Sem 04 / Settlement Studies

Kannauj, Uttar Pradesh

Anuj Daga

The second year settlement study course aims at establishing the relationship of culture with builtform through a system of measured drawings. The course has three objectives: first, it aims at translating bodily experience of space into orthographic drawings, in order to internalise ideas of scale, structuring of space, proportioning systems, material properties as well as phenomenological experiences of light, texture, temperature etc; second, to understand the relationship between spatiality and behaviour and experience; and third to develop an archive of South Asian architecture and urbanism, while tracing the historical development of the settlement.
For the study, forty five students undertook to document the settlement structure of Kannauj. They lived on the bypass road four kilometers from the old town and traveled everyday to the site for five days. The first day involved a reconnaissance survey of the site to understand the overall structure of the town and to speak to the residents. On the basis of this reconnaissance survey, three broad sites were chosen. The first was the site of the Chemkali Mata Mandir. Historically this seems to be the part where the settlement grew as an agrarian village. The Chemkali Mata Mandir was a small makeshift totemic temple that grew over time. This site to study as an important local institution that had evolved from everyday relationships. This is an example of temple architecture in North India, which is far removed from the ideal Nagara style of temple form that has been documented and popularized through colonial historiographies. This form of temple that is intricately tied to the lives of people is important to study. As a part of this site, the housing that flanked it and the street and school that formed an integral part of the fabric were also studied.

The second site chosen to study was the Bada Bazaar. This is an important spine of the trading settlement which has along it a string of house and shop types typical of thin houses in trading settlements. At the beginning of this spine is the Shyam Sundar bhawan, a perfumery that houses a shop and trading place along with the workshop for attar making. The bhawan used to be a colonial school that was later bought over by a perfume trader. The architectural type of the mansion has a unique relationship to the spine. The second site along the bada bazaar holds the perfumeries belonging to two brothers Rajeev and D.C. Meherotra located along one of the inner spines. The shops for both the perfumeries are located along the main bada bazaar spine. The third site studied along this is the Mahadev temple just off the bada bazaar spine, which also forms a small local institution.

The third site studied in the perfumery of Nadeem Faruqui. This is located slightly away from the bada bazaar. It has come up on erstwhile agricultural land. While early perfumeries were integral parts of the living quarters, over the years as production increased people started setting up workshops such as these on the outskirts on agricultural land.

Some of the limitations of the site selection involved a lack of access to certain sites due to trepidation on the part of some of the members of the community as they had faced persecution in the past.

The work from the course can also be found here.