Heritage Week in Punjab – 19th to 24th November 2015 at Amritsar, Patiala and Chandigarh

Marking the Heritage Week that is held from 19th to 25th of November, DRONAH Foundation with support of Punjab Tourism and Infrastructure Development Investment Programme for Tourism [IDIPT] and in association with UNESCO, New
Delhi, INTACH, Punjab Chapter, ASl Chandigarh Circle, Department of Architecture, GNDIJ Amritsar and Chitkara University, Punjab Campus celebrated the Heritage Week in Punjab – Amritsar, Patiala and Chandigarh – between 19th to 24th of November with a number of community outreach activities, talks and heritage walk.

The first leg of the Heritage Week was successfully kicked off in Amritsar on the 19th of November with a Heritage Walk, painting competition for school children and a panel discussion on ‘The State of Tourism and Heritage in Amritsar’ hosted by Department of Architecture, Guru Nanak Dev University. Shree Bakshi Ram Arora, Honorable Mayor,
Amritsar was the chief guest and as one of the panelists, he raised some important issues related to heritage and tourism in Amritsar. The discussion highlighted the debate that exists between heritage and tourism and how the two should be brought together for sustainable economic development of Amritsar.

The second stop for the Heritage Week celebrations was Patiala 21′ and 22″ November. On 21′, a series of community engagement activities were held at Banasar Ghar, Sheesh Mahal in Patiala. The activities included painting competitions for school children on the theme cultural heritage of Punjab, a mini-crafts meta showcasing Punjabi crafts by local crafts organisations, a live demonstration by a few of them, a heritage awareness survey of the entire gathering and a traditional Gatka performance. The Chief Guest for the event Shree Surjit Singh Ablowal, Chairman, Punjab Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) interacted with the craftspersons on the occasion. Guest of
Honour, Hounourable Mayor, Shree Amaninder Singh Bajaj also graced the occasion by his presence.

About 200 local school children and 25 college students attended the event and were also taken to the Medals Gallery at Sheesh Mahal that is generally not open to public view. 53 students participated in the painting competition and were given prizes at the venue, Apart from those recorded, there were other casual visitors who were present
and became a part of the activities. Bringing together the crafts people showcasing traditional phulkari and other handmade crafts generated quite an interest in the public. The programme concluded by a Gatka performance by kids between 6 and 18 years of age trained by Jethedar Harpal Singh Pala of Saheb Dashmesh Gatka Akhada, a part time carpenter who teaches this traditional art form to children for free.

On 22nd November, 11 interested participants were taken to field visits to Bahadurgarh Fort and Diwankhana Complex, Sangrur. 9 students, studying Tourism from ITI College, Patiala and 3 women working with government’s self help groups were told about the history associated with the place and shown the ongoing conservation works.

The last leg of the heritage week was concluded at Chitkara University Campus on 24th November with a symposium on ‘The State of Heritage and Tourism in Punjab’. The Chief Guest for the occasion was Ms. Anjali Bhawara, Principal Secretary Tourism. She launched the Punjab Destinations Brochure that is meant for the meant to give comprehensive and precise information to the visitor about each district in Punjab with a view to boost tourism inflow. It includes all the circuits, destinations and district wise information. It will be an overarching brochure for the Punjab state to market its Heritage Tourism potential and link with other city tourism brochures already promoted by PHTPB.
With a video presentation on the forts of India by Mr. Gurcharan Chani, eminent theatre person and filmmaker, a talk on ‘How to take the Cultural Policy Forward?’, and a display of paintings made by school children from the competitions held during the Heritage week, the week-long was celebrations ended on a positive note.
The Heritage Week was aimed at increasing participation of the community in issues related to heritage and culture in which Punjab Tourism Department is taking positive strides. The participation of the local community and stakeholders with each concluding event is on the rise.

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