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Ever been to Uttrakhand? Or maybe Himachal Pradesh??

Yes?? Then you must have seen those multi-storeyed buildings with triangular head and square bottom!! Remember?? Well yes, that is the famous Koti Banal architecture of Uttarakhand!!

Origin of the Koti Banal Architecture”

The origin of these structures can be traced from about 900 years ago! Yes! These structures were found around 900 years ago.

These first built by our ancestors to prevent earthquakes since Uttrakhand is a high seismic region i.e a high earthquake-prone area.

Koti Banal is basically a name of a village in Yamuna Valley which consists of these amazing structures which have withstood earthquakes for hundreds of years. This valley represents the traditional knowledge and understanding of earthquakes. The major reason that these structures have survived for so many years lies in their structural design.

The main aspect of this vernacular house is to be earthquake resistant!

Yes, you heard that right that it is earthquake resistant.

Designing Features of Koti Banal Architecture

These structural designs have outstood all the forces of nature that try to destroy them! But how can these buildings stand for such a huge span of time? The major reason is the way they are constructed.

Usually, these buildings are found in flat, sloped and hilly areas! Like in urban cities they don’t share their house walls with the adjacent houses and are constructed separately without any building near them. The main planning of this house is for single-family. Like the modern houses, they don’t consist of elevators, multiple entries, and fire exit staircase. Buildings having Koti Banal Structure usually have a single entrance on the ground floor and a wooden staircase is used to connect the upper floors.

The walls of these structures are thick so as to keep itself intact in times of calamity and seasonal changes. According to local people and tales, the massive walls of Koti banal have been used as a fortress against enemy attacks. Also, narrow tunnels to close rivers still exist in these forts which used to provide potable water.

Also Read: UNESCO World Heritage sites in India (UPDATED 2020)

Earthquake Resistant Buildings Based On Koti Banal Architecture

It’s still unbelievable that Koti banal can fight earthquakes!! Well, you believe it or not it’s true!! Then what are those factors which make these structures to fight with the earthquake and keep themselves in place for 100 years?

1)The major reason could be the walls of these structures which are basically made up of concrete, steel, and wood which thickens up to 1.5ft leading to high dead loads. The stones of these provide flexibility during dynamic shaking because there is no rigid mortar.

2)Another reason is the frame. The frames of these buildings are flexible and weather resistant as it is made up of Deodar Timber.

3)The third reason can be the roof of the Koti Banal Structures which are basically made up of slate tiles. The dimension of the upper roofs is kept larger so that lesser stones and more wood can be used.

4)The last reason is the floor. The beams of the floors run from the middle of one wall to the opposite wall provide additional stability.

Koti Banal Or Modern Architecture?

Who doesn’t love the city life and its charisma? The tall buildings, bigger roads, more facilities in terms of electricity and medication and the bright atmosphere it’s always something that calls you to embrace its charm.

But the major fact is that the type of houses built in planes is not suitable for the hilly area of Uttarakhand as the foundations of these two areas are completely different. So more and more people are migrating to cities leaving this 900 yr old history to actually become a real-time history.

So in order to preserve this architectural style the government should take initiative by providing more facilities in hilly areas such as by opening hospitals, providing electricity timely and much more.

Koti banal is a type of architecture that is protecting people from past hundreds of years from nature and its calamities and its something that actually needs to be preserved and to be left for deteriorating. Also, the major techniques used in Koti banal to make it strong are something that can be used or basically accommodated in them to make modern architecture more strong and resilient.

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By Abhishek Saraswat

Abhishek (@himalayan_gypsy) is a travel photographer and blogger known as Himalayan Gypsy over the internet. Academically from an engineering background and born the Himalayan valley of Dehradun, he found himself in love with nature and ever since he has been on a journey to travel India and showcase the beauty of the country through his pictures, motivating and encouraging people on the go to feel the same and also take responsibilities to conserve our rich heritage, culture and environment. He is a Certified Digital Marketer and a Travel Influencer who is efficient to create visually appealing content for Travel Brands, Property Owners, Cafes and other Product Shoots. He also specializes in running Facebook & Instagram Ad Campaigns for Brand Awareness, Brand Promotion and Online Reputation Management.

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