India is perhaps one of the largest repositories of tangible heritage in the world. A major part of this heritage is preserved in her monuments, sites and antiquities of varied nature. The range of such relics, from the past is indeed very vast and covers a long span of time i.e. prehistoric to colonial times. The monuments, sites and antiquities protected and maintained so far by Archaeological Survey of India and State Archaeology Departments are only a fraction of the total repository of the country. However, most of these have not been documented in a uniform format which can provide a common platform to the scholars, researchers and planners for reference, research and its management in a diligent manner.
Today, the survival of our heritage has been endangered due to climatic, natural and manmade effects. In the recent years there is also an increasing trend of illicit trafficking of antiquities from India. This is mainly due to lack of public awareness, ignorance of law/act and also about the importance of documentation and preservation. There are few cities in the country where number of important monuments and heritage buildings has been listed from time to time by different institutions and organizations but there is no comprehensive database at one place. Therefore, a proper documentation is felt desideratum to build a credible National database in a uniform format.
To address these issues, National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities (NMMA) has been set up by Government of India with the objective to document unprotected monuments and sites from both secondary sources and antiquities from primary source in a prescribed format. There are various available sources for documenting this heritage which needs to be utilized and collated through a Mission approach to create a credible National data base. This will take shape of State wise as well as National register of unprotected monuments, sites and antiquities.
Likewise, the existing data on antiquities are also available in different format in the form of Registered Antiquities, Catalogued antiquities with central and different formats adopted by different organizations; it is difficult to bring this data base under one umbrella. In this process, National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities has prepared two uniform formats each for documentation of Monuments, Sites and Antiquities and is actively involved in creating the National data base.
NMMA welcomes suggestions and contributions for the preparation of National register on Monuments, sites and antiquities.
And see also: Indian Archaeology - A Review