Mehrangarh Museum Trust is India’s leading cultural institution and centre of excellence, established in 1972 by the 36th Custodian of Marwar- Jodhpur, H. H. Maharaja Gaj Singhji to make the fort come alive for visitors.
Today Mehrangarh Museum has a unique importance as a repository of the artistic and cultural history of the large area of the central Rajasthan, Marwar-Jodhpur, ruled by the Rathore dynasty.
The Museum displays one of the most important and best preserved collections of fine and applied arts from the Mughal period of Indian history, during which the Rathore rulers of Jodhpur maintained close links with the Mughal Emperors.
Apart from the Museum, the Trust is at the forefront of conservation and restoration, a generous patron of the arts and music and a lively centre of academic study. Mehrangarh Museum Trust is recipient of UNESCO ASIA-PACIFIC Award in the field of Architectural Conservation, Cultural Heritage and adaptive reuse.
Architectural Conservation and Restoration has emerged a major pre-occupation in recent years. The conservation of The Mehrangarh Fort itself remains top priority but the Trust also participates actively in other conservation and restoration projects.
Mehrangarh is among the first fort in India to adopt a Conservation Master Plan(CMP), all conservation projects are now led by the CMP.
The Maharaja, the Managing Trustee, rightly believes that as a premier institution in the field, The Mehrangarh Museum Trust should lead by example and provide further momentum to the conservation and restoration movement in Rajasthan, and indeed all of India.
The Maharaja Man Singh Pustak Prakash Library, incorporated into the Trust in 1977, houses a collection of manuscripts in Sanskrit, Hindi and some regional languages. The manuscripts are duly listed and catalogued and are available to scholars and researchers. Research is also undertaken by the Trust’s own faculty. The Trust now has a regular publications program and encourages works of history, socio-political subjects and art history.
The Trust actively promotes classical Indian and folk music and organizes concerts in the Fort and in the city each year in collaboration with a local music lovers association, Swar Sudha. The Fort hosts two annual music festivals; Jodhpur RIFF (Rajasthan International Folk Festival), conceived and delivered in partnership with the Jaipur Virasat Foundation in the month of February and the World Sacred Spirit Festival in the month of February for sufi music lovers.
In addition, the Trust interacts enthusiastically with the people of Jodhpur and the local administration to make a success of some social and religious festivals, namely: Navratri, Dussehra, Diwali, the Bhadwa Mela, Jodhpur Foundation Day, Gangaur and the Marwar Festival, the latter taking place in venues across the city at the same time as Jodhpur RIFF. Many of these festivals have revolved around Mehrangarh for hundreds of years and the Trust is acutely conscious of its role as a custodian of age-old traditions.
The Trust duly registered with the Government of Rajasthan in 1974 and commenced functioning in earnest in the same year with the Maharaja; His Highness Maharaja Gaj Singh II as its Managing Trustee. At the same time the Maharaja placed his ancestral fortress, the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, at the disposal of the new Trust directing it to develop and establish the planned museum within the fort premises itself. This was a significant and far-sighted direction since the fort eminently serves the purpose, not only in terms of historicity and authenticity, but also keeping in mind the security and care of the collections. Needless to say the conservation and restoration where necessary, of the magnificent architecture of the fort itself was also a prime consideration behind this decision.
The success of the Maharaja’s vision and the Trust’s early efforts is evinced by the recognition The Mehrangarh Museum enjoys today; over a million visitors annually and growing.
New dimensions have been added to the Trust’s activities since then; the active patronage of the arts and music; the promotion of the handicrafts of the region; and the study and research of the rich archival and other material available in the Trust’s manuscript library, the Maharaja Man Singh Pustak Prakash and Research Center. With the Trust’s strong and ever-widening social and cultural interaction with the city and region the Mehrangarh Fort today finds itself once again, after over a hundred years, very much at the center of activities in Marwar.
The Museum has participated in many international exhibitions all over the world, displaying and sharing the rich heritage of Marwar, and interacting with prestigious institutions in the field. The remarkable painting exhibition ‘Garden and Cosmos’, was displayed at Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery, the Seattle Asian Art Museum, the British Museum and the Art gallery at New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. An incredible, first of its own kind exhibition; ‘Peacock in the Desert; The Royal Arts of Jodhpur’ was displayed at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Seattle Art Museum and the Royal Ontario Museum, Ontario.