Report #170: Thathara Houses in Himachal Pradesh

by  Aditya Rahul, Ankita Sood, Yogendra Singh, Dominik H. Lang    

The addressed building type has been identified in Himachal Pradesh, a northern state in India. Nowadays, this type of construction practice can be seen for houses and temples, however, earlier photographs suggest that the same style was adopted to build palaces, bridges as well as various other structures. The construction style is named ‘Thathara’ as this term is locally used for wooden planks that make the vertical load-carrying members (columns) locally known as Thola(s). Tholas (a peculiar combination of timber and stone) and wood are primarily used for the vertical and horizontal frame elements, respectively. The region where this building typology is found is characterized by cold climate and witnesses heavy rainfall during the rainy season (from June to July) as well as snowfalls in winter (from October to March). These effects have been considered well in the construction style, like e.g. small openings, a verandah to take sun but prevent from rain and snow, wooden and mud interiors which are good insulators and keep the interiors warm, sloping roofs with adequate projections as well as other features. Being located in the Himalayan region, the area has experienced numerous strong earthquakes and this construction technique has eventually evolved to resist seismic action.