India is very rich in heritage but much of it is yet to be rediscovered and then brought into mainstream cultural resource management with development in a way that its significance and values are maintained. Within this holistic and integrated approach paradigm the Archaeological Park gives the opportunity for to heritage site within the country for effective protection and management.
The 'Archaeological Park' as a concept is an idea, process and method for the protection and management of some categories of heritage in the Indian context. It was developed way back in 1990 and has been evolving over the years. The concept is still in the process of being brought into the mainstream and will be an instrument to protect dispersed and vulnerable heritage areas like forts, remains of cities and settlements. It should be noted that its definition as a Green Area in the Master Plans etc does not imply its adequate protection. As these Parks have fragile unprotected sub-surface resources, pressures of development for purposes of active recreation – like sports complexes and playground prove extremely detrimental. Therefore, Archaeological Parks are required to be recognized as a cultural entity whose management requires interfacing with all sectors.
Archaeological Park1 can be termed as a definable area, distinguished by heritage resources and land related to such resource, has potential to become an interpretive, educational and recreational resource for the public. This is a way of protecting heritage resources that also ensures protection for underground structures until the resources are found to excavate them. The integrity and authenticity of the site rests within the entirety of the park itself, which is yet to be rediscovered. Though the first priority is the built and archaeological heritage, ecological and landscape aspects are not excluded.
It should also be noted that an Archaeological Park will not preclude recreational usage as long as the needs of heritage is not compromised/undermined/destroyed. However, it primarily will serve educational and conservation needs. Educational needs are fulfilled by introducing the past to the people through innovative and enjoyable ways so that they perceive their city as pluralistic and layered. As these layers are unfolded, it can be hoped that people will develop a positive attitude towards the city itself and inspire them to become responsibly involved in the heritage management process, leading to true participatory resource management.
Archaeological Park as a tool for protection and management
Archaeological Park is an instrument or tool that focuses on site and its resources to devise a methodology that documents, conserves and manages both, the site and its resources, within established heritage management norms and park management norms. Some of the applications of the Archaeological Park as a strategy for the protection and management of varied numerous complex heritage sites include:-
- All unprotected, inadequately protected, unrecognized heritage sites and zones all over India
- Sites situated in an urban area and the rural countryside and within forests or in the wastelands
- Existing unprotected heritage sites with both archaeological and architectural resources above ground or underground
- Effective protection and management of forts occupying a large area, whether protected or unprotected
- Group of protected/unprotected monuments, historic structures and ruins within Master Plan greens and district parks
- Entire ancient and medieval cities overwhelmed by reserved forests, competing with and other protection regimes
Archaeological Park methodology
B: Site Level
Management of an Archaeological Park
This is challenging and requires interfacing of multiple jurisdiction and overlaps. Some essential support areas that ensures coordinated protection and management of the Archaeological Park are:
- Heritage resources information
- Contractual agreements for partnerships public or private.
- Local stakeholder mobilization and ensure participation
- Guidelines and regulations for achieve authenticity integrity and sustainability.
- Regulation of competing and conflicting interests especially - heritage vs tourism and commercial development
Legislation has been utilized to protect and manage management Archaeological Parks. The core of Archaeological Park legislation addresses the protection and management of cultural resources as a spatial area, and also the cultural resources themselves, making it a totally new legal concept in the country. It covers both the protection and the management of resources in an integrated fashion, where the aim, means and ends are all linked. When followed, it ensures that standards are maintained. It will add rigor and develop a sound Cultural Resource Management system, which is the need of the day. Examples: The Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park a World Heritage Site inscribed in 2004, has a law passed in the Gujarat Assembly ‘Champaner–Pavagadh World Heritage Area Management Authority Act (2006)’ to safeguard and manage the site. Other recognized Archaeological Parks in India:
- Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, Gujarat, inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 2004
- Kangla Fort Archaeological Park, Imphal, Manipur, officially declared as an Archaeological Park from its previous designation of a District Park in Master Plan
The Delhi Master Plan 2010 has listed three Archaeological Parks, namely Archaeological Park of Mehrauli, Sultangarhi and Tughlaqabad. However there are more unprotected areas that are potential Archeological Parks.
- 1. As a tool for heritage management for complex Indian sites, this concept was introduced by Prof. N. Thakur in the 1990` s with the Mehrauli Heritage Zone as a part of the buffer zone of the Qutub Complex, WHS.
- 2. Visitor is an inclusive term recognizing all types of visitors, pilgrims or tourists and also includes people of all age groups and abilities.