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The Jodhpur Auction II The Jodhpur Auction II VANDYK, LONDON and BOURNE & SHEPHERD, INDIA
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Portrait of H. H. The Maharaja Gaj Singh II of Jodhpur, albumen print, c.1952
His Highness The Maharaja Gaj Singh II
of Marwar - Jodhpur b. 1948
Born on 13th January,1948 to Their Highnesses, the Maharaja Hanwant Singh and Maharani Krishna Kumari, princess of Dhrangadhra
State, Gaj Singh was destined to succeed his father at the tender age of four. In those dramatic years between his birth and his father's
tragic and fatal air accident in 1952, the Rathore State of Marwar-Jodhpur had merged into the Union of India, contributing an area
of 36,000 Sq Miles and a history of upwards 700 years. The young head of the Rathore clan was recognized The Maharaja of Jodhpur
by Presidential decree, the thirty-eighth of his dynasty.
The Maharaja's early years were spent in the care of his mother, the Regent Rajmata, the Queen Mother, in Pune and Jodhpur, before,
at the age of eight, he was launched into a classical liberal english education; Prep School at Cothill, on to Eton College, to finish with
a Batchelor's Degree in Philosophy, Politics & Economics (PPE) from Christ Church, Oxford. Holidays, however, were always spent in
Jodhpur, in the performance of social duties and the exploration of a glorious heritage.
In 1970, after finishing from Oxford, when the Maharaja returned to Jodhpur to assume control of his vast inheritance as well as the
manifold social and cultural responsibilities that accompanied it, he encountered, a tumultuous and unprecedented welcome from the
citizens of Marwar; an unbridled display of love and respect that, he recalls vividly, touched him to the core and was forever to leave
him with an indelible sense of humility and responsibility. By and by, in the December of 1971 the Constitution was amended and the
Princes "de-recognized", their privy purses and privileges summarily withdrawn.
A period of traumatic adjustment followed; in a totally unfamiliar, and indeed hostile, political environment beset with hardship,
Maharaja Gaj Singh II faced adversity with a dignity and resolve beyond his years and personally lead the re-organization of his affairs
and estates; laying the foundations of his future existence through social and political re-alignments, commercial enterprise and the
creation of charitable foundations and trusts.
Today the Rathore colors fly proudly once again. The Maharaja's major thrust has been in tourism, a sector with widespread benefits
which has emerged the life-line of modern day Marwar, indeed Rajasthan. Besides the conversion of his own palaces into hotels,
foremost among them the Umaid Bhawan, one of the great palace hotels in the world, and the Mehrangarh Fort into an internationally
acclaimed museum, the Maharaja has provided dynamic leadership to the innovative Heritage Hotel movement, undoubtedly the
future of tourism in Rajasthan. The Maharaja has also served, until recently, as the Chairman of the Rajasthan Tourism Development
Corporation, Government of Rajasthan. The preservation of traditional arts & crafts, the arts and music, sport, particularly equestrian
sport, and the conservation of our natural and man-made heritage remain other areas of strong interest and activity.
The Maharaja is currently on the Governing Council of the Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage (INTACH) besides being the
Convenor of its Rajasthan Chapter. In these capacities he has made a significant, and indeed pioneering, contribution to architectural
restoration and conservation in Rajasthan as well as in spreading a greater awareness on environmental and other connected issues.
His own forts, Mehrangarh (15th C) in Jodhpur and Ahhichatragarh (12th C) in Nagaur, both managed by the Mehrangarh Museum
Trust, are outstanding examples of conservation and restoration work in the country. The Mehrangarh Museum Trust also actively
promotes the arts, music and other cultural traditions of Marwar. Other Charitable Foundations settled by the Maharaja are involved in
the education of girls, the re-habilitation of defense personnel and families, environmental projects in rural areas, the medical care of
weaker sections, the management of ancestral temples; an impressive array of activity through which he fulfills, in no small measure,
his personally perceived responsibility to the peoples of Marwar-Jodhpur.