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Archaeological Survey of India

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) (External website that opens in a new window) was established in 1861. It functions as an attached office of the Department of Culture. The organisation is headed by the Director General.

The major activities of the Archaeological Survey of India are:

  • Survey of archaeological remains and excavations
  • Maintenance and conservation of centrally protected monuments sites and remains
  • Chemical preservation of monuments and antiquarian remains
  • Architectural survey of monuments
  • Development of epigraphical research and numismatic studies
  • Setting up and re-organisation of site museums
  • Expedition abroad
  • Training in Archaeology
  • Publication of technical report and research works.

There are 21 Circles and 3 Mini-Circles through which the Archaeological Survey of India administer the work of preservation and conservation of monuments under its protection.

Under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, the ASI has declared three thousand six hundred and fifty six monuments/sites to be of national importance in the country which includes twenty one properties that are inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO. Since its establishment one hundred and forty four years ago, the ASI has grown into a large organization with an all India network of offices, branches and circles.

Three sites, namely, Champaner - Pavagarh Archaeological Park in Gujarat, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) Station in Mumbai and the Brihadisvara temple complex, Gangakondacholapuram and the Airavatesvaira temple complex, Darasuram as an extension to the Brihadisvara temple complex, Thanjavur (now commonly called as the Great Living Chola Temples) have been inscribed on the World Heritage List of UNESCO in 2004.

Nomination dossiers for the following sites have been sent to the World Heritage Centre for inscription on the World Heritage List of UNESCO:

  • Shri Harminder Sahib (Golden Temple) at Amritsar, Punjab.
  • Majuli Island in the river Brahmaputra in Assam.
  • Valley of Flowers as an extension to the Nanda Devi National Park in Uttaranchal.
  • Red Fort, Delhi (a deferred nomination).

The total number of individual structures being maintained by the ASI is over five thousand.

  • Underwater Archaeology Wing: Search, study and preservation of cultural heritage lying submerged in inland or territorial waters are among the principal functions of the Underwater Archaeology Wing. It carries out exploration and excavation in Arabian Sea as well as in Bay of Bengal.
  • Science Branch: The Science Branch of the Survey with its headquarters at Dehradun and field laboratories in different parts of the country carries out chemical preservation of monuments, antiquities, manuscripts, paintings, etc.
  • Laboratories of Science Branch at Dehradun have undertaken the following Scientific Projects:
    • Evaluation of new materials as preservative coatings and strengthened for stone, terracotta, bricks & adobe structures.
    • Scientific studies related to conservation of ancient lime plaster.
    • Evaluation of physical characteristics of plaster cement with addition of rapid hardening plaster cement in different proportions.
  • Horticulture Branch: The Horticulture Branch of the ASI maintains gardens in about two hundred and eighty seven centrally protected monuments/sites located in different parts of the country. The branch provides periodic plants to be used in gardens by developing base nurseries at Delhi, Agra, Srirangapatna and Bhubaneswar.
  • Epigraphy Branch: The Epigraphy Branch at Mysore carries out research work in Sanskrit and Dravidian languages while the one at Nagpur carries out research work in Arabic and Persian.
  • Expeditions Abroad: The ASI has taken up the conservation project of Ta Prohm, Cambodia under the ITEC programme of Ministry of External Affairs with an outlay of Rs. 19.51 crore. The conservation project has been started as per the assurance of the Hon'ble Prime Minister of India, during his visits to Cambodia in April and November 2002, on the request of the Royal Government of Cambodia for India's assistance in Conservation and Restoration of Prasat Ta Prohm. The conservation project is for a period of ten years and is to be completed in five phases.

The ASI has commenced the conservation project from January 2004 onwards and it was formally launched in February 2004 in Cambodia.

Source: National Portal Content Management Team, Reviewed on: 16-02-2011