Hindu Cultural Trails: Celebration of a Timeless Tradition – Gods and Goddesses, Pilgrims and Prayers, Temples and Texts


The 18th SAARC Summit held in November 2014 in Kathmandu approved the proposal “South Asian Cultural Trails” which commenced with the Research Seminar on Buddhist Cultural Trails in 2017.  The SAARC Seminar, Research Grant and Publications on Hindu Cultural Trails will be the second Seminar in the series of “South Asian Cultural Trails”.

The SAARC Region is bound together through the shared cultural traits which have evolved through the centuries.  Hinduism is the oldest surviving living religion in South Asia dating back to more than three millennium BCE.

Hinduism is one of the shared cultural characteristics in the region, with art and architecture portraying “unity within diversity” as seen in the evolving styles and the embracing of new characteristics through the ages.  This diversity was a result of interactions that took place along the trading routes criss-crossing east and west Asia, South and Central Asia, along with the exchange of merchandise, knowledge, concepts, designs, religions, technology and other sundry of objects and ideas were also exchanged.  Although the ancient trade routes have long been abandoned, the legacy of those who travelled these routes can be found in the disseminated knowledge, ideas, religions and the diffusion of culture which persists.  These routes can be aptly named “Cultural Trails”.

The “Cultural Trails” display the material culture (Tangible Heritage) of our ancestors, their beliefs and ideologies, their life and culture.  The Hindu Cultural Trails (HCT) will be the second in a series of research fora which aim at strengthening cultural ties in the region through a walk into the shared past of our ancestors, empowering us to work together as the custodians of a shared heritage.  This will be an opportunity for the SAARC countries to revive a dialogue about inherited space through time.  A dialogue which will address the issues of conserving and preserving the Cultural Trails on one hand and how we can utilize this space to understand of our past, to enhance our present and to be economically sustainable through tourism in the future.

Research on Hindu Cultural Trails for 2018 was approved by the Ninth Meeting of the Governing Board of the SAARC Cultural Centre held from 3rd to 4th October 2017 and at the Fifty Fourth Session of the Programming Committee held in Kathmandu from 12th to 13th December 2017.  The Research Seminar on Hindu Cultural Trails is planned as a Regional Forum of discussion for Academics and Policy Makers to identify and develop the cultural, social, economic, religious, connections of the region.

Research Seminar Information

  1. Themes for the Research Seminar
    The following themes have been identified for the Research Seminar.  However, papers based on different themes will be accepted depending on their content and relevance to the Hindu Cultural Trails.

    1. Hindu Cultural Trails – Tirtha Yatra, Shaktha Trails, Shaiva Trails and Vaishnava Trails (Refer to Annexure 1 for Details).
    2. Identification of New Sites and Locations along the Hindu Cultural Trails.
    3. Comparative Studies of Hindu Temples in different areas.
    4. Comparative Research and interpretation of Landscape values of Hindu Sites.
    5. Travels of Hindu Pilgrims.
    6. Connectivity between Hindu Temples of different Countries and Regions.
    7. Art and Architecture of HCT.
    8. Archaeology of HCT.
    9. Intangible Heritage of HCT (Music, dance, folk art, folk stories, traditional healing, handicrafts, etc.).
    10. Trade and Commerce of HCT.
    11. Manuscripts, texts and inscriptions, languages and scripts of Hinduism.
    12. Technology of HCT (Irrigation, engineering, agriculture, etc.)
    13. Cultural Diffusion of Hinduism.
    14. Heritage Management of HCT sites.
    15. Tourism promotion of HCT.


  2. Dates and Venues
    Dates: 8 – 10 October 2018
    Venue: Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts in New Delhi, India
  3. Target Participants for the Research Seminar
    The Nominees for the Research Seminar may be selected from amongst diverse disciplines among Academics and Policy Makers.  Priority should be given to mid to senior level professionals involved in heritage management, policy makers and persons associated with the World Heritage Sites in the RegionAcademics and Scholars should include but not limited to:

    • Archaeologists,
    • Art Historians,
    • Conservators,
    • Curators,
    • Museologists,
    • Anthropologists,
    • Sociologists,
    • Heritage Site Managers,
    • Persons working with national and local authorities with experience in the fields of Conservation, Preservation,
    • Tangible and Intangible Heritage Experts,
    • Ancient Trade and Technology Experts and
    • Managers, planners and staff of heritage sites.

    Policy Makers should include Professionals but not limited to:

    • Ministries of Culture (Culture & Information, Cultural Affairs, etc.)
    • Ministries of Education (Education, Higher Education, etc.)
    • Ministries of Tourism (Tourism, Art and Culture, etc.)
    • Departments of Culture.
    • Departments of Archaeology, Archaeological Surveys, etc.
    • Departments of Museums.
    • Any other relevant Ministries, Departments, Organizations and Institutions.
  4. Details for Participation at the Research Seminar
    1. Officially Nominated Paper Presenters from the Member States
      The SAARC Cultural Centre invites all Member States to send a maximum of Five Official Nominations from experts and academics of their country.  The SCC hopes that at least one nominee would be from the Department of Archaeology of the Member State.

      • The SAARC Cultural Centre would provide the local hospitality (Hotel accommodations on full board basis) and the local transport to all Official Nominees of the SAARC Member States.
      • The Airfare of the Official Nominees of the SAARC Member States is to be borne by the respective Member State.
      • The Host Country can nominate a maximum of 15 Official Nominees and they will be provided with local hospitality.  All Official Nominees of the Host Member State will be invited to participate in the Cultural Tour.
      • All Official Nominees must present a paper at the Seminar.
    2. Other Paper Presenters
      Category A – The SAARC Cultural Centre would also accept the participation of other Experts from the Member States (other than the Official Nominees of the respective SAARC Member States).

      • Applications with abstracts should be sent through the respective Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Ministry of External Affairs to the SAARC Secretariat.
      • The selection of Other Participants (Category A) will be at the discretion of the SAARC Cultural Centre based on the availability of space and relevance of the abstract to the Seminar Themes.
      • Air Travel to be borne by the participant and SCC will provide accommodation, Seminar kit and the cultural tour.

      Category B – Paper Presenters from the Host Country (India) where the Seminar is held can participate.  (It is anticipated that Researchers, academics, etc., from the host city will present papers at the Seminar.)

      • Other Paper Presenters (Category B) from the Host country (India) will not be provided with travel and accommodation.
      • Other Paper Presenters (Category B) will be provided with the Seminar Kit and meals during the seminar.
    3. Other Information
      • The Language of the Seminar will be English.
      • The SAARC Cultural Centre reserves the right to select the Other Participants (in Category A and B) for the Seminar.
      • The Seminar facilities (delegate kit, tea, working lunch) as well as invitations to special events and the field trip would be extended to all paper presenters.
    4. Nomination Process
      The Official Nominees will be selected by each Member State comprising of leading academics, archaeologists and other experts from the Member State.  Official Nominations should be submitted to the SAARC Secretariat, with the Registration Form (Annexure 2) and the Format for the Submission of Country Papers / Abstracts (Annexure 3) attached (or downloaded from the SCC website) and the details requested below.All Other Participants (Category A) from each Member State should forward their information (including the Annexure 2 & Annexure 3) through the respective Foreign Ministries to the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu.  An advance copy can be emailed to scc@saarcculture.org or dd-research@saarcculture.org.The last date for sending the Official Nominations / Other Participants is 31st July 2018. All Participants should include:

      1. Full Name and Affiliation of the Person and other details requested in the Registration Form attached herewith. (Registration Form – Annexure 2)
      2. Detailed CV of the participant.
      3. Scanned copy of Passport / Scanned copy of National Identification from the Paper Presenters of the Host Member State of India.
      4. An Abstract (300 words) of the proposed paper.  The Abstract should be submitted in the Submission Form attached herewith.  (Format for the Submission of Abstracts – Annexure 3)
      5. The participants are requested to submit their full papers by 31st August 2018 and prepare a Powerpoint Presentation of 15 minutes maximum to be presented during the Research Seminar.
    5. Format for Submission of Abstracts
      The Format for the Submission Abstracts are attached as a separate document (Annexure 3).
    6. Time Schedule for the Seminar Paper Submissions
      Call for Papers: 9th July 2018
      Deadline for accepting Nominees & Participants: 31st July 2018
      Selection of Abstracts & informing participants: 10th August 2018
      Submission of full papers to be published before the seminar: 31st August 2018

      Seminar: 8th and 9th October 2018
      Cultural Tour: 10th October 2018

Contact Information

Bindu Urugodawatte,
Deputy Director – Research,
SAARC Cultural Centre,
224, Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 07,
Sri Lanka.

Email: dd-research@saarcculture.org or binduling@gmail.com
Tel/Whatsapp: 0094-77-105-3007