Kibber Village

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Kibber Village


Kibber Village

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Lahul & Spiti, Himachal Pradesh - 172114


Brief :

Set amid the rugged mountains and glaciers of the Himalayas, Kibber is one of the highest inhabited villages on earth. Remotely located in the Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh, it boasts of being the highest motorable place at an altitude of 4270 m. The village has roughly around a hundred homes and some government offices along with a monastery. The Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary, home to some endangered plants used in the Tibetan medicinal system, is also situated here. Occasionally, the snow leopard and other animals like ibex or the Himalayan wolf can be sighted.

Barren lands and green meadows characterize the landscape which is similar to that of Ladakh and western Tibet, being a cold desert with scarce rainfall. The village provides scenic views of the Spiti valley. Agriculture is the main occupation with the region having more fertile fields compared to the surrounding areas.

Tibetan architecture underlies the style of the buildings in Kibber with majority of the dwellers being practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism. The houses are made of stone, mud and adobe bricks with timber used for tensile structures. The building features have been developed adapting to the cold, arid, high-altitude climate, economic conditions and the availability of materials in the remote region. Decorations around the windows, doors and parapets display Tibetan influence.

Kibber Village (Image :

Building Form :

The buildings are rectangular with simple plans and may rise to two to three storeys.  The walls are slightly trapezoidal in form, heavy at the bottom and light at the top. The foundation is made of locally available stone that are laid in trenches with mud mortar. The foundation rises to the ground level above which the stone courses are taken to a height of 600 to 900 mm to protect the lower portion of the wall from water and rain. Above this rammed earth or adobe bricks are used for the walls. The walls are thick with small windows to insulate from the harsh climate outside. Mud slurry is used to finish the walls after which they are white washed. The trapezoidal form of the walls result from displacement of lower courses when upper courses are laid over them during construction. This also provides better structural stability. The flooring at the ground level is done with earth fill finished with mud slurry. The floors and the roofs above are constructed of timber beams laid in a single direction. These are covered with planks and bushes and covered with a layer of mud. The parapets are also made of mud and densely packed bushes are laid over them. These project outwards from the building and act as sunshades. The roofs are flat owning to the scarcity of rainfall. Most buildings are constructed on slopes facing the south to utilize the desirable solar heat.

Building Materials :

The buildings seem to be an extension of the landscape utilizing natural building materials that blend with the surroundings. Mud is the main locally available material due to scarcity of timber and stone. The walls are made of rammed earth and timber is used only in floors, roofs and in doors and windows. Stone is only used in the foundations of the buildings.

Use of Colours :

The buildings in Kibber are white washed with red borders highlighting the windows and forming bands at the top around the parapet. The colours are important in Tibetan culture and are among the colours representing the five elements in Buddhism. The colour white symbolizes absolute emptiness and is seen as a bringer of good luck, while red is the symbol of fire and associates with power, dignity, and honour.

Monastery :

Kibber monastery was founded by Serkang Rimpochhe of Tabo, a nearby village. The monastery stands at the highest point in the village looking over the entire village. It is akin to the houses of the area other than the use of vibrant yellow and red on its white façade.






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