Houses might not quite evoke the same emotions of what a rendering of home, sweet home does. But that does not mean they hold no value whatsoever. As architectural entities that are built upon a foundation of cultural, historic, traditional and identifying lines, these spaces of indigenous living have their own ideals to live up to. Sometimes dictated by the course of history and the esteem of that heritage and influenced at other times by concerns more practical, ethnic styles of architectural design are distinguished in their own being. Here’s some such iconic renditions of traditional architecture that the Indian identity would be poorer without-
Agraharams of Tamil Nadu
The uniqueness of the architectural style as what plays out from across the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu is one of a collective individualness. Stemming from not just cultural and/ or traditional customs but deriving also upon religious beliefs, the Agraharam identity in living expresses through an entire brahmin neighborhood. The very locational setting of these houses is evident in the Agraharam name that alludes to a garland. Structures built in this style of architectural composition thus are lined up all along a street that essentially leads to a temple on one or both of its ends.
However even beyond this ardent specification of the Hindu character, agraharams tend to be not less remarkable in their actual architectural essence. An intricately carved front door, a terracotta roof, a spacious verandah and the red oxide coated floors makes for elements of striking beauty. Of course each of these characteristic presences also have their own specific function that they attend to, once again in cultural significance as well as in essential terms of sustenance. They offer an experience in living that is unparalleled and unlike what one would expect to encounter through something so systemic and structured.
Bhungas of Kitchen
One of the most unique specimens of traditional Indian architecture that delivers a distinct aesthetic even in its purely functional purpose of constructing, bhungas are mud houses indigenous to the region of Kutch. Circular in their build and featuring a thatched roof, even as all materials that shape up the structure are essentially natural and local, these quaint looking huts dot the entirety of the Kutch landscape. The main consideration in such ingenious technique of building liveable structures is that of safety and stability. The dry and disaster prone geography of the area means that houses there need to be as simplistic yet sturdy in their construction as can be. Bhungas are incredibly resilient in their structural stability and provide protection from cyclonic winds while also being considerably resistant to seismic activity.
Bungalows of Kolkata
From the colonial era of Bengal emerged an ever popular and charming rendition of cottage style house that express today as a global phenomenon. Bungalows are traditionally single storied places of living but large enough even in their one dimensional spread. They exude simultaneous a vibe of luxury and comfort and assert as pretty places positioned in the most well kept of locations. A well manicured lawn or garden typically flanks the entrance to these houses with a definite calmness guarding their approach, even in architectural terms. The name itself is a derivation upon the word Bangla that is the Bengali language and amounts therefore quite simply to mean a house built in the Bengal style. With such deep rooted Indianness in its built, bungalows are definitely one of the most essential heritage identities in the Indian space.
Havelis of Rajasthan
The very mention of havelis conjures a world of elaborateness- only fitting in emerging from the royal land of Rajasthan. Extravagant in their expanse of what is only expected of an erstwhile state of the rajas and the maharajas are these trademark mansions that boast some of the most intricate features of an architectural character. Essentially a blend of the Hindu Rajput and Mughal styles and therefore bearing a legacy that is quintessential to the historic Indian identity, each haveli assumes significance as exquisite works of art through which beauty finds a life of its own.
Havelis also hold cultural significance in their identity and paints a picture of Rajasthan that is almost impossible to visualise without their grandness. So expansive in fact are these traditional spaces of Indian history still standing strong in the current age that their original built had devised their architecture to house dedicated areas exclusive to the men and women residing there. Well ventilated and therefore airy to withstand the extremes of the desert climate, havelis have been traditional identifying elements of not just Rajasthani Indian architecture but also of the state’s popular representation. A curious old world charm further adds to the appeal of these havelis that express in all artistry of the jharokas and the chattris, the baoris and the jauhars even as there remains etched throughout the artistic extravagance of many a carvings and sculptures.
Veedus of Kerala
Veedu indeed is the Keralian term for a house but even in such generality, these structures from down south of India exhibit some particular characteristics in which they assume a certain identity. The styles encompassed within this singular expanse are varied and special each in their own unique way. One common feature that however manifests in diversity across the traditional housing spectrum of the state plays through another native term of heritage importance- that which finds expression in different measures of kettu.
Nalukettu is by far the most common iteration of these houses as a four block structure, essentially divided as per the directional geography of east, west, north and south. Other more elaborate visages are spawn as an eight block or even a sixteen block architectural specimen, built as per specifications of Vastu Shastra. These typically rectangular houses also essentially feature a courtyard- or two or four as the case might be, making for yet another element omnipresent in the architectural heritage of Kerala.
These veedus of the state stem from a historic requirement of accommodation sufficient to host large joint families. What however has found parallel importance in such house designs is also the need to build structures that would be comfortable enough to live in even in the tropical heat of the region. They also make for very artful establishments to look at, with the steep roofs, large courtyards, numerous entrances and many such quirks adding to the aesthetics while upholding their functionality.