Rare example of city planning in Ancient India
Kanjivaram is an excellent example of the city planning. Town planners all over the world are amazed at the planning of Kanjivaram.
Writing about the prominent a grandeur in the town planning in the South in ancient India, C.P. Venkatram Aiyyar says in 1916 that the ancient town of Kanjivaram is a rare example of the excellent traditional town planning. Prof. Gadade has called it an excellent example of public thinking on town planning and has praised it a lot. The astute planning, to assure complete comfort has impressed Prof. Gadade immensely. It is solid proof of town planning in ancient India. According to him, the architects have shown how high and how excellent public thinking can be. They have beautified this city of temples with their imagination. Temples not merely impart a beautiful image to the town, but enrich it in many minute details that gives joy to one and all. The dreams of the various cults are realised here. The glory of human imagination and behaviour takes a tangible form here. At the same time, an artist enjoys personal and artistic autonomy as well. This is not possible anywhere else in the world even in the most prosperous cities.
Circumstances opposite to this can be seen from St. Andrews to Eden, Lincoln to New York, Oxford to Salisbury, Excella Chapele to Cologne and Freeburg Robor to Nimes. There is a complete lack of feeling about town planning. They are settlements of huts. To be free of all these distortions is a proof of excellent quality of Indian architecture and enriched town planning.
Management of Water Supply: We get amazing examples of water supply systems from 2500-3000 BC to the 17th century AD in various parts of the country. These include big ponds, streams and channels to get water from other areas into the towns.
One amazing example: The most amazing example is of the channelising of the flow of the Ganga by Bhagirath. In ancient times, the area towards Tibet was known as Heaven. Hence, when the Pandavas went for swargarohan, their path led from the Himalayas to Tibet. According to the Puranas, the river Ganga previously flowed in heaven. It was King Bhagirath who changed its course and brought it down to our country from heaven. Referring to this, Sir William Wilcolmes had, in his speech on ?Ancient Irrigation Systems and the Present Problems? at Calcutta University in 1935, said, ?Seventy-seven years ago, I was born in a tent that had been put up for irrigation and I spen my entire life in irrigation work and in drenching the country. According to the Mahabharata, Bhagirath brought the Ganga down and regulated it. The amazingly brilliant writers of the ancient times expressed this truth at great length in spiritual language, but the facts are the same. Every canal that faced south, whether it was the Bhagirathi or the Mathbhanga canal, is basically a canal only. They were all dug out parallel to each other and were therefore similar. They were made in such a way and at such a distance that one can understand the validity of the gap between the canals.?
Sir William Wilcolmes adds that when he was analyzing the canal system of the country, he was amazed to see that the river that was considered dead in the map, seemed to have been converted into a canal.
Importance of water conservation: In his Arthashastra written 2500 years ago, Kautilya says that a king should try to store and save water with the same pious feeling that he has when he builds a temple. Today, there is a hue and cry over water. People fear that water may be the cause of the Third World War. At such a time, what Chanakya (Kautilya) said ought to be contemplated upon. Chanakya did not stop by only advising the king to make an effort to save water with pious feelings, he went further to say that a good king must inspire his people to conserve water. He must even provide financial assistance for this purpose and if need be, provide contributions to help his people in this work.
Kautilya even talks of building dams to store water. He says that a dam should not be built at a place where the borders of two states meet because if this happens, then it can be a cause for conflict. Today, when we see the controversies of the Cauvery and the Narmada rivers, one feels that he had great foresight.
(The book is available with Ocean Books (P) Ltd., 4/19, Asaf Ali Road, New Delhi-110 002.)