Himalayan Heritage Foundation

Center for policy research on Himalayan Region

Restoring Mubarak Mandi

A monument has no sense without incorporating the cultural moorings of the local people.

Written by: Dr. Mahesh Kaul || Posted in category: Tangible Heritage || Dated: 2012-12-22

Vandalised heritage of Mubarak Mandi

The recent visit by the Minister for Tourism and Culture, Mr. Nawang Rigzin Jora to the heritage complex of Mandi Mubarak along with the officials of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), besides the officials of the Department of Tourism should be seen as right move keeping in view the significance of the urban historic area that has not been restored. 

The case of Mubarak Mandi complex should interest all stakeholders besides the policy makers; of which Mr. Jora’s ministry is the prime player in terms of policy making. We have witnessed over the years, how in spite of all the noise made from time to time by various local bodies and the members of the civil society, nothing substantial emerged in terms to preservation and restoration of this heritage complex. 

The present visit by the minister along with the officials of the ASI and the Tourism Department is a mature move as it seems that the ministry of tourism and culture understands that the restoration of the heritage monuments is not an isolated issue, it involves various stakeholders. Taking ASI on board is an apt move.

The need is to look beyond the unprofessional and unproductive strategy that the restoration and conservation is just a matter of renovating a building. The heritage structures and monuments are not ordinary buildings. They represent the evolution of the society in time and space, involving aesthetics. It involves multiple stakeholders, of paramount importance among them the local people who have been inhabiting in and around the Mandi Mubarak area. 

No doubt the policy makers and the tourism marketers are the important stakeholders in terms of economic planning and marketing strategies but the local populace is the social and cultural stakeholder of this heritage asset that in a sense defines the traditional, ritual and cultural moorings of the people living in the adjacent localities bordering the historic Mandi Mubarak.
The need is to involve the local people who are the immediate stakeholders and whose identity  is shaped by heritage asset - Mandi Mubarak as generations of their ancestors and the memory of the heritage structure shaped their evolution. Both the heritage monument and the local population shape each other’s identity, one defines the other. A monument has no sense without incorporating the cultural moorings of the local people and any policy that is devised without taking into account the locale and the locality of the heritage monument is doomed to fail in the long run. The need is to devise policies and strategies that take into account the aesthetic and cultural value of the locality where the monument stands as a heritage asset. The restoration and conservation policies should not be devised as the emergency measures that are employed only when the hue and cry is raised by the civil society and the activists; to ease the pressure on the government and the policy makers, but these should be devised as accountable and sustainable measures meant to monitor the monuments even after the restoration phase has ended. Ad hoc interventions at the level of the policy makers and the conservation experts are only an exercise in futility as it lacks the holistic approach.

As mentioned above the local population has a primary role in the restoration and the conservation of the heritage structures. The reason being that they have evolved with the monument in terms of their generations that makes them the key stakeholders. The policy makers need to internalize that no conservation and restoration process will yield the desired result if the local population is not sensitized about the compatible conservation techniques and made a part of the restoration work. The involvement of the local population at this level will infuse a sense of belonging with the monument. Not only that there is a need to document the intangibles that define the tangible aspect of the Mandi Mubarak in totality. There arises a need to encourage the identification of the folklore and folk songs that add value to the valuable heritage. The restoration and conservation of the Mandi Mubarak is not confined only to restore the structure to the convenient historic time frame but at the same time the emphasis is required to speed up the establishment of the heritage interpretation centre in the complex itself which should be given responsibility to document and generate the data that defines the aesthetic sense of the urban historic centre. Need is to define the domain of this complex which has been encroached upon by violating its heritage character by allowing the Mandi Mubarak complex to shrink.

Without taking these steps it is premature to project the Mandi Mubarak as a tourism spot and work for its positioning in the market. The need is to sensitize the local population and involve them in the conservation and restoration process at the convenient level, identify and document the domain of the urban historic Mandi Mubarak area and set up a heritage interpretation centre in the complex. Then only will it help to develop the historic Mandi Mubarak as a heritage tourism product with proper market positioning and market segmentation. Otherwise it will be a premature move meant to hoodwink the masses without realizing the nuances and importance of a very significant heritage asset of not the state but the Indian nation that symbolizes the cultural evolution and continuation of the Jammu region’s  historically conscious society. 

Keywords: Mubarak Mandi,Restoration,Archaeological Survey of India (ASI),Department of Tourism,tourism marketers ,heritage monument,tangible heritage,intangible heritage,market segmentation