Ancient India during and post Vedic periods was seeing expansion of kingdoms (including the Mahajanapadas), new cities were being built and new settlements were coming up. Elders and statesmen were drawing up the settlement planning requirements. The reference was mostly the Vedic scriptures. As per the Vedic traditions, a settlement (read as a village) will be complete only by having certain kinds of vegetation and the management of the same. In today’s context, this can be equated to managed landscapes. It’s important to revive and preserve these concepts to create holistic green spaces.
Of the many different types of Vanas, there are 3 significant categories of Vanas.
Mahavana: Akin to today’s protected nature parks/forest areas which will be next to the village and is an area where all the species of Flora and Fauna coexist. These were untouched by humans and were of the “preserve” kind.
Sirivana: The settlements did have requirements of forest produce such as timber, honey, herbs etc. and these usually came up closer to the forests that were cleared for settlements. These provided the needs for both humans and livestock. These are of “Produce” kind. Sirivana played a very important role in preserving the soil quality and quality of water. Sirivanas generated prosperity for the human settlement. These were either plantations or Agro forests.
Tapovana: The need to study, meditate and for doing penance, the settlement needed a calm unattended/undisturbed area. Usually inhabited by sages and was used to perform religious rituals and religious practices.