The T+L Champion of Community Empowerment Maharawal Chaitanya Raj Singh, the 44th King of Jaisalmer, talks to Travel+Leisure India & South Asia about promoting local tourism in Jaisalmer, his journey since his coronation, and more.
Excerpts from the interview with Maharawal Chaitanya Raj Singh:
T+L India: How has your journey been since the coronation in 2021?
Maharawal Chaitanya Raj Singh: It has been a surreal experience so far. The role of Maharawal is such an inextricable part of the 868-year-long history of the Jaisalmer riyasat, and there is so much goodwill and responsibility attached to the role. I feel connected to the people of Jaisalmer and this role very strongly, and my time here over the past year or so has felt very natural.
T+L India: What are some of the steps that you’ve taken to empower the community and promote local tourism in Jaisalmer post COVID-19?
Maharawal Chaitanya Raj Singh: The Rajkumari Ratnavati School is now operational post the pandemic. It has boosted the confidence of girls who haven’t been to school in over two years. Also, the people and various stakeholders of Jaisalmer have been pushing to increase the number of flights to Jaisalmer. My constant social media pressure on this issue has highlighted this as the need of the hour and the number of flights have been increased.
T+L India: The Rajkumari Ratnavati Girls School started to promote socio-economic development is an architectural marvel. How did the idea for the same come about?
Maharawal Chaitanya Raj Singh: The idea was simple—to create an educational and cultural space for creative development. The fact that it became an architectural marvel is due to the team we had for the building, including Michael Daube’s vision, Diana Kellogg’s persistence, and Kareem Khan’s patience.
T+L India: What are some of the experiences that you recommend for travellers in Jaisalmer?
Maharawal Chaitanya Raj Singh: I suggest visiting Bada Bagh. The magnificent royal cenotaphs and the 15th-century dam is stunning. My work in heritage conservation started with this monument. I also recommend visiting Lodurva, the eighth capital of the princely state of Jaisalmer, for the beautiful Jain Mandir and its intricate architecture.
T+L India: Being a millennial, what’s your travelling style?
Maharawal Chaitanya Raj Singh: Light, practical, and smart, with music for sure.
T+L India: What’s in store next for tourism and the local community in Jaisalmer?
Maharawal Chaitanya Raj Singh: We have a Women’s Economic Centre coming up at Rajkumari Ratnavati Girls School, which will give a sense of upliftment and economic freedom to the women in the region. Also, a lot of new hospitality ventures will come up in Jaisalmer.
One destination you keep going back to: Kashmir
Two travel essentials: My backpack and a bottle of water.
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