Saturday, December 14, 2013

Rajasthan government to restore two ancient churches

The Rajasthan government has decided to conserve two over-century-old churches, which are in dilapidated conditions, at Todgarh in Ajmer and Bandikui in Dausa district.
Christians in the state comprise about 1 percent of the state's total population.

The restoration process would cost at a cost of 75,00,000 rupees each.

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 former chief secretary Salauddin Ahmed, has started the task of restoring the two churches and all efforts have been made to ensure that the old buildings do not lose its 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 & 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 in the midst of 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.

As this village was under the rule of the Mewar state, Maharana Bhim Singh rechristened it Todgarh to honour 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, William Robb, built a church on one of the 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.

This church still exists but in a dilapidated condition where some reverends who live there try and maintain it with their meager means.

Robb also built a bungalow for himself in 1860 and this bungalow has since been taken over by a Jain spiritual body, Pragya Shikhar.

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.

Over 140 years ago, a large number of the British and Indian Christians settled there felt the need to build a church near the railway station.

This Protestant church was built in Roman architecture style. After the British left, the church was maintained by the Anglo Indian communities and Christians, but as the Christians and Anglo-Indian population started dwindling, 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 idol of Jesus was stolen.

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