Aurangabad: When former divisional commissioner Umakant Dangat had started heritage walks in the city last year, hopes were high that it would spread public awareness about historic monuments and places and in turn would achieve the goal of their conservation and restoration.
The initiative, however, was short-lived, thanks to the apathy from the authorities.
Officially began in August last year, the heritage walks witnessed an abrupt end in less than six months with not a single activity being held in the past few months.
After Dangat left Aurangabad following superannuation, the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) disowned the responsibility of heritage walks.
Flaying officials concerned for their apathy towards the initiative, history lovers and experts have demanded resumption of the walk to spread awareness about local heritage.
While MTDC authorities said heritage walks have been suspended due to summer, activists refuse to buy such explanations
Ajay Kulkarni, convener of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Aurangabad chapter, said measures like heritage walk not only promote local history and culture but also gradually generates public pressure for conservation.
The government bodies as well private organisations should come forward in arranging heritage walks. The MTDC-managed heritage walk was well planned but lacked proper publicity. While resuming the initiative, it should be ensured that heritage walk gets wide public support, he said.
Khalid Ahmed, history expert, said heritage walks should resume considering larger good of local history and culture. Such initiatives support the cause of conservation and restoration though much needs to be done to protect historic places and monuments, he said.
Advocate Rupa Dakshini, who is one of the active members of the recently-formed action committee for saving heritage of Aurangabad, said she has demanded new divisional commissioner Purushottam Bhapkar to resume heritage walks. “He has promised to look into matter, but things have not changed on ground yet,” she added.
Annasaheb Shinde, in charge of the MTDC, Aurangabad region, could not be reached as he was on leave. Other lower-level MTDC officials refused to comment but said that the heritage walks might have been discontinued due to the scorching summer heat.
The heritage walks were conducted between 7am and 9am on the first and third Saturdays of every month and heat was never a concern. Soneri Mahel, Naukhanda Palace, Siddharth Garden Marathwada Mukti Sangram Museum, Aurangabad Caves, Bibi-ka-Maqbara, Panchakki, Makai Gate, Rangeen darwaja, Dilli Gate, Badkal, Salim Ali Lake, Naher-e-Ambari and Gulshan Mahal were some of the places that were scheduled to get covered in the heritage walks.
Heritage walk at Panchakki
While the MTDC-managed heritage walks have been stopped abruptly, Rafat Qureshi, history expert, and Dulari Qureshi, expert member of local heritage panel, have organised a special heritage walk at Panchakki on Sunday. The walk, which open for all, will commence around 8am will last for one-hand-a-half hours.
“Even though it is located in the heart of the city, Panchakki and various wonders associated with it are lesser known to to the local people also. The heritage walk aims at throwing light on the architectural marvel and the science behind its working,” Dulari said.