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Garli in Himachal Pradesh: Living Heritage of Rural India

Published on September 5, 2020

Author: Madhura Joshi

About Garli: Garli (Paragpur, Himachal Pradesh, India) is village located in Kangra valley from 16th – 17th century. This was the area under Jaswan kingdom. This village is the best example of vernacular architecture, art & craft lovers. With its strategic location on the trading route, this town is blessed with picturesque architectural character. I visited this town in the month of February 2015 with a the group of young architects. This village is still far away from development and successful to kept is Indian village character and social fabric. The community from the village is mainly craftsmen, painters and basket weavers, musicians, tailors.

Artistic map of Garli Heritage Village (


Architecture of Garli village:

This town is one of the live example of Himachal architecture. The Paragpur and Garli districts are finest examples of the traditional architecture.This town has beautiful mud buildings with slated sloping roof. This town has building typologies from Havelis, schools, hospital, high court to water bodies. Maximum houses are constructed in small size local bricks (Nanak shahi brick). This architecture of Garli represents the influence of British, Mughal, Portuguese, Himachal architecture merge with the local context. In all buildings, we can see a mixture of Rajasthani style windows, Mughal ornamentation, British style chimneys. Most of the buildings are representing the influence of colonial architecture. In many houses, beautiful stained glass works on windows are quite visible. The village has beautiful cobbled stone alleys lined with trees.



Traditional decorative art on lime plaster wall

Roof, Brick & Wooden decorative structural elements – Portuguese, Colonial & Himachal Architecture

Decorative elements of entrance door for Haveli

Interesting Roof interlocking detail & wooden trellis element enhancing elevation of House

Combination of Wooden artwork, Locals bricks & Bright geometrical flooring

This is unusual scale for Indian traditional house between passage & built forms creating New spatial definition for houses.

Abandoned Haveli – new language through texture, material & architectural elements

The fascinating part of this town is how the buildings are representing different architectural language in single building typology. This town is a very good example to study town planning and architecture. In this village interesting factor to study traditional architecture is scale, symmetry & treatment of materials. For architects, historian & anthropologist this village is a treat to unfold its migration and influence on architecture. These houses show creativity amongst villagers and reflection of skilled labours. The interesting part to study the treatment of decorative structural elements.

Space between entrance and entrance to house – treatment to spatial component of Haveli

My friend from Garli – One of the sources of Information

Typical house of Farmers in Lime plaster and wooden structure

Government building – combination of materials, colors and decorative elements

Beautiful brick building – elements of Himachal & Colonial architecture

Balcony element representing Mughal & Rajasthani architecture influence.

Treatment to corner of this house – Brick & wooden junction creating new elements of Roof – symmetrical balance

Streets of Garli village

Windows are representing the influence of the Rajasthani architecture elements in Garli

Locally available slate used for Sloping roof

Still this village is not getting attention for restoration and development. This is one of the places for historians, architects & anthropologists to study the influence of trading, migration & location creates different architectural language in one region. How this built environment, culture & location has helped to make this village beautiful? How has the cultural expression used architectural elevation as a tool to express its identity? This article is an effort to throw light on this gem of architecture for professionals who are interested n cultural heritage. I am writing this information to give this village new platform and to gather people for revitalizing this traditional village of India.  I hope this article will help to gather enthusiast to restore this village and I will appreciate from readers new ideas for this Village. Let’s join hands to restore our ancient tangible & intangible cultural heritage stands for our society & tradition.

Artists canvas on wall of Haveli from Garli

Slated sloping roof creating beautiful contrast between the backdrop of Mountain ranges & Landscape of village


Artists canvas on wall of Haveli from Garli

Chimney on top of the house presenting existence of Colonial architecture

The protection of intangible cultural heritage and maintaining the continuity of the national culture constitute an essential cultural base for enhancing cohesion in the nation 
                                                          – Li Changchun

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