GUARDIANS OF AN ILLUSTRIOUS LEGACY: JODHPUR URBAN REGENERATION TRUST
( Feature Story by Angeline Chauhan)
“So much of our future lies in preserving our past.”
Jodhpur was founded in AD 1459 by Rao Jodha, its famed Walled City centre teems with history and heritage today. The magnetic appeal of the City lies in its ancient temples and monuments, many of which are ensconsced in crevice like lanes, encircling the mighty Mehrangarh Fort like devotees. Even to the untrained eye, Jodhpur’s built heritage is a breath-taking canvas that has withstood centuries of evolving history.
The ravages of Time have left many parts of this majestic organism scarred, and it was the concerted efforts of the JDH Urban Regeneration Project, a part of Blue City Hospitality Pvt. Ltd., founded in 2014- that have restored it to its famed past glory. The Project is co-founded by Motherland and the RAAS Group whose operational ethos is rooted in a deep longing for community work and social responsibility at the grass root level- to spearhead a people’s movement to restore, preserve and showcase the City’s brilliance.
Kanwar Dhananajaya Singh who is a renowned historian, author and restoration expert , along with his brother Kanwar Nikhilendra Singh , a well-known polo player partnered with V. Sunil, who is one of India’s most celebrated creative directors and Mohit Dhar Jayal ,Executive Director at Motherland Joint Ventures Pvt. Ltd. The Four, together, have given spur to this noble intent to preserve Jodhpur’s grand legacy.
‘JDH is an Urban Regeneration Project that aims to restore the Walled City of Jodhpur to its former glory, breathing new life into its invaluable landmarks and livelihoods. The creative forces of technology, design, commerce and culture have begun to converge on this ancient and hallowed ground, revitalising its atmospheric gullies, havelis and bazaars. This transformation is being driven by local insights and expertise, as well as the injection of new ideas, infrastructure and influences from all over the world.’
Built in the mid 18th Century, Toorji Ka Jhalra-a public stepwell, was the first to be restored; the process of removing debris exposed sandstone carvings at a depth close to seventy metres or two hundred feet. From deities to lions and elephants, with cows spouting water-this popular tourist destination is now a breathing, living organism!
JDH has helped add aesthetic appeal by creating an upmarket square featuring retail and F&B outlets aptly called the Stepwell Square- a stone’s throw from Toorji Ka Jhalra.
Adopting the approach of zone-wise renewal, included in the Project are the Maharaja Sumer Grain Market and Gulab Sagar Ki Haveli.
The Project has the blessings and support of His Highness Maharaja GajSingh II Jodhpur, who is the Supreme Custodian and Guardian of Jodhpur’s Legacy, “We should be proud of the architectural identity of the Old City and our development strategies and plans should be in accordance with that. We want to invite more and more people into Jodhpur, and I’d like to see this feeling of oneness remains and yet they are able to welcome people at an international level.”
JDH continues to thrive and strive to maintain quality as well as acclaim in India and abroad, even in the turbulent times of the Pandemic and is doing a commendable job of attracting tourism in a period that is otherwise lean for many parts of India.