Site Development Of Ayodhya Ghats
Ayodhya is an ancient city of India near Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh state. The city is situated on the right bank of river Ghagra or Saryu. It is considered as one of the holiest cities of India. In the epic Ramayana the city of Ayodhya is cited as the birth place of lord Rama. It is dotted with numerous temples and worship places of many other religions. Several religious simultaneously have grown and prospered here at different periods of time. Remnants of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Islam, and Sikhism are found in Ayodhya.
It is widely held belief that Gautama Buddha visited Ayodhya on several occasions.
Five Thirthankars of Jain religion were born here and they preached their religious values here as well. Ayodhya was once an important place during Buddhist periods and has been written much about by Chinese travelers Hiuen-Tsang & Fai-hein. The city was also visited by Sikh gurus. Guru Nanak Dev, Guru Tej Bahadur, Guru Govind Singh and because of this, Ayodhya has many Gurudwaras which attract Sikh devotees from all over India.
No doubt this place assumes a great importance from the point of history and archeology.
More than a hundred years ago the course of the holy river Saryu shifted away from the ghat’s edge of Ayodhya town. Over time the ghats and burgies were completely buried in silt. Within a century their existence was almost forgotten and a significant component of historic town was lost. The ritual of bathing in the river adjacent to town moved away from it. The old bed of the river with buried ghats became a peripheral vacant land between the old town and new river edge, a problem similar to other towns of northern India as well. Natural growth of vegetation and haphazard man-made structures encroached upon this uncared stretch of land. Services like sewer lines, telephone wires and electricity lines found easy access through the land separating further the frontage of town from river. The character of this town was completely altered by the shift of the river, where earlier river and town were as an integral part of the overall environment.
In 1985, the irrigation Department of Uttar Pradesh Government decided to construct an irrigation cannel through this area, connecting the River Saryu and a stretch of agricultural land beyond the town. The scheme included a proposal for the re-organization and beautification of the entire area since it had to be negotiated along with the river, into a sort of a park along the new canal. I was finally selected to be a consultant for the project.
The implementation of this unique and pioneering project which is one of the largest conservation reconstruction and redevelopment projects in the country. Country, architect, Urban designer, Rajat Ray writes; - “With an architect eye, professor Bhan could visualize the situation of the older ghats. he persuaded the authorities to dig up and expose the hidden ghats steps and burjes - a difficult and long-drawn process made even more tedious by the stubbornness of officials of different departments that hand to be patiently overcome, as anything like this was not on their agenda. The discovery of old Patwari maps showing the existence of old ghats at that place played an important role.
As the ghats became visible, Bhan suggested and designed a system by which the proposed irrigation canal could flow closer to the old town edge, touching the ghats. He worked to satisfy the requirements of re-routing and adjusting the town’s service lines to remove all the obtrusive structures and also the uncalled encroachments from the area. He almost forced the authorities to implement the idea that was liked and fully supported by the local people.
The irrigation department’s park was converted into what was now constructed as Ram ki pedi. The old ghats were repaired and water flowed over them again after a gap one hundred and twenty five years. The canal was thought of as miniature version of the river. On the right bank is the old ghat edge and on the left bank, newly designed ghats, platforms and burjes were added. A high bund separates the Ram ki paidi area and the main flow of the river along which more hardscaped ghats were constructed for bathing. The holding capacity was doubled to cater for the large crowd of bathers that gather during the festivals and melas.
The implementation of this unique and pioneering project owes a lot to Ravindra Bhan’s personal conviction and sense of history.”