Aiding the identity crisis of a place - A case of Malana

Semester 10, Design


Ar. Shilpa Chandawarkar, Ar. Sanket Mhatre, Ar. Prachi Nadkarni, Ar. Faizan Khatri, Ar. Namrata Sharma, Ar. Kirtida Unwalla


This research is selected to undertake the study of a secluded hamlet of Malana, in the upper reaches of the Kulu valley in Himachal Pradesh, India. It is known and visited by people, primarily because of its cannabis culture. Since this is a direct and simplest method of earning their income, the ill effects of this are increasing more and more and these herbs are turning into being the primary identity of the community, thus increasing the number of outsiders and causing more suffocation for the inhabitants. Over the years, each and every measure of the village has had the primary focus of saving their traditions. No law books, no clauses, no constitution, no lawyers, no policemen or police stations and yet the villagers live in mutual harmony. They may not have access to the luxuries of the modern world yet one can see the glow of contentment on their innocent faces. In fact an outsider in Malana or any other village is an intruder. Hence, they have imposed several restrictions from time to time to save their culture and traditions. Some of them include – the untouchability, curtailment on entering their premises, ban on accommodating of outsiders within the village, restrictions on time of staying in the village, curtailment on trying on speaking their language, marrying of people from outside the village, ban on misuse of natural resources, etc. The village is like a well-knit family and it is natural that nobody from outside should interfere in their private affairs. Only minimum intervention to which they have unitedly shown restraint will help.
Malana with its oldest democracy, unique lifestyle, own language and traditions has remained a curiosity for the outsiders for the last four decades. There may be no roads in the village but the adversary of modernization they face now is an issue. The isolatory caste system which they have used for thousands of years has successfully prevented modernism throughout the ages, but the contemporary modernization is formless and abstract. It has made inroads in its sanctity already. The village is going through a slow process of socio-cultural degradation and if this continues the day may not be far off when it will lose its unique identity with this identity crisis. Hence, the objective of this dissertation is to create a harmony between the known identity and the real identity of the village.
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