Ar. Ravindra Bhan, is a pioneer in the field of landscape architecture in India
He started his architectural education in Delhi school of architecture (School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi) but left formal architectural studies to work with Ar. A. P. Kanvinde.
He also participated in first ever Master planning attempt of Delhi and very first Yamuna Rivierfront Development plan.
He then went on to work with Architect’s Co-Partnership in England and in Finland with Ar. Reima Pietila, the Famous Finnish Architect.
He completed his formal architectural education with B. Arch from Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A and Masters in Landscape architecture from University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, U.S.A . Having worked briefly with Skidmore, Owings and Merril & Minoru Yamasaki and Associates.
Throughout his career, he has handled varied projects, both in Architecture and Landscape where design approach is guided by site and the constraints and potentials it offered.
Some of his projects includes
Shakti Sthala – Memorial for Late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Development plans for Ayodhya Ghats.
Master planning and Site development for Rabindra Sarovar.
Andrews Ganj Housing for HUDCO – Urban design and landscaping with design of 180 units.
Landscape design for Kovalam Beach Resort
Mughal Sheraton Hotel in Agra to name a few.
He has been a member of various advisory councils & also a former member of Delhi Urban Art Commission.
Besides many National & International Awards he was also awarded the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture and Landscape Architecture in 1980 for the Mughal Sheraton Hotel at Agra.
Prof. Bhan currently practices at New Delhi and is associated with prestigious projects like the Integrated development of Samadhi Complex at New Delhi , Site development & renovation of Heritage Hotel at Pahalgam in Kashmir.
He is also a recipient of Merit Award by American society of Landscape Architects, 1974.
He was Professor and head of Department of Landscape architecture School of Planning and architecture, New Delhi, 1972–76, and has also lectured in University of Pennsylvania & Washington University.
The ISOLA Medal has been awarded to Prof. Ravindra Bhan for his lifetime achievements and contributions to the profession
The landscape of Shakti Sthal blends internally with Raj Ghat and Shanti Vana and is devoid of any physical barrier.
And though the area of Shakti Sthal is much smaller as compared to Raj Ghat and Shanti Vana, it looks much larger due to its handling of the design elements and integration with the surroundings.
The memorial seems to invoke the emotional response to Indira Gandhi’s innate strength and her charismatic personality.
Shakti Sthala, literally ‘abode of energy’, is the memorial of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
The ENTRANCE to the memorial is through a side road, which leads into a forecourt with a banyan tree, whose crown and branches form a natural gateway.
The gradual transition from entrance to the main path is bridged by a broad flight of steps leading through a winding path set into the folds of landscape
As the path leads, it reveals the ever-changing vistas of landscape.
Along the main road, the land is shaped into gentle slopes and hillocks with tree plantation that act as buffer to the heavy traffic noise outside.
The main path leads to the sanctum with changing views of landscape interspersed with rocks arranged in between the clumps of indigenous trees.
The interplay of the meadows, woodlands and water is reminiscent of Kashmir, the land of Indira Gandhi’s ancestors, displaying late Prime Minister’s love for nature.
While designing the memorial, the primordial elements of nature such as earth, rocks, trees and water have been used as the main design elements.
Nearly nine hundred rocks ranging from one ton to sixty tons of various shapes, textures and hues were culled from all over the country from Ladakh to the Andamans and Nicobar islands.
The rocks comprising of granite, gneiss, sandstone, limestone, quartz, quartzite, fossilized trees etc. represent each state and union territory of India.
Indigenous species of trees have been planted on the site, which represent continuity and usher change in the landscape from season to season.
The area of Shakti Sthal lies on the flood plains of river Yamuna and is low-lying and flood prone. To overcome the constraint, most of the site has been raised above the flood plain level.
The drainage of the site has been achieved by directing the water through broad swales in the landscape, which discharge the water into the low-lying area of the site forming a lake of nearly two acres in size.
Interestingly, the original concept of the sanctum as approved by the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was less structured than what is built on the site.
A large natural rock crystal perched on an earthen mound covered with natural vegetation and surrounded by dense row of large trees was to form the sanctum.
The color and texture of the rock represented delicacy and sensitivity of Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s character.
The translucent facets of the crystalline rock would have helped in creating an ever-changing environment of the sanctum by reflecting the light falling on the crystal.
The concept had to be modified later due to non-availability of the crystalline rock within the country.