Kumbh camps are set up for each of the Kumbh Melas, every 3 years, to accommodate the mass influx of pilgrims for the event. Since 2004, a recurring project has been undertaken by Studio Saransh for Prabhu Premi Sangh, a Spiritual Organisation, and a temporary camp was set up for the Prayagraj Mahakumbh in 2019 too. ‘Over the years having been an active part of 8 Kumbh Melas, we can say we have started understanding what this massive phenomenon means to our ancient country and its heritage. The Kumbh Mela is a melting pot of all our heritage and what this country stands for – spirituality, culture, music, dance, architecture et al. It is an extremely enriching experience and inspirational in itself’, says Ar. Malini Doshi, Founding Partner, Saransh in an exclusive interview with Sawdust and shares her thoughts, experiences, challenges and the end contentment at the realisation of the project itself.
Since 2004, a recurring project has been undertaken by Studio Saransh for Prabhu Premi Sangh, a Spiritual Organisation, and a temporary camp was set up for the Prayagraj Mahakumbh in 2019 too. We are curious to know your journey from 2004 until now – the challenges faced and the contentment at the end of realisation of this massive project.
Over the years as the Spiritual Organisation has grown, the size and detailing of the camp has grown too. The Kumbh projects are extremely fulfilling. Which other architectural project of this scale gets designed in 6 months, constructed in 30 days & disappears 15 days later… it’s a surreal experience!
Can we learn little more on the designing of the Datt Sadan, where the Spiritual Head resides?
The Datt Sadan was designed to resemble a palace with a large central meeting hall, smaller meeting rooms, a kitchen and dining room, a Pooja room, seven two bedroom suites and 5 double bedrooms. It also had two courtyards within for direct sunlight in the cold weather.
Being a winter Kumbh, we would like our readers to know how you handled the situation with freezing temperatures, spells of rain and more importantly, the changing course of the river on the river bed of the Ganges.
The changing course of the river does not cause direct difficulties because land is allotted only after the Ganga fixes her course of flow… it only causes a delay in the allotment of land which causes a time crunch for the mammoth task on hand. Over the years since 2004, this is one of the main things learnt – acceptance of the fact that we will get not more than 30 days for execution and so everything is planned keeping that in mind. We have to prepare our construction teams for long working hours in freezing temperatures and keep them constantly motivated to deliver on time.
Share your story behind developing temporary architecture since 2004. What drives you to be committed to this project so passionately? From where do you draw your inspirations?
The drive behind our commitment to this project is that we are a part of the Spiritual Organisation ourselves. Over the years having been an active part of 8 Kumbh Melas, we can say we have started understanding what this massive phenomenon means to our ancient country and its heritage. The Kumbh Mela is a melting pot of all our heritage and what this country stands for – spirituality, culture, music, dance, architecture et al. It is an extremely enriching experience and inspirational in itself.
After Kumbh, where next?
Normal architectural practice till the next Kumbh Mela.
An inspirational project of this kind – to execute one such, what advice would you give aspiring young professionals from the industry.
To execute a Kumbh camp, one has to eat, breathe sleep it… simply put, you have to live it! The one way to do so is to experience a Kumbh Mela – just be there for as long a duration as possible and absorb every sound, smell, sight with an open mind. This is the true India – believe it or not, this is where the richness of our country and its culture throbs. This is where one experiences humanity at its peaceful best… just look at the smiles on the faces of the simplest people even in the given harsh conditions and you will see true happiness.
We would like to give credits to the four teams: erection of super structures, execution of decorative facades, execution of toilets with water supply and drainage network and electrification and an army of more than 400 volunteers taking care of all odds. Can you share the fact sheet of the project.
Camp in Numbers
- Overall dimensions of plot: 913 ft x 1000 ft.
- Design Development period: 210 Days
- Construction Period: 32 Days
- The largest camp of Kumbh mela 2019
- Ground Surface Area: 9,13,000 sq.ft. More than 10,000 visitors daily
- Built Up Area: 3,10,000 sq.ft.
- Pandal: 39,600 sq.ft. 3000 persons capacity
- Kitchen: 53,000 sq.ft. 4000 persons x 3 meals daily
- Datt Sadan: 31,000 sq.ft. 40 residents
- Cottages: 1,50,000 sq.ft. 2500 residents
- Toilets including WC, Bath and Urinals: 950 units
- Client: Prabhu Premi Sangh
- Design Team: Malini Doshi, Manish Doshi, Purvi Tank, Heli Mistry, Nirali Patel, Aashini Desai from Studio Saransh
- Agencies: From Ahmedabad, Gujarat; From Hisar, Haryana; Indore, Madhyapradesh and Kolkata, West Bengal
- Documentation: Chasing Lights Studio
- Volunteers: More than 400
“With a design philosophy that draws from traditional wisdom to ideate solutions for contemporary issues, I draw inspiration from any & every piece of good design, be it historical or modern. I believe that all styles of architecture have unique insights to offer and studying each helps one to develop one’s own distinctive approach.
Leading the design initiative for Kumbh camps, for a Spiritual Organisation, since 2004, I have imbued each iteration with a specific regional character to create fully-equipped mini transient cities, showcasing the varied architectural heritage of India. Each camp has been planned, designed and set up within a month and a half – if not less – yet consisted of exquisitely detailed structures embodying the spirit of the holy event.”