ISKCON TEMPLE, NEW DELHI
Site Development and Landscaping of Iskcon Temple, New Delhi
"I think it is my honor to get associated with this project. God has given me a chance to do it."
Ravindra Bhan, landscape architect
ISKCON TEMPLE is situated over a hill with the main temple block occupying the highest portion of the site. The three-acre site is surrounded by the buildings leaving the open area mainly in the center. The open area is arranged in terraces to meet the buildings at various levels and create spatial relationship with its architecture.
The landscape conceived is predominantly hard because of the nature of the open spaces and their usage.
A long promenade is created over the restaurant and along the institutional blocks for approaching the main temple block. A series of decks separates the lower most garden area, which is 3.4 meters below from the last deck.
This unique site conditions has dictated the main focal feature of landscape that is used of water. Water the primordial element essential to life. Life without water is unthinkable. This unique element which is associates with our lives from birth to death has been used a major element of landscape design for creating the appropriate environment for sitting of temple complex.
The fall has been created with the help of 60 horsepower pumps in various combinations, which circulates 2 lac. Liters of water at a time. The main fall over the prismatic red granites blocks cover a total length of 64 meters and the secondary fall cascades at various levels is most 38 meters in length. It is interesting to note that this is the largest manmade waterfall in the country. Also another innovation, which has been tried for the first time in India for this project is the creation of artificial fog by adopting high tech hydraulic nozzles. The fog elements at the base at the base of the fall by pushing the water at very high pressure through micro fine sapphire nozzles. The simmering waters of the fall disappear in the rising fog and create an ethereal environment. The fog also helps in bringing down surrounding temperature considerably and achieves this using minimum amount of water. For night effect appropriate artificial lighting has been used to enhance the landscape features.
In the landscape areas indigenous long lasting trees of religious significance have been used. These trees will flower in different seasons changing the environment at different times. These trees will flower in different season changing the environment at different times. Extensive use of permanent groundcovers and flowering shrubs has been used to avoid the maintenance and changing of the plants every season. Lawn areas have been created wherever they were needed.
Ideology Of Landscape
Because the site of the temple is hilly and rocky, some had considered it undesirable. But Mr. Bhan thinks differently. "The site is very exciting, and though there are technical difficulties, one would like to keep the rocks and preserve the character of the site."
Rather than using ground and water and trees as "fillers," Mr. Bhan takes a holistic approach. The buildings, he says, should become "an integral part of the landscape."
Mr. Bhan plans to use water extensively. In the hot climate of Delhi, especially in the summer months, water will be especially welcome.
"My approach as a designer will be to use water as an element of life. How can we work with this element of life, which is really a primordial element: from your birth to your death, water is there, in every aspect of your life. And even by sound the water in nature becomes a part of your inner experience. Water can murmur, it can gush, it can roar, it can trickle, it can drop. You name it, and water can do it. And how do you take these sounds very subtle sounds and mix them with the environment?
"Suppose you have somewhere a meditative area. The water should have a trickling sort of effect. If it is an area where a lot of people congregate, the sound should be slightly more, so that the water becomes dominant and the sound of the people becomes subservient. So as a designer I am asking, How can I use water as a major element of the design?
"And also we have to introduce a lot of trees. The building should emerge out of the trees. Lord Krishna is always associated with nature the kadamba forest. He's the one God in the Hindu scripture whom you find with natural things the water, the river, trees, the cows … So to honor Lord Krishna the landscape must come alive."