Helen Philon tracing the history of the Deccan from the Chalukyas to the Kakatiya and Ganga dynasties to a rapt audience at Bidar Fort.
Whenever a foreign tourist visits India, she is taken around the monuments by local guides. But, there was an interesting reversal of roles at Bidar Fort last week.
Helen Philon, Deccan scholar from Greece, took a team of 30 young people and a dozen history teachers on a guided tour of the monument. She explained the historical context, architectural style and its cultural significance to the rapt audience.
She was volunteering as a resource person in the guides training programme organised by the Department of Tourism, in association with the Indian Heritage Cities Network and the Deccan Heritage Foundation. Ms. Philon traced the history of the Deccan from the Chalukyas to the Kakatiya and Ganga dynasties. She explained in detail the contribution of King Allauddin Ahmed Shah and the Bahmani Wazir Mahmud Gawan.
She took the group around the Gagan Mahal and pointed out the unique green building technology adopted there and talked about the water supply system in the fort. Ms. Philon spoke about how technicians from Persia were invited to train locals in making cannons, maintaining fort walls and other works. Nargis Begum, the dowager queen of King Humayun, was an effective administrator who needs to be given credit, she said.
Raghunath Ramappa, one of the trainees, said he had learnt many new things. “I had not heard of the Russian traveller Afanasy Nikitin or the position of Mallik Altuja in the Bahmani Kingdom, or the Kakatiya influence on the fort design. We need more such programmes,” he said.
Ms. Philon said, “Programmes like this will make young people take an interest in their heritage. Once they start asking questions and clearing their doubts, they will be ready to explain historical concepts to others.”
According to Kishor Joshi, Assistant Director, Department of Tourism, “Having a knowledgeable and trustworthy guide will increase tourist footfalls. As of now, only academically inclined tourists or those who are interested in architecture visit Bidar. We want to expand this to include domestic and foreign tourists.”
Helen Philon, Deccan scholar from Greece, took a team of 30 young people and a dozen history teachers on a guided tour of Bidar Fort
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