The vernacular traditional buildings constitute a major section of heritage in India. These highlight the empirical knowledge of the materials used and construction techniques. Moreover, these buildings serve as a physical base of the rituals and culture of a particular civilization and its people.Vernacular buildings are those buildings which use locally available materials to address the local needs. These materials range from stone to bamboo, earth and wood. These bodies embody the social systems and create a responsive architecture.
“We want a Vernacular in Art. No mere verbal or formal agreement, or dead level of uniformity but that comprehensive and harmonizing unity with individual variety which can be developed among people politically and socially free.” – Walter Crane.
There are hundreds of historical sites throughout the state of Gujarat giving it a unique place in the western region of India. These are the places which have endured the saga of time and have remnants left over to speak about the rich heritage of this state. Jamnagar is a city located on the western coast of India in the sate of Gujarat situated in the Gulf of Kutchh. The traditional look of the city was initially given by Jam Saheb Shri Ranjitsinghi, who actually built the city with all the infrastructure of that era.
Most residents are Gujarati and speak the Gujarati language. Kutcchi language is also spoken, but is written in the Gujarati script but not mutually intelligible with Gujarati. For day to day communication people use Kathiawadi language. (which is colloquial dialect of Gujarat) Jamnagar contains several ancient temples, such as Sidhhnath Mahadev Temple in Jamnagar city area, very ancient Kileshwar Temple in the Barda Hills and the ancient Sun Temple at Gop.
Bhujio Kotho is one of the imperial structures of Jamnagar. It is a five storey building with unnoticeable holes through which firing could take place. it was solely used for military purposes. Five floors of Bhujio Kotho were used for keeping guard against the foreign attacks as well as over the lake. During war, the ruler used to go into the lowest floor, while the upper floors were used as watch towers. The top floor had a large water tank over which a replica of a peacock was perched. There was a chakri (wheel) in the central dome of Bhujio Kotho which was used to transport soldiers into Bhuj to pass on messages to the King. Not magnificently made out of marbles but local materials – Earth, Brick and Bamboo.
This building had an underground path which lead to Bhuj during the times of war. On land 258 kms were covered in just 54 kms underground. Over the years, the underground path was restricted by the government as it then became unsafe. The building was also destroyed because of the 2001 earthquake. This is now a site of heritage and is still preserved.
The beauty of this building lies in its preservation. Even though only a few ruins remain it is considered to be the pride of Jamnagar. We see that the heritage of any vernacular building does not lie in it’s exterior beauty or the marble with which it is made but it lies in the people and the authenticity of its existence.
It is time to protect and enhance such fragile but rich heritage.