My Summer at the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH)

Me at the INTACH office 

Anusha Khansaheb, Weitzman Masters in Historic Preservation, 2024

This summer, I had the incredible opportunity to intern with the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), one of the largest heritage non-profits in India. I worked in the Architectural Heritage Division in the INTACH headquarters located in Lodhi Gardens, New Delhi. 

Over the course of my internship, I worked with people of diverse backgrounds on a variety of projects located all over India. 

In front of Lodhi tomb, outside INTACH office 

The first task I worked on was geolocating historic properties in the state of Meghalaya in the northeast of the country. I was focusing specifically on the East Khasi Hills district where precise geolocation is very important because many of properties do not have full street addresses and are difficult to access. This was part of a larger project to survey and document all the potential historic assets in the area. Many of the properties were homes built in the Assamese style, a combination of vernacular building techniques created to withstand earthquakes and British colonial period ornamentation.  

Measuring Kos Minar 22 

My next task took me to the Chambal-Yamuna Doab in Uttar Pradesh located south of Agra. In this project I first geolocated properties to better understand what type of historic assets there were and then I researched their potential historical significance. This region is formed by the Chambal River flowing into the Yamuna River forming a triangular piece of land surrounded by deep ravines. Both the Chambal River and Yamuna River are mythologically and historically important which when completing the second step, conducting historical research, led to the development of a unique narrative for the region. 

Measuring Kos Minar 22 

For the next project I worked on I ended up northeast again to the cities of Sivasagar and Guwahati located in Assam. Like the Chambal-Yamuna Doab project, I conducted historical research on these unique cities that were under Ahom rule for many centuries. Exploring the various tanks (man-made bodies of water), temples, and structures in the region while also researching their history was incredibly fruitful. 

Celebrating my bday in the office 

Lastly, I assisted in conducting a Heritage Impact Assessment for Kos Minar 22 in Aurangabad, located southeast of Delhi. Kos Minars are small minarets along major historical routes created by the Mughal Dynasty to measure distances. A factory in this area was planning on creating a new warehouse but their plans triggered The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act which stipulates that there is no construction allowed for 100 meters around an ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) site and that the additional 200 meters beyond that require government approval for any modifications or constructions. We documented the area around the Kos Minar through drawings and photography which will then be used to write a full assessment of the new construction and the impact on the heritage site. 

Geolocating assamese style houses in Meghalaya 

Working internationally can be difficult: from language barriers to contested histories to culturally specific references to the bureaucracy behind it all, however, this internship taught me how to approach different peoples and places with an open mind and through multiple lenses to create a narrative that accurately showcases to both the private and public sectors what makes these places special and worthy of protection. It is important to not only delve into questions about the past and the history of the place but to also evaluate the impact on the present and future of the peoples and structures that make up a site. I will continue to apply the skills I learned at INTACH when working in preservation internationally and I hope to get a chance to work on projects in India again in the future. 

Using primary sources such as British Gazateers to research history

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2023 GAPSA Summer Internship Funding Program that is coordinated by Penn Career Services. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

By Career Services
Career Services