architecture
Mar 163 min read

Exploring the Rich Heritage of Kashmiri Architecture

written by

Aishwarya Bomble

Kashmiri architecture, distinguished in India, possesses a unique character that deviates from the typical styles found in the northern regions. This architectural identity combines indigenous elements with influences from various historical interactions, resembling a synthesis of Kashmir's climatic conditions and extensive trade history with regions like Central Asia, Persia, and the Silk Road.

Drawing inspiration from the picturesque Kashmir Valley, the architecture incorporates local materials, such as timber and stone, to create structures that harmonize with the natural surroundings. The traditional Kashmiri house design often features a pitched roof, intricately carved wooden elements, and spacious verandas, reflecting the region's climatic considerations.

These are some types of building techniques commonly seen in Jammu & Kashmir -

Dhajji Dewari

"Dhajji Dewari," derived from Persian meaning 'Patchwork quilt wall,' aptly describes the appearance of this architectural style. The technique involves wooden bracing or interlacing, resembling a patchwork quilt (Dhajji). The gaps in this framework are then filled with stone rubble or bricks, creating walls designed to be seismic-proof. The intentional use of relatively thin walls contributes to reducing the overall mass of the building, enhancing its ability to resist inertial forces during an earthquake.

A notable example showcasing Dhajji Dewari is the Kashmir Art Emporium. This architectural style is prevalent in Srinagar and certain parts of Kashmir, particularly along the Jhelum River. Beyond its seismic resilience, the visual appeal of the patchwork design adds a distinctive charm to the buildings, reflecting the region's cultural and architectural heritage. The widespread use of Dhajji Dewari demonstrates the enduring relevance of this traditional construction method in adapting to the seismic challenges of the Kashmiri landscape.



dhajji-.jpgCredits - TravelXP

Taq

This architectural style, spanning over 3,000 years, features timber bands running around floor levels combined with brick masonry. The unique construction involves embedding timbers within masonry at specific levels, utilizing the weight of the masonry to pre-stress the walls. This technique enhances the wall's resistance to lateral forces, creating a composite structure that combines load-bearing and framed elements.

In addition, this construction method can be complemented by incorporating Dhajji Dewari. The Taq style is prominently observed in buildings along the Jhelum River, showcasing the region's rich historical and architectural legacy. The combination of timber and brick not only lends strength but also imparts a distinctive aesthetic to these structures, contributing to the cultural and structural diversity of the architectural landscape.

taq.jpg

Credits- Sahapedia

Houseboat

The boat-dwelling Hanji community, responding to legal constraints on land ownership, began constructing floating homes or houseboats for English visitors. Crafted primarily from Deodar wood, chosen for its unique property of gaining strength when in contact with water, these houseboats showcase the community's ingenuity in adapting to their circumstances. Over time, houseboats have become iconic symbols of the region, offering a distinct blend of traditional craftsmanship and practical innovation. Today, these floating abodes serve as popular accommodations, providing a unique and immersive experience for tourists exploring the region's picturesque waterways. 

houseboat.jpg

Credits- Isa Macouzet

Gujjar House

Gujjars and Bakkarwals, nomadic tribes in the Himalayan regions of Jammu & Kashmir, reside in traditional dwellings along the Pir Panchal mountain range. Their homes are small, multi-purpose units, with livestock on the lower floor and family on the upper floor. The cooking space serves various functions, including sleeping for warmth. These kutcha houses are constructed with clay, shrubs, branches, and timber sourced locally or reclaimed from old structures.

gujjar-house.jpg

Credits - Parul Kiri Roy, Sumairha Mumtaz Choudhary

In essence, Kashmiri architecture signifies a fusion of regional and external influences, resulting in a distinctive aesthetic that captures the rich history and cultural diversity of the Kashmir Valley.

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Aishwarya Bomble

Aishwarya Bomble

An architect who is always on the go to share stories of her countless journeys.