Inviting Nominations for V Venkayya Epigraphy Award, 2022

V Venkayya Epigraphy Award 

Sunitha Madhavan and Tamil Heritage Trust are proud and happy to announce a new annual award, one of its kind, in the memory of Rai Bahadur Shri V Venkayya, a pioneering Epigrapher who became the first Indian Chief Epigraphist to the Government of India. 

The award has been instituted by the great-granddaughter of Shri V Venkayya, Smt. Sunitha Madhavan, who has recently published his biography due to persuasion and encouragement by Shri R Nagaswamy.

The V Venkayya Epigraphy Award (VVE Award) aims to recognize exceptional individual contributions, any Indian language, towards the discovery of unrecorded inscriptions, interpretation of inscriptions from a refreshingly new perspective, dissemination of wealth of knowledge contained in them by conventional as well as digital medium and preservation of Epigraphic resources for posterity. 

By rewarding outstanding work in this area, the Award aspires to encourage interest and involvement of all the stakeholders including the general public in Indian Heritage and Epigraphy, in particular, thereby raising the awareness and appreciation of history, literature, arts, and culture which deserve our attention and care. 

The award aims to recognize and reward the efforts and achievements of individuals. Thus, collective enterprises like societies, trusts and Section 8 companies, and other interest groups will not be eligible for the award. 

The Award is based on a nomination and selection process. 

The Award will consist of a citation and a prize of Rs.20000/- 

(Rai Bahadur) Shri V.Venkayya, born in 1864 in the lineage of the illustrious scholar Appaya Dikshita of the 16th century, was one of the pioneering epigraphists of India. His contribution to understanding the inscriptions of Pallavas, starting with Mamallapuram and Cholas with Brahadeeswara Temple, broke new ground in the field of Epigraphy in India. He also deciphered the writing (legends) on coins. 

A chance meeting with Dr. E. Hultzsch, the famous German Indologist and ASI’s first Chief Epigraphist, at Mamallapuram turned the obscure school teacher into an expert in epigraphy, who eventually became the first Indian Chief Epigraphist to the Government of India. His stellar effort in unraveling, recording, and deciphering hundreds of lithic and copper-plate inscriptions of Pallavas, Cholas, Pandyas, and others through publications like “South Indian Inscriptions” inspired many epigraphists and historians to record, reconstruct and write the history of South India in a new light with never before found clarity and scholarship. 

In the words of John H. Marshall, Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India from 1902 to 1928, ‘From first to last, his life in the Archaeological Department was one of assiduous labour and devotion to duty and his work throughout was characterized by sound scholarship.

Nomination Process 

1. Any individual can nominate any other individual whom they believe has done noteworthy work in the area of Epigraphy in any Indian language 

2. Individuals can also nominate themselves. 

3. An individual can send only one nomination. 

4. The nominee must be a citizen of India and ordinarily resident in India. 

5. Nominations must be sent by email to to reach us before June 12, 2022

6. There is no Nomination Form. 

7. A Nomination must consist of the following: 

a. Personal Details: Full Name, Full Address, Mobile Number, Email id, Scanned Passport size Photograph, Brief biodata of the Nominee 

b. Details of Contribution to Epigraphy: Details of actual work done by the nominee, with particular emphasis to work in the past ten years. The details may be sent in any one of the following formats: MS Word, MS Powerpoint, or PDF. 

c. Supporting Documentation: Documentary evidence of the work done by the nominee could include copies of papers submitted, articles written in journals, newspapers, or magazines, links to any websites or blogs run by the nominee, lists of talks given, courses conducted, links to social media presence, etc. 

8. Nominations and accompanying details to be in English only. 

Selection of Winner 

A jury comprising experts from the field of Epigraphy, History, and Heritage and members of the THT Award Committee will select the winner. 

As a part of the selection process, the members of the jury may choose to have an interaction with the nominee in person or over the phone. 

Award Ceremony & Award Lecture 

The V Venkayya Epigraphy Award will be presented at a formal ceremony on July 16 or 23, 2022 in Chennai

The Winner will be invited to present the Award Lecture at the Ceremony. The Winner may choose a topic of her/his choice and will be required to submit the manuscript of the lecture for publication at least a week before the ceremony. The Award Lecture should preferably be in English. 


Am I eligible to enter? 

We welcome Nominations from any individual who is a citizen of India and is ordinarily resident in India. Organisations and institutions – like Societies, Trusts, and Interest Groups etc – are not eligible. 

What is the Last Date for Nomination? 

The last date for the Nomination to reach THT is June 12, 2022. 

What are the criteria for selection? 

The judges will look for, among other qualities and parameters: 

 New epigraphical discoveries or insights 

 The 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 only. 

Is there an Entry Fee? 

No, there is no fee involved. 

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 on July 16th or 23rd, 2022 in Chennai. The time will be announced later. 

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, preferably in English, on a topic of her/his choice. 

Terms + Conditions of entry 

The 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. 

"Evolution of Dance in Tamil Nadu". Dr Kalarani Ramachandran. May 7, 2022

Dance in India comes from a rich and vibrant heritage that can be dated back to over 3000 years. In her talk for THT, "Evolution of Dance in Tamilnadu - From the Sangam Age to the Maratha Period", Dr. Kalarani Ramachandran traces the changing path of dance forms over the centuries. She describes how this art form has been adapted, modified, and enhanced under the passionate patronage of many a king and art lover. About the Speaker: Dr. Kalarani Ramachandran is a seasoned classical Indian dance exponent with a Ph.D. in Dance and over forty-five years of expertise in choreography, nattuvangam, performance, and instruction. Trained under stalwarts and renowned institutes in various dance forms including Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Mohiniattam, and Kudiattam, she is also a trained vocalist. She is the author of five books on Dance and has presented numerous papers and lecture demonstrations. She is the founder and director of the Nrithyanjali Dance Academy, Madurai. She is a member of the Board of Studies of Madras and Madurai Universities and has won several awards for her work in the field of dance.

"Lords of the Deccan". Anirudh Kanisetti. THT Monthly Heritage Talk. April 2, 2022

The Deccan is one of the great geopolitical regions of India, but its history in the early medieval period is unknown to many. In his new book, Lords of the Deccan, Anirudh Kanisetti uses critical scholarship and a range of art historical and archaeological sources to show that the Chalukya and Rashtrakuta dynasties of the Deccan had a profound impact on shaping the history of the subcontinent. In this talk, Anirudh discusses how the Deccan innovated in the fields of culture, art, language, and trade, and how it influenced the trajectories of many modern Indian states. About the Speaker: Anirudh Kanisetti is the author of Lords of the Deccan: Southern India from the Chalukyas to the Cholas, a new history of medieval South India. He works at the Museum of Art and Photography, Bengaluru, and writes the Thinking Medieval column for The Print. His work focuses on exploring the history of South India through new forms of media and has been featured in The Hindu, The New Indian Express, and among others.

Demon As Devotee: A Universe of Detail in Hoysala Sculpture. Dr Parul Pandya Dhar. March 5, 2022

Hoysala sculptors are justly famous for the imaginative intricacy of their carvings. For instance, in the sculptures portraying ‘Ravana’s attempt to lift the mountain-abode of Shiva' at Belur and Halebidu, the sculptors have artfully concealed an entire universe of detail. By embellishing their compositions with a microcosm of significant sub-themes within the larger narrative frame, they have created a template that goes well beyond textual narrations of the divine-demonic encounter. In her illustrated talk, “Demon as Devotee: A Universe of Detail in Hoysala Sculpture, Dr. Parul Pandya Dhar identifies and interprets the complex textures of meaning that such a visualisation yields. About the Speaker: Parul Pandya Dhar is a Professor in the Department of History, University of Delhi. Her work engages with Indian art and architecture, art historiography, and connected histories of South and Southeast Asia. She has authored The Toraṇa in Indian and Southeast Asian Architecture (2010), edited The Multivalence of an Epic: Retelling the Ramayana in South India and Southeast Asia (2021) and Indian Art History: Changing Perspectives (2011), and co-edited Temple Architecture and Imagery of South and Southeast Asia (2016), Asian Encounters: Exploring Connected Histories (2014), and Cultural Interface of India with Asia (2004), besides contributing several research articles. She is currently writing on issues relating to connected histories of art across the Indian ocean and the arts of early medieval Deccan.

Atyantakaman: A Retrospective of the life, work and impact of Dr R Nagaswamy. Feb 20, 2022.

Dr. R Nagaswamy, internationally acclaimed archaeologist and Padma Bhushan awardee passed away recently. Though he is best known as an archaeologist and became famous for his role in the recovery of the Pattur Nataraja idol from England, he was a polymath - an epigrapher, a historian, a scholar in three languages, a connoisseur of arts, a poet and composer, a public intellectual, a teacher, and much more. At Tamil Heritage Trust (THT), we were privileged to have Dr. Nagaswamy's continuous guidance and encouragement for over a decade. He was the second-ever speaker at our events. In 2014, THT honored Dr. Nagaswamy with a five-day Pechu Kacheri, in which some of the most accomplished archaeologists he had trained spoke about his contributions in several fields. He was also a keynote speaker at many of our annual events. He unfailingly afforded us easy access to his infinite knowledge and insights. "Atyantakaman" is THT's tribute to Dr R Nagaswamy. Prof S Swaminathan, is a co-founder of THT with deep interest in a wide range of themes including Mamallapuram, Ajanta, Pudukottai, and much more. He will share his views on Dr. Nagaswamy's polymathic scholarship. Rangarathnam Gopu is an award-winning speaker, blogger, and writer on Indian heritage. He will deliver a talk covering some lesser-known aspects of Dr. Nagaswamy's contributions to society and culture. Citing personal anecdotes and quoting from some of his rarely known books and articles, he will aim to capture Dr. Nagaswamy's spirit of taking history and culture to the general public, free from the confines of academic seminars. Badri Seshadri, publisher and a co-founder of THT, will lead a discussion by a panel that includes two of Dr. Nagaswamy's proteges at the Tamil Nadu State Department of Archaeology - Dr. Marxia Gandhi and Mr. K Sridaran, experts who have participated in extensive fieldwork in archaeology and epigraphy. Please "Subscribe" to this channel and click on the "Bell" icon to receive notifications of future programs.

Krishnadeva Raya: A King for All Seasons by Dr. Srinivas Reddy on Feb 5, 2022 @ 5:30 PM

He was a statesman, a warrior, a poet, a musician, and a philosopher. He was Kannada Rajya Rama Ramana ("Lord of the Kannada empire"), Andhra Bhoja ("King Bhoja of Andhra"), and Mooru Rayara Ganda ("King of Three Kings"). As the Vijayanagara king from 1509 to 1529, Krishnadeva Raya not only consolidated and expanded his empire, he also presided over a period when the arts and literature flourished. Indeed, his glorious reign at a critical moment in world history warrants Krishnadevaraya's moniker as India's first global leader. In his talk, “Krishnadeva Raya: A King for all Seasons”, Dr. Srinivas Reddy will touch upon various aspects of the life and times of the great king, emphasizing his embodiment of the ideal of a kavi-raja: a poet-king, or enlightened monarch. Drawing on Portuguese sources as well as the king's own mahakavyam Amuktamalyada, Dr. Reddy will also contextualize Krishnadevaraya's remarkable life within a global context. About the Speaker: Dr. Srinivas Reddy is a scholar, translator, and musician. He studied classical South Asian languages and literatures at UC Berkeley and currently teaches at Brown University and IIT Gandhinagar. Dr. Reddy is also a concert sitarist and spends his time performing, teaching, and conducting research around the world. His latest book is Raya: Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagara (2020).

The demise of Nagaswamy Sir is a great loss to the world of culture. He was the last of the titans. His interests and research were multidimensional.