Recconstructing History from Tangible and Intangible Heritage. Dr Arvind Jamkhedkar. July 2, 2022

Reconstructing History from Tangible and Intangible Heritage. Tamil Heritage Trust's Monthly Heritage Talk for July 2022. India has a rich legacy of tangible heritage - monuments, inscriptions, literature, architecture and art - that is vital to the study of our history. Equally, the country is replete with intangible heritage in the form of oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and festive events. How can a historian weave together strands from the tangible and intangible heritage of a place or an idea to reconstruct its history? In his talk for THT, "Reconstructing History from Tangible and Intangible Heritage: A case study from medieval Maharashtra", Dr Arvind P Jamkhedkar, takes the fascinating example of the Renukādevī cult from Mahur in Nanded district to demonstrate the seamless coalescing of these tracks. Āmalī-grāma-māhātmya relates the mythic legend of Renukādevī, mother of Parashurāma. After she voluntarily immolated herself along with her dead husband, she emerges from the womb of the earth only upto her neck. She is worshipped with offerings of flesh and liquor and a folk dance known as Gondalī-dance, which is performed in Maharashtra to this day at auspicious events like weddings. The dance has been recognised since the 12th century CE and has been mentioned even from Tamilnadu (Kondalī dance). The dance is derived from the Gond tribe, whose origin myth connects them to the goddess Kālī. In turn, this points towards the process of assimilation of the Gonds with the urban Hinduism. The whole saga of Renukā-māhātmya is an excellent example where the tangible and intangible evidence has played an important role in reconstructing the Cult of Renukā in the Deccan. The Speaker: Dr Arvind Prabhakar Jamkhedkar was the Chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) from 2018-2021. He is the Chancellor of the Deccan College Pune, deemed a university, an institution from which he took his Ph.D in Ancient Indian Culture in 1966. He has served as the Director of Archaeology and Museums in Maharashtra. He has participated in numerous excavations of chalcolithic, megalithic and early historical sites. Proficient in classical and vedic Sanskrit, Pali and Ardhamagadhi, his wide range of research interests includes archaeology, temple architecture, art history, epigraphy, Buddhism and Jainism and more. He has published excavation reports, monographs, critical editions of books and dozens of articles in journals. He is a member on several Boards and Committees in the field of heritage and history. has been conferred several awards and feted at international conferences.

Inviting Nominations for V Venkayya Epigraphy Award, 2022

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 26, 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 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 nomination from any individual but the nominee should be a citizen 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 26, 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 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.