Himalayan Cities

Himalayan Cities: Settlement Patterns, Public Places and Architecture explores the idea of settlements in different areas of the Himalayan region, cutting across national boundaries, from Kashmir via Nepal to the north-eastern parts of the Indian subcontinent, and their relationship with the landscape. By comparing these, the book makes the case for peculiarities of the Himalayan city and succeeds in deducing key principles and general models, typical of the settlement patterns, nature of public places and architecture shaped by this unique mountainous environment. The relationship between natural systems and human ingenuity as projected through its built traditions forms the underlying theme of the book. Lavishly illustrated with stunning photographs and detailed hand drawings by the author and his students, Himalayan Cities not only engages the academia but also the general reader and helps provoke a discourse on this intriguing landscape and its architectural nuances.

Reviews and articles

Settlement Patterns, Public Places and Architecture

Title: Himalayan Cities: Settlement Patterns, Public Places and Architecture.
Author: Pratyush Shankar; Foreword by Julia A B Hegewald
Publisher:  Niyogi Books
Language:  English
ISBN:  978-93-83098-16-3

Published Book

Pratyush Shankar, 2014




The book is a result of documentation and research on the city and architecture of Himalayas. It explores the idea of settlements in the Himalayas and their relationship with their landscape. The underlying theme of the book is the relationship between natural systems and human ingenuity as projected through its built traditions. The book is illustrated by hand drawings by the author and his students covering examples of different parts of Himalayas such as Ladakh, Himachal, Gharwhal, Kumaon, Kathmandu, Dhulikhel, Mustang, Manang and Bhutan.



The book is divided into four chapters. The first one deals with the area of imagination and perception of the Himalayan landscape and it attempts to deconstruct the very idea of the Himalayan landscape and its peculiarities. It covers the issues of nature, landscape and its relationship with material culture such as city form and public places. The second chapter makes an attempt to find patterns at the level of settlements in the historic centers in the Himalayas and thereby suggest at the particularities of a Himalayan city. The third chapter looks at the key ideas and practices in the past where the landscape was transformed to create new spaces of enduring value. Examples from across the Himalayas including British colonial cities find mention and description here. The last chapter covers an extended range of attitudes where landscape conditions have been revered and followed to create everyday spaces.

"...the landscape is not a physical innate category but a strong cultural construct of societies. The perception and modification of either man-made or seemingly natural is an interlinked phenomenon. The representation of a landscape in historic and contemporary discourses is as important as the physicality of the landscape itself..."

-Landscape as an Image, from Chapter 1: Himalayas: The Landscape of the Mind. 

"...the centre is not a naturally outgrown emergent core but the result of a conscious effort to demarcate a flat piece of land, position centralized institutions of public importance, modify the natural conditions of water flows and create new connections of movement. These city centers  are conscious efforts that represent the human will and ingenuity in an inhospitable terrain...."

- New Landscape: Idea of a Centre, Endnote.

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