Students of Architecture of World University of Design (WUD), Sonepat, Haryana under a project with Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) drew the attention towards a hidden marvel seated in the district of Chhatarpur, Madhya Pradesh. Known for its culture and legacy the town of Dhubela can soon emerge as a heritage village to lure domestic as well as foreign tourists and help as a potent source to generate income.
How a country excels depends a lot on the young blood that flows through its veins and the students of WUD have proved exactly that by way of propelling a revolution of sorts to help authorities realize potential and harness it for benefitting results. Despite being strategically located on NH 39 between the two highly touristic towns of Orchha and Khajuraho, Dhubela has not received the due it deserves. Home to Maharaja Chhatrasal, one of the greatest warriors of Central India and the great female warrior Mastani Bai (second wife of Bajirao Peshwa) Dhubela has a deep rich history to make one and all plunge into but not many know about it.
While the town has many monuments of historical importance dating back to the 17th century, including a Mastani Mahal, (not protected currently) the students of School of Architecture of World University of Design have not only taken the initiative to capture the mystique of this gem from Indian history but have also prepared an integral and holistic sustainable development plan for Dhubela under funding of INTACH.
Augmented by a thorough study of the tourism profile of the region, the students of WUD have made an inspired attempt to bring Dhubela on the map of Indian Tourism. Their plan includes several integral points, which are as follows:
1. Introduction of a light and sound show, organization of events and performances in the indoor as well as outdoor spaces of the monuments.
2. Development of the street market and building of a crafts centre in the heritage zone to promote the economy and crafts of the locals.
3. Modification of the main road, desilting of lake and restoration of all the monuments to improve the basic infrastructure.
4. Creation of information centres, heritage trails, restaurants at various important nodes and homestays to upgrade and augment tourist facilities.
5. Inclusion of Dhubela in the circuit of Orchha and Khajuraho to introduce broad based regional growth by providing Dhubela promotional brochures in every MP hotel and information centres.
6. Provision to connect major railway stations like Jhansi, Orchha and Khajuraho to Dhubela and introducing last mile connectivity to augment transport facilities.
7. Development of easily accessible approach roads to all monuments, introducing heritage trails, tracks for pedestrians, separate roads for Buggy rides and other non-motorized vehicles.
8. Construction of a gateway using Bundelkhandi design elements to demarcate the entry of Dhubela.
Mani Singh who is one of the team members to come up with this ground-breaking idea, shared her views saying, “India is one of the favorite global tourist destinations because of its diversified culture, geographies and affordability. We can still incur better profitability from the destinations that sell like hot cakes provided we get the tourism industry organized and also make optimum utilization of every tourist location we have at hand. By making an attempt to restore the locales in and around Dhubela, we are trying to achieve a ‘Heritage Village’ concept that is very prominent in the European countries. You could also see a similar pattern when you visit Jaipur or Amritsar.”
Another student, Gaurisha Bajaj said, “Our endeavor through this proposal is to let visitors imbibe the real essence of culture embedded in the roots and savour the convenience of contemporary modern lifestyle if they please. We are determined to take this project and would be looking at contributing to it once we get a go ahead from the government and authorities.”
A very proud Shaleen Sharma (Dean of School of Architecture & Planning, World University of Design) shared his emotions, “I am very proud of the students and am overwhelmed to see how our university’s principles and values have been absorbed by them. Their report on Dubela is exemplary and I feel that my purpose of making this young new generation of energetic minds work in the right direction has been served. I am geared up to take this mission forward with them in whatever capacity I can.”
With a sensitive approach towards development in the natural and cultural setting of Dhubela, it is envisioned to become a prosperous and a sustainable destination to visit.