The Venice Charter has now been in existence for five decades, and in that time, the charter has significantly influenced the preservation practices of countries across the world.1 The charter’s birth in 1964 was propitious for its widespread application and appeal, for it coincided with the formation of many new nation states and heralded a new era of the internationalization of preservation principles and ideologies.2 Among the many countries that enthusiastically adopted the Venice Charter’s ideology, those that have faced the most cognitive challenges are perhaps Asian states, whose myriad traditional practices and religious beliefs vary from the Judeo-Christian views practiced by over 32 percent of the world’s population.3 These kinds of challenges between preservation ideologies and practices influenced by the Venice Charter and the more traditional construction beliefs and practices in various Asian countries, therefore, need to be examined while reassessing the role of the Venice Charter today.
This paper focuses on one particular Asian country, India, and more specifically, its historic sites associated with Hindu liturgical practices and beliefs. The paper discusses how the evolution of conservation practice in India has affected the treatment of Hindu places of worship: heavily influenced first by Colonial notions of antiquity, and then by international guidelines like the Venice Charter. These influences have, over the years, created differences between conservation practice and Hindu traditions of construction and the preservation of places of worship. These differences are highlighted through specific sections of both the central legislation in India and provisions of the Venice Charter.4 It is hoped that similar studies can be carried out in the future to illustrate the cognitive and cultural considerations of the various other faiths and cultural traditions practiced around the world, and to encourage discussions on the kinds of policy changes that can be realized.
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