The development of the Crematrorium at Swargadwar, Puri bears significance as it is one of the most important places for the final rites of a Hindu due to its location. The name itself Swargadwar – translates to “door to heaven” which symbolizes that this is indeed a very special place for Hindus. Located right on the beach inside the town of Puri, the ghat currently functions on open land with very minimal facilities. The idea to improve this facility is a joint development between Odisha Bridge & Construction Corporation Limited, the City of Puri and Phoenix Foundation, with design partners Shilpa Architects Planners Designers.
The entire design is envisioned based on the idea of the Dwar – says Pavitra Sriprakash, of Shilpa Architects. The design uses a contemporary concrete portal which forms an axis from the main vehicular approach road to the beach front. The idea is that there is an obstructed view upon entry into the site towards the beach. “There are approximately 40 daily cremations as of today at Swargadwar – says Mr. Suresh Chukkapalli of Phoenix Foundation. With our improved facility design, incorporating the highly successful techniques used previously by our group at Vaikunta Mahaprasthanam in Hyderabad, we hope to increase the number of daily cremations here to 80”.
Using precast concrete, there are walls along the primary pathway with inscribed text from the Bhagavad Gita, specifically on the importance of the passing of the soul, which is also reflected in the design features which take after Lord Shiva. And the design Shikhara on the Pyres takes inspiration from the traditional architecture of this temple city.
Swargadwar Puri Crematorium has 7 sets of Pyres, 14 pyres in total. The 480 Sq. ft Pyre space is divided into the Pyre, the waiting area and stepping stones as a transitional space in between. Each set of Pyres is accessible through a 10.5 feet wide corridor which connects to the central spine of the space, maintaining privacy for the family while making it convenient for the movement of wood to the pyre. Each pyre is Vaastu compliant with the orientation of the body in NS direction.
The crematorium is facilitated with several other spaces for the family to be able to bid farewell to their loved ones peacefully. Ample parking space is provided at the entrance for private vehicles and ambulances. A 1000 Sq. ft covered waiting hall designed with traditional architectural elements inspired from the temples of Puri with an adjacent toilet block and shower block for the family of the demised. An administration hall for ticketing, ritual shop, locker facility and a dormitory for the staff working at the Crematorium. There is also a 6 freezer mortuary for anyone who wishes to keep the body until family members arrive. Next door to the administration hall is also a large wood storage area on abutting the main road for easy loading and unloading of wood.
To accommodate for the large number of family members that accompany the body, an open waiting area has also been provided on the beach front to allow for groups of people to spend some time while waiting. Special attention is also paid to the composting of all the flowers used during the ceremony and a flower composting pit has been designed making it sustainable.
This modern-day crematorium is also facilitated with cctv and wifi-enabled viewing inside the pyres to relay the proceedings for family members who are abroad. In 1980, Mr. Suresh Chukkapalli set up a charitable foundation in the name of his father with a mission to nurture “a culture of giving” in our society. The Chukkapalli Trust focuses on a two-pronged approach: capacity empowerment through education, and building of a caring society through medical and healthcare related projects. He believes that an equitable society can only be achieved if each and every individual is ready and willing to do his or her part and is determined to successfully complete state of the art Crematorium projects all over India.