Krishan Kuriyal: Bringing the Past into the Present

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Forty-six year old Krishan Chandra Kuriyal and a handful of artisans from the Yamuna and the Tons Valleys have been working to preserve and bring into our times the vanishing art and architecture of Garhwal Region. Student of Doon School, Dehradun and then an IIT Architecture Graduate from Roorkee, Krishan worked in Delhi for three years and then returned home to be in Uttarkashi with his mother back home (having lost his father early) and there has been no looking back.

On his return, Krishna found that the architectural glory of the region were perilously close to oblivion.  The wood and stone structures of the Rawain and Jaunsar area were threatened with extinction.

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When modern concrete structures replaced traditional homes, these artists and their art were almost forgotten. Krishan set out to revive Uttarakhand architectural heritage. The first step? Look for these masters of their craft.

Speaking to Newspost, Krishan tells us, “When we were studying architecture in IIT, we were taught about the forts of Rajasthan and the temples of South India. There was little or no mention of Uttarakhand architecture in our books. Professor Shankar in IIT inspired me to work on Garhwali Architecture and that is how I ended up doing what I know today.”

What started off as a passion 17 years ago, has today become a model for others to follow. In the beginning Krishan and his team of dedicated workers revived the Naagdwaar and the Mahasu temples of Jaunsar. This was followed by restoration of some 30 or 40 temples. Tinged with nostalgia, Krishan sighs: “These restorers have no time for anything else. They are working on the Uttarkashi Museum, Government Buildings, Resorts and are also part of the Kedarnath rehabilitation project along with the Garhwal Regimental Center in Landsdowne. They have their hands full and are doing a great job.” 

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Glumly he adds: “Uttarakhand has no architectural identity unlike other Himalayan States like say Kashmir, Himanchal, Nepal, Sikkim or Bhutan. Even today, important State Institutional buildings like the Gairsain Vidhan Sabha and Uttarakhand Bhawan in Delhi, do not reflect  our traditional architectural heritage,which is heartbreaking.” 

But Krishan Kuriyal’s hard work, dedication and vision has paid off. Today, Krishan Kuriyal has become synonymous with revival and restoration of Uttarakhandi Architecture. He and his skilled craftsmen have not only given employment to many but their undying patronage to this unique art, has given it a fresh lease of life.