Indian Vernacular Architecture Of Kutch


Kutch lies in the state of Gujarat, on the West Coast of India. Kutch has a tropical monsoon climate with an average annual rainfall of approximately 14 inches.The temperature ranges from 2 degrees Celsius in the winter to 45 degrees Celsius in the summer.The region is sparsely populated in comparison to the large area of land, but the settlements are fairly densely populated.

The vernacular architecture of kutch merges with the surroundings with creation of small circular living units which are clustered together.The region comes under high seismic zone area and the building technique helps to sustain such high earthquakes and is suitable for desert conditions prevalent there.


A Bhonga consists of a single cylindrical shaped room.This type of house is quite durable and appropriate for prevalent desert conditions. It is made of mud and wooden reinforcement in the form of tree branches and ropes. The skeleton of twigs and branches are created in a cylindrical form which are
then sandwiched by applying mud from either side. Ranging between 3.5 to 6 meters in
diameter they are spanned through a wooden log across with a standing king
post in the center of log. Supports the radiating branches of conical roof, cross braced by braided
ropes and twigs.


Then adorned with white clay and mirror work in relief from the inside and mud plaster with natural pigments paint from outside. Apart from their visual qualities, they are effectively heat resistant and most comfortable in the extreme climate of desert region.


The building do not share common walls with adjacent buildings. When separated from adjacent buildings, the typical distance from a neighboring building is 3.0 meters. Bhonga is circular in plan, with cylindrical shaped walls and topped with conical roof. The inner diameter of the Bhonga is typically between 3m to 6m. A Bhonga generally has only three openings one door and two small windows.


The main function of this building typology is single-family house. Main door of the Bhonga is the only means of escape. A typical house has the area for men and its external space, the veranda and the space for women and child. These different buildings are not interconnected because they crack at the junctions. However, a horizontal clay platform about 50 cm high, delimits the dwelling unit. Moreover, it is a way to avoid rainfalls inside the house; It is a kind of threshold, making boundaries physically.


The thick walls keep the interior cool when the temperature rises to 40 degrees Celsius in summer and warm when it drops to 10 degrees in the winter.


Due to circular shape of wall in plan, inertial forces developed addition, the thick walls required for thermal insulation have high in-plane stiffness which provides excellent performance under lateral loads. The roofing in wall are resisted through shell action providing excellent resistance to lateral forces. In materials are generally very light weight, and develops low inertia forces. Since the roof is constructed from extremely ductile materials such as bamboo and straw, the performance of.these roofs is usually very robust.




The conical roof of a Bhonga is supported at its crest by a vertical central wooden post, which
rests on a wooden joist. The base of the roof and the wooden joist are generally directly supported on Bhonga walls. Sometimes, the roof load on wooden joist is transferred to diametrically placed timber posts
(vertical members) adjacent to the cylindrical wall. This reduces the roof-load on the walls. The Bhonga wall is usually extended below ground up to the required foundation depth, and separate foundation is not traditionally



A decorative mud art work is done inside the houses but sometimes it is done outside also. It is done with a mixture of clay and camel dung. Now gum is used to stick mirrors.Small round, diamond-shaped or tringle mirror pieces are essential. Many a times mirror pieces are a little embroidered.



Bidada village is in  the southern coastal part of Kutch district.It is situated near the river and a highway
runs perpendicular to it in east-west direction. The village has about 500 to 550 houses
and people are of various castes and communities. People of the same community stay together forming major zones of the village. A number of streets radiate from here in different directions. while walking towards
the village interiors the streets become quite narrow.


Streets take angular turns at intervals and all houses have Mangalore tile sloping
roofs. All houses of the village are row houses on both sides of the street . The streets of Bidada village have a streets-cape of a unique pattern. They are constantly turning in curves, never remaining straight, in a particular direction through small chowk of y-shape -where it braches out in 2/3 directions and again
keeps turning.


The entire village is a mesh of these curvilinear streets which connect the chowks. At a larger scale the entire village street network has a distinct advantage that the curvilinear streets behave like channels of winds throughout the village. Breeze can be discreetly felt on any street in the village justifying the curved street pattern. It is amazing that streets are predominantly oriented along the southwest direction, as is the wind direction for most part of the year. It is an incredible ingenious organic model of built form like a perfect machine to catch breeze throughout the day.

The narrow street width varies from 8′ to 18′ serving pedestrian, carts and cattle
movement. The houses have a frontage of 10′-15′ width with the height of street facade
walls change as per the number of floors. A typical feature is that if we enter a house on one side of the street the entry is in a room while on the opposite side of the street the entry is into a court of the
house. This repeats alternately resulting in a section making the curving streets dynamic and visually interesting. Together with alternating court and rooms, the shifting of door axes help to achieve privacy and multi-directional flow of breeze. The opposite main entrances never face in straight line avoiding direct sight in the house.

section-street street-map-flow


The entire village is network of curvilinear streets connected by chowks of varying
proportion and scale. The visual and physical lengths of streets go on decreasing in the village interiors. The main village square or chowk is largest in size from which the main street radiates, and it is the hub of the community and economic activities of the village i.e. it functions both as maidan for congregations and as a Bazaar. After the village square, at the junction of major arterial streets(primary street)-main
street intersection chowks are formed. They are in Y or trident shape to serve as
community spaces like Temple.



About Author

A perseverant and passionate person creating a knowledge sharing culture .

Leave A Reply

Powered by