The Kathiwada Royal Family dates back nearly 700 years to 1434. The principality with 181 sq. kms. of dense forest is a delightful flat land valley surrounded by the oldest hills of India. The Aravalli ranges literally meaning "line of peaks" run approximately 800 km. in western India.
To the north of Kathiwada is the charming Ratanmal Hill Plateau which acts as the natural boundary between Kathiwada (Madhya Pradesh) and Baria (Gujarat). The 60 minute trek from Kathiwada into the dense jungle via our famous waterfall into the Ratanmal sanctuary offers the wild life enthusiast the thrill of encountering sloth bears. The sanctuary also has a large population of leopards. The Kathiwada deciduous forest is full with local trees including Timru, Sal, Sadad, Semal, Bamboo and Mahua.
Largely an agro based society, Kathiwada is formed of 150+ villages and 49 panchayats in modern day classification. The thriving tribal population are some of the original inhabitants of the region who's culture and festivities are widely sought after. The mango and taad tree are some of the most famous in the region who's produce is distributed nationwide.
In keeping with our traditions, its been our family prerogative to maintain and include all segments of the Kathiwada society in our development framework.
Most of the Kathiwada forest was planted by Rana Onkarsinhji of Kathiwada and his entourage in the late 19th century. Generations of the Kathiwada Royal family grew up akin to nature and have taken interest in forestation and its ecology cultivating organic paddy's and creating new plantations. Historically, the small Kathiwada cavalry led to plenty a polo fixtures with their Royal neighbours, the Baria family. The presently restored c.1895 Kathiwada Raaj Mahal with it's original art deco furniture of the 60s played host to such entertainment. Today, polo has given way to cricket, kabaddi, volleyball and other modern games which are more accessible to the changing times.
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 their forefront priority. 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 a very successful fashion and design business, Melange, in Mumbai. It is this craft that she has carefully integrated while resurrecting the Kathiwada Raaj Mahal, using authentic and organic design elements and materials.
The project began in 2007 and was complete in 2014. Foremost preservation architects were consulted to ensure absolute solidarity of techniques, material and manpower. An estimated USD $1.5 mn. was spent on transforming the Mahal from its ruins. New electrical plans were carved out meticulously to ensure no structural changes needed to be made and bathrooms were revamped with ultra-modern plumbing fittings and plush marble. All art deco furniture was carefully restored and upholstered.
Now, Digvijay Sinh with wife Swati have a drive and ambition to see their home transform into a boutique homestay experience welcoming like-minded guests from across the globe. The duo bring qualifications in planning & policy as well as hospitality and thus their energies will be focussed towards creating inclusive development programs at the grassroots level for the mansion and all its surroundings.
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. Taking on all subjects simultaneously is impossible and therefore the Kathiwada Foundation aims to be the infrastructure provider in the region to allure talent and collaborate with specialised NGOs operating in different sectors.
However, sports has been a pivotal force for Kathiwada in the recent past, bridging the gap in the sparsely spread local population and will remain within the gambit of the foundation for now.
Currently the Kathiwada Foundation collaborates with Amaachi Labs, a division of Amrita University from the south who are carrying out extensive work with the tribal population in Kathiwada. 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 is another such existing collaboration. In June 2016 we conducted a charity fundraiser at the Lord's Cricket Ground during a match staged between The Authors XI vs. The Actors XI. It is planned as an annual fixture.
Cultural enhancement and preservation of the tribal community, healthcare and education projects will be the fulcrum of development for the Kathiwada Foundation in the coming years.