We live with a lot of heritage around, always have but to a large extent unconscious and oblivious to its value – tangible, intangible and often twisted out of context. Announced, mostly unspoken yet always there...for the discerning to discover and appreciate. At RARE you will discover heritage very differently. Which is why we encourage you to choose your destination through the lens of heritage and its preservation by creating conversations around heritage, and showing you the value it brings to the destination and the community.
Preserving the past as architecture is one of the foremost and most visible part of heritage conservation. They say architecture is frozen music taking you back to a time that may have been, and when you see a 350 year old fort or palace or Haveli repurposed as a hotel, you know a bit of history has been preserved for posterity. Smaller and obscure destinations and the heritage in and around them are a challenge as they are usually left to crumble into oblivion due to sheer neglect, complicated ownerships and lack of funds. Among the RARE Community you will see them as Living Heritage hotels restored as personal and passionate projects, on the owner’s own time and money used to build an often crumbling edifice into this beautiful heritage property bringing the region and its history back into focus. In this restoration to its formal glory, the owners ensure that it connects and brings alive a slew of other stories and how its threads connect back into the iconic stories of great battles, of lives past and intrigues of romance, conquests and treachery. Choosing to stay in one of these hotels is your contribution to the preservation of this edifice, culture and the timeline. As a traveller and promoter, you are integral to the conservation success of the heritage property and with it you also help sustain several tangible and intangible elements of life and living around as mud plastering, floor art, age old skills in architecture, building etc.
Architectural traditions also encompass vernacular architecture and the huge canvas of the ‘common man’s’ culture which is increasingly not common any more. Some of them are eye openers into a thriftier living and a life lived in harmony with nature.
To the larger project we have so many smaller points for the cause of preservation.
- Keeping craft alive through active engagement as seen in activities like a date with the Joshis, the last generation of Phad artists in Shahpura Bagh or the Veena Makers Lane visit by Svatma in Thanjavur. In the process of preserving and promoting the heritage hotel – all associated highlights of the destination including lost and dying arts, crafts and textiles get a fresh lease of life. There are many instances of contemporary reuse infusing them with a fresh user perspective and hence continuity and preservation.
- Cuisine traditions and cooking techniques are passed down over several generations and live on promoted by owner hoteliers. Never to be seen on any urban or popular menus at least not in its authentic form, they are a gastronomic attraction the destination is often identified with. In its most elaborate form, the cuisine often finds global fame, spot lighting the destination through connoisseurs of cuisines around the world.
- Creating livelihoods is integral to conservation projects as skilled artisans and craftsmen are hired into the restoration – carpenters, masons, tailors, polishers, iron smiths...the list goes on. Once the hotel is operational farm hands for horticulture, ladies for floor art and plastering, locals as walk guides, kitchen help, etc. are examples that lend the flavour of uniqueness to the property while creating local jobs.
- An enduring culture becomes the character and theme of a hotel is another great advantage. Great examples of heritage hotels that reflect the culture of a region both in hospitality, its people, the cuisine is an undeniable advantage of heritage conservation, creating signature USPs that can never match with anything else in the world. There can only be one Stok Palace Heritage in Ladakh.
- Creating value for the destination and the community by creating jobs, highlighting a destination uniquely and putting everything about the destination on the global map. In the pandemic it is of great value that people discovered smaller regions and hamlets in India and reconnected with their glorious past not even an hour from the city. The value we speak about is for the industry by giving them valuable destinations to highlight and promote, creating value for the destination and its people and for the traveller as transformations and mindful participation.
- A Living Heritage is the most interesting experience of heritage conservation when a bit of our past lives on as small elements around your hotel with your stay further enhanced when you are staying with the family. Here is a chance for travellers to see something that worked and still works to this day, The Chapslee Experience in Shimla and Stok Palace Heritage in Ladakh is almost museum-like in its experience. Fragile, intimate and thought provoking – it is mindful living in an ancient space and atmosphere, living by traditions even if convenience and urbanisation creeps in at the fringes, much of the past continues to live and thrive alongside. Ultimately as promoting our heritage as a knowledge and participative experience creates awareness and respect for our past and in some case continuity by creating value.
A case in point for tourism through heritage is that one element in a destination has the ability to activate and promote other elements by association. A well-presented heritage concept has the ability to engage travellers and appreciate it for what it is, our past as great inspirations or a history never to be repeated.