Of cultures, fine print and heritage conservationJanuary 26th, 2010 - 2:04 pm ICT by IANS
By Madhusree Chatterjee
Jaipur, Jan 26 (IANS) A writer’s ball in the courtyard of a 500-year-old fort connected to Mughal emperor Akbar, a white Mughal (William Dalrymple) attired in a dressing gown of block prints from Sanganer over his black denims and a crusade to conserve the heritage of one of the oldest cities of India make for a potent cultural cocktail.
A crowd of more than 200 leading writers from across the globe, members of the book trade and publishing fraternity, socialites, erstwhile royalty and nearly 1,000 party animals Monday watched a sound-and-light show recapitulating the history of the Amber fort, dined and danced till the wee hours at the newly-restored Kesar Kyari (garden) in the Amber Valley outlying the pink city of Jaipur.
The Kesar Kyari Bagh - at the foot of the sprawling Amber Fort atop a hill - flanking the Maota Lake was restored two years ago by the Rajasthan government and let out as a party space in August 2009 to facilitate regeneration and adaptive reuse of heritage.
Amber (or Amer) Fort, located 11 km on the periphery of Jaipur, was the capital of the ruling Kachhawa Rajput clan before they relocated to the main city. It was built by Raja Mansingh in 1597 and became the gateway to Rajasthan for the Mughal emperors during the 16th and 17th century. It became a tourist attraction in 1947 when the gates opened to the public.
Apurv Kumar, the owner of Clarkes-Amer, a niche hospitality firm which has leased the space from Rajasthan government in a public-private partnership, says the project is meant to add value to the “heritage experience in Rajasthan”.
The Rajasthan government is the first government in India to design a public-private partnership for heritage conservation.
“We host high-end events. The profits earned from the events are ploughed back to maintain the monument that has been restored two years ago. For the last 60 years, the existence of Kesar Kyari Bagh was not known till it was restored,” Kumar told IANS here.
Kesar Kyari Bagh is a star-shaped pond where the Maharajas planted saffron flowers. It was the favourite place of emperor Akbar whenever he came to Jaipur.
The metamorphosis of Kesar Kyari Bagh from dilapidated ruins to a hip party junction fits in the greater mould of the Amber Fort Restoration Project and the Jaipur Old City Revival Project, an ongoing conservation project by the Rajasthan government and the Jaipur International Virasat Foundation (JIVF).
The project centres around a heritage walk of the old city that takes visitors on a tour of the bazaars of Jaipur, acquainting them with cultures, people, crafts and local heritage of the state, Faith Singh, co-founder of the JIVF said.
“It began with a GIS (geographic information system) mapping of the city in 2004 and solid waste management programme to clean the walled city of Jaipur. The project currently has nine local partners who are working with the government,” Singh said.
The old city of Jaipur is a hive of diverse cultural and traditional entrepreneurial activity that range from bookmaking, gemstone crafting, calligraphy, ancient textile weaving and dyeing.
“It is all a matter of the heart, straight from the soul, on how you feel about Jaipur,” “White Mughals” writer Dalrymple, one of the organisers of the Jaipur literature festival which ended Monday, commented.
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Tags: 000 party, adaptive reuse, amber valley, bagh, block prints, chatterjee, clarkes, denims, dressing gown, emperor akbar, globe members, heritage conservation, mansingh, mughal emperors, oldest cities, party animals, party space, pink city, public private partnership, rajasthan government