Design
Message of New Nirvana? | Geeta Wahi Dua
LA 55
Swaminarayan Akshardham, Delhi

Religious places in today's times, are in a unique position of imparting unto their believer's the good grace to contemplate, reflect and work towards the larger goals of humanity rather than merely celebrate wealth and opulence. With the wide reach religion now has on the world, they can be used to propagate spiritualism and faith that will motivate one to give back to the environment.
The economic liberalization policies of the 1990s were a landmark stage in the history of india, which transformed the social, economic, cultural and political arenas of the country forever. In all creative fields, there was a new vigour that tried to relate to the larger global order of placelessness and anonymity, thus shedding the idea of localized identity. This idea of aspiration was intrinsically linked to consumerism and a sense of exclusive identity and self-worth which identified with a larger world order, mainly derived from the west. At the same time, there was another kind of cultural model, mainly driven by religious sects and politicians which asserted the religious and national identities, of being Indian, in a unilateral and aggressive way. This combination of aspirational outlook, consumerism and nationalism took form in the development of Swaminarayan Akshardham, a spiritual centre built in the capital city of Delhi in 2005.

The Place

Built and managed by Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), the centre is dedicated to the life and teachings of Swaminarayan, a Vaishnav saint belonging to the state of Gujarat. BAPS is a prolific religious sect with many branches all over the world.

Another temple of the cult, smaller in scale, was built in Ahmedabad in late 1970s. In Delhi, it occupies a sprawling site of around 90 acres of the eastern floodplains of River Yamuna. The Commonwealth Village abuts it on the western side. The enclosed complex, entered from a service road on the northern side comes across as a world full of wonder-an imagery created by intricately carved stone structures, gateways, more than a thousand columns and pillars, the main temple on a raised plinth, water pool, wide pathways with manicured lawns with planting of pruned trees and shrubs-that can be related to a film set of an Indian mythological film. One passes through richly ornamented stone structures-a series of gateways, Swagatdwar, flanked by large manicured lawns on both sides. Mayurdwar, another gate leads the visitor to the Visitor Center, after passing through which one finally arrives at Charnarvind-a central plaza with a large marble replica of the holy footprints of the spiritual guru that commemorates his incarnation on Earth.

 


ISSUE NO: 55
Faith and Nature
FAITH AND NATURE

M. N. Ashish Ganju

RESONANCE
Vikram Soni

'TO BELONG' IS FAITH IN THE NATURE OF THINGS
Savyasaachi

BUDDHISM AND NATURE: TRANSFORMING LANDSCAPES
Leslie E. Sponsel


THE PERFORMATIVE LANDSCAPE OF DASHASHWAMEDH GHAT, VARANASI
Amita Sinha

BRAJ: CULTURAL LANDSCAPE FOR BHAKTI
Divay Gupta


MESSAGE OF NEW NIRVANA? SWAMINARAYAN AKSHARDHAM, DELHI
Geeta Wahi Dua


LANDSCAPING THE ENVIRONS OF THE HOLY KA'BA
Mohammad Shaheer


PAINTING THE LARGER PICTURE: SIROHI'S ECOLOGICAL CANVAS
Rupal Rathore

TREESCAPES
Golak Khandual

Nature in the City
'TAG' THE TREE

Geeta Wahi Dua

Tribute
THE DAUNTLESS CRUSADER OF THE ENVIRONMENT: DR. DHRUBAJYOTI GHOSH

Suptendu P. Biswas


REMEMBERING DHRUBAJYOTI GHOSH
Dhruba Das Gupta

Landscape Design
REVIVAL OF AN URBAN LAKE: GOPI TALAO, SURAT

Urban Initiatives, Surat

A RIDGE, A PEAK & SOME COFFEE: JAVA RAIN RESORT, CHIKMAGALUR
FICUS Landscape Architects, Bengaluru

TAJ GANJ: DESIGN OF URBAN LANDSCAPE AND OPEN SPACES
Archohm, Noida

People's Narratives
MEDIAN AS PLAY SPACE - GARIAHAT: CHESS CLUB

Divya Saraf

Seeing the Unseen
OH MOON!

Flights of Hope
ENGAGING WITH NATURE

Book Review
MYRIAD PATHS TO NURTURING NATURE
BOOK: FLIGHTS OF HOPE

Review by Meera Godbole - Krishnamurthy

INSPIRING REFERENCE FOR BEAUTY AND SOCIAL ASPIRATIONS
BOOK: AUROVILLE ARCHITECTS MONOGRAPH SERIES:
PIERO AND GLORIA CICIONESI

Review by Madhu Pandit


LITERARY LANDSCAPES
BOOK: THE MAKING OF EARLY KASHMIR:
LANDSCAPE AND IDENTITY IN THE RAJATARANGINI

Review by Pushkar Sohoni

Garden Calendar
MONSOON

Grotech Landscape Developers Pvt. Ltd





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