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

A pilot study in the walled city of Ajmer and nearby Pushkar, Rajasthan, to develop more inclusive, informed and sustainable planning decisions for public spaces in historic Indian cities.


Ajmer and Pushkar, Rajasthan, are 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 focused 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.

We wanted to create prototypes of digital tools that would contain images and information about the city, its history and heritage and to allow reflection, exchange and dialogue among different groups.

The interactive models created as part of the project have been put online to be supplemented and critiqued. In addition, findings from the study have been fed to the relevant authorities.


An interdisciplinary workshop was held at the Akbari Qila, Ajmer, on 18 and 19 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.

Project outputs

The project ran from January to December 2016. Details of the project activities and outputs can be found on the Dronah Foundation website:

The team

Principal Investigator

Prof. Adam Hardy (Welsh School of Architecture), Principal Investigator


  • Dr Shikha Jain (DRONAH Foundation)
  • Dr Oriel Prizeman (Welsh School of Architecture)
  • Prof. Ajay Khare (SPA Bhopal)
  • Dr Norbert Peabody (Wolfson College, Cambridge)
  • Dr Rima Hooja
  • Manas Murthy
  • Vanicka Arora
  • Uttra Dasgupta
  • Pooja Agarwal
  • Uditi Agarwal
  • Neha Saxena
  • Dr Vishakha Kawathekar, Ramesh Bhole, Shweta Vardia, with students from SPA Bhopal
  • Dr Vaishali Latkar with students from Singhad College of Architecture, Pune

Expert advisors

A network of members and further participants at the February workshop.

  • Prof. AGK Menon, Convenor of INTACH, Delhi
  • Dr Yaaminey Mubayi, Sociologist, Senior Fellow, ICHR
  • Ratish Nanda, Aga Khan Trust for Culture
  • Dr Rohit Jigyasu, President, ICOMOS India National Scientific Committee
  • Munish Pandit, Architect
  • Prof. Kiran Mahajani, Aayojan College of Architecture, Jaipur
  • Shahul Ameen, Senior Lecturer, Center for Heritage Management, Ahmedabad University
  • Sri Raman, Superintending Archaeologist, ASI Jodhpur Circle

Main collaborators

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


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”. The project ran from January to December 2016.