The Mewars of Udaipur - Journeying from Emperors to Entrepreneurs

What an excellent way to end January! The Centre for Heritage Management organised an interactive discourse on ‘Managing Heritage of Royal Gharanas‘ on January 31, led by a talk by Shrimant Jeetendra Singh G Gaekwad. Hailing from the Maratha royal family, a Dynasty that came to Vadodara in 1690, Gaekwad talked about his roles and services in the Mewar dynasty and how a generation of post-independent custodians have transformed their empire into a revenue-generating enterprise.

Gaekwad is the great-grand-nephew of Sir Sayajirao Gaekwad III, the Maratha ruler of Baroda State between 1875 to 1939, who instigated the birth of modern-day Vadodara under his jurisdiction. He is frequently seen to be wearing the royal emblems on his traditional colonial attires as he shares a royal bloodline with various regal families. A few of these royal family members accompanied him, including Muzammil Khanji Babri of the Junagadh royal family. Gaekwad, who is also an entrepreneur, educationist, heritage ambassador and heritage revivalist, was the Vice President of HRH Group of Hotels, Rajasthan, and is closely associated with HH Shreeji Arvind Singh Mewar, the 76th custodian of the Mewar Empire and the CEO of the organisation.

According to ‘Hukum’ (a term used for kings instead of ‘sir’ by royal courtiers), Royal Dynasties of India plummeted since August 14, 1947, when the 565 princely states agreed to merge themselves and surrender their flags, emblems and rule to the new British-free, democratic India. Gaekwad shared that “the Mewar dynasty wisely created a monetisation model out of their heritage assets, all of which started with titular ruler Maharana Bhagwat Singh Mewar, who was able to save the royal properties from falling into the hands of the government. Instead, they were used for heritage tourism purposes to generate money, opportunities and employment for thousands of people of Rajasthan, especially Udaipur. Today the City Palace in Udaipur alone receives more than 1 million visitors each year and the ticket revenue incurred from it alone adds up to millions of rupees.”

HH Arvind Singh Mewar has also written an original constitution to pass on the legacy of ‘how to run a royal family/business’ to future generations. On being asked why the royal families of Vadodara, or of various cities in Gujarat, haven’t flourished vividly as entrepreneurs, as compared to the Mewar Dynasty kings, Gaekwad wittily replied, “The people of Gujarat love receiving hospitality rather than rendering it!” The insightful discourse awed students of CHM and the many cultural aficionados of the heritage city of Ahmedabad.

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