Thatched Roof of Bhunga in Kutch, Gujarat

This document may require contribution to its content or references to validate the information. It may also require copy-editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone or spelling. Please assist by editing it now.


Thatched Roof of Bhunga in Kutch, Gujarat



Bhungas are mainly found in desert islands (fertile land in the middle of the desert) in the northern parts of Kutch region of Gujarat- specially Banni and Pachham (literally meaning pashchim- west).

Certain communities build the bhungas in the other rural areas of Kutch.

Fig 1: Location of Kutch


Housing/ Settlement Typology

These conical thatch roofs are found on all the bhungas in the villages in Banni and Pachham as well as other desert areas of Rajasthan. Sometimes the bhungas have additional semi-open spaces outside used as entrance or seating areas which use a simple two-way sloping roof structure.

Fig : A Bhunga with an Outside Seating Area

Knowledge System/ Innovation

inside3.jpg inside1.jpg
Fig : Roof Understructure with Truss Fig : Roof Understructure without Truss

There are mainly two variations of thatched bhunga roofs:

With a truss: The roof is constructed on a wooden beam supported on wooden posts which are either embedded in the walls or left exposed. From the middle of this beam rises a prop to which a series of wooden members known as mals are tied which rise from the wall all along the circumference forming an apex at the top and are connected to the central element called man.

Without truss: At times the central beam and the prop are not used, particularly when the walls are with wooden sticks. In that case the wooden sticks rise from the wall and are tied to each other at the apex. Sometimes, there is a presence of angular members called kutaras connecting the mals to the walls and thus preventing them from displacing.

Disaster Resistance/ Structural System

The slope/angle of the roof is provided in such a way that it prevents water leakage as well as falling away of the roofing materials. If the slope is less than required, there can be problems of water leakage and if the roof is steeper, the top grass roofing will break and fall apart. Height of the bhunga wall is normally 7-8.5 ft. For a bhunga of 24 ft diameter the height of the roof (from top of the wall) is around 8 ft and for a 15 ft diameter bhunga, the height is around 6 ft.

Kutara are key elements in providing stability to the roof structure of a bhunga, since they connect the roof of the bhunga to its wall. These also help in stopping mals from displacement.

kutro2.jpg kutro4.jpg
Fig :Kutara Fig : Kutara

Climate response

Thatch roof is a weak conductor of heat and thus the temperature inside the bhunga remains cool. The covering is mainly made of grass and jute, which allow for enough ventilation.

Height of the roof allows for the hot air inside to rise up and keep the living areas cool.

The roof overhang of a bhunga comes quite low casts shadows on the walls and protects the walls from the direct sunrays.

Fig : Thatch Roof Overhang

Construction Methodology

After the walls are constructed, laying of the roof structure starts after a gap of two to three days. To start construction of the roof, the central piece called man is placed at the required position and height with the help of wooden scaffolding. Angular pieces called kutaras are attached to the sides of the top of the wall. Then, mal (rafters) are attached. There are at least minimum 12 kutaras and 24 mals in a bhunga roof1. Once the mals are in place, valis are attached. Valis used to be made out of Tankaro2. The placing of valis starts from the top of the roof and progresses towards the bottom. After the valis are attached vanjis (bamboo batons) are placed. These are placed closely to each other which will ensure easy laying of the thatch roofing.

man.jpg kutro3.jpg detail1.jpg
Fig: Man - the Central Piece of Bhunga Fig: Kutara Fig: Vali (Horizontal) and Vanji (Vertical)

Roof Covering:
Jute (or occasionally tarpaulin) is used to cover this structure. On that layer of jute, finely woven blankets of grass are laid with the help of a similar structure of mals and valis made out ropes. For the vertical ropes a rope made out of cotton is used while for the horizontal ones, a rope made out of hemp/jute (kaathi) is used. At the top point of the bhunga, all the ropes are tied with kaathi. Previously darbh was used in banni and paccham regions and khip was used around mundra and anjar as it was easily available. Darbh and khip/khipdo cover can last for about 4-5 years. Nowadays dangar, kal, bir and shan/shaniyu (fibers from reeds) are used which are not as durable as grasses like darbh used to be. Dangar lasts for 3-4 years3. Kal, bir and shaniyu have irregular structure with lot of knots and they don’t make good covering grasses since there is a possibility of water leakage through this covering which was not the problem with grasses like darbh and khip.4 Grass comes in a bunch called pula and for covering one bhunga, about 800 – 1000 pulas are required. If dangar is used for covering, its pulas come in smaller size and thus 1500 – 2000 pulas are required. Mals are trimmed at the end to achieve desirable size and uniform appearance.

Fig: Structure of the Ropes and Thatch Roofing

Key Issues with the Building Practice


  • Heerabhai Bheemabhai Dhua

Address: Meghpar village, Khavda
Mobile No: +91(0)9427437125

Heerabhai is artisan specialising in construction of bhunga roofs. He also has extensive knowledge of bhunga construction in banni region.

  • Mangubhai Bheemabhai Dhua

Address: Meghpar village, Khavda
Mobile No: +91(0)9427818269

Mangubhai is also a carpenter specialising in contruction of bhungas and bhunga roofs. He is the brother of Heerabhai.

Special Tools/ Equipments


Credits and Acknowledgements




Add a New Comment
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License