Purification Oasis Pools: This Ghat or that Ghat?

My first exposure to ghats was last summer in Pushkar, India. A ghat is a series of steps which lead down into a body of water, and the holy lake at Pushkar had more than a few. It was explained to me by a local Brahman that the lake is surrounded by 52 separate ghats, which are often used in religious rites. People bath at ghats, wash clothes, and take part in ceremonies (sometimes in the form of cremation, as mentioned in the previous post “Love is Blind”). There are more than 80 ghats along the Ganges in Varanasi and as these are not only a focal point of activity along the river bank but also a defined architectural zone. It is my belief that my oasis project would be most effective if located in conjunction with a ghat. Of the 87 ghats many are used daily cremation, and a few are much more popular and culturally significant than the rest. Although ideally I could apply my project to the most popular ghat – the Dashashwamedh Ghat – this might not be received well due to the importance of the gate. While using the Dashashwamedh Ghat would allow me to affect the most people, it is more reasonable to choose a moderately popular gate, at which a strange new purification system might be better tolerated.

The Assi Ghat is one of the biggest, and it is frequented by about 300 people each morning. Although I will have to do more research on the religious and local significance of the ghat, it seems to be a prime location to launch a purification oasis. In 2014 the Ghat was cleaned and restored in conjunction with the Indian government, meaning a precedent has already been set for development and rejuvenation of the Ghat. The Ghat is also in the formation of an obtuse angle, with a pier stretching out into the Ganges on one side. This shape would allow for a slant or gradual curve in the filtering wall of the oasis so that larger debris could roll past without building up. The pier would also help ensure access to boating was not significantly hindered by the oasis border. A tentative area by which I can prototype a design – sounds like progress to me.

Works Cited

Joshi, Sandeep. “Subah-e-Banaras a Hit as Assi Ghat Gets a Makeover.” The Hindu. The Hindu, 22 Mar. 2015. Web. 13 May 2015.

Lonely Planet. “Ghats.” Lonely Planet. Lonely Planet, n.d. Web. 13 May 2015.

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