Nathdwara is changing fast and we all need to work together to save it from changing beyond all recognition. I was in Nathadwara during August 2005, and spoke to a lot of people there, sevaks of ShriNathji and towns-people. They are all very upset with the proposed changes.
In Nathadwara, in the name of modernity, corporates like Reliance, and developers of Hiranandani in Mumbai, are invited to plan a fantastic "New Nathadwara" on the outskirts of the current city. New flyovers, roads, and "Waiting Halls" are planned, centring on the current Haveli of ShriNathji. I was shocked to find out that these plans will wipe out much of Nathadwara wonderful architecture and change the lifestyle of the place forever.
The inner sanctum and core structures will remain, but, almost all of the other structures will be altered beyond recognition. Several new "waiting halls" will be constructed around the Haveli to allow vaishnavs to queue up for darshans.
Once the new structures are completed, vaishnavs will have to queue up and only be able to do darshan at allotted times, depending on the time given on their tokens. The system will be modelled on the Tirupati temple in South India, where people have to queue up for hours before they get a brief glimpse of the Lord. There will be electric fans, fountains and greenery to make the waiting that much more bearable. To accommodate the new schedule of darshans, some of the 8 darshans will have to be performed behind closed doors. Vaishnavs will have Shri Nathji's darshan by appointment only ! If we have to "schedule" darshan time, it will become totally commercial and will loose the charm of Pushti. Arranging darshan by appointment will make the Lord feel even more isolated than He is at present !
Already, buildings like the Vallabha Hotel are demolished on the periphery of the Haveli to make way for the new construction. New "ghars" are being constructed along side the inner sanctum to relocate the kitchen, fulghar, pannghar, dudhghar etc.
Some buildings in the area between the inner sanctum and Pritam Pol are already partly pulled down. Shops, houses and dharamsalas around the Haveli will be removed. A couple of the smaller havelis will be much reduced in size. Once complete, this will help make way for a new ring road, 30 feet wide, to encircle the Haveli. The new road will bring traffic jams to roads that currently only see pilgrim and cow jams.
Currently, vaishnavs have the opportunity to go for darshans and shop for Thakorji's seva within a short walkable distance. This allows us to attend all the darshans and take care of the things we need for our own seva back home. The shops will be relocated in the New Nathadwara township, probably in an air-conditioned mall along side McDonalds and a cinema complex to enhance the experience ! Once in place, you will either be able to shop, or do darshan, but not do both and certainly not within easy walking distance of each other.
Anyone with any influence on the Tilkayat, Reliance Corporation, state gov in Rajasthan etc should use their influence to help alter these plans. This is now getting urgent and we need to act as one to save the architectural history of our beloved Pushti Marg.
Please, lets act NOW !!
Sadly, in India, preserving ancient monuments is something no one takes seriously. You only have to look at the lack of care and attention given to ancient sites to see how careless we about our heritage. In any other country, they try so hard to preserve and maintain their ancient monuments for future generation. Why do we not do the same in India ?
Nathadwara needs to improve, and of course it should. But it should do so in sympathy with its heritage. Its art and architecture should be preserved and all new buildings must conform to retain the original character of the town. The town should be cleaned up, its traffic flow redirected to improve congestion, and right infrastructure put in place to make sure it remains clean, efficient and easy to navigate. Building a flyover on the chaupati area will hardly do that. It will only make it look like the mess Mumbai has. Yes, it will take the traffic out of the immediate area, but will do nothing to address the core problem and will certainly do nothing to improve the aesthetics of the place. Surely, Pushti Marg has placed a lot of emphasis on aesthetics - how can we ignore that ?
Why do people from all over the world love visiting Europe ?
In Europe, they have maintained the old world charm whilst combining it with all mod cons. Old cobbled streets are repaired, but left as cobbled. Narrow lanes are kept pristinely clean and are pedestriansed to make sure their intimate characteristic is not ruined by traffic jams. Old facades and houses are renovated, but, they are kept as they were hundreds of years ago. Inside of the house may boast the latest comforts, but the outside preserves the old world charm.
The current "renovations" in the haveli are not in sympathy with the place and do nothing to improve the charm of the place. For example, they have installed a metal staircase in the small courtyard between ShriNathji and Navneetpriyaji. It looks so out of place in that wonderfully regal courtyard ! Moreover, when people walk on the staircase, being made of metal, it makes an almighty din - how can Pushti Purushottam rest with that racket !! He is used to the soft shuffle of feet, swishing of hand pulled pankha and sweet music of kirtanyas, not people traipsing up and down on a staircase, best suited in a warehouse !
Please, we must not confuse preservation with progress and renovation with rebuilding. We have to retain the essential ethics and aesthetics of our sect when considering these things. Improving Nathadwara should not result in effacing the original Nathadwara, that would be a great cultural disaster for all Indians.
Though God is capable and able to do as He please, "Nijechata karishyati", He expects us to do our bit too. As Pushti Margi, surely we are not spectators in His lila, but participants!!
Vaishnavas who are on-line are capable of communicating across the globe at lightening speed. We live in metropolises that can exert great influence on powers to-be. We are the bridge between the new and the old.
Mumbai, Dubai, Nairobi, London, NY, LA, Sydney, Houston, HK, Singapore, Chennai - we have Vaishnavas in every corner of the world. Over the years, NRI Vaishnavas have built up great relationships with various balaks, betijis, vahujis and influential Vaishnavas in India. Surely, we can leverage these relationships to influence events in Nathadwara.
Let us raise an awareness for this issue in our satsang mandals, across the world. There will be people there who do not go on-line, or have not been to Nathadwara recently and do not know what is happening there. Let us spread the news and gather feed back from all the Vaishnavas we meet. Let us than take this feedback to the respective balaks, trustees etc and engage them in positive dialogue with us.
Here is a draft petition for vaishnavs to consider.
God's grace is forever with us. We simply have to wake up to it.
Here is information on the on-going litigation in Nathadwara - http://www.indialawreports.com/2005%20(5)%20RDD%201259%20(Raj)%20(DB).asp - details of the litigation on the case
This is posted as a topic on the www.yamna.co.uk http://www.yamna.co.uk/topic.asp?whichpage=1&TOPIC_ID=559&FORUM_ID=1&CAT_ID=1&Forum_Title=discuss+all&Topic_Title=Save+our+Nathdwara+%21%21
Please feel free to add to the topic there or send me an email.
Jan 2010 update -
Many buildings near Pritam pole have already been demolished to make way for new buildings.
On 6th of January 2010, the shops near the Vanmali Haveli were demolished amid acromonious scenes.
The temple board is not willing to listen to reason or negotiate any other alternatives.
It has made up its mind and is adamant on making changes it deems to be necessaary.
Bhagwat Shah ©
Pushti > 2000
Return to the main courtyard of the Haveli