Rivers and cities together produce a complex spaces or ‘-scapes’ which are deeply intertwined and entangled. Even then, the multiplicities of this engagement do not sufficiently reflect in the urban governance and politics. In order to, conceptualize the river-city relationship, I build upon the anthropological scholarship on land-water nexus and extend it with an ethnographic case of Godavari River meandering through Nashik city, located in the western Indian state of Maharashtra. The city of Nashik has a habitat of engaging with Godavari, as the famous local proverb goes, “after every twelve years”. This is a result of the rhythmic occurrence of the Kumbh Mela, an age-old tradition of Hindu pilgrimage festival, which is celebrated after every 12 years in Nashik along Godavari. Every cycle of the Kumbh Mela (re)produces the riverscape both spatially and temporally within a socio-political and cultural context. Diverse political, religious, environmental, and ecological discourses heighten during the Kumbh Melas, and in- between Melas the Godavari is camouflaged in the everydayness of the city. Unless, these intermediate periods are interrupted by remarkable events of draught and deluge. Apart from, the rise and fall of water and the emergence and submergence of land, the religious significance also (re)shapes riverscapes and vice-versa. Tracing the socio-ecological events leading upto the Kumbh Mela of 2015 and after the Mela in 2016, this article attempts to present the riverscape as a product of “spatiotemporal rhythms of increasing and decreasing wetness and fluidity” (Krause 2017) rather as hybrid assemblage of land-water and nature-culture. Further, the article argues that the rhythmicity of land-water nexus continuously reworks the spatial knowledges and imaginaries and produces constantly influx and fluid riverscapes.
Shilpa Dahake is a doctoral candidate at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Mohali, Punjab. Currently, she is Fulbright- Nehru Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania for the session 2019-2020. In her doctoral research, she is exploring the interactions between the socio- political, cultural, and ecological dimensions of the Godavari River in Nashik city. After training in architecture at the School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi (2007–12), Ms. Dahake wanted to take up participatory research and shifted to the discipline of anthropology and joined a Master’s Program in the University of Pune (2012–14). Before joining the Ph.D. program, she was working at the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune, under a project funded by UNICEF and the Government of Maharashtra, where she was a Field Research officer stationed at Nandurbar District of Maharashtra. To conduct her doctoral research, Ms. Dahake was awarded UGC-NET Research Fellowship (2015-2019) and Sahapedia-UNESCO Fellowship 2017.