Rock-Cut Monasteries of the Western Ghats

Last night (Tuesday 27 March), the Society hosted a book launch for Buddhist Rock-Cut Monasteries of the Western Ghats, by Dr George Michell and Dr Gethin Rees. Published by the Deccan Heritage Foundation, the volume focuses on some of the less-visited rock-cut sites in the rugged landscape of Maharashtra. These magnificent shrines and dwellings were cut into the basalt cliffs of the Western Ghats more than 2,000 years ago. They survive today as among the earliest and best-preserved examples of Buddhist art and architecture in India.

Dr George Michell

A packed audience benefited from a two-part illustrated lecture, as Dr Rees discussed the historic, economic and geographic background to the rock-cut monasteries, while Dr Michell focussed on the architectural developments during these early times and the carvings that adorned the various shrines and dwellings. Many attendees took advantage of the opportunity to purchase a copy of the new guidebook: keep an eye on the Deccan Heritage Foundation website for opportunities to purchase it (

Dr Gethin Rees

After our Easter weekend closure, on Thursday 5 April at 6.30pm we will hold an event to celebrate the launch of our new Digital Library, which is available here: Supported by a grant from the Friends of the National Libraries, the site launched at the end of January, featuring the fully digitized Thomas Manning Archive, an array of our Malay and Persian manuscripts, and some audiovisual collections. We have continued to add material to the site since then, uploading a selection of artworks from our South and East Asian Collections. Everyone is welcome to join us for this special occasion. We hope you will come and help us celebrate this new venture, which allows us to make some of our historic collections available to people all over the world, absolutely free.