Houses on the Riverfront

The ghatscape of Kasi has a very distinctive feature: residential houses that are centuries old and have seen several seasonal rises and falls of the water level. I don’t know the history of establishment or details of the ownerships of these beautiful houses that make the already beautiful ghatscape even more beautiful. I only have an admirer’s attachment to these houses and sing their praise.

All the houses in the images above have universally used stone as building material. Not just steps of the ghats or roofs of the houses in those concrete-less days of the yesteryears, even walls of these houses are of stone.

Many of these houses have features common and suitable for the climatic conditions in Kasi. The slits constructed on the boundary walls of rooftops are found in houses in all the old quarters of Kasi. I think the reason behind this feature of the houses is that people used to (some still do) use the rooftops as sleeping area in summers and the breeze blowing through these various slits at appropriate heights would have soothed the perspiring sleeper.

One conspicuous element present in abundance in all the houses in this post is the window. The houses on the riverfront have windows facing Gangaji. I remember the forceful and cool wind that my skin used to register once the first floor window of Bapuli Badi was opened.

The walls of the houses, in most of the cases, are white. Obviously, because white reflects most of the sunlight, a welcome idea in the long months of sultry summers. Many of the houses bear evidences of their original owners’ being Bengalis. The verandah enclosed with the wooden frame is one such feature. The inclination of the Bengalis to construct houses for Kasi waas may be the reason behind their strong presence in Kasi’s history. They had started emigrating in the last century itself: brain escape.

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