Brilliant piece by Aravindan Neelakandan of Swarajya. Another case of we forgetting lessons from our own past.
He draws insights from Prof Patrick Geddes, who had praised urban planning in temple towns of Madurai and Kanchipuram.
Though well aware of the grandeur and civilizational intelligence embedded in the traditional town planning of Indian temple-cities, Geddes was also for democratizing the spaces in harmony with ancient design. Thus in the context of Srirangam he observed that the old city should consciously enter a new phase of development which should be “in continuity and in keeping with the plan of its admirable historic development.” Thus he envisioned the temple-towers to become the seats of learning of ancient languages – Tamil, Sanskrit and Pali and also physical and social sciences. At the same time the harmonious development should “also let the poor, the humble castes and even the casteless be provided for well.” He considered that the development of cities in harmony with their original historic plans would halt “the worst of all India’s modern plagues – that of slumdom.”
As India moved towards building futuristic cities it becomes important that we remember the works of Patrick Geddes on ancient Indian town planning and their relevance to today’s human socio-cultural ecology. The Indian temple-city planning contains in it principles that can be used in building sustainable futuristic cities which take into consideration not just the economic and political dimensions of humanity but its biological, psychological, ecological and spiritual dimensions.
Fascinating to learn all this. Thanks Mr Neelakandan for these insights…