Ajay Mago and Sharmila Tagore join hands to preserve Forts and Palaces of India

A leading publishing house in collaboration with The Olive Bar and Kitchen hosted a glamorous evening to launch Amita Baig’s latest title Forts & Palaces of India on the 10th December 2010 at the Olive the Qutub, New Delhi. 

Begum and Nawab Mansur Ali Khan, the chief guests of the evening, recalled with an element of nostalgia, the importance of preserving the remains of India’s regal past, through its art and architecture. The evening was truly one of understated elegance and sophistication.

The launch was attended by several noted conservationists in India. Written by a renowned author and heritage conservationist, Amita Baig with breathtaking photographs by leading Indian architect and architectural photographer, Joginder Singh, Forts & Palaces of India, covers 5000 years of architectural, cultural, artistic and political history of India with over 300 photographs of Indian forts and palaces. The photographs and vivid descriptions of each fort and palace take the reader back in time into a realm of a truly royal experience.

Amita Baig has been committed to the protection and preservation of India’s heritage for over 25 years. She has promoted new methods for the protection of historic sites, and has been at the forefront of the conservation movement in India, promoting the concept of preservation with stakeholder partnership. She was Director General of the Architectural Heritage Division at INTACH before becoming an independent consultant. She is currently consultant to the World Monuments Fund for its India programme.

Quote by the Author

“I feel that it’s a sad reflection of our own perceptions of conservation and management that concern about the quality of the monument’s environment supercedes that of the citizen. There is today a very real risk that in another generation these beautiful forts and palaces which have kept our heritage and culture intact might not be there, hence there is more of a reason why it is now that we must understand the need to conserve these. Forts and Palaces of India depicts the richness of such monuments in India and even presents how they came into being and are still as beautiful as they have been even after so many years of their existence.

“Shah Jahan’s historian Kanbo, on the subject of his prolific building wrote: “…such things create esteem in the eyes and augments respect and dignity in the hearts…’ Forts and Palaces of India will hopefully kindle in the eye and the heart of the reader not only a need to protect, but also recognize Kanbo’s theory is as relevant today as it was in his times.”

It was a proud moment for Mr. Ajay Mago, Publisher, Om Books International, to add this magnificent and meaningful title to an already extant, richly varied publishing list. He observed: “Each time I visited a fort, a palace or even a haveli, for a first-hand experience of history with its inherent paradoxes, I wondered who had touched the stones, the objects, the walls of the building 3 centuries ago, at the very same place where my hands had rested? Who had walked the same path through history, that I had chosen to tread during one of my several visits to such sites?

“Forts and Palaces of India by Amita Baig with brilliant photographs by architect-photographer Joginder Singh is a culmination of a sense of urgency about our disappearing heritage that I have lived with for several years. It is but a small contribution to the immense responsibility of restoration undertaken by stalwart heritage conservationists such as Amita Baig, and some others. It may seem an uphill task and may often appear Sisyphean in its nature, but it cannot be abandoned, for, to abandon it is to turn our backs upon a very rich part of our collective history and heritage.”

On the occasion, Chief Guest, Sharmila Tagore said: “I congratulate Amita Baig for her tireless engagement with the cause of heritage preservation, which has resulted in the marvellous title which is being released today. I also appreciate the work of Shri Joginder Singh, which illustrates and illuminates the book.  His images make the text come alive. I sincerely hope that the message of this book will reach out to the right corners, to the corridors of power and influence the policy gurus to strategize and scale up proactive programmes of heritage conservation in our country.”

Architect-photographer, Joginder Singh added: “I don’t know if I have grown as an architect or as a photographer in this project. The forts and palaces captured in the book have a very high degree of craft, respond to location and are built with a lot of attention to detail. I must thank Amita  Baig and Ajay  Mago, for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this royal project.”

The occasion, undoubtedly one of the finest Delhi has witnessed in recent times, was made special by many famous photographers, conservationists, architects, artists and cigar connoisseurs across the nation.