Buoyed by the success of its inaugural month-long, multi-city India Heritage Walk Festival (IHWF), Sahapedia, the online encyclopedia of Indian arts and culture, will launch the second edition of the event next year on a grander scale by forging collaborations with more regional partners, expanding its footprints across new locations and including in its ambit a string of interesting events. 

“The idea is to grow each year and build a strong network of individuals and institutions to promote Indian heritage. This we intend to achieve by focusing on collaborations with more regional partners, government bodies and cultural practitioners across multiple domains and geographical locations to bring in the diversity,” said Vaibhav Chauhan, Festival Director (IHWF) and Secretary, Sahapedia.

Sahapedia (sahapedia.org) had organised IHWF 2018 in February in collaboration with YES Culture, the cultural division of YES Global Institute, a practising think tank of YES BANK, to encourage citizens to explore the tangible and intangible heritage of their cities and towns. 

A major selling point of the festival was its focused approach to highlight diversity and distinction that was reflected in the subject areas, locations or walks with specific target groups.

“In Jaipur and Mumbai, for instance, we conducted walks for differently-abled people. With the same intent, in future we may organise treasure hunts, cycling or marathons around heritage spaces; the possibilities are immense,” Chauhan said. He added, “We had included several tier II and III cities such as Patan, Itanagar, Varanasi, Udaipur and Jodhpur. We plan to extend it to other cities in the coming years.”

IHWF 2018 was supported by Incredible India. Moving forward, Sahapedia plans to seek collaborations with the state chapters. Overall, it collaborated with around 40 partners across India during the first edition, allowing it greater penetration and engagement in the regional circuits.

In the inaugural edition the maximum number of attendees in a walk was fixed at 25 but after considering the response Sahapedia will reevaluate registrations to fit in more attendees. However, to maintain the quality, it may repeat the walks to avoid constraints such as space.

“The IHWF 2018 helped us stimulate a pan-India movement to make heritage spaces more popular and more experiential. We aim to continue the momentum for exploring new partnerships and avenues in the future editions. The objective is to create authentic, credible, and exhaustive content on our rich heritage and culture, and develop a stronger network of cultural practitioners across the country with every edition,” Chauhan noted.

Sahapedia also plans to create ecological awareness about heritage structures by organising workshops and programmes for children. Biodiversity was one of themes for the walks in cities like Hyderabad and Bengaluru, and it wants to introduce more such walks in future.

In several places, the event got support from state government officials. For instance, Mahmood A Shah and Riyaz Beigh, Director and Deputy Director of Tourism Kashmir respectively, attended the walks in Srinagar.

“India is blessed with a rich heritage and cultural history, which is abundantly manifested in monuments and architectural sites across our country. Such heritage tourism initiatives, with the wholehearted involvement of local communities, have the potential to instil national pride and further the agenda of heritage development,” said Rana Kapoor, MD & CEO, YES BANK and Chairman, YES Global Institute.

IHWF 2018 evoked an enthusiastic response from walk leaders and participants as well. Gaurav Raturi, walk leader for “Exploring Street Art in Delhi’s Lodhi Art District’said it was an amazing experience. “I had an amazingly curious bunch of people: a mix of students, art lovers and artist from the city along with some foreigners who were intrigued by the art forms and expressions of artists from all over India and the world. In fact, we had a full family who wanted to see the walls and hear the stories and technique used for painting graffiti on walls,” he added.

“Telling complicated history in story format, well linked with the local culture and the feel – that’s what I see India Heritage Walk Festival as. It is one of the best festivals in the country till date, it has really opened my mind to #thinkheritage,” said Gunjan Mathur, an attendee in Mumbai walk.

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