Heritage Structures-Viceroy House at Kabini

On a recent trip to Kabini (wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka, near Mysore), I stayed at a Jungle resort. Spread over many acres, the resort has a heritage structure, ‘The Viceroy’s house’ now converted to a business centre. It even had a quaint bar!

So after a morning watching birds (we spotted a leopard the previous day!) and falling in love with the ‘Blue Jay’ (Karnataka’s State Bird!), I wanted to capture a little bit of heritage that still remained in this structure.

In the picture above, you can see the sliding roofs. Made with a local terracotta tiles, the slope enables the water to flow down after the rains and prevents the water build up on the roof.

Due to the intensive solar radiation(summers are very hot), most of the home is closed with very few windows to keep the heat out. The verandah offers a shaded open place to welcome the breezy evenings. This area also shelters the rest of the house from direct sunlight, keeping the interiors cool. Being the entrance, the verandah is partially covered with railings.

Such chairs are very common in the ancestral homes of Kerala. Ergonomic, very comfortable, and has long sliding handles that can be used to rest tired legs. Imagine watching the monsoons from the verandah, sitting on this ‘spoil yourself’ couch, reading a book and sipping some filter coffee! 🙂

The ornamental columns support the railings. They are present all along the entrance. The rear end of the house has very simple columns to support the sloping roof.

Flooring is red oxide, lending an ‘old world’ charm to the house. Very functional, it takes in the daily grind easily, without chipping or fading.

The Northern and Southern Verandahs(entrance to the home) are enclosed or semi closed, whereas the western and eastern Verandahs are left open. The photo shows the rear end of the house.

The Porch leads to the entrance of the building. In most Kerala homes, there is a brass vessel called ‘Kindy’ filled with water placed just at this point. This ensures the feet are clean before entering the house. It rains quite a lot in this region leading to a lot of muck and puddles, so the feet cleaning ritual is an essential and  traditional form of sanitation.

The height of the room is almost double the normal size, owing to the presence of double ceilings. Openings are made in between the first and second levels to provide natural light, without heating the room too much.

The doors have an opening on the top that can be opened depending on the weather conditions. Even if all the windows are shut, these openings enable ventilation.

The projecting caves here are rooms. These rooms do not have the double ceiling structures. To shield the room from the harsh sun, one side of the ceiling has a slope. These projecting structures house the many families that are part of the joint family system prevalent here.

The lack of Air Conditioning in those times seems to have been more than compensated with such intelligent building techniques. When I look at the high rise buildings and crammed apartments, I worry for our vernacular architecture that is all but lost today.

For more photos, please click here..

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