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Kath Kuni Architecture

“There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is a society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar, love not to man the less, but nature more”.

                                                                 -Lord Byron

 I have always been a daydreamer with imagination and unconventionality. I unapologetically always felt extremely in luck with the place I practically lived my whole life, like every mountain boy’s childhood I swung on the branches of tall trees, run on the mountains and encountered unforgettable millions of sunrises and sunsets inhaling air of mountains as  pure as immortal elixir. It won’t be ridiculous to say my core of spirituality is in the woods and I would add that I do share the immense urge of the romantics and all the writers and artists who always wanted to live in the woods.


My Solace-

     Solo travelling is the key to find peace of mind for me as an artist I go places and paint what I adore, this time I went to Kullu- ‘valley of Gods, and it’s completely surrounded by high mountains, serene rivers, dense Deodar forest (endemic species to the western Himalayas and one of the strongest of Indian conifers) and lush green valleys. I crossed paths with unimaginable sights while tracking in the mountains and met humble people of the village who safeguard their enriched culture with determination. However, being an architecture painter, I personally prefer to paint the ruins, temples and houses architecture. In Himachal, I have explored eight districts of Himachal and my 100 paintings are dedicated to the architecture of Himachal Pradesh and recently encountered the most traditionally well-kept place in Himachal which is Kullu, the quaint architecture of Kullu is mostly built with Kath Kuni technique which is considered as vernacular architecture.


About the place-

        Kath Kuni technique is very common in that region as the construction of the houses is done by hands with the help of people from neighbouring villages or by the residents themselves and is passed on from generation to generation. The houses are of two storage structures and sometimes five with attic which are restricted to a limited palette of material, tools and construction technique. The primary material used are wood and stones topped by slate and shingles. Due to the cold climate, Rooms are of supposedly low height which provides a low surface volume ratio to prevent heat loss in the room. The decorative motifs range from floral, animal, mythic, the Jhallars (wooden pendants), character or narrative of epic as discrete elements in a running freeze provide Kath Kuni architecture with a  creative detail in the rhythmic pattern of wood and stone on doors, windows and balconies with a hanging structure of houses which adds texture and dimension.

         Colors and techniques-

 My aim of painting Kath Kuni was everything in one from showcasing its culturally rich people to its remarkable architecture. I must present some points which I always adhere to before painting a piece of art, like the “Panch Indriya” I have five thumb rules, first identify the bigger shapes which is an initial step and want you to focus on the shape of the object I want to draw, second mainly includes the proportionality of the canvas- divide the paper into positive and negative spaces which solely means to take notes on the spaces, covered spaces by the main object are positive and other uncovered spaces are negative like the sky which is secondary. The third rule will help us to identify the light source which highlights the main point of the painting by throwing light on that golden point and shadowing the rest. fourth will focus on colours which can be tricky at times, colours are always decided in a set of 3-4 maximum hues, depending on the cooler or warmer effect. We can categorise colours with cool and warm colours, cool colours include blue, green. Turquoise, purple and lavender, however warm colours include yellow, red, orange, brown in connection with the fifth thumb rule – details and aesthetics, as I like quaint elements more I lean towards warmer hues.


The End-

This was surely not my only trip and many more will come. I will be enlightening my knowledge with the aura and blessings I received on this trip. I genuinely believe and hope my painting will correctly articulate the enriched culture, nature and remarkable architecture with its unforgettable techniques and living ways of people of the most underrated beautiful place of Himachal, Kullu.


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104 thoughts on “Kath Kuni Architecture”

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