Why Our Attitude Towards Heritage Needs A Big Change?

While we celebrate World Heritage Week and World Heritage Day, a thought keeps lingering in my mind. Do we really value our heritage? One may also ask this question – Why it is important to preserve our heritage? Heritage is an all-encompassing word. It includes many things – built heritage like monuments and buildings, culture, and traditions. Over the span of the last few years as I went around exploring Jaipur and the surroundings, I was shocked to find that almost 90-95% of our built heritage is in urgent need of attention and repair. The attitude towards our heritage requires a huge change. Given the sheer quantum of heritage buildings in Jaipur and the rest of Rajasthan, it requires massive efforts and funds. I’m sure this holds true for other old/ancient cities and sites across India. Read on to know why the attitude of people towards our heritage needs a big change after these pictures. My focus in this post is heritage of Jaipur.

Read Jaipur Then And Now series which describes each tourist attraction or a famous site in detail with old and new pictures.

Dying its own death! Heritage in danger
Baori or stepwell under restoration in Jaipur

Importance of Heritage Conservation & Architecture

Preserving our heritage and architecture is important. There are some good reasons for the same. The challenges of heritage conservation in India are immense. Even though the heritage buildings have been documented in Jaipur by agencies like Dronah, we are yet to witness the benefits of the same.

1. Our heritage is a link to the past.

The buildings and monuments are an important indicator of our beliefs, practices, customs, and way of life. It provides us with an easy way to study how we have evolved as a society. With the presence of around 1000 temples in the walled city of Jaipur, it is easy to understand why religion and religious customs are still very strong in Jaipur.


kanak vrindavan gardens jaipur amer road radha madhav temple old govind devji
Kanak Vrindavan temple complex in Kanak Ghati, Jaipur.
Devotees at Sri Ramchandra temple, Jaipur

2. Heritage provides us with a platform to study our history.

Cenotaph like the one in Jaipur – Royal Gaitore speaks a lot about the attitude of the rulers towards art and religion. Some buildings are ornate whereas others are simple. Many structures are made of white marble or sandstone. And then there are the ones which blend marble & sandstone beautifully. Historians can decipher the state of finances during the reign of a particular ruler by simply analyzing these structures. The pyramids in Egypt provide a clue to the prevalent customs and religion of its period.

A simple structure at Gaitore, Jaipur
Ornate & beautiful structure at Gaitore, Jaipur

3. Preserving heritage is profitable & helps in increasing tourism

Many small towns in Europe have shown that preserving heritage buildings and culture is a way forward to bolster tourism and wealth. Small towns in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and many other countries attract many tourists because of their heritage. This is the only source of income in these places. In stark contrast, there are many heritage sites, monuments, and buildings spread across our country, if restored and preserved, these can open new opportunities for government and people.

Tourists at Ganesh Pol, Amer Fort, Jaipur

4. Our heritage makes us unique.

In a globalized world, buildings are similar everywhere whether it is Bangalore, Hong Kong, or London. It is all glass and concrete facade. The old buildings have stories to tell. They have unique design elements. You will not find buildings like Hawa Mahal anywhere else in the world!

Haveli style architecture of Jaipur
Hawa Mahal picture
The architecture of Hawa Mahal is one it’s kind in the entire world

5. Heritage inspires travel

Distinct cultures, customs, and buildings are great travel attractions. Everyone wants to experience something new. People won’t travel thousands of miles to witness or experience things they can find in their backyard. Kremlin in Moscow, Louvre in Paris, Amer Fort in Jaipur, and Taj Mahal in Agra are great travel attractions. Similarly, Diwali in India, Songkran in Thailand, and Bullfighting in Spain are a big draw among travelers & tourists.


In my opinion, the following attitudes need to change.

Challenges of heritage conservation projects in India

The Old is all about bygone days. Most residents feel that old buildings and customs have no place in current times. They link old buildings and customs with the bygone era. This is one reason Jaipur is losing old Havelis and buildings at a fast pace. Old buildings in the walled city area are being grazed down to make way for commercial spaces despite a government ban. The documentation of heritage buildings in Jaipur was done a couple of years ago. Despite this, the authorities have not taken any concrete steps for preserving old buildings in the walled city of Jaipur.

Read the in-depth write-up on Jaipur Havelis- The Vanishing Havelis of Jaipur

A beautiful heritage Haveli marred by lack of repair and commercialization.

Collusion with government officials allows people to circumnavigate this ban. One of the great reasons for converting old buildings into commercial ones is the lure of money.

Unauthorized commercial conversion of buildings. Johari Bazaar, Jaipur

Heritage Of Jaipur

I’m afraid in the next couple of years, Jaipur may end up losing 50-60 percent of old buildings in the walled city area. Bikaner city has already experienced this phenomenon where people sold off beautiful & ornate Jalis and windows from the Haveli façade. Here is a picture of a beautiful facade of the Rampuria Havelis in Bikaner.


All these parts of the building facade are modular & can be taken off before razing down the structure. Making quick money in the antique market was a big lure for people to do so. But prompt action from authorities has now made it impossible for people to do so.

A beautiful hand-painted door of Jaipur

The government and authorities need to change their attitude too. They have been only doing what is necessary. For example, the areas which are visible to the tourists visiting Amer Fort are in excellent condition but the ones which are not visible to the tourists are crumbling down. Authorities are not interested in repairing & restoring such structures. What is apparent is that the government only wants to optimize the money spent on heritage.


Amer Fort, Jaipur

Part of Amer Fort’s defense system, slowly crumbling away.
Crumbling structures due to lack of repair.

Sections of Amer Fort, which once used to be the entry point to Amer town are decaying & crumbling due to lack of repair. Read Why the loss of the great wall of Amer is inevitable?

I would like to mention Mariam Mahal in Jaipur. Jagat Singh, son of Mirza Man Singh of Amer built a palace for his lover Mariam located far away from the famous Amer Fort. It was called Mariam Mahal.


Jagat Singh died at an early age around 32-34 due to the habit of excessive drinking. Mariam continued to live in this place till her death. The palace is close to extinction; unfortunately, the authorities have not conserved this important heritage of Jaipur. Here are a few pictures of Mariam Mahal.

Read the complete post The Elusive Mariam Mahal


During my visit to a heritage temple in Jaipur, a priest confessed that he would like to get the temple repairs carried out using ancient techniques. He was forced to use modern techniques because of the lack of skilled people and whooping costs. The old technique of construction involved lime plaster and stone. Popular repair technique, on the other hand, relies on bricks, cement, and concrete which are easily available.

Ain’t that cement repair patchwork an eyesore? Old city area, Jaipur

Let me also add here before someone gets an impression that all is not well. Everything is not bad, we also have many heritage sites that are being maintained beautifully and are a great tourist attraction like Amer Fort, Hawa Mahal, Nahargarh Fort to name a few. This post merely highlights the attitude towards heritage.

Restoration work at Sanganeri Gate, Johari Bazar, Jaipur

Read:  5 Reasons Why I Love Amer Fort -The Most Popular Tourist Attraction In Jaipur?

Unless the government provides techniques, trained manpower, and financial help to owners of heritage buildings, it is impossible to use ancient techniques in restoration. Repairs carried out using modern methods in heritage buildings are neither effective nor lasting. They only inflict further damage to structures. Moreover, it is an eyesore.

Read Jaipur Then And Now series which describes each tourist attraction or a famous site in detail with old and new pictures.

Heritage preservation cannot be done unless both government and the public make an effort. It seems even authorities have become insensitive to the changing façade in old bazaars. Inability to enforce law, populism, corruption, and vote bank is taking a toll on our heritage. The introduction of the underground metro in the old bazaars of Jaipur against public opinion needs a lot of mulling over and thoughts.

Heritage in danger! Badi Chaupar and Hawa Mahal

Underground metro construction work has caused damage to heritage structures. Authorities are building a metro project in the name of development. It is likely that we may lose much of our built heritage in the next decade or two since neither public nor authorities have any inclination to save our heritage. Meanwhile, I have been mulling over a thought-what will attract tourists to Jaipur? Metro? Malls? Glitzy modern buildings? Uninspiring architecture? I fail to come up with the answer! Do share your views.

Let me show you this picture from Amer Fort which depicts the attitude of our countrymen towards our heritage. It is self-explanatory. This picture captures the Janani Deori section or the residential unit of queens. I have written a separate post on this issue –Stop doing this to our heritage!

Read Jaipur Then And Now series which describes each tourist attraction or a famous site in detail with old and new pictures.

Queen’s quarter at Amer Fort

Stay updated with Jaipurthrumylens!! via FacebookTwitterInstagram

importance of heritage conservation in india architecture jaipur jaipurthrumylens #heritage #architecture #conservation #restoration #history #jaipur #rajasthan


149 thoughts on “Why Our Attitude Towards Heritage Needs A Big Change?

  1. It pains me to see beautiful structures in such a sorry state. If not anything else, government should understand the economics of preserving these heritage buildings. More jobs, better cities, more tourism, more foreign exchange inflow – there are many advantages. An eye opener. And as you said, our attitude must change first to make it possible

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly. We need to get out of this mental rut. I’m sure it’s a win win situation for everyone. It makes me really sad to see our heritage in shambles and ruins. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and views, Saru.


  2. To see such beautiful and once glorious structures in ruins breaks my heart 😦
    Many heritage sites here in Hyderabad are also transforming to ruins without lack of proper care and maintenance and not to forget the reckless nature of public and scribbling on the walls and littering anywhere or everywhere. It is sad how people of India are becoming responsible for ruining our culture and heritage!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think this has more to do with our psyche than anything else. Mostly it is youth vandalizing monuments- across the country. Sadly, we haven’t figured out how to stop these”Taliban” and “ISIS” like vandalism from destroying our heritage and history.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Very apt post during the World Heritage Week. Knowing your roots not only makes you feel more connected to the place and is emotionally satisfying but as you have pointed out it opens up new opportunities too by inspiring people to explore those places. Thank you for sharing Arv.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely. we travel thousands of miles to explore new places but we know nothing about our home town. Developing new heritage sites is really important for us to keep them around and connect our next generation. Thanks for sharing your insights, Somali!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Well researched and compiled Arv. Totally agree preserving our heritage structures is crucial. When you visit other countries you realize they have very little to show for heritage but whatever little is there is so well preserved and valued. Here we are inundated by history and historically important structures in every nook and corner but we have left them to crumble and ravaged by pillagers. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kala for contributing here. It’s an irony! we are rich yet poor! Only if we the people and the government can do something about it! It is a pity that in spite of so many years, the government is still marketing same tourist attractions. Some sites can’t handle so many tourists and there are others which need care and promotion. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, Kala.


  5. I think people abide by ‘Ignorance is Bliss’ when it comes to preserving heritage. Reminds me of crazy incident… In Agra there was this guy peeing on the walls of Akbar’s Tomb! It was such a shameful sight…. People just don’t care. I believe Government and citizens alike need to understand and enforce measures to preserve otherwise our kids will have nothing left to see!!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s because the security staff in our country don’t have powers and therefore people take liberty. In many countries you can be arrested for doing this sort of thing. Its really really bad to hear such incidents. Since you travel regularly I’m sure there must be more “horrific” incidents to narrate.


      2. Yeah, true that!!! I don’t know if there will be change in the attitude ever.
        And yes, we encounter so many annoying things. People throw crap, write shitty things on the wall, on purpose try to break rules…it’s endless.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Charu, you are right. Its a dangerous mindset. Everywhere we have similar story. Absolutely no regard for our heritage. It can’t be just government’s​ responsibility. Unless our mindset changes it’ll be difficult to carry our legacy further.


    1. Maniparna while following customs or traditions is a personal choice, built heritage in form of monuments and building is a different thing. That’s something visual. I’m afraid that we are losing large number of such buildings in the name of development and progress. I’m sure it’ll be similar situation in Kolkata as well.


  6. It’s really disheartening to see the state of our prestige.. development is important but there should be planning. Why would anyone do new building close to these heritage centres, as you say, if there is no heritage left, no more tourist and economy will collapse, ultimately the city dwellers are the losers. I think the government has to create a separate independent body to protect these places.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is a separate body…..but yet to see some action. You know we have all sorts of regulation but the ground reality? we all know that! I think no one really looks at larger picture which means this heritage can be a way to prosperity!


  7. Excellent post arv! You make some great points, and I particularly like #4 – “Our heritage makes us unique.” I still remember the first time I saw Hawa Mahal it took my breath away. Thanks for bringing attention to such an important issue. All the best, Terri

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Terri. I’m glad that your thoughts resonates with this post. I wrote this post because I often find that people don’t value heritage. The general thought among people is that everything glitzy and modern is good and old is past. people don’t realise that some countries have made fortunes with old buildings because they are smart. It is our uniqueness that attracts people. I’m sure people will never explore if we had same architecture and culture everywhere. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Terri. Appreciate your visit. 😃


  8. Thank you for your informative article, I have been doing research on this subject, and for three days I keep entering sites that are supposed to have what I am searching for, only to be discouraged with the lack of what I needed. Thank you again.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What beautiful photography! It brought back memories of my Jaipur visit a couple of years back…While visiting the monuments you could feel the aura of the bygone era…such rich history should definitely be preserved. Loved the imagery you created with your post Arv.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kalpana, it is important to preserve our heritage. It is our link to the past. It’s not difficult to preserve them provided we find a way to generate revenue out of these. I’m sure there are enough tourists and travelers who would be interested in these monuments and buildings. I’m glad that this post brought back your memories of Jaipur trip. Thanks for motivating and sharing your views, Kalpana.


  10. I would hate to see Jaipur’s old charm get washed away through such loss. Its unfortunate that we are unable to save our heritage…..

    While on one hand we are struggling to maintain the popular ones, we have a whole lot that are probably unnoticed and breathing their last. To top it we love to spoil our monuments further with our immature graffiti work, littering and likes.

    I wonder if having volunteers at monuments to check such people and behavior can help…..

    This winter we plan to revisit Red Fort. I hope to see some positive changes with Dalmia Bharat now being involved in it under the government’s ‘Adopt A Heritage’ scheme

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Monica, it’s a difficult topic because there are so many parties involved in it. Heritage conservation is required for both public and private buildings. People don’t have enough funds to undertake conservation. Government is doing its bit but it’s not enough. Unless people change their attitude conservation will be difficult.

      Will love to read about your explorations in Red Fort, Monica. Looks like you are quite engrossed with something these days.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. True that …. There is a dire need for positive public involvement …….

        Hahaha …… Yes & No both. Pushing myself to get back to ‘regular’ reading & writing …..amen 🙏🏼


  11. Couldn’t agree with you more…preserving our heritage is so important. Links to the past help us to understand our evolution, and therefore ourselves as human beings better.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.