About Us

Our mission is to preserve, restore and promote the architectural heritage of the Deccan region of India by bringing together specialists, communities and patrons to undertake conservation and educational programmes. Central to our approach is keeping the values of local entrepreneurship, community ownership and the environment at the forefront.

Who We Are

Founded by architectural historians Helen Philon and George Michell, with Stephane Bloch Saloz as co-founder, we are a committed group of scholars, philanthropists and heritage workers from around the world, united by a common purpose — to restore, maintain and inform the public about the Deccan’s built heritage.

The Deccan Heritage Foundation UK was registered in July 2011. The Deccan Heritage Foundation India (DHFI) was launched in India in September of the same year, followed by the launch in May 2013 of the American Friends of the Deccan Heritage Foundation, a charitable organisation under Section 501(c) 3 of the IRC. The launch of the DHF was celebrated at the High Commission, India House, London, in the presence of HE Ranjan Mathai, High Commissioner of India in London on 21 May, 2014.

Our presence in India, the UK and the US allows us to build expertise, membership and support both locally and internationally, while affording convenient options for those wishing to support and be involved in our work.

What We Do

A major part of our mission is not only to preserve the past, but to also bring the Deccan’s rich heritage, and in particular, its plethora of historic monuments, to a new generation of Indians and world travellers.

Multiple innovative programmes underscore our work. The restoration and rehabilitation of several significant historical monuments is carefully planned for, with a focus on those that are economically, culturally and socially beneficial to local communities. We understand that education is the means to promote greater knowledge of the Deccan’s vibrant architecture, representative of all aspects of Indian cultures and civilisations, and to this end, we also commission the publication of guidebooks and books, authored by highly regarded professionals in the field.

People and Governance

Everything we do is underscored by a robust and transparent form of governance, enabling efficiency and focus in our efforts.

Director Emeritus

Shamina Talyarkhan

President Emeritus

Ambassador Frank Wisner

International Honorary Board

Aziza Alatas ✝
Edwina Sassoon
Marchese Giovanni Incisa della Rocchetta
John Eskenazi and Fausta Eskenazi
Maria Embiricos
Dr Syed Shah Khurso Hussaini
William Dalrymple

International Advisory Board

Robert Aldeman
Urmila Devi
Issa Farooq
Prof. Barry Flood
Vivek Nanda
Dr. Rashmi Poddar
Marchesa Christiane Serra
Namith Varma
Prof. Phillip B Wagoner

Partnerships and Collaborations

We collaborate with a number of like-minded organisations and institutions on the ground in India. We also work with institutions as venue partners for our academic programmes, such as Jnanapravaha in Mumbai, the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) in Bengaluru, and the Telangana Mahila Vishwavidyalayam in Hyderabad. Should you or your institution or foundation have an idea for a potential partnership, please do get in touch.


We are happy to collaborate with DHF India and offer our assistance in preserving the Rang Mahal Gardens and Pavilion. This is consistent with Sonata’s ongoing “Sustainability” programmes, one of which is Protection of National Heritage, Art and Culture, which includes restoring historical places, artwork, and buildings, as well as establishing public libraries and promoting traditional crafts and arts.

Srikar Reddy, Managing Director, Sonata Software

I have lived and worked in India for eight years and travelled extensively in the country over the past 50 years. Yet the Deccan Heritage Foundation, through its highly informative lectures and beautifully presented publications, has opened my eyes to a part of Indian history and culture that has been sadly shortchanged by the traditional emphasis on Mughal and Rajput dynasties. A wonderful world of Hindu and Jain temples, of Sultanate architecture and of highly refined arts emanating from all faiths is regularly presented by the Foundation’s expert historians and photographers as a labor of love for the region. For DHF members like me, their message is clear and serves as a beacon encouraging us to Deccani destinations and experiences to come.

David Good, former Consul-General, Mumbai

Since we first heard one of his lectures nearly two decades ago at Christie’s in London, we have been enthusiastic fans of George Michell’s scholarship. We have continued to learn from his lectures and enjoyed reading his books. We have been blessed, from time to time, with the pleasure of his company and his keen intellect in New York, London and Goa.

Eleanor Sebastian, former UN staff person and Charles Frank, former Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and former Acting President, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

For over a decade the annual winter arrival in Mumbai of the members of the Deccan Heritage Foundation has been an event that we have all looked forward to with great pleasure.

Through the DHF we have become acquainted with many of the artistic and architectural treasures of this region that, over the years, seem to have lost their prominence and are in danger of crumbling or being overrun. We are truly indebted to them for these contributions to our understanding of the Deccan as part of the heritage of our nation.The small guidebooks that the DHF has produced have been eye openers to the region. Their comprehensive texts, excellent layouts, maps, and photography have encouraged more travel to these somewhat unexplored parts, and have served travellers such as us very well in navigating these regions, their towns, and the sites within.

Kudos to them for their unflagging work.

Dr Jehangir Sorabjee, Head Department of Medicine, Bombay Hospital Institute of Medical Sciences

Congratulations on all the DHF has accomplished in the Deccan and on the new projects you have launched.  Successfully translating scholarly research into practical action is rare indeed.  A great work to celebrate.

Alfred Friendly

Today we commemorate World Heritage Day – an international day to recognise the monuments and sites that encapsulate the depths and diversity of our histories.

Take, for instance, a US partnership with the University of Mysore and Deccan Heritage Foundation, which provided a $300,000 lifeline to preserve the treasures of the Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion in Mysuru, Karnataka. The treasures preserved and now presented for display at the Mansion’s Folklore Museum – musical instruments, dancers’ costumes, and puppets of mythological figures – transcend the simple cloth, wood, and metal from which they are made. They open a window to the past and grant us a glimpse into the lives of their users; costumes open a window to ages past. The insights they provide on our identity and place in the world are priceless.

These projects inspire visitors, create employment for local artisans, and empower communities to take ownership of their shared story. The reinstated Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion will become a centre of learning in Mysuru, drawing in new tourists and bringing economic benefits to the whole area.

Chris Hodges, US Consul General, Chennai