UNFOLDING BENGAL ROOF ARCHITECTURE
Going through some heritage Temple structures of Bengal, I came across a set of the architectural element known as Bengal Roofs. It is a great example of Bengal’s vernacular architecture having its roots back to 15th-16th century AD. The structure is first seen in Terracotta Temples of Bengal.
Bengali architecture is elaborate and includes ancient urban architecture, religious architecture, rural vernacular architecture, the famous bungalow style, Roofs (Ratna, Ek-Ratna, Dalan, Rasmancha) and much more. However, in this post we will draw our attention to the traditional raw Bangladaar style of architecture.
ARCHITECTURE OF BENGAL ROOF
BENGAL ROOF is actually a curved structure forming canopy or dome shaped roof with drawn-down corners. Possibly, the inspiration is taken from ancient rural Bengal huts which used to have curved roof made with local materials like straw or reed supported by the bamboo or wooden posts forming a dome.
This dome protects the hut from intense sun, strong winds and torrential rains. Later, the materials were replaced with more durable options like- bricks and terracotta.
The structure is significantly used in Terracotta Temples of Bengal as a symbol of reviving Hinduism after a powerful Islamic influence during medieval times. Thus, we can say that BANGLA ROOFS are associated with late Mughal and Rajput architecture of Northern India. These temples showcase domes from Islamic architecture combined with very personal BANGLADAAR ROOFS shaping together traditional Bengali architecture.
Though Rajput architecture mainly glorifies JHAROKHA- but some of the later monuments built during 18th and 19th centuries are inspired by Bangla roofs.
Lately, Banglaroofs became an inspiration for modern day architects and are largely adapted in residential bungalows and houses of Bengal.
TYPES OF BANGLADAAR ROOFS
The Bangladaar or Gable roof is popularly known as CHALA STYLE (rural Bengal huts) of architecture in Bengal typically with two, four or eight curved edges. These roofs are comparatively not luxurious, rather, they are prime examples of how simple traditional thatched-roofs of Bengal are transformed and adopted as a permanent architecture element and a symbol of Bhakti and Revival of Hinduism in Bengal.
Also known as ek-bangla or twin-hut, it is the most common type of structure that has two sloping roofs with curved cornices meeting at curved ridges. In Bengal, this form was majorly used for entrance gateways to temple enclosures. Jor Bangla Mandir displays an excellent example of do-chala roofing.
This architectural feature was even adopted by the Mughals and carried to other parts of India. Ek-bangla became a prominent feature of 17th-century architecture of Delhi, Lahore, Gulburg and marked its way to the palace balconies and garden pavilions of Rajashtan during 18th century.
The Char-chala temples have four rectangular roofs meeting at one point, giving a dome-like structure, The edges and cornices of the chala are ornamented and carved.
It is quite a rare roofing style. For construction of a char-chala roof, a square plan is covered internally by a dome on pendentives to give it a hut shaped roof.
Some examples of char-chala roofs are still can be seen in the districts of Faridpur, Pabna, Jessore in Bengal and also in the district of Birbhum, Murshidabad, and Nadia in west Bengal.
The At-chala style of roof is vastly popular in 18th or 19th century Bengal described as a variation of the Char-chala temple. It is a roof constructed with two Char-chala truncated roof placed upon each other with a further miniature roof structure repeated above to gain height.
This style of roofing is widely noted in Hugli, Medinipur, Howrah, and Bankura districts. The Malancha Dakshina Kali temple in Medinipur is the finest example of the At-chala roofing style.
The 18th centuries Rameswari Temple at Naldanga is richly embellished on two sides with terracotta art and has a fine entrance. Some good examples of this type are the Gunjanth Siva Temple, The Jora siva temple, Bagerhat (18th c), Siva Temple at Chandina in Comilla (19th C) etc.
These Temples have drawn inspiration from the rural Bengal and so they are unique in their own way. Interesting variations can be seen in detailing of these structures throughout Bengal. Being made up of stone and wood, black basalt, sandstone , granite and black marble, some of these temples are still preserved but most of these temples have not survived to this day and have destroyed either due to climate or by invaders.
IMAGE SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bengal_roofs