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Blog post | July 30, 2015

Dhar Fort Conservation

Located in the state of Madhya Pradesh, Dhar is an important medieval town and the erstwhile capital of Malwa. It is associated with Raja Bhoj of Paramār dynasty (800 - 1327 A.D.) and is believed to have derived its name from the sharp swords of its rulers. The fort, which is located to the north of the town, has a rock cut reservoir or baoli (stepped well) and a fortification wall of the same period. Gateways and other buildings of the fort are from different periods including Tughlaq, Malwa Sultanate, Mughal, Maratha (Pawar), and British.
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Why is the Gulganj Fort so significant that it is a state protected monument by the Government of Madhya Pradesh? This question frustrated us since our first visit to the site in May 2013. Compared to other magnificent forts of Madhya Pradesh, such as Raja Mahal and Jehangir Mahal in Orchha or the Forts of Dhar and Mandu, Gulganj was rather “ordinary.” Located on a spur, 30 kilometers (98 miles) from the main city in a small settlement, the highly overgrown and vandalized Gulganj Fort, with its entire roof curiously missing, left us looking for even more answers.
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Situated in the wilderness and agricultural fields on the outskirts of the village of Gajnikhedi in District Ujjain, stands the quaint Chamunda mata Temple Complex. The core temple complex covers an area of approximately 8 acres and comprises a main shrine and a few chattris and sati pavilions, as well as a baoli (stepped wells). This temple is dedicated to the Saptamatrikas, or seven goddesses. Per Indian mythology, these seven goddesses are described as possessing dangerous qualities and are ferocious in nature, representing a destructive force.
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As a conservation professional working at various heritage sites, my interactions with the local individuals—the common man— has left a lasting impression on me. Leaving aside the technical process and jargon associated with it, I want to share my experiences at these heritages sites and the impact our work has on local communities. The initiative—the Madhya Pradesh Monuments Project at Ramnagar—is a ray of hope that has left a positive impact on the “common man” and can create more and more ripples of positive influence.
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Ashapuri is an extraordinary site, with 26 temples in ruins, all standing close to each other in silence above a line of steps leading down to a large pond. The temples are on the slopes of a rocky hillock, once surrounded by thick forest and with flowing waters. Construction of this site continued over two centuries, under the royal patronage of the Pratiharas and Parmaras in central India between the ninth and eleventh centuries.
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Blog post | July 08, 2015

WMF Celebrates Rome’s Treasures

Rome never ceases to surprise. It is a modern, thriving city that absorbs more than 6 million visitors each year and yet there are still treasures to explore and places to see that are little known. WMF’s 50th anniversary has been the inspiration for a series of donor trips to visit places that have been a special focus for WMF over the years, and in June, we explored the places in Rome where WMF has assisted in the conservation of ancient, medieval, and Renaissance sites. It was a treat to be one of the staff members introducing the sites to our donors.
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Great Synagogue of Iaşi, 2016
The Great Synagogue of Iaşi is one of two synagogues left in Ia?i and the oldest existing Jewish religious architectural monument in Romania. When Romania’s Ministry of Culture (MC) began to work on the synagogue—a registered historic landmark—the building was in an advanced stage of physical deterioration due to natural aging, prolonged exposure to weather conditions, neglect, and devastation during times of racial, religious, and political persecution.
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