When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Smarter Cities

In India, A Massive Hindu Pilgrimage Is An Urbanism Experiment

Hosting 30 million people in the world's largest pilgrimage, Nashik is a temporary example of "extreme urbanism," and researchers are studying what happens in the process.

In Nashik during the Hindu Kumbh Mela pilgrimage
In Nashik during the Hindu Kumbh Mela pilgrimage
Julien Bouissou

NASHIK — In western India, a giant city is disappearing after just two months in existence. During August and September, Nashik received 30 million pilgrims, 10 times its population, during the Hindu Kumbh Mela pilgrimage. Temporary hospitals, houses, police stations and latrines were built for the occasion. Exceptional logistics were developed to transport water and food and to guarantee the security of the worshippers. But almost all this infrastructure has disappeared, as Nashik returns from being an ephemeral megalopolis to, once again, a city of three million residents.

This accelerated urbanization phenomenon is instructive to an India that is expected to count 500 million new residents in its cities by 2050. "If a temporary city of several million residents can be erected and administrated, why not apply the same efficient planning methods to other urban contexts?" says Rahul Mehrotra, an urbanism professor at Harvard University. "Kumbh Mela is an extreme case of urbanism, and analyzing extremes can be very productive."

Keep reading...Show less
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Russia

When Mom Believes Putin: A Russian Family Torn Apart Over Ukraine Invasion

Sisters Rante and Satu Vodich fled Russia because they could no longer bear to live under Putin — but their mother believes state propaganda about the war. Her daughters are building a new life for themselves in Georgia.

A mother and her daughter on a barricade in Kyiv

Steffi Unsleber

TBILISI — On a gloomy afternoon in May, Rante Vodich gets the keys to her new home. A week earlier, the 27-year-old found this wooden shed in Tbilisi, with a corrugated iron roof and ramshackle bathroom. The shed next door houses an old bed covered in dust. Vodich refers to the place as a “studio” and pays $300 per month in rent. She says finding the studio is the best thing that’s happened to her since she came to Georgia. It is her hope for the future.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Her younger sister Satu Vodich is around 400 kilometers further west, in the city of Batumi on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, surrounded by Russian tourists, Ukrainian flags, skyscrapers with sea views and the run-down homes of local residents.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ