An Urban Transformation from an Ancient Temple City To Smart City
The students of Semester X, Bachelor of Architecture visited Varanasi from 9th to 11th of Feb 2020 where they experienced the vibes of this ancient city getting ready to leap into the future and relate to the ground conditions of this historic urban transformation.
Varanasi, also known as Kashi or Benaras is an ancient town and a sacred city of Indian Civilization. Located on the banks of the river Ganga, Varanasi has become synonymous with temples and ghats. It is known to be a religious place and pilgrims visit it throughout the year for praying to Kashi Vishwanath and many other temples. Varanasi has a strong connect with all ancient religions; Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism and is also considered the place to attain moksha or salvation from life and death. Varanasi is now getting a huge impetus to develop into a Smart city with improved infrastructure, connectivity, development and strategic projects that will help connect this ancient city to the future. Various projects to revive the traditional art, improve the infrastructure and accentuate the important religious and historical centres of Varanasi are already launched. This journey of Varanasi: From an Ancient Temple City to Smart City is unique and worth documenting.
During the trip they experienced the ghats and the city’s close relationship with the sacred river, how the activities, both religious and social, transform from dawn to dusk. They also explored the Buddhist history in Sarnath to the north of Varanasi, visiting Dhamek stupa and the Buddhist temple and location where Buddha delivered his first sermon after achieving enlightenment. They also spent time visiting the power looms and hand looms in the weavers’ settlements, appreciating the intricately woven and finely created sarees and fabrics and tasting the local delicacies of Varanasi.
The students had the unique experience of visiting the site of an ongoing massive redevelopment project: Creation of Kashi Vishwanath Dham. This was made possible by Varanasi Development Authority and The Temple Trust of Kashi Vishwanath Dham project. There has been acquisition and clearance of 260 urban buildings in the vicinity of Kashi Vishwanath temple. This has led to the discovery of almost 43 temples and shivalingas that were concealed in the dense network of built form. The new project conserves and accentuates theses temples along with providing amenities to tourists and pilgrims and creating a corridor from the ghats to Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
Prof. Hemani Singh, Dean, SOAP accompanied the students.