- Environmental Imperatives for a Pilgrimage Event – Case Study Orchha, India   click here to open paper content353 kb
by    Jadon, Sanjay & Jadon, Rebecca | jadon100@hotmail.com   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
This study deals with the pulse event of pilgrimage in the heritage rich small town of Orchha in central India. Managing the ingress of over 100000 devotees on certain festivals annually with respect to the natural and built environment is the thrust of the study.
Sanjay S. Jadon, Sr. lecturer, Deptt. Of Architecture, M.I.T.S., Gwalior, India
Rebecca Jadon, Architect, Gwalior, India


Orchha is a small town in the state of Madhya Pradesh in central India with a population of about 2000. It lies 16 kilometres south-east of Jhansi, a major road and rail junction, just 3 kilometres off the national highway. Founded in 1531 by the Bundela rulers, its major edifices were built under the rule of Bir Singh Deo(1576-1609) its most famous ruler. Once a capital, the town is a shadow of its history with city gateways, fort palaces, temples and monumental tombs .Set on the banks of river Betwa, it has a picturesque setting with bathing ghats or steps along the river side against the skyscape of the architectural edifices. Today Orchha is most famous for its architectural heritage and its pilgrimage stature. Orchha has many temples, many of it disused now. But it is most famous for the Ram Lala temple whose presiding deity of Lord Ram had been brought from Ayodhya the birthplace of Lord Ram. Orchha is an important Hindu pilgrimage and receives devotees regularly. The annual domestic tourist number around 650,000 and the foreign tourist number around 25,000. The daily number of visitors to Orchha figure around 800 and on certain important Hindu festivals like the Makar Sankranti, Basant Panchami, Shivratri, Ram navami, Kartik Purnima and Vivaha Panchami the number of devotees who throng to Orchha go upto over 100,000.

This study basically focuses on the effects of the festival events on this small town especially in terms of provision of infrastructural facilities like water, drainage and transport and the effects on the economic and environmental fabric of the town.

Organising a pilgrimage like the major festivals at Orchha’s Ram Mandir needs a concerted effort on the part of the district administration, which has its headquarters at Tikamgad, 70 kilometres south of Orchha. The local administration consists of the Tehsil headquarters. In terms of space, the large open space near the Ram Mandir is used as the gathering place for the visiting devotees. Organising and controlling traffic, to and from the town , including providing parking is a major aspect. The town lies within a couple of kilometres, restricting the need for transport within the town. Law and order is the responsibility of the district administration.

The normal water requirements of the town is met from the river and underground bore-wells, but catering to the influx of 100,000 puts a major strain in providing water and drainage facilities without degenerating the environment of this heritage town. Some of the festivals entail bathing on the river ghats by the devotees which temporarily pollutes a short stretch of the river ahead. In terms of electricity, the infrastructure is rather poor. So while the daytime activities do not make heavy demands on the electrical infrastructure, night-time activities are restricted . There is no centralised drainage or sewerage system , hence it is important to provide adequate toilet and drainage facility to avoid the environmental pollution of the town and the river.

Conserving the built heritage of Orchha including its edifices, palaces, temples and its streetscape is necessary to safeguard the architectural heritage of the region and to foster tourism which is a major economic activity of the town and can grow with proper planning.

The study researches the infrastructural requirements of the pilgrimage days and studies the feasibility of options to meet these requirements and foster a balanced and sustainable economy for Orchha.
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