Most Indian cities have a distinct historic past, rooted in the natural, social, economic and cultural contexts of different times. A strong relationship with nature and its processes is the most significant aspect of these cities’ development and survival.
Landscape Foundation, India initiated the pilot study of the city of Delhi (Delhi – Hills, Forests and a River, 2017) in this context. This was followed by the study of Pune (The City of Hills and Rivers, 2018). This year, the study of Bengaluru was undertaken. The research, in each case, is produced in English and the regional language, as to reach more people.
The research team includes Prashanta Bhat, T M Chengappa, Priya Rangaraju and Deepthi C B. The work is funded by Rohini Nilekeni Philanthropies and Kiran Mazumdar Shah Philanthropy.
Bengaluru – the city of tanks and lakes
The study explores the city of Bengaluru, with a historic past of around five hundred years, to understand its changing relationship with nature and explore ways in which nature and culture have shaped each other.
The research work is divided into two sections, ‘Journey so far’ and ‘Mapping Nature’.
Journey so far
While introducing the macro natural context of Bengaluru, the narrative charts the history of the city. This section is broadly divided into four stages :
- City of tanks
In the absence of any perennial source of water, the natural topography of the city allowed developing a system of interconnected tanks (manmade lakes, keres). These were water-holding structures built for the daily needs of the population.
With water available in abundance, often with royal patronage, people of the city were encouraged to use it for irrigation and planting in diverse ways, such as in creating orchards and gardens. With conducive weather, this art of planting evolved so much that, in the decades to follow, the region became a national hub of horticulture and related fields.
- Formalising nature
In 19th century, under colonial rule, there was a change in the relationship of the city with nature. There were attempts to replicate the image of nature as seen in European countries and the contemporary Garden City movement. But with growing population, the times also called for new ways of engaging with nature in an exclusive, formal and engineered way, rather than having it associated with communities and people.
- Garden City
The new movement of bringing nature into the realm of city planning – as started by the British – had reached new heights with contemporary Garden City concepts reflecting in the urban planning of Bengaluru. These years laid the foundation for changing the city’s character to that of a Green City.
- Nature in a hi-tech metropolis
In recent years, the scale and pace of development in Bengaluru has drastically changed its character. Most of the traditional water-harvesting tanks have been covered and reclaimed for urbanisation. The surviving ones, having becoming defunct, are a threat to health and safety. With a distant river having becoming the main source of water for the city now, the present and future trends in nature and resource management need to be reconsidered. The direction of the city’s growth needs to be gauged and set back on track.
In the form of a map, this section identifies and lists existing ecologically and culturally significant sites including natural forests, biodiversity hotspots, cultural spaces, traditional tanks and lakes, well-planned neighbourhoods and well-conserved public greens in the city.
It also recognises the role of traditional communities like Thigalas who played an important role in the green movement of the city. The section also outlines various environmental issues the city faces currently.
|Kannada Map Release
Date: Tuesday, 3rd December
Time: 2 pm
Venue: St Meera’s High School, 2nd Main Road, Kaveri Pura, Kamakshipalya
Note: Presentation by landscape architect Maithily Velangi and team
English Map Release
Date: Wednesday, 4th December
Time: 11 am
Venue: BMS College of Architecture, Bull Road
Note: Presentation by landscape architect Deepthi C B
You can get the maps at:
The Landscape Company
The maps are an attempt to study the changing relationship of nature with cities, and explore ways in which nature and culture have shaped each other. The core idea of the study is to analyse current development opportunities and concerns in wake of knowledge of the city’s natural and cultural histories, in a sensitive and balanced manner.
About Landscape Foundation, India
Based in New Delhi, Landscape Foundation is a non-profit private trust. Its mission is to disseminate knowledge regarding landscape architecture.
The core objective of the Foundation is to augment systems to mitigate climate change, conserve natural resources, and educate society about historical practices of sustainable living in the Indian subcontinent. The Foundation’s social agenda explores models of engagement with all segments of society for addressing environmental needs, discerning meanings of landscape, and disseminating knowledge about the subject.
[This article is based on a press release from Landscape Foundation India, and has been published with edits]