Seven Architectures Unique to Kashmir

Umer BeighArticles, Sevens Comments

The traditional architecture of Kashmir stand apart for its uniqueness, traits, style and structure; which makes it intriguingly distinctive. Iranian influence on the art and architecture of Kashmir has been both direct and indirect, appearing in ancient times via Hellenistic and Kushan culture and later through the Mughals of Muslim India. Architecture in the Valley still reflects Himalayan traditions in its extensive use of timber and the pitched and tiered roofs. Even as late as the 17th century, people lived in rudimentary huts; only palaces, mansions of the wealthy, mosques, shrines and temples were constructed of timber.

Kashmir’s architecture has loosely be describes as an amalgamation of Hindu, Islamic and Buddhist styles, but that traditional plans and designs has more or less been discontinued in much of its Urban Centers, with few rudiments visible in certain villages. Introducing the seven architectures styles unique to Kashmir, which makes it stand out from rest in the world.

1. Taq:

It is a system of constructing 2 .5 -3 ft. thick brick masonry piers that supports wooden floor beams and forms the basic structural system of the building. Normally, its inner face of the structure would be made of sun dried brick (kham seer) or rubble infill.

2. Dhajji Dewari or Timber Braced (patch-quilt):

Is a system of construction based on a braced timber framed structure where 4-9 inch thick brick masonry was used to infill the gaps left in between these braces. A 2007 report sponsored by UNESCO post the 2005 earthquake in J&K details the richness of Kashmir’s traditional Taq and Dhajji Diwari constructions and attributes its displacement by reinforced concrete to ‘misconceptions.’

3. Panjrakari:

A very popular Kashmir lattice art work of constructions. No glue or nails are used to connect the intricate parts of Pinajara’s that make up the windows. The wooden works is used to fill the doors, windows, ventilators with jali screens that are built up of minute laths arranged in geometric forms of complicated lattice art work e.g. posh kandur, chaharkhana, shashpahlu, dwazdah sar, sheikh sar, jujjari, shirin and tota shesh tez

4. Dab:

Dab or Daeb is a small wooden structure balcony made outside the main body of the house. The small alcoves or bay windows would generally project outwards towards the lake, affording the house a leisurely view, and stained glass windows on the far end of the room.

5. Hamam (literally: bath):

It is a system of construction of heating water and the floor of a stone-hose room that is built of large stones. Firewood is used to heat up the Khazan i.e the water and the process subsequently heat up the floor of the Hamam.

6. Khatamband:

It is also popular Kashmir latticework like Panjrakari. The small piece geometrical thin slices of wood are held together to make beautiful but complicated geometrical designs without using nails or glue. It was also sometimes painted to give different hues to separate geometrical panels or else inscriptions written as on the panels of the wall as in case of Khanqah at Srinagar. Said to be brought to Kashmir from Iran in 1541 by Mirza Hyder Douglat.

7. Tiered wood shingle or plank roofing:

The pyramidal roof covering the entire structure was, historically, three tiered and composed of rafters having planks above, covered in earlier times with turf, then with shingles. The mud-wood shingle roofing that was once used in most structures has been replaced by the CGI sheeting on account of economics and availability.

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Umer Beigh