Traditional architecture of Chamba
by Prabal Pramanik
Architecture in the traditional way was made with locally available material. Dry stone
masonry and random rubble construction was the usual method used.
Pressure points in the walls are distributed with wooden beams and thick planks.
Staircases are made of wood.
Traditional plaster work was made of clay. Entire floors were made of wood in the
traditional way. Decorative work on wood is remarkable.
The main doorway including the door posts were richly carved with traditional motifs.
Often an image of Ganesha was carved on the top area of the door post.
One or two niches to hold lamps at night were made near the front door.
Floors were made traditionally of wood and plastered with clay and cow-dung. The walls in
the traditional houses were also plastered with clay and cow-dung mixture.
Protruding wooden verandas were common once and still a few are existing in the town.
Wooden cantilever construction was quite common and this method supported the verandas.
The random rubble masonry supported and intersected by wooden beams and rafters had the
ability to absorb a lot of shocks from earth quakes.
In olden times before the use of slate was introduced by the British, roofs were covered
with planks. There were slanting roofs made with wooden planks and flat roofs made of
planks were covered with clay. Some houses with flat roofs covered with clay are still
existing in villages near Chamba.
The eco-friendly traditional building system eliminated the use of iron rods, and large
houses were constructed without the use of lime and mortar even.
Modern Chamba is changing. Reinforced concrete structures are replacing the traditional
houses fast. The town-scape of Chamba is changing and the area is losing its own identity
rapidly with the acceptence of modern values. Construction, costume and attitudes are
changing in Chamba. For how long this ancient town will retain its ties with the past is
yet to see.
Prabal Pramanik ©
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