Taj Ganj: Taking Our Heritage Forward
Taj Ganj, part of the Taj Mahal UNESCO World Heritage Site, was built at the South Gate of the monument in the 17th century to house the Taj Mahal’s builders. Today, Taj Ganj lies in ruin as the result of corrupt governance, a lack of basic infrastructure and destructive tourism practices. The Uttar Pradesh Directorate of Tourism consulted the National Institute of Design to investigate how the Taj Mahal’s South Gate could be made more accessible to tourists, and how the experience of Taj Ganj could be improved for its visitors as well as its resident community. This research aimed to understand the social, cultural and physical workings of Taj Ganj and to frame recommendations towards planning for an improved visitor experience to benefit the local community and to protect the living cultural heritage of Taj Ganj. The Taj Ganj Report was used as evidence in Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court of India to demonstrate nontransparent planning practices by local and central governing agencies.
Our field research aimed to develop an understanding of the space and community of Taj Ganj as well as the complex relationships they share with each other. Our goal was to generate a design brief through a participatory process between Taj Ganj residents, traders and their associations, researchers and government agencies. The space was studied for its physical elements, activities and their ordering, Taj Ganj’s history and the layers of growth and attached collective memories.
Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India
Uttar Pradesh Department of Tourism
National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad (NID)
Project Management and technical advisement as member of NID team