional dish of rice, jaggery and Bengal gram was made.
  3. As the ingredients of Chakarai Pongal boiled in milk, people called out Pongolo Pongal.
  4. The mud pot or stainless steel in which the dish is cooked is decorated by tying up ginger, turmeric, sugarcane piece and banana at the neck.
  5. The Pongal dish is offered to the Sun god as thanksgiving and eaten as prasad.
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Bengal gearing up for Ganga Sagar Mela

  1. The Ganga Sagar Mela, one of the biggest religious events of the country that witnesses the gathering of lakhs of pilgrims, is set for a revamp this year.
  2. Pilgrims attending the annual fair at the Sagar Island, one among the cluster of islands at South 24 Parganas district.
  3. The state government is also planning to declare Ganga Sagar Mela as Green Mela this year.
  4. The six-day fair will shortly begin.
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Ramakrishna Mission-UNESCO establish ‘official ties’

  1. The UNESCO has established an ‘official relationship’ with the Ramakrishna Mission in the areas of intercultural dialogue, social cohesion and for promoting peace and non-violence.
  2. The bonding between UNESCO and the over 100-year old Ramakrishna Mission started in 2002 with the former funding certain projects.
  3. In 2012, the UNESCO set up a chair on Inclusive Adapted Physical Education and Yoga at the Coimbatore campus of Vivekananda University.
  4. The UNESCO has found common features with the Ramakrishna Mission in many respects.
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12th Century monument resurrected from ruins

With the investment of Rs. 4.5 crore from the Infosys foundation, restoration works at the 12th century Someshwara temple complex have begun.

The Vesara style Somanatheshwara temple in Lakshmeshwar in Gadag district, Karnataka.
The Vesara style Somanatheshwara temple in Lakshmeshwar in Karnataka.

  1. It is one of the marvels of the Kalyan Chalukya architecture and has four doorways with beautiful sculptural details.
  2. The Vesara style main structure has a unique Vimana (tower) having intricate designs.
  3. It is surrounded by smaller shrines, which had been corroded due to nature’s vagaries.
  4. A statue of a Jain Tirthankara on a parapet wall of the temple underlines its Jain heritage.
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Evidence of Buddhist monastery found

Retrieved objects indicate that the site flourished between 3 century BC and 8 century AD.

  1. A treasure trove of historical evidence of immense heritage value has been found at the Vommili village, Visakhapatnam district.
  2. The objects retrieved from a trial excavation on the surface include a standing image of the Vajrayana deity ‘Heruka’.
  3. Heruka is terracotta elephant head, conical mud bowls, thumb and finger print designs on polished black ware, dull chocolate-coloured slipware and herringbone patterns.
  4. Site was used for cultivation for a long time, causing damage to some of the historical evidence.
  5. The idol of ‘Heruka’ was found by the villagers and placed under a tree and was being worshipped.
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Bid to restore Channapatna craft to its original glory

Channapatna handcraft can be traced to the reign of Tipu Sultan who invited artisans from Persia to train local artisans in the making of the wooden toys.


  1. The traditional wooden toy-and-doll craft, with perfected lacquer-ware of Channapatna (on the Bangalore-Mysore highway).
  2. It is protected by a geographical indication (GI) tag but today a crisis stares the industry in the face.
  3. The art is known for its mix of vegetable dye and food grade pigments, with natural shellac insect residue.
  4. It obtained from the trees of Amaltaas and Kusum in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Orissa.
  5. Although Channapatna’s toy industry survives, what pains is the near-absence of lacquering that attaches a heritage value to it.
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Braille booklets showcase monuments of north-east

The four maidams (tombs) of the Ahom Kings at Charaideo was enlisted in the tentative list of World Heritage Sites in April 2014.

  1. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has for the first time published guidebooks on the monuments of north-east India in Braille.
  2. Eight monuments of Tripura, including the Bhubhaneshwari Temple, and the rock carvings of Unakoti are featured in it.
  3. This is first attempt to bring out Braille publications in north east India.
  4. Of the 80 archaeological monuments in north-east India, the publication covers 30 prominent archaeological sites.
  5. The publications are part of efforts to make archaeological sites accessible and barrier-free for physically and visually challenged persons.
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President to inaugurate first ever World Indology Conference

Conference is a unique platform which will bring best scholars from world, to discuss the present state of Indology, its relevance and challenges faced by them.

  1. A 3-day World Indology Conference organised in collaboration with Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).
  2. Around 21 eminent Indologists from world and 8 senior scholars from India deliberate on Indian culture and philosophy.
  3. Discussions on topics such as ‘Indological Studies in Historical Perspective’, ‘Sanskrit Literature’, ‘Indian Art and Architecture’ and so on.
  4. Scholars participating in it are those who have devoted their life-time to the interpretation and reinterpretation of Indian knowledge system.
  5. Their effort lead to putting proper focus on areas that need better attention so that contribution of India is better appreciated by global community.
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International Terra Madre begins in Shillong

One of India’s biggest food festival, bringing in cuisine of indigenous tribes from nearly 60 countries.

  1. Theme is The Future We Want: Indigenous Perspectives and Actions.
  2. Organised as collaboration between Slow Food, North East Slow Food and Agro biodiversity Society & Indigenous Partnership for Agro biodiversity and Food Sovereignty.
  3. The 5-day international fiesta will celebrate the biological and cultural diversity of indigenous communities.
  4. Expressed in their songs, folklores, dance and food systems have passed on from generation to generation in close interaction with nature.

Tera Madre is a network of Indigenous food communities involved in promotion of Indigenous culture as well as conservation of biodiversity.

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Indology meet to project ‘soft power’

“Spirit of universality found in Upanishads are particularly relevant to the 21st century”

  1. Ministry of External Affairs is ready to promote the global discipline of Indology as a soft diplomatic platform.
  2. Ministry, under the umbrella of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, organise first World Indology Conference.
  3. Spirit of universality found in the Upanishads are particularly relevant to the violent 21st century.
  4. Indology, includes the study of the Vedas, Vedanta, Upanishads and the Sanskrit classics.
  5. Global pool of scholars who can project India’s core civilisational values effectively on the global stage.

Inclusiveness and universality that are found in the Vedanta and the Upanishads are the prime features of Indology.

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Ancient temples in Mandya district unearthed

Archaeologists found five temple complexes defining Jaina identity at Chikkabetta of Artipura in Mandya district

  1. Believed to be the oldest known archaeological find belonging to the Western Ganga dynasty.
  2. Important ruling dynasty of ancient Karnataka, dynasty lasted from about 350 to 1000 AD.
  3. They are known as ‘Western Gangas’ to distinguish them from the Eastern Gangas who in later centuries ruled over Kalinga (modern Odisha).
  4. Most famous for their patronage toward Jainism resulting in the construction of monuments in places such as Shravanabelagola and Kambadahalli.
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‘Festival of Flowers’ Bathukamma celebrated in Telangana

The festival known as Bathukamma is Telangana’s floral festival, traditionally celebrated by women across the state.


  1. The festival is celebrated for nine days during Durga Navratri.
  2. It represents cultural spirit of Telangana.
  3. In Telugu, ‘Bathukamma’ means ‘Mother Goddess come Alive’.
  4. It is the state festival of Telangana.
  5. Every year this festival is celebrated as per Telugu version of Hindu calendar in the Bhadrapada Amavasya, also known as Mahalaya Amavasya.
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Buddhist monk comes to Sannati looking for Ashoka’s tomb

Relics of the once-beautiful stupa excavated at Sannati in Chitapur taluk in Kalaburagi district.— Photos: Arun Kulkarni

  1. Bhante Tissavro, who heads the Bodh Gaya-based Budh Avsesh Bachao Abhiyaan (Save Buddhist Relics Campaign), arrived in Kalaburagi district.
  2. The monk is on a visit to one of the important Buddhist sites at Sannati in Kalaburgi district in Karnataka.
  3. Sannati is Buddhist site located on the banks of the Bhima in Chittapur in Karnataka.
  4. The only available sculpture of Emperor Ashoka, in a limestone relief, along with his consort, was found here.
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ICHR to explore Europe’s connect to India’s past

The ICHR has proposed mapping the journey of science and technology from the earliest times to the 18th century.

  1. Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) has proposed to offer Indian scholars access to “multiple sources” of India’s past, to present it..
  2. Special training sessions for history scholars to help interpret the epigraphs that have found in ancient and medieval languages.
  3. It uncovers facets of ancient and medieval Indian history, which have till now not been recognised.
  4. Agenda is to trace the development of science in a historical perspective.
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2000-year-old Ashoka stupa restored in China

  1. A 2000-year-old lost stupa, one of the 19 built with Lord Buddha’s relics sent by Emperor Ashoka to China, has been renovated and restored with religious rites, making it a symbol of the advent of Buddhism from India to China.
  2. The renovated stupa and Ashoka pillar along with a huge golden statue of Buddha was consecrated by Gyalwang Drukpa, the spiritual head of Drukpa lineage of Buddhism based in Ladakh.
  3. According to Buddhist records, Emperor Ashoka collected all of Sakyamuni’s sarira, stored them in pagoda-shaped shrines before sending them to different parts of the world.
  4. The Nangchen stupa is the first to be discovered in the Tibetan region. The fate of the other 15 sent by Ashoka to China is unknown.
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Sports Ministry Grants Recognition to Kalarippayattu

  1. Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has recognized the Indian Kalarippayattu Federation as Regional Sports Federation with immediate effect.
  2. This recognition means granting a major role to the Indian Kalarippayattu Federation (IKF) for promotion and development of Kalarippayattu sport in India.

About Kalaripayattu

  1. Kalaripayattu sport is a Martial art performed in Southern state of Kerala and in contiguous parts of Tamil Nadu.
  2. It is considered to be one of the oldest fighting system in existence and each warrior in the Sangam era received regular military training of it.
  3. The word kalari has been derived from Sangam literature which describes both a battlefield and combat arena.
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400-year-old hero-stone found

  1. A Hero-stone at Peruntholvu hamlet in the district, though remaining little known to the outside world, has rich tales to tell from the 17th century.
  2. Some villagers in the area are still worshipping the stone mistaking the hero’s picture carved out on the stone as Hanuman (Anjaneyar) due to vague resemblance and because of the fact that the memorial had been lying near a Perumal temple.
  3. People who got killed while displaying valour to protect the cattle in the villages from leopard/ tiger in whose memory hero stones are usually kept.
  4. “The hamlet has its existence dated back to 3,000 years and it was the capital of one of the 24 divisions in Kongunadu”.
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UNESCO award for Kerala temple

  1. India has won the top UNESCO prize ‘Award of Excellence’ for the conservation efforts of the ‘Sree Vadakkunnathan Temple’ in Kerala.

The award recognises the remarkable conservation effort undertaken at the sacred site which employed age-old rituals and conservation techniques drawn from VastuSastra focussing on architecture and construction.

Xieng Thong Temple in Luang Prabang (LAOS)won the Award of Merit-1st site to bag the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award.

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Pallava-Chola Nageswaran temple being renovated

  1. What’s so amazing about this temple?
  2. The temple represents the transition from Pallava to Chola period.
  3. Known as Kudanthai Keezh Kottam — the temple on the eastern side of Kumbakonam.
  4. It is one of the temples being renovated ahead of Mahamaham festival.
  5. The entire Ramayana had been depicted on the athirstanam (the base) of the temple.

What’s Mahamaham?

What’s the importance of this temple?

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A few lesser known World Heritage sites in India

UNESCO identifies World Heritage Sites as places that belong to all the people of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located. This means, these places are considered to be of immense cultural and natural importance in the world.

With the latest entry of The Great Himalayan National Park and Rani ki Vav, India now has 32 of these!

  • 25 are of Cultural Importance
  • 7 are of Natural Importance [Can you list these 7 Natural ones?] 

You might know most of them but we have a hunch that you might not know these 4!

  • Group of Monuments at Pattadakal, Karnataka: 
    1. Pattadakal is famous for its Chalukya style of architecture that originated in Aihole and blended with Nagara and Dravidian styles.
    2. The important monuments are – Virupaksha Temple, Sangameshwara Temple, Jain Temple…
    3. Unfortunately, the nearby temples at Badami usually overshadow the fancy of tourists and the bad state of approach roads doesn’t help either.

  • Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka:
    1. The Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka is the place were the earliest traces of human life on Indian subcontinent was discovered.
    2. The name breaks down to – Bhim + Bhet (The place where someone met Bheem)
    3. The caves provide a rare glimpse at a sequence of cultural development from early nomadic hunter-gatherers to settled cultivators to expressions of spirituality.

  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus / Victoria Terminus:
    1. Hardly anyone pauses to consider the significance of this beautiful monument originally built to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria.
    2. The entrance of the Chhatrapati Shivaji terminus is flanked by figures of a lion and a tiger representing the two countries-great Britain and India.
    3. The change of name from Victoria to Shivaji is often dubbed as the most significant sex change operation in modern times!

  • Kumbhalgarh fort: 
    1. With a 36km wall second only to the Great Wall in China, the Kumbhalgarh fort is one of those rare forts which was never attacked!
    2. It is also knwon for the Shooting of The Dark Knight Rises and a few movies of Satyajit Ray like ‘Shonar Kella’.


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Clamour for bringing back Amaravati relics from U.K.

  1. What are the “Amravati relics”?
  2. They are a collection of over 120 masterpieces and artefacts of Buddhist sculptures on display in the British Museum in London.
  3. They were excavated by the British and shipped to the UK from Madras in the 1850s.
  4. Why the clamour?
  5. Andhra Pradesh government wants to attract world tourists to Amaravati, its new capital area, by showcasing its Buddhist heritage.
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What connects Christopher Nolan and Rao Jodha?


What are we looking for here?
The picture in the middle is of a famous temple which witnessed an infamous stampede in 2008. You know the gentlemen on the either side, already!

Identify the temple and identify the architectural marvel which connects all 3 of them.


The Mehrangarh Fort

Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises” showed the underground chambers of a dark dingy prison. That was shot here at Mehrangarh Fort.

Chamunda Mata temple had a stampede in 2008 because a bomb scare (@mehrangarh) had set people off. Rao Jodha – the founder of Jodhpur.


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Shahid Kapoor, Anupam Kher and that temple!


  1. Link the images on the poster above. The answer is a part of a recent controversy around a film which won several national awards.
  2. The answer will also give you a glimpse into a marvellous piece of architecture from Kashmir.
  3. We are looking for a marvellous temple here – what are we talking about?


Working out the Clues

Shahid Kapoor – Actor in the movie Haider
Anupam Kher – Kashmiri Pandit (They collectively agitated)
Konark Temple – The only other Sun temple in India (Odissa)

The Martand Sun Temple.

1. The Sun Temple, build in 370 AD, has historic and religious significance for the Hindu community as it is one of the only two Sun Temples in India, with the other one in Konark in Odisha.
2. The Sun Temple in Kashmir is facing West which attains greater significance in the Hindu scriptures. Why?
3. It can be said it was an excellent specimen of Kashmiri architecture, which had blended the Gandhara, Gupta, Chinese, Roman, Syrian-Byzantine and Greek forms of architecture.

PS: The temple appears in the list of centrally protected monuments as Kartanda.

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The grandeur of Pallavas – Shore temple


  1. Shore Temple comprises three shrines, mainly dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. Lord Vishnu resting on the Sheshnaga.
  2. Shore Temple is also acknowledged for being the first stone structure made by Pallavas.
  3. The Shore Temple overlooks the Bay of Bengal (Mamallapuram was the port city of Kanchipuram, the Pallava capital).


The temple was designed to grasp the first rays of the rising sun and to spotlight the waters after sunset. In the words of Percy Brown, Shore Temple served as “a landmark by day and a beacon by night”.

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The Virupaksha temple at Hampi gets the Adarsh Smarak tag


  1. Located on the south bank of the river Tungabadra – devoted to Lord Shiva (Virupaksha).
  2. The Ministry of Culture has chosen Hampi and 24 other monuments to be granted ‘Adarsha Smaraks’.
  3. The ‘Adarsh Smarak’ tag is given to the monuments which have highest number of tourists visiting besides giving them special attention in order to boost international tourism.


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An extremely unconventional Hindu temple – The Apsidal Durga

  1. The Durga temple, a former Hindu temple, is located in Aihole in the state of Karnataka, India.
  2. The temple was built between the 7th and the 8th century by the dynasty of the Chalukyas.
  3. The architecture of the temple is predominantly Dravida with Nagara style also is used in certain areas.


The Apsidal Durga temple: If it’s not dedicated to the goddess Durga, then who is it dedicated to?

PS: The temple also breaks an interesting myth that the ‘apsidal’ architecture was buddhist in its origin. It was prevalent in Ajivikas, Jains & Hindus.

Posted on | Wiki
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Sanchi – The oldest extant Buddhist sanctuary


  1. The Great Stupa that is located at Sanchi Town in MP – It is the oldest STONE structure in India – commissioned by Ashoka.
  2.  After Ashoka came the Sunga, Satavahanas & Kushanas to contribute to the growing heritage.
  3. The Gupta kings built along some temples – Sanchi has both Hindu and Buddhist faith.
  4. Interestingly, Sanchi had lain abandoned for ~600 years before it was discovered.

Did you know? Excavations at Sanchi began in somewhat disorganized fashion until the Archaeological Survey of India stepped in and took control.

Ques – When & under whose leadership was the ASI founded & who was the Gov-General of India at that time?

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Why is Kushinagar a famous Buddhist place?


  1. Kushinagar has a gilded statue of Buddha. That signifies his Parinirvana.
  2. It is the completion of nirvana, usually understood to be within reach only upon the death of the body of someone who has attained complete awakening (bodhi).
  3. Kushinagar also finds a mention in epic Ramayan as the city of Kusha the son of Ram, the famous king of Ayodhya.
  4. The parinirvana of the Buddha is described in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta.

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