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BASIC CONCEPT OF VASTU FOR TOWN PLANNING

From time immemorial Vastu principles (Vedic Methods) have been applied in design and development
of villages, towns and cities. The science of town planning during Vedic period was given paramount importance
to an extent that Indo-Aryans perfectly shaped the human settlements into various categories depending upon the
characteristics of the population. In the context of ancient Indian cities, the capital city was given due significance
in defending it using all kinds of protectional avenues based on scientific and Vastu imparted innovations.
Ancient cities were
usually located on the
banks of rivers,
especially Ganges and
their tributaries,
essentially for ritualistic
and sanitary purposes,
including communications
with other cities using
water. This concept in fact
helped to foster and
encourage commerce
which ultimately favored
establishment of
townships. Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, which are the only two' out-standing cities belonging to Indus Valley
Civilization have resemblance to the planning concepts, of both the ancient and modern towns and cities of India.

SITE SELECTION
Vastu Sastra has laid strong emphasis on the selection of a proper site for establishing a new village,
town or a city. The sites or places on which cities are proposed are generally classified under three categories.
 Barren land used to be called as Jangala, where wind is hotter and the soil is black
 Anupama, ascribing for a beautiful country, which is surrounded by rivers, where the climate is
fresh and cool, with the soft characteristics being humid and cool
 Sadharana category used to be given to average quality where huge stretches of land existed
in useless conditions.
The capital city should be placed in such a local
geographical position where various kinds of trees,
water bodies, rivers, plants, shrubs, green vegetation
cover, including cattle should be present in great
numbers. The ancient city of Pataliputra was planned on
a magnificent scale where existed the confluence of
Sona and Ganges. The city had a long river front
exceeding nine miles, coupled with beautiful
embankments and harbors. It had timber walls all-round
defended with 3 successive brick-lined moats filled with
water. In addition, it has 64 watch-towers placed over
34 gates.
The Manasara describes that these sites for
establishing a city used to be determined from its smell,
taste, shape, direction, sound and touch. The topography should have inclination towards East and North,
coupled with higher ground levels in South-West, West and South. If a river adjoins the site it should run from left
to right or West to East or South to North. Also the site should have water table at a depth equal to a man's height
with his arms raised above his head. The site should also comply with moderate temperature during summers and
winters. If these parameters were not met with, the land used to be rejected straight away.
Even meteorological data was used as a deciding factor. For example, wind direction in India
predominantly pre-vails from South-West to North-East. If terrain of the land slopes in this direction, the buildings
would be exposed to rough storms and rain beatings effecting even the local micro climate. The lands which are
shaped similar to circles, semicircles, containing 3, 5, 7 angles on its sides, hind parts of fish, back of the elephant
or a turtle or face of the cow or land filled with human skulls or stones, anthills, dilapidated wells, decayed wood
yards, lime stone yards, such lands used to be rejected. Lands with huge trees in the four corners were declared
as sterile. Even geological characteristics that prevailed in such lands were strictly examined and decided upon,
coupled with topography, drainage patterns, vegetation covers, wild life pockets and climate, too.
Site Planning after the selection of land as per Vastu, the sight was ploughed on an auspicious day as
fixed by astronomical observations by a pair of specific oxen which had white spots on their heads and knees. The
next step was with determination of cardinal directions using the Gnomon, which concludes with the fixation of
Vastu-purusha-mandala. Different kinds of them were used depending upon the need of the applications. In fact
circular Vastu-purusha-mandala symbolized the terrestrial world with constant movement. The square one showed
rigidity and thus represented a perfect and absolute form. The posture of Vastu Purusha has been different with
different aspects of structural requirements. That is to say, Vastu Purusha considered in residential buildings differs
greatly in the application of temples constructions. Vastu Sastra describes 32 ways of constructing Vastu-purusha-
mandala. The simplest among them is conceived with square or pada and the longest in this characteristics is of
1024 Padas. The exact size and shape of Vastu-purusha-mandala is determined according to the requirements of
the building constructions. The 32 kinds of Vastu-purusha-mandala and these are Sakala, Pecaka, Pitha,
Mahapitha, etc. ending with the 32nd one which is named as Indrakanta.

MODE OF APPLICATION
In building towns and cities, the architect had to decide first, which
Vastu-purusha-mandala holds appropriation depending upon the size
of the town. Thus, fixation of the peripheral limits of a town used to be
determined by configuring the alignment patterns of main streets which
resembled the arms of the cosmic cross, attributed to avenues planted with
shady trees. Thus, the longest arm used to be aligned East and West and
named after Mahakala or Vamana. In fact there used to be ring roads
planned surrounding the whole city or town and called as Mangalavithi.
Thus, the whole Vastu-purusha-mandala used to be fragmented into 81,
64, 49 pads or landed parcels and pushed into different zones. The
innermost square or pada was called Brahma and the next called after
Daivika or the belt of gods, next to this is called Manusya or the belt of
humans and the fourth ring was called Paisaca or the belt of demons.
Different zones or squares used to be occupied by different
classes of human being. But the central square which was called Brahmasthana was always occupied either by a
temple or a palace. While planning of roads in the course of conceiving the design for a town or a city, the roads
running in the Eastern axis ensured towards purification of the street by Sun rays from morning till evening and the
North-South road profiles provided a perfect circulation of the air and benefit of cool breeze.

TOWN PLANNING CONCEPTS


The Indo-Aryan town planning principles are almost a blueprint copy of the concepts used in the village
planning, especially the central cross roads, Mangalavithi or Pradaksinapatha. The ground was fragmented in the
same style as that in the village planning techniques and
the identifications of Varnas (Social order or caste:
Brahamana, Kshatriya, Vaisya, Sudra) depended upon
the position of square or pada in the chess board
patterns of roads, house plots, and temple placements.
Sometimes the amalgamated spatial patterns were
followed which depended upon the urban planning
contexts and, therefore, were free from a monotonous
look.

The shape of towns and cities and their geographical locations were classified and determined as per
Vastu principles. Accordingly, there were twenty types of towns and cities, starting from Padma category to
Girinagar type. The word 'Pura' and 'Nagara’ actually belong to Vedic Vastu periods. The most important shape
used in the initial concept of towns and cities, as per the Samarangana Suthradhara, is towards square shape.
A city should be located in the central part of a country so as to facilitate trade and commerce. The site selected
for the purpose of this city should be quite large in area, and on the banks of a river, or by the side of an artificial
or natural lake, which never goes dry.
Vastu Shastra recommends five shapes of a town; 1. Chandura; square 2. Agatara; rectangle 3. Vritta;
circle 4. Kritta Vritta; elliptical 5. Gola Vritta; full circle.
Silpasasthras refers to four distinct categories of habitation settlements within the forts and fortified cities;
1. Janabhavanas: houses for common mass.
2. Rajbhavanas: palaces and gorgeous mansions for ruling class.
3. Devabhavanas: religious shrines.
4. The public buildings such as public rest house, public gardens, public libraries, public tents, reservoirs,
and wells
There should be a wall around the town, which should be six dandas (180cms approx.) high and twelve
dandas wide. Beyond this wall there should be three moats of 14 feet, 12 feet and 10 feet wide to be constructed
four arm-lengths apart. The depth should be three-fourth of width. Three-east west and three North – south roads,
should divide the town. The main roads should be eight dandas wide and other roads four dandas wide.
While site planning a city or a town, Vastu pertaining to placement of different building enclosures used
to be observed very strictly. For example, the palace was to be placed exactly in the centre of the town by
occupying one -ninth of the area of the whole of the fort. The palace faced exactly East with lands reserved for
teachers and priests in the North-East direction. The royal kitchen including elephant stables and store houses
used to be placed in the South-East. On the external sides, merchants trading in liquid, grains, and artists used to
stay. The main treasury, accounts offices, etc., used to be placed in the South-East. The store houses containing
forest products and the arsenal used to be placed in the South-West. In the South, commercial buildings and
merchants houses used to be placed, including those of army generals. Stables for asses, horses etc. used to be
placed in the South-West. In the North-West, the chariots and conveying vehicles used to be placed. In the West
textile based materials, bamboo mats, armors and weapons used to be kept. In the North-West shops and
hospitals and stables of cows were placed. To the exact North of the palace, the temple used to be decided
upon. Residence for Brahmins used to be found within the precincts of this area. In addition, landscaping and
garden planning was also placed. Especially huge trees always dominated the centre of the town or a city. This
tree was the Bodhi tree under which village communities used to meet. In fact, the city architect was assisted by a
landscape architect (Aramakral Imavanakarinah) in planning a city. There should be one well for every group of
ten houses
Roads: Grid –iron pattern: main streets; Primary, Secondary & Tertiary street layout; Street with green
plant borders; Pedestrian footpath between street & green belt; Junction of main axis: Brahmastana
The streets that run round the layout can have buildings on one side. These buildings can relate to schools,
colleges, public libraries and buildings, offices, guest houses etc. The smaller streets can have residential buildings
on both sides. Each segment or block can have houses that are uniform in height and appearance. People of similar
professions, age groups, health can be housed in the same quarters.
Manasara speaks of the street that is on the border of the street (Mangalaveedhi) and the street that
surrounds the Brahmasthana (Brahmaveedhi)
There are eight different types of towns and villages according to the shapes:
1. DANDAKA
 Streets are straight and cross each other at right angles at the
centre
 Has 4 gates on four sides
 Rectangular / square
 Width of the street varies from one ‐ Five
danda
 2 transverse street at the extremities
 Have single row of houses
 The village offices located in the east.
 The female deity/ chamadevata ‐ located
outside the village and the Male deities in the northern portion

2. SARVATOBHADRA
 This type of town plan is applicable to larger
villages and towns, which have to be
constructed on a square sites.
 According to this plan, the whole town should
be fully occupied by houses of various
descriptions and inhabited by all classes of
people.
 The temple dominates the village

3. NANDYAVARTA
 Commonly used for the construction of
towns and not for villages.
 It is generally adopted for the sites either
circular or square in shape
 3000 – 4000 houses
 The streets run parallel to the central
adjoining streets with the temple of the
presiding deity in the center of the town.
 “Nandyavarta” is the name of a flower,
the form of which is followed.

4. PADMAKA
 This type of plan was practiced for building
of the towns with fortress all round.
 The pattern of the plan resembles the petals
of lotus radiating outwards from the center.
 The city used to be practically an island
surrounded by water, having no scope for
expansion

5. SWASTIKA
 Contemplates some diagonal streets
dividing the site into rectangular plots.
 The site need not be marked out into a
square or rectangle and it may be of any
shape.
 A rampart wall surrounds the town, with
a moat at its foot filled with water.
 2 main streets cross each other at the
center, running S to N and W to E.
6. PRASTARA
 The site may be either square or
rectangular but not triangular or
circular.
 The sites are set apart for the
poor, the middle class, the rich
and the very rich, the sizes of the
sites increasing according to the
capacity of each to purchase or
build upon.
 The main roads are much wider
compared to those of other
patterns.
 The town may or may not be
surrounded by a fort.

7. KARMUKA
 Suitable for the place where the
site of the town is in the form of a
bow or semi‐circular or parabolic
and mostly applied for towns
located on the seashore or
riverbanks.
 The main streets of the town run
from N to S or E to W and the cross
streets run at right‐angles to them,
dividing the whole area into blocks.
 The presiding deity, commonly a
female deity, is installed in the
temple build in any convenient
place

8. CHATURMUKHA
 Applicable to all towns starting
from the largest town to the
smallest village.
 The site may be either square or
rectangular having four faces.
 The town is laid out east to west
lengthwise, with four main
streets.
 The temple of the presiding
deity will be always at the
center