Sunday, April 20, 2014

Temple of Steps; Neemuch, Madhya Pradesh.

In India the negotiation of the space between built form and water has traditionally been articulated though formal manifestations, conscious of the tidal variances of water bodies. This understanding can be seen at scales varying from that of water harvesting structures of the step well, the kund and even to the scale of rivers and their immediate settlements.

Benaras Ghat
The Ghats in Benaras (as in other riverfront towns) are a formal device navigating access to fluctuating water levels and its relationship with the city’s fabric. 
Our project for a temple in Neemuch ,Madhya Pradesh, situates a 1.5 acre water harvesting tank next to the temple while formally attempting to link the temple and water body in contiguity of the traditional formal type in collective memory. 

Project Infographic

The site for one of India's largest renewable energy companies and for our project lies in the dry and arid part of North Western India, on the border of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh with the nearest town of Udaipur a good five to six hour drive away. The client design brief involved designing an entrance gate to the 600 acre solar power plant, also the default location for the inauguration of the solar power plant by the President of India. The Shiva Temple was designed as a CSR project for the neighboring villages.

The design strategy involved creating inter-dependencies between disparate programs by a reorganization of client brief, social need, and local material resources. The two design programs of an entrance gateway for the solar farm and religious building for the neighboring villages were coupled with a water harvesting tank for cleaning solar cells. They were programmed to be inextricably linked through their material processing and linked symbolism and hence making sustainability a function of context, available resource and the potential of material by-products becoming tools of production. 

Temple Plan
The water storage tank was relocated near the temple site, an idea extrapolated from the traditional interface between land and the tidal vagrancy of water in India thus linking the temple and water tank both metaphorically and formally through the typology of a 'ghat'. The ghat is designed as a formal technique that incorporates the shikhara as a part of its construct. The temple form incorporated with the ghat hence becomes a landscape intervention, a pure tectonic negotiating land, water and sky. 

Waterside Elevation
Access to the shrine is through a sliver between the ghat's bounding arm for the water body and the arm that denotes the site edge , while access to the water is from a notch in the rear of the garba griha (inner sanctum).

Entrance Plaza Side Elevation
The act of physically linking the water harvesting tank with the focus program of the temple also creates the potential of water access for neighboring villages in this extremely arid regional context hence referencing a real community need.

Temple Model


The availability of rough cut limestone excavated during the foundation work of the solar cells enabled us to design a hybrid stone reinforced concrete system for the construction of the temple and ghat. The formal character of the temple hence becomes a realization of the latent capacities of site, its material and local skill.

Design Team :

Nupoor Monani
Archita Banarjee
Aparna Dhareshwar
Sameep Padora


  1. When it will be ready ?
    Can you please provide some more info ( about temple.)

  2. The first phase of the entrance gateway is almost finished the second phase involves the temple, once the funding is in place.

  3. You may be qualified for a new solar program.
    Find out if you are qualified now!