The roots of Indian culture can be traced to the Indus Valley Civilisation. The Harappan civilization is the foundation on which the super structure of Indian culture has been raised. Mauryan artifacts like pillars, rock-cut architecture, the stupas, stone sculptures, cave architecture speak about ancient cultural life of the people. The Sunga, Satavahana, Kushan architecture and sculpture are reminders of artistic excellence. The Gandara and Mathura schools represent the best of Buddhist art. Udayagiri caves; Eran temples, Deogarh reliefs; Hindu, Buddhist and Jain sculptures are the noblest creations of Gupta architecture. Nalanda, Rajagviha, Bodh Gaya represent finely finished iconograghy of the Pala art. The Hoysala ‘double temples’ and the temples of Orissa are specimens of Orissa architecture style.
Khajuraho stands testimony to Chandela eratic architecture. Vijayanagar structures-temples, pillared mandapas and gopuras are the masterpieces of Vijayanagar architecture. The Nayaks of Madura continued the artistic tradition of Vijayanagar rulers. Chalukyan architecture represents Dravidian style. The cave temple of Elephants are amongst the most magnificent art creations of India. Pallava rock-cut monuments and temples represent the unique Pallava art. Chola temples are amazing artistic achievements of architectural excellence.
Indo-Islamic-Mughal architecture represent variety of minars, mosques, masjids, mandirs, mahals, monuments, forts, tombs, cities, palaces for their proportions, decorations and fabulous portraits. The Sikh Golden temple at Amritsar is an example of Sikh architecture. The Rajput forms are unique, picturesque and romantic. The European settlements, factories, fortresses, churches, houses, markets, museums, courts, university buildings, Gateway of India in Bombay, Senate House at Lahore, Parliament building in Delhi, Memorial Hall at Calcutta, summer resorts and so on are reminders of European Architecture.
The Government-Central and State are the major patrons of artists, craftsmen, painters, poets and writers. They promote art and culture through academics of music, drama, art, architecture, sculpture and letters. Private bodies supplement, support and promote cultural artists and activities. The following are some of the governmental institutions engaged in promoting artistic, architectural and cultural activities; patronizing creative artists; preserving and propagating aesthetic and cultural values; commemorating commendable events and celebrating centenaries and encouraging contemporary creativity.
Sangeet Natak Academy
Founded in 1953, the academy promotes performing arts like music, dance and theatre in collaboration with the States and voluntary organizations. It arranges free performances by talented artists besides promoting public appreciation of music, dance and drama. The ‘National School of Drama (1959) trains students in all aspects of theatre. The school is “one of the foremost theatre training institutions in the world and the only one of its kind in India.”
Lalit Kala Academy
The Lalit Kala Academy (1954) promotes understanding and appreciation of Indian art within and outside the country. It has been organizing national exhibitions on contemporary art. Once in 3 years, it organizes Triennale in India, besides participating in international Biennales and Triennales. It gives recognition to art associations and honors eminent artists and art historians. The academy also awards scholarships to deserving young artists. Its regional centres, Rashtriya Lalit Kala Kendras are at Chennai, Lucknow, Kolkata and Bhubaneshwar.
Sahitya Academy (1954) promotes the cause of Indian literature through its publications, translations, seminars, work-shops, cultural exchange programmes and literary meets across the country. It recognizes creative writers through awards, translation prizes and fellowships. The academy also publishes books in 22 languages including translations, monograghs, histories of literature, classics, anthologies, biographies, Encyclopedia of Indian Literature and so on. It holds regional, national and international seminars; organizes annual Festival of Letters and awards Travel Grants to Young Authors.
Museums are a place of national heritage. The National Museum (1949) in New Delhi has a collection of more than 2,00,000 works of diverse nature, covering a time span of 5,000 years of cultural legacy. The National Museum Institute of History of Art, Conservation and Museology (1989) adds new dimension to the National Museum. The National Council of Science Museum in Kolkata popularizes Science and Technology among the students and masses as well. It administers 26 similar museums throughout the country. The Allahabad Museum is famous for its collection of rare sculptures, terracottas, Nehru manuscripts, Bengal paintings, etc. The National Research Laboratory for Conservation of Cultural Property, Lucknow is a scientific institution engaged in the conservation of Indian cultural heritage. It has an admirable library. The National Gallery of Modern Art (1951) is a rich place of global art collections. It also has a children’s section. The Tamilnadu Museum “one of the oldest and most impressive of Indian Museums” has rare collections under well classified sections.
National Archaeology, Anthropology, Marine Archaeology
The Archaeological Survey of India (1861) conduct programmes on maintenance, conservation and preservation of protected monuments; conducting archaeological explorations and excavations; chemical preservation of antiquarian remains; architectural survey of monuments; development of epigraphical research; setting up of site museums and training in archaeology. It also implements the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 and the Antiquities and Art Treasure Act 1972. Anthropological Survey of India (1945) in Kolkata is a nodal organization of scientific research in anthropology and allied disciplines. The Marine Archaeology Centre in the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa aims to reconstruct the history of past seafaring activities. It explores and excavates submerged ports, sunken ships and underwater explorations.
The National Archives of India is one of the important organized record place in Asia. It is the official place of all non-current records of permanent value of the Government of India and its predecessor bodies. Major activities of the Archives include: 1. Making public records available to government agencies and research scholars; 2. Preparation of reference media; 3. Preparation and maintenance of records; 4. Evolving records management programmes; 5. Rendering technical assistance to those in the field of conservation of records; 6. Imparting training in the field of archives administration, records management, reprograghy, repair and conservation of records, books and manuscripts, besides promoting archival consciousness in the country. Tamilnadu Archives is no less important to the National Archives. The Government Oriental Manuscripts Library in the Madras University has several thousands of Col.Mackenzie manuscripts. The French Institute of Indology, Puducherry will be of immense interest to students and scholars of Indology. Khuda Baksh Oriental Public Library, Patna has a rich and rare collection of Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Turkish, Pali and Sanskrit manuscripts and Mughal and Rajput paintings besides innumerable printed documents. It has a computer centre with internet connectivity. The Central Reference Library Kolkata, complies, publishes and sell the Indian National Bibliography. Above all, the Thanjavur Maharaja Serfoji’s Saraswati Mahal Library, the oldest and the most famous public library is the treasure house of thousands of manuscripts in Marathi, Sanskrit, Telugu, Tamil and other languages in both palm leaf and paper form.
The National Sports Policy is a time-bound programme to provide infrastructure to sports and physical education in villages and towns and provide appropriate support to sports persons. Sports Authority of India, with its regional centres at Delhi, Kolkata, Imphal, Gandhinagar, Chandigarh and Bangalore is the nodal agency for broad –basing sports and for training of sports persons to achieve excellence in national and international sports. The Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education, Gwalior is the premier institutions offering Bachelor, Master and M.Phil courses in Physical Education. The efforts of the State governments, State Sports Councils, etc are liberally supplemented by Central Government grants towards improving and creating infrastructural facilities for sports.
There is no lack of festivals in India as they form part of Indian life. The diversity of religions and communities lend itself to a variety of festivals-national, provincial and local. Deepavali is a popular national festival. Navaratri in the south and Dussehra in the north is celebrated for 10 days. Karthikai is a festival of lights in Tamil Nadu, Andhra and parts of Kerala. Pongal in Tamil Nadu and Onam in Kerala is a harvest festival. Ganesh Chaturthi is particularly popular in Maharashtra. Vasant Panchai is celebrated by Bengalies in honour of goddess Saraswati. Mahasivaratri is a day of fasting and prayer. Holi is multi-colourful festival. The Tamils, Telugus, Malayalees, Punjabis, Assamese and others celebrate their respective new year with happiness in their own way. Naga Panchami and Raksha Bandhan are festivals in which ladies and girls participate with dedication and enthusiasm.
Bohag Bihu (Spring), Maga Bihu (Wister) and Kati Bihu (Autumn) are natural festivals for the Assamese. The birth anniversaries of Gurus-Gurupurabs are festivals for the Sikhs. The Buddhists celebrate Buddha Jayanti as the Jains celebrate Mahavira Jayanti. The Parsis celebrate Pateti, their New Year and Khordad, the birth of Zarathustra. The Muslims across the country celebrate Id-ul-Fitn, Bakrid, Muharam. Christmas and Easter are celebrated by Christians.