ASI is India's premier organisation for archaeological research, scientific analysis, excavation of archaeological sites, conservation/preservation of centrally protected monuments, maintenance of museums and overall regulation of antiquities and art treasures.
But lately, ASI is spreading its wings abroad. A number of countries have submitted proposals to ASI requesting its expertise in conserving and maintaining historical places, religious and heritage buildings.
Which are the countries that are scouting for ASI's expertise? And what do they want ASI for?
Pakistan: The Pakistan government has requested the ASI for technical assistance for the restoration of Katasraj temple complex. The Katasraj temple is a Hindu temple in Chakwal district of Punjab [ Images ] in Pakistan. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva [ Images ]. The Pakistan government wants to nomiate the temple complex for World Heritage Status status by restoring it. In fact, a team of ASI experts visited the temple last August. Since then, ASI has sent a detailed report to the Pakistan government.
Afghanistan: The Afghan government has requested for India's assistance for restoration of the historic 'Stoor Palace' in Kabul. The palace building was constructed some 100 years ago for the then King Amanula Khan. The Afghan government also wants ASI to carry out work in the fields of archaeology, archives, monuments and museum. A team of ASI officials has already visited Afghanistan and submitted their report. Four projects are being considered for implementation. They are (a) Conservation, preservation and restoration of museum objects at the National Museum (b) Conservation, preservation and restoration of manuscripts at the National Archives (c). Setting up of field conservation laboratory at the Institute of Archaeology and (d) Setting up of photo laboratory at the Institute of Archaeology.
Sri Lanka [ Images ]: The government of Sri Lanka has sought the assistance of ASI for restoration and conservation of Thirukuteeshwaram Temple (Hindu Temple) and Mulikirigala Rajya Vihara (Buddhist Temple). ASI officials have visited the site and a detailed report has been submitted to the Ministry of External Affairs.
Lao PDR: ASI has received a request from the government of Lao PDR for restoration of the World Heritage Site of Wat Phou temples. An ASI team has visited the site and a report on their visit has already been submitted to the Ministry of External Affairs.
Cambodia: ASI has completed the conservation works of Angkor Wat temple between 1986 and 1993. ASI has taken up another project for conservation and restoration of Ta Prohm Temple Complex under an MEA programme with an estimated cost of Rs 19.57 crore. The project is being implemented.
Indonesia: ASI has offered assistance to Indonesia with the repair/reconstruction of the temples at Prambanan, which were damaged in the earthquake that struck southern coast of central Java Island, Indonesia on May 27, 2006.
Bhutan: ASI has already sent two missions to Bhutan for the preservation of murals of Nekhang-Lhakhange, Mithragpe-Lhakhang of Tongza D Zong and Do de Drak monastries.
Vietnam: The Vietnam government wants many of its monuments which are in a dilapidated condition to be restored by ASI. A team of ASI officials have visited and studied these monuments and submitted a project report to the Vietnamese government.
Maldive Islands: Under the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Coorperation) Technical Assistance Programme, an ASI team has investigated pre-Islamic remains in Maldives [ Images ] Islands. The exploration and scientific clearance/small scale excavations at Arjadu, Kudahuvaan and Kurumathi, Todd and Nilandu atolls brought to light Buddhist traits.