Despite being located in earthquake sensitive region and often experiencing seismic tremors the State of Uttarakhand in the Indian Himalayas exhibits an elaborate tradition of constructing multistoreyed houses. Both the local dialects of the State (Kumaoni and Garhwali) have unique words for identifying four different floors of a building. This is suggestive of a common occurrence of multistoreyed structures in the region. This paper attempts to establish that the people inhabiting this rugged earthquake prone terrain have evolved the art of constructing earthquake safe structures well before the evolution of the structural engineering principles governing such a construction.
Detailed investigations were undertaken in the area to establish the antiquity of the traditional structures, as were also earthquake safety provisions incorporated traditionally in these. Radiocarbon dating of the wood used in the structures was used to establish the time of the construction of these structures.
Investigations suggest that the region has evolved a distinct, elaborate and magnificent earthquake‐safe construction style. This construction style, designated Koti Banal architecture, attained its zenith around 880 years ago. This architectural style exhibits the existence of elaborate procedures for site selection, preparing the platform for raising the multistoreyed structure, also for the detail of the entire structure that was constructed on principles somewhat akin to that of framed structures of modern times.
The representative structures of this architecture are observed to be deteriorating fast due to lack of patronage, resources and awareness. This article brings forth awareness regarding the heritage value of these structures, enabling organized efforts for the conservation and upkeep of these structures.
This article is the result of original research undertaken by the authors and paves the way for the conservation of the age old traditional structures.
Rautela, P. and Chandra Joshi, G. (2009), "Earthquake safety elements in traditional Koti Banal architecture of Uttarakhand, India", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 18 No. 3, pp. 299-316. https://doi.org/10.1108/09653560910965655
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