THE sphere of our architectural science has been quite comprehensive. It included town planning, buildings, temples, sculpting, fine arts and literally everything. Roads, water supply systems, public bathrooms, drains, different shapes and kinds of buildings, their directions, measurement, land?types of land, nature of materials used for constructions, etc. were contemplated upon in great details in town planning. It was also seen that these were all nature-friendly. Dams, wells, streams, rivers were also considered among water-supply systems.
How minutely and in what detail they studied such things even thousands of years ago!
Mud, bricks, lime, stone, wood, metal, gems, etc. were used for architecture. It was said that each item must be examined thoroughly and used according to its necessity, in construction. We get an idea of how scientific were the measures used to examine each item from the following example:
Sage Bhrigu says that each item used in construction should be tested as per the following criteria:
Varnalingavayovasthah parokshyam cha balabalam
Yathayogyam, yathashaktih Sanskarankarayet Sudheeh.
He stresses that all traditions must consider the chroma (colour), gender (property, mark) age (from time of implant till date) condition, along with its strength or weakness and the force that will be exerted on them.
Here chroma means colour. But in architecture, colour is used in accordance with its power to reflect light, e.g. white colour reflects light completely. It is, therefore, said to be an excellent colour.
In the context of construction, a number of books by sages of ancient times, are available such as:
1. Vishwakarma Vastushastra: The first thing that Vishwakarma tells us about construction is ?Poorva-bhoomim parikshyet pashchat vaastu prakalpayet? that is, one must first test the land and then start construction there. Vishwakarma further says that one must not construct anything on such a land, which is very rocky, which is hilly, where there are a large number of cracks or crevices, etc.
2. Kashyap Shilp: Sage Kashyap says that a foundation should be dug till the water is seen because after that there are rocks.
3. Bhrigu Samhita: In this, Bhrigu says that before buying land, it must be tested in five different ways, i.e. appearance, colour, taste, smell and touch. He also tells how to do it.
For the construction of a building, he has given a detailed description of the walls, their thickness and the internal arrangements, etc.
The ruins of constructions carried out on the basis of this knowledge still exist even after centuries. Some examples are as follows:
Mohanjodaro (Sind)? The archeological excavations reveal the amazing construction of this wonderful city that dates back to 3000 BC. It was an extremely well-planned city whose houses, roads, etc. had all been made as per geometrical measurements. The roads found here were absolutely straight, running from east to west and from north to south. The other amazing thing is that they crossed one-another at an angle of 90 degrees.
Houses were made in the right proportions; the joints of bricks and the height of walls were equal. There were arrangements for dining room, bathroom and bed room, etc. Besides residential houses, lawns, public places for various programmes, a massive public bathroom is also found which is 11.89 metres long, 7.01 metres wide and 2.44 metres high with two streams of water feeding it. Secondly, the walls were made of something which would remain unaffected by water. Observing this, one feels that those who had built this city must have been very well versed in architectural science.
Dwarka?Dr. S.R. Rao discovered Dwarka during archeological excavations. The ancient traces or ruins that have been found there tell us that Dwarka too, was a well planned city surrounded by a wall. The buildings were made of a stone that would not corrode in sea water. One can see double-storeyed buildings, roads and water arrangements. Copper, brass and some mixed metals have also been found. The mixed metals had 34 per cent zinc. The measurements and shapes of pillars, window panes, etc. used for the buildings, were all calculated mathematically.
Lothal Port (Saurashtra)?The port at Lothal was built around 2500 BC where not just small barges, but even big ships took harbour. Because of the port, a big city had also developed here. Its construction was very similar to that of Mohanjodaro and Harappa. Roads, buildings, gardens, lawns and public buildings were all there. The cremation ground was built a little away from the city dwelling.
Lothal Port was spread 300 metres north-south and 400 metres east-west. It had a 13 metres high wall, made of mud, bricks etc. to keep floods and storms away. This port was far more developed than the Fonetian and Roman ports made later.
Varanasi? Claud Wetley has observed that India'sgreat architectural heritage has been neglected or disregarded. Many of the modern buildings, despite their magnificence, are unfavourable due to India'sclimate, its monsoon winds, rain, water and the perpendicular rays of the sun.
Stone chairs, thick walls, windows slanting towards the floors so that there was free circulation of air, inner courtyards, basements and the construction of a terrace-shaped thatched roof were all prevalent according to India'straditional architecture. All these things were taken into consideration for the convenience of the community and better health. Varanasi has been accepted or acknowledged as the first organised city of the world. Prof. Bhim Chandra Chatterjee, scholar of hydro-power engineering in ancient India, writes that four generations of Ayodhya'srulers had devoted their lives to bring the river Ganga from the Himalayas, but finally, the great Bhagirath succeeded. The flow of the Ganga was redirected towards the Bay of Bengal. At Varanasi, it seems to turn towards the north and branches out into two?Varun and Asi, both fed by the Ganga, as they are derived from it. At places where the intensity of water is very high, the excess water can be made to flow out. There is no other example to show such a brilliant way of preventing floods.