As we walk through the landscape of Kashmir, it’s evident that the construction pattern encompasses Buddhist, Hindu, Turkish and Islamic effects. Various sand creations and stupas built in Kashmir during the Buddhist era had a memorable impression on the stone architecture in the area. Temples made in Kashmir between the fourth and eleventh centuries also determined the stone architecture in the province. Constructions built in timber and brick have a Turkish effect, which can be seen in Kashmir’s mosques and shrines. The use of timber and stone in architecture was prominent during the Afghan and Mughal rules. Kashmir has lent Naqashi (lacquer that can be painted) and Khatamband (woodwork where many wooden parts are fitted together) from the Middle East, which still has its traces in some form or other.

            A convergence of diverse philosophies can be observed in Kashmir. The same is visible in the valley’s blend of various architectural styles. This stunning merger of numerous architectures is best demonstrated by the mosques, temples and gardens. All these styles are slightly dissimilar from one another but exclusive in their own ways. The contrast between traditional and contemporary constructions is drawn furthermore.

Art dwells deep in Kashmiris, their intellect and traditional architecture are prominent in the houses they shape. The houses in Kashmir are constructed appealingly and in a way that adapts to the far varying temperature and geography of the area. A significant feature of the old-style Kashmiri house design is the ‘Zoon Dub’. It is a pendulous (cantilevered) gallery intended for watching the moon. The houses are also marked by the existence of fretwork called ‘Pinjarakari’ and wooden chimes’ pendants that are shaped like ‘Jhumkas’.

            The old Kashmiri Pandit houses used to be huge and tall (almost 4-5 storeys high). Most of the households in Srinagar had birch bark gables coated with clay and turf, over which lilies and tulips grew. With the help of turfs, the rooftops regulate the temperature during various seasons. False ceilings were made with walnut or deodar wood and had designs enthused by Persian art. Concrete and iron are used in the contemporary construction of modern-day houses in Kashmir with modern facilities. A hammam or underfloor heating system is used in the Kashmiri house design alongwith a chimney used for the exhaust. This chimney generally outspreads along the height of the house and keeps the house warm during the harsh winters. To reduce the effect of rainfall and snow, these houses also have sloping roofs.

            The houses in any part of the globe have a lot to do with Family Ethics. Varying from height to the spread, it primarily depends on the size of families. The joint family system has been a symbol and striking feature of Kashmiri’s socio-cultural life for a long time. It used to be a very ordinary way of carrying on a family’s philosophy, ethics and tradition. It is encouraging to note that owing to the philosophy’s profundity, it mostly continued and endured itself. All this, despite the globalisation effects all over the country, family ethics have been able to survive in highly contrasting circumstances stemming from modernisation and westernisation. That’s the ‘Brick and Mortar’ of Kashmiri houses living on, strengthening.

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