With a blend of personal commitment and scholarly pursuit, I introduce Ajantapaedia, a digital encyclopaedia dedicated to the Ajanta Caves, beginning with the profound exploration of Cave 1. This initial endeavour is not just a solitary effort but a proof of concept, laying the foundation for a comprehensive project that aspires to encompass all 34 caves. Ajantapaedia is envisioned as a dynamic and evolving resource, reflecting my dedication to both preserving and reinterpreting India’s rich cultural heritage for a global audience.
The journey to this point began in 1994, with my first visit to the Ajanta Caves for Prof. Walter M. Spink’s annual site seminar. Those initial weeks were a transformative experience, setting the stage for my role as a seminar coordinator from 1995 to 1997. The seminars, under Prof. Spink’s guidance, were not just educational but a deep immersion into the world of Ajanta, shaping my understanding and approach to the caves’ study. These experiences fuelled my subsequent visits, often spanning weeks and months, marked by a relentless quest for knowledge and deepened understanding of Ajanta’s historical and cultural contexts.
My commitment to the Ajanta Caves was not confined to personal visits and academic research. It also involved significant personal investment, both financially and in terms of time, signifying my dedication to unravelling the complexities of these ancient marvels. This extensive fieldwork, coupled with my academic pursuits at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) and beyond, equipped me with a unique blend of practical experience and scholarly insight, essential for the creation of Ajantapaedia.
The conception of Ajantapaedia as a digital encyclopaedia stems from a desire to bring the Ajanta Caves to life for a worldwide audience. With the focus on Cave 1 as the initial step, this project is designed to demonstrate the potential of a comprehensive and interactive digital resource. The goal is to secure funding that will enable the completion of the entire project, covering all 34 caves, within a span of one year. This ambitious timeline is achievable with the necessary financial support, paving the way for an unparalleled educational and cultural resource. The required amount is given below.
Budget Per Cave
INR 2,05,588.23 | USD 2472.72 | CAD 3315.14 | EUR 2282.79 | CNY 17546.99 | GBP 1945.48 | JPY 364519.44
Budget for All the 34 Rock-Cut Edifices:
INR 6990000 | USD 84080.751 | CAD 112736.68 | EUR 77633.02 | CNY 596781 | GBP 66144.54 | JPY 12394584.81
The vision for Ajantapaedia extends beyond the initial focus on Cave 1. Once the required funding is secured, the master plan for Ajantapaedia 1.0, encompassing all 34 caves, will be executed. This comprehensive version is not just about cataloguing and presenting data; it’s about creating an immersive and interactive experience that brings together scholarly content, advanced digital features, and user-friendly functionality. The aim is to provide an encyclopaedia that is both educational and engaging, serving as a bridge between ancient heritage and contemporary technology.
The development of Ajantapaedia is a testament to my journey as a scholar and a subject matter expert. My experiences, from coordinating seminars with world-renowned experts to extensive fieldwork and academic research, have culminated in a deep understanding of the Ajanta Caves. This expertise is the driving force behind the encyclopaedia, ensuring that it is not only accurate and comprehensive but also rich in context and interpretation.
Looking ahead, Ajantapaedia is envisioned as a living resource that will continually evolve. The plan is for annual updates and upgrades on all fronts: content, features, functions, and technology. This approach ensures that Ajantapaedia remains at the forefront of digital humanities, adapting to new discoveries, technological advancements, and changing educational needs. It’s about creating a resource that grows and evolves, mirroring the dynamic nature of historical scholarship and digital innovation.
In closing, Ajantapaedia is more than just a digital encyclopaedia; it’s a journey of discovery and a labour of love. It’s an invitation to explore the Ajanta Caves in a way that has never been possible before, offering insights and experiences that bridge geographical and temporal divides. As I extend this invitation, I do so with a sense of anticipation and hope – anticipation for the project’s completion and hope that it will inspire, educate, and engage people from all walks of life in the rich tapestry of India’s cultural heritage.
- Note: The primary budget figures are presented in Indian Rupees (INR). Foreign currency conversions are based on the exchange rates applicable as of 30 January 2024. Please be aware that these rates are subject to fluctuations and may change. ↩︎