Often unhygienic, unclean and chaotic, burial grounds and crematoriums fall into desolation, end up being encroached upon or even turn into dumping grounds.
When Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) approached Phoenix Foundation under the aegis of the'Fund Your City' programme to undertake the cleaning of crematoriums, Suresh Chukkapalli, Chairman, Phoenix Group, suggested they completely revamp an existing crematorium to make it more modern, accessible and user-friendly. One such neglected crematorium identified by GHMC was at Shaikpet in Hyderabad. As a CSR initiative, Phoenix undertook a complete makeover of this facility, a first-of-its-kind in India.
'The crematorium was envisioned as a PPP,' says Srikanth Badiga, Director, Phoenix Group. 'The crematorium sprawls across 3.7 acre in Hyderabad developed at nearly Rs 3 crore.
This equipped modern electrical crematorium called Mahaprasthanam was initiated in 2013.'
To give the departed a respectful, final journey, the project is built on the three conceptual pillars of 'Embrace','Honour' and'Farewell' and this is the idea the modernisation plan wishes to convey. To comfort the bereaved, the crematorium building takes an embracing shape, bowing to honour the departed soul and bidding fond farewell.
'The buildings and places have a deep connection to the way a human feels in that kind of a condition,' says Architect IS Pradeepthi of DA Studios.
'In modern architecture, we try to establish and clearly see the functions of the space. For a crematorium, you have to understand the different needs of this space, all the provisions it should have. So, without any disturbance or hindrance, we made a list of 10-12 functions with each given a space to cater to.'
A sustainable initiative
The Mahaprasthanam crematorium adheres to the'Go Green, Go Clean' imperative of being environment-friendly in every way. The whole crematorium has been planted with trees and greenery, rendering a lush park-like feel. The crematorium complex itself comprises three traditional pyres and one state-of-the-art electrical pyre, offering a pollution-free solution. 'There is one pyre that still exists, which belongs to the earlier crematorium,' says Ar Pradeepthi. 'This has been given a facelift.'
High-quality prefabricated materials that are environment-friendly and fully recyclable have been used for construction. In addition, Badiga shares, 'The crematorium has over 50 LED lights, which completely run on solar power installed on site. This simple change has brought about a power saving of over 40 per cent on site.' Pradeepthi further explains, 'For water pumping, there is one bore well on the side to take care of needs on site, including watering the plants and drip irrigation system. There are three rainwater harvesting pits.'
At Mahaprasthanam, while ensuring that the cremation is done in a hygienic way, the idea was to create a helpful ambience. This included landscaped gardens with ample walking area; waiting halls attached to the pyres; storage lockers for the ashes; a ceremonial yard, which is a dedicated area for offering pindam; parking facility for around 75 cars; a cold-room facility to keep bodies before cremation; washrooms and changing rooms; piped spiritual music; adequate security with guards and CCTV cameras; RO drinking water for visitors and a full-fledged canteen facility; a bookstore with spiritual books; vehicle transportation (mortuary van and hearse facility); a dedicated in-house pujari to perform the ceremonies and rituals; and a dedicated store for ritual requirements. 'The latest audiovisual equipment and Wi-Fi along the entire site enables live recording and uploading of the ceremony for loved ones from any part of the world,' says Badiga.
Befittingly, a sense of calm and peace is all-pervasive at Mahaprasthanam. 'Lush greenness is everywhere, giving the pyres privacy,' concludes Badiga.
The Government of Telangana has announced a plan to build 4,000 such crematoriums in the state; fittingly, Phoenix Foundation is the knowledge partner for this initiative. Apart from these, there are close to 40 crematoria that need an urgent face lift. The firm is now getting requests from several state governments to help implement this mission of modernising crematoria in their respective states.
Embrace, Honour, Farewell…
These are the core principles that have driven the revamp of Mahaprasthanam, a state-of-the-art modern crematorium in Hyderabad.
Despite the stated respect for the departed in our scriptures and rituals, burial grounds and crematoriums are highly neglected in most cities. Often unhygienic, unclean and chaotic, these spaces fall into desolation, end up being encroached upon or even turn into dumping grounds. To redress this situation, Phoenix Foundation has embarked upon an initiative to modernise crematoriums in Hyderabad, as well as the rest of the country.
When Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) approached Phoenix Foundation under the aegis of the ‘Fund Your City’ programme to undertake the cleaning of crematoriums, Suresh Chukkapalli, Chairman, Phoenix Group, went one step further and suggested they completely revamp an existing crematorium to make it more modern, accessible and user-friendly. One such neglected and dilapidated crematorium was identified by the GHMC at Shaikpet in Hyderabad. As a CSR initiative, Phoenix Group undertook a complete makeover of this facility to create an impact on the community and environment, a first of its kind in India.
“A complete state-of-the-art modern crematorium was envisioned as a PPP,” says Srikanth Badiga, Director, Phoenix Group. “No stone has been left unturned to achieve the highest standards to give the departed soul a loving and dignified cremation. The crematorium sprawls across a total 3.7 acre at Shaikpet, Hyderabad, and the total cost involved in the facelift was nearly Rs 3 crore. This equipped modern electrical crematorium called Mahaprasthanam was initiated in 2013, intended as an inspiration for time beyond.”
Mahaprasthanam is a manifestation of deepest respect and remembrance of the fondest, most cherished memories with the deceased. To give the departed a respectful, final journey, the project is built on the three conceptual pillars of ‘Embrace’, ‘Honour’ and ‘Farewell’ and this is the idea the modernisation plan wishes to convey. To comfort the bereaved, the crematorium building takes an embracing shape, bowing to honour the departed soul and bidding fond farewell.
Badiga explains further: