ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Restoring Basilica of Bom Jesus, and the Role of Archaeological Survey of India

The Archaeological Survey of India's role in the protection of the 16th century Basilica of Bom Jesus monument in old Goa has come under attack. The rector of the basilica, in an open letter recently, has accused the ASI of “utter apathy” in restoring the structure. This has prompted the Goan government to swing into action by appointing a committee to overlook the restoration of the monument. What is of importance in this case is that the monument is still used as a church by the local community. Religious heritage buildings that are still in use by the community call for a different kind of restoration measures. The ASI needs to take the local stakeholders into confidence, and allow their participation in the protection of monuments.

The New 'Love' Story of the Taj Mahal

Home to a legacy from history, Agra boasts of a number of historical monuments. This paper focuses on the urban planning implications and socio-spatial consequences of heritage tourism in Agra. Tim Edensor's categorisation of tourist space as "enclavic" or "heterogeneous," Aihwa Ong's zones of exception and the concept of "elite capture" provide the key conceptual frames that inform the study. The paper argues that global heritage tourism has reconfigured everyday life and the spatial geography of Agra, often deepening urban inequalities. The most affected by these new developments are the poor communities living in and around the Taj Mahal for centuries, who find themselves alienated as their world is taken over by the juggernaut of heritage tourism.

Secularising the 'Secular'

The Taj Mahal can also be seen as a religious place of worship, as the local Muslim community is allowed to offer prayers at the mosque situated inside the Taj complex. The monument is also privy to two kinds of publics - a congregation that offers prayers at the mosque, paying no attention to the central building, and a "public", which stays at the central building and seems to follow the given official meanings of the Taj as a world heritage site. Is it possible to look at the Taj merely as a secular historical monument? If yes, how can we respond to the religious meanings embedded in the very architectural composition of the buildings? Are Muslims, as a religious minority, entitled to use spaces such as the mosque in the Taj Mahal to offer congregational prayers? This article explores these questions to understand the practice and politics of "secularism" in postcolonial India.
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