Colonial Bungalow and some examples from Kerala - a brief note

Imperial Bungalow in colonial India.

The word Bungalow has its origin in Bengal where the East India company started their major trading activities  in the 18th century. A village dwelling place is a single-storey self-contained  mud  structure with a curved roof made of dry thatches and verandah  on all sides with large windows to keep indoors cool in the humid tropical areas close to flood plains. Though simple it was well adapted to the prevailing local weather conditions. Bungalow (originated from the Hindi word Bangala) is  a vernacular design feature native to Bengal and popularized by the early colonial settlers..  The Bengali hut designed for the local geomorphology, can be easily dismantled and shifted to other place as the river flooding was common during the monsoon seasons.

With the growth of  the English East India Company, more Britishers settled in and around Calcutta and to tackle Indian summer and heat  built residences based on the model of village huts (shelter)  with improvised features such as wide varanda, slanting tiled roof, open space with trees, etc to live comfortably.  So Bungalow became symbolic of Angulo-Indian living space in response to climatic condition. 

Usually a single story residence often used as a vacation house which is open to the outdoors with a large verandah to sit and relax in the cool evening, many Europeans in India adopted to this style of living.  The bungalows of 19th-century England were often second homes, an exotic retreat meant for relaxation in a peaceful ambiance.

According to an 18th-century description in Hobson Jobson (a glossary of colloquial Anglo-Indian words and phrases) Bungalow is a single story, simple dwelling place built on a  two to three foot raised platform, with a central room for dining, a sitting room, and ones at the corners for sleeping; all under one common roof  descending all sides covering the porch and veranda all around. 

Once a symbol of opulence, in the olden days in Tamil Nadu a bungalow  meant an isolated house with a single story and garden around it  enclosed in a large compound. In the olden days collectors and judges used to live in such isolated bungalows on the outskirt of the city.  

Nattukal, bungalow, Kerala.

Nattukal, bungalow.Kerala.

Nattukal, bungalow, Kerala.

Above image: Nattukal  bungalow, a classical  colonial structure  with gables on the first floor on either side came up in the 1950s. Located  in  'Mohandas Gardens' with a fine entrance gate it is, I understand, remains  now unused, and consequently has become rundown. The descendants of the family have a proposal to repair and restore it back to old splendor.

side slanting sunshade Nattukal, bungalow, Kerala.

Like most colonial bungalows, the main building is just away from the entrance gate and the compound wall is raised tall all around to avoid trespassers.  


Gundert Bungalow, Thalassery/Vanyamkulam

Gundert Bungalow,Vanyamkulam,

Gundert Bungalow, Thalassery

Above image: The 200-year-old Gundert Bungalow set in the midst of a palm grove in the town of Thalassery in the Kannur district of Kerala, is a heritage site where  Dr. Hermann Gundert, a German scholar and missionary, lived from  1839 to the year 1859. It was here he did a lot of   literary and lexicography works, including Malayalam Bible. With a tiled porch and common slanting tiled massive roof all around the structure covering the front  part, it a fine example of a colonial European Bungalow that looks like a big manson. Top image - Old Gundert Bungalow, Vanyamkulambuilt in the 1870s. It is a blend of Indo-Dutch style built on an elevated basement with slanting roof covering the front outer walls.


The Achatch House, Ottapalam:

Achatch House,

Above image: The Achatch House with a verandah in the facade to relax built in the late 1930s is  a well-planned and designed colonial bungalow in Ottapalam. Well-proportioned house with large rooms it was renovated 2002 to suit modern living and the addition was rain-harvesting system.


Victoria College Principal's Bungalow, Palakkad:

Victoria College Principal's Bungalow

Principal's hostel, Victoria College,

Above images:  Old Victoria College Principal Hostel, palakkad. A single story structure with a gabled front . It was built for the stay of college principal. Built in 1895-1899  


Co-Operative Agricultural Society

Above image: Palakkad District Co-Operative Agricultural Society Built in the late 1940s, the architect  designed the building using Kerala Hindu Temple Architecture Styles. 


British Bungalow, English church road, Palakkad:

British bungalow
Above image: This impressive British Bungalow on the English Church Road is occupied by  Palghat based multinational Co called  'Sitics.


Chittur Municipal Office Building:

Chittur municipal office

Above image: Chittur Municipal Office Building built in 1909. The Design features include Dutch elements. Located about 15 km from Palakkad city, this place was once ruled  by Raja Of Cochin until the princely state joined the Indian union after 1947. Note the symmetrical arches on the ground floor and the slanting roof on the first floor extending beyond the balcony to protect it from rain falling on the roof. In the front balcony the stone parapet with  balustrade imparts a grand look to the building. Added feature is the open space in the front that makes the entire building big. Photo credit: