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Gay Prince Turns Saviour Of Heritage | Vadodara News – Times of India

Vadodara: He fought for LGBTQ rights for decades and was instrumental in driving a change.
Now, the gay prince of Rajpipla, Manvendra Singh Gohil, is fighting to ensure heritage and public amenities left behind by his ancestors in the erstwhile princely state are conserved.
Gohil celebrated his birthday on Saturday by cleaning the public park which his great grandfather Maharaja Vijay Singh, the last ruler of the state had dedicated to the residents of the erstwhile Rajpipla state.
Gohil took up the issue of the park in 2020 after the Rajpipla municipality planned to make a vegetable market in a part of the park. After he raised the issue at various forums including the civic body, district collectorate, Surat regional commissioner of municipalities and urban development department, the project was abandoned.
The park is located at the entrance of Rapipla and has a bandstand in it. “There is no upkeep of the park and vegetation has grown on the bandstand too. When the state merged with the country after Independence, it was decided that the park would be put to no other use. However, the municipality decided to construct the vegetable market on a part of it and we had to take up the issue,” Gohil said.
The Machhi community was also peeved at the decision and joined hands with Gohil. The community had given up the land on which 52 families stayed for the park to the Rajpipla state and shifted elsewhere. “We still struggle with permanent residences even as the municipality decided to construct shops on land we had given up for a public cause,” said Dinesh Machhi, a community leader.
Gohil said that after the vegetable market, the municipality decided to make a food court with concrete outlets in the space of the park. “We have objected to this too,” he said.
However, the abandoning of the vegetable market plan in the garden has led to another row as Gohil was approached by officials of a school stating that the market was now being planned in space earmarked for education.
“This is the space where the girls school developed by my great grandfather once stood. It was razed a year or two back. Instead of coming up with another building for a school there, the officials said that the vegetable market was being shifted there,” Gohil said.
Chief officer of the Rajpipla municipality Rahul Dhodia said that the civic body had decided against making the vegetable market in the park, but claimed that this was not because of the protests. He pointed out that there was no plan of having a vegetable market in place of the school space. Regarding the upkeep of the park, he said that the municipality used to work on it, but had limited resources.
“I have told them that if they cannot keep the park clean, I am willing to devote time for it,” Gohil said.

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