This Instagram project showcases stunning Indian ruins you’ve never heard of
From crumbling mahals to ancient mosques, India Lost and Found has documented 150 structures so far, across 10 states.Updated: Oct 21, 2018 18:13 IST
Delhi-based photographer Amit Pasricha, 51, loves old buildings. He loves them enough to have put together several coffee-table books about Indian monuments. But in this hunt for old buildings, ruins and crumbling edifices he stumbled upon enough obscure, neglected spots, what he calls ‘laawaris structures’, to realise their stories needed to be shared with the world too.
It culminated in his Instagram project, India Lost and Found, in March. The page posts around three photos every other day, of a lesser-known structure somewhere in India. The shots cover close-ups, featuring intricate stone details, magnificent domes propped up by slender minarets or an unfinished temple wall. Each picture is captioned with interesting details – an anecdote about the king who commissioned it, the materials used or what the motifs mean.
In August, Pasricha also launched a website as a more permanent repository of his pictures. He calls on historians, archaeologists, architects and other experts to help “imagine the pulse of the place, the throb of civilisation past as it flourished”. It results in tidbits of information that are as surprising as they are memorable.
Food writer Anoothi Vishal collaborated on connecting the architecture to culinary history. She points out that Jahaz Mahal in Mandu, MP, was built during the Khilji Era, “when the samosa was introduced into the continent as a mince pastry for the elite”.
Another collaborator, Anita Baig, a heritage conservationist and author, says that the project has helped showcase lesser-known bits of Indian heritage to new viewers. “After 30 years of studying heritage buildings, the project showed me were sites and structures I had never heard of!”The challenge, Baig says, is to keep the information objective and factually correct without compromising on the storytelling. “It needs to be well-researched and there must be feedback. That’s when we know people are interested.”
Narayan Vyas, a former archaeologist with the Archaeological Survey of India, says public projects like Pasricha’s help make conservation work easier. “It is impossible for the ASI to cover all the monuments scattered across India so there will always be a few unprotected ones,” he says. “We need more local initiatives to help identify and maintain these historical structures.”