26th August, Katra.
The design process often extends beyond studio walls. This month, enfolded in the three peaked Trikuta mountains; we successfully tested three facets of our Palanquin (palkhi) Design: Passenger comfort, the palkhi bearers comfort and the local vendors comfort level with manufacture and adjustments to the palkhi.
Preliminary Testing: 21st August
10 prototypes had been sent to Katra earlier for the week long testing by the Vaishno Devi Shrine Board’s own porters. Our IITB team reached on 21st August, to collect feedback and conduct their own observations. Balancing a Palanquin on hilly terrain in a manner that the porters are used to, is tricky business— as expected, last minute dimensional adjustments needed to be made. Aniket and NG Navale got down to work immediately— They identified local vendors and worked with them to adjust two prototypes in time for the final testing.
Final Testing: 23- 26th August
Our Collaborators from SMVDS & NITIE joined us on 23rd August. Dr. (Mrs) Ketaki Bapat, Scientist,Principal Scientific Advisor to the Govt Of India, herself sat through a journey in the Palkhi, before confirming its improved comfort level and giving approval. Shyam Singh, Shrine Board Staff, spoke on behalf of the porters of Vaishno Devi— appreciating and approving the light weight, improved ergonomics and good fabrication.
Our pilgrimage has been successful—now, the local vendor at Katra will modify the remaining 8 palkhis .After which, all 10 palkhi will go for formal approval by NITIE.