Darshan on the highway: urbanisation and popular religion in contemporary Ahmedabad
Darshan on the Highway is a multimedia news story which is incorporated in a news website. It brings out the quality and characteristics of New SG Highway. In the recent years a new lifestyle has emerged on account of growing economy around the city of Ahmedabad. Two major forms of structures which emerged are the 'Temples' as well as the 'Business' complexes. Mainly the religious structures and business structures are the two main segment which share a symbiotic relationship between them, and also constitutes to the Visual Display of the entire stretched area. It has changed the economics of this stretch of the city making it a hub of a range of malls, multiplexes and restaurants. The temple complexes along with shopping complexes make the SG Highway a unique site for the study of the nature of urbanization and popular religious practice in contemporary Gujarat. It brings out the recent change which has transformed into a cultural phenomenon - The co-existence of economic enterprise and spirituality. It deals with the demands of work, leisure and religiosity in the best possible ways. The SG highway has attracted both citizen and media attention in recent times because of its mushrooming temple complexes and replicas of popular shrines on pilgrim circuits. Keeping this exceptional feature as the driving force I have tried to create a multimedia presentation in a sequence which might open up the curtains one by one. A news feature on the SG Highway had already appeared in the Ahmedabad edition of the Times of India on the 24th of July 2003. At that point the temples complexes had just begun to take shape with the successful replication of the Vaishno Devi Temple. My news story brings the story down further to 2009 to show the more recent replication of the Tirupati Balaji temple. The news feed drives the user to explore the replicas of two major shrines one being from north and the other being from the south, as well as its implications in contemporary senario. Namely, the Vaishnavdevi temple and the Tirupati Balaji temple on SG Highway. Given the spatial limitations of the multimedia news format, I have chosen to depict some salient features of the SG Highway focusing in particular on the replica shrines and their significance for visitors and devotees in the city of Ahmedabad.