Heritage-based urban planning for Sustainable Development in Gwalior and Orchha (India)
A new initiative aims to implement the approach of the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape in the Indian cities of Gwalior and Orchha. The project is born out of a collaboration between the UNESCO New Delhi Office and the Department of Tourism of the Madhya Pradesh State Government.
About the cities of Orchha and Gwalior
Orchha and Gwalior are two cities located in Madhya Pradesh, India. Both towns are characterized by pragmatic urban design, which was historically incorporated into the natural geography of the area and is critical to their modern, urban settlements.
Orchha is the 16th century capital of the erstwhile Bundela dynasty, defined by a unique amalgamation of Rajput and Mughal architectural influences. The town has a population of approximately 12,000, which is rapidly increasing.
On the other hand, Gwalior, established in the 9th century, is uniquely situated at the interface of its built cultural heritage and local communities. With over one million inhabitants, Gwalior has a rising population, pacing with economic change and urban development. The cultural identity of Gwalior, centred in its historic core, is a key resource for the city. Gwalior has been officially designated a ‘Smart City’ by the Indian Government, due to its strategic location, close to prominent commercial hubs and tourism circuits in India. The Smart Cities Mission is a national initiative to develop a sustainable urban ecosystem, something which is sometimes seen as disconnected from the urban heritage of these cities.
In addition, the historic centres of both Gwalior and Orchha have seen growing religious and cultural tourism, which has greatly contributed to the economic advancement of the cities. Economic growth has been accompanied by the negative impacts of rapid and uncontrolled urbanisation and unsustainable tourism.
Gwalior and Orchha are not inscribed on the World Heritage List.
Heritage-based urban planning for Sustainable Development in Gwalior and Orchha
In the context of economic growth and urban expansion, a new project aims to implement the approach of the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape (HUL Recommendation) in the cities of Gwalior and Orchha. The initiative is born out of a collaboration between the UNESCO New Delhi Office and the Department of Tourism of the Madhya Pradesh State Government. The project is expected to take place until early 2022.
The collaborative initiative aims to enhance and integrate the urban heritage of the cities, especially in the context of the Smart City initiative. It proposes a nuanced and transformed public policy effort, setting a precedent in the application of the HUL Recommendation approach and furthering the practice of heritage-based planning for sustainable urban development within the Indian context.
Proposed over 48 weeks, the project aims to produce a set of recommendations to be taken into account in the urban development planning of Gwalior and Orchha. UNESCO New Delhi will offer the training and technical expertise critical to the local implementation of the HUL Recommendation. Extensive survey work and mapping of the urban characteristics of the historical cities will be carried out to inform the urban planning recommendations. The programme will also involve multi-level engagement between experts, urban local bodies, civic authorities and local communities to develop long-term partnerships, raise awareness and build relationships between cultural heritage conservation and sustainable development.
The project will set a precedent for India, and South Asia at large, ascertaining the best practices and tools for urban development for historic cities, based on the HUL Approach.
Source: UNESCO New Delhi Cluster Office for Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, 2021.
Contribution towards the implementation of the 2011 Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape
The project aims to contribute to the implementation of the Historic Urban Landscape approach by providing policy recommendations for the inclusion of urban heritage in development plans and promoting multi-level engagement between experts, urban local bodies, civic authorities and community stakeholders.
Historic Urban Landscape Tools
Contribution towards Sustainable Development
If fully implemented in accordance with the described plans, the initiative could contribute towards Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
- Target 11.3: the initiative aims to enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanisation and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management.
- Target 11.4: the initiative aims to strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural heritage.
Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.
- Target 17.16: the initiative aims to enhance the global partnership for sustainable development, and mobilise and share knowledge and expertise to support the achievement of the sustainable development goals in developing countries.
Note: the described potential impacts of the projects are only indicative and based on submitted and available information.
To learn more
UNESCO New Delhi Cluster Office for Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka
- Address: 1, San Martin Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi Delhi 110 021 India
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: org/fieldoffice/newdelhi
Cover image: Dey.sandip, CC-BY-SA-3.0
Note: The cases shared in this platform address heritage protection practices in World Heritage sites and beyond. Items being showcased in this website do not entail any type of recognition or inclusion in the World Heritage list or any of its thematic programmes. The practices shared are not assessed in any way by the World Heritage Centre or presented here as model practices nor do they represent complete solutions to heritage management problems. The views expressed by experts and site managers are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Heritage Centre. The practices and views shared here are included as a way to provide insights and expand the dialogue on heritage conservation with a view to further urban heritage management practice in general.