Allahabad Ghat | India

The main aim of every believer is to worship and bathe in the sacred water of the River Ganges. It is religiously believed that a bath in the sacred river cleanses one of his sins. It is a route offered to the believers for penance. The most important place lies in front of the site, where three rivers meet. This confluence makes the spot highly important for the pilgrims, a place where most people desire to bathe.

A geographical study of the site reveals that the river changes banks in the dry and monsoon seasons. During the course, an enormous amount of water is drained from the coast. At the same time, the water level is not constant and changes with time on a daily basis. The challenge is to address the spiritual and geographic significance and behaviour of the site and river to come up with an intervention, which will accommodate the river and facilitate the pilgrims at the same time.

The intervention is brought about by a system of floating platforms, which goes up and down with the level of the river. Spread across the massive width of the confluence of rivers, each of these platforms becomes a ghat in itself providing people access to the river. The platforms can be accessed by boats from the part of the ghat along the bank of the river.

The projected area becomes a large port for boats to take people to floating platforms with different functions, so people have access to water anytime of the season. All rituals, such as bathing, praying, meditation, ceremonies and cremation, happen at floating platforms which are connected by ropes to the ground and influenced by water flow, so people can feel the power of the river.

The port is a composition of squares set at different levels starting from the road level and leading to the water level. These squares at different times of the year, based on the water level act as piers from where boats ferry people to the floating platforms. The squares at different levels are connected with hidden straight-flight staircases, thereby providing easy access and also keeping intact the overall form of the design intervention. The squares also provide space for functions such as the Visitor centre, commerce and all public amenities such as toilets, changing rooms, etc.

Most of the ceremonies are held in the morning and in the evening when there is either fog or darkness. With a view to facilitating the rituals, the design intervention includes the idea of landmarks in the space. These landmarks are tall vertical columns protruding out of the water surface and scattered around the platforms. These columns can be illuminated to form landmark points within the space. They also become space for boat landings and add to the overall mysticism of space.

This type of ghat allows people not only to reach the holy water but also to be part of the flow of the river and experience the force and power of the rivers through the platforms. This in itself is complementary to the purpose of the ghat, which is to provide access to the river and let the believers perform the ceremonies with prayers and rituals to what is there in front and what is beyond.


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