NEWS FEATURE

Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan launches UNESCO’s ‘Historic Urban Landscape’ project for Gwalior and Orchha

Gwalior and Orchha will be developed by improving it historically and culturally

UNESCO project is important for the preservation of culture and heritage of historic cities

Maan Mandir Palace, Gwalior Fort

‘Historic Urban Landscape Project’

Launching the Project, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said that UNESCO’s ‘Historic Urban Landscape Project’, which was started in 2011 for the inclusive and well-planned development of fast-growing historical cities while preserving their culture and heritage is of great significance.

The CM said said that Gwalior and Orchha cities have been selected by UNESCO for this important project. They will be jointly developed by UNESCO, Government of India and Madhya Pradesh by paying special attention towards conserving and maintaining their historical and cultural importance.

Virtual launch

The ‘Historic Urban Landscape’ project for Gwalior and Orchha cities was launched through video conferencing at Mantralaya in the State capital. Tourism and Culture Minister Usha Thakur, Principal Secretary Tourism and Culture Shiv Shekhar Shukla were present. Eric Falt, Junhi Han, Neha Dewan, and Nishant Upadhyay from UNESCO, New Delhi and Rand Eppich from US also joined the virtual programme.

Orchha

Orchha near Jhansi is a huge tourist attraction. It was founded on the banks of the Betwa River in the 15th century and was ruled by the Bundela rulers. Orccha is famous for its huge palace-fort that consists of several connected buildings erected at different times, the most noteworthy of which is the Raja Mahal. The Ram Raja Temple, built on a square base also stands out with its projecting windows and impressive domes along the summit. Numerous cenotaphs or chhatris dot the vicinity of the fort and the Betwa river.

Gwalior Fort

The historic city of Gwalior and its fortress have been ruled by several historic northern Indian kingdoms. The earliest historical record found at Gwalior is the Gwalior inscription of the Alchon Hun ruler Mihirakula. Man Singh Tomar made his dream palace, the Man Mandir Palace which is now a tourist attraction at Gwalior Fort. the Chaturbhuj Temple at Gwalior Fort claims the world’s very first occurrence of zero as a written number. Babur had described the Gwalior Fort as “the pearl in the necklace of forts of India and not even the winds could touch its masts”.

Gwalior – History

In 1021, Gwalior was attacked by forces led by Mahmud Ghazni but they were repelled. Gwalior was ruled by the Kachchhapaghatas in the 10th century, Tomars in the 13th century and then it was passed on to the Mughal Empire, then to the Maratha in 1754, followed by the Scindias in the 18th century.

During Aurangzeb’s time, the valient Maratha ruler Shivaji had started expanding the Maratha base in central Maharashtra and by mid-seventeenth century the Marathas had taken control of most of Madhya Pradesh under the nominal control of the Peshwa. The Holkars of Indore ruled much of Malwa while the Scndia’s ruled from Gwalior. It was in the 1830s, that the Scindias captured Gwalior and it remained a princely state during British rule.

Madhya Pradesh – Heart of India

Madhya Pradesh is the heart of India. It is a region that has remained through history a crucible where different social forces and intellectual influences have come together through several millennia to forge what we see today as modern Madhya Pradesh.

When Lord Buddha lived, and gave his message of “Four Noble Truths” during the reign of Bimbisara, the ruler of the Magadha empire, 2500 years ago, the famous city of Ujjain or Avanti had already risen as a major urban centre. Ujjain was one of the four global seats of learning in ancient India along with Takshshila, Nalanda and Kashi. It had become a predominant commercial hub on the trade route between the Gangetic plain and the Arabian sea ports more than two thousand years ago. This region, which was part of the Maurya Empire, had touched the pinnacle of glory during the reign of Emperor Ashoka, whose wife was said to have come from Vidisha not far from Bhopal, which is now the capital of the Central Indian State of Madhya Pradesh. After the decline of the Asokan Empire there was a period of strife and this area in central India witnessed a fierce contest for supremacy and control by the Sakas, Satvahanas, Kushanas and many local dynasties. The Hun invasions and the collapse of the Gupta dynasty in the sixth century had led to the rise of many small kingdoms. Yasodharman, a king of Malwa, had defeated the Huns and stopped their expansion. After that it was the period of Harsha of Thanesar, who reunited northern India in the seventh century. After Harsha, Malwa was ruled by the Rashtrakuta Dynasty till the 10th century. The period that followed saw the rise of the Rajputs, including the Paramaras of Malwa and the Chandelas of Bundelkhand. The Chandelas created the temple city of Khajuraho between 950 and 1050. During the Moghul ruler Akbar’s time, Gondwana and Mahakoshal continued to remain under the control of the Gond kings.