Supported By
Government of Gujarat
The Building Documentation is a process of recording, categorizing and dissemination of information, through both graphic and written mediums. The process documents and explains the significant characteristics, physical configuration, as well as Elements (Interior Architecture elements, Furniture, Objects and Accessories) of the Traditional and Vernacular Buildings.The recording process initiates with gathering information, followed by recording through field drawings and photographic documentation, which culminates with the preparation of an in-depth Traditional Building Portfolio (TBP). This portfolio comprises of meticulous two dimensional (plan, section and elevation), three dimensional and exploded drawings of the architecture, interior architecture and furniture elements as well as smallest details from the hardware to surface ornamentation. This recorded data is further used to prepare the Building Element Manual and Building Interactive Kit.

The Building Documentation is segregated into four stages:

Background Research: Before commencing on the actual field work, the documentation team gathers basic information on existing records related to the building to be documented. The existing documents may be in the form of drawings, photographs, literary accounts of its descriptions and documents related to its history, ownership etc. These records are generally searched and procured from archives, local municipalities, research institutions, architectural colleges, museums, libraries or private collections. Based on the background research, the next stage of field work is planned, determining the most appropriate level and the scope for the required purpose. Also, based on the scope and features of the building to be documented, the human skill and the techniques for documentation, along with a tentative time schedule, are determined.

Field work and Documentation: This stage involves gathering information on site through field drawings, photographs and interactive discussions and interviews. The field drawings are the raw materials required for producing measured drawings of various Interior Architecture components, and constitute of hand drawings with detailed dimensions. Field drawings are a valuable primary resource and contain all the detailed information on the documented building. The field work is thought out in advance to organize the process of recording efficiently. The process also includes photographic documentation to aid the on-field documentation. The photography is done to record the building, its spaces, elements, crafts and ornamentation in its cur­rent condition. It also involves site/location study which further makes the research richer and complete. The photographs amplify and illuminate a record and act as valuable supplement to verify drawn or written records. Moreover, the data is also gathered through a dialogue with the residents. By conducting this, one can determine the changes to the property over time, ownership details, historic function and activities, association with events and persons, and the role of the property in the local, regional or national history.

Data Cataloguing and Digitization: The cataloging and digitization of information collected through on-field recording is among the most important aspect of the documentation process. Data cataloguing includes compilation of drawings and photo­graphs in a systematic manner. At DICRC, the field drawings are inked, scanned and catalogued in separate sets, namely Architectural, Interior Architecture and Furniture drawings. Also, photographs are catalogued according to the above mentioned sets with subcatego­ries which include details and views of the spaces from the building. The process also includes cataloguing of interviews with the residents, in print and electronic media. Subsequently, the digitization of field data in the form of de­tailed drawings is done. The recorded data from field visit are converted into vector-based drawings: Two-dimensional, Three-dimensional drawings and exploded drawings. The drawing set are also categorised in three sets: Architectural, Interior Architectural and Furniture elements. Moreover, exploded views for selective interior elements are made based on the criteria of richness, number of crafts expressed, craftsmanship and features amongst the type of elements.

Dissemination: The information generated through the process of documentation, including field drawings and vector-based drawings, are disseminated through two separate set of documents. The data collected through hand measurements form a part of the Field Drawing Booklets, whereas the detailed technical drawings are disseminated through the Traditional Building Portfolio (TBP). The TBP contains plans, sections, elevations, details and interpretive drawings for all the categories, Architectural, Interior Architectural and Furniture elements. The documentation process isn’t limited to the formation of the detailed portfolios, but carries itself further through the development of the Building Element Manual and Building Interactive Kit. The Building Element Manual is a set of data generated the process of "Analysis and Interpretation” of the elements, whereas the Building Interactive Kit is an educational kit which aims at generating awareness regarding the traditional and vernacular buildings, and crafts of India. All these data is also disseminated through Online Interactive Building Lab.  There have been many efforts of documentation done by various individuals and organisations but it has overlooked the magnificence of the Space Making Crafts (SMC) and Surface Narrative Crafts (SNC) related to the Traditional and Vernacular Architecture of India. Various craftspeople and master builders have employed their inherited knowledge and skills to make these buildings.  The imperative need of recording and creating a detailed analysis of the prime specimens of the traditional and vernacular buildings of India gave rise to the Building Documentation project. The data generated out of this project will act as a valuable educational resource to various students, craftspeople, educators, design professionals, conservationist, and all those related to the field of Art, Craft, Design and Architecture.


Siddhpur is a quaint city in Gujarat. It was once essentially a riverside town on the western banks of Saraswati river. The town of Siddhpur lies 27 kms further up the river from Patan, being slightly to the north-east from it. It is situated on the rising ground on the west bank of the river. Siddhpur is also known as Sri-sthal or a "pious place". The main communities residing in this city are Hindus and Bohras.

The Bohra community is one of the best travelled and affluent communities spread over a large part of the Siddhpur town. During the early 20th century, affluent members of the DawoodiBohra community started building palatial homes around Gujarat. Resplendent with European architectural styles like Renaissance elements and ornate pediments, the houses also embody Gujarat’s fine wood and stone craftsmanship. The dwellings of the Bohra community are called Bohrawad. At Sidhpur, two kinds of Bohrwad are found – juni or old (built during the 19th century) and navi or new Bohrwad (built during the early 20th century). An important aspect of Bohrwad is a mohalla, houses grouped around the street form a mohalla. Several mohallas thus form a Bohrwad. In addition to the houses, a Bohrawad generally contains a mosque, a madrasa (Islamic educational institution) and other buildings for community use. The streets of Bohrawad in Sidhpur form a strong expression of the traditional architecture. It is believed that the Bohras had bought houses from the Hindus and later adapted and transformed them according to their lifestyles.

About Documented House

The Siddhpur house documented by DICRC researchers is called the Hararwala House located in Navi Vora Wad near the clock tower. As told by the owner, it is 80 years old house and owned by the Hararwala family, a well known and influential Bohra family. The house is two storied and the construction of the house is in brick and wood. There is a strong colonial influence but the architecture style observed can be labelled as eclectic. The house has five rooms with opulently decorated main halls on each floor and intricately crafted in-built wall units, richly carved and upholstered furniture elements like chairs and benches to display the family’s rich status in the society. The organisation of the house is typical to any traditional house in the North-Gujarat region with otlo and khadki leading to the chowk (courtyard) and medi (inner rooms) or main hall. The furniture style observed in the house can be called composite with styles ranging from Art Deco, Victorian, Early Georgian and Chippendale. The materials used in interiors range from wood, cut glass and brass hardware. The craft techniques observed are wood carving, marquetry, etched glass metal embossing and casting, weaving, block printing, stucco work and glass painting.


This city, located in the position of heart of the district of Kheda, is known for the quality of its scholarly tradition. Nadiad is said to have been settled by rope dancers, hence the historical name of "Natapadra" (outskirts of/for natas) or "Natpur" (city for natas). It is also referred to as 'Nandgam'. The city was formerly ruled by Muslims, and later on by the Gayakwad of Baroda. Malhar Rao Gayakwad built the first Hindu temple called Narayan Dev Mandir located in the center of the city. Different areas of the town are known by different names. Most of them are based on the ‘caste groups’, which reside in the area. Some areas get their names from the name of the male leader of the group settled there. Most of the areas have meaning in their names. Some areas have historical significance in their names: desai vago; kansara vaad; vania pol; khadayata pol; mochi vaad; rabari vaad; ravaria vaad; vaaghri vaad; dhed vaado etc suggest caste groups residing in the area.

About Documented House

The Desai ni Haveli is a two storied house situated in Mukut Nivas, Shankardas Desai ni Khadki in Desai Vagho. The construction of the house was started in 1783 A.D and according to the owner had more than 400 rooms. The original house was divided into 5 parts in 1902 A.D and the documented house is one of the parts of the same and was originally used for cooking and dinning purposes. The house is owned by the fifth generation started since 1783 A.D by Prabhudas Desai (as told by the owners). The construction type observed is timber framing with brick infill. The organisation of the house is typical to any traditional house in the Central-Gujarat region with dehli leading to the chowk (courtyard), parsal (intermediate passage space) leading to the medi (inner rooms). The house has been built exactly on the north-south axis and the entrance of the house faces the north direction. The house has several Interior Architecture Elements which represent motifs of Hindu Gods and religious animals like elephants, peacocks and floral patterns on columns and bracket. Though most of the Interior Architecture Elements are simplistic in their expression, the major influences found in the building are colonial. Several pieces of furniture observed in the house were made by replicating imported furniture brought by the family members during their travels. As the owners were avid readers and writers and lover of books, it has been observed that several types of tables were consciously placed in every room of the house and are both imported and custom made. The furniture style observed in the house is eclectic with styles ranging from Hindu, Colonial and Georgian. The materials used in interiors range from wood, ceramic tiles, cut glass and brass hardware. The craft techniques observed are wood carving, wood turning, etched glass, riveting and metal casting.   


Mandvi is a city in Kachchh district in the Indian state of Gujarat. Being situated near the coast, it was part of the most urbanised region with the ancient sea-routes being the major factor for its development. Before the intervention of the British, commerce and industry flourished and Mandvi became famous all over India for the products of its shipyards. This also resulted in the influences in art and architecture from different lands seeping through the architectural fabric of Mandvi creating an eclectic mix of styles observed in the buildings of the city. Mandvi town is irregular rectangle in shape and has narrow winding streets. Its form can be described as a dense mass of built form made porous by small house courts and streets. These courtyards act as breather cells and ventilate the houses in turn providing private outdoors to houses.

About Documented House

The house studied by the DICRC researchers was constructed in the year 1915 A.D and belongs to the Asher family. It is situated near the Talav (lake) and one of the oldest talkies in Mandvi-Lakshmi talkies. The location of the house was chosen very strategically so that one could view the talav and the Mandvi beach from the house. It was commissioned to master craftsman Bhachuk Kamdar by Kalyanji Uka who was a very renowned business man in Mandvi. The house has 29 rooms and two courtyards and is three storied with terraces and balconies which act as ventilators and open spaces. The overall form of the house is irregular with major openings towards the east direction resulting in darker interior spaces. The entry of the house opens in a courtyard that further guides a person towards the interconnected inner rooms. The interior walls of the rooms are adorned by glazed ceramic tiles imported from Italy. The furniture found in the house expresses an eclectic mix of styles. Also specific furniture styles observed in the same are composite in nature ranging from Art Deco, Edwardian to Chippendale.  The house boasts of unique hand painted ceilings depicting cherubs and scenes from Indian folk tales. The main craft techniques involved in the house are wood carving, glass painting, cut glass and metal casting.

The village is located approximately 75 kms north of Bhuj, and adjacent to the village of Ludia. The area is locally known as Pachcham, and occupies the Northeast of Banni.

The settlement of Gandhi nu Gam is a relatively new settlement and was planned during the post-earthquake reconstruction process, in order to relocate the Harijan community. The settlement is based on the concept of people’s participation, which is inspired by the Gandhian philosophy of Gram Swaraj. The bhungas within the settlement are constructed of mud blocks with thatched roofs and fine mural decorations. Although the dwellings are based on the preexisting Harijan settlement of Ludia, they are larger in diameter and have better seismic features. The members of the Harijan community is primarily involved in vernacular building practices, with the majority of the members forming a part of handicrafts sectors, especially wood carving.  

The house documented by DICRC researchers is situated at Gandhi nu gaam, which is situated in the semi-arid region of Kachchh Districtin the state of Gujarat. The dwelling is a specimen of houses called bhunga, which are found throughout the region. The circular houses constructed in a high seismic zone, show an optimal response to earthquake and are proved to be less dangerous to the dwellers’. The residence is 10 years old house, erected in the post-earthquake reconstruction process and owned by Shri Khajju Kaya Marwada. This dwelling displays the construction of mud block bhungas with thatched roofs and fine mural decorations.

The bhunga is a single unit circular structure, constructed on a raised platform, with an artistic expression of ancient traditions. It shows a beautiful display of clay reliefs and paintings on the walls and furniture. The carpentry work for the production of door and windows have taken place within the village, using local workmanship, and shows simplified construction details. The wall is decorated with small mirrors, which serve to enhance the light within the bhunga, are similar to embroidery on traditional textiles and garments.

Inside the dwelling, lies a low platform, called pedlo, on which traditional furniture are placed. The panjaro is a rectangular grain-food container, which is plastered with earth, and it is decorated in relief with mirrors. The manje, placed at the center, is a carved wooden furniture covered by a pile of embroidered fabrics produced by the women of the house. To the right of the manje there is a rectangular furniture, known as sanjero, which has a small front door and contains objects that are considered valuable, such as ornaments.

Nivalda is a village, adjacent to the town of Dediapada and is 46 kms south of the city of Rajpipla in Narmada district of Gujarat. The village being situated in an area with high bamboo growth, which defines the vernacular architecture of the place.The village has a very small settlement, and majority of the families inhabiting the village belong to the tribal communities of Vasava and Tadvi.  As most of the villagers are depended on farming, the houses are situated next to the agricultural fields. Although situated in the vicinity of town, the houses in the village have maintained their unique architectural characteristics. The dwellings in the settlement are constructed using bamboo as the primary material. As bamboo is the locally available material, and is available in abundance; almost whole of the house is constructed using the material. 
The Nivalda house documented by DICRC researchers is owned by Mr. Govindbhai Vasava, and according to him was constructed in 1997. The house is a specimen of the typical bamboo house, which are found throughout the region. The house has 5 rooms, along with an attic for storage. The house is situated next to the agricultural fields and has a cattle shed adjacent to it. The house shows an extensive use of the locally available material, and the applications of bamboo can be seen throughout the house. The house, constructed on a raised earthen platform, has a main peripheral outer envelope of bamboo; to which the internal wall, also of bamboo, are linked. Except the doors and main structural members, which are made of wood, all the interior architectural elements are made of bamboo; including the roof and floors. The house has no window openings because the functional constraints of the construction material; thereby keeping the house internally devoid of any natural light throughout the day. The house has been constructed by the owner himself, and shows a thorough understanding of the craftsmanship and the material.Unlike the architectural elements, the furniture within the house is predominantly made of wood. These furniture elements are very simplistic and are few in numbers. Within these furniture, the house has a storage that is used to store grain and is made of cane. This storage is made locally by the house dwellers, and shows an interesting craft technique of using cane.
Gallagaon , a hamlet 7 kms north of Lohaghat is located in the Champawat district. It is located 17 kms towards North from District head quarters Champawat. It constitutes of one row-house kind building which holds central position surrounded by various small vernacular houses with pitched roof.
This is one of the most prominent building in Gallagaon. This row house has multiple owners and is one of the very old house in the village. Gaushalas are located at the ground floor and some of them are vacant. Wood-and-Stone walls are used for elements, floor and roof construction. Mud lipan is applied on wood to protect it from termite. Each module in this house is similar to the other. The module is further divided into two parts, front part is a passage and second part is a room. The room also has divisions where one part acts as kitchen and living and other part is used for storage.

Sheri is situated a couple of kilometers from upper Gallagoan. Many houses are of row-house type, articulated on stepped topography in alternate fashion facing the valley. The house documented by the team belong to carpenter and exhibits rich wood carving on the facade windows.

House is built by family of carpenter and displays high level of workmanship in carving and details. More than 13 families are residing here. Lower floor is gaushala, middle floor is living area, storage and top floor is kitchen. Balcony on the top floor is used as a common spillover area and the front porch is used for many religious functions. House has grown from one module to four and access to the house is from both the sides. Walls thickness vary as we move up- reduces by 6”. Slate roof is supported by wooden structure. The floor and rest of elements are made of locally sourced wood. This house has survived the forces of cloud burst and landslide a year before we documented it.

Gallagaon , a hamlet 7 kms north of Lohaghat is located in the Champawat district. It is located 17 kms towards North from District head quarters Champawat. It constitutes of one row-house kind building which holds central position surrounded by various small vernacular houses with pitched roof.
This independent house belonged to a single owner, who was also known for his gambling skills in the village. The bottom layer is gaushala, the middle floor is bedroom and top floor is kitchen and resting area. A cactus plant located on the ridge of the roof is a common practice observed in all houses. Balcony is supported on stone column structure. Certain areas of the house were not accessible to female researchers of our team.
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