Reflections on Minal Sagare's talk, "The Sacred Landscapes of River Confluences:A Case of Sangam Mahuli, India "
Nature-culture relationships have always been an important aspect in building human civilisations. Since ancient times, river landscapes have played an important role in constructing human environments, acting as a focal point of development. Sangam Mahuli is an example of a significant river confluence with its geomorphologic spatial configuration impacted by socio-cultural and political influences. We frequently examine river confluences and the formation of religious precincts that develop around them through the perspective of cultural and heritage associational values. However, there are certain parameters associated with such sacred landscapes which we tend to miss. If one were to gain insights into the knowledge of sacred landscapes around river confluences, it is crucial to explore the overall spatial arrangement of the region through socio-political narratives.
Our speaker offered insight on the dimensions of this sacred environment that go beyond its historic value and religious character. The method of conducting field research and analysis through the framework of instinct, intellect, and inspiration was intriguing. The parameter of instinct was used to discuss how the architecture of the temples built around this river confluence reacts to the geological structure of space in terms of volumetric arrangement, location, and design elements. Various narratives of socio-political histories that contributed to the emergence of the precinct character were elaborated upon, providing insights toward the emergence of certain spatial configurations. An essential criterion was underlined under the parameter of Inspiration, which is the driving force behind the creation of the river confluence and its spiritual character.
In times when we are losing our strong correlation to river precincts, it is essential to explore the factors that have preserved nature-culture interconnections intact through changing circumstances. It can help us protect these geomorphologically unique and sacred sites by equipping us with a greater sensitivity towards their complexities.
Kalpita Lotankar, M.Arch. Urban Design 2020-21