Amid modern lifestyle, Kashmir’s young businessman revives dying mud house culture

Amid modern lifestyle, Kashmir's young businessman revives dying mud house culture

The traditional mud house is a long-standing custom and is regarded as South Asia’s best illustration of a sustainable, environmentally friendly housing option. With the modernization in lifestyle, it vanished at an alarming rate in the region.

However, Sameer Majid, 39, an undergraduate student of Central Kashmir’s district Ganderbal, has undertaken a campaign to revive the centuries-old tradition of mud houses, which were once a part of South Asia.

He has taken this initiative to revive a dying tradition, at a time when technology has taken leads over maximum old tradition. ” Amid the modernization and latest technology, it’s a big challenge to revive it, but I have been successful so far, ” Sameer told the First Post.

The location of these mud structures, located in the Kijpora hamlet of Ganderbal Kagan has grown in popularity with both locals and visitors.The innovative project, known as “Kulube Mud homes,” has so far produced four mud houses and the number will increase in the coming months.

Owner of the “Kulube Mud homes,” Sameer Majid, said that construction on the buildings began two years ago and was completed in May of this year.

Sameer Majid, the resident of Soura, constructed four mud homes at the foot of mountains in Kijpora Kangan, Ganderbal, and inaugurated them five months ago.

Sameer, while talking to the Firstpost says that reviving the mudhouse tradition of Kashmir is the showcase of their dying culture. He says that hundreds of tourists flock to these newly created mud houses.

“I am encouraged by the government, people, and tourists for taking this initiative. I had three kanals of land on which I am building mud houses. It has become a centre of attraction for national and international tourists,” Sameer told the Firstpost.

Sameer believes that many people in the valley have forgotten their cultural heritage since they opt to live in hotels and cement-built homes. “I am not against modern lifestyles, I believe that people should always be proud of their customs and culture,” he said.

“The only thing that draws me to this location is the fact that, while we typically stay in hotels when traveling throughout the nation, mud houses are something you can only find here. So, as soon as I learned about these mud houses, I immediately reserved one for my family and myself,” said tourist Mahesh Kumar.

Mud houses’ resort. Image credits: Irshad Hussain

Mahesh says that tourists here enjoy all the basic amenities, such as hot and cold water, restrooms, etc. They (tourists) mostly find these facilities in modern restaurants. “Though these mud houses look small, on the outer side well-decorated rooms have been beautified with wooden panellings,” Mahesh adds.

Along with a restaurant, the mud houses give accommodations for travellers for the night. Furthermore, reservations can also be made online. The area has been converted most appealingly, and it is bordered by woodland and contains a waterfall.

Sameer says that tourists that have been here have had a terrific time. ” We believe to be in a true paradise. If people learn about the location, they will swarm there in greater numbers,” a Delhi-based tourist Monika, said.

Since many ages ago and even today, Kashmir has made great use of mud houses, but in hilly tribal areas. Mud has a natural thermal property that keeps it cold in the summer and warm in the winter. The majority of people in Kashmir during the Dogra dynasty utilized these houses since they were subject to lower taxes than burnt bricks.

In Srinagar’s central business district, one may see several aging structures made only of sun-dried bricks. Many Kashmiri communities, including Bederwah and Poonch, continue to build their homes out of sun-dried bricks. Due to the earthquake, mud and wood are still regarded as the greatest building materials in Kashmir.

A tourism official, who wished not to be named, told the First Post that In the remotest parts of South Kashmir, there are still old mud dwellings. The mud home is still very helpful now because it provides superior warmth in the winter and provides freezing inside temperature in the summer.

“However, people in the valley forgot this tradition and culture due to modernization. Having mud houses in Kashmir is not the sign of the poor, rather it’s a cultural representation from us to the outside world,” he said.

“It’s like I am living in a dream over here. I was initially astonished, but now I’m completely in awe. Now that I have come here, I don’t want to leave. Even though I was not born here, and as I gaze at these mud buildings, I am feeling a little nostalgic. Over here, I can smell Kashmir,” said Kanchan, a tourist from Bihar.

Regarding the idea, the owner of mud houses, Sameer said that Kashmiris lived a straightforward, stress-free traditional lifestyle. People were employing traditional ceramic utensils for a variety of purposes and mud dwellings were commonplace. In that existence, there was tranquility. However, over the years, Kashmir witnessed such things being missing badly.

When the idea struck him, according to Sameer, he got to work on it. “Three mud homes have been built so far on family land, and I also started a restaurant nearby,” he remarked.

The stunning and artistically designed mud houses in the Kangan range’s foothills are built with locally obtained materials. The major objective, according to Sameer, was to raise awareness of Kashmir’s extinct culture.

“Our goal is to keep a connection to our vibrant culture while offering our consumers the best services possible. So far, both Indian residents and foreign visitors have given me favorable feedback,”   Sameer told Firstpost.

For the last decade, the tradition of mud housing culture and tradition has vanished rapidly in Kashmir. The Firstpost spoke to an official from the tourism department and he says that although there are issues with interior finishes and the internal visual environment, social degradation is the primary cause of the decline in the number of mud houses.

The only things that can safeguard this outstanding example of green housing and our vernacular history are social awareness and innovations for enhancing the aesthetics and usability of mud houses while keeping traditional values in mind.

Sameer believes that they can revive this tradition by adopting new techniques. “A hotel in Mumbai and a hotel in Kashmir ought to differ in some way, people want to live in a peaceful, and natural environment” he said.

“The mud houses are also furnished with every modern convenience, including antique doors and windows and classic hay roofs,” he remarked.

These mud homes have a living room, bathroom, luggage room, and terrace. The single mud house may accommodate up to four people, according to the young businessman Sameer.

Nazir Ahmed, 37, a local from Kangan, Ganderbal told the Firstpost that Instead of traveling to other regions of the country and staying in hotels, tourists prefer to spend their vacations in a peaceful atmosphere with pristine views of hills in these mud houses, they have become a hub for tourists.

“The intention was to ask the visitors to look at the People of Kashmir and how they lived there. So I came up with the concept of building mud houses that looked like a village now. As a result, we constructed mudrooms, which serve as effective insulators. They remain cool in the summer and toasty in the winter. That is how we wished to carry on the state’s tradition,” Sameer adds.

On being asked about his long-term goals, Sameer says that he is considering building more buildings similar to this one because locals and visitors are giving positive feedback. Even locals visit this location to take selfies.

“We provide a variety of rustic lodging options in this location, which is run with environmental sustainability at its core. The idea seems to be a constructive force for the people and the environment we coexist with,” Sameer adds.

The young businessman concluded that in addition to offering guests a chance to experience rural village life in all its vibrant glory, they also serve traditional foods like Wazwaan.

Irshad Hussain is an independent Journalist, based in Srinagar, Kashmir. He tweets at : @Irshad55hussain. Views expressed are personal. 

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