A Geospatial Approach to Conserving Cultural Heritage Tourism at Kumbh Mela Events in India

Part of the The Urban Book Series book series (UBS)


Kumbh Mela (the festival of the sacred Pitcher) is the largest peaceful congregation of pilgrims, held in India. During this festival, participants bathe in a sacred river (UNESCO 2017). This study explores how Geographic Information Systems (GIS) can be used to focus on sites of urban regeneration for conserving cultural heritage tourism related to Kumbh Mela. This chapter focuses on the city of Ujjain (in the state of Madhya Pradesh), one of the four Indian cities that host the festival. Ujjain is considered one of the world’s oldest religious cities, with over 5000 years of history. During the last Kumbh Mela in 2016, Ujjain City registered 80 million tourist visits. This paper discusses two approaches through which Ujjain City can enhance the Kumbh experience of pilgrims while they visit and stay in the city. The first approach talks about enhancing the universal accessibility of bathing in ghat areas using GIS. Ghat areas, situated along the sacred Kshipra River, are the most important as these places experience the maximum footfall during the Kumbh Mela event. The second approach discusses how geospatial approaches can be utilized to provide safety to pilgrims, which must be considered in future development planning, as the event is prone to stampedes given the number of visitors. Approaches thus proposed in this study may be adopted by other host cities of Kumbh Mela which will ultimately help conserve heritage aspects of the event.


Kumbh Mela GIS Universal accessibility Placemaking 



The research has been funded by ‘Universal Design Innovation for Heritage’ project under Design Innovation Centre (DIC) of School of Planning and Architecture, Bhopal, India. DIC is funded by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. Authors like to thank the DIC team members for collecting data at Kumbh Mela.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Planning, School of Planning and ArchitectureBhopalIndia
  2. 2.Department of Architecture, School of Planning and ArchitectureBhopalIndia

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