Heritage sites get a thumbs up from children

Historical monuments in the national capital saw more footfalls of children in the last two years. More than 50 per cent of the Indian visitors were children during 2009-2011.

Over 61 lakh domestic tourists in 2010 visited Delhi’s top-10 monuments and the figure has almost doubled in 2011.

According to statistics provided by the Archaeological Survey of India, 1.24 crore people visited various monuments during 2010-2011 in which Qutub Minar, Jantar Mantar and Safdarjung Tomb were the most visited.

“There is substantial increase in the number of children visiting nationally protected monuments as more than 50 lakh visitors in Delhi monuments were children. We see many children noting down the history of monuments in their notebooks and inquiring about the era in which the monument was built,” says Gautam Sengupta, director general, ASI.

With the completion of 150 years, the ASI has introduced a new initiative of providing discounts and guided tours to attract more school children and scholars.

“Many schools have approached us for a guided trip to various monuments which will make a lot of difference during this year. We will distribute food also as a part of the tour to ensure that children stay healthy,” says Sengupta.

He adds during summer holidays and spring, maximum number of children visit these monuments. They are either working on projects or the trip is a part of their summer camps.

The ASI also plans to include heritage walks by inviting eminent archaeologists who will talk elaborately about the history of monuments.

ASI also plans to offer scholarships to students who are interested in pursuing archaeology studies in India and abroad depending on the merit and research done by the child.

Three years ago, the ASI had started educating children with the help of makeshift schools of labourers who used to work at the construction sites near Delhi monuments like Purana Qila and Qutab Minar.

“We have educated around 400 children till now. One school is still running in Purana Qila where 25 children are still being educated,” said Muhammed K K, senior archaeologist with the ASI.

He adds around 60 adults have also been educated with the help of these makeshift schools. Data given by the ASI suggests Qutub Minar had the maximum number of visitors with 22 lakh Indian visitors in 2009-10 which increased to 44 lakh in 2011. Jantar Mantar had close to three lakh visitors in 2009-10 which increased to five lakh in 2011.

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