Categories: INDIA NEWS

Art on streets, riverfront: What new Ayodhya may look like

THE NEW Ayodhya will be an experiential city, blending the old with the new, say those involved in preparing a blueprint for the masterplan.

Dikshu C Kukreja, Managing Principal, CP Kukreja Architects, says that in masterplans until now, road strategies only mentioned 3m or 9m wide roads, based on need. “So far, we have only had a two-dimensional approach to masterplans in India. I’m proposing a three-dimensional one. Why can’t we have three types of 18m wide roads, where in some streets vehicles take precedence, some streets are only for pedestrians and cyclists and another 18m type where art programmes or other performances can be held. Such an idea hasn’t been executed before in India,” he says.

Delhi-based CP Kukreja Architects was selected recently to draw out a blueprint for the masterplan of Ayodhya, with two other firms, Canada-based infrastructure consultants Lea Associates and Indian conglomerate Larsen & Toubro.

The masterplan will include strategies on town planning, transport, infrastructure, heritage, tourism, urban design and renewal. The Ayodhya Development Authority (ADA) released a global tender in December last year. While about 1,200 acre is identified for a new, greenfield city, the masterplan covers 875 sq km, which is under the ADA.

In their short- and long-term strategy documents are ideas for a blue and green city, says Kukreja. “It is not just about having sustainability goals but also having buildings that will play a supporting role to nature. Greenery will take precedence. As for the ‘blue’, it is about the river itself. The Sarayu has cultural and historical significance and we want to create a riverfront that will have possibilities for crafts and tourism,” he says.

“Since the city is an important stop on the darshan map, we hope to have quality public spaces. What if we can have places for cultural programmes every evening? There will be places where people can gather daily or they can gather weekly,” he says.

Even as they are aware that with the Ram Temple and the Ayodhya mosque, visitors will arrive in hordes in the coming two years, there are plans to enhance the transport infrastructure, provide better stay options, which will mean investments into hospitality and scope to offer employment for different skill-based activities.

“We are also closely studying cities such as the Vatican and Venice. Not just for their religious significance but also in terms of how they preserved their identity and faced challenges of climate change. Among Indian cities, we are looking at Tirupati, Amritsar and Varanasi. How have they managed their infrastructure, and where have they faltered. These lessons will teach us what to do and what not to do,” says Kukreja.

“We are also going to explore vedic planning principles, in that our approach is not a conservative one, where everything is sacrosanct, but we believe that we have to respect history and yet make it progressive. Ayodhya can have the flavour of the 21st century, and not just one identity as it has now. Maybe it can have a world-class vedic university, where people from all over the world come to learn. History can become the anchor to revitalise the old city,” says Kukreja.

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