The twin villages of Rakhi Shahpur and Rakhi Khas, located 145 km from Delhi (India), host the largest and oldest Indus archaeological site. The villages also feature historical structures from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with a strong Mughal architectural influence. The proximity to Delhi and the increased public interest in the archaeological site of Rakhigarhi have increased tourist numbers in recent years. For this reason, the village started an integrated project of rural development and heritage conservation, with the support of the Indian Trust for Rural Heritage and Development (ITRHD).
The project has been largely based on the community involvement of local villages. Many initiatives have been planned: adaptive reuse of existing old structures for tourist facilities (lodges, homestays, museums), safe drinking water facilities, community bio-toilets, health centres, a variety of training and vocational courses (IT skills, sewing and tailoring, tourism and hospitality), demonstration plots for organic farming, waste management and solar energy.
The project is an example of an innovative and integrated model of rural development, as pursued by the ITRHD, which aims to connect the preservation of India’s rural heritage with economic development, livelihood enhancement and general improvement in the quality of life. Its unique feature lies in the fostering of talented and creative, yet marginalized, rural residents and communities.
Source: Giulio Verdini, Culture as a tool for harmonious territorial development