Camping with the Ruins in Chhadva Rakhal Forest, Kutch
Image source: Jehan Bhujwala

Chhadva Rakhal is the only privately owned protected forest spread around 5100 hectares in Kutch, (15 km from Bhuj). This tropical thorn forest on undulating terrain is a repository of biodiversity. Amidst this rich flora and fauna of Chhadva Rakhal, Kutch; a 150-year-old camping house in stone exists, which the royal family of Kutch built. These buildings have slowly aged with the forest and invoke a memory of human shelter within it. However, like the flora and fauna, they have as well given themselves to nature. As a result, we see these buildings as a process of ruination.

A study of ruins and its surrounding has immense epistemological value in how they open up to different layers of history embedded in them. Such sites offer rich nutrition to historians, engineers, environmentalists, conservationists, and architects, to name a few, to investigate it from their discipline. For architecture students and professionals, it provides a curious design problem where any imagined intervention demands careful synthesizing of factors concerning the environmental impact, program, and offering a creative engagement of the ruins with the design.

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