Floods in June, 2013 caused significant damage to the township of Kedarnath and the spread of the town was significantly reduced from about 21 acres to 13 acres. There was widespread damage to the roads, buildings and other infrastructure at Kedarnath.
It is in this light that a comprehensive plan and vision for reconstruction of Kedarnath was conceived. The design proposes a reconstruction plan for the Kedarnath temple area that was damaged and significantly washed away in the Uttarakhand floods of 2013. The pre-flood development around the Kedarnath shrine had been haphazard, dense and hence extremely vulnerable to any natural or man-made calamity.
The reconstruction vision is driven by the following key concepts – the temple as focal point, a compact reconstruction of the town designed with ecological and cultural sensitivity, remembrance of the lives lost in the flood and design measures to protect the inhabitants in the event of another flood. In fact, flood protection is given the utmost importance, and a three-tiered wall is planned that will protect the township from floods and boulders.
The design strives to present a model for future developments in the religious and hill tourism sites in northern India keeping its historical value in mind. Delineating the area around the shrine as a “forever open, clear and free” space, the design makes a strong statement advocating the principles of conserving the sanctity and heritage of similar sites. The demarcation of development- free zone is strategic as it recreates the pristine splendor that was defined by the backdrop of snow-capped mountains prior to the haphazard development.
Establishing safer elevation of the intervention area with respect to the floods and protecting the same from soil erosion by the rivers flowing on either side are some major contributions to the project. The difference in the levels are mitigated by means of Ghats and terraces along the riverside and in the core area respectively. The plan proposes a wide and clear path that leads to the shrine, with structures in small clusters on either side accommodating the residential and limited, strategic commercial needs. Ghats for religious activities will be built along the Saraswati River on the eastern edge of Kedarpuri with basic amenities.
The proposed buildings are largely oriented north - south and parallel to the flow of the river to cause minimum obstruction to the river water in case of a flood. The architecture of the buildings is proposed to be of Mountain style and native to this region. Buildings will be in keeping with the local tradition using local materials, along with many local architectural features made by local craftsman and skilled workers.
A new Shankaracharya Memorial is to be re-established at the original location and envisaged to be designed in a manner that it does not take away any focus from the temple.