Manasara (English translation)

by Prasanna Kumar Acharya | 1933

This page describes “the town-planning (nagara)” which is Chapter 10 of the Manasara (English translation): an encyclopedic work dealing with the science of Indian architecture and sculptures. The Manasara was originaly written in Sanskrit (in roughly 10,000 verses) and dates to the 5th century A.D. or earlier.

Chapter 10 - The town-planning (Nagara)

1-2. I shall (now) describe the characteristic features of the cities (nagara-lakṣaṇa) of all (classes of) kings beginning with the Astragrāhin, summarising (the details) from the Tantras (sciences of architecture).

3-9. The breadth, of the city (of the class) of kings called Astragrāhin should, beginning with one hundred rods and increasing by one hundred rods, end (once) at three hundred rods; (secondly) it should begin with two hundred rods and end at four hundred rods; (thirdly) it should begin with three hundred rods and end at five hundred (rods): these are (the three sets) from the smallest to the largest (including the intermediate); and its (breadth) should (finally) be extended so as to end at one thousand and two hundred rods, each (sets) being of three varieties and there being (altogether) twenty-one varieties[1].

10-13. Similarly, the breadth of the city of the Prāhāraka (class of kings) should (once) begin with four hundred rods, (secondly) with, five hundred rods, (thirdly) with sis hundred rods, and increasing by, one hundred rods, (finally) end as before (i.e. in twenty-one varieties) at one thousand and two hundred rods.

14-16. The sixty-three (lit. sixty-four less one) varieties of breadth (for the city) of the Paṭṭabhāj (class of) kings beginning with seven hundred, eight hundred, nine hundred rods (and so on), and increasing by one hundred rods, as before, should end at three thousand rods.

17-20. The aforesaid sixty-three (lit. seven times nine) varieties of breadth, (of the city) for the Maṇḍaleśa (class of) kings should begin at one thousand aud one hundred rods, one thousand and two hundred rods, one thousand and three hundred rods (and so on), and, increasing by one hundred rods, should end at three thousand and one hundred rods.

21-32. The breadth of the city fit for the Paṭṭadhara (class of) kings, Oh wise (architect), should, as before (i. e. beginning at two thousand and six hundred rods and increasing by one hundred rods), end at four thousand and eight hundred rods.

23-24. Similarly, (the breadth) of the city of the Pārṣṇika (class of) kings increasing as before (i.e. by one hundred rods, and beginning at three thousand and three hundred rods) should end at five thousand and five hundred rods.

25-26. The sixty-four1 (leas by one) varieties (of breadth) for the city of the Narendra (class of) kings should, as before (i.e. beginning at four thousand and four hundred rods aud increasing by one hundred rods), end at six thousand and six hundred rods.

27-28. The aforesaid (i.e. sixty-three) varieties (of breadth) for the city of the Mahārāja (class of) kings should, as before (i.e. beginning at four thousand and seven hundred rods and increasing by one hundred rods), end at six thousand and nine hundred rods.

29-31. The aforesaid (i.e. sixty-three varieties of) breadth of the city of the Cakravartin (class of) kings, as before (i.e. beginning at five thousand rods and increasing by one hundred rods), should end at seven thousand and two hundred rods; otherwise the (breadth of the) biggest city (i.e. of the universal monarch or Cakavartin) may end at ten thousand rods (comprising altogether one hundred and forty-four varieties).

82-35. The length of the city (generally) should be one-and-one-half, one-and-three-fourths, or twice of its breadth; otherwise, in rod measurement by (the similar) increment of rods, it (the length) should be made (up bo) twice the breadth,

36. The measurement of the cities (called) Kheṭa and Kharvaṭa, and others should be as stated for that of the villages (of those names).

37. The types and features of all cities and others (i.e. the forts) will now be described.

39-43. The eight kinds of fortified cities are (named) Rājadhānīya (royal)-Nagara, Kevala (ordinary, i.e. without the royal residence)-Nagara, Pura, Nagaraī [Nagarī?], Kheṭa, Kharvaṭa, Kubjaka, and Pattana; (and the eight kinds) of forts are (called) Śibira [Śivira], Vāhinīmukha, Sthānīya, Droṇaka, Saṃviddha, Kolaka, Nigama and Skandhāvāra. All those (eight) beginning with the Nagara may also be called forts, for all practical purposes.

44-47. A city with the king (i.e., royal palace) in the centre and inhabited by numerous wealthy (lit. meritorious) people should preferably be laid out within the kingdom on the banks of a river; it is always given by the learned the name of Rājadhānī (capital or metropolis) if there be (built) a temple of (god) Viṣṇu at the entrance or in the centre of it.

48-52. Having four gates towards the four cardinal points and furnished with Gopuras (towers), dotted over with, guard-houses, equipped everywhere with barracks, full of merchants and encircled with markets, crowded with people and filled with temples of various denominations, inside and out side such a, place is called a city proper (kevala) by those learned in the Tantra (science of architecture).

5P-55. That city is called Pura which is furnished with orchards and gardens, has dwellings of motley population frequented by buyers and sellers, agitated by the noise of trading folk, and graced by the assemblage of (temples) of seven gods.

56. The same city with a royal palace inside it, is called a Nagarī.

57-58. That city is called Kheṭa by the ancients, which is situated by the side of a river or a mountain, and is provided with dwellings of the Śūdras (servant class) and with a high wall (lib. fence) around.

59-60. That city is called Kharvaṭa, which has uplands around, is full of dwellings of different castes and abounds in all kinds of pasturage.

61-62. That city is called Kubjaka, which lies between the Kheṭa and Kharvaṭa (cities), has the dwellings of all sorts of people but has no rampart (around it).

63-68. That city is called Pattana (citadel), which is situated in the proximity of waterways, furnished lengthwise with a rampart, contains dwellings of various castes, is always a conglomeration of merchants and centre of exchange for goods like jewels, silk-cloth, camphor, etc., imported from and exported to other countries (lit. islands).

67-69. That forb is called Śibira (camp) by the ancients learned in the Tantra (science of architecture), which has armies each ten thousand strong (in soldiers) and engaged in the work of mobilisation at the end of the territory of another king.

70-71. The Senā (or Vāhinī)-mukha (outpost) is that which has many defences and the royal palace, and contains a diverse population.

72-74. The versatile call that fort Sthānīya (strategical site), which is the source of all happiness, has many defences and has always a good king as a resident and his royal palace on a mountain by the side of a river.

75-78. That fortress is called Droṇa (strand, or Rialto) where buying and selling are transacted, which is full of customers on either side of the city, contains the quarters of merchants and of varied population, and is situated on the right and left banks of a river which is connected with the sea.

79-81. That fortified city is called by the learned Saṃviddha because of the residence therein of the free-holder Brahmins, which is situated near a large village and is itself furnished with a small Village.

82. The same (i.e., Saṃviddha) is called Kolaka when it has the palace of a great (Mahārāja class of) king in the centre.

83-84. That (fortress) is called Nigama which is full of the people of the four castes, viz., the twice bora and others, and is inhabited by various workmen.

85-87. Skandhāvāra is that which has kingly edifices (of the Kṣatriyas), is furnished with gardens terracing from a river and with many residential dwellings on its banks; the same is (also) called Cheri when it has dwellings of the other twice-born (i.e., the Brahmins and the Vaiśyas) on the sides (of the royal palaces).

88-91. I shall describe in order all the forts which bear the real characteristics of a fort, and are built for the protection of a king from the enemy kings, namely, the mountain-fort, the forest-fort, the water-fort, the clay-fort, the chariot-fort, the divine (Deva)-fort, and also the mixed-fort.

92-93. The Mountain-fort is of three kinds, namely, as built on the top of a mountain, near (i.e., at the foot of) a mountain and surrounded by (i.e. in the valley of) a mountain.

94-95. The Forest-fort should be that which has water (connection) at the bottom, and the entrance at the top (lit. sky).

95-96. The Water-fort is here described: the fort surrounded by a sea and. a river is (called) water-fort (i.e., island-fort).

97-98. That is the Clay-fort which is connected with mountain-caves and is inaccessible to the enemy; the king should build such a fort and live therein (for his security).

99-100. The Chariot-fort is that which is (suited as) a place for detention of thieves, isolated from a village and has all the defects of vast expanse of wilderness around owing to the absence of any trees and water.

101-103. The Divine-fort is that from which it is possible to throw, when the enemies are seen (attacking), stones, etc., towards the exit and entrance, with as much effect as with the deadly (lit. deathlike) influence of incantation (Mantra) and magic (Tantra), and with horrors as that of Brahma-rākṣasa, Vetāla, Bhūta, Preta and the other evil spirits.

104-105. That fort is known as Miśra (mixed), which is situated in a place mixed (i.e. connected) with various mountains and forests.

106-107. All the forts should be surrounded with a wall and a ditch; they should be furnished with (strong) gates at the places of entrance and exit.

108-109. The (surrounding) rampart (of all these forts) should be built of brick and such other materials (i.e., stone) and should be twelve cubits (i.e. 18 ft.) high, with gangways half-way from the bottom of the wall.

110-114. I will now give an account of the (general) plan of all the cities (including fortified towns): therein the streets should be constructed, running east to west and south to north and numbering, odd or even, from one up to twelve, the increment being by one; all the remaining details of (their) plans, not specified here, should be carried out as stated in the case of the village.

109. Knowing this to be the town-planning ho (the architect) should use his discretion (lit. accept or reject certain injunctions) if necessary.

110. Thus is described the town which should be got built accordingly by the architect.

Thus in the Mānasāra, the science of architecture, the tenth chapter, entitled: “The town-planning.”

Footnotes and references:


In this way: 400-100-600; 500-100-700; 600-100-800; 700-900; 800-100-1,000; 900-100-1,100; and 1,000-100-1,200. Thus, there are altogether twenty-one varieties of breadth of the city of this class of kings.

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