Urbanism to Riverine Planning Strategy for Climate Resilient Cosmic Sacred City in India-Varanasi

Dutta, Bikram Kumar and Bandyopadhyay, Sanhita (2021) Urbanism to Riverine Planning Strategy for Climate Resilient Cosmic Sacred City in India-Varanasi. CITIES 20.50 – Creating Habitats for the 3rd Millennium: Smart – Sustainable – Climate Neutral. Proceedings of REAL CORP 2021, 26th International Conference on Urban Development, Regional Planning and Information Society. pp. 1061-1073. ISSN 2521-3938

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The history of no other city is more fascinating than 4000-year history of Varanasi, which is inherent resilience in adopting itself to an ever-changing urban environment, independent of other religions and the whims and fancies of Indian culture. City is developed between two rivers i.e., Varana and Assi (Varanasi). City develops along the concave bank of river Ganges. Varanasi traces its origin to Anandvana; the forest of bliss where Lord Shiva sits in a yogic posture with his eyes closed listening intently to his wife Parvati playing the veena. He creates the cosmos contained in ‘Kashi’ with his yogic power and her music. He strikes his trident to hold the city and form three hills Omkareshvara, Vishveshvara, and Kedareshvara and place it beyond the ravages of time. He catches the sacred Ganga in his locks as she pours down from heaven (Kailash Glacier). The city originated with the creation of Manikarnika Kund (pool). Lord Shiva and Godess Parvati made Vishnu to handover “Kashi” (Kaash). “Who so ever should have died in Kashi shall reach salvation” - myth in Vedas. The name Mani Karnika refers to the jewel of Lord Shiva’s earring. The earring was studded with a pearl “MUKTA”- so the sacred place “tirtha” should confer “MUKTI”- salvation. There are hundreds of lingas in the city, however supported by Shiva’s trident are greatly revered formed radial arterial road pattern of city space. The Ganga is conceived as the Kundalini power rising through the lotus chakras in Lord Shiva’s spine as form of finger shape water channels pour in Ganga. The west bank is visualized as the spine of the primordial ‘Purusha’- man-creation of world and (Assi and Varana) Rivers are water channels intermingling with liquid power of Ganga. The city was developed in the square and circle combination. The square includes mostly temples and circle act as the circumam bulatory path around the temples. Further the expansion of the outside the square towards the panchkroshi route. The five sacred territories are further explained as the symbol of “gross elements”. This is comparable to Shiva’s dance symbolishing cosmic cycle creation and destruction as the basis of existence - sky, earth, air, water, and fire which creating pilgrimage circuits in the form of garlands consisting of different number of shrines in chain. Aryan group marched and cleared dense forests, established settlements along the Ganga plains between 1500 B.C to 800 B.C established textile industry, agriculture, brick architecture, crafts and merchantile. In second stage of development during 500 B.C habitant settled along rivers as being mode of transportation of goods for trade. In third stage during 4th Century people settled on the western margin of the ridge that lined the Ganga and also along the streams that lay inland. Most of the ponds and lakes were converted into jalatirthas associated with both Puranic and other deities. In fourth stage from 8th century to 10th century A.D. Pratiharas and Gandavals settled towards west and south-west. Construction of 350 temples confirmed the growth of Vanaras as religious nucleus of North India. City expanded upto Lolarka Kund in the south. The inscriptions of this period mention seven ghats along Ganga. 6 Km. stretch is fascinating with 86 ‘ghats’ – platforms of 12 Km. with wide along the river Ganges performs rituals, cremation, washing, fishing, simply resting etc. Further Chines invasion, conquerers Mughal architectural plethora shows the habitation in Varanasi. Maratha’s rule rebuilded the shrines. In 19th century Britishers replaced Maidagin Tank by a company garden in cantonment area. Machodari tank was drained into the Ganga through underground channel and the site was turned into the park. Close by a new market was developed. Bisheshwarganj was established in 1830, today's greatest grain market. Railways, bridges, improved sewage, and drainage system modified urban fabric of Varanasi. City was improved as social, educational, political power centre. Areas adjacent to the ghat and the old city exhibit dense development due to its proximity to ghats and their longevity of existence which has become the cultural fabric of the city. Maze of buildings and narrow streets along the length of ghats, temples, shrines, dormitory for pilgrims, shops, restaurants, and hotels crowed the cramped spaces of the city. Streets just wide for two people to walk. Impact on cultural integrity of old city is due to increased population from 1.2 million to 6 million within 175 Sq. Km area premises in festive seasons. The growth of peripheral areas is likely to be more in comparison to other parts of the city. Most planned development increased in pakka houses which rapid encroachment of vacant spaces, ill-drained areas. Gadaulia drain, Machodari tank disappeared and replaced by parks as a result. River Assi become sewage drain. The city has grown in the north and north-west direction towords Sarnath. But with all malice the land of Varanasi is considered to be 'blessed land' because it was quite above normal flood level. In the flood plain site between the Ganges River, Ring Road, and Banaras Hindu University, a riverism planning strategy is using a combination of soil from cut and fill operations and dredged river silt to build the ‘fingers’. The low-ground areas between the fingers will become capable of draining water to the river during monsoons while serving as ground for urban agriculture during the rest of the year. Infrastructure and transportation is also being proposed along the spine of the fingers, which will enable people formerly living on the low-grounds to have better connections with the city and its infrastructure, and live with resilience, harmony and improved economic opportunity. Restoration of Ghats, schools and temples surrounding kunds will coordinate tree nurseries. Varuna will be a site of community based nurseries to mitigate urban flood and regain its bliss of anadvan. Turning River Assis into a cleaning biotope. Self sustain water management through four water origin clouds (rains), nallahs (flows), kunds (holdings) and aquifers (deep holdings) will be made through productive terracing, trash catchment for reslient sacred cityscape.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: productive terracing, climate resilient, fingers, cosmic, riverism planning
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Depositing User: REAL CORP Administrator
Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2021 21:25
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2021 17:51
URI: http://repository.corp.at/id/eprint/831

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