One of the first things that draw attention to a building is its design. Architecturally impressive buildings frequently become landmarks that characterise cities and are visited by travellers worldwide. Remarkable structures frequently adhere to recognisable architectural trends. Architectural and design consultants continue to use many of these design components in their work, drawing inspiration from time-tested rules of good design. Indian architecture has changed over many centuries as a result of its socioeconomic and geographic setting. Numerous representations of Indian architectural styles exist across time and location, shaped by historical influences that are thought to be exclusive to India. A wide variety of architectural examples have developed as a result of enormous diversity, maintaining some degree of continuity throughout history. Indian architecture from many historical eras is distinctive to that period. Vedic architecture in India is an age-old science that focuses on building livable environments with tried-and-true planning and design principles.

Image 1_Mansara Architecture Sculptural Design_©www.exoticindiaart.com/book/details/architecture-of-manasara-illustrations-of-architectural-and-sculptural-objects-with-synopsis-manasara-series-vol-v-idf748/

Manasara Architecture

The Manasara Shilpa Shastra, often known as Manasa or Manasa, is a classic Sanskrit work on Indian architecture and design. It is one of the numerous Hindu writings on Shilpa Shastra, the study of arts and crafts that were formerly written in the first millennium CE. It is divided into 70 adhyayas (chapters) and 10,000 shlokas (verses). One of the rare works on Hindu architecture whose complete manuscripts have persisted until the present day is the Manasara. It is a text that offers comprehensive instructions on how to erect Hindu temples, statues, residences, gardens, water tanks, and other buildings.

Image 2_Paradigm of Mansara Architecture_©dharmatoday.com/2017/01/02/ancient-indian-town-planning-architectural-paradigms/

Planning Concept of Manasara

Manasara An extensive guide to urban planning from ancient India is called Vastushastra. It was penned by a wise man named Mansara. It is one of the five current documents dealing with Vastu Sasthram. This book has various chapters on building construction and town planning. The selection of an appropriate location for the construction of a new village, town, or city has received significant attention from Vastu Sastra. Based on cosmological beliefs, a traditional city was created using holy geometry concepts. – Mandala for Vaastu Purush. In forts and fortified cities, there are four different types of inhabited settlements referred to as silpasasthras; 1. Janabhavanas: houses for common mass, 2. Rajbhavanas: palaces and gorgeous mansions for the ruling class, 3. Devabhavanas: religious shrines, 4. Public buildings such as public rest houses, public gardens, public libraries, public tents, reservoirs, and wells.

Image 3_Town Plans and Street Layout_©en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manasara

According to the Manasara, these locations for establishing cities were once chosen based on their fragrance, taste, shape, direction, sound, and touch. The street that borders the street (Mangalaveedhi) and the street that encircles the Brahmasthana are mentioned (Brahmaveedhi) According to this, the optimum location for a city is one where there are plenty of trees, water bodies, rivers, plants, shrubs, and other types of green flora, including livestock. If a river borders the location, it should flow south to north, west to east, or left to right. The water table at the location should also be as deep as a man standing with his arms lifted over his head. The location should maintain a moderate temperature both in the summer and the winter. The land would be denied if these conditions weren’t met.

Manasara’s eight types of plans for designing towns

According to the shapes there are eight different types of settlements.

1.Dandaka Design and its Characteristics 

Streets are straight in this style of town plan and cross one another at a right angle in the middle. On its four square or rectangular sides, it features four gates. The street’s width ranges from one to five danda, or around 1-2 metres. At the ends, there are two transverse streets. It features a single row of dwellings, and to the east are the village offices.

2. Sarvathobhadra Design and its Characteristics 

Larger villages and towns, which must be built on square grounds, can use this form of town layout. In accordance with this plan, all of the homes in the town should be fully occupied by residents of all socioeconomic strata. The village is dominated by the temple in the middle.

3. Nandyavarta Design and its Characteristics

The flower with the name “Nandyavarta” is imitated in its form. Instead of villages, towns are typically built using this form of town layout. It is typically used for circular or square areas with between 3000 and 4000 homes. With the temple of the presiding deity in the middle of the town, the streets run parallel to the adjacent central streets.

4. Padmaka Design and its Characteristics

This kind of design was used to construct fortified settlements all around. The plan’s structure has an outward-moving pattern similar to the petals of a lotus. This style of town plan is conceptualized around the idea that the city was once essentially an island surrounded by water, with no room for expansion.

Image 4_Padmaka Layout_©interviewmania.com/discussion/98639-architecture-and-planning-miscellaneous-architecture-and-planning-miscellaneous-topic

5. Swastika Design and its Characteristics 

can be of any shape and is not required to be divided into squares or rectangles. The village is surrounded by a rampart wall with a water-filled moat at its base. In the middle, two major streets that run from South to North and from West to East cross each other.

6. Prastara Design and its Characteristics

The site can be either square or rectangular in this style of plan, but not triangular or circular. According to each person’s ability to buy or build on the land, different sites are designated for the poor, the middle class, the wealthy, and the extremely wealthy. Compared to other layouts, the primary highways are significantly wider. There may or may not be a fort around the settlement.

Image 5_Prastara Layout_©blogblobin.wordpress.com/2021/05/11/one-of-the-golden-triangles-jaipur-town-planning/

7. Karmuka Design and its Characteristics

This style of town plan is most suited for locations where the town’s site is shaped like a bow, semicircle, or parabolic, and it is typically used for cities that are situated along rivers or coastlines. The town’s main thoroughfares run from North to South or East to West, and the cross streets intersect them at right angles to create blocks that make up the entire region. The temple is constructed in any convenient location, with the ruling deity—typically a female deity—installed.

8. Chaturmukha Design and its Characteristics

From the biggest town to the smallest village, it applies to all towns. The location can have four faces and be either square or rectangular. With four main streets, the town is arranged lengthwise from east to west. Always in the middle will be the temple dedicated to the presiding deity.

Conclusion: Importance of Manasara Architecture

Building planning, proportioning, and construction guidelines are prominent parts of architecture and planning is covered in vastu shastra. The Manasara is the most well-known and conceivably the most comprehensive vastu shastra. The design of sites and the construction concept of buildings in each type of manasara is unique and needful at that time. The irony is, these styles are also followed in modern architecture for a better urban level of planning. This knowledge is based on the Universal Laws of Nature and dates back to ancient India. Vedic architecture seeks to produce stunning, useful spaces that are harmonious with the natural world. Manasara Architecture is renowned for embracing the old Universal Principles of Vedic Architecture without sacrificing the contemporary lifestyle of the twenty-first century in its designs.

Reference list

Barker. (n.d.). Most Recognised Architectural Styles – Barker Associates. [online] Available at: https://www.barker-associates.co.uk/service/architecture/most-recognised-architectural-styles/.

‌Facilitator, C. (2021). Different types of architecture styles adopted in India. [online] Available at: https://constrofacilitator.com/different-types-of-architecture-styles-adopted-in-india/.

‌Anon, (n.d.). Mansara Architecture. [online] Available at: https://mansara.biz/

 [Accessed 21 Dec. 2022].

‌SOCIO-GATHERERS. (2020). Town planning concepts in Manasara Vastu Sastra. [online] Available at: https://sociogatherers.wordpress.com/2020/04/30/town-planning-concepts-in-manasara-vastu-sastra/.

‌SOCIO-GATHERERS. (2020). Town planning concepts in Manasara Vastu Sastra. [online] Available at: https://sociogatherers.wordpress.com/2020/04/30/town-planning-concepts-in-manasara-vastu-sastra/.

Image list

  1. Mansara Architecture Sculptural Design, https://www.exoticindiaart.com/book/details/architecture-of-manasara-illustrations-of-architectural-and-sculptural-objects-with-synopsis-manasara-series-vol-v-idf748/
  2. Paradigm of Mansara Architecture, https://dharmatoday.com/2017/01/02/ancient-indian-town-planning-architectural-paradigms/
  3. Town Plans and Street Layout, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manasara
  4. Padmaka Layout, https://interviewmania.com/discussion/98639-architecture-and-planning-miscellaneous-architecture-and-planning-miscellaneous-topic
  5. Prastara Layout, https://blogblobin.wordpress.com/2021/05/11/one-of-the-golden-triangles-jaipur-town-planning/
Author

Architect Mohd. Afzal Khan graduated in Architecture with Honors from Jamia Millia Islamia – New Delhi. He has been enthusiast to uncover in architecture research work with a boundless passion to know more about the same. He has been fascinated by the historic nature and interest to discover the same.

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