The Mehrangarh Museum Trust was settled in March,1972 by His Highness The Maharaja Gaj Singh II with the principal objective of setting up a world class museum in Jodhpur. It was intended that this museum eventually house and display the Maharaja's substantial collections; of miniature paintings, portraits, books and manuscripts, weapons, textiles and tents, elephant howdahs and palanquins, and various objets' d art.
The Trust was duly registered with the Government of Rajasthan in 1974 and commenced functioning in earnest in the same year with the Maharaja as its Managing Trustee. At the same time the Maharaja placed his ancestral fortress, the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, at the disposal of the new Trust directing it to develop and establish the planned museum within the fort premises itself. This was a significant and far-sighted direction since the fort eminently serves the purpose, not only in terms of historicity and authenticity, but also keeping in mind the security and care of the collections. Needless to say the conservation, and restoration where necessary, of the magnificent architecture of the fort itself was also a prime consideration behind this decision.
Early on the Trust was fortunate enough to obtain the services of Thakur Sagat Singh, a retired curator from the Rajasthan Governement Museum, and he was given a clear brief; to locate and clear suitable areas in the fort for the museum; to compile inventories of the collections both at the Mehrangarh Fort and at the Umaid Bhawan Palace, the Maharaja's residence; and, finally, to put together the exhibitions themselves.
The success of the Maharaja's vision and the Trust's early efforts is evinced by the recognition The Mehrangarh Museum enjoys today; 65,000 foreign visitors and 3,00,000 Indian visitors in 1999-2000.
New dimensions have been added to
the Trust's activities since then; the active patronage of the arts and
music; the promotion of the handicrafts
of the region; and the study and research of the
rich archival and other material available in the Trustís manuscript
library, the Maharaja Maan Singh Pustak Prakash Research Center. With
the Trust's strong and ever-widening social and cultural inter-action
with the city and region the Mehrangarh Fort today finds itself once
again, after over a hundred years, very much at the center of things in
1.The Mehrangarh Museum displays a wide range of objects in fourteen display rooms. The museum also includes four period rooms. The displays are being constantly up-graded with due emphasis on lighting, visitor-flow and captioning.
2.The Maharaja Maan Singh Pustak Prakash Library, incorporated into the Trust in 1977, houses a collection of manuscripts in Sanskrit, Hindi and some regional languages. The manuscripts are duly listed and catalogued and are available to scholars and researchers. Research is also undertaken by the Trust's own faculty.
3.The Trust actively promotes classical Indian and folk music and organizes eight to ten concerts in the fort and in the city each year in collaboration with a local music lovers association, Swar Sudha.
4. The Trust hosts a unique program annually for the Faculty of Religious Studies, University of Virginia, Virginia. The prestigious American university sends fifteen students with a faculty each year for one semester in Indian studies to Mehrangarh. The students live in a modern hostel within the fort and the faculty sometimes includes our Museum Director and Curator. Emory University, Atlanta, has also now joined the program.
5. A full-fledged Art Conservation Center was established in Mehrangarh in 1996 in collaboration with The Indian Conservation Institute, a division of the Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage (INTACH). The Center has thus far been busy with wall-paintings in Mehrangarh but it also offers its services to institutions and art collectors throughout Rajasthan, being the only center of its kind in the state.
6.The Trust interacts enthusiastically with the people of Jodhpur and the Administration to make a success of some social and religious festivals; namely Navratri, Dasshera, Diwali, the Bhadwa Mela, Jodhpur Foundation Day, Gangaur and the Marwar Festival. Many of these festivals have revolved around Mehrangarh for hundreds of years and the Trust is acutely conscious of its role as a custodian of age-old traditions.
7. An ethnological section in the museum is also on the agenda and a pilot project has been taken up with the setting up of a Turban, Folk Art & Folk Musical Instruments Gallery.
8. Architectural Conservation and Restoration has emerged a major pre-occupation in recent years. The conservation of The Mehrangarh Fort itself remains top priority and fortunately the Trust has been able to allocate larger budgets to this in the last few years. The Maharaja, the Managing Trustee, rightly believes that as a premier institution in the field, The Mehrangarh Museum Trust should lead by example and provide further momentum to the conservation and restoration movement in Rajasthan, and indeed all of India. Besides the work in Mehrangarh the Trust, with assistance from the Getty Grant in the U.S, is also involved with the restoration of the Maharaja's fabulous Rajput-Mughal fortress, Ahhichatragarh in Nagaur. Other conservation projects are listed in the relevant section.
9. The Trust has begun to offer various scholarships, fellowships and research stipends.
10. The Trust now has a regular publications program and encourages works of history, socio-political subjects and art history.
12. In 2000 the Trust began organizing exhibitions of the works of contemporary Indian, and particularly Rajasthani artists working, in the main, in the traditional styles. These exhibitions take place in the fort and are welcome additions to the museum tour.
Mehrangarh Museum Trust, Registered Office: Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur 342006, Rajasthan. Tel: 91-291-510101, 511586, 511199. Fax: 91-291-510100, 510928. Museum: Mehrangarh Fort, P.B # 165, The Fort, Jodhpur 342006, Rajasthan Tel: 91-291-548790, 548992, 541447. Fax: 91-291-548992.
1.The Mehrangarh Fort is the focus of continuous conservation efforts by the Trust. Some of the special projects currently under execution in the fort are (a) The re-vitalization of the Zenana Palaces, including the restoration of the beautiful carved stone facades. This complex of rooms and courtyards is amongst the oldest surviving buildings in Mehrangarh. Sample work has been completed and the project is being appraised for further action/ cost estimates. The documentation of the interiors was completed through a grant of DM 40,000 from the German foreign Ministry, matched by an equal contribution from the Mehrangarh Museum Trust. (b) The re-vitalization of The Jaswant Thada; the cremation grounds and marble cenotaphs of the Rathore Rulers of Marwar-Jodhpur. This beautiful complex was maintained by the State Government since 1949 but has recently been handed over to the Trust. The gardens will also be restored. (c) The Chokelao Palace; situated over a beautiful sunken garden, close to the fortís only source of perennial water, was endangered due to shifting foundations, partly built on loose sand-fills. The interiors are richly painted. The strengthening of the foundation and its reinforcement by retaining walls has been completed. Specific and general restoration of the palace and wall paintings to begin shortly. Sunken garden is also being restored. (d) Sand-stone Carved jaalies or friezes and railings; the replacement of missing and damaged lattice work stone jaalis in windows and carved railings at Mehrangarh and Jaswant Thada is an on-going process. A family of traditional craftsmen are employed permanently for this work.
2.The Ahichhatragarh Fort in Nagaur: The Mehrangarh Museum Trust also manages the historic twelfth century fortress of Nagaur The Trust was the fortunate recipient of a grant of US$ 50,000 from the Getty Grant Program, California, in 1993 for the preparation of a Project Report. The Trust has now received the Implementation Grant of US$ 2,50,000 from the Getty Grant Program, but need to raise an equal matching contribution as prescribed by the Foundation. Meanwhile, work continues at full speed.
3.The water bodies of the Mehrangarh Fort: Traditional water bodies, dating back to the foundation of the city in the fifteenth century are located very near the fort, within the old city walls. The Mehrangarh Museum Trust has prepared an ambitious Conservation Project for the re-vitalization of these water-bodies; the repair and re-conditioning of the embankments, and the catchement areas; the cleaning and de-silting of the tanks themselves; the restoration of historic architectural features, the removal of encroachments, the forestation of the catchments and the repair of the feeder canals. The project is being partly funded by a group of concerned friends in Britain through the INTACH UK Hertage Fund.
4.The Rao Jodha Nature Park: There is a barren rocky area of approximately thirty hectares adjacent to the Fort. The Trust proposes to convert this area into a Nature Park, housing threatened and rare varieties of local trees, shrubs, herbs & other plants with the following objectives; a recreational park;. the preservation of traditional and local fauna; the improvement of the catchement areas of the aforesaid traditional water bodies; and the provision of a natural setting for the fort.
5.The old city walls, built in the sixteenth century, run along one side of the fort estate on the crest of the rocky hills that lie to the north. As the city walls have more or less disappeared in the lower confines of the city, the Trust believes it is important to save these historic relics and a pilot project with the financial assistance of the Rajasthan State Government is expected to begin soon.
6.The ICI-Mehrangarh Art Conservation Center: In 1996 The Mehrangarh Museum Trust set up a full fledged Art Conservation Center in the fort, in collaboration with the Indian Conservation Institute, the conservation division of INTACH. There are now three senior Art Conservators in the premises and advantage has been taken of this facility by initiating the following projects in Mehrangarh. (i) Phool Mahal: The wall paintings of this richly painted room have been cleaned and consolidated. (ii) Takhat Villas: Another period room with fully painted floors, walls and ceilings has been cleaned and treated. (iii) The wall paintings of the Chokelao Palace are being taken up in the current year.
Funding continues to be a constraint. We are entirely dependent upon the museum gate-money, though. every opportunity to raise funds is enthusiastically pursued. Donations to the Mehrangarh Museum Trust are exempt under section 80(G) of the Indian Income Tax Act.