by Shivani Sharma
Architecture isn’t just about what you see around yourself, it’s not just buildings, it’s much more than that, it is what you feel, it’s what you perceive beyond your vision. Those feelings you experience when you are at home, when you go to school, college or hang out with your friends. It serves the people and dwells within their needs. “Home is home”, we all say that, we all know that feeling, which give us the sense of security and relaxes our minds. Give it a thought, why do we feel like this at home and not at school? You are likely to get the answer correct; yes at home we do get every sort of comfort we need, for example a properly ventilated and lighted house can confer you a better experience than a poorly ventilated house with nearly no natural lightning. It is the game of spaces, every space has a meaning and that can be negative and positive at the same time, here perception plays a vital role; every person holds a different opinion about one particular space. Whether you accept it or not, architecture of a place can have a huge impact on one’s lifestyle.
Likewise every city is a chronicle of spaces with several stories written on them. History of a particular place may or may not be reflected in this modern world architecture. Dehradun itself has a stunning history with remarkable features, from the time of ‘Mughals’ to the ‘British rule’ there has been a magnificent development of architecture in this very place. The time when ‘Rajpur’ was the core of the city to the present day Dehradun, it has turned so many pages which diverts the attention of the residents from what we call the heritage to what it is now. On visit to these heritage sights one can literally feel the versatility and the grandeur of these structures. Buildings like Forest Research Institute, Jhanda Sahib Gurudwara, Songsten Library makes the city even more magnificent because these exemplifies the great architecture. Even if we talk about FRI a masterpiece by C.G. Blomfield is designed in Greeko Roman style of architecture. Since the structure is constructed using locally available materials not only has it tuned perfectly with surroundings but also gives the sense of opulence and lavishness to the visitors.
The life in Dehradun now is extremely different from what it was two decades back, it was a quiet and a serene place and the lifestyle of people was completely different. In 1820s during British rule there was huge development of infrastructure in colonial style. Followed by the development of Tea industry, Chakrata, Forest rangers institute, Railways, Forest Research Institute, Paltan bazaar (from clock tower to gurudwara), Clement town and the ordnance factory from 1830-1960. At that time the city was a perfect balance of green cover and the brown cover with its two main streams Bindal Rao and Rispana Rao which served as the drainage of the city. Everything which city had was a perfect setting for a holiday destination where British generals halted and celebrated before travelling towards Musoorie.
However everything is subjected to change, so the cities are. Population growth is a factor which cannot be controlled remarkably and leads to various transformations. With the growth of population the city expanded organically and the growth was so haphazard that it differs completely from the colonial part of the city. Dehradun has been facing traffic problems since a quite long time, the increasing population of this place has compelled ‘MDDA’ to cut down the green field ratio with the respect of built up area and now only 48% of green area is left. This increasing land use and population is affecting the public spaces since the city is expanding irrationally which is overcrowding certain spaces of the city. It’s been three years when I migrated to Dehradun and since then I have been exploring the architecture and history of this place.
In due course, I decided to go out for a day. I wanted to see how people behave when they are in highly crowded compact areas, so the place I chose was ‘Paltan Bazar’. After an exhausting crossing to ‘Clock Tower’ I stepped into the market. It was Sunday and it looked like an impossible task to get onto another side of the market. The very first thing I felt was a powerful thrust from the crowd behind me that very moment I realized that I am not at all allowed to stop, not even for a second. I looked at the different faces around; surprisingly most of those were in a hurry. Compact spaces create a sort of pressure in the mind of people and to get out of this pressure they try to escape from this situation. Eventually I found myself doing the same. This is how whole city looks like now, crowded by people like me trying to search for a place in this city surrounded by honking horns and assortments.
Open spaces have completely different impact on the people, they tend to feel that space, they halt there for a while to admire the spatial components of that place. For example a walk through Rajpur Road to Rajur can be really pleasing, since that area is having remarkable vegetation and wide roads. Spaces in Cantonment area also provides flattering experience as these spaces gives a feel of sovereignty. Such spaces help a city to become proficient and ideal for citizens. This is how architecture psychologically affects people living in a city. However these spaces are located at the outskirts distant from the core of the city, where the green fields are supposed to be agglomerated with the residential and commercial area of the city these spaces are distant and are prone to be under the influence of further development.
It is very important to have a balance between built up area and the green cover in a city. With the growth of population the green cover of Dehradun is tumbling so maybe maintaining the vegetation and expanding the city vertically could be more favorable. Apart from the planning part there are places in Dehradun which are worth admiring and visiting, these places have such an inspiring heritage stories which compel the residents to know more about Dehradun and can bring you a step closer to the nature. There is more to it that met the eye and coerces every curious migrant to explore and experience every esoteric feeling hidden beneath the topmost crust of this amiable city.