Volume 68 Number 1, September 2016
Water Design: Environment and Histories
|Specifications:||144 pages, 140 illustrations|
|Dimensions:||305 x 241 mm|
Much can be learnt from India’s rich systems of harvesting and distributing rainwater and groundwater through a variety of architecture, some of which are engineering and aesthetic marvels. The essays here, written by specialists from around the world, adopt an interdisciplinary approach to the subject, bringing together older research and new findings. They look at the structural and aesthetic figurations of waterscapes and reveal how these fit within a larger cultural and spiritual worldview. The monuments discussed span a host of regions and are viewed from various perspectives: How were their artistic and ornamental characteristics related to the prevailing local practices of a particular region? What were the hydro-technical skills that went into these creations? What was their connection to their surrounding rural or urban topography? How did they become ritual sites and markers of social segregation or integration?
In present times, when climate change and water conservation are among the most pressing issues, this book is particularly relevant in drawing attention to historical models that could provide valuable insight and inspiration for future solutions.
Jutta Jain-Neubauer has been engaged with the study of water and architecture in various regions of India for more than 35 years, starting with her pioneering work on The Stepwells of Gujarat in Art-historical Perspective (1981).
Urban Planning at Bundi: Subterranean Water Structures
Jaigarh in Amber: Techniques of Water Harvesting
Rajendra Singh Khangarot
Ecomoral Aesthetics at Mathura’s Vishram Ghat: Three Ways of Seeing a River
“Waters should be made to flow...”: Babur’s Obsession with Running Water
Barapula Nallah and Its Tributaries: Watershed Architecture in Sultanate and Mughal Delhi
James L. Wescoat Jr.
Jaipur’s Waterscape: A Cultural Perspective
Jaina Sites: Water Structures and Symbolism
Julia A.B. Hegewald
Water in South Indian Temples: Tirthas, Tanks and Vasanta-Mandapas
Ellora-Khuldabad-Daulatabad: Water and Sacred Spaces
The essay deals with the topography of waterscapes and how these determine or are determined by the urban setting in the ancient town of Bundi in Rajasthan. It assesses the data on location, ownership, use, protection, materials of construction, historical and social significance, and dwells upon their importance within the town planning, in terms of its water management systems as related to its urban and societal fabric. The extraordinary number of 56 stepwells (baolis) and 52 ponds (kundas) within the relatively small town of Bundi make these water structures an important factor within the town planning.
The micro-analytic approach taken by R.S. Khangarot in this essay examines the ingenious technicalities of hydraulic architecture and shows that the most significant feature of the fort at Jaigarh is the water supply system which is marvelled at by modern scientists and engineers to this date
Focusing on the Vishram Ghat at the pilgrimage site of Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, the epicentre of Krishna worship in India, the essay approaches the technological, the socio-political and the artistic as a layered system of ecomoral aesthetics materialized through a quotidian interweaving of the human and the environmental. Taking the hydroaesthetics of seeing the river Yamuna’s passage through the pilgrimage site as a point of departure, the essay examines early modern riparian architecture, colonial photography and travel memorabilia. The aim is to open up new arenas of an ecological art history that pays close attention to the reciprocal relationship between art and architectural practices and the natural environment.
Infrastructures related to water are often mediators—intentional or perceived—of state control and sovereignty, and a visualization of authority and societal systems. This essay looks at the river to analyze a probable political intention and explores the importance of the riverfront as a seat of power and popular habitat of the urban elite. It reviews Emperor Babur’s idea of flowing water, as he seemed to have turned his memory of the abundantly watered environment of his Central Asian ancestral home into a “language of water” in his building activities that helped establish him on Indian territory.
Delhi developed a fascinating array of late medieval and early modern water architecture, ranging from upstream water control structures to tanks, baolis and sluices that were associated with its many historic capitals.These architectural structures were shaped by a larger system of stream channels or nallahs that drained the ridges and plains of Delhi. Indeed, they were parts of a single large watershed that extended from Tughluqabad in the east to Mehrauli in the west and Shahjahanabad in the north. The major tributary watersheds came together to create the Barapula Nallah near the village of Nizamuddin, which has one of the few functioning baolis in the city today. From there, it flowed past the nallah-front tomb-garden of Khankhanan Abdur Rahim, under the Barapula Bridge, past the now-vanished Sultanate palace-garden capital of Kilokri, into the River Yamuna.
Jaipur started being constructed from around the second decade of the 18th century. This essay addresses the city’s water management that had to cope with less than satisfactory resources. What were the available resources, and, more specifically, how did its royal patrons, first of all, Sawai Jaisingh and, later on, his successors, and the actual makers of the urban hydro-architecture harness divine agency for their ends: for their physical needs, for their religious ends and for the end of besting their rivals by symbolic action. The essay is based on little-studied literary and cartographical sources produced at the court of Jaipur.
The water-related architecture of the Jainas is still reasonably unknown. This is due to the fact that Jaina scripture largely denies the religious significance and the purifying capacities of water. Nevertheless, Jaina ritual involves ablutions, water imagery is part of temple ornamentation and the Jainas also created impressive water assemblages. Amongst these are temples in connection with rivers and lakes, shallow tanks and deep stepped basins (kundas), as well as more complex well structures (e.g. stepwells, spiral wells) and water gardens. At the sacred site of Pavapuri in Bihar, the water tank and island temple commemorating Mahavira’s enlightenment gained such importance that full-size replicas were raised elsewhere and paintings and models representing it are housed in shrines throughout India and the diaspora. Furthermore, Jaina cosmological elements have been mirrored in Jaina water architecture. This shows that water architecture is as widespread and popular in connection with Jainism as it is with other religious groups and that certain water layouts are distinctly Jaina.
This essay deals with the interplay of water and water architecture in the location, lay-out and rituals of temples of southern India. These include tirthas or sacred bathing places or water bodies, for example, rivers such as the Kaveri, Tunga and Tambrapani. The essay examines the origin stories of a couple of rivers and relates the river with important temple sites associated with them. Among such temples the most important is the Shri Ranganatha temple at Srirangam whose location on an island in the Kaveri is one of its defining features. Next it focuses on temple tanks, within temples, just outside them or at a distance away, and rituals for which they are used. Lastly, the vasanta-mandapas, which have channels for water within them, and their use during the annual spring festival are highlighted.
The argument that the presence of water, either as flowing streams or natural and man-made structures for its storage, including reservoirs, tanks, wells and baolis, in the arid landscape of Ellora, Khuldabad and Daulatabad, played a significant role in the evolution of settlements, forms a central hypothesis of this study. The micro-region was a historically significant space as evidenced by its geo-political importance as the cradle of multiple dynastic centres, trade routes, temple centres, ashrams and dargahs, all indicating intense political, economic and cultural activity from the 7th century AD till the 19th century AD. The research utilizes community knowledge and memories specifically pertaining to the presence and usage of water bodies to reconstruct the region’s historic significance.