Traditional houses in India - waiting for a come back

Regional Architecture & Interiors Dated:  Feb. 8, 2016
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Courtyard Designed by Ar. Lijo. Reny Architects

None of us can forget those vacations in our grandparents' home in a village that looked like a whole new world- A world without hi-fi electronic gadgets, internet connection, clubs and pubs, shopping malls etc. Instead it was a world of serenity, tranquility and social networking (not the virtual one we are used to). Thus, their lives looked simpler and happier.

While their lives are simpler, their interests in art, culture and tradition shows high degree of intelligence and devotion. This is evident from the way their houses have been designed. Whether its huge palatial ones or a moderate one - their architecture takes into account every bit of their lives - the place, geography, culture, climate and so on.

Geography and climate

Of course, the place where your house stands influences the designs a lot. India, a country where diversity is the only similarity, geographies vary greatly from west to east and south to north.

For instance, when touring around Rajasthan, one can find jaali over the windows. The  reason for such a design becomes obvious in a dry and hot place like Rajasthan where hot dusty winds blow throughout the day and chilly breeze in the night. The tiny holes or jaali protects the interiors from the glare of the sunlight at the same time allowing sufficient light to keep the rooms illuminated. This also supports a good flow of air across the walls.

Culture and religion

Culture is yet another facet of traditional architecture. Many a times, culture of a group-, whether completely local or influenced by the foreigners gets expressed explicitly in the building even without any deliberate planning. For instance-Most of the Hindu households bear a tulsi vindravan ( a raised inbuilt pot for tulsi), which is believed to be the earthly manifestation of goddess Tulsi, a consort of lord Vishnu.

These variations  may make us believe that traditional houses across the country are different and bear no similarity. But being different branches(states) of  the same plant(India), they ought to have something in common. No matter where in the country you are, Indian traditional houses will have the following elements common with a regional touch.


Traditional houses which gave huge importance to sustainable, energy efficient living always provisioned for a courtyard - either exterior or interior. While exterior courtyards were a place to socialise with the rest of the world, interiors were where women of the house gathered for  some gossips and where rituals were regularly conducted.

Arched dividers

Arched dividers were and are another timeless design element that adds beauty to the traditional designs. Either inbuilt with cement or separately done in wood(as shown below), these vary from simple to intricately carved designs resembling the royalty of huge palaces.

Traditional Houses in IndiaTraditional Houses in India
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Intricately carved wooden decor

Wood, which is considered the finest element for decor and furnishing is used for doors, pillars, chest drawers and wardrobes. Doors, especially, can be found with exquisite detailing standing tall at the entrance welcoming the guests.

Intricately carved wooden decorIntricately carved wooden decor
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Go modernly traditional

Now, knowing more about the traditional houses in India, if you wish to give a traditional touch to your modernly chalked out house plan, here are a few great projects that have blended antiquity with modernism.

Arched Room dividers

Arched Room dividersDesigned by Interior Designer Dolly Kapoor

The living room and dining area is divided by an arch which though carved out of the wall, gets highlighted when painted in  a different shade.

Modern interior courtyards

Though people living in urban areas will not bother drying pickles or pappads in the interior courtyards as did their ancestors, they will sure love to sit in the warm sun in winter noons or sip some hot tea dirtying their feet in the moist mud. If you are one among them, courtyards are a perfect way to stay connected to the nature.

Modern interior courtyardDesigned by Lijo. Reny Architects
courtyard DesignDesigned by Lijo. Reny Architects

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