City/Town Planning Vastu


Vastu Shastra is one of the most detailed and efficient scriptures of ancient India that speaks of the science of architectural planning, design and constructions. The Vastu Shastra speaks about almost all the aspects of city planning ranging from the selection of the plot/land to building of houses and making the optimum use of the available land to enhance community life, commercial activities, economic development and environment management. 

In the forthcoming lines, we will look into the various recommendations of Vastu Shastra pertaining to town planning:


Vastu Shastra particularly emphasises on the need for selection of the most suitable type of land or site for construction of cities or villages. It provides for majorly three types of lands that can be considered for the same.


  1. Jangala, which denotes barren lands with hot winds and unfertile, black soil.
  2. Sadharana, which denotes huge stretches of average quality land left useless.
  3. Anupama, which denotes superior quality land stretch with beautiful scenery.

According to the architectural treatise Manasara, the site for town planning must be chosen:

Based on the suitability of smell, taste, shape, direction, sound, and touch.

The topography should be oriented east and north, with higher ground levels in the south-west, west, and south.

The river nearby should go from left to right, West to East, or South to North.

The water table should be at a depth equal to a man's height with his arms lifted above his head.

The site should also be temperature-controlled in the summer and winter.


The site after being selected would be ploughed on an auspicious day. This ritual is called the Bhumi Pujan. Following this, as per the Gnomon, the Vastu Purusha Mandala would be delineated with the site concerned. 

In Vastu Shastra, there are a total of 32 ways to fixate the Vastu Purusha Mandala. The simplest is designed with a square or pada, while the longest in this category has 1024 Padas. The size and shape of the Vastu-purusha-mandala are dictated by the requirements of the building structures. Some of the popular fixations of the Vastu-purusha-mandalas are Sakala, Pecaka, Pitha, Mahapitha, and so on. The final and the 32nd type of Vastu Purusha Mandala delineation is called the Indrakanta.


The ancient Indian science of architecture recommends the following five shapes for an ideally built, efficient town-plan:

1. Chandura: Square-shaped.

2. Agatara: Rectangle-Shaped.

3. Vritta: Circle-shaped

4. Kritta Vritta: Elliptical shape

5. Gola Vritta: Full Circle-Shaped.


The treatise on town planning, the Silpasastra, in accordance with the principles of Vastu Shastra lists out four distinct types of habitation settlements within forts and walled cities: 

Janabhavanas: dwellings for common people.

Rajbhavanas: magnificent palaces and residences for the ruling class.

Deva Bhavanas: religious sanctuaries/temples.

Public structures such as public rest stops, gardens, libraries, public tents, reservoirs, and wells

Further, it states that a wall, six dandas (180cms approx.) high and twelve dandas wide, should be built around the settlement. Beyond this wall, three moats of 14 feet, 12 feet, and 10 feet wide respectively should be built four arm-lengths apart. 

Also, the three-fourths of the breadth should be the depth. The town should be divided by three east-west routes and three north-south roads. The main roads should be eight dandas broad, while secondary roads should be four dandas wide.


Based on the shapes of the town prescribed by the Vastu Shastra, there can be eight distinct types of towns built. They are as follows:

Janabhavanas: dwellings for common people.

Rajbhavanas: magnificent palaces and residences for the ruling class.

Deva Bhavanas: religious sanctuaries/temples.

Public structures such as public rest stops, gardens, libraries, public tents, reservoirs, and wells

    This type of town is square or rectangular shaped with four gates on each side of it. The streets are straight and intersect at right angles at the centre. The street width varies from one to five danda and there are transverse streets at the extremities. The buildings for residence are packed in a single row and the village offices are to the east of the town. The female deity is located outside the settlement, while the male deities are positioned in the northern section.


    The Sarvatobhadra form of town layout is appropriate for larger villages and towns that must be built on square lots. According to this design, the entire town should be completely populated by dwellings of all types and inhabited by individuals of all social groups. The temple towers over the village.


    Nandyavarta is the name of the flower whose form is emulated in this type of town design. Nandyavarta design is typically employed in the building of larger towns. It is commonly used for circular or square-shaped areas with 3000 – 4000 buildings. The streets run parallel to the core adjoining streets, with the ruling deity’s temple in the centre of town.


    In the ancient days, it was common practice to create towns with fortifications all around. The plan is organised in a way that resembles the petals of a lotus flower, which radiate from the centre. The city was basically an island that was encircled by water and had little room to grow.


    The Swastika type of town designs includes a few diagonal streets cutting the area into rectangular sections. The site can be of any shape and is not required to be divided into squares or rectangles. The village is surrounded by a rampart wall with a water-filled moat at its base. In the middle, two major streets that run from South to North and from West to East cross each other.


    To build a town with the Prastara design, the site chosen should be either rectangular or square shaped. Prastara design cannot be implemented on triangular or circular sites. The sizes of the sites increase in accordance with each individual’s capacity to purchase or expand upon them. Different sites are designated for the poor, the middle class, the wealthy, and the extremely wealthy. Compared to other layouts, the primary highways are significantly wider. There may or may not be a fort around the settlement.


    The Karmuka town-planning design is suitable for locations where the town’s site is shaped like a bow, semicircle, or parabolic. It is typically used for towns that are situated along rivers or the sea. The town’s frontage roads run from north to south or east to west, and the cross streets intersect them at right angles to divide the entire region into blocks.  The presiding deity, who is typically a female deity, is positioned in the temple’s layout wherever it is most practical.


    From the biggest town to the smallest village, the Chaturmukha design can be applied in planning and construction of all types of towns. The ideal site has four faces and can be either square or rectangular shaped. With four main streets, the town is arranged lengthwise from east to west. The temple dedicated to the presiding deity of the town is situated in the centre of the design.


These are the major recommendations pertaining to architectural planning, design and construction available in the ancient Indian scriptures and treatises. When these principles are well-followed, it is guaranteed that the quality of life, health, prosperity, safety and happiness of all individuals residing in the concerned area will definitely be enhanced multiple folds.