Age of Town Scheme of Griffith Taylor and an Asian Perspective from Chanakya’s Arthashastra

Age of Towns Scheme

Australian geographer Thomas Griffith Taylor proposed a classification of towns based on their age and pattern of land use. He identified five types of town:

  • Infantile towns, with no clear zoning
  • Juvenile towns, which have developed an area of shops
  • Adolescent towns, where factories have started to appear
  • Early mature towns, with a separate area of high-class housing
  • Mature towns, with defined industrial, commercial and various types of residential area

An Asian Perspective from Chanakya’s Arthashastra

Some interesting extracts relating to Town and Country planning in Arthashastra composed by Chanakya in the Maurya period is given below:

  • Town, which is congested, should be freed of surplus population, which should then be housed in a new place. The towns should be so situated as they would be in a position to help each other.
  • There should be a ‘sangrahan’ among ten villages, a ‘sarvatik’ among two hundred, a ‘dronamukh’ among four hundred and a ‘sthaniya’ among eight hundred villages.
  • People who come to stay at the time of a new settlement or those who come to reside later in this new settlement should be exempted from payment of taxes for some years. In the new village there should be higher proportion of agriculturists and shudras (read here about birth of caste system). There should be a market provided for the sale of goods received from traders on highways.
  • Dams should be constructed over rivers nalas. Temples and gardens should be provided.
  • Arrangements should be made for looking after the aged, the children and informal persons.
  • Cereals and wealth will grow if the agriculturists are kept busy. Attempts should be made to protect and increase quarries, forests and canals.

According to Chanakya’s Arthashastra, a city should be located in the central part of a country so as to facilitate trade and commerce. The site elected for the purpose of this city should be quite large in area, and on the banks of a river, or by the side of an artificial or natural lake, which never goes dry. Its shape should be circular, rectangular or square as would suit the topography. There should be water on all sides. Separate areas should be provided for marketing different goods. There should be a wall around the town, which should be six dandas high and twelve dandas wide. Beyond this wall there should be three moats of 14 feet, 12 feet and 10 feet wide to be constructed four arm-lengths apart. The depth should be three-fourth of width. Three-east west and three North – south roads, should divide the town. The main roads should be eight dandas wide and other roads four dandas wide.

The palace should be in the central part. It should face either north or east. The houses of priests and ministers should be on the south-east, traders, skilled workers, and kshatriyas on the east, the treasury, goldsmiths and industries on the south, forest produce on the northeast and doctors city fathers, army commander, artists, on the south. Temples should be located in the center of the town. Cemeteries should be located on the north and east of the town, that for the higher caste to be located on the south. The depressed classes should be housed beyond cemetery. There should be one well for every group of ten houses.

Link(s):

settlement systems in ancient India

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About Rashid Faridi

I am Rashid Aziz Faridi ,Writer, Teacher and a Voracious Reader.
This entry was posted in earth, Urban Studies. Bookmark the permalink.

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