Cultural Fusion: An incredibly rich legacy of India: special focus on 15th and 16th century Sultanate Architecture of Gujarat

Speaker: Shri Rabindra Vasavada
Date: Wednesday, August 22, 2018
Time: 6:15 PM
The Indian Institute of World Culture
#6, B.P. Wadia Road, Basavanagudi, Bangalore – 560 004
Contact: 95388 20473 / 99801 35767


Abstract of the talk:

India – as a country has always been, since time immemorial – a land of a cultural conglomeration which, has its unique diverse sense of identity and a great unity in its very diverse cultures that evolved here over centuries. Its cultural plurality is expressed through all its regional representational expressions in all aspects of its culture and are a very rich heritage, which make it a very rich land of multi-cultural identities. In the words of Kosambi, the historian in India was in a particularly happy position since so much of the past survives in the present. As he puts it, ‘ the country has one tremendous advantage that was not utilised till recently by the historians: the survival within different social layers of many forms that allow the reconstruction of totally diverse earlier stages.’

As an Architect I have tried to understand history by re-opening layers of social history and in my studies of Ahmedabad since its foundation, I have tried to move backwards from my present to past in understanding the city and its architecture. Sultanate History of Ahmedabad had its bearings on the Islamic domination in the region, which had a very rich tradition of Solanki Rule which was supposed to be at its height in 11 th century in this region. The richness and the traditional culture were extremely prolific till its decline around early 15 th century and the subjugation by Sultans in early 15th century. But the new Sultanate rulers were extremely conscious of the earlier dominant Solanki traditions and while governing the region maintained full respect for the local culture and the communities. They really nurtured all the traditions of cultural richness of the traditional local dominant trade and merchant communities. In fact, they respected an emerging syncretic common culture which arose out of their mutual interest and sharing within the communities. This attitude of absorbing and a give and take approach to co- existence gave rise to a very rich expression of arts and crafts in various spheres which is unique in India.

My study reflects this fusion and mutual acceptance of best of several cultures in Gujarat examining the architectural expression of that period of early 15th to mid-16th century in Gujarat. The studies are essentially illustrative with topical discussion highlighting the salient features of its physical expression in building arts and how these forms had bearing on other artistic imageries prevalent in the local crafts, which were practised by craft communities belonging to various faiths and religion, combining though on employing their creative skills for excellence in their artistic endeavours.

About the speaker:
Rabindra Vasavada, is an architect- academician with a long standing career. He was founder Head of the Post Graduate Programme in Architectural and Settlement Conservation at the CEPT University in Ahmedabad, India. He holds important positions as an adviser in many institutions and State level organisations in India. He is Head of the Ahmedabad Nomination Dossier Project for Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation for the historic city which is now inscribed as the first Indian City on UNESCO World Heritage List.

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