Book explores life and times of archaeologist MN Deshpande

·2-min read

New Delhi, Nov 7 (PTI) A new book will document the life and times of former director general of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Madhusudan Narhar Deshpande.

The book, 'Archaeology and the Public Purpose: Writings on and by M N Deshpande', is written by history professor Nayanjot Lahiri.

It interweaves the history of post-Independence archaeology in India with the life of M N Deshpande (1920-2008), a leading Indian archaeologist who went on to become the director-general of the ASI.

'My essays describe various phases in the career of this important post-Independence ASI man who went on to become its director general: what it was like to grow up in a family devoted to fighting for India’s freedom; how he and independent India’s young archaeologists were a unique cohort; and his encounters and experiences as an archaeologist, including with an iconic prime minister and an equally celebrated environmentalist,' writes Lahiri, whose previous books include 'Monuments Matter' and 'Ten Time Pieces'.

Born in 1920, art historian and conservator Deshpande, who was a noted scholar of the western rock-cut caves of India, served as the director general of the ASI from 1972 to 1978. He was trained by legendary British archaeologist Mortimer Wheeler. The book, which brings out selected articles written by Deshpande from his writings and notes, also narrates forgotten stories like how Deshpande helped iconic environmentalist Chandi Prasad Bhatt in saving the traditional fabric of Badrinath temple in the 1970s. According to Oxford University Press (OUP), the book explores the circumstances which 'brought men like Deshpande to this career path, the unknown conservation stories around the Gol Gumbad in Bijapur and the Qutb Minar in Delhi, the chemistry shared between the prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Deshpande at the Ajanta and Ellora cave shrines, and the political and administrative challenges faced by director generals of archaeology'.

'The book is a must read for anyone interested in India's past in general and the history of Indian archaeology in particular,' it added.

It is currently available for sale on online and offline stores. PTI MG TRS TRS