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UNESCO  MISSION TO THE EARTHQUAKE DAMAGE DISTRICT IN GUJARAT, INDIA,  FOR THE CONSERVATION OF CULTURAL PROPERTIESMARCH 1-15, 2001


INSIDE THE OLD WALLED CITY OF BHUJ


all photographs (except as marked) by Randolph Langenbach / UNESCO, 2001

Click on photos to enlarge


A NOTE ON THE PANORAMAS:  

This and other panoramas on this website were created from the assembly of two or more individual photographs taken with a 24 mm shift lens.  The one below is composed of 4 photographs and spans almost 180 degrees.  The software, SONY "PanoramaMaker," enabled the joining of the scanned images in the computer.  In order to examine the enlarged version, use the scroll bar to view the whole panorama.  

 

1)     

 

BHUJ: Until the earthquake, the historic city walls had survived over about a quarter of the perimeter of the old city, but the earthquake has laid waste to a great deal of what had survived.  There is substantial evidence that the wall had been rebuilt in part after the 1819 and later earthquakes, only to fall again.

 

2)     3)     4)  

4a)  Bhuj-Darbargarh-1.jpg (86423 bytes)  4b) Bhuj-Darbargarh-1-blowup.jpg (24298 bytes)

The city gates, which were preserved when parts of the city walls were demolished to open up the old city.  Both the Sarpat Gate (#2) and the Bhid Gate (#3) were constructed ca. 1740.  These gateways were damaged by the earthquake together with the surviving parts of the city walls.  Image #4 shows a part of the wall around the Durbargarh that collapsed, revealing the original wall which had been damaged in the 1819 earthquake, and then rebuilt with a new layer covering the original 17-18th Century fabric.  The collapse reveals in 4a & b carved bass relief of elephants and other symbols on the surface of the older wall which had not been exposed in 200 years. 

 

5)

5)  Sections within the old walled city of Bhuj were completely devastated.  This image gives an idea of the extent of the damage - where most structures over a many block area were rendered unrecognizeable regardless of whether they were reinforced concrete, or constructed of stone.  Most often, the buildings were of stone originally, and later had heavy concrete roofs or top stories added - which only served to help the overloaded stone structures beneath collapse from the weight and stiffness of the overburden.  This image must be compared with (12) below, which shows the contrast between this scene and another only a few blocks away, where the damage was much less.  The reason for this does not seem to be from significant differences in construction quality, so local variations in the shaking may have contributed to the discrepancy.

 

6)      7)      8)

6-7) These views were taken when, on March 2, 2001, five weeks after the earthquake, Dinesh Purstom Khatri, who lived in the house which used to stand at this site, had dug down and recovered his mother's body from the ruins.  The cremation pyre had only just been lit a few minutes earlier, and standing beside his mother's cremation fire in the ruins of their house in Bhuj, .  He found the photographs of his mother, which he is showing here,  in the ruins.  He was also in the house when the earthquake happened, and he was injured and spent three weeks in the hospital.  The house had been a stone house not unlike the one shown in 13-15 below, but all that was left is what can be seen in (8) above.

 

9)      10)      11)   

 

9-11)  These images give a further impression of the level of damage in this part of the old section of Bhuj,  The tilted five story concrete building can be seen in the distance in number (5) above.  Number (10) shows an example of the kind of mixed construction of concrete and stone which proved to be particularly vulnerable. The building is not old, but the walls are of stone, and the roof is of concrete.  The historic city area had construction which was both old and recent, and ranged from single story houses, to mid-rise apartment blocks.  What had been preserved was the texture of the city, which was made up with small narrow and winding streets, rather than the traffic filled wide streets in the modern part of the city.  It is these narrow streets which are now being condemned by government planners as unsafe, because of the dangers from collapsing walls.

 

12 )

 

12) This view was taken only a few blocks (slightly down hill) from the views above.  It shows that not all of Bhuj was leveled (unlike Bachau, which was), and that there was great differences in the level of damage one block to the next.  On the whole, while heavily damaged, the historic center of Bhuj is not entirely destroyed.  There is enough left to restore the character and texture of the place, if the planning and reconstruction effort is oriented in that direction, and makes that a goal.

 

13)       14)       15)

 

13-15)  These images illustrate the typical construction found in many of the older houses in Bhuj.  The rubble stone walls were thick and heavy, but there was little evidence of sufficient through-wall bond stones.  The mortar consisted largely of mud, with little lime.  The timber beams and joists rested on the walls in very shallow pockets.  There were no ties holding the floors and the roofs to the walls.  As can be seen in the report on ANJAR, a small number of buildings to survive the earthquake there had one thing in common - the existence of projecting second story balconies.  A few similar examples could be seen in Bhuj - most dramatically with the Swaminarayan Temple, below, but the uniqueness of this one attribute leading to survival of a building where all else around it had fallen could best be seen in Anjar.  In that city, another researcher, Rohit Jigyasu from India, learned from local residents and reported that one balconied house in Anjar [TO SEE IT, TOUCH HERE] survived the 1956, and the 2001 Earthquakes with little damage.  This example, and others observed seemed to illustrate that certain basic simple differences in the construction of one house compared to another could make a large difference in their relative performance in the earthquake.

 

16) 17)    18) 2nd fl-interior.jpg (37337 bytes) 

18a) Bhuj-walled city-7.jpg (65513 bytes)  18b) Bhuj-walled city-8.jpg (53433 bytes)

 

16-18)  This house is an unusually distinguished and formal example of the pre-modern architecture of the historic area in Bhuj.  The owner, M.H.Pir, invited us in to inspect the damaged main house.  The upstairs was entirely one single room.  The earthquake had broken each of the four corners, but the walls had remained standing.  The family had moved out of that part of the house, but they wished to remain in control of its reconstruction, refusing the government offer to demolish it.

 

 

 19)        20)      

 

19-20) This 3 story house was badly damaged, but remained standing.  The first two floors were reported to be over 200 years old, and the upper floor 75 years old.

 

 21)    22) old-doorway(2).jpg (49852 bytes)

 

21-22) These examples of historic doorways are typical of the vernacular architecture in Bhuj.  Throughout India, doorways have a particularly strong symbolic and artistic importance.  None of these buildings are protected, yet it is important to preserve these doorways even if the buildings must be rebuilt.  

 

22) Swaminaryan.jpg (32038 bytes)    23) swaminayn-infill.jpg (18834 bytes)

 

22)  The Swaminarayan Temple in the heart of the walled city area near to the Durbargarh.  The main building of this complex dates back to the nineteenth century, yet it survived the earthquake virtually unscathed.  The framing is heavy timber, and the walls are masonry infill.  (23) Shows the infill masonry, with a hairline crack from the earthquake.  This was the only visible damage seen during the visit.  This building demonstrates well the ability of timber framed with masonry infill structures to survive an earthquake.  The reinforced concrete sections of the complex did far worse than did the 150 year old timber and masonry main building, with some parts collapsing completely, as is visible in the photograph.

                

24)     25) veg-mkt-PANO.jpg (44938 bytes)    26) Arched hall at vegmkt-PANO.jpg (48066 bytes)

26a) Bhuj-walled city-9.jpg (60196 bytes)

 

24-25) "Juno Salzimandi," The Main Vegetable Market, Hanblachowk, in the heart of the old city, is a marvelous British period iron and steel trussed open market pavilion, in a classical style stone shell.  It survived the earthquake with slight damage visible only in the corners.  It has been reoccupied since these photographs were taken.  (#25 is a panorama of two separate photographs).  26) This classical Georgian style building is next to the vegetable market - forming a distinguished group at the center of the commercial section of the old city.  It also was damaged in the corners - but more severely than the vegetable market.  A portion of its roof collapsed and the corners have separated (see 26a), and the building is in danger of demolition, which would be a significant loss.  (This image is also a panorama of two separate photographs.)

 

  

 27)        28)      29) Fateh-Manse.jpg (33246 bytes)

 

27)  The St. Joseph's School is a British style nineteenth century building (ca 1870) with fireproof construction.  It is reported to be threatened with demolition.  28) This shows the rear side of the Kutch Museum, the oldest museum in the region.  A portion of the rear wall and roof collapsed in the earthquake.  The fate of the contents is unknown at this time.  29)  Fateh Mohammed's House, an historic house, slightly damaged in the earthquake.  Plans were proceeding to turn this house into a crafts center and museum when the earthquake struck.

 

 

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M-Arch (Harvard), Dipl.Conservation (York, England)


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