Dhajji Dewari: Crafting Resilient Homes in Kashmir
India's diverse geo-physical setting makes it highly prone to earthquakes, with different zones indicating varying intensities and risks. The seismic intensity map places regions like Guwahati and Srinagar in seismic zone V, signifying a very high risk zone.
Dhajji Dewari, a traditional construction system of the Himalayan region in India and Pakistan, gained prominence after the devastating Kashmir earthquake in 2005. This earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.6, led to widespread destruction, displacing millions and causing numerous casualties. Surprisingly, Dhajji Dewari structures proved earthquake-resistant, garnering global recognition.
Derived from a Farsi (Persian) word meaning quilt patchwork, Dhajji Dewari is a construction technique resembling patchwork art on walls. This method has been in use for over 200 years and is also referred to in Indian Standard Codes as brick nogged timber frame construction.
In construction, careful planning establishes balanced buildings with robust foundations using stone, cement, and timber. The frame structure employs varying-sized timber posts, and openings follow traditional norms. Roof options include flat timber and mud roofs. Local materials like timber, stone, brick, mud, and metal sheeting are maximized. Construction involves timber framing filled with stone or brick masonry panels, using mud mortar and traditional joints. For earthquake resistance, timber studs and infill masonry are incorporated. Eco-friendly practices include using timber with natural resistance and avoiding hazardous products. Future innovations include subdividing walls for strength, hipped roofs for stability, flat stones for infill, thin mud plaster, galvanized wire mesh, and minimizing openings. This forward-thinking approach blends traditional wisdom with modern considerations.
Dhajji Dewari, an innovative and earthquake-resistant traditional construction system, stands out for its sustainability, eco-friendliness, and cultural significance. The recent abandonment of such techniques for contemporary structures emphasizes the need to preserve and revive these construction methods, ensuring a resilient future for regions prone to seismic activity. The preservation of Dhajji Dewari not only safeguards cultural heritage but also provides employment to local artisans, making it a holistic approach to construction.