Our new series focusing on Vaastu-based cities begins with Ahmedabad, home to the now vibrant and ever-flowing Sabarmati
Vaasty Shastra, the science of architecture, had a great influence on the emergence of ancient cities in India.
According to historians, Vaastu’s influence on cities was evident during the Gupta Empire (the period between 4th and 6th century, also known as the Golden Age), and during the reign of several other dynasties including the Pallavas, the Cholas, the Pandyas and the Chalukyas.
It was also evident during the glorious Vijayanagar empire, which ruled over south India from the 14th to the 16th century.
Indeed, the science of Vedic architecture has been widely prevalent in India for centuries and most of the temple towns, forts, palaces and religious structures have been hugely influenced by Vaastu.
They include places such as Varanasi, Delhi, Jaipur, Madurai, Hyderabad, Mysore, and dozens of other ancient cities in the country.
Banks of the Sabarmati
Interestingly, Vaastu has also influenced the development of Ahmedabad, the leading city in Gujarat, which was established on the banks of the Sabarmati.
Rapid industrialisation and commercialisation of the city in the post-Independence era unfortunately saw the degeneration of the river, which got shrunk and got polluted.
It lost its personality as a river and was reduced to a dry ditch passing through the city. Amdavadis had lost access to the river and the only way they could see it was while travelling across the bridges.
Even the buildings located on the river banks had their entrance from the side of the road instead of a river facing entry.
The Sabarmati shot into prominence exactly 100 years ago, when Mahatma Gandhi set up his Sabarmati ashram on the banks of the river. He lived there for about 10 years and led his remarkable Dandi March from the banks of the Sabarmati.
A century later, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s project, the Sabarmati Riverfront Project has once again brought the spotlight on the river and the enormous benefits it can bring to the city.
Leading professional service company and one of the Big Four global auditors, KPMG, had included the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project in the list of ‘100 Most Innovative Projects’ in the field of urban regeneration; such projects make cities liveable as well as sustainable.
Dr Ravi Rao, the world-renowned Vaastu consultant and a longtime resident of Ahmedabad, notes that the Sabarmati River Front Project is a good thing that is happening to the city. “In a way it will return the Sabarmati back to Ahmedabad citizens,” he points out. “So long as the river carries water in it, the prospects of Ahmedabad will always be bright.”
According to him, from the Vaastu angle “three factors have been the operative forces for the city. The water bodies, roads and the presence of industrial activity on the periphery.”
The water bodies have been the boon and the bane for the city. The fortunes of the city are linked intimately with the Sabarmati. Whenever the river waters dry up the city will see setbacks.
The Sabarmati Riverfront Project is indeed one of the best things that could have happened to Ahmedabad because it promises to ensure that the river will retain its waters for all 365 days of the year.
The move to transform the immediate vicinity of the river banks is also a great initiative as it will bring the populace close to the river and also – hopefully – bridge the gap between the eastern and western parts of the city.
Another positive development is the recharging of the local ponds and the sprucing up of Kankaria and Vastrapur lakes.
The Sabarmati Riverfront Development Corporation points out that the project is unique because Sabarmati is a truly
socialised river, a historic one, but which through decades of neglect and decay, had become a pathetic caricature of a river.
“The project dealt with sensitive issues like slum rehabilitation, relocation of an age old natural market and a Dhobi Ghat with élan,” it says. “This project by its inclusive nature has benefited the people from the lowest strata of society. This project has connected the river and people, again directly through its ghats.”
The famous havelis in towns such as Godhra, Dahod, Palanpur, Radhanpur, Patan, Siddhpur, Himmatnagar, Ahmedabad and many more, represent the splendour of the wooden havelis.