History of Kathiwada Raaj Mahal
Most of the forest was planted by Rana Onkarsinhji of Kathiwada himself. Since their permanent settlement, generations of Kathiwada Royal family grew up playing polo with their Royal neighbours, the Baria family. The c.1895 Kathiwada Raaj Mahal, with original art deco furniture from the 60s is owned by Raajmata Sangita Devi and Rana Shri Digvijaysinhji is nestled amidst 120 acres of privately owned land comprising mango orchards, banana plantations, coconut groves and organically cultivated paddy fields.
With the care for the environment the late Yuvraj Bharat Sinhji took to horticulture in his later years after pursuing sports in his formative years. It is his industrious wife Sangita Devi and son Digvijay Sinh who took up the great challenge of restoring their erstwhile home to its former glory. Having fallen into decay from being uninhabited for so long, the restoration of Kathiwada Mansion became the mother and son's dream. The aim was to preserve its original structural heritage, yet create a sublimely comfortable living environment with all available contemporary amenities.
Sangita Sinh Kathiwada has a passion for the environment, design and heritage and runs the very successful fashion and design business, Melange, in Bombay. It is this craft that she has carefully integrated while resurrecting the Kathiwada Raaj Mahal, using authentic and organic design elements and materials. She went on to create relevant and especially woven textiles for each room.
Rana Digvijay Sinh with drive and ambition to see their home re-born has qualifications from the University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles in urban and rural development. His energies will be focussed towards creating inclusive development programs at the grassroots level. Digvijay Kathiwada manages a cricket league in Bombay and is of the opinion that rural Cricket and other sports can play an important role in development of the youth of rural India.
It is immensely important to both mother and son to revitalise the local tribal community. This will now be their next undertaking for cultural enhancement and preservation in Kathiwada.
Since 1434 it has been a family privilege to serve in the best way possible. The 21st century being no different but with the ease of communication, access to finance and structured CSR initiatives Kathiwada Foundation strives to excel in bringing the region projects that directly impact the people and its environment. Sports has been a centrifugal force for Kathiwada in the recent past, bridging a gap in the sparsely spread local population. Setting up facilities for more such activities in the town centre and establishing sustainability will now be the key challenge.
Currently Kathiwada Foundation collaborates with Amaachi Labs, a division of Amrita University from the south who are carrying out extensive work with the tribal population of the region. Another collaboration is with The Authors Cricket Club of England spearheaded by author and historian Tom Holland who founded BatAid, an initiative to fund the sports facility and children's orphanage in Kathiwada. In June 2016 conducted a charity fundraiser at Lord's during a match staged between The Authors XI vs. The Actors XI. It is planned as an annual fixture.
In the near future the foundation is expected to create infrastructure for education, healthcare, social housing and other such community projects.