Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mussoorie Landmark - an opportunity literally laying in ruin

India....while incredibly fascinating and wonderful......will at times cause frustrations......

I am not talking of the frustrations caused by the minor inconveniences of living here.....those differences comparing living in India to the U.S.; those are issues I have accepted and actually embraced quite some time ago.....and I am proud to say, so has my family. We don't complain about such things......we are enjoying life here in India.

Of course, there are the HUGE issues of poverty, lack of infrastructure (although improving everyday), bureaucracy and corruption......and other social issues and ills.

So why.....with all of these huge issues to deal with am I choosing to express my frustrations about an old house, laying in ruin on top of a mountain?

It is certainly not because I am insensitive to all of the much larger issues.....I am.....my head almost explodes at times when I see the corruption in the government......my heart gets twisted and is in pain when I get a soft knock at my window from someone in need.......my stomach gets tied up in knot's when I watch a limbless man, with no shirt, in the heat of Delhi, pushing a plate filled with what may amount to $1 US in change, with his forehead while he makes his way along a dirty unpaved street....

I could share more such stories.....but I think you get the picture...I am grounded in "reality".
So....why?....what's the big deal about an old house when there are so many other bigger issues to deal with.

Well, there is no "big deal" actually.....until recently, I didn't even know much about the life of George Everest.....or how the tallest mountain in the Himalaya's was named for him, what his accomplishment's were.....or where he lived for goodness sake. A year ago, I couldn't even point out to you where Mussoorie, India was on a map.....or even that such a place existed.

But it does.....like many other places in India; monuments, fort's, tomb's, and other such places of historical significance, that have withstood the test of time.....but are laying in various states of ruin....or disappear as an afterthought in pursuit of progress...

There is much more to India than the Taj Mahal......so much more.

While the pressing issues I mentioned above are very real and extremely challenging to deal with....AND are a tremendous financial burden to the country......I also believe that it is important to preserve the past......the country's heritage......the culture that makes it unique and fascinating.....the history that has shaped the country into what it is today......How can a country, plagued with so many social issues afford to allocate funds for preservation when there are people starving?

Wouldn't this be socially irresponsible?

I am not sure of the answers to the questions I pose to all of you who read this blog entry.....but it is frustrating to see what I consider "NATIONAL TREASURES" being allowed to fall apart.

One could easily argue that the investment in preserving these national treasures would pay huge dividends......much more than one can imagine.....

I suggest that India has an opportunity to focus on preservation....showcasing that India is much more than the Taj Mahal......and it will be a benefit to the people of this great country.....and to me......I would be able to stop pulling my hair out.Now that I am off the soap box......I welcome comments from everyone....tell me how you feel about this issue......or one that may be bothering you.

I would like to hear the perspective from all of my readers from India......please give me your perspective......for those of you in the US or in Europe......imagine for a moment if Independence Hall in Philadelphia was allowed to crumble in front of our eyes......or the Arc de Triomphe.....or any other iconic monument that means so much to the country.....

I look forward to your comments.

By the way......the views from the George Everest Estate are amazing.....but would you expect anything less? He was in charge of surveying the country....measuring the peaks......he had an insider's knowledge of where to locate his house.....truly magnificent....

SUGGESTION: to catch an incredible sunset, I suggest that you leave Mussoorie at 4:00pm, like Preston and I did.....you will have time for the hike to the site, some time to take photographs and walk through the house.....and then time to locate a perfect spot to sit and watch the beauty unfold before your eyes.

We didn't make it to watch the sunrise, which I am told is equally incredible.....but I will guarantee you that on my next trip.....I will make my way to the top early one morning to witness it.

7 comments:

mani said...

Hi,

Glad you enjoyed Mussoorie. I used to go there every summer, when I was growing up in India.
The issues re. poverty etc.. will not go away, in a hurry. The country will progress at its own pace.
The difference between now and 30 years ago is that then most American tourists could see the country behind tinted windows, while now business requires they live in the country. So you really don't have a choice but to learn to live with life as it is, not as you would wish it.

Lloyd said...

Mani,

Mussoorie is a truely wonderful place....and you are blessed to have had the opportunity to spend summers there while growing up......
As I mentioned, this is not about living life here....I LOVE life in India.....and I am not complaining......what do you feel are the issues with preserving historical landmarks.....why are your country's treasures just left to deteriorate? That is what this blog entry is about......

Naomi said...

Interesting.

I have to admit that I'm not going to lend a very knowledgeable point to the discussion, but I too have been curious about why some things are preserved and other things (that I would have thought were national treasures) are left to fade into the dust of the earth.

We have done virtually NO traveling, so my experience has only been inside Delhi, but I'llbe interested to know if any of your readers have input on WHY!

Lloyd said...

Naomi,

One does not have to travel very far outside of Delhi to see similar sites. They are all around us here in Delhi as well.

scribina said...

am not an expert.. but an interesting take on the issue could be found at this link.. http://www.nlsenlaw.org/heritage-conservation/articles/law-and-practice-of-conservation-of-monuments/

It is a little dated, but could still give you a broader view of the issues here.

i think one of the problem is of too many monuments and too few resources, both of manpower and funds.

There has been the entry of private sector in some areas, like humayun's tomb and jantar mantar - but again they wud only go for the big ticket attractions.

Lloyd said...

Scribina,

It was a very interesting read.....and while outdated, it is apparant that the author was equally as concerned about the issue.
Like you, and the author, I believe that the resources are few and/or are manipulated through a very poorly managed system. While I hail from the USA, I do not profess that all of what we do is "the right thing". However, when it comes to the preservation of sites of national/international significance, the US model seems to work very well. I would like to see something similar adopted by India....or a hybrid of the successful systems of other nations.....but something more need to be done.

shridhan said...

Hi.

It is another great post of yours!

I hope there are more Indians who think and act about the issue as you do.

There are two ways which I think would help preserving India's heritage. First, people need to be educated, made aware and proud that they have inherited so much. Then the economical benefit of this heritage has to be highlighted for the people. I think things will change.

For example, every district in Tamil Nadu has temples over centuries or millenium old. Religious places will be alright, given that religion is big here.

Apart from the world heritage of Ajanta and Ellora, almost every district in Maharashtra has similar caves on a smaller scale. They are a piece of art as well as heritage of the Buddihist, Hindu and Jain history.

There are medieval forts in Maharashtra, most of them are ruins.
We need to be proud of these things as Americans are proud of their history. That, for me will be the turning point of when these ruins will have their preservation.

The present central government seems to be doing it. Because we are now seeing adverts of Jammu Kashimir , Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, the North-East tourism apart from just 'Incredible India' limited to the Taj Mahal, Rajasthan or Kerala.