Need for Preservation
“Human handprint made about 30,000 years ago, on the wall of the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave in southern France. Somebody tried to say, ‘I was here!”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Unique feature of Indian cultural heritage is rock-cut chambers - cave temples and monasteries. In total there are more than 1,500 such temples spread out throughout the country containing incomprehensible amount of art values - paintings, sculptures, inscriptions. Archaeological and historical investigations of this extremely rich heritage has taken many exciting years of numerous scientists but there still is almost endless work to be done. One of the best known and most impressive groups of cave temples is Ajanta Caves -These impressive structures form a popular tourist destination. These caves contain some of the richest collections of ancient art in region. Unparalleled in its history of aesthetics and excellence in the world Ajanta paintings are exceptional area of India’s cultural heritage.
Despite a hoard of scholars having explored the significance of Ajanta it still remains fathomless due to its boundless scope for investigation and inquiry. An interminable and immortal work, it provides internal space to rummage and research. Some paintings in Ajanta still retain the original splendour but most have either withered, faded, blurred, creased or degraded. Unlike Ellora caves which are Buddhist, Hindu and Jain, the Ajanta caves are all Buddhist. The Ellora caves are masterpieces of sculpture. At Ajanta it’s the magnificent paintings which have enthralled the people all over the world. The Ajanta frescos have immortalized the gospel and legend of Lord Buddha. The anonymous painters who were masters of art have adorned the walls of Chaityas (prayer halls) and Viharas (monasteries) with incidences and events from the life of Lord Buddha, Jataka and Avadna stories, scenes from Buddhist plays and mythology.
There are virgin and untried areas of scrutinising through a complete regeneration of all those portions of paintings which have been erased, abraded of damaged due to time, climate and man. Ajanta the world’s finest heritage of mankind is on the verge of ruins due to climatic conditions and brutalized attitude of man.
Many efforts have been put forward by scholars and researchers all over the world to preserve this shrine beauty of Ajanta. Scientist had tried to preserve by applying the layer of some chemical on wall painting to make frescos clear and fresh, but after a due period of time these chemical reacted awfully which damaged frescos more terribly. ASI started pasting cement blotches wherever painting surface pilled off, with this result, in most of the caves what is conspicuous more is blotches of cement more than paintings.
Now only option leftover is to restoring World Heritage separately on canvas without touching and damaging original monument. As per the rule of ASI.
As UNESCO and Archaeological department have suggested following are the steps taken for protection of the Ajanta caves from human vandalism and natural deterioration. In nutshell, the heritage is the mirror of any culture and it reflects the story of its past, but it is our responsibility to conserve it. It is also very true that conserving monument is not an easy task because we have to first identify that what is the quality of the monument, its architecture, various material used for construction and causes of its deterioration. Only then we have to think on how we can conserve it. First we need to understand the causes and then act accordingly to tackle each factor with ultimate measures without harming the originality of heritage site. Since its structure, painting, carving, stone work, sculptures are peculiar but also its paintings which are related to Buddhist are the most authentic example of our Buddhist Indian History. They have its own identity which told the story of its magnificent past. Yet Ajanta caves are in deterioration process but there are so many conservation work is being conducted by chemical branch of Archaeological Survey of India which are very laudable. Likewise almost all struggle were failed.