Masonary and Architecture

Kumaon boasts a mixture of distinctive style of architecture, which is to be seen on the one hand in scattered settlements of the higher Himalaya and populated agricultural valleys and on the other in the temples, naulas-bawaris (water tanks), forts and dharamshalas (inns).

Most of the old houses of Kumaon have stone walls, mud floors, slate roofs and patangans (courtyards of gray stone) and their doors, windows and Kholis (main entrance to the house) have intricate figures of Ganesh and other Gods – Goddesses. The wood carver or carpenter never forgets to make closed nestles for birds. Although brick and concrete houses are now being constructed in Kumaon, very often, depending on the availability of the material, people still prefer to use stones, slate and wood for the construction of their houses.

The temples, which have been constructed over a period of about a thousand years, follow a local style known as the ‘Himadri’ style of architecture. The temples at Jageshwar, Almora, Katarmal, Thal, Baijnath, Someshwar, Dwarahat, Gangolihat, Patal Bhuvaneshwar and Marsoli are very good examples of the local style, which is often termed as post Gupta architecture.

Along with architecture, Kumaon has also had a distinctive style of sculpture. One finds many idols in temples and even outside temples. The idols at Jageshwar, Dwarahat, Baijnath, Katarmal, Kasni and Champawat bear ample testimony to Kumaon’ s rich tradition of sculpture. The bronze or astdhatu statues are also worth seeing. Similarly, the Ek Hathia (literal meaning, ‘one handed’) Deval near Thal and the Ek Hathia Naula near Champawat are unusual expressions, not only because of the stories attached to their creation, but also from the point of view of their architectural design. A few statues bear influence of Buddhist art. The region is also rich in epigraphic and numismatic expressions.

There are Beerkhams or victory pillars (one piece) scattered all over Kumaon, and a few forts or ruins of various forts, are still to be seen at Almora, Champawat, Pithoragarh, Karnkarayat, Sira, Gangolihat and Kuti.

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