Historically, public plazas were formed as a place maker for urban city’s political, commercial, religious, and leisure life. The evolution of such public plazas was largely dependent on the internal function, its form, and the proximity to important buildings. With passing time and usage, the plazas now act as main nodes weaving the culture of the city into it.

Here is understanding our culture through 15 Public plazas in India

1. Badi Chaupar, Jaipur

Public plazas are also a major hub of social interaction that is built around the function of water distribution. The Badi Chaupar in Jaipur is one such plaza that historically consisted of underground aqueducts and drinking water sources at street level. Today, the space between Badi and Choti Chaupar makes up some of the major bazaars such as Kishanpole Bazar, Gangauri Bazar, etc. Significant temples and Havelis of the city lie in sync with these marketplaces. With an area that spread across 100m x 100m, the Chaupar was wide enough to not only sustain heavy pedestrian traffic but also four-way vehicular traffic.

Badi Chaupar, Jaipur
Image Sources; Badi Chaupar ©Just Dial

2. Manek Chowk, Ahmedabad

The Walled City in Ahmedabad has a century-old vibrant history with a majority in the Hindu population. Situated between two nationally protected monuments, the King and the Queen tombs of Ahmedabad, the Manek Chowk automatically becomes a busy area. Owing to the high influx of tourists in these spaces, the chowk is a hub to a diverse community of residents, business owners, and vendors. Spread across a mere 2500 sq ft area, the narrow area has given rise to doorway seating spaces called Otlas to cater to informal seating in the chowk.

Manek Chowk, Ahmedabad
Image Sources: Manek Chowk,©Ahmedabad Times

3. New Market, Kolkata

Kolkata was one of the main port cities during British rule and the city evolved around trading activities and the needs of the British community. The colonial elite needed a market that brought together all the commodities they needed into one place. The physical structure on the market housed a new type of social interaction, one where all the brought together vendors from all communities. The mixed area, consisting of various businesses such as Muslim butchers, Hindu traders, Chinese shoemakers, Armenian businessmen, and Portuguese cooks, the market embodied a zone that allowed free interaction between the Indian and British communities

New Market, Kolkata
Image Sources: New Market ©Times of India

4. Connaught Place, Delhi

Divided into six sectors, the park was historically a shopping center for the elite, with carriages driven to destined shops. In present times, the plaza highlights the urban recreational life – a shopping center for the masses. The architectural character and the grand scale of the market make it stand out amongst the buildings that surround it. The plaza is divided into 3 circles. The outer circle consists of various public functions, the middle circle consists of a service road for merchandise and the inner road is made for convenient vehicular access.

Connaught Place, Delhi
Image Sources: Connaught Place ©Times of India

5. India Gate Complex City Square, New Delhi

Spread over an area of 306,600 sq m, the India Gate Complex City Square is the largest public plaza in India. The India Gate is situated at the heart of the public plaza and is a national monument of India. The public plaza was developed around the idea of creating a landmark to commemorate 90,000 soldiers who lost their lives during the freedom struggle.

India Gate Complex City Square, New Delhi
Image Sources: India Gate Complex City Square, ©The Indian Express

6. The Great Bath, Mohenjo Daro

The Great Bath, located in the ancient city of Mohenjo Daro was one of the first developments of a public plaza. The bath is a part of a bigger citadel complex according to the excavations in the 1920s. It was widely regarded as the earliest public pool. Spread over an area of 39ft x 23ft, the bath could have held religious importance as the water was used by the priests to cleanse themselves.

The Great Bath, Mohenjo Daro
Image Sources: The Great Bath ©Harappa

7. Maharaj Bada, Gwalior

This public plaza in Gwalior is surrounded by various heritage buildings such as general post office, town hall, Victoria Market, and Government Press, arranged in an oval ring. The Bada plaza also houses a variety of several small markets. The plaza derives its unique stance due to its architectural variety. Each of the heritage buildings along with the Jayaji Rao Scindia’s statue provides a visual marvel.

Maharaj Bada, Gwalior
Image Sources: Maharaj Bada ©India heritage walks

8. Anna Square, Chennai

Located 30km towards the south of Marina Beach, Anna square was built as a tribute to Arinzar Annadurai, one of the great leaders of the Dravidian movement. The plaza is located in the center of a lavishly laid out park. The park is spread in an area of 510 hectares and is a major node for social interaction owing to its connection with the important public figures of history.

Anna Square, Chennai
Image Sources: Anna Square ©Tamilnadu tourism

9. Meenakshi Square, Madurai

Meenakshi Amman Temple is a historic temple situated on the banks of the Vaigai river. The temple forms a major lifeline of the 2500-year-old Madurai. The temple plaza situated at the intersection of the temple entrance is a myriad of social and financial activities. Owing to the proximity to the temple, the plaza acts as a religious node, giving rise to activities based around temple rituals.

Meenakshi Square, Madurai
Image Sources: Meenakshi Square ©Flickr

10. Kamarajar Sathukkam (John Stone Square), Kotagiri

The main junction at the entry point into Kotagiri town makes up a public plaza that acts as an entrance point to the town. The plaza, being the first point of contact of the town, consists of various transit infrastructures such as tourist cab stand, a bus depot, and extensive pedestrian paths.

Kamarajar Sathukkam (John Stone Square), Kotagiri
Image Sources: Kamarajar Sathukkam ©Hindu

11. Charminar, Hyderabad

Built-in the year 1591 during the rule of Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shahi, the monument is housed in a vast public plaza in the center of the city. The monument was constructed to allow the ruler to pray during the plague pandemic that hit the city of Hyderabad. In today’s times, the plaza hosts a variety of small stores and street vendors, making it a dynamic interaction platform for local vendors and tourists.

Charminar, Hyderabad
Image Sources: Charminar ©Wikipedia

12. Rock garden, Chandigarh

Spread over an area of 40 acres, the rock garden of Chandigarh is situated near the Sukhna lake. The design of the plaza consists of man-made waterfalls and sculptures made out of scrap and other waste materials. The plaza is an example of a socially responsible design, that brings sustainability to the foreground.

Rock garden, Chandigarh
Image Sources: Rock Garden ©Times of India

13. Azad Maidan, Mumbai

Spread over an area of 25 acres, the Azad maidan is a triangular sports ground. Owing to its proximity to Mantralaya, the Assembly, BMC, and the police headquarters, the grounds acts as an ideal space for political agitations and protests. The ground doubles up as a public plaza during important rallies and turns into a place of gathering for people who hold similar political and social values.

Azad Maidan, Mumbai
Image Sources: Azad Maidan ©Sakal times

14. Ranganathar Square, Trichy

The Sri Ranganathaswamy temple is the largest functioning Hindu temple situated in the city of Trichy. Covering 6 million sq ft of area, the temple observes a massive footfall. The Ranganathar Square situated near the temple acts as an entry node. The commercial activities circle around the aspect of religious importance. The local vendors interact with both tourists and pilgrims from within the city. The square consists of parks, pedestrian pathways, and roads for vehicular movement.

Ranganathar Square, Trichy
Image Sources: Ranganathar Square ©Wikipedia

15. Auroville, Tamil Nadu

Conceived in 1968, it is a planned township situated in Tamil Nadu. The area was developed as an experiment in human unity, with the township divided into functional sectors. The township acts as a huge public plaza, housing many institutions within it. It was built with the notion of providing a free interaction space for a variety of users.

Image Sources: Auroville ©India today

Architectural Journalist

RTF

KARNATAKA

Poojitha Yathiraj is a young architect who loves to unearth stories hidden in the built fabric and weave them through literature. With an inclination to collocate art and science, she believes that architecture is more than mere walls and hopes to create meaningful spaces, both through words and bricks.

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