In the district of Mehsana, Gujarat, is Vadnagar – home to the 14th Prime Minister of India. It is an ancient town that dates back almost 4500 years. With a population of 25,000 people, it is said to be the earliest capital of Gujarat. Over time, it has been inhabited by six different dynasties.
More recently, Vadnagar has demonstrated links to Buddhism – a result of archaeological excavations that are currently underway. These archaeological sites have the potential to provide insights into the prevalence and spread of Buddhism in Gujarat – setting it apart from other sites of archaeological significance. Along with other Buddhist sites of relevance in Gujarat, it provides one more link into the religion, and allows for further extrapolation.
Map of Gujarat indicating location of Vadnagar
Left, Archaeological site revealing remnants of Buddhist monastery, at a dig in Vadnagar.
Right, Kirti Toran, a pair of 12th century columns supporting an arch, about 40 feet tall built in red and yellow sandstone, just north of the walled town.
Having conducted primary and secondary research this project treats the town as a place of tourist significance and offers proposals that would not only improve tourist infrastructure in and around the city, but also the quality of life of the citizens of the town.
Based on the several threads that weave through Vadnagar, four primary zones of intervention were identified.
Present view of archaeolgical dig: The archaeolgical site at the periphery of lake Sharmishtha, is envisaged as one of the many informative pavilions/ pop-up museums, proposed in Zone 3.
Proposed view of archaeolgical dig: Exhibitions and hands-on workshops, along with requisite infrastructure, comprise the ‘Museums and History’ circuit, proposed in Zone 3.
The outcome is a document that presents very specific design interventions that remain true to the grain of Vadnagar; low-cost, land-based, and ecological methods of looking at forestry and hydrology to create spaces of import. These spaces allow for the representation and study of the cultural strands that the town offers - Buddhism, the lakes and the historic monuments.