“Shiva represents the non-dualistic absolute… all dualities merge within him.”
The concept of prayer and reverence to God has evolved over centuries, taking many paths and traveling down many roads. But with the changing mindsets and evolving context, there exists a need to re-discover the journey of a temple. The Kailash Dham complex is an integral part of a composite urban scenario. The water body which also acts as the site for the temple is flanked by a railway track on the east, a road on the west, the temple complex to the north and the residential settlements to the south. One of the most important challenges of this project was to give rise to an iconic structure that would respond to the edge as well as house the aura of spirituality. The periphery of the lake is a public space and in contrast to the surroundings, the lake aims to house the temple for Shiva and
Parvathi. The entirety of the temple aims to delve the devotee into an intimate journey from their first step into space. The organization of the spaces of the structure stems from the idea of a Trishul . The three prongs of the Trishula represent the three main Nadis also called the energy channels . The right and the left prongs represent the duality of nature and the Central prong represents the idea of attaining an inner balance. Hence the spatial organization is derived from the three prongs of the Trishul.
There are three primary spaces – two Sanctums and a Garba Griha. A burrowing walkway connects these three spaces. To the right and the left of this spine are the two triangular sanctums – their characters dual in nature of light and dark. The spine culminates at the Garba Griha, which is where devotees journey to find a sense of inner peace and balance. The floating temple on the water calls for a connection, a bridge. Despite the lake being witness to the idea of the temple, we chose to submerge the Trishul underwater to create an awe-inspiring journey as well as to symbolize the process of one taking a dip in the holy water. The devotee starts by taking a ramp: the spine connecting the spaces:
into the water. As they continue to tunnel into the lake, the horizon dips below the meniscus of the water, and they are curated into the temple. This builds a cocooned relationship with the deity . The internal character of the three primary spaces is drawn from the varying temperaments of Shakti, Sati, and Parvathi. At the foot of the ramp, the first sight that beholds the devotee is that of the magnificent Shikara floating on the water. The water is at the eye level and the sky is boundless. As the devotee continues to walk, they start to lose the sense of the horizon. Taking them deeper into the heart of the temple. The walkway is covered with a pattern of angular lines that represent the surrounding chaos and our daily attempts to navigate it. The lines also help subconsciously guide the devotee through the various sanctums.
Upon walking a bit, a detour to the left leads the devotee to the first Sanctum. It is an embodiment of Adi Shakti. The devotee is greeted by the primary elements – trees, flickering lamps, cascading water, the open sky and primally surrounded by earth. A ramp follows a subtle cascade of water along two edges of a triangle also consisting of extruding triangular niches for devotees to light lamps and feel a more intricate connect to the space. At the vertex of the two edges is an access to the kund of the sanctum. Steps that function as a gathering space, border the kund which consists of a Jyothi Stambh in the center. The lit diyas and their reflection in the water help disconnect the devotees from the world and completely imbue themselves into this new-found sense of calm. The spine leads to the second sanctum on the right which revolves around the being of Sati, of self-reflection, where the roof rises and consists of a skylight which allows views of the sky. The sub-sanctum is a small gathering space. Straight ahead from there is another sub-sanctum that consists of a shallow pond with a triangular skylight. Upon wandering to the left , the devotees find themselves in a space where the roof dips into the room and encircles a reflective pool of water with a Shiv Ling.
The end of the spine is shrouded in a sense of mystery due to the divergence which is created. On meandering around the diversion, the devotees find themselves in the final sanctum. The spaces revolve around the centrally placed Shiva-Parvathi statue. The Shikara stands as a proud analogy to the abode of Shiva and Parvathi, Mount Kailash. The seating at the base of the space grows into the frieze which then rises to the shikhara. The Shikara consists of hexagonal cut-outs which allows for a play of light in the space, bringing a mystical vibe to the entire sanctum. It leads to a ramp which runs along the outside walls with water cascades leading to an elevated platform with a row of Shiv Lings which aims to help the devotee rediscover the horizon. Upon exiting this final sanctum, they ascend the ramp and find themselves rising out of the water. The journey culminates at the start of the ramp, but the devotee emerges as a perhaps as a new person.
Gujarat , India
Haritha John, Balaji , Shahana Salahudeen , Smaran Mallesh, Vikram Rajashekar, Narendra Pirgal