Viewscape Assessment Framework for Protecting the Views of Sacred Monuments: Comparative Study of Srirangam and Thanjavur Religious Towns
Sacred monuments represent layers of evolving traditional forms of architecture and city building that have together created a sense of place in our historic cities. Among the various sacred monuments Gopurams and Vimanams are significant landmark structures which form the image and identity for the historic temple towns of South India. Treating temple Gopuram and Vimanam as objects of worship inspired and influenced a variety of sacred activities and rituals performed in places around them. These sacred monuments have been built to be viewed and worshipped from far as well as near. The Gopurams, which once stood in centre of the settlement and dominated their surroundings, are now in danger of losing their visibility due to a variety of elements that obstruct the view. In the above context it is attempted to study the visual relationship between the sacred monuments and the places from where the views are available, so as to identify the most important views for protection. For this purpose, a review of literature related to assessment of quality views was undertaken. In order to protect the most important views, a ‘Viewscape Assessment Framework’ was used to assess the factors which affect (a) quality of views and, (b) quality of place from where the view is available The viewscape assessment framework was applied in case of two important sacred monuments with differing visual characteristics. Major findings of the study reveal that the significance of view of the sacred monument depends on viewing location, its physical characteristics, number of potential viewers, background and foreground elements of the viewscape. This study also emphasizes the use of ‘View Assessment Framework’ for identifying and protecting the views of sacred monuments.
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