The Ashwath katte as an Urban design strategy for Gandhi Bazaar

In the past few months, I’ve been looking at how people continue to worship trees in Bangalore and how this can generate community space for a neighbourhood. I have been specifically looking at the Peepul tree and its ability to create places of memory and cultural value. The Peepul tree, also known as the Ashvattha in Sanskrit literature is a type of Fig tree (Ficus Religiosa) and the platform around it is locally called ashwath katte.

The Ashwath katte opposite the Meenakshi Mall on Bannerghatta road

While my research focus has been on how the practice of tree worship contributes to the territorial production of urban space, I have also been eager to explore if the idea of the katte can help develop a pedestrianisation plan for Gandhi Bazaar. There have been articles written in the last few years which have discussed the need for pedestrianisation in several parts of the city. In Where does the walker go? Ashish Verma suggests that some of the needs to be met are well-connected walking networks, good quality of footpaths and adequate widths for footpaths. In Reserve Gandhi Bazaar for Pedestrians only and in The why’s and how’s of pedestrianising Gandhi Bazaar, traffic-related and street vendor-related issues at Gandhi Bazaar are brought forth.

To add to this discussion, I’d like to propose that if people respect and protect sacred trees through the katte, perhaps the idea of the katte can also become an urban design strategy for streets such as the Gandhi Bazaar Main road which may not have Peepul trees, but have been covered with old shade-giving trees that may face a threat of being felled for easing traffic congestion. I think that taking inspiration from the Ashwath katte, we may be able to suggest a Pedestrianisation or Urban design plan for Gandhi Bazaar that responds to the natural heritage (the trees) as well as the social, cultural and economic activities of the Basavanagudi neighbourhood. I share below a few concept sketches:

Typical Street detail plan /of Gandhi Bazaar


Existing Plan of Gandhi Bazaar : There is no distinction between where the pedestrians walk and where the cars move


Proposed Urban design Plan 1: with the katte as platform surrounding each cluster of trees


Proposed Urban design Plan 2: where the raised platforms are not rectilinear like the katte but have a natural flow as do the paved areas


For those who would like to know more about the social, cultural and economic activities of Gandhi Bazaar, do look at The Garland Makers in the Bazaar, Gandhi Bazaar and Street vendor eviction. And, for more on ashwath kattes, you could look at a paper that was published in Feb 2017 in the Journal of Urban design on The practice of tree worship and the territorial production of urban space in the Indian neighbourhood

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Similar Story

Smothered by smog: Struggle of vegetable vendors in Delhi’s Keshopur Mandi

Delhi's air pollution affects every resident, but for the urban poor, like vegetable vendors of Keshopur Mandi, it is much worse.

Halfway through our interview, vegetable vendor Rekha asked me point blank, “Isse kya hoga,” and at that moment, I could not think of an answer. She was right and had every reason to be hopeless. Much has been written about air pollution and much energy has been spent on expert committees and political debates and yet nothing has changed.  “Hum toh garib log hai, hum kisko jakar bole, hamari sunvai nahin hoti” (We are poor people, to whom do we go, nobody listens to us),” says Rekha Devi, who sells vegetables in the Keshopur Mandi. Keshopur is a large retail…

Similar Story

Study shows TNPCB ill-equipped to monitor the environmental impact of pollution

The scientific team of TNPCB is working at half its strength, affecting the Board's ability to carry out inspections in Chennai and other parts of the State.

The Central Pollution Control Board and the State Pollution Control Boards are the primary custodians for preventing and controlling all forms of pollution in our country. Despite their significant role in environmental protection, the public is mostly unaware of the functions of these regulatory bodies, due to insufficient research. Therefore, we at Citizen consumer & civic Action Group (CAG) have attempted to understand the functions of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), through a study titled ‘The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board in Retrospect: An Examination of Selected Parameters from 2017 to 2022.’ Read more: Fisherfolk lament as environmental…