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Chandra Singh Bharti

Chandra Singh Bhati
Tourism expert & ex-ADC Maharaja Sadul Singh ji

Chandra Singh Bhati (Larera) belongs to the first generation of travel and tourism experts who have served Rajasthan tourism while it was still in its fledgling form. Bhati, as GM of several prestigious hotels of Rajasthan, had seen the state’s tourism industry grow to its present form. He has been the ADC to Maharaja Sadul Singh ji, the 22nd ruler of Bikaner, and has thus witnessed royalty in its heydays. Bhati is a wonderful teller of interesting anecdotes from his days in hospitality industry of royalty. The anecdotes enliven the discussion and charms the loiterer.

Tell us about your tryst with royalty.

 Chandra Singh Bhati: I remember while I was 19 year old student of Dungar College, I received an offer from the royal durbar to hold the much coveted post of ADC to Maharaja Sadul Singh ji of Bikaner, I accepted it with pleasure. Simultaneously I was commissioned as captain in the royal army, and was sent to the Army Training Center for six months. At the same time, I learnt the basics of administrative setup at the state secretariat which was a must for all ADCs.

When I was 24, I was promoted to the post of assistant controller of household. After a brief period of six months, I was finally made full-fledge controller of household. My new job entrusted me the job of taking care of the Maharaja’s palace, forts, sanctuaries, tour and travel arrangements in India and abroad.

How did you enter tourism industry?

Chandra Singh Bhati: During my travels abroad will late Maharaja Sadul Singh ji, I got opportunities to study the practical aspects of travel agencies. In early Sixties, I was called by Maharana Bhagwat Singh ji of Udaipur to convert his magnificent Jagniowas Palace into a hotel. The palace was adapted to be a hotel under my supervision and soon it become the first five star heritage hotel and I was appointed its first General Manager.

During your tenure as the GM of Lake Palace, Udaipur, the hotel received unprecedented international attention. How did it happen?

 Chandra Singh Bhati: I focused on foreign travel writers. They were treated as royal guests. Information used to be provided to them. I made my best efforts to familiarize them with architectural splendor of Udaipur and Lake Palace as well.

Those writers took pleasure in writing articles on the city of lakes. Articles along with enchanting photos of Udaipur were published in such esteemed English magazines as the National Geographic, Vogue, Queen, Life magazine, Esquire, Newsweek, Reader’s Digest, Holiday, House & Garden, Harpers, Japan Times, New Yorker Travel magazine, Town & Country, Foreign Affairs etc.

Distinguished guests such as Dev Anand, Wahida Rehman, Dilip Kumar, Nobel Prize winner Pearl Buck, celebrated writer John Osborne of the 'Look Back in Anger' fame stayed at the Lake Palace while I was the General Manager. In 1973, I joined the famous Clarks group of hotels as the GM of the magnificent Clarks Amer, Jaipur, which was the biggest accommodation hotel with 125 rooms. Five years later, I was promoted to the post of GN(liaison). In this capacity, I used to supervise the hotels owned by the Clarks groups and its associates.

What suggestions would you like to make for the development of tourism in your home town, Bikaner?

Chandra Singh Bhati: Kolayat in Bikaner can be developed and publicized very much like Pushkar. People from far–off parts of the state gather here for the biggest fair of western Rajasthan. This fair can be of great help for tourism promotion in the region. Gajner has immense potentials to draw tourism. It has a beautiful palace and a sanctuary which draws migratory birds from Siberia. It can attract foreign tourists too! At various sites on the banks of the Indira Gandhi canal, migratory as well as Indian birds have found a safe haven. It can be used to woo bird–watchers. Artificial lakes in and around Suratgarh can be developed as resort where tourists can enjoy surf–ringing, boating, swimming and such other aquatic sports.

You have seen Bikaner under royalty. What was special about that period?

Chandra Singh Bhati: Bikaner remained peaceful even in 1947 when whole of India was witnessing bloodshed, rape, looting etc. on a large scale, as the country was divided. Refugees used to pass through Bikaner state. Maharaja Sadul Singh ji made personal efforts for their safe passage as he was a secular ruler. Even Lord Mountbatten and a leading statesman like Sardar Patel all praised the Maharaja because of his efficiency showed during that period. The then secretary of states department, V.P. Menon, in his book, 'The Integration of Indian States', praised the Bikaner administration under Maharaja Sadul Singh ji.

Interviewed By: Mr. Samiul Hassan Quadri

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