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nimmy namrata Publications & Research 2017

Nature, Culture and Humans of Chmba: Patterns and effects of urbanization in mountaineous historic urban landscapes in India.

The abstract for this paper has been selected to be presented at the International Conference on Heritage Management Education and Practice themed on Exploring connections across disciplines and stakeholders, to be held in July’2017. Abstract Historic Urban landscapes are bio-physical imprints of past generation’s activities as well as a matrix for those of current and future generations. Pressures for economic development have benefited modernization efforts leading to loss of traditional customs and practices in cultural landscapes which is a reflection of customs, values and belief system of communities. This paper explores alternative ways of seeing cities particularly through the Historic Urban Landscape paradigm. Chamba town, Himachal Pradesh, a pilgrim centre, market town and historic capital of the Chamba region, recently celebrated the millennium of its establishment. This Historic Urban Landscape has distinctive location and is characterized by exceptional cultural and natural resources, landforms, biodiversity and intangible cultural heritage. With current population of 15,000, is growing as a major town centre and pushing the boundaries of town limits and residential areas. Unregulated new development, absence of development regulations and delineation of ecologically sensitive zones, marginalization of traditional knowledge and the aspirations of the primary custodians have resulted in fragile state of being, both naturally and culturally and has altered the traditional regime of this historic town. This paper will examine the fragile relation between man, nature and culture of Chamba and the need of formulation of sustainable planning and management system for heritage resources within mountainous regions which requires responsiveness to exceptional constraints and challenges. This research will establish a redefinition to reflect and consider economic shifts in economy, cultural transformations and infrastructure development, which adapt traditional knowledge designs to address urban needs for historic urban landscapes and conclude by recalling that the recognition of the Historic Urban Landscape is fundamentally a cultural issue, based on knowledge of our heritage resources and critical assessment of associated assets and merits. Keywords: Historic urban landscapes, urbanization, communities, traditional knowledge systems

Nimmy Namrata | Research Work

L 080_Full Paper_Heritage Management Conference Ahmedabad University_July 2017 Submitted by: Komal Potdar, Nimmy Namrata, Anam Sami

ABSTRACT Title: Nature, Culture and Humans of Chamba: Patterns and Effects of Urbanization in Lesser Himalayan Mountainous Historic Urban Landscapes in India Abstract: Historic Urban landscapes are bio-physical imprints of past generation’s activities as well as a matrix for those of current and future generations. Though pressures for economic development have benefited modernization, it has led to loss of traditional practices in cultural landscapes which are a reflection of customs, values and belief system of communities. This paper explores alternative ways of seeing historic cities particularly with respect to the Historic Urban Landscape paradigm. Chamba town, Himachal Pradesh, a pilgrim center, market town and historic capital of the Chamba region, recently celebrated the millennium of its establishment. This Historic town has distinctive location and is characterized by exceptional cultural and natural resources, landforms, bio-diversity and intangible cultural heritage. With current population of 25,000, it is growing as a major town center and pushing the boundaries of town limits and residential areas. Unregulated new development which is not designed for earthquake resistance, absence of delineation of ecologically sensitive zones, marginalization of traditional knowledge and aspirations of the primary custodians have resulted in fragile state of being, both naturally and culturally and has altered the traditional regime of this historic town. This paper will examine the fragile relation between man, nature and culture of Chamba and need of formulation of sustainable planning and management system for heritage resources within mountainous regions, which requires responsiveness to exceptional constraints and challenges. This research intends to reflect upon economic shifts, cultural transformations and infrastructure development, which adapt traditional knowledge designs to address urban needs for historic urban landscapes. Keywords: Historic urban landscapes, urbanization, communities, traditional knowledge systems.


L 080_Full Paper_Heritage Management Conference Ahmedabad University_July 2017 Submitted by: Komal Potdar, Nimmy Namrata, Anam Sami



Historic Urban Landscapes With the advent of technology and burgeoning advancement in materials and science, historic urban centres are undergoing rapid changes. These urban centres are a vast repository of traditional knowledge and cultural heritage with a dynamic character. Without focused and informed efforts towards recognition of the cultural landscapes and coherence of natural to built spaces and social environment, preserving the quality of human environment, enhancing productive and sustainable use of urban spaces, while recognizing their dynamic character and promoting social and functional diversity is difficult to achieve. (Gravagnuolo et. al)1 The Historic Urban Landscape is the urban area understood as the result of a historic layering of cultural and natural values and attributes, extending beyond the notion of ‘historic centre’ or ‘ensemble’ to include broader urban context and its geographical setting. (UNESCO)2 From the above definition, it is evident that historic urban landscapes encompass a cultural landscape in response to the geography and morphology and shapes historical, social and cultural regimes. Cultural landscapes are living landscapes where changes over time reflect interactions between humans and nature imbibed with cultural values and manifests itself in tangible built form. Built heritage is seen as an embodiment of all technical and architectural knowledge of the place - a product of three elements namely people, place and time comprising the context of the place, combine elements of space and time and represent political, social and cultural constructs. The associated communities develop a sense of reverence to nature and environment, with indivisible constituents of traditions and customs. Hence, nature, culture and people are three intrinsic elements of a historic urban landscape woven together through time. This evolution can be traced and studied through various disciplines and hence look at three sets of information systems together namely, anthropological, geographical and historical. (Thakur N)3 The physical setting of cultural landscape differs in accordance with their contextual, sociocultural, and physical surroundings (Rapoport)4. Cultural landscapes in middle Himalayan regions have a distinctive pattern of sacred sites, market-town, small agrarian hamlets, hill settlements and bazaari typologies each with a range of character defining heritage components which have been substantially modulated, modified & transformed and are currently i

A bazaar is a permanently enclosed marketplace or street where goods and services are exchanged or sold.


L 080_Full Paper_Heritage Management Conference Ahmedabad University_July 2017 Submitted by: Komal Potdar, Nimmy Namrata, Anam Sami

deteriorating due to the cumulative impact of unplanned development activities. This research intends to identify traditional practices and their relevance and need to adhere or adapt to in the current social dynamics and urban modern community. Nature, Culture and People: Their coherence to Historic Urban Landscape Cultural geographers tend to see cultural landscapes as the results of land use and tenure; architects, archaeologists and ethnologists will often emphasize various kinds of building and different types of constructions and monuments as distinctive features of cultural landscapes; cultural and local historians are likely to view the cultural landscape as a visible aspect of a community's historical development; biologists and landscape ecologists focus on the character of ecosystems and vegetation as these result from human activity in the landscape (Jones)5 A cultural landscape is defined as A geographic area, including both cultural and natural resources and the wildlife or domestic animals therein, associated with a historic event, activity, or person or exhibiting other cultural or aesthetic values. (NPS)6 Geographical features in Himalayas are a result of the transformation of earth’s landform millions of years ago, formed as a result of the collision between the Indian Plate and Eurasian Plate which began 50 million years ago and continues even today. The Himalayas are still rising by more than 1 cm per year as India continues to move northwards into Asia, which explains the occurrence of shallow focus earthquakes in the region today. Coexisting within the forces of nature such as earthquakes, floods, landslides, etc. is one of the major challenges which requires indigenous knowledge and skills. These vulnerable mountainous landscapes have been developed and designed by the indigenous tribes to sustain such forces of nature. Hence, a characteristic system of attributing value and use to suitable land for agriculture, habitation and recreation along with harnessing locally available materials and designing a system of social patterns for sustainable practices such as system of commons are elements within these knowledge systems has evolved. These systems of study of geo-morphological settings of an urban centre, architecture and harnessing nature and traditional customs are discussed further for the case of historic town of Chamba. Chamba Valley: A Historic Town The historic town of Chamba is located in the Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh (32°34′12″N 76°7′48″E) The town of Chamba is located in a valleyii, at the confluence of Ravi

ii A valley is a low area between hills, often with a river running through it.


L 080_Full Paper_Heritage Management Conference Ahmedabad University_July 2017 Submitted by: Komal Potdar, Nimmy Namrata, Anam Sami

River and its tributary, the Sal River, with the Shah Madar hill to the eastern side. Chamba district lies in Seismic zone 5iii, which is more prone to tectonic shifts and earthquakes. (Bora)7 and have impacted upon by the deadliest earthquake in modern Indian history: Kangra in 1905, Chamba earthquakes in 1945 & 1995. The recorded history of the Rajput rulers is traced to an eminent individual named Maru who is said to have moved to northwest India from Kalpagrama, around 500 B.C.E. Though historical records date the history of the Chamba region to the Kolian tribes in the 2nd Century B.C. E., the area was formally ruled by the Maru dynasty, starting with the Raju Maru from around 500 CE, ruling from the ancient capital of Bharmour, which is located 75 kilometres from the town of Chamba. In 920, Raja Sahil Varman shifted the capital of the kingdom to Chamba, following the specific request of his daughter Champavati (Bhatnagar)8. From the time of Raju Maru, 67 Kings of this dynasty have ruled over Chamba until it finally merged with the Indian Union in April 1948, although Chamba was under British suzerainty from 1846 to this time (Sharma & Sethi)9. During the British reign, many progressive reforms and developments were made in Chamba under the British, which saw construction of major connecting roads between hilly towns and construction of landmark buildings, such as the Akhand Chandi Palace and the chouganiv. 2.

Natural topography and Bio-physical attributes and cultural construct

The entire district is mountainous with an altitude ranging from 559 meters to 6,162 meters above the mean sea level where
habitation is found only up to 3,000 meters. The region reveals that the Dhauladhar in Chamba district forms a mountain barrier with high peaks and Hathidhar runs parallel to Dhauladhar, in its south. (Stock Taking Report)10 The town is bounded topographically by these mountain ranges with distinct geographical features flanking the boundaries viz. Rivers, river plains, ridges, valleys, spurs, steep hills, mounds, elevated river terraces and paired river terraces. (Refer figure 1)

iii Zone 5 covers the areas with the highest risks zone that suffers earthquakes of intensity MSK IX or greater. The IS code assigns zone factor of 0.36 for Zone 5. Structural designers use this factor for earthquake resistant design of structures in Zone 5. iv Chaugan is the term used in Himachal for plains, and open ground. The word can also mean "four corners"


L 080_Full Paper_Heritage Management Conference Ahmedabad University_July 2017 Submitted by: Komal Potdar, Nimmy Namrata, Anam Sami


L 080_Full Paper_Heritage Management Conference Ahmedabad University_July 2017 Submitted by: Komal Potdar, Nimmy Namrata, Anam Sami

Figure 1: Study of geo-morphology highlighting the geographical elements namely slopes, valley and ridges, spurs mounds seasonal and perennial streams. This study map forms the basis of analysis of the cultural landscape of the historic town; Source: Authors

Hilly terrain and significance of land Chamba valley rests at the confluence of River Ravi and Sal forming a spurv. The settlement spreads in an elongated profile towards the Southern side of River Ravi. There are three significant ridgesvi, which are composing a distinctive spatial order of Chamba valley. One of the ridges is Sarol Mountain which borderline’s the tributary River Sal. This mountain assists in formation of spur to the valley at the confluence of two rivers. The other the two ridges are of Shah Madar hill and the spur where Chamunda devi temple is located. Chamba town resides at the foot of Shah Madar hill with dense deodar forest having high infiltration capacity, an ability to absorb and hold water. Surface flow is therefore rare in this region and it prevents surface erosion and landslides. Cultural landscapes are combination between manifestations and element of nature that must be studied together, including considering settlement system and the relations between location and housing (Rapoport)11. Analyses of the gradient of land, unique spatial configuration and associated function is a crucial step to read the traditional settlement pattern. It is essential to study the adverse effect on ecology as a consequence of rapid urbanization. The incidence of various slopes is of importance for wide variety of factors such as vegetation, circulation, habitation, development, cultivation, recreation, etc. (Refer figure 2). The town occupies two terraces: 1. The lower terrace is the Chaugan with an incidence of 0-5 %, which is a public promenade used for various cultural and recreational activities. 2. The upper terrace has an incidence of 5-12%, which occupies the most conspicuous buildings of the town. Owing to the gentle slope, development activities are generally constructed along the contours to reduce site development work such as cutting and filling of slopes. Habitable area is located on elevated terraces and is undisturbed by floods.


In geography, a spur is a piece of land jutting into a river or stream or a ridge descending from mountains into a valley. Spurs are formed from erosion over time and frequently divide tributaries or valleys. vi A mountain ridge is a geological feature consisting of a chain of mountains or hills that form a continuous elevated crest for some distance. Ridges are usually termed hills or mountains as well, depending on size.


L 080_Full Paper_Heritage Management Conference Ahmedabad University_July 2017 Submitted by: Komal Potdar, Nimmy Namrata, Anam Sami

Figure 2: Section showing gradient of slopes and assessed functions of the valley.

Agriculture is an important economic and sustenance activity and a large section of the community is dependent on it. The principal agriculture crops raised in the tract are wheat, barley, maize, mash rapeseed, phullan, bres, suil etc whereas horticulture produce include apples, apricot, peach, plum, and pears. The most suitable incidence of land for agriculture is 0-5%, which are very gentle slopes. As river basins are low lying and having very gradual slopes and having alluvium deposit and high fertility. Areas with very high gradient of slope ranging from12-20%, which is unviable for human habitation or activity, is rendered as common community land where a system of commonsvii is observed. From this analysis, it is clear how each element in geo-morphology is allocated a value and significance and harnessed to the best of its capacity. However, modification of this system due to urbanization, the growth patterns do not conform to this traditional wisdom. Source of water, natural streams and value attributes Water is an essence of life and its conservation, development and planned utilization is of prime concern for resource conservation and food security in the Chamba region. Perennial sources


System of commons is a pattern in historic urban landscapes where a portion of land is reserved for the benefit of the associated community and the products such as water, lumber, produce of agriculture, medicinal plants and places of worship and recreation. These fall in the ambit of customary rights of the communities.


L 080_Full Paper_Heritage Management Conference Ahmedabad University_July 2017 Submitted by: Komal Potdar, Nimmy Namrata, Anam Sami

which feed the River Ravi and River Sal, provide permanent water supply for local irrigation and domestic use. Many streams, emerging from surrounding mountains, are converted to paniharsviii, which are the traditional source of water (Sharma S. H.)12 These are consecrated areas around which culture of the historic town has thrived. Oral history narrates that when the town of Chamba was being founded, after its shift of capital from Bharmour in the 10th Century, there was scarcity of portable water. In order to meet the needs of the town, Raja Sahil Verman (920- 945 CE) constructed a water channel, which coursed through the Sarotha Mohallahix, behind the Shah Madar hillock, overlooking the town. The water thus flowed to the town in open drains and was later channelized in to a well-planned water supply network. Accordingly Panihars and naunx were constructed at the following places to meet the needs of adjoining mohallah (Pangare et. al)13 in the town: (Refer Figure 3)  Raj Naun: Main water cistern, aqueduct with finely chiseled and carved fountain heads in stone-for Dhrobi, Surara, Chauntra and Kharura mohallah  Jansali: Near Shri Ram temple having carved fountain heads for Jansali and Hatnala mohallah  Dasnam Akhada near Lord Shiva temple: Having one fountain head for ramgargh, Jansali,and Kharura mohallah  Bnagotu: Below Shri Ram temple with finely carved fountain head  Champavati temple complex: With carved fountain head for chauthara, seher Chini and Chaugan  Sapri: near Nar singh Temple

Figure 3: Panihar at Raj naun ; Image courtesy: Authors


Panihar are water fountains, a diversion channel from hill streams, which leads to a storage tank, used for domestic purposes such as drinking as bathing. Are also given a religious connotation, consecration, by installing motifs and stone sculptures of shrines for daily worship of nature God. ix Mohallah is a group of houses which act as social unit (in Indian subcontinent) x Nauns are water fountains, usually square or oblong or covered on the sides and back, open in the front with flooring of two massive stone beams overlaid with flat slabs diagonally


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Today, these sources have become sparse owing to alterations made to the water channels for road constructions, check damns constructed over natural streams, garbage dump in the course of the steams, construction of houses and retaining walls. Water channels have been dug to carry water from springhead to the village and pipelines are increasingly being laid down, which is improving the convenience for domestic purposes but affecting the quality of water. Biology and Ecosystem Mountains are key centers of ecological diversity providing multiple services across our planet and hence, towns surrounding such rich forests are rooted with traditional knowledge of its ecosystem, medicinal value and cultural significance. Communities in mountain regions face unique challenges, including a fragile ecology, natural disasters, development pressures, etc. (IUCN)14 The forest and vegetation of Chamba is rich with presence of indigenous plantation of medicinal value such as Divya booti (sacred grooves), Neekanthi (Deodar oil), Amla, Harar, Behra, Cheel, Kel, Ban & Biroja. (Information received through community consultation) The other important vegetation is Ban Oak, which is used for fuel and fodder. Deodar and Kail yields timber of good quality and is commonly used in vernacular construction in Chamba. Today, the new development and encroachment, which is growing along the river, has led to lose of vegetation and resulting in soil erosion, extinction of many indigenous plant species, and water pollution. 3.

People, culture and sacred geography

Sacred geography is another significant constituent of the physical planning of this historic town, along with natural topography and they complement each other in the social regime, where every element is allocated a cultural value. The geographical elements together form ingredients of a religiously charged physical entity which when combined with the embodied belief systems of the community and their relationship to nature; manifests itself through this multi-dimensional spiritual landscape. In our ordinary perceptions, we view space as an amorphous entity which is related to us in units of measurement, essentially qualitative and understood in terms of dimension, volume and distance. However, spaces adept to yantrasxi, if ignored or undocumented, the knowledge and spiritual achievements preserved in these complex symbols and formulae could be wiped out forever under the pressure of the contemporary world’s upheavals. (Khanna M)15 xi

Yantra literally means a machine, contraption; is a mystical diagram, mainly from the Tantric traditions of the Indian religions.


L 080_Full Paper_Heritage Management Conference Ahmedabad University_July 2017 Submitted by: Komal Potdar, Nimmy Namrata, Anam Sami

The theory of planning, in principle, revolves around synthesis the natural geography with the Hindu spiritual practice and pilgrimage. As per historical records, the town has been governed by Hindu religion believer, Raja Sahil Varman, 920 C.E. (Bharati K.R)16 and has always been dominantly populated by Hindu community (93.26% of the total population17), firmly rooted in the shared meanings creating an socio-cultural system where mythological tales are intertwined in the physical geography, marked by several religious spots; each spot anchored by a religious myth or a story or connected to another spot, myth or story (Diana.L.Eck)18 This intangible belief cycle is further reinforced by denoting these significant spots through a tangible built form, marked by a temple or a shrine and connected through sacred pilgrim routes and festival celebration. The Hindu calendar is distributed with several fairs and festivals that strengthen the religious beliefs and significance of the temples in Chamba. Myths associated with the festivals link the rituals, worship of natural elements and built heritage resulting in a cohesive cultural web. For example, festival of Bhojri that happens in the month of sawan (August – September), the pilgrims accumulate in the chaugan and traverse through the streets of Chamba culminates the yatra at Chamunda Devi, or during the month of Chaith (March –April), the Suhi mata mela is held in the town in which the pilgrims move from the Chaugan to Suhi mata temple. (Bharati K. R). This way the physical entities of the open spaces such as chaugan and streets also become a part of the sacred processions incorporating the built heritage of temples as well as the rituals that bring the community together in order to venerate their nature. All the other festivals have similar myths that together forms a consecrated atmosphere which is demonstrated in several tangible forms and pilgrim routes. Evolution of the town with respect to temples

There are 40 identified historic temples and shrines in the town. All temples form an interconnected pilgrimage network creating a sacred landscape. For this study, temples and shrines were identified, mapped and studied in terms of their location, association, time period of construction, cult, management systems, sacred elements, their relationship with nature and community and significance and value. The forty temples are then categorized in 7 divisions marked with an important event and period of construction as build before 10th Century CE and constructed in 10th Century CE, 11th Century CE, 12th – 14th Century CE, 15th – 16th Century CE, 17th – 18th Century CE and 19th Century CE.


L 080_Full Paper_Heritage Management Conference Ahmedabad University_July 2017 Submitted by: Komal Potdar, Nimmy Namrata, Anam Sami

This analysis of period of construction deciphers the evolution of the historic town. The oldest existing temple in the town is that of Chamunda Devi, which is believed to have been built in 8th Century CE which marks the probable foundation of settlement here and was built on one of the spurs of the main ridge. (Bharati K.R) In 10th Century CE, the Laxmi Narayan was constructed. The Vajreshwari temple and Hari Rai temple, located edge of the river Ravi, were built in 11th century. Typology of temples All these identified temples based on their location, could be categorized into two main categories: (Refer figure 4)

Memorial temples Neighbourhood temples Congregational temples

Temples/ Shrines/ Dargah Boundary defining temples

Protective temples

Figure 4: Categories of temples as per function, location and sacred value


Boundary defining temples: Strategically located temples and shrines, together forming a virtual boundary of the town. The religious beliefs that the Gods would protect the settlement from bad omen and enemies and bless the community to thrive. It is observed that these are positioned in such a way to create a fieldxii of vision to demarcate a visual periphery and a rather consecrated environment that shields the town of Chamba. The Laxmi Narayan was constructed on the outcrop of the hill to the North-West of the settlement and the Champavati temple within the sacred groves. The Dargahxiii of Shah Madar is placed in the centre of the main ridge that overlooks the town and is believed to safeguard the entire town. On the two spurs of this ridge that expand in two opposite direction from this point, lie the Chamunda Devi temple facing the South and the

xii xiii

According to site survey by author. A Dargah is a shrine built over the grave of a revered religious figure, often a Sufi saint or dervish.


L 080_Full Paper_Heritage Management Conference Ahmedabad University_July 2017 Submitted by: Komal Potdar, Nimmy Namrata, Anam Sami

Vajreshwari temple facing the North. The Goddess in Chamunda Devi overlooks the valley on the opposite side of the Chamba settlement, the direction from where it was vulnerable to attacks by enemies and hence the faith that the Goddess would protect the town from invasion and enemy attacks. The Vajreshwari temple overlooks the original entry to the town from the direction of river Sal – from where the Varmans first entered this region. Their location on the spur also defines the limit of the town to restrict building activity beyond this point. The Laxmi Narayan group of temples located on the outcrop near the river marking boundary on the West. (Refer figure 5)


L 080_Full Paper_Heritage Management Conference Ahmedabad University_July 2017 Submitted by: Komal Potdar, Nimmy Namrata, Anam Sami

Figure 5: Map demonstrating the concept of field of vision, consecration of the geographical elements and location of Chamunda Devi temple (A), Dargah of Shah Madar (B) and Vajreshwari temple (C); Source: Authors


Neighbourhood temples: Based on the Gods and Goddesses to which they are dedicated, the temples could be categorized into three major typologies:


L 080_Full Paper_Heritage Management Conference Ahmedabad University_July 2017 Submitted by: Komal Potdar, Nimmy Namrata, Anam Sami

Memorial temples – Built to commemorate an important event or person in the history of Chamba town. Sacred groves formed an important part of these religious entities, generally marking their boundary.

Congregational temples – Built throughout the evolution of the town from the 10th century to 19th Century CE (considering only the identified historic temples). Most of these were built as neighbourhood social spaces and were dedicated to the Shiva and Vaishnav cult.


Traditional knowledge and responsive architectural systems: Use of local materials and responsiveness to climatic conditions and geography

The vernacular architecture of the Middle Himalayan ranges and thereby of Chamba, has taken shape through continuous and sustainable responses to environmental and social factors, making it an inimitable and inseparable feature of the distinct topography, location, climate and culture. The spaces had been designed to accommodate the seasonal variations of severe cold winters and warm summers along with being sensitive to the frequent earthquakes in the region. The climatic conditions also ensured the preferences of the people for a speedy construction of their personal habitation before the onset of winters (Dave et. al)19. The design also demonstrates social living norms through shape, size and number of courtyards and are also responsive to the occupation, for e.g: Provision of space for gaushalaxiv (cattle shed), granary and living areas for humans, The architecture of this Himalayan range has evolved over time with inputs from generations of artisans and shows an intelligent approach to adversities of climate and also is a balance of socio-cultural factors that is clearly evident through its architectural vocabulary – roofing system, structural system, flooring, decorative elements, semi-private and private areas20. In Chamba, two basic types of architectural systems are followed - Kath-kuni (wooden corner) or Thatthara- Thola construction and Dhajji – Deewari style of construction (Thakkar, Morrison)21. Both these types of construction system are practical and aesthetically pleasing, articulating local materials in systematic design. Inherent stability, flexibility and strength of these buildings make them appropriate to their mountainous terrain that is prone to earthquakes and landslides.


Gaushalas or Goshalas are protective shelters for cows.


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Kath-kuni system is a typical system of construction is based on the principle of framed construction system which uses beams and columns to ensure stability and transfer of loads. Columns are made by laying rectangular wooden blocks longitudinally and parallel to each other with gaps in between filled with local stones which renders stability during earthquakes. Wall courses have alternate layer of two wooden planks that are joined to each other through dovetailing, without a mortar bed. The floor beams rest on walls for support with wooden planks pinned with the floor board. Roof is made up of wooden rafters and purlins generally covered with slate shingles. Storeys divide the structure spatially into different levers where each floor is designated a characteristic use and function. The central column of the house serves as the stove for cooking, the heat produced thereby warming the whole house. (Refer figure 6)


Dhajji- Deewari system is timber frame construction system, with stone and earth infill, typically used in the mountain regions of South Asia22. Dhajji most commonly (but not exclusively) consists of a braced timber frame. Spaces left between the bracing and frames is filled with a thin wall (single Wythe) of stone or brick masonry traditionally laid and plastered with mud mortar. They are typically constructed on shallow foundations made from stone masonry. This building system is often used side-by-side or above timber laced masonry bearing-wall construction known as taq, bhater, unreinforced masonry and is also used extensively in combination with timber frame and board/plank construction or load bearing timber board construction. The floors are made with timber beams that span between walls. Timber floor boards, which span over floor beams, would traditionally be overlain by a layer of clay (or mud). The earthquake resistance these buildings is developed due the weak mortar. The masonry infill panels quickly crack in-plane thereby absorbing energy through friction against the timber framing and between the cracks in the infill material and the hysteretic behaviour of the many mud layers. The timber frame and closely spaced bracing, which essentially remains elastic, prevents large cracks from propagating through the infill walls and provide robust boundary conditions for the infill material to arch against and thus resist out of plane inertial loads. Because the framing and bracing is often extensive and close together, particularly when rubble stone is used as the infill, it is possible for keep the masonry walls relatively thin. This helps to reduce the mass of the building and therefore the inertial forces that must be resisted during an earthquake. The soft behaviour


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of the system has the additional benefit of de-tuning the building from the energy rich content of earthquake excitation. (Hicyilmaz et. Al.) (2012)23 (Refer figure 6)

Figure 6: Top row (L-R) Khath kuni house, external view; construction system of Thatthara- Thola; Bottom row (L-R) Dhajji deewari construction system, external view of house; division of storeys where lower is dedicated as cattle shed and first floor for human habitation; Image courtesy; Authors.

Characteristics of building spaces and formal pattern had been transformed due to modernization, changes of lifestyle and local climate as well as the smaller family size and occupation variations. (Nunta & Kunlaya, 2005)24. The basement is transformed and rebuilt by new material and subdivision to accommodate activities such as storing unused material and garage. Traditional practice of small footprints is continued, however, the construction if undertaken in modern materials and design, not in response to the vernacular design principles. This has resulted in drastic mishmash of the historic urban fabric, demolition and reconstruction of contemporary architecture, where the town is studded with handful of traditional vernacular houses. Modern houses are devoid of inner courtyards, private and semiopen spaces, which traditionally have been practices and are conducive to shared living and instils a feeling a togetherness among communities.


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Urbanisation, challenges of fragile mountain ecosystems and historic landscapes

Rapid economic development has induced urbanization in the hilly regions and has been one of the significant phenomena, which has dramatically changed physical, social and spatial environments since the second half of the last century. Current studies on sustainability of the urban environments mainly focus on factors like water, air, energy, and transport while historic urban landscapes rarely receive attention. (Sepe M.)25, mainly due to the absence of identification, documentation and studies to promote conservation of cultural landscapes. Addressing basic needs of community alone would be inadequate without assessing significance to their socio-cultural necessities and their inherited identities. Improvements in transportation and increased mobility have led to expansion of urban areas and led to transformation of historic town into dense populated zones. The burgeoning population sprawls towards the edges where once no habitation was planned for reasons namely: unsuitable slope, catchment area for seasonal water streams or land under vegetation and traditional demarcation and planning for more suitable activity. Land intensification due to unplanned and unregulated urban growth affecting the cultural landscape and is making fragile mountain systems susceptible to natural risks under the impact of changing climatic conditions. Excavation for construction of roads on higher altitude has led to destabilization of earth resulting in landslides during heavy monsoons and has increased the susceptibility of anthropogenicallyxv (Sahney et. al)26 modified slopes. The incidence of land utilized for such habitation ranges from 15-20% or higher as opposed to the traditional slope of 5-12% which is more suitable for human habitation and activities. The concrete retaining walls create a barrier to the nature course of water, preventing perennial or seasonal streams to reach the river, as opposed to the rubble stone walls which are permeable and sustainable. (Refer figure 7)

Figure 7: Construction of retaining walls in RCC; Image courtesy; Authors


Anthropogenic means changes in nature made by people. Human impact on the environment or anthropogenic impact on the environment includes impacts on biophysical environments, biodiversity, and other natural resources.


L 080_Full Paper_Heritage Management Conference Ahmedabad University_July 2017 Submitted by: Komal Potdar, Nimmy Namrata, Anam Sami

Humans have transformed ecosystems across most of the terrestrial biosphere, causing major global changes in biodiversity, biogeochemistry, geomorphic processes and climate (Ellis et al.)27. Intensive human and livestock pressures along with indiscriminate felling of trees for commercial purposes have already led to loss of soil and rapid depletion and destruction of forest cover. Lack of delineation of fragile eco-systems and zones, identification of indigenous medicinal species in the forest areas, mapping of perennial streams are a few issues emerging out of neglect of cultural landscapes. New human activity over the traditional catchment areas on the steeper slopes, delineated as forest areas, are directly affected, leading to drastically reduced catchment and water percolation. As a result, the consecrated panihars, primary and historic drinking water source, within the settlement are now running dry. At present, water for domestic use needs to be fetched from higher source, which are devoid of human habitation and active natural catchment areas. Traditional architecture designed to resist earthquakes, using locally available materials and built only up to two storeys is now replaced by cement concrete constructions constructed up to 4-5 storeys. These new construction are not designed for earthquake resistance and require pile footing making it an unsustainable practice. These new constructions when emerge on catchment area affect the perennial and seasons streams. Hence, there is an urgent need to check the unregulated and unplanned growth and address this issue in the development plan of Chamba. (Refer figure 8)

Figure 8: New multi storey buildings which are not responsive the traditional building practices; Image courtesy; Authors

Change of land use is another major issue, which requires attention. The low-lying riparian corridor, traditionally reserved for agriculture owing to the presence of highly fertile alluvium deposited by the river is now being replaced and changed to manicured areas for institutional use. Such haphazard and uninformed change in land use has a drastic effect and vulnerability of the area to floods and landslides and impact on food produce in the region. Open waste water


L 080_Full Paper_Heritage Management Conference Ahmedabad University_July 2017 Submitted by: Komal Potdar, Nimmy Namrata, Anam Sami

from kitchens get mixed with the natural streams, leading to pollution, waster accumulation and unhygienic conditions. Intangible heritage and associated activities such as annual pilgrimage to the mountains, annual festivals are also impacted due the shifts in ecology and climate over time. 6.

Recommendations for an integrated sustainable conservation strategy

The Rio Conference in 1992 recognized the crucial role played by mountain ecosystems by highlighting that livelihood of about 10% of the world’s population depended directly on mountain resources such as water, forests and agricultural products and minerals (United Nations, 2001). The ‘Fragile Ecosystems - Sustainable mountain development and Agenda 21’ recommends promoting integrated watershed development and alternative livelihoods. Task forces were recommended to align prevention of soil erosion, watershed development committees to support local initiatives in animal husbandry, forestry, horticulture and rural development, promoting national policies that would provide incentives to local people for the use of environment-friendly technologies, farming and conservation practices. In India, various programmes such as the Hill Areas Development Programme (HADP) and Western Ghats Development Programme (WGDP) have been launched by the Planning Commission. Primary objectives of both these programmes are eco-regeneration and ecopreservation with emphasis on preservation of biodiversity and rejuvenation of hill ecology (Planning Commission, 2001b)28 Specific programmes that have been undertaken include land development activities such as levelling, terracing and contour bunds. Water harvesting and erosion control structures such as check dams have been built. Cultivation on wasteland will serve the twin purposes of ecological regeneration and provide complementary avenues for income for small and marginal farmers. (MoEF)29 Taking cues from the above expert suggestions for fragile mountain systems, looking at these areas through the lens of HUL, efforts should be also include the following: 

Delineation of eco-sensitive zones and conservation of water catchment areas, riparian corridors and buffer zones in the master plan for the historic towns. Identifying an informed land-use with reference to the historic urban areas and in response to the geomorphology. E.g: New areas to be delineated for habitation with reference to analysis of slopes away from the town centre and ensuring continuity of traditional land use such as agriculture, pastures and forests.


L 080_Full Paper_Heritage Management Conference Ahmedabad University_July 2017 Submitted by: Komal Potdar, Nimmy Namrata, Anam Sami

Demarcating the ridge as eco-sensitive zone for protection of indigenous flora-fauna. Steep slopes should be protected and demarcated as no construction zone, regulation on the type of plantations to be carried out and construction of check dams and use of culverts to channelize the flow of natural streams. 

Identification of historic cores with respect to protected and unprotected built heritage with high cultural, historic, social significance and demarcating zones and propose a conservation and development strategy in conformation. E.g: The historic core around the ASI protected Laxmi Narayan Temple should not be allowed for new construction or extension of housing exceeding the height of the temple complex. This is crucial to re-instate the lost historic corridor and protect the visual integrity. Identification of consecrated open spaces within the dense settlement and developing the area for recreation, to revive the integrity of the original setting, such as the Raj Naun and panihar. Such an intervention reinstates the value of the heritage and imbibes a sense of community dwelling and ownership.

Developing a heritage management framework for historic urban landscapes (natural and cultural heritage) by identification, value and vulnerability assessment developing a integrated conservation and development plan for the town. E.g: Conservation of the natural water streams making provision for improvement of the panihar and naun, where the annual festivals are primarily celebrated.

Sustainable design solutions for new construction to include designs sensitive to earthquake resistance and climates responsive architecture. Documentation and analysis of architectural systems to be incorporated and adapted for new constructions, to ensure modern constructions are not in conflict with traditional systems of planning. E.g: Smaller footprint, height not more than 2-3 storeys, inclusion of courtyards, developing module designs inspired from traditional local houses.

Common properties or system of common land is a prime concern as permanent investments are not made by communities, thus neglecting the potential. To overcome these, local communities have to evolve suitable models of land management that would invite permanent investment and ensure both optimal returns and ecological safety and development. E.g: Identification and continuity of system of commons and inclusion of every strata of associated community towards the maintenance and providing incentives.


L 080_Full Paper_Heritage Management Conference Ahmedabad University_July 2017 Submitted by: Komal Potdar, Nimmy Namrata, Anam Sami



This research paper is derived from the Studio Project for ‘Cultural Landscapes: Sustainable Cultural Resource Management Plan for the Cultural Landscape of Chamba, Himachal Pradesh’ undertaken at the Masters in Architectural Conservation (2013-15) Department of Architectural Conservation, School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. This research would not have been possible without the critical guidance of Asst. Prof. Anuradha Chaturvedi (Studio Coordinator) and Dr. Priyaleen Singh (Head of Department). The authors thank Prof. Nalini Thakur (Former HoD and Dean of Studies) for imparting theories regarding Knowledge Systems approach that greatly helped the studies. We thank the co-faculty of studio, Prof.. T. L. Laxmipriya (Asso. Prof.), conservation architects Ms. Aishwarya Tipnis, Ms. Shalini Dasgupta and Environmental Planners Ms. Jayeeta Sen, Ms. Jasmine Kaur and Mr. Sanjay Prakash, who were instrumental in guiding the project. We thank all colleagues who worked on this combined studio project. 8.



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Image Courtesy : Author

Reinterpreting the sites and surroundings of the ancient university of Nalanda, Bihar

Nimmy Namrata


The SPA Journal of Planning and Architecture

Vol. 20, No. 1-2 2016


ABSTRACT It is a well-known fact that Nalanda Mahavihara was an acclaimed Buddhist monastic institution, established in the ancient kingdom of Magadha. However, the institution was not only limited as an organization for learning but the whole form and structure of the institution advanced to become a large urban centre, self-sustainable in all forms. Technological innovations in water, land resource management and traditional agricultural and building practices created the pre-conditions leading to significant advances in planning and building construction, resulting in the creation of an urban prototype that was only meant for scholarly activities. This paper aims at a holistic understanding of the Mahavihara, through situating the complex within its wider archaeological landscape, relating changes during 2nd BC to 7th CE to key processes such as form and structure of the Mahavihara, the agricultural practices, their socio-economic linkages, site planning principles and how these merged together to form the complex suburban magnet. The paper also makes recommendations for a landscape regeneration zone and suggests proposals for future development in the area. Keywords: Nalanda Mahavihara, regeneration, archaeologically significant zone, riparian corridor.

Introduction Nalanda, situated at 25°30’N and 85°16’E, has been identified with Badagaon, Nalo, Nalakagrama, Nalagrama, Nalandagrama, Kalapinaka, etc. in the past, by the historians and archaeologists. Nalanda was an acclaimed Mahāvihāra, a large Buddhist monastery in ancient Magadha (modern-day Bihar), India. It is supposed to have been established by early Gupta Kings in the 5th century AD though the region is supposed to be inhabited even before Buddha hailed through this place in the 2nd century BC.


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The geographical location of the place played an important role for locating a university at Nalanda. The ancient trade route of Uttarapath ran through Patliputra and an offshoot to this route connected Patliputra to Rajgriha. The historical study of the region throws light on the importance of Nalanda, historically. Nalanda was initially a small village by a major trade route that ran through the nearby city of Rajgriha (modern Rajgir), which was then the capital of Magadha. The region has played a dominant role in the history of ancient India. There are many ancient villages and hamlets in the region dating back to 2nd Century BCE; like Angami, Hastigrama, Karanja, Khanumata, Kollavala, Nalika, Varakiya, Pava, etc. These settlements have many archaeological remains of the Gupta and the Pala period, which remain unidentified. The epigraphs and ancient texts have records of these villages and settlements. This paper looks at the ancient university complex beyond the nominated area (the boundary of the site under protection) in a way to understand the site and its settings, as it would have been when it was established and how, with time, it transformed into what we see on the site now. The nominated site comprises of 10 monasteries, 5 temples and groups of stupas and prayer platforms spread over an area of about 1 There has been extensive research on almost all the aspects like history, art, architecture, spatial planning, etc. about this ensemble of monuments. But the area beyond this site lies in pure neglect. Taking clues from the records of Huien Tsang, it is concluded that the original site of the university extended much beyond the excavated remains which are hard to find now, except for some of the mounds seen around the place. These villages are scattered around the ancient university in a radius of about 10-15 kms. In day to day life, the people of these villages often find some sculptures or parts of a monument beneath the land. Also some of the huge mounds, which must have been formed over some parts of the ancient university, can be seen around this region. While some of these mounds are in a state to be excavated, rest of them have been inhabited by the local people in due course of time, giving this region an even more dynamic layer. Though with the amendment in 2010, in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act 1958, the 100m and the 200m prohibited and regulated areas have foreseen little construction and developments, there has been a tremendous shift in the developments trends around its surroundings which covers all these villages and settlements. These planning and development measures, some by official agencies, have changed the original fabric of the surroundings considerably. The hydrology of the area is also unique and is perhaps the best possible way to irrigate a land which receives very scanty rainfall. The new developments and adaptation of new technologies have led to the abandonment of the traditional irrigation practices. SPACE Vol. 20


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This paper is an attempt to understand not only the monastic complex of Nalanda but also the surroundings of the university in a holistic way that formed the associational cultural landscape of Nalanda. The paper puts light on the archaeology, hydrology and built heritage in the region that form major components of the associational landscape.

District of Nalanda in Bihar Nalanda is one of the districts of Bihar with Bihar Sharif town being the administrative headquarters of the district. The district of Nalanda, spread over an area of 2,367 sq. km and a population of over 23 lakhs has been predominantly an agricultural district. Nalanda district borders Patna District in the North and North-west, Gaya District in the South, Lakhisarai District in the East, Jahanabad District in the West and Nawada district in the South-east. The entire population of the district has been living in over 3.6 lakh households with an average household size of 7.0 persons. The district comprises of 3 sub divisions and 20 blocks, covering 249 village panchayats. Bihar Sharif is a sadar Sub-Division and most urbanized. Hilsa sub-division is predominantly rural and agricultural. Rajgir, smallest sub-division of the three, is most important from tourism perspective. Rajgir, Nalanda remains and Pawapuri are in Rajgir sub-division.

Study Area The study area consists of 17 villages namely, Nagphulichak, Begumpur, Sarichak, Surajpur, Mustafapur, Kaparsari, Paparnosha, Kul, Bhadari, Jagdishpur, Juafadih, Juafarbazar, Muzaffarpur, Kapatiya, Gajrajbigha and Maccharadiha. These villages fall under six Gram Panchayats namely Paparnosha, Mamurabad, Nirpur, Surajpur, Badagaon and KulPatehpur, which further fall into two blocks - Silao and Noorsarai. The administration and development of these villages is dependent on the district policies and Gram Panchayat decisions. The vast diversity of cultural resources in these villages is generally not considered when the development policies are not village specific, making the development non-contextual and also depleting the resources of these villages.

Methodology The methodology involved defining the area of study, and understanding the cultural components – archaeology, hydrology and built heritage. The transformations in cultural components were also studied in order to understand their relationship with the university and the alterations over the built time-line. The study of the cultural components was done through primary and secondary surveys, by mapping and analysis of topography, 3

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natural features like river, streams, canals, vegetation, forest, pokhars, wells and possible catchment areas. A major part of the study covered physical survey of the site to map the mounds surrounding the ancient university, and try to understand the site planning principles of the ancient university in order to understand the significance of the mounds and their linkages to the institution. The issues and potentials, and growth patterns were studied, and gap analysis done for holistic proposals for the site. There have been extensive studies on understanding the history and architecture of the excavated site of the ancient university of Nalanda. However there has not been much study and research on the surrounding hamlets and villages that were subject to the support of running of the huge university complex and its 10,000 students. Many historians believe that there were about 100 villages granted in the 4th Century by the Gupta kings and then later 100 more villages in the 7th Century AD. Over time, the names of these villages and hamlets have changed along with their location. The identification of these 200 villages is a subject of study and research. There are about 40 villages, till date, whose mention has been found in epigraphs (Mani, 2008). Out of these, about 15-20 hamlets and villages are the ones which could be identified with their approximate location and present names by the historians. The scope of this paper is limited to the study and mapping of these identified 20 villages in the vicinity of the excavated archaeological site.

The Context The rivers Phalgu, Mohane, Jirayan, and Kumbhari flow through the district. The land in the study area, which is approximately an area covering 5km radius from the ancient university, is predominantly a flat terrain with the undulations varying from 53m to 69m from the MSL. Rivers Panchane and Mohane are the main sources of water for the smaller water bodies scattered around the area. The land is predominantly agricultural land. The district has a sex ratio of 921 and a literacy rate of 66 per cent. The source of economy for most of the population in the district is agriculture. In 2006, the Ministry of Panchayati Raj named Nalanda one of the country’s 250 most backward districts.

Historical Timeline The historical timeline for the study has been devised based on secondary information available. The timeline gives a holistic view of the events happening in India, how they affected the overall regional context and how it, consequently, reflected on the immediate

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region surrounding Nalanda. Since the history of Nalanda dates back to time even before 2nd century BC, the almost 2500-year-old historical study done for the site is an overview of the major events that played important role in shaping and transforming the region of Nalanda and its surroundings. The devised timeline is as follows: −

Till 4th Century BC

4th Century BC to 3rd Century BC

2nd Century BC to 4th Century AD

5th to 6th Century AD

7th to 8th Century AD

9th to 10th Century AD

11th to 12th Century AD

13th to 19th Century AD


20th Century AD to Present




Historical Evolution: Socio-Political Conditions Originating from the kingdom of Magadha in the Indo-Gangetic Plain, in the eastern side of the Indian subcontinent, the empire had its capital city at Patliputra (modern Patna). The Empire was founded in 322 BCE by Chandragupta Maurya, who had overthrown the Nanda Dynasty. Chandragupta extended the borders of the Maurya Empire towards Seleucid Persia, after defeating Seleucus in c. 305 BCE. Uttarapath was the main trade route that followed along the river Ganges, crossed the Indo-Gangetic watershed, ran through Punjab to Taxila (Gandhara) and further to Zariaspa or Balkh (Bactria) in the Central Asia. The Uttarapath was very significant with respect to Buddhism as well, as this was the path traversed by Gautama Buddha to spread his knowledge. Rajgriha, the then capital of the Magadha empire, was on an offshoot route to Uttarapath, that connected Rajgriha to Patliputra. Nalanda lied in between this route and hence became an important destination to stay for the monks that used to travel through this path, during the monsoon rains. 5

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Reinterpreting the Site and Surroundings of the Ancient University of Nalanda

THE UNIVERSITY THAT WAS: AN INTERPRETATION The original extents of the University are supposed to have been extended for about 3.5km extending from South (Indra Pushkarini) to North. But, the area got transformed after it got burnt down in the 12th Century and then, consequently, a lot of settlements came over this area. From the position of the mounds and by mapping the description provided by Huien Tsang in his travelogue, a conceptual view was prepared to understand the original site, components and extents of the University. The site had 19 small and large water bodies marking the virtual boundary of the University with small and large monasteries. In the 13th Century, venerable Dhramaswamin visited the University and described it, when the University was at its peak. At that time, he mostly visited the deserted Nalanda. Over the previous years, Nalanda had witnessed a series of onslaughts by the Turkish army, who had established military headquarters at Odantipuri. He mentioned that although the university had been attacked by the Turkish army, it had survived, but there was no one to look after it. According to Dharmaswamin, the university had 7 great pinnacles in its centre, two built by the former kings and two by great acharyas. On the outside, at the north, were 14 lofty pinnacles. Outside of it were 80 small viharas, most of them built by the kings and queens. The excavated remains of Nalanda corroborate Dharmaswamin’s description. The row of temples corresponds with the 7 great pinnacles in its centre. And the monasteries match the 14 lofty pinnacles’ description. Only 10 monasteries have been excavated till date. Venerable Dharmaswamin travelled to Vajrasana in early 13th Century from Tibet to Nepal. His objective was to pay pilgrimage to places associated with Buddha, and to refine his skills through study and practice under the acharyas. All along the way he witnessed chaos, lack of administration, and deserted villages towns and Buddhist monasteries due to the arrival of Turkish forces (Fig. 1-2).

Archaeology The archaeology of the area is derived from the contour study, the data from secondary sources and mapping. Looking at the contours of the area at 1m interval, it is found that the normal topography of the area is a relatively flat terrain with undulations ranging from 56m to 59m. But the presence of sub-surface archaeology has created a huge transformation in the landscape, causing the slope to range from 53m to 69m. Also, there are a number of mounds scattered in the region, which may have remains of the ancient university. The location of the mounds has been found out by mapping the information from secondary sources, the map made by Cunnigham in his survey in 1876, and primary survey. The archaeology has been divided into three basic categories, the mounds in the settlement, the settlement on the mound, and the settlement on the mound with a mound. Also, the SPACE Vol. 20


Figure 1 : Comparison between the original layout and the present day condition of the University

Nimmy Namrata


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Figure 2 : Schematic view showing the location and extents of the ancient university

Reinterpreting the Site and Surroundings of the Ancient University of Nalanda

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mounds have been categorised according to the location where they are present: mounds in agricultural lands; mounds in settlements; mounds near roads; and mounds inside the boundary of protected site (Fig. 3).

Hydrology The study area has a lot of water bodies, mostly man-made. A large number of pokhars mark the area, which are man-made and are supposed to be present in the area even before Buddha hailed through this area. The rivers Panchane and Mohane are the main sources of water for the aahars and paynes in the area. But in the recent past, the developments like the coming up of roads and the railway track have hugely affected the water systems of the area and hence needs an immediate action. The upcoming settlements also have settled on the embankments of the rivers, which are very dangerous for the settlements as well as the hydrological systems. The NH-82 runs directly on one of the most important canals from the river to the pokhars in the area but since the roads have come up, the rivers are only rain fed and the link between the river and the pokhars is lost. The wells and tanks in the area, there since the time of Buddha, have also dried up because of the same reasons. The hydrology of the area cannot be looked in isolation as it is a part of a bigger network. In the case of Nalanda, the water system is the aahar-payne system, an ancient system which has been used by the indigenous community for ages. This system was developed by channelizing the water from the nearby rivers Panchane and Mohane through natural topography.

Aahar-payne Water system Aahar-payne system is a floodwater harvesting system used generally in south Bihar. An aahar is a catchment basin embanked on three sides and payne is the artificial channel constructed to utilise this water in the irrigation fields. Paynes meander through fields and end up in the aahar again.

Inferences The pokhars found in this region are historic, which were formed in the course of time of construction of the university. There were a total of 35 historic pokhars in the region, of which only 15 are remaining and those also have shrunk from the original size. The ancient tanks were used as aahars (reservoir) for the collection of water. The paynes used to run through the fields for irrigation purposes. These paynes mark the boundaries of agricultural fields. Most of the paynes have now dried up and electric motors are used for pumping and 9

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Figure 3 : Analysis of archaeology SPACE Vol. 20


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irrigation purposes. There is a tremendous shift in the development trends with an increase in the area of settlements to about 87 per cent in the last 30 years. This increase has led to an unplanned spreading of the villages without any consideration to the topography of the area, leading to the drying up of almost all the paynes. The rest of the water bodies have also shrunk from their original sizes to about 60 per cent (Fig. 4-6).

Built Heritage The built heritage in the area includes only the excavated remains of the ancient university. It was considered an architectural masterpiece, and was marked by a lofty wall and a gate. Nalanda had eight separate compounds and ten temples, along with many other meditation halls and classrooms. On the grounds were lakes and parks. Nalanda had dormitories for students. In its heyday, it is claimed to have accommodated over 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers. The architecture of the university also evolved from time to time. The monastic complex comprised of four types of buildings – the viharas, the chaityagrihas or temples, the stupas and the library. A row of temples lies on the west and a row of monasteries lies on the east parallel to it. In order to reach the temples quickly and easily, the monasteries are laid near them so as to offer prayers, worship images and make rounds of the temples. The monasteries comprise of a portico, an entrance flanked by two storeyed cells, one on each of its sides, an anti-chamber attached to the entrance, a court bounded by parapet wall, a colonnaded veranda, going round the court and attached to the cells on all four sides. They are generally provided with a well, drains, subsidiary and main shrines. The roof is approached by a flight of steps, the staircase generally provided by a sky-light window. Later monasteries, built in the 8th and 9th century AD, have a four pillared hall having large rectangular niches on both the side walls with its usually concreted or brick paved floor. Below the lintel are carved projecting bricks. The side walls at the entrance of the monasteries have two sockets for insertion of wooden log or beam which was inserted in them in order to bolt the door leaf from inside. The court usually contains a well and a channel in one of its corners for sewage. The cells are usually arranged around the court. The number of cells varies from monastery to monastery. There are no windows in the cells. The open-to-sky court in the middle gives ample amount of light and air to the cells. The veranda cells used to have a corbelled doorway of maximum height. The semi-circular arches are seen over some of the monasteries. The earlier monasteries have drains occurring one above the other as subjective of their occupations. They are generally located in the N-E corner of the monasteries and join to the S-W corner. The earlier monasteries also have wells in their court which are not found in the later monasteries (Mishra, 1998, Vol. 3, pp. 179). 11

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Figure 4 : Aahar payne network : Existing

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Figure 5 : Aahar payne network : Proposed

Nimmy Namrata


The SPA Journal of Planning and Architecture Vol. 20, No. 1-2, 2016, ISSN 0970-0706 pp. 1-22

Reinterpreting the Site and Surroundings of the Ancient University of Nalanda

Figure 6 : Figure showing the riperian corrider along the river There are long ovens or hearths found in the later monasteries which were used by the monks to cook food and also for conducting scientific experiments, when needed. Walls, stairs and other parts of the monasteries were generally plastered and used to have thick walls. In certain cases, there were passages in between the monasteries which used to contain drains, cubicles or blocks for different purposes. The wide open space between the rows of the monasteries and the temples were used for constructing numerous shrines, votive stupas, etc. Generally, in the monasteries, there is a large or main shrine just opposite their entrances in the middle of the row of cells at the back. The main shrine generally consists of colossal Buddha. In addition to the main shrine, there used to be subsidiary shrines, stupas, and chaityas in the courtyards of the monasteries. The earliest stupas in Nalanda are of brick and belong to 5th Century AD. They were installed at the site of temple of Sariputta. Next to them are larger and smaller structural brick stupas belonging to 6th Century AD. Brick built stupas of almost the same pattern represent the sixth level at the same site. They have miniature stupas in its enclosure. All these stupas are built of ornamental bricks that are thickly plastered. They have circular or oblong platforms generally in two tiers. Their drums and hemispherical domes have niches, the larger niches containing standing figures of Buddha, Bodhisattvas and Tara and decorated with garlands. The dome is surmounted by square hermika and capitals of gradually expanding tables. The lower part of the dome is decorated with niches containing

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head and bust of Buddha. The decoration of the later stupas completely differs from the earlier ones. The Buddha figures in the horizontal rows are depicted on the body of stupa along with nagas. Some of the stupas are monolithic; others have hermika and stick with chattris. In one of the stupas, the chattris on the stick are arranged in a tapering manner.

The villages There are almost 200 villages that are said to have been donated by the kings for running the university. These villages have not been identified yet and the process of recognition of these villages is still being carried on by various scholars. 17 villages have been identified for this paper, based on the secondary data and primary surveys. These villages lie within 5km radius of the ancient university. Study of these villages has been done according to the cultural components present in these villages, and grading the villages according to the maximum amount/ value of the cultural components present. Certain values have been identified for assigning and identifying the values for these villages. These include - Historical value, Associational value, Economic value, Functional value, Socio-Cultural value, Ecological value and Scientific and technological value (Fig. 7).

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ARCHEOLOGY Mounds that lie in agricultural fields The mounds that lie in agricultural fields face problems like growth of vegetation on them, and the agricultural activities like ploughing and irrigational activities. They require immediate attention because if the current activities continue, they will eventually ruin the cultural component that is present as mound and everything that is beneath. Recommendations for Phase 1 are: i. identification of the mounds by the respective authorities as important archaeological components; ii. most of these agricultural lands are under private ownership. Hence, the acquisition of land is needed to proceed for further activities. The concerned community with the ownership of land where the mound is located should be given money in return for the land; and iii. demarcation of the land acquired should be done. Since the land is in between agricultural fields, demarcation should be done using vegetative cover or crop pattern. In the Phase 2, vegetation cover should be removed as soon as possible as this is deteriorating the condition of the structures within the mound. Measures for irrigational activities, which do not hamper the mound or structure within, should also be taken up, followed by excavation with appropriate team of experts.


The SPA Journal of Planning and Architecture Vol. 20, No. 1-2, 2016, ISSN 0970-0706 pp. 1-22

Reinterpreting the Site and Surroundings of the Ancient University of Nalanda

Figure 7 : Map of the region with all the cultural components mapped together SPACE Vol. 20


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Mounds that lie within the protected boundary of the ancient university The mounds that lie within the protected property are relatively in a better condition and hence their excavation and maintenance is easier as compared to other mounds. But the condition of every mound within the site also differs and hence they need to be dealt with separately, depending on the condition. The mound in the south western corner has a lot of vegetation cover and hence it needs to be removed as soon as possible. The mounds in the line of temples should be excavated as soon as possible as they are very significant. Recent construction activities in the protected site for circulation paths are not considering the location of the mounds and some of these roads lead upon the mounds. Such actives should be avoided.

Mounds that lie within the settlement The mounds that lie within the settlement face common problems like encroachment by the villagers and using mud and other materials from the mound for personal uses. These activities have increased over the years and need immediate attention as these mounds are of significant importance. In certain cases, people have started to build over the mounds which will again damage the structures within and hence such activities need to be stopped. The recommendations for Phase 1 are: i. identification of the mounds by the respective authorities as important archaeological components; ii. demarcation and protection of the mound by creating a temporary boundary around it which is 2m offset to the extents of the mound; and iii. the houses that lie on the mound or within the boundary of the protected area need to be relocated at different places in the same village. The community should be given incentives for the same. According to the structure revealed in the excavation, further excavation processes, if needed, should be taken up in the Phase 2.

Mounds near road networks The mounds that lie near road networks face problems of vibrations that affect the structures within the mounds and become places of illegal activities in the night. The recommendations include identification of these mounds by the respective authority and demarcation by making a boundary around it and excavation of these mounds on a priority basis as both these identified mounds are probably atop the two libraries of the ancient university. The recent construction activities in the protected site for circulation paths, not considering the location of the mounds, should be avoided (Fig. 6).


The SPA Journal of Planning and Architecture Vol. 20, No. 1-2, 2016, ISSN 0970-0706 pp. 1-22

Reinterpreting the Site and Surroundings of the Ancient University of Nalanda

Recommendations for Hydrology The main issues are coming up of the roads (NH-82) and the double gauge railway track running parallel to the streams of the river which are the main sources for the pokhars in the Nalanda area. Also an uncontrolled development is taking place in the surrounding areas, where new settlements are coming up on the flood plain of the river, making the settlement as well as the eco-system vulnerable. Hence, there needs to be a check on the rivers as well as upcoming development for the hydrology to work.

Riparian Corridor A riparian corridor, 20m wide on both sides of the river and 10m wide on both sides of the main identified streams, needs to be developed. There can be a collection of activities and practices, applied along this margin, in order to improve the natural characteristics of the entire riparian zone and including a land use practice that can be used to further achievement of sustainable land and water utilisation. The following actions need to be taken for the riparian corridor: i)

fencing the riparian corridor with appropriate vegetation;


maintaining the vegetation;

iii) minimising any adverse effect on waterways from land use in or near the margin; and iv) installing protective river control works, if needed. Establishing the riparian corridor will help improving water quality as swamp vegetation on or near stream banks helps remove nutrients, particularly nitrogen, from emerging groundwater before it enters the streams. It also controls stream bank erosion as dense vegetation, or low shrub cover, traps silt and stores it temporarily on banks. There are few settlements that have come on the floodplain of the river and hence are flood prone. Such settlements should be relocated as soon as possible as these settlements are vulnerable and also harm the ecology of the river. The settlements that are within the proposed riparian corridor width should not be allowed to expand more than their present limits and provisions should be made for the communities living in these areas in other development nodes. There is a need to regulate the flow of water at their intersection with the roads, so that the flow of water continues at it pace without disturbance. The water can flow through manmade channels at these areas and sluice gates can be provided at the junction to regulate the flow. SPACE Vol. 20


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Some important paynes have been identified which feed into the main payne that runs centrally N-S to the Nalanda university and feeds most of the paynes in the region. This payne needs to be fed by streams which used to run initially and feed these paynes. Hence the identified payne needs to be reconstructed in the traditional technique by rammed earth and vegetation that defines the boundary of the payne. Because of lack of maintenance of aahars and paynes the traditional practice of irrigation is lost. The paynes have dried up and a layer of silt has taken place for both the paynes and aahars. Hence de-silting water bodies will prove to be beneficial as it will increase the water storage capacity of the tanks and free flow of water in the paynes. The local community can be engaged in desilting process which can also provide employment to the community through PMGSY or MNAREGA. The sludge removed from the water bodies can be used for the construction of embankments or as manure in agricultural fields.

ZONATION AND REGULATIONS Archaeologically Sensitive Zone Archaeologically sensitive zone is the area that surrounds the archaeologically sensitive zone and consists of majority of mounds in the area. This area will have different set of recommendations based on the issues and threats in the area. There should be no further construction in this area as this area covers all the mounds and pokhars. There should be regulations on the vegetation growth in this area to revive the landscape of the ancient university. Mango groves can be planted in this zone with compatible leguminous plants. Settlements that come within this zone can be proposed as model towns within the Aadarsh Gram Yojana.

Archaeologically Significant Zone Archaeologically significant zone is the zone that covers the modified topography of the area and sits on a higher land compared to the rest of the area. This area has considerable part of the remains of the ancient university and hence there needs to be regulations for the further development in this area as it might harm the significant structures within. There needs to be further investigation for understanding the site planning principles and the form and structure of the ancient university as there is no knowledge about the structures that are below these mounds. Special excavations can be carried out in this zone in such a way that it does not disturb the settlement above. Trial excavations can be carried out first and only after confirmation of significant structures below should the excavations be carried out. There should be provisions made for viewing the excavated structures below ground that do not hamper the future growth of the settlements above. There should also be regulations 19

The SPA Journal of Planning and Architecture Vol. 20, No. 1-2, 2016, ISSN 0970-0706 pp. 1-22

Reinterpreting the Site and Surroundings of the Ancient University of Nalanda

for the future growth of the settlements that lie within this zone. These settlements can be allowed for densification. Lotus used to grow in the pokhars around Nalanda. Under the Rapid Seed Extension programme of the Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Department of the District, lotus seeds can be distributed for cultivation in the pokhars.

Landscape Regeneration Zone The pokhars and paynes in the area are ancient and an important component of the cultural of the region. In order to protect the hydrology of the area, there needs to be the formation of a hydrology protection zone that covers all the important hydrological features of the area, integrated with landscape features. Some suggestions include: i)

The vegetation patterns need to change as the current vegetation growing in the area is not sustainable.


Horticulture supplements and farmer training programmes for sustainable agricultural practices.

iii) The Nalanda University in Rajgir can set up an institution in this area for the experiments and advancement in agricultural practices in this area. iv) The Nalanda University was surrounded by mango orchards which are no more there. Cultivation of mangoes will generate the historic, associational, ecological, economic, and functional values in the village.

FUTURE DEVELOPMENT The settlements in the study area have grown significantly over the last 10 years and are expected to grow even more in the coming years. Almost 65 per cent of the land is cultivable and only 25 per cent is inhabited resulting in compact settlements. While the density of settlements differs, with proximity of the settlement to the site is an important determinant for it. The average growth of population is 28 per cent and hence there needs to be regulations for new development. The area is majorly agricultural, with a number of brick kilns in the area accounting for about 2-3 per cent of the total study area. The brick kilns in such proximity to the settlements are harming the ecology of the area to a large extent as well as the health of the people living there. The emissions from the brick kilns is composed of fine dust particles, hydrocarbons, SO2, NOx, fluoride compounds, and small amount of carcinogens, which are dangerous. Hence the land presently used for manufacturing bricks can be utilised for future growth. These proposed areas will have better social and physical infrastructure, which can shift the development from other areas to this projected development area (Fig. 8). SPACE Vol. 20


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Figure 8 : Proposed zonations in the identified area 21

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References 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25.

Archaeological Survey of India (2014), Proposed Property and Buffer Zone for Inscription, Site Inspection of Nalanda Mahavihara. Beal, S. (1958), Buddhist Records of the Western World, pp. 320-361. Chakrabarti, Dilip. K. (1995), World Archaeology, Vol. 27(2) pp. 185-202. Chauley, G. C. (2002), Art and Architecture of Nalanda, pp. (a) 3-15 (b) 18-32. Cross-Cultural Encounters between Ancient China and Ancient India, Vol. 11(3), pp. 24-32. Cunnigham, A. (1862-65), Annual Report by Archaeological Survey of India, Vol. 1, pp. 16-52. Dutt, S. (1957), The Buddha and Five Centuries After, pp. 312-333. Ghosh, A. (2006), Nalanda, Archaeological Survey of India, pp. 1-59. Google earth maps, 2003, 2006, 2013. Heras, H. (1928), The Royal Patrons of the University of Nalanda, Bihar and Orrisa Research Society, Vol. 16 (1), pp. 1-16. Kumar, B. (1987), Archaeology of Patliputra and Nalanda, pp. 7-38. Mani, C. (2008), The Heritage of Nalanda, (a) pp. 3-12, (b) 13-22 (c) 167-172. Mishra, B. N (1998), Nalanda: Sources and Background, Vol. 1, (a) pp. 105-141 (b) 163-173 (c) 181-213 (d) 241-263 (e) pp. 312-343. Patil, D. R. (1963), The Antiquarian Remains in Bihar, Kashi Prasad Jaiswal Research Institute, pp. 300-335. Prasad, C. S. (1988), Nalanda vis-Ă -vis the birthplace of Sariputra, East and West, Vol. 38(1/4) pp. 175-188. Roerich, G., translation (1959), The Biography of Dharmswamin, pp. 90-96. Sankalia, H. D. (1972), The Nalanda University, pp. 248-260. Schwartzberg, E. Joseph (1978), Digital South Asia Library, 1-1200 AD maps, Cultural Sites Map. Sen, Tansen (2004), Buddhism, Diplomacy and Trade: the Realignment of Sino-Indian Relations 600-1400, pp. 237-243. Sen, Tansen (2006), The Travel Records of Chinese Pilgrims Faxian, Xuanxang and Yijing, Sources. Survey of India Map (1922-23), Darbhanga, Gaya, Munger, Muzaffarpur, Patna and Saran districts, first edition, No. 72 G. Survey of India Maps (1984), Nalanda District, first edition, No. 72 G/8/NE, SW. Thapar, Romila (2002), the Penguin History of Early India from the Origins, Penguin. Thapar, Romila (2008), Ancient Indian Social History: Some Interpretations. Pp. 24-33. Wijayaratna, Mohan (1990), Buddhist Monastic Life, (a) pp. 3-12, (b) 18-21.

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Barefoot Architects : Art and Architecture of the Marginalized A case study of Moodah makers of Farrukhnagar and saree weavers of Chanderi.

This is a research paper published at the annual THAAP Conference 2014(Trust or History, Art & Architecture of Pakistan) under the American Institute of Pakistan Studies; themed ‘Culture, art and architecture of the marginalized and the poor’ The two case studies are a part of the Urban Conservation studio project at M.Arch Conservation program of School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. The paper will be written with support from Dr Priyaleen Singh, Studio Director. ABSTRACT: Crafts in the Indian sub-continent, as also elsewhere in the world, are a product of a culture and a result of community interaction with the ecological, social, economic, cultural and religious forces, enabling craftspersons to produce objects of daily utility, for ritual use, for festive occasions or for sheer aesthetic pleasure. The production of crafts is also intricately linked with the habitat in which they exist and which nurtures the production of such objects of contrasting finesse and utility, be it a simple moodah made out of wild sarkanda grass found in the surrounding forests in Farrukhnagar or the highly refined silk saree weaving tradition in Chanderi which connects trading centres in various parts of India dealing with silk, cotton and gold threads. Paradoxically, even while historic cities and towns continue to be a repository of crafts and craft skills, and these crafts silently continue to contribute significantly to the economy, both crafts and craftspersons have been marginalized and live on the fringes of society, both literally and metaphorically. But what is noteworthy is that even in their frugal existence and deprived of the basic amenities they continue to assert their identities through very distinct habitats, shaped by the activities they foster. Their habitat responds very sensitively to the needs and demands of the craft processes where the architecture and its spatial qualities work symbiotic-ally with the craft production and help sustain it. As ‘barefoot architects’, these craftspersons have designed their own habitats as highly responsive environments to the needs and demands of the craft. This paper is a study of two such settlements of crafts and craftspersons: the moodah makers of Farrukhnagar and the weavers of Chanderi and will illustrate that beneath the more visible squalor of the built environment is buried a traditional wisdom of habitat design.

Nimmy Namrata | Research Work

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Barefoot Architects: The Habitat of the MoodahMakers of Farrukhnagar and the Weavers of Chanderi Bharti Sikri, Komal Potdar, Nimmy Namrata and Sugandha Jain

Introduction Crafts in the Indian sub-continent, as also elsewhere in the world, are a product of culture in addition to community interaction with ecological, social, economic and cultural forces, enabling the craftsperson to produce objects of daily utility for ritual use, festive occasions or for sheer aesthetic pleasure. The production of crafts is also intricately linked to the habitat in which they exist and which nurtures the production of such objects of contrasting finesse and utility. This may be a simple moodah made out of wild sarkanda grass found in the surrounding forests in Farrukhnagar or the highly refined silk saree weaving tradition in Chanderi which connects trading centers in various parts of India dealing with silk, cotton and gold threads and the markets for sale of the final product. Paradoxically, even while historic cities and towns continue to be repositories of crafts and craft skills, both crafts and the craftspersons have been marginalized and live on the fringes of society, literally and metaphorically. It is noteworthy that even in their frugal existence, deprived of basic amenities, they continue to assert their identities through very distinct habitats, shaped by the activities they foster. Their habitat responds very sensitively to the needs and demands of the processes of the craft where the architecture and its spatial qualities work symbiotically with the craft production and help sustain it. As ‘barefoot architects’, these craftspersons have designed their own habitats in highly responsive environments to the needs and demands of their crafts. This paper is a study of two such settlements of historic crafts and craftspersons: the moodah-makers of Farrukhnagar and the weavers of Chanderi. The two cases of these historic crafts are a study in similarities and contrasts. Both these crafts have been important contributors to the economies of their respective towns since historic times. Chanderi sarees till today form the economic backbone of the town. However, in the

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case of Farrukhnagar, the emergence of other occupations has caused a decline in the practice of the craft and consequently its economic contribution. Along with the economic importance they hold, their built environment also exhibits a traditional wisdom of habitat design. The two case studies contrast in the state of craftspersons, with those in Chanderi having shaped themselves to improve their economic status, while the moodah makers continue to exist on the fringes of society. However, irrespective of their significance, their habitats have not been acknowledged as being of any significance. Settlements throughout history have emerged and evolved owing to various reasons: trade routes and patronage being two of the most important reasons. The walled town of Chanderi is a picturesque medieval settlement dating back to the fifteenth century when it flourished under the patronage of the Mandu Sultans. The Chanderi region was under various dynasties such as the Mauryan Empire (322 BC-185 BC), the Sunga Empire (185 BC -75 BC), the Naga and the Gupta Empires (320 AD600 AD) and the Pushyabhuti Empire. The region had been in the close vicinity of the Dakshinapatha trade route since the Mauryan times. The city of Chanderi was captured, lost and recaptured by Babar in 1528 and Akbar in 1561. Under the reign of the Mughals, the city became a Sarkar of enormous economic resources in the Malwa suba. Abul Fazal, in Aine-Akbari, speaks of “14,000 houses for its population of two lakhs, its 360 caravan serais, 12,000 mosques and 384 market places�. Chanderi became a thriving settlement sitting on an important trade route, connecting it to the port city of Surat in Gujrat. In another part of the country, Farrukhnagar, a small town about 60 kilometers from Delhi, owes its existence to trade routes and patronage. After the decline of the Mughal Empire at the death of Aurangzeb, the first Late Mughal Emperor, Farrukhshiyar (1713-1719) granted a very fertile piece of land to one of his trusted nobles in the court, Fauzdar Khan. The location, being on an important salt trade route connecting Delhi to Ajmer, facilitated a thriving trading settlement. They were turbulent times with constant threats from the Rajputs in the west and the Marathas in the south. As a result, the settlement had a fortification around an octagonal plan form which connected to five major cities at that time through five gateways: Delhi gate, Patli gate, Khurrampur gate, Bashirpur gate and Jhajjari gate.

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Figure 1 A map of Farrukhnagar. Source: Google Maps

The traditional water systems surviving in the form of an octagonal step well, the richly decorated havelis and the Sheesh Mahal sitting at the heart of the settlement are a testimony to its historic past. The communities and their occupations in both these settlements have been responsible for the spatial planning and layout of the town. In Farrukhnagar, the traders, economically stable, occupy the town center with grand havelis of late Mughal architecture, while the marginal residents relying on livestock, potters and goat leather shoemakers occupy the fringes. The moodah makers belonging to the Dhanak community were also positioned on the fringes of the settlement in the Dhanak mohalla. The stark hierarchy in the settlement pattern also gives rise to a variety of architecture – from grand havelis with private open courtyards to small scale, self-constructed houses with mud plaster and thatched roofs.

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Figure 2 Royal havelis of traders in the town centre of Farrukhnagar. Source: Authors

Figure 3 Dwelling units of craftspersons on the fringes of the town of Farrukhnagar. Source: Authors

A similar town structure was also seen in Chanderi which was a very important weaving center. The morphology displayed the typical layout with the palace complex in the center and the localities of the artisans, merchants, priests and weavers occupying distinct mohallas in the settlement. The morphology of the settlement conveys a very functional layout. The streets in Chanderi are living spaces and also places of work. There is limited vehicular traffic as the streets are designed for pedestrians. Activities flow out into the streets, weavers stretch yarn along them,

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Figure 4 Royal havelis of traders in the town centre of Chanderi. Source: Authors

Figure 5 Dwelling units of craftspersons on the fringes of the town of Chanderi. Source: Authors

platforms are built outside houses and encroach upon the streets to provide additional work areas. Most buildings are clustered around public open spaces or have fairly direct access to them. The mohalla is identified territorially by the public open space it encloses. As in the case of streets, the public open space is also used as an extension to the house activity and these spatial expansions are generally consolidated in the form of platforms or at times as walled enclosures. From the variety of such instances, it is difficult to predict either the form or extent of this encroachment, except to suggest that over a period of time a balance was achieved between the imperatives of the traffic moving through the public

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open space and the need for extension into the street for household activities pertaining to the weaving craft. Such accommodations were accepted and added to the quality of life and experience in these spaces. It was also tempered by a moral code of conduct, which emerged from mutually beneficial obligations and prohibitions. The urban design quality of these spaces was enhanced by this symbiotic existence. This represents the advantages of a complex yet accommodating urban development process, as opposed to one which is privatized, monocultural and deterministic. Open spaces in the town occurred at an intimate scale in relation to the housing unit and spatial needs of the individual. The concept of a public open space exclusively for recreational activity was not found in the town. It was the web of functionality which accommodated several functions through the day. These elements of open space are a significant outcome of the craft and its needs. Craft often emerges from a lifestyle which is intricately yet very delicately linked with the surrounding nature and in the course of time becomes deeply embedded in the culture of a community, giving rise to both skills and more routine day-to-day practices. It ranges from a functional and utilitarian commodity to a high end luxurious possession. The contrast is aptly demonstrated by the two crafts; the Chanderi sarees exemplify the high end craft which is affordable by the elite only while the moodahs of Farrukhnagar are a craft of daily use by the common man. The emergence of this everyday craft of moodah-making can be traced back historically to when the Dhanak community was allowed to live in the fortified town of Farrukhnagar. The women of this community were employed traditionally for nursing and secondary help during child births. Consequently, the men, who basically did not have a designated occupation in the town, started making moodahs, an art which they learnt from their Muslim associates who were already practising the craft. The craft of moodah-making emerged from the presence of sarkanda, a wild grass that grew in the nearby forests. This grass was dried and used as raw material for making small seats, locally known as moodahs. Though, with time a lot of things changed in Farrukhnagar, the Dhanak community remained in the city, passing on their skills to future generations. Hence, a skill that emerged as a mere day-to-day activity became the craft of the community.

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Most crafts are an excellent expression of the deep bond humankind shares with nature, as well as the skilled use of resources that nature provides. This is proved by the fact that, in the process of moodahmaking, each and every part of the sarkanda is put to some use. It consists of three basic components: the stem, leaf sheath and seeds. Figure 6 The process of making a moodah. Source: Authors

The stem has an external layering of fodder and an internal stem with high tensile and compressive strength. This stem is used to form the cylindrical base of the moodah. It is cut into pieces of desired length (as per the required size of the moodah), placed radially at regular intervals and tied together with a rope to take a cylindrical shape. Two such similar arrangements from the stem are made and placed over each other to form a longer, double-layered, hollow cylinder. This arrangement of stems allows the moodah to bear the vertical load that acts on it which is then balanced by the compressive strength of the stem. The seat of the moodah which is placed above the cylindrical base is made by weaving a dense net of ropes. These

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Figure 7 The workspaces created for the craft of moodah-making. Source: Authors

ropes are made by beating the seeds and the leaf sheath together and then tying them. The seat and the base are held together by tying the ropes onto the stems of the base. The external sheath of the sarkanda stem is used as a covering for making thatched roofs. Deriving from the process of moodah-making, which needs larger spaces for cutting the stems and tying them together, the habitats include use of both built and open spaces. The craft is being practised in the organically evolved mohalla at the periphery of the settlement. The small-sized dwellings of the craftspersons are the work spaces which are semi-built with kuccha materials and they spill out onto the streets and the community open spaces. Work spaces also include those sections of the streets which are part of the circulation network, chowks and tree shades. There is a shift in the activity pattern of these spaces throughout the day. The daylight hours are spent in moodah-making, while the evening is dedicated to communal recreational activities. The moodahs produced are stored in the temporary sheds of the houses. Similar to the everyday art of moodah-making, the high-end luxurious craft of Chanderi saree-weaving is also intricately linked with nature. This can be seen in the housing form of the weavers of Chanderi. It is a fine example of a functional unit with considerations of social and environmental aspects, where various communities have various responsibilities to carry out the process of saree-weaving based on the hierarchy of the castes. This is also

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reflected in the morphology of the town and the allocation of mohallas. In order to understand the principles underlying the housing form, several housing mohallas of the weavers were studied. The house form varies in scale from the Raj Mahal located at an important focal point in the city layout, to the havelis of the noblemen and merchants, to the modest dwellings of the craftsmen and artisans, with the distinctive pattern of rooms grouped around private and semi-public open spaces where much of the daily household activity takes place. It is in these humble houses of the weavers that we see, the integration of functional usage and social purpose with the built form. The strict discipline of economic necessity and acting within a cohesive social structure has produced, over generations of slow evolution, an easily comprehendible yet complex environmental order. The spatial organization becomes a reflection of the family structure. The pattern of human activities defines the functional parameters. The arrangements for water supply and drainage, combined with the location of trees and vegetation and the .provisions for keeping animals, constitute the infrastructural matrix. The decoration and surface treatment of the houses hold symbolic meanings which are commonly understood, enriching the environmental quality. The rudimentary dwellings are the habitat within which the delicate Chanderi sarees are woven with a skill carefully nurtured over generations. The process of saree-weaving requires a number of steps to generate the best quality silk with desired texture and color woven in traditional designs. Chanderi sarees were woven using the hand-spun cotton thread, silk thread and zari, all of which were originally procured due to its location on the trade routes of South India and Gujarat. These threads are dyed in organic dyes according to the required color. After dyeing, the threads are disentangled and stretched to make them tighter, using the process of reeling with a charkha. The bundles of threads are then converted into small rolls called bobbins. These bobbins are converted into long rolls of 15 feet to 20 feet by the process of warping using bamboo sticks and wooden logs. The warped thread is woven on looms to produce the saree. Each step in the process of saree-weaving requires a sensitively designed space with appropriate lighting and ventilation. The residences are designed to suit these requirements. The houses have a front open space where the dyeing and drying of the threads is carried out. The threads are dyed in a tub of hot water and then sun-dried to make the colors fast. The pit looms are positioned with great care in the ensemble of rooms which constitute the house. The room with the loom is the most public part of the house and is often located directly next to the street to attract customers. The north lighting is effectively used to ensure natural light and ventilation as direct sunlight damages the loom. As is the case with most rooms in

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Figure 8 The various steps involved in silk saree-weaving in Chanderi. Source: Authors

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these houses, the loom room is a multipurpose space, serving also as a bedroom and quite often having a kitchen in one corner. The quality of the interiors is as complex and attractive as the composition of built volume and open space so characteristic of the housing mohallas. Drawing from the practice of two contrasting crafts, what is common to both is the extensive use of open spaces for practising the craft, drawing one to conclude that the non-built environment is as important as the built fabric. The open spaces act as multi-functional community and work areas which are under constant transformation with various activities at different times of the day. During the day, these spaces are used for loading looms and dyeing threads in Chanderi and for cutting the stem of the sarkanda and tying the moodah in Farrukhnagar. By evening, these spaces are transformed into play areas for children and community interaction spaces for adults. The quality and usability of these spaces is enhanced by the existence of certain elements like trees, which provide shade for working as well as for social interaction. In spite of sensitively designed habitats and work spaces, these traditional craft forms are under threat due to various reasons such as detrimental habitat conditions, threat to the housing fabric and decline in markets and profits. The changing role of the communities is also leading to changes in the craft patterns, which is proving unfavorable for its survival. In the case of Farrukhnagar, the habitats of the moodah-makers face an inadequacy of basic physical infrastructure like water supply, drainage, toilets and tidy workspaces. Modern planning and development aspirations of communities have led to privatization of common open spaces which has altered the practices of collective activity. On the economic front, the craft of moodah-making is facing a threat of non-availability of materials and exploitation from the traders. The raw material which used to be locally available in earlier times is now being brought from Agra, increasing the Figure 9 The poor infrastructure of the living spaces of craftspresons. Source: Authors

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transportation cost. This has led to the emergence of middlemen for the procurement of raw materials. Due to the absence of State initiatives and policies for nurturing these crafts and craftspersons and the absence of an organized market, the dependence on traders leads to exploitation, diminishing the profits of the moodah-makers significantly. On the other hand, Chanderi is facing issues of another kind. The traditional designs and patterns of sarees inspired from flora and fauna and indigenous architecture are being lost to serve the current market demands for modern designs. Also, a shift in the designs of habitats and workspaces and alterations into faceless and anonymous plotted developments, is leading to loss of open spaces which were an integral part of the original habitats and the related craft. ‘Modern’ planning paradigms are leading to a shift in designs not sensitive to the highly evolved traditional habitats designed by the craftspersons themselves. They do not address the craft requirements; this ultimately affects the workspaces and the craft. To cater to social, environmental and economic issues, which both the crafts are facing, a plan with a vision to strengthen the craft and the craftspersons needs to be laid down. This requires an effort from the State and the local authorities to collectively tackle the issue. Proposals to make the craft of moodah-making profitable may include a policy to revive the local availability of raw materials by replanting sarkanda in the surrounding forests, thus reducing the production cost and increasing the profit margins. Chanderi weavers are economically stable since they have organized themselves into co-operatives, whereas the moodah-makers continue to be exploited by the traders. Unless the Government recognizes the potential of a market for this craft, it will be lost. A proposal for the creation of a Government body to employ these craftspersons will lead to lesser exploitation by middlemen, better markets and flourishing economies. Tourism may be a tool to promote not only the historic settlements but their crafts as well.

Conclusion Craft is not a standalone practice but is entirely dependent on the habitat in which it is practised. Therefore, if one wants to find continuity in historic craft traditions like Chanderi saree-weaving and moodah-

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making in Farrukhnagar, it would be appropriate to find relevance in the traditions of their built habitats. In the face of new development, paradigms of design have shifted to paradigms of numbers and densities in the process, losing out on the qualities they originally fostered. Contemporary planning has ignored moral and natural elements in the development of urban environment, which referred to the individuals’ temporal adjustments with societal imperatives. There is much to be learnt from these traditional habitats of the craftspersons.

Acknowledgement The two case studies of Chanderi and Farrukhnagar taken up in the paper were a part of the Urban Conservation Studio Project in the 2nd semester of the M. Arch Conservation Program of School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi - 2013 and 2014. We would like to express our gratitude to Dr. Priyaleen Singh (Head of the Department, Architectural Conservation, School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi) for her constant support and guidance in writing this paper. We would also like to thank students of the two batches of 2013 and 2014 for the background research. Special mention may be made of Piyush Das, Neeraj Kulkarni and Anshul Rawat for their input into the research work.

References •

Yadav K.C (1977) Revolts of 1857 in Haryana; Indian Council of Historic Research (ICHR)

Bernier F. (1891) Travels in the Mogul Empire 1656-68; Oxford University Press.

Habib I; Atlas of Medieval India

Glossary Chowk

Open space created by the intersection of two roads

Bharti Sikri, Komal Potdar, Nimmy Namrata and Sugandha Jain | 88


A grand dwelling




A cluster of houses


A seat designed out of wild grass


A resting place


A traditional Indian garment for women who drape a six-yard length of cloth in prescribed regional manners

Sarkanda A type of wild grass Zari

A type of embroidery

Published Research Work  
Published Research Work