Friday, July 18, 2008

BHUNGAS – THE ARCHITECTUARL WONDERS OF BANNI GRASSLAND, KUTCH






Mud is the essence of life in the villages of India, and more particularly in the villages of Banni grassland, a large spread over in the arid deserts of Kutch. Mud as a material has been creatively integrated in the socio-cultural life of Banni for centuries. One of the most distinctive uses of mud in Banni is found in the built form – the circular mud huts called bhungas. The bhungas demonstrate the ecological, social and the aesthetic aspects of the region. According to Mr. Balkrishna Doshi, a well-known architect, the circular design and the steely mesh of mud plaster and twigs make them resist wind pressure and quake. The bhungas are further known for their elaborate design and artistic elegance, and have a light dome shaped bamboo and thatched roof and a circular wall plastered with mud, twigs and dung. Their thick walls keep the interior cool when the temperature rises to 46 degree Celsius in summer and drops to 2 degree in winter.

Bhungas are wonders in art. Their outer walls are painted beautifully by the women folk every diwali depicting colourful geometrical and floral patterns and the inner walls are inlaid with tiny mirrors.

Twenty years back when Banni was lush grassland the thatched roof of the bhungas were made from bamboos and grasses. Today there are more modern versions of bhungas in which the thatched roof is replaced by clay baked tile roof and twigs are replaced by stones.