Story of Scripts
- Monthly Talk on various aspects of heritage, conducted on the first Saturday of every month
- Annual Pechu Kacheri, a lecture series on heritage-related themes in December
- Periodic study tours to Mamallapuram
- Regular workshops on “How to See a Temple” and “How to See a Museum”
- Annual Site Seminars – weeklong tours to important heritage sites of India
- Lectures at schools to sensitize children on our heritage
- Support TN Government’s culture and tourism departments in their efforts towards promoting Indian heritage
Unlike the walrus, few people can talk of such a variety of things. Prof Swaminathan can talk of shoes and socks in Ajanta paintings, ships that sailed between England and India, the Fibonacci patterns of leaves in cabbages, and many a king including Mahendra Varma Pallava, - the maverick who called himself Vichitra-Chitta, the innovative and exotic thinker who unleashed the era of sculptures and architecture in Tamil country. If you had studied mechanical engineering in IIT Delhi, I am sure you would have heard him speak about sealing wax, too.
Professor Swaminathan had a thriving career as a faculty member in IIT Delhi, a premier engineering institution in India. He sought voluntary retirement, first to work in the Integrated Rural Technology Centre in Kerala and then moved full time into Culture and Heritage. He first established Sudarsanam in Pudukkottai to document the heritage of Pudukkottai, his hometown. Subsequently, he was instrumental in establishing the Tamil Heritage Trust in Chennai and remains its chairman.
Badri Seshadri made it a point to video record all the lectures initially with his hand held Flip camera. He also created the blog for THT activities and posted the videos. It was during this time we started organizing Summer Camps for Children, Site Seminars and Pechu Kacheris. Raga Sudha Hall, PS High School and Tattvaloka in Mylapore were also used for Pechu Kacheris and Summer Camps.
In 2016 ARKAY Ramakrishnan offered his hall in Royapetta High Road in Mylapore for monthly lectures. It is a lovely hall with a seating capacity of about 100, air-conditioned and most importantly, we could stream videos of the lectures live on youtube. This has been our monthly meeting place for over 4 years now.
Most of the programs are run by our volunteers. The site seminars, pechu kacheris and other workshops are fully managed by them. It is their extraordinary commitment, and also, generous support from public that keeps our activities going.
Monthly Talk is the most important event around which all our other activities revolve. It is usually delivered either by an amateur enthusiast or a dedicated professional. The topics can range from various arts to culture.
Initially, when we started this 2008, among the speakers and topics were Dr Nagaswamy, renowned archaeologist on Hindu art in Southeast Asia, VP Dhananjayan, Bharatanatyam dancer on the Classical Arts and Human Heritage, Prof Baluswamy, Tamil professor on the Great Penance Sculpture of Mamallapuram, PS Sriraman, an archaeologist on the Tanjvaur Chola paintings, Dr Vilayanur S Ramachandran, neurologist on Neurology and the Arts, VR Devika, educationist about Traditional Performing Arts in Education, Bhushavali fashion designer on Textiles in Ajanta paintings, Prof Swaminathan himself, first on Indian Music, then on Ajanta, historian KRA Narasiah on Researching for Alavai, and many others on a variety of topics. This series of monthly lectures has recently completed eleven years and is going strong in the Twelfth year.
The Monthly Talk is free for every one to attend. Please fill out the contact form on the web page, and you will receive emails about our programs.
A site seminar for art enthusiasts, that is a structured visit to a set of historical monuments, is something like a factory visit for engineering students. It comprises an introduction to the history, preparatory lectures by experts, guided visits, artistic performances, sessions for feedback and free exchange of opinions.
“The Tamil Heritage Trust - Prof. S. Swaminathan Heritage Award 2020 awarded to Madhusudhanan Kalaichelvan”
Saturday, September 5th, 2020.
The Chennai based Tamil Heritage Trust (THT) today announced the name of Madhusudhanan Kalaichelvan as the winner of the inaugural THT - Prof. S. Swaminathan Heritage Award.
The Award was instituted by THT to honour the work of individuals under the age of 50 who have made significant contributions to deepening the general public’s knowledge of Indian heritage, widening the audience for heritage appreciation, and in the process strengthening our existing knowledge base of heritage assets and resources.
The award is named for Prof S. Swaminathan, retired Professor from IIT-Delhi and co- founder of the Tamil Heritage Trust, whose books, monographs and talks on many facets of India’s heritage continue to be a source of inspiration for heritage enthusiasts. The winner was chosen from a short-list of nominations by a distinguished 6-member jury comprising historians, scholars and public intellectuals.
Accepting the Award, Madhusudhanan Kalaichelvan said, "Tamil Heritage Trust has been doing yeoman service in creating interest and awareness in the areas of history, heritage and culture amongst the common public. Instituting an award in the name of its founder, Prof. Swaminathan to recognize an individual's contribution in these fields is a way to encourage more active participation by youngsters. It gives me immense pleasure to be chosen as the first recipient of this prestigious award and makes me realize my responsibility."
“The institution of this award is an important milestone in the history of THT”, said Prof S Swaminathan. “Our vision is to inspire in our audience a life-long interest in India’s heritage with clear and exciting communication which is based on deep knowledge and scholarship. Madhusudhanan Kalaichelvan’s work reflects the essence of our vision. I hope this Award and its first winner will inspire many in the coming years to make this their life’s work”, he added.
THT was founded as a non-profit Trust in the year 2010 with a vision to put the common man in touch with the beauty, grandeur, and the rich storehouse of knowledge that is Indian heritage. The Trust which is entirely volunteer-driven attempts to deliver this through several initiatives - monthly public talks, annual thematic conferences, site seminars and study tours to places of historical interest, workshops on temple architecture and museum collections and an outreach effort through schools to sensitize young students to Indian heritage.
The award which carries a citation and a cash prize of Rs 25,000 will be presented to Madhusudhanan at a ceremony to be held in October. The winner will deliver the Award Lecture on a topic of his choice at the function.
- Any individual can nominate any other individual whom they believe has done noteworthy work in the area of Indian heritage.
- Individuals can also nominate themselves.
- Nominee's age should be between 20 and 50 years.
- The individual must be a citizen of India and ordinarily resident in India.
- Nominations must be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org to reach us before March 31, 2020.
- Please click to download the nomination form from here
- Nominations and accompanying details may be in English or Tamil only.
Selection of Winner
As a part of the selection process, the Judges may choose to have an interaction with the nominee in person or over phone.
Award Ceremony & Award Lecture
The Winner will be invited to present the Award Lecture at the Ceremony. The Winner may choose a topic of her/his choice. The Award Lecture may be in Tamil or English.
What are the criteria for selection?The work done must relate to the previous 5 years. The judges will look for, among other qualities and parameters:
- New discoveries or insights
- Thoroughness of knowledge in the chosen area
- Scholarly rigour in the individual’s output
- Demonstrable eagerness to share with the public and involve them in a dialog
- Consistency and persistence of the effort
In what language should the Nomination be submitted?Nominations can be sent in English or Tamil only.
Is it necessary for the Winner to deliver the Award Lecture?Yes, the Winner will be expected to deliver the Award Lecture at the Ceremony, either in Tamil or English, on a topic of her/his choice.
What is the Last Date for Nomination?The last date for entries to reach THT is March 31st, 2020.
When will the winner be announced?The winner will be announced shortly before the Award Ceremony and the Award Lecture.
When and Where is the Awards Ceremony?The Ceremony will take place during May or June 2020 at Tamil Virtual Academy, Kotturpuram, Chennai. The time will be announced soon.
Is there an Entry Fee?No, there is no fee involved.
Terms + Conditions of entryThe Award will be made solely at the discretion of the Jury. No feedback or correspondence will be entered into about the results and the Jury’s decision is final.
About Tamil Heritage Trust (THT)
THT’s events are conducted by volunteers with a common interest in Indian heritage and a passion to communicate its richness and beauty to as many people as possible. Aṣ a non-profit organization, the Trust is supported by sponsors and donations by heritage enthusiasts. There is no membership or subscription fees. THT’s Monthly Talks and Pechu Kacheri programs are free for all. The Site Seminars, Mamallapuram Study Tours and How to See a Temple sessions are run on an at-cost basis.
Our mission is to get everyone interested in Indian heritage and, if they are already attracted to this subject, provide them a community they can enjoy learning along with.
Towards this end, we conduct a range of events:
- Monthly Talks on various aspects of heritage, conducted on the first Saturday of every month
- Annual Pechu Kacheri (a lecture series) on heritage-related themes in December
- Periodic Study Tours to Mamallapram
- Periodic Workshops on “How to See a Temple”
- Annual Site Seminars – weeklong tours to heritage sites of importance in and outside Tamil Nadu
- Presentations at schools to sensitize youngsters to our heritage
- Coordination with the TN Government’s culture/tourism agencies to support and supplement their efforts
About Prof. S Swaminathan
His interest in India’s rich heritage goes back to his days at IIT-Delhi where he engaged generations of his students in projects and conversations on India’s traditions in art, architecture, music, mathematics and science. After his retirement he made it his life’s mission to educate, inform and inspire interested audiences to discover more about their heritage.
A Professor in Mechanical Engineering in Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi for more than 30 years, Prof Swaminathan also worked in the Centre for Rural Development in IIT Madras, Bharath Gyan Vigyan Samithy, Delhi as the National Coordinator for watershed development and Integrated Rural Technology Centre, Palakkad, Kerala.
Fuelled by an infinite curiosity, his interests range far and wide. He has written a book on the Pallava art of Mamallapuram. His lectures on the paintings of Ajanta are legendary. His talks on an array of topics – 5000 years of Indian Art, The Story of Scripts, the Mathematics of Kolams, the Trees of India and so on - have served as wonderful introductions to awestruck audiences for many years. His erudition makes him equally at home with the fine nuances of Carnatic music, the complexities of Gandhian thought and the refined ideas of Nehru’s scientific temper.
His passion for education, especially of young minds, has led him to work pro-bono with schools and colleges – helping to redesign curriculum at one institution, assisting teachers to bring practical science to the class rooms at another, planting a Sangam-age orchard of tress in a third, and readily sharing his wisdom for the benefit of teachers and students everywhere.
He is the author Mamallapuram: Unfinished Poetry in Stone and monographs on the Paintings of Ajanta, and the Monuments of Pudukottai District.