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In earlier times houses were built by taking terrain, climatic conditions, and raw materials into the consideration. Houses were small as well as big depending upon its functionality and wealth of the owner. We can find various types of hoses in different parts of India. In this blog we will be focusing upon some of the key features used to build houses in ancient India.
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Raw materials used for building the houses were locally available and hence was economical as it reduced the cost of transportation. It has been seen that locally available materials are best for that particular climate and terrain. Stones, burnt bricks, wood , lime and mud were mostly used in building the houses.
Mud was the prominent material that was used to build the houses. Later it was replaced by burnt bricks. It is said that burnt bricks have been used since the times of Indus Valley Civilization. Lime mortar was used for binding before cement. In some parts of India jaggery was also used to give additional strength.to the building.
In North Eastern parts of India, use of bamboo was prominent. As North Indian terrain is more prone to floods, they used bamboo to build houses at higher level so that it won't get affected by floods. Whereas in Rann of Kutch houses known as ‘Bunga’ were built. These were the circular huts made up of mud and conical roofs. These hoses protected them from the earthquakes.
The internal courtyard has played an important role in Indian Houses. A house had numbers of courtyards depending upon the area and wealth of the owner.
Internal courtyard provided natural light into the home and also proper ventilation during the hot summers.
Courtyards were surrounded by corridors and verandas with rooms on 3 or 4 sides. This gave easy access for the family members in the house. Courtyard played an important role during the family activities, gatherings and ceremonies. It also provided shade and protected walls of the house from coming in direct contact with the rain.
In central India there were usually two courtyards. One in outer parts of the house known as Baithak (this was for the male members of the house) and internal courtyard was reserved for the female members of the house. As in earlier times ladies of the house were not allowed to go outside the house very often, the courtyard provided them the natural environment inside the house for their comfort.
Jaali literally means a net. Houses in hotter climatic conditions used the wall with holes and carvings, to restrict the hot air inside the house. When the air passes through these openings, its velocity increases giving profound diffusion. This provided proper ventilation, diffusion of light, shade and privacy inside the house.
Jaalis restricted the direct sunlight and dust inside the house. It acted as a divider allowing privacy, without disturbing the ventilation of the house. It was also used as decoration. Various types of small coloured glass were fitted in some parts of Jaalis, hence forming various patterns when it came in contact with the direct sunlight.
Veranda is often covered with roof tiles but is open on the front side of the house. It is attached to the main wall of the house, providing a place to sit and rest. Veranda allowed the people coming from the hot sun to rest for some time in the shade. This helped to provide hospitality to the people without disturbing the privacy inside the house.
Veranda helped to restrict the direct heat during summer and direct rainfall during the rainy season. Some houses had verandas on all four sides, providing ample space for gatherings for the family members as well as for socializing with others. Verandas often had wooden carved frames to support the roof. Some houses also had beautifully carved wooden pillars which provided elegance to the house.
Chajja is a small shade above the window of the house. This restricted the direct sunlight inside the house, reducing the heat. It usually had a sloping roof. In tropical regions it restricted the entry of direct rain from the window. While in colder regions of the country, it protected the window from snowfall.
Sloping roofs can be seen in tropical regions as well as regions having colder climatic conditions. It can be mostly seen in South Indian houses. Red clay or terracotta tiles were mostly used for sloping roofs. In tropical regions it allowed the rain water to flow down the house. In North Indian states stone tiles were used. In colder regions it allowed the snow to slide down.