Mughal Heritage Walk
Exhibition: Network | December 2, 2011 by Andrea-Lipps
Informal communities in neighborhoods near the famed Taj Mahal, in Agra, India, face serious environmental and livelihood crises. The lack of proper sanitation and sewage networks deters tourists from visiting and threatens the city of Agra’s economic potential. As part of its Crosscutting Agra Program, the Center for Urban and Regional Excellence (CURE) designed the Mughal Heritage Walk to enable poorer communities to derive livelihoods from tourism while improving their living conditions. The community-led activities began with mapping the surrounding areas and grouping monuments into walks. After establishing the trails, the community collected information on the monuments and produced brochures for visitors. Local youth are trained as facilitators on the Heritage Trail, which includes the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, and four lesser known-monuments in Agra: Ram Bagh, Chinni ka Rauza, Itmat-ud-Daulah, and Mehtab Bagh. The Heritage Walk is a 1-km (0.6-mile) loop that links the village of Marwari Basti, the ancient village of Kachpura, Mehtab Bagh, the Mughal aqueduct system, the Humayum mosque, and the Gyarah Sidi. The Walk is organized as a more formal business enterprise, which builds capacities of tour leaders to manage the enterprise supported by access to resources and credit. In response to the heightened tourism, maps, souvenirs, and scrolls are created for sale. The community has used the revenue generated through the tours to improve sanitation conditions and create walkways, access roads, and signage in the settlements along the route.
Designers: Center for Urban and Regional Excellence (CURE), with local community-based groups Chetna Mahila Mandal, Aadarsh Mahila Mandal, Mughal Heritage Walk, and Saanskritik Yuva Samooh; Technical support: Cities Alliance, United States Agency for International Development. Agra, India, 2005–present