Winter is almost here. Our early morning walk and talk was beautiful last weekend at the Chatardi; the place where the Kings of Kutch buried their dead. Chatardi has a number of tombs built over several periods and lies in the heart of Bhuj City, close to the Hamirsar Lake.
It is believed that the main structure was erected to Rao Lakpatji, the most flamboyant King of Kutch who had a special interest for the arts. The Rao’s wife and 17 of their servants burnt themselves alive along with their beloved King. The Chatardi today lies in ruins after the many earthquakes that have engulfed this region and its architecture.
I recently met a tourist from the Philippines who came to visit Kutch and discover the incredible landscapes and people. She was having a wonderful experience. However when it came to her visit to Bhuj city, her first reaction was : “Yes Harmirsar lake is nice, but Bhuj is so dirty!”
I did not know what to say…
Kutch is an eventful region, for the best or for the worst, and its capital, Bhuj knows it better than any other city here.
Heavily destroyed in 2001, its citizens stood up and succeeded in rebuilding the foundation of what has become a fast growing city. It is now facing the same challenges as many others of its kind in India:
How can the city grow in an harmonious manner, including all the layers of the population?
How does one answer the basic needs of the citizens in areas of energy, water, infrastructure, waste management?
How should we approach the ancestral culture, knowledge and tradition as a strong basis for innovation and development?
How do we encourage economic growth without jeopardizing the environment and the existing rich fabric of livelihood activities?
These thoughts and more led to the birth of Bhuj Bole Chhe, which literally means Bhuj Is Speaking (in Gujarathi). The Bhuj Bole Chhe team believe it is the responsibility of each and everyone of us – citizens of Bhuj, to work together and doing that can be fun too!
That is why they are starting a website, a common platform for everyone in Bhuj to share their stories, ideas, concerns, information and also take action for their city.
It can be fun and their are so many ways in which one can participate : starting with sharing old photos of the city, sharing the tales and legends from our grandparents, sharing some creative ideas we have for the city, organizing a “street cleaning” event with friends in the community… the only limit is your imagination!
This initiative was started by 5 organizations which have been working in Bhuj for a few decades already : Arid Communities and Technologies (ACT), Hunnarshala foundation, Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan (KMVS), Sahjeevan, Urban Setu (Kutch Nav Nirmav Abhiyan).
The Bhuj Bole Chhe adventure will officially begin on the 7th of April in the evening, at the heart of the city : the Hamirsar lake. I invite you to join and start sharing your ideas! Until then, I will let you have a sneak peak of the logo that I worked on for this exciting step that the city is taking!
Visit the website here : http://bhujbolechhe.org/en