Rajasthan to restore two historic churches

December 9, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-india


Bandikui church

Bandikui church

Rajasthan, December 07, 2013: The Rajasthan government has decided to conserve two over-century-old churches, which are in dilapidated conditions.

It is probably the first time in northern India that any state government is taking up the restoration of churches, reports The Times of India.

One of the historic churches is at Todgarh in Ajmer and another at Bandikui in Dausa district. It’s not any election gimmick, because Christians hardly form 1 percent of northwestern Indian state’s 7.10 million people.

These two churches are set for restoration at a cost of 7.5 million rupees each and once restored they will regain their pristine glory. The work is being undertaken by the Rajasthan Heritage Development and Maintenance Authority which has replaced the similar body set up for the conservation of the heritage monuments of Amber.

The authority, headed by the former chief secretary Salauddin Ahmed, has already started the work. They have taken great efforts to ensure that the old buildings do not lose their original design.

Todgarh is named after the British Political Agent Col James Tod who wrote the first authoritative book on the erstwhile Rajputana ‘The Annals and Antiquity of Rajputana.’ The book gives a very interesting aspect of the state focusing on the various principalities and culture of the then princely state.

Located amid hills with lush greens all around, this place was once the summer capital of the British officers located at Ajmer and they would shift their base for four months of summer in the cool climes of Todgarh. This village was under the rule of the Mewar state, Maharana Bhim Singh rechristened it Todgarh to honor the British historian and the Political Agent. Col Tod with his own money built a small fortress and in this fort, he wrote the historic book.

Later attracted by its natural beauty, an English Catholic missionary, Fr William Robb, built a church on one of Todgarh’s hillocks. He also built a post office and a jail in the hillock. The church was built by Robb between 1850 and 1860 after the departure of Col Tod to England.

Todgarh church

Todgarh church

This church still exists but in a dilapidated condition and priests who live there maintain it with their meager means. Fr Robb had built a bungalow for him in 1860 that has since been taken over by a Jain spiritual body, Pragya Shikhar.

Tourism, art and culture minister Bina Kak spotted the Todgarh church and decided to set up a sanctuary there where the tourists could go since a large number of sambhars, deer, panthers and other wildlife are found there. Todgarh is also home to a number of bird species.

Kak also wanted to conserve the Catholic church to attract the Christian pilgrims. This village falls between Ajmer and Udaipur. The church is made of stones which has a faint blue color. The blue hue is a good sight even in its present dilapidated condition.

Bandikui has been a railway junction for over a century now and the British chose it as it is located between Jaipur and Alwar to build the first railway junction in 1873. When Bandikui was being developed as a railway junction, a number of Britons and Christians settled there.

More than 140 years ago, the settlers felt the need to build a church from local pink sandstone near the railway station. The Protestant church was built in Roman architecture style. After the British left, the Bandikui church was maintained by the Anglo Indian communities and Christians, but as the Christians and Anglo-Indian population dwindled, there was nobody to maintain the church. As the church was almost deserted, miscreants vandalize it and took away windows, doors and glasses and even the statue of Jesus.

According to an engineer of the Heritage and Monument Authority, utmost care has been taken to protect the originality of the two churches and they would regain its lost grandeur in a couple of months.

– matters india

 

 

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