1Vikrant B. Pandya 2Dr. Parag Sanghani
1,2 School of Management, P. P. Savani University, Surat – India.
Originally published in Research Matrix – International Multidisciplinary Journal For Applied Research (RMIJAR) Vol. 2, Issue – 8, Year – 10, March – 2023
Keywords: Underwater Cultural Heritage, Preservation, Conservation, Non-destructive methods, Legal Frameworks, Community Involvement, Dwarka, Gujarat, UNESCO Convention
India’s underwater cultural heritage (UCH) sites hold immense historical and cultural significance and their preservation has been the subject of increasing attention and concern. In this paper, we conduct a comprehensive literature review to examine the strategies and challenges involved in preserving UCH sites in India, specifically focusing on the submerged city of Dwarka off the coast of Gujarat. Our review highlights the need for a comprehensive approach to the preservation and conservation of these sites, including non-destructive methods, the development of legal and institutional frameworks, and the involvement of local communities. We also emphasize the urgent need for India to ratify the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage to better protect and preserve these sites. Our findings provide valuable insights for policymakers, researchers, and other stakeholders involved in preserving and conserving UCH sites in India.
India is home to a rich cultural heritage spanning thousands of years, including numerous archaeological sites and monuments that witness its rich history and diverse cultural traditions. However, much of this cultural heritage lies submerged under India’s coastal regions, making it vulnerable to natural and human-induced threats.1 Among these submerged sites, Dwarka, located off the coast of Gujarat, is of particular significance due to its association with the ancient city of Dwarka, which is believed to have been submerged in the sea over 5,000 years ago.2,3,4
The preservation of UCH sites in India, including those in Dwarka, is an issue of national and international significance. The importance of preserving such sites lies in their historical and cultural value and their potential to contribute to developing the tourism industry and the local economy. As India celebrates its 75 years of independence, it is crucial to reflect on the significance of its cultural heritage and the challenges and strategies involved in preserving it for future generations.
Overall, this paper highlights the importance of preserving UCH sites in India and the need for a concerted effort to protect and conserve them. The paper also underscores the significance of these sites in the context of India’s 75 years of independence and their role in promoting national pride and cultural tourism. By identifying the challenges and strategies involved in preserving UCH sites in Dwarka, Gujarat, this paper aims to contribute to the ongoing efforts to protect and conserve India’s rich cultural heritage.
2. Literature Review:
The underwater cultural heritage of India has been the subject of research and conservation efforts for several decades.5 In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the need to protect and conserve these sites. The literature highlights the significance of UCH sites in India and the challenges in preserving them.
One of India’s most significant UCH sites is located off the coast of Dwarka, Gujarat. This site is believed to be the submerged city of Dwarka, which is mentioned in ancient Indian texts2,3,4 and is associated with Lord Krishna. Several studies have been conducted on the underwater cultural heritage of Dwarka, Gujarat, highlighting this site’s historical and cultural significance.
For instance, a study by Gaur AS et al. (2004) explored the submerged archaeological sites in Dwarka and the challenges involved in preserving them. The study identified natural threats, such as sea level rise, ocean currents, and storms, as well as human-induced threats, such as theft, pollution and unregulated tourism, as major challenges to preserving these sites.6
Similarly, a study by Tripathi A. (2006) examined the legal and institutional frameworks for protecting and managing underwater cultural heritage in India. The study highlighted the need for a comprehensive legal framework to protect these sites and the importance of involving local communities in conservation efforts.7
In recent years, a growing focus has been on non-destructive methods for exploring and documenting underwater cultural heritage sites.8 The use of remote sensing techniques such as side-scan sonar, multibeam echo-sounders, and magnetometers has revolutionized the study of underwater archaeological sites.9 These methods enable archaeologists to map and survey large areas of the seafloor without disturbing the delicate ecosystems and cultural heritage sites.
The growing interest in UCH sites in India has led to several initiatives and projects aimed at their preservation and conservation. For instance, the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) and the Underwater Archaeological Wing of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in India has been actively involved in exploring and documenting UCH sites in India.10 The NIO has conducted several expeditions to the Gulf of Khambhat, off the coast of Gujarat, to study submerged cities and port facilities.11
Another initiative to preserve UCH sites in India is the National Mission for Monuments and Antiquities (NMMA). The NMMA, established in 2007, is a collaborative project between the Ministry of Culture and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The mission aims to identify, document, and conserve India’s tangible cultural heritage, including underwater cultural heritage sites.
Overall, the literature on underwater cultural heritage in India highlights the need for a comprehensive approach to the preservation and conservation of these sites. The use of non-destructive methods, the involvement of local communities, and the development of legal and institutional frameworks are crucial to successfully preserving these sites. India is yet to sign the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001)12, which aims to promote international cooperation to protect UCH sites worldwide.
This study is based on a literature review of existing research and information on preserving UCH site in Dwarka, Gujarat. The following steps were taken to conduct the literature review:
- Search strategy: A systematic search was conducted using online databases, including Google Scholar, JSTOR, and the Archaeological Survey of India website. The search terms included “underwater cultural heritage,” “Dwarka,” “conservation,” “India,” and “Protection of UCH”.
- Inclusion and exclusion criteria: The inclusion criteria for this study were sources related to the preservation of UCH sites in Dwarka, Gujarat, published in English academic journals, research papers, reports, and news articles. The exclusion criteria were sources unrelated to the topic or published in other languages.
- Data extraction: Data was extracted from the selected sources, including author name, publication year, research questions, objectives, findings, and limitations. The data was organized using a spreadsheet and analyzed thematically.
- Analysis: The extracted data were analyzed thematically to identify common themes and patterns related to preserving underwater cultural heritage site in Dwarka, Gujarat. These themes were categorized into challenges and strategies.
- Synthesis: The data were synthesized to draw conclusions and make recommendations. A narrative synthesis approach was used to summarize the key findings and highlight areas for further research.
This study has several limitations that need to be acknowledged. Firstly, due to the limited availability of literature on preserving underwater cultural heritage sites in Dwarka, Gujarat, the sample size of sources included in this review may only represent part of the literature on the topic. Secondly, the study relies on existing research and information, which may be subject to bias and limitations. Finally, the exclusion criteria for this study may have excluded relevant sources not published in English language journals or unrelated to the topic.
Despite these limitations, this study provides valuable insights into the challenges and strategies related to preserving underwater cultural heritage sites in Dwarka, Gujarat, and their significance in the context of India’s 75 years of independence.
4. Results and Discussion
The study aimed to explore the preservation of underwater cultural heritage sites in Dwarka, Gujarat. The data for this study were collected through a systematic review of the literature on underwater cultural heritage in India, focusing on the literature related to the preservation and conservation of the Dwarka site.
The literature review revealed that the submerged city of Dwarka is one of India’s most significant underwater cultural heritage sites. Several studies have been conducted on this site’s historical and cultural significance, as well as the challenges involved in its preservation. The review also highlighted the need for a comprehensive approach to the preservation and conservation of these sites, including non-destructive methods, involvement of local communities, and development of legal and institutional frameworks.
The findings of this study highlight the urgent need for a comprehensive approach to the preservation and conservation of underwater cultural heritage sites in India. The submerged city of Dwarka is a prime example of the challenges involved in preserving these sites. Natural threats such as sea level rise, ocean currents, storms, and human-induced threats such as pollution and unregulated tourism pose significant challenges to the preservation of this site.
The literature review also revealed the potential economic benefits of developing underwater cultural heritage sites for tourism. However, ensuring that tourism is sustainable and does not harm delicate ecosystems and cultural heritage sites is crucial.
The use of non-destructive methods, such as remote sensing techniques, is crucial to preserving these sites. These methods enable archaeologists to map and survey large areas of the seafloor without disturbing the delicate ecosystems and cultural heritage sites. Initiatives such as the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the National Mission for Monuments and Antiquities (NMMA) are crucial to preserving and conserving UCH sites in India.
Moreover, India must ratify the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage as soon as possible. This Convention provides a framework for preserving and managing underwater cultural heritage sites and emphasizes the need for international cooperation and coordination in this regard. India has not ratified this Convention, which limits its ability to effectively protect and conserve its underwater cultural heritage sites. By ratifying the Convention, India can benefit from international support and expertise and establish stronger legal and institutional frameworks for protecting and managing its underwater cultural heritage.
In conclusion, preserving and conserving underwater cultural heritage sites in India is a complex and multifaceted task requiring a comprehensive approach. The Dwarka, Gujarat case study highlights the challenges and strategies involved in preserving these sites, particularly in India’s 75 years of independence. The use of non-destructive techniques, community involvement, legal and institutional frameworks, and sustainable tourism practices are crucial to successfully preserving these sites.
However, there is still a need for further research in this area. Specifically, there is a need for more research on the economic benefits of preserving UCH sites in India, particularly in terms of promoting cultural tourism. Additionally, there is a need for more research on the use of advanced technologies and techniques for exploring and documenting these sites, as well as the impact of climate change on their preservation. Finally, India must ratify the UNESCO 2001 Convention as soon as possible to ensure better protection and preservation of its UCH sites.
Overall, the preservation of UCH sites in India is important for their historical and cultural significance and potential economic and touristic value. With a concerted effort from government agencies, local communities, and researchers, these sites can be protected and preserved for future generations to explore and appreciate.
- Spalding, M. J. 2011. “Perverse sea change: Underwater cultural heritage in the ocean is facing chemical and physical changes. Cultural Heritage and Arts Review (Summer)” 2 (1): 12–16 https://oceanfdn.org/perverse-sea-change-underwater-cultural-heritage-in-the-ocean-is-facing-chemical-and-physical-changes/ (accessed 10 January 2023).
- Shri Vishnu Purana. Gita Press Gorakhpur. 5.23.13-14-15
- Bhagvat Purana. Gita Press Gorakhpur. 10.50.50
- Harivansh Purana. Gita Press Gorakhpur. Harivansh Parva 98.28
- Tripati, Sila, and A. S. Gaur. “Marine Archaeology in India.” (2004).
- Gaur, A. S., Mr Sundaresh, and Sila Tripati. “Grapnel stone anchors from Saurashtra: Remnants of Indo-Arab trade on the Indian coast.” The Mariner’s Mirror 90, no. 2 (2004): 134-151.
- Tripathi, A. (2006). Underwater archaeology and antiquarian laws in India. In L. V. Prott (Ed.), Finishing the interrupted voyage. Leicester: Papers of the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Workshop on the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, UNESCO and Institute of Art and Law.
- Maarleveld, Thijs J., Ulrike Guérin, and Barbara Egger, eds. “Manual for activities directed at underwater cultural heritage: Guidelines to the annex of the UNESCO 2001 convention.” Unesco, 2013.
- Ruppé, Reynold J. “The location and assessment of underwater archaeological sites.” In Wet site archaeology, pp. 55-68. CRC Press, 2018.
- Tripathi, Alok. “Underwater Archaeological Research and Heritage Management in India: Inter-departmental Collaboration and Utilization of State Infrastructure.” Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage Management on the Historic and Arabian Trade Routes (2020): 149-158.
- Gaur, A. S. “A medieval port at Ghogha in the Gulf of Khambhat, west coast of India.” Swati Publications, 2015.
- UNESCO, “Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.” (2001) Available online at www.unesco.org/new/en/culture/themes/underwater-cultural-heritage/2001-convention/