The historic city of Ajmer-Pushkar:
mapping layers of history, use and meaning for sustainable planning and conservation

The project was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Indian Council for Historical Research (ICHR) through a Research Networking Grant for “Cultural Heritage and Rapid Urbanisation in India”. It ran from January to December 2016.

Link to final project website:

Main collaborators:
The Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University
School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), Bhopal
DRONAH Foundation (

Our incipient network is devoted to developing more inclusive, informed and sustainable planning decisions for public spaces in historic Indian cities.

This initial project is carrying out a pilot study in the walled city of Ajmer and nearby Pushkar, Rajasthan. These are thriving centres of pilgrimage for different faiths, attracting thousands of devotees at festival times. A rapid growth in tourist numbers has exacerbated the stress on infrastructure. The research focuses on the role of the beliefs and associations, ritual processes, and behavioural patterns of devotees and visiting pilgrims, in order to establish these as crucial factors in the design and conservation of public spaces with religious significance.

To this end, we are trying to create prototypes of digital tools to contain images and information about the city, its history and heritage and to allow reflection, exchange and dialogue among different groups. The interactive models will be put online to be supplemented and critiqued. Findings from the study will be fed to the relevant authorities.

The tools:
City-scale map
3-d scan of characteristic neighbourhood

An interdisciplinary workshop was held at the Akbari Qila, Ajmer, on 18th-19th February 2016. Varied expertise and perspectives were drawn on to refine the tools, and the methods for gathering further data on differing perceptions and activities within the city.