Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Temples and Urban Sprawl

Read this press report on Ankor Wat. The famed temple complex in Cambodia, now surrounded by rice fields and forests was once in the centre of an urban sprawl. The population of the sprawl could have been as high as half a million. (image to the left from bbc website)

The archaeological research paper was published in latest issue (Aug 14 2007) of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"We now know that instead of being just (a collection of) temples, Angkor was actually a continuous and interconnected network of temples and small scale residential features like small village ponds, small village temples as well," said Damien Evans of the University of Sydney. "Very little remains now, they are just piles of brick ... a thousand years ago (it) would have been a huge and popular city, full of life, rather than this image of temples in a jungle."

The researchers think that this large urban complex was abandoned due to over population, deforestation and top soil erosion due to intensive agriculture.

I thought I'd post a few images of temples in Pune, surrounded by various levels of urban sprawl. Images are about 2 years old.

Balaji Temple, Sus Road
Red arrow points to temple. Still some open fields surround this temple. This is a good example of the conversion of agricultural zones into urban built up. Couple more years and the temple is likely going to be surrounded by a concrete jungle.

Vitthal Mandir, Vittalwadi
The famous Vitthal Mandir, which used to be so out of the city. Now right next to the busy growing townships surrounding Sinhagad road .

Dadgushet Halwai, Ganapati Temple

In the heart of old city, Pune. This temple was built in the crowded city centre.

Ganapati Temple, Sarasbaug.

This one was built on the then outskirts of the city during the reign of the Peshwa's in the late 1700's. Now in the heart of the city.

Can't think of anything profound to say, so that's it.

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