Documentation and Archival Centre
The Deccan region of India is home to thousands of monuments of historic, artistic, and architectural significance dedicated to several faiths — Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Christianity, Buddhism — as well as a myriad of non-religious monuments, such as forts, palaces, and water storage systems. Unfortunately, with the pace at which India is growing, whole landscapes are undergoing transformation, threatening the very existence of these monuments. It is not just landscapes that are changing, but the livelihood patterns and the very cultures of whole communities are shifting, endangering the cultural significance of these monuments for future generations.
In recognition of this unfortunate reality, the DHF established a Documentation and Archival Centre in July 2019, in order to document the Deccan’s severely threatened built heritage including temples, tombs, mosques, forts and palaces, and to consolidate the research scholarship of eminent scholars working on the Deccan. Initially, the first goal will be achieved by photogrammetry and hyperspectral imaging of threatened monuments, and the second by the digitisation of scholars’ photographic documentation, such as pictures and photographic slides.
A set of 1,200 photographic slides, part of Dr. Helen Philon’s documentation of sites in North Karnataka in the 1970s and 1980s, had been digitised until December 2019, only a couple of months before the Covid lockdowns affected operations.
The photographic documentation of monuments for the Documentation Centre began with the drone photography and photogrammetry of monuments in Bidar, Karnataka, that exhibit glazed tiles on their façades. These included the Mahmud Gawan Madrasa, Tomb of Alauddin Ahmad Shah, Takht Mahal inside the Fort and Sherza Gateway. The glazed tiles contribute significantly to the magnificence of these monuments and are under severe threat of damage and loss, and hence have been visually documented on priority.