Inevitably, the homes that we grew up in decide so much of our identity. More than mere concrete structures, these places impart a sense of belonging –– one when coupled with the familiarity of each nook and corner, our surroundings become an imperative piece of us. The moss at the entrance staircase, the collection of cracks at the door hinges, and the colourful stains we left on walls as children –– all amount to a certain sense of ‘home’.
In India, homes change faces across regions. Those found in the extreme north differ vastly from those in the east, and the same goes for other parts of the country. Each structure and its design is significant to the area and imparts a unique visual and cultural identity.
Today, let’s look at one of these –– the Manduva Logili homes of Andhra Pradesh. Chances are that these are the homes you may have seen in mainstream Bollywood films as a representation of a collective of ‘South Indian homes’, which is false, of course. Large indoor rectangular courtyards outlined by pillars, encompassed in a corridor of sorts, these homes are rather recognisable. However, South India is home to various types of homes and the Manduva Logili comes from Andhra Pradesh.
Predominantly present in Godavari, Guntur, Nellore, Cuddapah or Vijayanagaram districts of the state, these homes are traditionally red in colour due to the Vadapalli tiles. The open centre courtyard allows for sunlight and fresh air to enter the home and also facilitates equal ventilation throughout. These houses feature large spaces –– rooms and open areas — since living as a joint family was the norm back then. The pillars around the courtyard are typically made of rosewood or teakwood, which provide a wonderful look to the space but are susceptible to damage and termites. Usually, the bungalow also features a central copper pillar which is believed to serve a dual purpose. One is to conduct electricity through it to the ground in case of lightning and the second is to collect rainwater from the overhead terrace into the underground collection area. The courtyard, too, is equipped with a robust drainage system to rid the space of unwanted collection of rainwater. Even back then, the most efficient use of resources was ensured –– a practice we all could benefit from largely now.
The large homes do not suit the requirements of today. With far fewer joint families living together now, these spaces do not make for a feasible settlement. Unfortunately, coupled with reasons such as long-term damage and modern builders wanting to take over these spaces, Manduva Logili homes are on the decline. It is, however, humbling to know that several families are refurbishing these homes only to provide a modern twist, all while maintaining their cultural integrity.
Manduva Logili are distinct and easy to recognise. Perhaps, it is their perceptible look and grandeur, but their real charm lies in their heritage and tradition. ‘Homes’ as we call them are only termed so once they truly feel like one. What is essentially a house up until then comes alive with its decades of history carried on through its people and through the inanimate doors and walls that hold on to legacy just as well.
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