The Veranda: A Disappearing Threshold Space in India

Otlas lining the street . Image © Vijay B. Barot

An ancient Indian folktale narrates the story of a demigod, Hiranyakashipu, who was granted a boon of indestructibility. He wished for his death to never be brought about by any weapon, human or animal, not at day or night, and neither inside nor outside his residence. To cease his wrathful ways, Lord Vishnu took the form of a half-human-half-animal to slay the demigod at twilight at the threshold of his house.

Threshold architectural spaces have always held deep cultural meaning to the people of India. In-between spaces are found in the midst of daily activities as courtyards, stairways, and verandas. The entrance to the house is revered by Indians of all social backgrounds. Throughout the country’s varied landscape, transitional entry spaces are flanked by distinctive front verandas that merge the street with the house.

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