Community action, CSR Projects with One Earth Foundation, Preservation of Traditional Knowledge Systems, Toda Hut Preservation Initiative

Arsh: The need for preservation

Toda Architecture:  Need for preservation
A field study by IB – Diploma students
by
One Earth Foundation

The traditional vs the new

The traditional vs the new

 

Arsh:  The Toda hut is rapidly disappearing from Toda Munds in the Nilgiris.  Many villages still have a few remaining huts but most are not lived in and are turning to ruins.  They are being replaced by regular brick and mortar dwellings.  A pity and shame to see this traditional architectural knowledge system slowly, but surely disappear.

One Earth Foundation organized a field study module for IB Diploma students who were keen to understand  these traditional dwellings and the  reasons for the decline in their use.  The study covered 2 villages where they witnessed some Arsh units that had been abandoned and soon to be torn down for construction of brick houses.  Our very enthusiastic students had numerous questions relating to Toda culture and specifically the Arsh which were keenly answered by one of the eldest ladies of the Toda community.

The Toda Architecture survey

The Toda Architecture survey

The construction of a Toda hut

The construction of a Toda hut

Toda hut in ruins

Toda hut in ruins

 

Some points about the construction and architecture as highlighted by our students

  • Dwelling unit or hut is called arsh. All Arsh units have similar internal layouts and dimensions
  • The shape is curvi-linear (rainbow) and always facing East
  • The total width of a hut visited measured around 4.2 m., height 3.3 m. and depth ranging from 4.5 m to 6.0 m. The arch shape is maintained by the two opposite walls on either end of the hut with wooden planks erected in ground, fixed with mud mortar
  • The doors are small measuring about 60 cms in width and under 1 m in height.  The reason is largely to keep large mammals out.
  • The locals shared that the design kept the dwelling warm in winter and cool in summers
  • Internally on one side was the kitchen and on the other side was the sleeping area
  • Shelves were lined with steel utensils
  • The grass used for the roofing was obtained from upper Bhawani area.
  • The cost of maintaining these huts and the reduced availability of raw materials were the main reasons whey they were having to think of building brick houses

We congratulate and thank the participating students and accompanying teachers for undertaking this very relevant study and sharing their findings  withe the broader student community.

A Toda elder shares her wisdom

A Toda elder shares her wisdom

Students interacting with village ladies at a Toda Mund

Students interacting with village ladies at a Toda Mund

There is an urgent and immediate need to preserve the last remaining Arsh dwellings of the Toda community.  One Earth Foundation  seeks support from all to join hands and help restore and preserve some dwellings in some of the Munds.  These could be preserved and open to visitors showcasing the immense architectural knowledge of this community.  For information on how you can be part of this effort, please contact

Raminder Chowdhary
oneearthfdn@gmail.com
+91-9008000338

 

 

1 Comment to “Arsh: The need for preservation”

  1. Great initiative. Need more people to contribute to preserve the culture and traditions.Let’s join hands and make this a sustainable activity.

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