Wednesday, March 28, 2007



Nepal add: Lamjung Chiti Tilahar-2

Entry into Kyoto University: April 1998

Graduation date : March 2004

Degree : Post Doctoral Fellowship (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science)

Research area: Architecture and Urban History

Current Add: 11-6-205 Shimizu-cho, Mukaijima, Fushimiku, Kyoto, Japan

Telephone no.: (075) 622-2456


A reflection of his dexterity



Stupa and Swastika
Historical Urban Planning Principles in Nepal's Kathmandu Valley

Mohan Pant and Shuji Funo

Kyoto University Press, Japan in association with NUS Press, Singapore, 2007.

For a brief idea on what is in this book, here is an abstract:

This book is a study of Patan city. It analyses social and physcial structure of the historic city area, and demonstrates that the city is planned from the choice of its location to the layout of its streets and settlement quarters.
Probably we all are familiar with one of the creation myth of the valley, which states that four earlier Buddhas meditated on the four mountain summits Sivapuri (north), Phulchoki (southeast), Champadevi (southwest) and Nagarjun (northwest) overlooking the valley. These are the highest peak in the mountaing range of Kathmandu Valley besides the one--Mahadev danda, at east. Further, which many of us may not be aware of, is an oral tradition on the city of Patan that holds that Patan is a city originally planned in the shape of the dharmacakra, the Buddhist wheel of law. This study makes an analysis of the physical layout of the city including the four Stupas at its periphery. The geometrical analysis of the configuration of the four stupas demonstrates that there is a factual link between the planning of Patan with the creation myth and oral tradition. The four sides connecting the stupas are oriented to four of the five summits of the mountain range that surround the Valley in a manner that resembles a clockwise swastika. Besides, the diagonal connecting the south (Lagan Stupa) and north stupa (Yampi Stupa) is oriented to Sivapuri summit. The main streets of Patan going south to north follow this orientation. We know that Swastika is a sacred symbol in Buddhism. The configuration of four stupas, therefore, represent the layout of Patan in the context of the natural and cultural geography of the Valley and have paramount symbolic value to Patan.
An important discovery made in this study of Patan is that the planning of the city uses an ancient system of measure, first known in Kautilya's Arthasastra (Kautilya or Chanakya who lived in 4th C BEC). This system of measure was first discovered in an earlier study of Thimi. This ancient measure is based on hasta system, which was common in South Asia (also in Southeast Asia) until modern times. While hasta system is a common knowledge, the complexity of this system is that the standard length measured in angulas and its multiples differs according to region, and historical periods. Scholars have suggested the correspondence of hasta to metric measures but with variations, which often remain unsubstantiated. This study gives the exact measure in metric units of the hasta and system of multiples employed in Patan, which corresponds to that mentioned in Kautilya.
This study also demonstrates links of Kathmandu Valley urban civilization with Indus Valley civilization of 5000 years back. Analyzing the Indus cities such as Mohenjodaro and Kalibangan, and cities of first millennium BCE of the region of Gandhara (present day Pakistan), the study shows exactly the same measurement system and planning modules (such as 100, 200, 300... hasta for a quarter block) employed in the division of the city quarters of these archaic cities. Even street widths of these cities with that of Patan and Thimi are found to be related.
It is also surprising that Newars, whose ancestors build Patan and other towns of the Valley continued this ancient tradition right up to 19th century.
Several Nepali historians such as Baburam Acharya and Gyanmani Nepal have suggested the migratory links between the prehistoric communities of Kathmandu Valley and the regions of Indus Valley. Sudarshan Tiwari, architect and professor, is also of this opinion. The tradition of settlement planning employed in Patan including architectural planning is the material evidence demonstrating an unbroken link between the urban civilization of the Indus and the Kathmandu Valley.
While we are forgetting the principles of past traditions, this study tells me to rever Newar ancestors, and particularly the Jyapus, the great Jyapus who planned and built Patan (you might have heard the story of Lalita-Jyapu of Lalitpur).


(secretly: the book also makes theoretical contribution on city planning !!!!! but I am not permitted to tell it, that is only a privillege of the readers ! )

Comments on the book:


MPant Ji,
Congratulation for your prestigious degree and also for the contribution on the ancient Patan of Kathmandu valley. We could learn a lot about the great city of the 19th century. Patan has may khel like Lagankhel, Jawalakhel and not to mention a khel called Nyokakhyo or Nayakhel, a place completely forgotten since the advet of 2oth century but it remains is still behind the Patan industrial state. Long time ago I and Mr. Prem Chitrakar of this area planed to make use of this historic or religious place and proposed a plan. Recently, I heard that former ministr and long time Mayor Mr. BR Bajracharya is taking interest to develope this place along with many needed places in Patan. For further see in google under Mr. Prem Chitrakar or Keshab Shrestha. This plan was also encouraged by former embassdor. Mr. Kedar B. Mathema
Congratulation and hearty thanks to Prof.Funo Shuji for his great love to Patan city.
-Keshab Shrestha

2. Mohan Pant and Shuji Funo, 2004. A Study on the Pattern of Plot Divisions of Courtyard Residential Blocks of Patan, Kathmandu Valley. Journal of Architecture and Building Engineering, 3:1, 197-205

3. Mohan Pant and Shuji Funo, 2005. The Grid and Modular Measures in The Town Planning of Mohenjodaro and Kathmandu Valley--A Study on Modular Measures in Block and Plot Divisions in the Planning of Mohenjodaro and Sirkap (Pakistan), and Thimi (Kathmandu Valley). Journal of Architecture and Building Engineering, 4:1, 51-59

Friday, March 16, 2007