Dr. Avnish Jolly, Chandigarh:American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS), a consortium of leading US universities, will soon be preparing a database of neglected Islamic monuments in India. The initiative is aimed at documenting the splendour of Mughal architecture, its mosques, tombs and structures, for future reference and research.
The first phase of the project that is likely to begin in August would cost around US $100,000. The monuments selected for documentation include structures like Kabuli Bagh in Panipat that is said to be the only surviving mosque among the many constructed by the first Mughal emperor Babur. The Mughal Empire was the dominant power in the Indian subcontinent from the mid-16th century to end of the 19th century. Founded in 1526 by Babur, it survived nominally until 1857, when it was overthrown by the British.
AIIS was set up in 1961 by a group of American scholars involved in programmes of Indian studies in US universities; AIIS facilitates research on Indian culture and history. It also provides fellowships for senior American scholars and doctorate candidates apart from providing on-site training in Indian languages.
The institute has documented about 3,000 monuments from 2,000 sites and 300 museums so far. These include sculptures, coins, manuscripts and miniature paintings from Buddhist, Jain, Hindu and Islamic architecture in the region.
AIIS is also working on making the photo-archive available online in a searchable database to serve wider audiences. About 50,000 images of its existing 140,000 archival data is presently available online. The photo-archives of the institute contains a unique collection of more than 140,000 meticulously documented photographs, slides, architectural drawings and site plans of South Asian art and architecture.
AIIS has selected 100 monuments of the Mughal period in Punjab and Haryana. These include various tombs, mosques and step wells constructed by the Mughal rulers in 16-19 century AD.
Vandana Sinha, Director, AIIS Gurgaon centre stressed these monuments are of great importance for research scholars who are studying the Mughal architecture in India and we plan to document and prepare a database of these monuments. She added that the documentation includes preparation of architectural maps, photographs and site plans which are of great importance to the scholars.