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Tuesday, Sep 17, 2019

Lok Sabha elections 2019: Home to a Mughal-era hunting lodge, Jaunti village awaits tourism facelift

Jaunti is one of the four model villages adopted by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Udit Raj in northwest Delhi in 2014 under Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY).

lok-sabha-elections Updated: Apr 08, 2019 10:07 IST
Ashish Mishra
Ashish Mishra
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Jaunti is one of the four model villages adopted by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Udit Raj in northwest Delhi in 2014 under Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY).
Jaunti is one of the four model villages adopted by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Udit Raj in northwest Delhi in 2014 under Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY). (HT File Photo)

The epicentre of the Green Revolution and home to a crumbling 370-year-old hunting lodge , or Shikargah, built by Mughal emperor Shahjahan, Jaunti village near Kanjhawla in outer Delhi is waiting for a tourism facelift.

Jaunti is one of the four model villages adopted by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Udit Raj in northwest Delhi in 2014 under Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY).

Raj had announced to develop “rural tourism” in the village and surrounding areas, but it still remains a promise as no significant progress has been achieved so far on this front. Jaunti is still to get a hospital — the nearest is at least 12km away in Pooth Khurd.

There are pluses, though. The village got a makeover as its roads were revamped and lit with LED streetlights; new bus shelters, toilets and a community hall have also come up.

Steeped in History

Jaunti, which falls near Delhi-Haryana border, boasts of a rich past. At the heart of the village, on a mound, is the 17th century Shikargah built in the 1650s.

The lodge was once a double-storeyed fortress surrounded by a wall. According to the villagers, Shahjahan, along with his queens, used to come to this fortress for hunting as the entire area used to be a forest.

Today, most of the fortification, including the main gateway, have collapsed. Rampant illegal constructions inside and around the monument have diminished the grandeur of the Mughal era royal forest house and damaged its original structure such as the lakhori brick walls, arches, halls, sandstone columns and pyramidal roofs.

In the 1960s, MS Swaminathan, credited as being the father of the Green Revolution, began his famous experiment here — 30 superior varieties of wheat were sown here beginning the process of making the country self-sufficient in food grain.

Rural Tourism Project

Residents in the area hope that the government will take advantage of the village’s reputation and develop it into a tourist hotspot.

“We have a rich history and heritage. From a Mughal era monument to a large pond, this village has everything to be developed as a tourism destination. The MP has also promised to make it happen but despite his efforts things are yet to be done in this connection,” said a 66-year-old villager Baljeet Singh.

After adopting the village, Raj had promised to develop “rural tourism” in the village by restoring the glory of the monument, refurbishing the pond, constructing cafes, plazas and development of street art. There was also a plan to explore the possibility of using the existing pond for aqua culture and boating and developing a separate pond for livestock.

Several agencies such as administration department, Delhi Urban Arts Commission (DUAC), Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation (DTTDC) were roped in to develop the village as tourism destination but it could not be done.

Raj said he had not gone back on his promise of developing tourism in the village. He did, however, add that things were moving at a slow pace.

“We are working on the project. Recently, 10-acres was given to the Delhi tourism department from the gram sabha, for developing rural tourism in the village. This project will not only improve tourism in the region but also generate employment for the local youths,” Raj said.

Rekha Vohra, director of the Jaunti village development project, said that the project was “very much on track”. She said that it was being done in cooperation with several agencies, so it was taking time.

“The project is on. The progress has been slow on this front because of multiplicity of the agencies. Last year, we had conducted several meetings and visits to the village with the officials of revenue, tourism, archaeology departments in this connection,” she said.

Despite repeated attempts, a Delhi government spokespersons could not be reached for comment.

Work Done by MP

The residents were happy with the MP for the works done by him in the village. They said that most of the promises he made were delivered barring construction of a hospital. A resident of the village, Rajendra Singh said that lots of works are done such as construction and revamp of roads, lying of water pipelines, street lights, and entrance gate on Kanjhawala road, construction of a park, toilets and community hall.

“We want a hospital. For treatment we have to either go to government hospitals in Pooth Khurd or Mangol Puri which are around 12 km from the village. It is a long pending demand but no one be it the MP or the MLA could really do much about it,” he said.

The residents also expressed concern about a high tension power line passing over a part of the village and wanted it to be removed.

Raj said he had spent his funds on number of works such as construction of roads, open gyms, sewer work. “The process of bringing a 200 bed hospital is on. Land has been identified for this purpose. It is taking time because of lack of support from the Delhi government,” Raj said.

First Published: Apr 08, 2019 08:57 IST