Natural Stone and World Heritage: Delhi-Agra, India  book cover
1st Edition

Natural Stone and World Heritage: Delhi-Agra, India

ISBN 9780367251802
Published June 4, 2020 by CRC Press
186 Pages

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Book Description

This book discusses heritage stones which were used in the making of the architectonic heritage of Delhi and Agra, encompassing UNESCO world heritage sites and heritage sites designated as prominent by the Indian government. The most famous monument of the two cities is the ‘Taj Mahal’ of Agra.

The book focuses on the geological characteristics of the famous Makrana marble, red sandstone and other sandstone variants of the Vindhyan basin and Delhi quartzite, the most widely used stones in almost all the monuments, as well as on their quarries. The work also aims to sensitise the public to protecting and preserving the architectonic heritage of these two densely populated cities in India as repositories of our past cultures and traditions. Identifying the nature and provenance of stones/rocks used in construction will lead to better restoration for future generations, in light of the deterioration of architectonic heritage through various natural weathering agencies and anthropogenic activities.

The book will serve as a useful source book to economic geologists, geologists, archaeologists, architects, historians and stone industry operators specifically and to academic and non-academic communities, travellers and tourism industry operators in general. The book will benefit students, researchers, and rock enthusiasts spanning all age groups and academic levels.

Table of Contents

1 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, International Union of Geological Sciences and Heritage Stone Subcommission
2 Delhi and Agra vis-à-vis monuments
3 Repository of stones used in Delhi and Agra UNESCO Sites: Aravalli Mountain Belt and Vindhyan Basin
4 UNESCO Heritage Sites of Delhi and Agra: An account
5 Historical quarries of the Makrana Marble, the Vindhyan Sandstone and the Delhi Quartzite: An account
6 Preservation, conservation and restoration of UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Delhi and Agra
7 Conclusions

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Dr. Gurmeet Kaur is working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geology, Panjab University, Chandigarh, India. She has been teaching igneous and metamorphic petrology and economic geology courses to the graduate and under graduate students for the past 11 years at her University. She has been a post-doctoral fellow at the Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada consecutively for three summers of 2013-2015. Presently, she is one of the Vice-Chairs representing south Asia in the Heritage Stone Subcommission (HSS) of IUGS. She is also a core member of Publishing Committee of IUGS since August, 2018. The author is passionately engaged in promoting heritage stones from India. Currently, she is working on numerous heritage stones from India which have been used as resource for the construction of architectonic heritage reflecting the cultural and architectural ethos during different periods in the history of India. In her own small way the author wants to contribute towards popularizing heritage stones from around the globe amongst the people of all walks of life through the outreach activities of Heritage Stone Subcommission. The book series on the Natural Stones and World Heritage is an appropriate platform for the author to bring to fore the heritage stones used in the making of the world heritage sites of the historic cities of Delhi and Agra from India.

Anuvinder Kaur is currently working with the American Embassy School, New Delhi. She teaches Robotics and Indian Studies in middle school and also has a significant role in the technology department. Apart from this, Anuvinder is also the High School yearbook advisor and has been in this role for 8 years. She holds a Master’s degree in Multidisciplinary Studies from SUNY, Buffalo State.

Anuvinder loves to travel and has a keen interest in the history, architecture and cultural diversity of India. She has been to several architectonic heritage sites in India and has been part of several geological field trips which include: Basalt quarries in Maharashtra, marble, sandstone and limestone quarries in Rajasthan. She is currently involved with a project on seven cities of Delhi with her school children. Her travel enriches her teaching experience. Besides traveling, photography is her passion too. She has contributed photos of the architectonic heritage and quarries for academic publications as well.

Sakoon N. Singh teaches English Literature at DAV College, Sector 10, Chandigarh. An alumnus of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), she has been a recipient of Fulbright grant from the US Dept of Home, at the University of Texas at Austin, USA. She has been selected as Associate fellow at the IIAS, Shimla for the forthcoming year. Her forthcoming novel is being published by Rupa this year.

She has written for journals such as DIALOG, FAMILIES, Museindia, Abstracts of Sikh Studies and E3W Review of Books (University of Texas) for which she did a stint as Editor, South Asia Section. One of her essays has been included in a Routledge Anthology on Cultural Studies. She has contributed to publications like The Tribune, Hindustan Times, DNA and The Quint. Her areas of interest include: Indian Writing in English and translation, Punjab studies, Indian drama, aesthetics and Cultural Studies.

Noor Dasmesh Singh heads a leading cross-disciplinary design firm NOOR Architects Consultants out of Mohali, Chandigarh. In a short span the practice has serviced a diverse client base from Governmental agencies, Corporate to Private clients. Their eclectic mix of projects range from large scale infrastructure consultancy and advisory to designing museums, private residences, interior architecture and even product design.

Singh started out his professional journey in the mid-2000s from Industrial Design Studio at IIT Delhi and later in London working with an international Strategy and Design consultancy firm DEGW. Based there, he carried out prestigious assignments in the UK, New Zealand and the Middle East including the British Museum masterplan, offices for Google, and developmental works for television giants like BBC and ITV. Noor completed his Bachelor’s degree in Architecture (B Arch.- 5 years) at the Government College of Engineering & Technology, Bathinda, India. Continuing his professional education, Singh attended Executive Education courses at Harvard University, Boston USA and the Architectural Association AA, London.

A line-up of prestigious assignments that they are currently handling include a unique Museum of Anatomy for PGIMER Hospital in Chandigarh, the northern region’s first Eco-Tourism Project at Siswan in the outskirts of Chandigarh for the Government of Punjab, a 300 acre waterfront masterplan International Tourist Destination at Ranjit Sagar Dam in Pathankot in collaboration with UK-based design firm BDP, and a Feasibility assignment for five Ropeway Sites in Uttarakhand collaborating with leading advisory firm CB Richard Ellis. Master planning is underway for a large 3200 acres Industrial Model Township IMT together with Ernst & Young for the Government of Haryana at Delhi NCR, few private residences and farmhouses in Chandigarh, Ludhiana and other parts of Punjab.

Singh believes in a collaborative model of working, hence associating with a gamut of national and international teams. He is a firm believer that associations add value and a unique richness to each assignment for their esteemed client base.


This book provides a useful description of several World Heritage buildings in northern India, such as The Taj Mahal and the Delhi Red Fort, with particular reference to the geological character of the materials used in their construction together with summaries of the origins of the buildings in their historical context. Although the book covers a very wide range of topics which cannot be considered in detail the authors provide many links to the diverse source material they have utilized. The emphasis of the work is on the Makrana marbles and the Vindhyan X sandstones; both now designated as World Heritage Building Stones. Descriptions are provided of the geology of their source regions and the petrography of the rocks. The book is well illustrated with respect to geological and historical maps, the quarries from which the building stones were extracted, and excellent illustrations of the heritage buildings. The geological parts of the book are not overly technical and can be readily understood by anyone with a smattering of geological knowledge. The work also includes recommendations for preservation of both the stone quarries and the monuments. The book is important in that it brings together in one volume material which will appeal not only to geoscientists, geohistorians and architectural historians but to any one visiting these well know cultural sites. In this regard the regard the work is more useful than many existing travel guides.

Roger Mitchell, Professor Emeritus, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

The book Natural Stone and World Heritage: Delhi-Agra, India is a delightful trip to these important Unesco World Heritage Sites. All the monuments of Delhi and Agra are very well described in this richly illustrated publication. It is interesting to learn about the different stones used in their buildings, namely Makrana Marble, Vindhyan Sandstone and Delhi Quartzite, as well as knowing more about historical quarries. You will discover the countless precious stones inlaid in the Makrana Marble of Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Red Fort and Humayun’s Tomb. The authors also discuss the conservation of these sites. It is a book that unites culture, geology and history.

Eliane Del Lama, Associate Professor, Institute of Geosciences, University of São Paulo, Brazil