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The Kacchā-Pakkā Divide: Material, Space and Architecture in the Military Cantonments of British India (1765-1889)

Christopher Cowell

Résumés

Cet article retrace le parcours historique de deux termes clés dans le vocabulaire de la construction en Inde : kacchā (inférieur, précaire, impermanent) et pakkā (supérieur, solide, durable). Il interroge le processus par lequel ces deux concepts devinrent essentiels et conjoints dans le contexte des environnements construits militaires puis civils de l’Inde coloniale pendant la période de gouvernance par la Honourable East India Company (1757-1858). L’évolution des deux termes est mise en évidence dans la construction par l’armée de la Company de ses cantonments, ou garnisons permanentes. Ces campements, qui représentent une contribution réellement originale – bien que négligée – au militarisme colonial sur le sous-continent indien au xviiie siècle, revêtaient initialement des formes exclusivement pakkā avant d’intégrer des configurations qui reflétaient fortement les travaux kacchā. Cet article examine comment cette transformation s’est opérée et pour quelles raisons.
Avec l’expansion et la clarification de l’organisation spatiale de l’armée au fil du temps, les travaux kacchā et pakkā se mélangèrent, ce qui permettait une plus grande souplesse face à des conditions diverses. Par ces pratiques adaptives, les trois armées des présidences du Bengale, de Madras et de Bombay apprirent à observer, à construire et à donner forme à l’Inde moderne. Néanmoins, lorsque ces systèmes furent déployés au-delà des opérations militaires, une dichotomie plus rigide se fit jour. Avec la croissance des populations civiles à proximité des cantonnements et la prolifération de règlements municipaux dictant les termes de cette intégration, il s’en fallait de peu pour passer de la qualification des infrastructures de l’armée sur les cartes militaires comme « kacchā » ou « pakkā » à une semblable division de la société indienne.

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Introduction

  • 1 There are numerous ways that these two words may be spelled in English. For example: kutcha, kucca (...)

1Ask anyone in India, whether from Delhi or Bengaluru, Kolkata or Mumbai, if they are familiar with the words कच्चा kacchā (or “cutcha”) and पक्का pakkā (or “pucka”) and they are bound to confirm that they are.1 Press the local further and chances are that they will explain that these words form a pair, opposite terms used to describe the quality of something. Pressed once again to offer some examples and they will probably describe a kacchā house or a pakkā road, or some other element of the built environment.

2Pakkā has been passed down in India to mean something built that is of superior quality, durable, well-made, solid and substantial, while kacchā means something of inferior quality, makeshift, cheaply made, perhaps flimsy, insubstantial. This superiority of one term over the other was not always so. Each was bound to use and context. Now, kacchā is generally used to describe regional approaches in construction. A kacchā house should be made from materials easily found and applied, such as mud, earth, bamboo, reed or wood. A pakkā house, to be defined as such, would require its walls to be, say, of concrete or fired brick, perhaps with cement plaster; to then be painted; to have a tiled roof and tiled floors, as well as sturdily framed windows with glass and shutters. In other words, the pakkā dwelling would involve a more intensively processed and refined materiality. Its parts might possibly be sourced from half the globe away, certainly from a more distant urban center.

3Yet, if we might now crudely equate kacchā with vernacular architecture and pakkā with “polite” architecture, or, alternatively, with modern construction, this was certainly not as clearly defined during the first half of British rule. From the late-18th century as the British, particularly members of its armies, spread across a wider expanse of the subcontinent, they found themselves responding to and drawing from a variety of building approaches that helped them see the benefits in both kacchā and pakkā practices. This pragmatic receptiveness could be argued to have led to a uniquely modern yet regional process of architectural development not seen in the presidency cities (of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay); while the blending managed to overcome the picturesque, romantic perceptions to which the British were, nevertheless, all too susceptible when considering certain Indian architectural traditions in spaces outside of their own environment and control. Further, what contributed to such freedom of interplay also made this phenomenon within British India quite distinct from the “vernacular-versus-high” architectural debates of contemporary late-18th- and early-19th-century Europe. There appeared to be a complete lack of interest in architectural “historicism” by the colonial Indian military, while a form of stripped-down classicism, found capable of addressing a multitude of demands within their stations and across various regions, appeared to foreclose any parallel debates about appropriate architectural styles.

4This article examines, during the early period under the governance of the Honourable East India Company (1757-1858) and through a truly original urban invention of the colonial military in India―the cantonment (or permanent camp)―the transition from exclusively pakkā work to the acceptance of kacchā work for these stations. It will look at how and why this came about. Through this wider embrace, kacchā and pakkā began to be evaluated as a pair, linked somewhat in a dialectical process. Such a discourse taught the three presidency armies of Bengal, Madras and Bombay ways to observe, build and shape modern India. The informal use of kacchā and pakkā practices became more consciously articulated and separated out by the British military once applied to spaces outside of their own, such as Indian settlements, roads, bridges, embankments and canals. It was one short step from identifying army-built infrastructure as either kacchā or pakkā on military maps to dividing Indian society along similar lines. Just as casual familiarity, even cohabitation, marked British-Indian relations across the second part of the 18th century, eventually giving way to an increasing xenophobia and distancing by European elites by the mid-19th century, so such apparently innocuous terms as kacchā and pakkā began to contain for the British somewhat similar fears and therefore take on keener definitions.

Variations on a Theme

5Before attempting to trace this process, a word on etymologies. Prior to when the British first started building in India, kacchā and pakkā were words principally used to describe food. Kacchā meant raw or uncooked food, while pakkā meant ripe or cooked, and this alternate definition still stands today. Across the Varna system in traditional Hinduism, where social status is reinforced by dietary observance, all castes are permitted to receive or handle kacchā, that is, uncooked food from other castes. The exception is the Brahmans, the priesthood caste, who are permitted only to eat food that is pakkā―dishes prepared carefully with costly ghee―ensuring that these remain ritually clean. What is interesting is that kacchā food, having no ghee, when offered from one caste to another, or from one person of differing status to another, is of a quality understood to be relative to such status exchanges; moreover, there is an acknowledged gradation within the kacchā.2

  • 3 Col. Henry Yule R.E. and Arthur Coke Burnell C.I.E., “Cutcha,” in Hobson Jobson: Being a Glossary (...)
  • 4 Ibid., The bizarre range of subjects adopting these terms reminds me of the Chinese dictionary ima (...)
  • 5 Ibid. “Pucka,” p. 734.

6Though the history is unclear, this centuries-old understanding of the pair of words, through colonial and Indian usage, dramatically altered and widened by the 19th century. By 1886 the formidable Anglo-Indian dictionary Hobson Jobson could assert that both words were “among the most constantly recurring Anglo-Indian colloquial terms” owing to their wide metaphorical flexibility.3 Kacchā and pakkā had expanded to distinguish (respectively) between a bewildering range of things: between earthwork roads and roads that had been macadamized (or “metalled”); between urban settlements held without or with lease; between smaller and larger units of weight; between brevet and regimental majors in the army; between colors in cloth that would not or would wash; and between fevers of a simple ague or of a more dangerous remittent nature.4 Notwithstanding this, the dictionary’s lead compiler, the Royal Engineer Colonel Henry Yule, also affirmed that the most common use of pakkā had “become specific [to] that of a building of brick and mortar, in contradistinction to one of inferior material, as of mud, matting, or timber” (kacchā), wherein the one word was “habitually contrasted” with the other.5

  • 6 Indeed, such a dialectic eventually produced an intermediate adjective sitting between the two: “C (...)
  • 7 The frustration over this enduring prejudice continues to make the headlines. See, for example, Sa (...)

7Thus what emerged as a historical outcome of their colonial over-usage was the preference for clear binaries to describe an array of objects and things. So while both words experienced independent etymological development, it was as a pairing to describe built space, with each defining the other in juxtaposition, that a useful dialectical dynamo was eventually developed by the British military under the East India Company, allowing them to form material, social, economic and even aesthetic bearings as they built their cantonments and supporting infrastructure deep within the mofussil (hinterlands) and borderlands of India.6 This dialectical dynamic was (of course) only taken advantage of by the British for themselves. But it was eventually stifled under the British Raj (1858-1947), together with all the gradations and nuances between kacchā and pakkā practices, and an institutionally and legally enforced divide was established between both terms. Kacchā work was indirectly formulated as inferior, perhaps regressive, and certainly ill-suited to meet the regulations for maintaining health and good order within the new towns growing up around such cantonments. Conversely, pakkā work, through these same instruments, began directly to imply superior, modern, hygienic and well-ordered construction. This poorly concealed ethnography, this prejudice, remained deeply rooted in Indian urban practice and is firmly in place to this day.7

  • 8 John Fryer M.D., A New Account of East India and Persia in 8 Letters, London, 1698, p. 205, as cit (...)

8Already from the 17th century the British, in their trade dealings, had discovered variances in weights of the same name. “The Surat Maund [that is, a maund at Surat] … is 40 Sear,” noted the travel writer John Fryer in 1673, whereas “The Pucka Maund at Agra is double as much.”8 By the mid-18th century the French were describing units of distance in much the same way, kacchā and pakkā forming part of a wider and nuanced set of variations. The 18th century French Jesuit Gaston-Laurent Cœurdoux, a Telugu and Sanskrit scholar living in southern India, would attempt to describe such variations of the ancient Vedic unit of distance, the kos, as best he could. Writing from Pondicherry in 1760, he noted first that the kos was almost the sole measure of distance used in the lands subject to Mughal rule, explaining:

  • 9 Gaston-Laurent Cœurdoux, in Yves Mathurin de Querbeuf (ed.), Lettres édifiantes et curieuses (nouv (...)

They are of several kinds; here are those which came to my attention. The zamindari kos, pakkā kos, kacchā kos or army kos, and the rosmi kos. The first are extremely large, and appear to match a British league. The pakkā kos are much less, and match an Isle-de-France league. For kacchā kos or small kos, they barely equal a common half-league. The army kos are the same as the kacchā kos. The rosmi kos are those that are measured before a Grand Nabob when he travels: it hardly serves for the pomp and vanity of Moorish Lords.9

  • 10 Gaston-Laurent Cœurdoux, in Yves Mathurin de Querbeuf, Lettres édifiantes, op. cit. (note 9), p. 1 (...)

9He goes on to note that “it seems the kacchā kos are more in use than other kos in the Government of the Deccan; and as they are those of the army, there is reason to believe that they have held throughout Hindustan, given the frequent wars which this country is agitated by, and the troops that are constantly campaigning from all sides.”10 It appears by the mid-18th century that armies from native sovereignties, by sheer consequence of the movement of troops and supporters, were standardizing the units of spatial distance, and it is possible that kacchā with its implied shortness also offered a certain finesse or flexibility.

  • 11 For a classic text on the subject see Dirk H. A. Kolff, Naukar, Rajput and Sepoy: The Ethnohistory (...)

10But what of the British forces in mid-18th century India? The Company’s early martial beginnings, as with the French, depended heavily upon a pre-existent military labor market, tapping into a fluid and shared supply of sepoys (sipāhī or native soldiers) to feed their growing standing armies.11 With this dependency must certainly have come shared practices. And it is quite possible that Indian concepts of linear distances, with their variations, such as the martial kacchā unit of distance when considered against a greater or pakkā unit of distance, might have fed into Company army practices.

  • 12 Cpt. Alexander Hamilton, A New Account of the East Indies, London, 1727, vol. 2, p. 9; and as cite (...)
  • 13 R. C. Temple (ed.), “Alexander Grant’s Account of the Loss of Calcutta in 1756,” Indian Antiquary, (...)

11Coincident with an interest in Mughal variances of distance by French Jesuits came a fascination in local material construction for military defense by the British. Early on in the 18th century, significantly before the Anglo-French wars that would irrevocably reshape the Indian subcontinent, pakkā began to be associated with the firmness and solidity required for fortifications and defense work fitted to the Company’s factories and trading bases, in fact it had a precise Bengali formula. In 1727 Captain Alexander Hamilton would note of the first defenses of Calcutta that “Fort William was built on an irregular Tetragon of Brick and Mortar, called Puckha, which is a Composition of Brick-dust, Lime, Malasses, [sic] and cut Hemp, and when it comes to be dry, it is as hard and tougher than firm Stone or Brick.”12 Where the military led, its dependent civilians quickly followed. Writing in July 1756 a month after he fled the city Captain Alexander Grant recalled, during the siege of Calcutta by Siraj ud-Daulah, that in trying to retard the invading enemy forces, European merchants’ homes close to the fort were stubbornly resistant to demolition. “Adjacent houses; all of them of the strongest Pecca Work, and all most proof against our Mettal on ye Bastions,” he marveled, finding “that it was impossible to think of Dispossessing them of so many strong Houses, which seemed as Fortresses against our small Numbers.”13

12The fear of being hemmed in during a siege played mightily upon the minds of the British subsequently. Orderly, open space would become an essential feature of British rule, not just with the creation of maidans―fields of space girdling the respective Madras and Calcutta presidency forts of St. George and William―but particularly within the cantonments of its armed forces. Subsequently, pakkā construction began to be determined by the durable effect it exhibited rather than by the particulars of its composition. As part of this process a spectrum of materials had to be catalogued and categorized. It was understandable that kacchā would be chosen as an opposite adjective. For while burnt brick proved itself substantially stronger and more durable than its sun‑dried equivalent, so too, carefully cooked and spiced foods lasted longer in the warm climate than cut, raw foods taken directly from their surroundings. More than any other material, brick, partly because of its universal accessibility, but also because its hidden, processed state determined its solidity and durability, intrinsically embodied this interplay between kacchā and pakkā (fig. 1).

Figure 1: F. Fiebig, “Brick kiln on the Hooghly, Calcutta” (1851).

Figure 1: F. Fiebig, “Brick kiln on the Hooghly, Calcutta” (1851).

Source: © The British Library Board, Photo 247, No. 21.

Pakkā and the Early Cantonments

  • 14 “The rainy season being now set in, the rest of the English battalion and Sepoys went into cantonme (...)

13In complex climates such as India’s there is more than one hot and cold season, due in large part to the disruptive effects of the monsoon months. Consequently, the early European armies in 18th century India found themselves in more frequent need of stable and sheltered environments close to their fields of battle than would have been expected for war in the theaters of northern Europe. Robert Orme, for instance, cites the wretched conditions of the Madras Army, forced to interrupt their war with the French at Trichinopoly in 1754 and to “canton” under a giant stone Hindu shrine in their search for shelter during the rains.14 Billeting―the temporary dispersal of soldiers into various private residences―was considered out of the question, and so a unique challenge provided a distinct solution: an anomalous formation known as the cantonment emerged.

  • 15 James Anderson, Essay on the Art of War in Which the General Principles of All the Operations are F (...)
  • 16 Lancelot Turpin de Crissé , An Essay on the Art of War, translated from the French of Count Turpin, (...)
  • 17 Lancelot Turpin de Crissé , An Essay on the Art of War, vol. 2, op. cit. (note 16), p. 12.
  • 18 I must point out that I have coined this term, but the emphasis was clear. Clive and his chief engi (...)

14Cantonments were never a clear concept to begin with. In Europe they could mean both winter billeting―being “in cantonment”―or a sort of impermanent holding camp that offered shelter and sustenance when the surroundings were inclement or where foraging was scarce.15 As Lancelot Turpin de Crissé’s influential An Essay on the Art of War defined it, “cantonments are nothing more than a halting place, where the troops are to remain till the season permits them to take the field.” But, he added, “they should necessarily be more connected than the winter quarters.”16 This internal connectedness, due to the ever-present tension of preparedness, influenced the internal planning of cantonments throughout British rule in India. A sort of consistent relationship of elements emerged, that nevertheless permitted formal flexibility and a responsiveness to the constraints and opportunities of the terrains in which these stations were established. Initially this tension caused the components―the various army lines and supporting facilities―to be placed close to one another. As Turpin de Crissé recommended, “in general, cantonments should not be so extensive as quarters, and consequently, the troops should be drawn together in a narrower compass.”17 It was with this sense of the term, combined with a new and unusually high level of self-confidence in the Company’s ability to foster stability within the Bengal and Bihar regions, that Robert Lord Clive, having arrived in Calcutta a third time in 1765 and as President of the Council, immediately set to work on building a number of military settlements. He would usher in a surprising new urban complex: a materially permanent―in other words “pakkā”―cantonment.18

  • 19 Lancelot Turpin de Crissé , An Essay on the Art of War, op. cit. (note 16), p. 18.
  • 20 For example, see “Orders Relating to Batta, and Other Extra Allowances,” in East India Company, Ord (...)
  • 21 Just under 40,000 square kilometers of taxable land.

15The notion of a pakkā cantonment as then understood was an oxymoron. In part this was because a cantonment was often established as a temporary outpost, often placed within enemy land.19 Indeed the Madras Army, later adopting Clive’s novel concept yet scrambling for alternative definitions, initially described such entities as “country-garrisons” or “out-garrisons” as distinct from being in camp or in garrison at Madras.20 In July 1765, Clive was flush with the expectation of the Company receiving the diwani―the right to tax and collect land revenues―for the eastern provinces of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa on behalf of the Mughal emperor.21 He would personally receive this document from Shah Alam II the following month at Allahabad, tangibly marking the beginning of British colonial rule in India. Meanwhile Clive issued a letter under the Select Committee at Fort William, stating that:

  • 22 The “favourable circumstances” Clive was referring to were the string of successes the Company expe (...)
  • 23 Robert Clive (at Suti) to the Select Committee, Fort William, July 10, 1765, National Archives of I (...)

Many favourable circumstances having lately occurred22 […] our earliest considerations ought to be to station and canton the forces in such a manner as will best serve to defend the country and preserve the lives of men. Patna & Boianpore [Berhampore] plain near Cossimbuzar, are, in my opinion the two fittest places to answer these purposes. At the former there are already Cantonments. At Boianpore there are none. It will be proper therefore without loss of time to send Captain Martin the Chief Engineer to Boianpore with orders to make the necessary Survey of the Plain, & to lay before you as soon as possible a plan & Calculation of the Expense of building Cantonments for at least twelve hundred Europeans and five thousand sepoys. Although the greatest economy should be observed in erecting these buildings, yet those for the Europeans should I think be strong, durable, and convenient since we may reasonably expect that the Company’s influence and power in this country will be lasting and rather increase than diminish.23

  • 24 Ibid.

16He added, “Those for the sepoys may be more slight because from Diet, Temperance & Constitution, these People are enabled to struggle with the inconveniences of the Climate much better than the Europeans.”24 From the outset, race and climate perceptually divided kacchā work from pakkā work. Such perceptions, as Clive implied, were equally shaped through the logic of economy, although logic often disrupted this prejudice when higher maintenance costs for kacchā work were subsequently factored in.

  • 25 Pramod K. Nayar, Colonial Voices: The Discourses of Empire, Chichester, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012, (...)

17Sited, in some cases, outside of existing urban settlements, these new pakkā installations projected an aura of British permanence, and also, as Pramod K. Nayar observes, had the effect of “spectacularizing imperial power through the ordering of space.”25 But there were fears that they addressed, too. Recent mutinous stirrings had stoked anxieties for Clive and his civilian council of a combination by officers and soldiers against them. There was also a complementary fear that the army was too dissipated and in too weak a state to be swiftly deployed as and when called upon. Cantonments were a means to address both these concerns, to contain and to consolidate.

  • 26 “Each Brigade was now ordered to consist of one Company of Artillery, one Regiment of European Infa (...)
  • 27 Op. cit. (note 26), p. 534. I must thank Prabudda Biswas, a local historian of Patna, who has worke (...)
  • 28 Not all of these stations were designated to be pakkā cantonments initially, which I think is a cru (...)

18Clive’s July dispatch confirmed the upgrading of Bankypore (Bankipur) in Patna as a permanent military station, as well as the selection of a site for a new military station at Berhampore (Baharampur). This was part of a wider system. His decision was to create a string of such fixed stations, now dubbed “cantonments,” stretching along the route of the Ganges to house the three newly formed brigades of the Bengal Army.26 These extended, east to west, from Berhampore near Cossimbazar (Kasim Bazaar), the Company seat for the Murshidabad court, then the capital of Bengal and north of Calcutta; through Monghyr (Munger); past Bankypore, the administrative seat of the Company at Patna following the decisive Battle of Buxar (Baksar) in 1764; and across to Allahabad in Oude (Awadh), to the very limits of British influence. These cantonments served as bases able to provide military support to Company outposts at Lucknow, Juanpore (Juanpur), Chunar, Benares (Varanasi), Midnapore (Medinipur) and Chittagong27; while new ones, initially those stations established close to Calcutta itself to ensure its own security, such as at Barrackpore (Barrackpur), Dum Dum and Alipore (Alipur)―headquarters for the Bengal Native Infantry, the Bengal Artillery and the Governor General’s personal guard respectively―would follow (fig. 2).28

Figure 2: Map showing the string of early cantonments across the Bengal Presidency.

Figure 2: Map showing the string of early cantonments across the Bengal Presidency.

Source: James Rennell, A Map of Bengal, Bahar, Oude & Allahabad, London: William Faden, 1786.

19Monghyr and Allahabad were garrisons within pre-existing fortresses, while Bankypore was merely expanded and upgraded in name from a Company factory barracks. It was at Berhampore and shortly after at Dinapore (Danapur) close to Patna, both within entirely self-contained spaces, that a new architectural model was employed to articulate a purely military urban settlement.

  • 29 Bengal Abstract Letters Received 1760-1770, British Library, India Office Records (hereafter IOR), (...)
  • 30 Fort William to Court of Directors, March 30, 1767, IOR, E/4/7, p. 259.

20What made these two cantonments―Berhampore and Dinapore―perhaps unique was the decision to build both immediately in pakkā work, information that can be gleaned from the Bengal Despatches to the Company’s Court of Directors and the subsequent 1773 Committee of Secrecy reports by the House of Commons.29 From the Despatches we know that the cantonments at Monghyr and Bankypore were of flammable material, and that both were “utterly consumed by fire” in 1766 and 1767 respectively. A decision was made to rebuild them in brick “to prevent such Accidents […] which will be cheapest in the end & require little Expense in repairs.”30

  • 31 “Cantonment and Civil Station of Berhampoor” (surveyed in 1851-52), IOR, X/1187; and “Cantonment an (...)
  • 32 Dum Dum appears to be the third cantonment to follow this “pakkā” model. See “Dum Dum Cantonment an (...)

21Berhampore and Dinapore, however, were conceived from the outset upon a grander template. Both followed the same layout, that of a large inner field or compound: a parade ground almost perfectly square in the case of Berhampore, measuring less than half a kilometer across either side; and a duplex or double square at Dinapore, with officers’ quarters forming a smaller, conjoined duplex (figs. 3a and 3b).31 Both were bound by a tight arrangement of barracks for soldiers and shared officers’ quarters. Dum Dum would follow this same pattern.32 At this point the spacious officers’ compounds with solitary bungalows had not formed a part of the language of these cantonments. Rather, a solid little town of brick and “chunam” plaster, polished brilliantly white as at Berhampore and decidedly cuboid, emerged (fig. 10).

Figure 3a: “Cantonment and Civil Station of Berhampoor” (1859), detail.

Figure 3a: “Cantonment and Civil Station of Berhampoor” (1859), detail.

Source: © The British Library Board, India Office Records (hereafter IOR), X/1187.

Figure 3b: “Cantonment and Environs of Dinapore” (1863-1864), detail.

Figure 3b: “Cantonment and Environs of Dinapore” (1863-1864), detail.

Source: © The British Library Board, IOR, X/1161/1-2.

  • 33 See Avril A. Powell, “Creating Christian Community in Early-Nineteenth-Century Agra,” in Richard Fo (...)
  • 34 Anonymous, “The Figure of the Hollow Square,” in The New Art of War, London: E. Midwinter, 1726, p. (...)
  • 35 “Orders for Encamping an Army.” op. cit. (note 34), p. 265. Berhampore’s square field is about 400 (...)

22It is certainly possible to consider the square field as deriving from Mughal encampments, or even the court yard or katra form, often square, found in Mughal cities such as at Agra.33 But there is also a clear precedent in Western military practice. The forming of an infantry square or “hollow square” was a widely known defensive formation of the European infantry resuscitated from Roman warfare, and was carefully described and illustrated in an English compilation, The New Art of War, in 1726 (fig. 4).34 Indeed, on the preceding page of the same manual, under “Orders for Encamping an Army,” it is stated that the “proper distance between two lines” is 400 paces, perhaps, not coincidentally, about the same distance as along each side of the parade ground square at Berhampore.35 The pakkā cantonment―in Bengal predominantly an infantry cantonment―had fused the disciplines of maneuver and encampment into a singular whole.

Figure 4: “The Figure of the Hollow-Square.”

Figure 4: “The Figure of the Hollow-Square.”

Source: Anonymous, New Art of War, London: E. Midwinter, 1726.

  • 36 “Consultations,” Ninth Report, December 20, 1766, op. cit. (note 29), p. 641.
  • 37 “General Consultations,” May 16, 1768, ibid., p. 641; “General Consultations,” July 28, 1768, ibid. (...)
  • 38 “General Consultations,” September 6, 1768, ibid., p. 644.

23But when all was said and done, it was the tight and nervous purse strings of the Company that prefigured most of the inevitable condemnation of such evidently expensive work. Berhampore was a perpetual sinkhole. Within two years of commencement, by 1767, it had already exceeded its budget of 3 lakh (or 300,000) rupees. An executive decision was made, for both Berhampore and Bankypore, that, while European barracks would be completed, those for Indian troops would be abandoned.36 Such decisions were determined by regional politics, of course. For example at Dacca, where there were only native soldiers to protect commercial interests, the Company’s chief and council there temporarily persuaded the Bengal Presidency at Fort William to invest in brick barracks for 500 sepoys―only for Fort William to demand it revert to kacchā work when they received the modest estimate.37 Delays to the works, through overpricing of materials from corrupt European contractors and suppliers, and difficulties in receiving these supplies, formed a central complaint of the Bengal government following Clive’s final departure from India in 1767. Despite this, the projection of pakkā as an external statement of British stability appeared to override all other concerns. Berhampore was a showcase cantonment whose lack of chunam plaster had quickly to be rectified by calls from the Company at Cossimbazar for appropriation of such supplies from neighboring districts.38 As Fort William also cautiously recommended:

  • 39 “General Consultations,” November 28, 1768, ibid., p. 644.

The Board having approved [Chief Engineer] Captain Watson’s Plan and Estimate of the Cantonments, ordered them to be completed with all possible Frugality: And as Pucha Work is more durable than Cutcha Work, the Board have consented that the Inner Walls of the Cantonments be finished in Pucha.39

  • 40 Archibald Campbell to Warren Hastings, President and Council, Fort William, August 1, 1772, ibid., (...)
  • 41 “Either a Ditch, Wall, or Palisade, appears to be absolutely necessary to prevent Soldiers from str (...)

24Pakkā, by this time, thus no longer meant a specific type of material mixture, but a material’s desired attributes, of firmness and strength. Again we hear the argument of durability. Yet, if this was genuinely to be believed, then why was the military board at Bengal willing to be selective in its application, sanctioning such construction for a European infantry station and not a native infantry station? The answer might lie not just in the aesthetic projection of permanence (nor, conversely, as an outcome of selective prejudice), but also in seeing the cantonment as a holding pen specifically for European soldiers, as a device for their discipline and containment. Desertion was, after all, a capital offence under the 1754 Articles of War. A particular fear articulated by the army executive was desertion by misadventure, wherein European soldiers new to the country might wander off at night, perhaps finding it impossible to make their way back in their probable drunken state, thereby leading to a dread in returning and their ultimate desertion.40 The cost of replacement of such valuable assets, unlike that of their Indian counterparts, was of central concern. Watson’s pakkā wall, approved even before a hospital could be properly designed and submitted, tells us much about the Bengal Army’s collective state of mind. Above all else, the materiality of the cantonment boundary revealed a psyche of overlaid perceptions as to how the army “sat” within their new world—hovering somewhere between defense, projection and internment. As the commander of Berhampore, Lieutenant-Colonel Ironside, soon argued, a ditch was easily breached by escaping soldiers, a palisade (or wooden wall) would soon rot, while a brick wall would not only last but would also serve as an effective defensive barrier.41

25Defense and projection through the new device of the pakkā cantonment was also exploited by the Madras Army. We get a brief glimpse through the writings of William Hickey across the Third Anglo-Mysore War (1789-1792) where the fear of the terrain, of being dispersed and picked off under relentless skirmishes by Tipu Sultan’s forces, led to extraordinary pakkā cantonment enclosures. After advancing to the very gates of Madras, Tipu’s Mysore Army enacted a scorched-earth policy:

  • 42 Alfred Spencer (ed.), Memoirs of William Hickey, London: Hurst & Blackett, 1913-1925, vol. 4, p. 15 (...)

Totally destroying the magnificent cantonments for the Cavalry at Wallajauhbad [Walajabad] which had been erected by the Company at a great expense of upwards of four lacs of pagodas. It was a very beautiful structure, sufficiently extensive to receive and perfectly accommodate ten thousand horses with the same number of men; of this superb edifice the malignant rascals scarce left one brick upon another, so effectually did they demolish it.42

  • 43 Philip Mason, A Matter of Honour: An Account of the Indian Army, Its Officers and Men, London: Jona (...)

26This already enormous, architecturally imposing cantonment, perched strategically on the banks of the Palar River, almost certainly belonged to native cavalry regiments belatedly established by the Madras Presidency under pressure from their Mughal ally, the Nawab of Arcot.43 Thus it can be said that an internal military class system, based almost as much upon profession (for instance cavalry above artillery above infantry) as upon race (that is, European above Indian soldiery), was ever-present within the Company’s armies and could also be read along kacchā-pakkā lines.

  • 44 Archibald Campbell to Warren Hastings, August 1, 1772, Ninth Report, op. cit. (note 29), p. 651-2.
  • 45 Warren Hastings to William Aldersey, Fort William, August 31, 1772, ibid., p. 652.

27Regardless, such ostentatious walls were already dissolving, not just due to military vulnerability, but also under economic and political pressure (fig. 5). By the end of the 18th century it was no longer justifiable to present a pakkā perimeter boundary when a kacchā one, or even an intangible boundary, would suffice. The Company’s armies had expanded sufficiently, relying on a mixture of internal disciplinary policies and external treaties together with an increasingly strong chain of cantonments, forts and supporting infrastructure, to feel that security could be provided via alternate means. Already, by 1772, Berhampore’s boundary was being reconsidered yet again. Watson’s replacement as Bengal Chief Engineer, Lieutenant-Colonel Archibald Campbell, argued that Berhampore’s location could not now be considered as a “Post of Defence” and therefore that the only purpose for such a wall would be to keep soldiers from absconding. As a pakkā wall would be very expensive, a combination of ditch, stockaded palisade and sentry boxes placed at 100- to 120-yard intervals would suffice.44 The Company council at Cossimbazar agreed, going one step further: neither defense nor desertion was now of concern. Rather, “Centries [sic] properly placed, with the usual Precautions of Out-posts and Patroles, will be more effectual in restraining that Evil.”45

Figure 5: Sita Ram, “The Walls of Gaur, with Heaps of Bricks Lying Around” (1817).

Figure 5: Sita Ram, “The Walls of Gaur, with Heaps of Bricks Lying Around” (1817).

Source: © The British Library Board, IOR, Select Materials, Add.Or.4890.

28The dematerializing of cantonments’ boundaries was just the beginning. Their internal parts also would soon lose their compactness and begin to splinter outwards. To control this effect, an overarching organizing framework of notional lines and grids, usually defined through roads or land parcels or even topographic cues, with the corners of its ragged limits often marked by simple masonry pillars, began to take over (fig. 6). Practices of regional kacchā construction found their way inside such spatial organizing schemata, enabling them to be evaluated through a new spirit of scientism.

Figure 6: “Cantonment and Environs of Meerut” (1867-1868), detail. The red line indicates the seeming haphazard boundary between the indigenous settlement (left) and the cantonment (right) determined only on paper by the notional linking of boundary pillars at its vertices.

Figure 6: “Cantonment and Environs of Meerut” (1867-1868), detail. The red line indicates the seeming haphazard boundary between the indigenous settlement (left) and the cantonment (right) determined only on paper by the notional linking of boundary pillars at its vertices.

Source: © The British Library Board, IOR, X/1459/1-4.

Kacchā and the Organizing Principle

29Cantonments were caught in a tension: between the ephemeral, due to the speed with which they multiplied (particularly for the Bengal Army) under politically uncertain conditions; and the permanent, due to the need to both express stability and provide security for army installations. A tension between pakkā and kacchā work continued throughout the Company’s military spaces across its period in power. However, the army discovered it could provide an alternate sense of permanent presence merely by the scale of its organized sprawl. It was therefore within these spaces that the British in India most confidently began to explore the potential of local or kacchā work by incorporating them into increasingly elaborate formulas of spatial planning both for a building’s internal arrangements and its position within a wider complex of buildings.

  • 46 R. C. Temple, “A Study of Modern Indian Architecture, As Displayed in a British Cantonment,” Journa (...)
  • 47 The officers’ bungalow compound, with its intrinsic internal and external spatial and social detach (...)
  • 48 Most likely a corruption of the Malay word kampong meaning “enclosure” or “village.” See Yule and B (...)

30In these cantonments, unlike within the presidency cities, kacchā and pakkā did not necessarily denote affluence or rank, but rather it was the location of elements of the army in relation to each other and to key features, for example the distance to parade grounds, that determined status.46 Not only this, but the relative size of area allotted to each army rank was also a key marker of prestige. Within this arrangement, the addition of the “compound” was of fundamental importance as it introduced into the concentric hierarchy a new, cellular, decentralizing component―an essential step before any conceptions of gridiron planning could come into play.47 By the beginning of the 19th century the ranking schema for accommodation, from top to bottom, was as follows: the (always European) officer’s bungalow within its spacious compound―a new, individuated assertion of space by the officer class48; the European soldiers’ barracks with generous distances between the lines; and the native soldiers’ huts, much more tightly arranged into rows (fig 7).

Figure 7: “Plan of the Poona Cantonments,” An Atlas of Plans of Cantonments and Plans of the Country 10 miles round Cantonments in the Bombay Presidency (c. 1850).

Figure 7: “Plan of the Poona Cantonments,” An Atlas of Plans of Cantonments and Plans of the Country 10 miles round Cantonments in the Bombay Presidency (c. 1850).

Source: © The British Library Board, IOR, X/2612/2.

  • 49 Lt. Col. J. Salmond to Committee, April 2, 1832, para. 1925, Minutes of Evidence Taken Before the S (...)
  • 50 Abolition of the tent contract system in the Bombay Army, January 1817—October 1818, IOR, F/4/13934 (...)

31Ever since the eventual dismissal of barrack provision for sepoys following the Clive administration, the Bengal Army was consistently reluctant to provide lodgings for Indian troops. It was much the same with the other two presidencies. As late as 1832, sepoys of both infantry and cavalry were expected to hut themselves.49 One excuse heard was that the particular religious and social domestic customs of the sepoys (notably of the high-caste Purbiya Rajput of the Bengal Army) were considered too delicate to meddle with, so it was best to leave accommodation to their own devising. The Bombay Army was especially miserly, offering a modest hutting allowance to sepoys from 1795, confined just to the presidency city and nearby islands. It only later adopted the more generous Madras Army rates.50 For these Indian soldiers, kacchā work was the expected norm—of mud, perhaps of sun-dried brick, and of matting and thatch. In addition, a tight and orderly regularity to the native lines was usually demanded (fig. 8).

Figure 8: Sepoy Lines at Cawnpore Cantonment, c. 1857.

Figure 8: Sepoy Lines at Cawnpore Cantonment, c. 1857.

Source: “The Infantry Parade-Ground at Cawnpore,” Illustrated London News, 5 Sep 1857.

  • 51 Anthony D. King, The Bungalow: The Production of a Global Culture, London; Boston, MA: Routledge & (...)
  • 52 Ibid., p. 23.

32At the other end of the spectrum, the officer’s bungalow, that strange borrowing of the Bengal rustic house, somewhere between a simple “banggolo” (often a single room with perimeter extensions) in plan and a chauyari (meaning “four sides”) in roof features, took full form by the end of the 18th century.51 Anthony D. King argues that the flourishing of this housing type was a mark of British confidence in its almost total subjugation and control of the subcontinent by the late 1810s. Two institutions mutually enforced this effect: the army together with a civil-judicial administration.52 Their proximity and overlapping roles fused land taxation, military security and law enforcement within a self-supporting structure. The cantonments often accommodated what became known as the “civil lines,” and a cultural sharing of building construction occurred, particularly between the officer class and their often wealthier compatriots within the civil service.

  • 53 R. C. Temple, “A Study of Modern Indian Architecture,” op. cit. (note 46), p. 59. As mentioned by a (...)
  • 54 Anonymous (Emma Roberts), “Scenes in the Mofussil. No. I.—Cawnpore,” Asiatic Journal, vol. 9, 1832, (...)
  • 55 Fanny Parkes, Wanderings of a Pilgrim in Search of the Picturesque, during Four-and-Twenty Years in (...)
  • 56 For example, take Roberts’ description of Cawnpore: “The exterior of a bungalow is usually very un- (...)

33Generally, European officers’ bungalows were constructed, to varying degrees of solidity and thickness, in kacchā work. These were either rented by officers or constructed using their housing allowance. This eagerness to build in kacchā work often perplexed locals and was sometimes misread by Indians to imply that the British considered their rule as temporary.53 Those bungalows at the major cantonments of Cawnpore (Kanpur) or Meerut, for example, settlements considered due to their large size to be the most “European” of the mofussil stations, were of walls of unbaked mud, with roofs either “choppered” (that is, thatched) or tiled.54 Thatched construction required steeply pitched roofs―the chauyari form―often giving the effect of squat pyramids perched upon low whitewashed walls (fig. 9). One resident of Cawnpore in 1830 could not bring herself to use the term “kacchā,” pleading practicality as she noted in her diary: “If a house has a flat roof with flag-stones and mortar, it is called a pukka house; if the roof be raised and it be thatched, it is called a bungalow; the latter are generally supposed to be cooler than pukka houses.”55 A handful of owners of some of the finest bungalows, generally civilians, went to extremes to conceal any “native” impressions, tacking on stone fronts or bay ends with limited success. But the vernacular external appearance hid an internal innovation.56 As coolness and the cultivation of air currents were of overriding concern to the British elites, such bungalows began to exploit a series of ingenious adaptations.

Figure 9: Sita Ram, “The Cantonment at Ghazipur” (1814-1815), detail.

Figure 9: Sita Ram, “The Cantonment at Ghazipur” (1814-1815), detail.

Source: © The British Library Board, IOR, Select Materials, Add.Or.4714.

  • 57 The argument is inconclusive. But evidence exists that a perimeter peristyle or gallery was already (...)
  • 58 For example, this is systematically explained by Colesworthy Grant, Anglo-Indian Domestic Life, Cal (...)
  • 59 Emma Roberts, “Scenes in the Mofussil,” op. cit. (note 54), p. 293.
  • 60 Ibid.

34Whether Europeans introduced the perimeter veranda to the bungalow type is questionable.57 What is important is that a persistent and empirical scrutiny was brought to bear upon it, as part of a new “science” of climatic spatial practice. The bungalow was tectonically analyzed, its parts notionally isolated as functioning elements―all perfectly suited to the logic of kacchā construction.58 Verandas were enclosed by either mat or brick partitions, perimeter rooms provided a tempered zone between the central room and the veranda, their material composition less important than the careful alignment of door positions, the openings tightly framed in bamboo gauze-work to ensure cross-ventilation yet able to keep out the flies.59 The chunam plaster floor had removable matting, and the (often costly) furniture was made to stand in isolation, pulled away from the walls in order to avoid the nesting of mosquitoes or other insects.60 All this had the effect of emphasizing the discreet planes that bound the surface of the internal volumes. In addition, the yawning underside of such steep roofs were considered visually unsightly, as were their presumed nocturnal occupants. In order to prevent vermin from dropping down from the rafters and to give the rooms a clean, cuboid appearance, a “ceiling” of cloth was created by stretching fabric across the top of each room and concealing its ties behind a projecting cornice.

  • 61 For example, see Cpt. Henry Watson to Fort William, September 7, 1769, Ninth Report, op. cit. (note (...)

35The cuboid appears again and again as a surrogate figure of the pakkā. Perhaps as a persistent haunting of a Georgian neoclassical ideal, flat roofs were the initial choice of the early pakkā cantonments until the practices of local construction compelled the military engineers to pitch the roofs (fig. 10).61 And as the French Jesuits had discovered the coexistence of the small and the large―the kacchā and the pakkā―across units of linear distance, the British started to interweave discreet buildings within the encompassing planning lines or grids extending out across their cantonments. At the same time each individual building, with its columns and panels, could also be governed by a cubic notion of volume. Simply put, as with the Sepoy lines, kacchā work was a perfectly acceptable form of construction for the European elite of “mofussilite” society because they could calmly absorb it within the wider organizing principle of ordered, linear―perhaps one could say “pakkā”―space.

Figure 10: James Moffat, “View of the Cantonments at Berhampore” (1806), detail.

Figure 10: James Moffat, “View of the Cantonments at Berhampore” (1806), detail.

Source: © The British Library Board, IOR, Select Materials, P3094.

  • 62 James Douet, British Barracks, their Social and Architectural Importance, 1660-1914, London: Statio (...)
  • 63 See, for example, “Chapter 2: Engineering Military Barracks,” in Jiat-Hwee Chang, A Genealogy of Tr (...)

36As with the history of the Indian cantonment, a history of its most significant element, the barrack block, has not been written about in any depth. One difficulty lies in the fact that, unlike the building of model hospitals, schools and prisons, there was no professional authority within Britain that influenced the design of a model barracks.62 Thus, up until the mid-19th century, each region of the Empire experimented in its own way, relying heavily upon local craft practices, local and mobile labor forces, and traditions within army construction practice itself.63

37Caught between the bungalow and the sepoy hut, the military forever fretted as to how much expense they ought to lavish upon barracks, and how they should be made. Unlike in 18th century Britain, where standing armies had been prohibited by Parliament and therefore had little need for barracks, no such system (of billeting) was sanctioned in India. From the beginning, barracks formed an intrinsic part of the fabric of the European militia there. Irregular constructions within factory or presidency forts containing the small defense garrisons of the Company in the seventeenth and early-eighteenth centuries were rationalized into more regimented lines after the emergence of organized field forces in the 1750s. Subsequently, the bungalow and the barracks reflected the European divide between the aristocracy and professional classes, on the one hand, and the working classes on the other; between those who could purchase their commissions as officers, and those who could not. But barracks provision became an intensely important struggle between the ruling elites across the Company’s period.

  • 64 For example, see General Order of the Governor-General in Council (hereafter G.O.G.G.), August 8, 1 (...)

38Once the expansionist phase of the Company in India was felt to have subsided and a phase of consolidation begun, the army’s focus, by the early 1820s, shifted from a predominant interest in troop discipline to one equally concerned with the preservation of a soldier’s life and in particular with the quality of the air he breathed. Eventually, by the 1830s, this preservation principle expanded to the health of the mind, encompassing a variety of social practices and built facilities, such as station libraries, intended to overcome the dreaded ennui of listless boredom.64 Barracks for married soldiers (the marriage of soldiers being a practice previously discouraged) were also belatedly introduced at about this time.

  • 65 Florence Nightingale, Observations by Miss Nightingale on the Evidence Contained in Stational Retur (...)

39By the 1860s, influential commentators such as Florence Nightingale forcibly linked military kacchā practice in the Indian armies with poor health, indeed poor cultural life. “In some stations,” she declared, “the floors are of earth, varnished over periodically with cow dung! A practice borrowed from the natives. Like Mahomet and the mountain, if men won’t go to the dunghill the dunghill, it appears, comes to them.” She concluded, “it is not economical for government to make the soldiers as uncivilized as possible.”65 Kacchā practice, as we shall see, was, under the Raj, almost ethnographically tagged to the Indian, particularly the poor Indian, as pakkā practice was to the European (despite evidence to the contrary). With these marks both terms were set in almost ethical opposition to each other and their prohibition or approval incorporated into institutional practice. But during the long first half of the 19th century this association was, at least for the military, much less clearly apportioned.

  • 66 Douglas M. Peers, “Imperial Vice: Sex, Drink and the Health of British Troops in Northern Indian Ca (...)
  • 67 Douglas M. Peers, Imperial Vice, op. cit. (note 66).

40Douglas M. Peers observes that by the early 1800s there were two ways to categorize cantonments across northern India. Certainly relative size was the obvious one, each station considered as having a commensurate radius of influence. The other factor was the cantonment’s intended function. Cantonments could be divided between those built to preserve the peace within the region and those built as bases for field operations―what were termed “peace cantonments” and “camp or war cantonments.”66 Despite Indian troops time and again proving their worth on the battlefield, a persistent faith in racial hierarchies was sufficient for the Company to steadfastly maintain that European soldiers remained the ideal shock troops for siege warfare.67 European barracks then, by their very presence, could indicate the intentions of the army for that cantonment and region. Barracks, although a very expensive outlay for the army, were also seen as being of critical importance. It might help to explain the reluctance of Company armies to invest heavily in anything other than kacchā work for buildings at such stations, but it equally ensured that such work was not substandard or insubstantial.

  • 68 “Form No. 1” (Military Board, July 3, 1801), in Abstracts of General Orders & Regulations in Force (...)
  • 69 “Statement, exhibiting the dimensions of the several BUILDINGS required for the different descripti (...)

41From about 1801, the Bengal government, under Governor-General Richard Wellesley, was determined to centralize control of all temporary and permanent forms of military construction through its military board across the, now extensive, presidency. To that effect it posted, for the attention of barrack masters and brigade majors, a set of “plans and statements” as general dimensional and descriptive guides for the construction of all the military elements within “any cantonment, station or fixed camp” (fig. 11).68 In these statement tables the roof appears as the key classifying item, with its own tabular column to suggest the overall kacchā or pakkā category. Barracks are designated as “thatched” while cook rooms and privies are “flat pucka.” This is a good example of how the terms often offered no clue as to status when the army applied them to itself. The cuboid kacchā cook rooms and privies had to be tiled and bedded upon flat timbers to prevent inevitable moisture from rotting the roofs, while the barracks were built to exacting standards, a sort of kacchā-pakkā hybrid, as the walls were suggested to be “of the best Masonry plastered and whitewashed inside and out; a buttress of Masonry […] all round the Barrack,” the whole surrounded by ten-foot-wide verandas.69

Figure 11: Form No. 1, Abstracts of General Orders & Regulations (1812), p. 370.

Figure 11: Form No. 1, Abstracts of General Orders & Regulations (1812), p. 370.

Source: IOR, L/MIL/17/2/433.

  • 70 Lt-Gen. Sir Charles Napier, Defects, Civil and Military, of the Indian Government, London: Charles (...)

42What is apparent in these early guidelines was a focus almost entirely upon breadth, width and material thicknesses. Height played an incidental role, focused solely upon the material and pricing concern of, say, the height of the wall plate from the ground, and the puncturing of said wall with perimeter ventilators. The overall height of a barrack block, and by inference the volume of space contained, does not seem to have been considered, nor does any mention of the density of soldiers to be housed. In other words, the hardware of architecture at this early stage was considered as somewhat disconnected from a strategic notion of air quality in regard to a soldier’s state of health. Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Napier, the former commander-in-chief in India, would scathingly recall in 1853 that “in India the Military Board calculates how many men a barrack room can hold, not by its cubic content of air, but by the superfices of the floor! […] upon this diabolical calculation, soldiers were swept off by thousands.”70 There was perhaps an element of hyperbole here on his part, for it was the case that debates about air volume considered as cubic space started to appear in the discourses of government from about the 1830s.

  • 71 For example, see “Copy correspondence and proceedings against Cpt. James Hyde, Bengal Eng, on a cha (...)

43Calculations in cubic volume, of course, had a legacy in the pricing of stone. The military engineers in India regularly sent in estimates for such pakkā materials in cubic feet.71 But the conceptual leap from physical material to air-as-material took some time to make. As scientists at the end of the 18th century began to observe a uniformity of behavior amongst all gases with respect to pressure, volume and temperature; so a sense that buildings likewise were vessels of air, and that their internal size, their plan and height, and their permeability affected the lives of those they contained, began to gain medical consensus.

  • 72 Robert Jackson, A Systematic View of the Formation, Discipline, and Economy of Armies, London: John (...)
  • 73 Ibid., p. 191. Similar analogies by Jackson of the army akin to building materials were not lost on (...)

44The elusive connections between environment, climate and disease vexed British military doctors far back into the 18th century. But in 1804 Dr. Robert Jackson became one of the first to speak of the internal economy of a barrack room and of its construction and external situation in synthetic terms, relating internal volume size and occupant soldier capacity to a barrack floor’s height from the ground, and to ventilation and heat mitigation.72 He also consistently spoke of the army as if it ought to be a pakkā material: “The selection of materials, and the composition of parts, according to the nature of physical qualities; so that the whole be cemented by a common bond, regulating a movement for the production of joint effect, is an important object in the organization of armies.”73

  • 74 James Ranald Martin, Notes on the Medical Topography of Calcutta, op. cit. (note 73), p. 21, 45-6.

45The organization of the army and its urban environment became a central medical concern, and kacchā work seemed perfectly suitable if built according to the spatial principles laid down by the “medical topographers” that followed Jackson. James Ranald Martin, Presidency Surgeon of Bengal, writing in 1837 and with a constant eye on the health of soldiers, could not avoid linking cultural pathologies with their topographies, since, as he put it, “the soil and the inhabitants […] always react on each other.” But, when their dwellings were carefully situated and built, Martin believed that it was possible for an industrious people to overcome their malignant environment―an affirmation of their moral character. For instance, despite both examples being of kacchā work, he much admired the Burmese method of construction over the Bengali. Their homes lifted up off the damp ground, airy and lightly constructed, the Burmese seemed to confirm their worth in the perceived robustness of their constitution and fighting spirit, while Bengalis, with their ground-hugging huts, were considered enfeebled, perfidious and no match martially for “up-country sepoys.”74

  • 75 Discussions between the Marquis of Dahousie and Lieut-Gen. Sir C. J. Napier, G.C.B., also Proceedin (...)

46Medical topography reports commissioned by the Bengal Presidency and, subsequently, more methodical reports by the Madras Presidency provided the army with a detailed snapshot as to the state of their military stations, in the belief that an underlying organizing principle could be applied to such spaces for the preservation of health. The Bombay Presidency, with the smallest army and a governor who was also commander-in-chief, was accused of appearing the most disinterested in seeking such organizing principles with which to situate and construct barracks. Most infamously, during the 1840s, Bombay’s Colaba barracks were considered “slaughter-houses,” as their planks were laid directly upon the wet ground, their ceilings were low, and the whole compound was placed by a mangrove swamp. It was claimed that hundreds died of cholera there, and no action from the governor in council was taken.75 The choice between pakkā or kacchā work was considered irrelevant in such a situation. Increasingly the army recognized, at the insistence of its medical professionals, that there were more important criteria to consider first, context being one of them. But this did not prevent the Indian government from determining, really quite early amongst the colonies of the British Empire, a dimensional template with which to build barracks.

47On his departure from India in 1834 the outgoing Governor-General, Sir William Bentinck, offered what became known as the “Standard Plan” for barracks, developed in consultation with both the Bengal and Madras armies. Previous attempts at finding consensus for a standard plan had foundered, but this was immediately held up by officers as an ideal in the construction of barracks across India, though it was more often honored in the breach than in the observance. As India’s prevailing winds varied so dramatically, especially during the hot season, the means of construction and orientation could and should vary, the officers argued. Therefore, the Plan was accepted principally for its sizing guidelines (fig. 12).

Figure 12: Anonymous, “View of Deolali Cantonment, Bombay Presidency” (1870), showing a relentless arrangement of the “Standard Plan.”

Figure 12: Anonymous, “View of Deolali Cantonment, Bombay Presidency” (1870), showing a relentless arrangement of the “Standard Plan.”

Source: © The British Library Board, Temple Collection, 125/1(10).

  • 76 […] Proceedings Regarding the Construction of Barracks, op. cit. (note. 75), p. 141-3.

48The Plan consisted of two lines of barracks, 150 feet apart, each housing 120 soldiers, each with 12-foot-wide verandas, 24-foot-wide wards, and 20-foot-high ceilings, providing a generous 1,200 cubic feet of air per soldier. The Plan had become, by Napier’s time, almost a talismanic formula for the preservation of life.76 Meanwhile numerous “standard plans” for each building type required by the army emerged. But just when it seemed that the old kacchā-pakkā divide had become, to “mofussilite” Europeans, less relevant under a new, uniform world of planning standards and medical-spatial practices, a cataclysmic chain of events would quickly rekindle, essentialize and institutionalize latent prejudices.

The Kacchā-Pakkā Divide

  • 77 “As per return furnished by the Deputy Commissioner of Sealkote,” Colburn’s United Service Magazine(...)
  • 78 Ibid., p. 288. The two doctors were not related. It must be noted that Brigadier-Major Bishop event (...)

49On July 9, 1857, as the Great Rebellion spread to the Lahore division of the Punjab, the Superintendent Surgeon at the cantonment of Sealkote (Sialkot), Dr. James Graham, quickly snatched up his daughter and, in the early hours of dawn, set forth out of the station. The Deputy Commissioner’s report states that “on passing the corner house of Cantonments, and getting on a Pukka-road leading to the Fort, they were attacked by a large party of troopers of the 9th Cavalry, one of whom shot Dr. Graham in the back of the head, killing him at once.”77 That same morning, medical storekeeper Dr. John Collin Graham also decided to venture out upon the pakkā road, accompanied in his carriage by his wife and a family friend together with her children. They were soon surrounded by rebels, and the second Dr. Graham was shot twice, dying about an hour later. Brigadier-Major J. Bishop, anticipating such a danger, “left cantonments in his curricle, with his wife and children; they went down to the fort probably by the Kutcha-road, and so avoided the party of troopers who killed the two Drs. Graham.”78 The rebels, fully sensitive to the distinctions between pakkā roads and kacchā roads as drawn on their military maps and traversed by their marching boots, had reversed their relative values for the European escapees, turning the categories into a deadly game of cat and mouse.

50Once the dust had settled and the British had quelled, in bloody reprisal, what would become known to them as the “Indian Mutiny,” the Company was replaced by a new government in India, the British Raj. Ultimately controlled by Parliament, it began institutionally to distance itself from kacchā work with respect to architecture. There grew an increasing association of kacchā practice with distinct vernaculars, of being irredeemably opposed to colonial modern development, that is, of being decidedly ethnic. Monuments to the conflict, such as the British Residency compound at Lucknow, now stood in silent testimony to the endurance of pakkā work: a collection of charred husks, large Regency boxes with their lids removed, the pakkā plasterwork almost completely stripped, like burnt skin, from the brick bones of the various structures. Yet there they stood after months of siege.

  • 79 Emma Roberts, Scenes and Characteristics of Hindostan, With Sketches of Anglo-Indian Society, Londo (...)
  • 80 Ibid., p. 3.

51Unlike the mofussil stations, which generally excluded the civilian Indian, and where there had been a fluidity of construction practices, a prejudice of pakkā over kacchā was, even earlier, becoming an incipient part of the perceptions of European life in the presidency cities. Take for example Emma Roberts who, upon disembarking in Calcutta in 1828, devotes the opening pages of the first volume of her travels to the perception. She first notices the magnificent mansions along the fashionable suburb of Chowringhee, built in “what is termed puckha, brick coated with cement resembling stone,” and then immediately recoils at how these were consistently and rudely interrupted by the mud huts and hovels of natives, often propped up against such edifices for support (fig. 13).79 It is a basic theme, this cheek-by-jowl, that she and many travelers like her would insistently repeat in their narratives as they journeyed across the subcontinent. What appeared distasteful or shocking was not the kacchā hovel, per se, but its incursion into a planned space that made it ungovernable, disorganized, maverick. Kept at arm’s length, within designated precincts or “black towns,” such structures could be (and often were) termed “picturesque”; but when violating an orderly schema, particularly when within the neat European sector of a presidency city, this kacchā work, in Roberts’ words, “injures the effect of the scene.”80 However, the British mood of paranoia in post-Rebellion India extended this sense of violation across all spaces of British habitation and infected the perceptions of the most pragmatic of military officers.

Figure 13: Charles D’Oyly, “View in Clive Street,” Calcutta.

Figure 13: Charles D’Oyly, “View in Clive Street,” Calcutta.

Source: Views of Calcutta and its Environs, London: Dickenson & Co., 1848.

  • 81 J. G. Medley, “Preface to the Second Edition,” The Roorkee Treatise on Civil Engineering in India, (...)

52For the military engineer, this shift realized itself in the need to create a more precise taxonomy for the terms, precise in order to distinguish and to privilege the one classification over the other. Pakkā and kacchā work began to be rigidly evaluated, their distinctions formalized and absorbed into the institutional training of such bodies as the new Public Works Department (PWD). Pakkā work became central to such training. In 1866 Major J. G. Medley of the Bengal Engineers wrote a treatise on materials for students at the Thomason College of Civil Engineering, Roorkee, India’s foremost engineering institute, with recruitment directly controlled by the PWD. His aim was “to take the Art of Civil Engineering out of the region of empiricism, and bring it to within the confines of science.”81 His essays on stone and brick formed the first two chapters of volume one.

  • 82 John Lockwood Kipling, “Indian Architecture of To-day,” Journal of Indian Art, 1886, vol. 1, p. 1.
  • 83 Ibid., p. 2.
  • 84 Rudyard Kipling, From Sea to Sea, vol. 1, New York, 1907, p. 10, in Giles Tillotson, The Traditions (...)

53Precision and consistency through pakkā work were seen as the virtuous preserve of such institutions as the PWD, considered the gift of British superior technical and industrial know-how. Roads, bridges and railway lines, according to John Lockwood Kipling, were marveled over by local Indians “for their miraculous straightness and truth of line,” as also “substantial buildings, our military cantonments in long monotonous lines, and our civil stations.”82 Their ugliness for Kipling could not discourage admiration for their monumental effects, nor their wretched proliferation deflect from the ingenuity of their simple blueprint. “There are hundreds of such buildings in India, where, cut up into longer or shorter lengths, they serve for law courts, schools, municipal halls, dak bungalows, barracks, post offices, and other needs of our higher civilization,” he sourly observed (fig. 14).83 Later his son, Rudyard, would tersely describe this institutional aesthetic as “bungaloathsome.”84

Figure 14: John Lockwood Kipling, “Architecture as Understood by the Public Works Department.”

Figure 14: John Lockwood Kipling, “Architecture as Understood by the Public Works Department.”

Source: Journal of Indian Art, vol. 1, no. 3, London: Government of India, 1886.

  • 85 R. C. Temple, “A Study of Modern Indian Architecture,” op. cit. (note 46), p. 57, 60.
  • 86 Ibid., p. 58-9.

54Captain Richard Carnac Temple, a cantonment magistrate at Ambala, Punjab Province, from 1879, was fascinated by how civilian Indians adapted as far as sufficiently necessary to comply with new British building regulations and the strict gridiron planning that the military had begun to impose on such satellite support towns to their larger cantonments. “The mere alignment of the buildings of a town into rectangular lines and blocks,” he noted, “is of itself so foreign to all native notions as to lend a European air to such buildings as these” (fig. 15).85 Within this apparent monotony sprang a great variety of houses, the kacchā-pakkā divide falling clearly along lines of wealth and professional caste, as he observed they did in native towns. The British remained immune to the distinction, still building their “comfortable but hideous” kacchā-style bungalows in sun-dried brick, their homes spaciously separated from each other, each within their own generous compounds. Because of these wider distances, European bungalows were, rather ironically, the only buildings permitted to be roofed in thatch. Indians, living in the dense cantonment bazaar, were compelled to build pakkā-style flat roofs of tile irrespective of the class of building, while most wealthier owners also invested in pakkā (fired) brickwork coated with chūnā (lime mortar), a technique known as pakkī-chunāī.86 As long as he complied, context, for the Indian, appeared to be of little concern, the merchant choosing to build his expensive home in the poorest of situations. And behind all hovered the PWD, the largest employer of local labor, which entirely retrained the Ambala mistris (building craftsmen) in their methods and concepts. Such a peculiar collision between the regulatory planning of the British cantonment and the adaptive and expressive practices of the mistri builders produced what Temple considered as “modern Indian architecture.”

Figure 15: R.C. Temple, Facades of Indian Houses along the Sadr Bazaar, Ambala Cantonment, c. 1886.

Figure 15: R.C. Temple, Facades of Indian Houses along the Sadr Bazaar, Ambala Cantonment, c. 1886.

Source: Journal of Indian Art, vol. 1, no. 8, London: Government of India, 1886.

  • 87 Cantonment Regulations framed under Act XXII of 1864 and Act III of 1880, Simla: Office of the Quar (...)

55Temple, a self-proclaimed anthropologist, greatly enjoyed such apparent small victories of tradition against the uniformity of the colonial modern. This was not a view shared by his government. Through the following decade the British began to codify through legislation a set of rules that prevented what was deemed as kacchā work from being built by Indians within cantonments. The first Cantonments Act of 1864 had largely been drafted as a list of prohibitory practices centered on public health and orderly conduct, such as alcohol restrictions, refuse clearance mandates and tree protection.87 The new Cantonments Act of 1889 was drafted to reflect the fuller municipal responsibilities of such centers as they started to become significant urban magnets. The document changed tack, reframing the legislation in a much more prescriptive and affirmative language.

  • 88 Maj. T. Gracey, R.E., “Notice to Applicants for Building-sites within the City, Mandalay Cantonment (...)

56The artfulness of the legal prescriptions that were to lead from this Act configured a precise ethnic shape to kacchā work (that is, as a single-storied mud and thatch single-roomed hut) by carefully describing the shape of what was considered permissible, what was pakkā work. It also described the shape of an aspiring new Indian middle class. “No first class site will be granted unless the house to be erected thereon is to be double-storeyed and built of brick, or stone, or wood, with shingle, tiled or corrugated iron roof,” declared the superintending engineer of Mandalay Cantonment in 1889, “unless it contain at least: [a] drawing room 320 sq. ft., [a] dining room 280 sq. ft., three bed rooms 250 sq. ft., with godowns, dressing rooms, bath rooms, &c., &c.” Much the same requirement was also stipulated for a “second class site.”88

  • 89 Interestingly, and rather wonderfully, there are recent attempts in India to resuscitate and equate (...)

57The new colonial government in India, through such institutions as the PWD and the army, permanently isolated and discriminated against kacchā work in favor of pakkā work, irrespective of the relative merits of both, and by placing them on an oppositional footing essentialized the terms, stripping them of nuance and variance. Cantonments had once been the great colonial laboratories of material experiment and regional adaptation in building. They had been shaped and altered through a dialectal exploration of pakkā against kacchā urbanism. These same spaces―through the mantle of urban and public health reform―shut this dialectical process down and swept indigenous traditions of construction from their midst. This was not directly articulated as a rejection of a vernacular for a modern (read European) form of building, but it was obliquely articulated all the same, through fire codes, sanitary regulations and municipal edicts. The kacchā-pakkā divide had become, and still remains, insurmountable. It serves today as shorthand for that greatest and most enduring of colonial divisions within India, between the village and the city.89

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Notes

1 There are numerous ways that these two words may be spelled in English. For example: kutcha, kucca, cutcha, kacchā and pucca, pukka, puckha and pakkā. I have opted for the latter in each case as being phonetically the closest to its Devanagari form in Hindi. (Indeed, pakkā can be found in British slang, though slightly more narrowly, to mean “genuine” or “excellent,” while kacchā is absent. One might speculate that the softer consonants of the latter did not play well enough to the English ear for it to be successfully appropriated).

2 Yehudi A. Cohen, “Dietary Law,” in Encyclopaedia Britannica (online), 2016, URL: www.britannica.com/topic/dietary-law/Rules-and-customs-in-world-religions. Accessed 5 March 2016.

3 Col. Henry Yule R.E. and Arthur Coke Burnell C.I.E., “Cutcha,” in Hobson Jobson: Being a Glossary of Anglo-Indian Colloquial Words and Phrases, and of Kindred Terms…, [2nd ed.], London: John Murray, 1903, p. 287.

4 Ibid., The bizarre range of subjects adopting these terms reminds me of the Chinese dictionary imagined by Jose Luis Borges, as famously noted by Michel Foucault in his preface to The Order of Things.

5 Ibid. “Pucka,” p. 734.

6 Indeed, such a dialectic eventually produced an intermediate adjective sitting between the two: “Cutcha-Pucka, adj. This term is applied in Bengal to a mixt kind of building in which burnt brick is used, but which is cemented with mud instead of lime-mortar.” Ibid., “Cutcha-Pucka,” p. 287.

7 The frustration over this enduring prejudice continues to make the headlines. See, for example, Sathya Prakash Varanashi, “The War Between Cutcha and Pucca,” The Hindu, January 20, 2013.

8 John Fryer M.D., A New Account of East India and Persia in 8 Letters, London, 1698, p. 205, as cited in Yule and Burnell, Hobson-Jobson, op. cit. (note 3), “Maund,” p. 563-5. Such careful examination was unsurprising from an early Fellow of the Royal Society.

9 Gaston-Laurent Cœurdoux, in Yves Mathurin de Querbeuf (ed.), Lettres édifiantes et curieuses (nouvelle édition), Paris: J. G. Merigot, 1781, vol. 15, p. 189. See also Guy Deleury, “Cosse,” in his “Glossaire du franco-indien,” Les Indes florissantes: anthologie des voyageurs français, 1750-1820, Paris: R. Laffont, 1991 (Bouquins); and Hobson-Jobson, op. cit. (note 3), “Pucka,” p. 734.

10 Gaston-Laurent Cœurdoux, in Yves Mathurin de Querbeuf, Lettres édifiantes, op. cit. (note 9), p. 190. See also Yule and Burnell, Hobson-Jobson, op. cit. (note 3), “Cutcha,” p. 287.

11 For a classic text on the subject see Dirk H. A. Kolff, Naukar, Rajput and Sepoy: The Ethnohistory of the Military Labour Market in Hindustan, 1450-1850, Cambridge; New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1990 (University of Cambridge oriental publications, 43).

12 Cpt. Alexander Hamilton, A New Account of the East Indies, London, 1727, vol. 2, p. 9; and as cited in Yule and Burnell, Hobson-Jobson, op. cit. (note 3), “Pucka,” p. 734.

13 R. C. Temple (ed.), “Alexander Grant’s Account of the Loss of Calcutta in 1756,” Indian Antiquary, vol. 28, November 1899, p. 299 and 297, respectively. Written at Fulta from on board the Success Gally, July 13, 1756. As partly cited in Yule and Burnell, Hobson-Jobson, op. cit. (note 3), “Pucka,” p. 734.

14 “The rainy season being now set in, the rest of the English battalion and Sepoys went into cantonments in Warriore pagodas, on the 13th of September [1754].” Robert Orme, A History of the Military Transactions of the British Nation in Indoostan from the Year 1745, London: John Nourse, 1763, vol. 1, p. 372.

15 James Anderson, Essay on the Art of War in Which the General Principles of All the Operations are Fully Explained, London: A. Millar, 1761, p. 535. (not to be confused with Turpin de Crissé’s more famous essay of a similar title). Little has been written which traces the development of the cantonment into the formation later known across India as a permanent military base, with barely any literature tracking its historical urban morphology within the subcontinent. Two studies written in 1968 and 1976 examining the phenomenon of the Indian cantonment as an urban “type” have not led to much significant architectural historical research. See Sten Nilsson, European Architecture in India, 1750-1850, London: Faber and Faber, 1968, p. 76-9; and, more profoundly, “Chapter 5. Military Space: The Cantonment as a System of Environmental Control,” in Anthony D. King, Colonial Urban Development: Culture, Social Power and Environment, London; Boston, MA: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1976, p. 97-122.

16 Lancelot Turpin de Crissé , An Essay on the Art of War, translated from the French of Count Turpin, trans. Cpt. Joseph Otway, London: A. Hamilton, 1761, vol. 1, p. 18-9. This book was one of the treasured manuals of war for George Washington and was liberally copied for the earliest editions of the Encyclopædia Britannica, forming the bulk of its hefty entry under “War.” See “War,” Encyclopædia Britannica; or, A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, &c. on a Plan Entirely New, 2nd ed., vol. 10, Edinburgh: J. Balfour & Co., etc., 1778, p. 8776-908.

17 Lancelot Turpin de Crissé , An Essay on the Art of War, vol. 2, op. cit. (note 16), p. 12.

18 I must point out that I have coined this term, but the emphasis was clear. Clive and his chief engineer, Captain Henry Watson, pushed towards construction that was understood by contemporaries as defiantly communicating a pakkā sense of solidity and permanence.

19 Lancelot Turpin de Crissé , An Essay on the Art of War, op. cit. (note 16), p. 18.

20 For example, see “Orders Relating to Batta, and Other Extra Allowances,” in East India Company, Orders, Rules and Regulations to be Observed Respecting the Troops on the Coast of Choromandel, Madras, 1776, p. 44.

21 Just under 40,000 square kilometers of taxable land.

22 The “favourable circumstances” Clive was referring to were the string of successes the Company experienced, from the Battle of Plassey (Palasi) in 1757 to the recent Battle of Buxar (Baksar) in 1764, which suddenly placed the Company on an entirely new and superior footing within Indian geopolitics. After signing the Treaty of Allahabad on August 12, 1765, they would become, de facto, Indian sovereign rulers of one of the most fertile areas of the subcontinent.

23 Robert Clive (at Suti) to the Select Committee, Fort William, July 10, 1765, National Archives of India, Delhi (hereafter NAI), Select Committee Proceedings, August 10, 1765. A transcript of this passage can also be found in T. Jacob, “Appendix III,” Cantonments in India: Evolution and Growth, New Delhi: Reliance Publishing House, 1994, p. 93.

24 Ibid.

25 Pramod K. Nayar, Colonial Voices: The Discourses of Empire, Chichester, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012, p. 138.

26 “Each Brigade was now ordered to consist of one Company of Artillery, one Regiment of European Infantry, one Russallah of Native Cavalry, and seven Battalions of Sipahis. […] The first Brigade was stationed at Mongheer, furnishing the requisite details for the Presidency and Moorshedabad; the second Brigade was stationed at Allahabad; and the third Brigade at Patna, or rather at Bankypore, in the immediate vicinity, which was made the head-quarters.” Arthur Broom, History of the Rise and Progress of the Bengal Army, Calcutta: W. Thacker & Co., 1850, vol. 1, p. 533-4.

27 Op. cit. (note 26), p. 534. I must thank Prabudda Biswas, a local historian of Patna, who has worked intensely on the history of the early Patna cantonments at Bankypore and Dinapore for confirming this trajectory, and for his numerous insights.

28 Not all of these stations were designated to be pakkā cantonments initially, which I think is a crucial point. A brief perusal of the various cantonment board websites in northern India demonstrates much confusion as to which were the earliest cantonments, the Indian Army quite oblivious as to the postcolonial irony of such competition among their cantonment districts. See, for example, Shuchismita Chakraborty, “Look Back & Delve into History of Danapur Cantonment,” The Telegraph (of India), September 8, 2015.

29 Bengal Abstract Letters Received 1760-1770, British Library, India Office Records (hereafter IOR), E/4/7, and “Of Barracks and Cantonments at Cossimbuzar, Bankypore, and Dinapore,” Ninth Report from the Committee of Secrecy Appointed to Enquire into the State of the East India Company. Reported on the Thirtieth Day of June 1773, in Reports from Committees of the House of Commons, London: House of Commons, vol. IV, 1773, p. 640-53.

30 Fort William to Court of Directors, March 30, 1767, IOR, E/4/7, p. 259.

31 “Cantonment and Civil Station of Berhampoor” (surveyed in 1851-52), IOR, X/1187; and “Cantonment and Environs of Dinapore” (surveyed in season 1863-64), IOR, X/1161/1-2.

32 Dum Dum appears to be the third cantonment to follow this “pakkā” model. See “Dum Dum Cantonment and Environs” (surveyed in 1868-70), IOR, X/1248/2/1-2.

33 See Avril A. Powell, “Creating Christian Community in Early-Nineteenth-Century Agra,” in Richard Fox Young (ed.), India and the Indianness of Christianity: Essays on Understanding—Historical, Theological, and Bibliographical—in Honor of Robert Eric Frykenberg, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2009 (Studies in the history of Christian missions), p. 89. For a description and illustration of a fortified form see also “Journal of the Siege of the Kutterah and Fort of Hattrass […] On the Night of the 2nd March, 1817,” East India United Service Journal, vol. 40, October 1837, p. 153-4 (description), between p. 158-9 (illustration).

34 Anonymous, “The Figure of the Hollow Square,” in The New Art of War, London: E. Midwinter, 1726, p. 266-8. Quite possibly this segment was originally written by Chevalier de la Valière, who wrote some of the preceding chapters. By this assertion I am in no way dismissing Indian (read Mughal) military or urban precedent as influential, but it probably played a lesser role for the Company than can be argued through the evidence.

35 “Orders for Encamping an Army.” op. cit. (note 34), p. 265. Berhampore’s square field is about 400 imperial yards along each side.

36 “Consultations,” Ninth Report, December 20, 1766, op. cit. (note 29), p. 641.

37 “General Consultations,” May 16, 1768, ibid., p. 641; “General Consultations,” July 28, 1768, ibid., p. 642.

38 “General Consultations,” September 6, 1768, ibid., p. 644.

39 “General Consultations,” November 28, 1768, ibid., p. 644.

40 Archibald Campbell to Warren Hastings, President and Council, Fort William, August 1, 1772, ibid., p. 651.

41 “Either a Ditch, Wall, or Palisade, appears to be absolutely necessary to prevent Soldiers from straggling abroad, or Liquor passing into the Cantonments. A Ditch, without being rivetted, will scarcely be an Impediment to the Men, who can easily make Steps and Passages up and down it; to palisade so large an Area at the Cantonments will not be attended with a large Expense, but will decay in four or five Years; a Wall, therefore, appears to be the best Security; and it has this Advantage, that it may be so constructed as to be a Defence to the Cantonments.” Sir Robert Barker to the Secret Department, Fort William, February 2, 1770, ibid., p. 648.

42 Alfred Spencer (ed.), Memoirs of William Hickey, London: Hurst & Blackett, 1913-1925, vol. 4, p. 15. A portion of this quotation may also be found in Pramod K. Nayar, “The Discourse of Difficulty: English Writing and India, 1600-1720,” Prose Studies: History, Theory, Criticism,vol. 26, no. 3, December 2003, p. 387. While Nayar chooses this quotation as an example of “an inflationary rhetoric of excess to present a desolate India” (ibid., p. 363), it is also perfectly within reason to take Hickey at his own word, at least as far as conveying its imposing nature if not its actual capacity.

43 Philip Mason, A Matter of Honour: An Account of the Indian Army, Its Officers and Men, London: Jonathan Cape, 1974, p. 140-1.

44 Archibald Campbell to Warren Hastings, August 1, 1772, Ninth Report, op. cit. (note 29), p. 651-2.

45 Warren Hastings to William Aldersey, Fort William, August 31, 1772, ibid., p. 652.

46 R. C. Temple, “A Study of Modern Indian Architecture, As Displayed in a British Cantonment,” Journal of Indian Art, vol. 1, 1886, p. 57.

47 The officers’ bungalow compound, with its intrinsic internal and external spatial and social detachment, was within the same spirit of individualist practice that the British had adopted in early-18th century Calcutta. As Hamilton observed, “the Town was built without Order, as the Builders thought most convenient for their own Affairs, every one taking in what Ground best pleased them for Gardening, so that in most Houses you must pass through a Garden into the House.” See Cpt. Alexander Hamilton, A New Account of the East Indies, op. cit. (note 12), p. 9.

48 Most likely a corruption of the Malay word kampong meaning “enclosure” or “village.” See Yule and Burnell, Hobson-Jobson, op. cit. (note 3), p. 240-3.

49 Lt. Col. J. Salmond to Committee, April 2, 1832, para. 1925, Minutes of Evidence Taken Before the Select Committee of the House of Commons on the Affairs of the East India Company, vol. V, “Military,” London: J.L. Cox and Son, 1833, p. 180.

50 Abolition of the tent contract system in the Bombay Army, January 1817—October 1818, IOR, F/4/13934 (565), p. 103 ff.

51 Anthony D. King, The Bungalow: The Production of a Global Culture, London; Boston, MA: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984, p. 18-26.

52 Ibid., p. 23.

53 R. C. Temple, “A Study of Modern Indian Architecture,” op. cit. (note 46), p. 59. As mentioned by a local to Temple.

54 Anonymous (Emma Roberts), “Scenes in the Mofussil. No. I.—Cawnpore,” Asiatic Journal, vol. 9, 1832, p. 293. See also Anthony D. King, The Bungalow, op. cit. (note 51), p. 30.

55 Fanny Parkes, Wanderings of a Pilgrim in Search of the Picturesque, during Four-and-Twenty Years in the East; with Revelations of Life in the Zenāna, London: Pelham Richardson, 1850, vol. 1, p. 137.

56 For example, take Roberts’ description of Cawnpore: “The exterior of a bungalow is usually very un-picturesque, bearing a strong resemblance to an overgrown barn; the roof slopes down from an immense height to the verandah, and whatever be the covering, whether tiles or thatch, it is equally ugly: in many places the cantonments present to the eye a succession of huge conical roofs, resting upon low pillars; but in Cawnpore the addition of stone fronts to some of the houses, and of bowed ends to others, give somewhat of architectural ornament to the station.” Emma Roberts, “Scenes in the Mofussil,” op. cit. (note 54), p. 294.

57 The argument is inconclusive. But evidence exists that a perimeter peristyle or gallery was already part of the vocabulary of the Bengali hut. See Anthony D. King, The Bungalow, op. cit. (note 51), p. 24-7.

58 For example, this is systematically explained by Colesworthy Grant, Anglo-Indian Domestic Life, Calcutta: Thacker & Spink, 1849. See Anthony D. King, The Bungalow, op. cit. (note 51), p. 26-8.

59 Emma Roberts, “Scenes in the Mofussil,” op. cit. (note 54), p. 293.

60 Ibid.

61 For example, see Cpt. Henry Watson to Fort William, September 7, 1769, Ninth Report, op. cit. (note 29), p. 647, regarding the roof changes at Dinapore.

62 James Douet, British Barracks, their Social and Architectural Importance, 1660-1914, London: Stationery Office, 1998, p. xv.

63 See, for example, “Chapter 2: Engineering Military Barracks,” in Jiat-Hwee Chang, A Genealogy of Tropical Architecture: Colonial Networks, Nature and Technoscience, London: Routledge, 2016 (Architext series), p. 66 ff. This difference in the culture of barrack building was not just a question of architectural form but also one of architectural context. Ireland, in the early-18th century, arguably came the closest to India in terms of a rapid deployment of barracks as free-standing urban structures within the territory, rather than adopting the European model of incorporation into pre-existing fortifications. See Edward McParland, Public Architecture in Ireland, 1680-1760, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001, p. 123.

64 For example, see General Order of the Governor-General in Council (hereafter G.O.G.G.), August 8, 1823, IOR, L/MIL/17/2/435, concerning the involvement of the superintending surgeon of each division in the position and aspect of all proposed new barracks and hospitals across the various military stations; and G.O.G.G., July 18, 1836, IOR, L/MIL/17/2/435, regarding the establishment of regimental libraries and their equal division across the European Corps.

65 Florence Nightingale, Observations by Miss Nightingale on the Evidence Contained in Stational Returns Sent to Her by the Royal Commission on the Sanitary State of the Army in India, London: Edward Stanford, 1863, p. 9. As to ennui, Nightingale gave as two extreme case studies a cantonment she considered dismal at Ghazeepore (Ghazipur) then in the Upper Provinces, and one that was considered exemplary at Sealkote (Sialkot) then in the Lahore division of the Punjab. Op. cit. (note 65), p. 13.

66 Douglas M. Peers, “Imperial Vice: Sex, Drink and the Health of British Troops in Northern Indian Cantonments, 1800-1858,” in David Killingray and David Omissi (eds.), Guardians of Empire: The Armed Forces of the Colonial Powers c. 1700-1964, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1999, p. 28-29. For example, see Duke of Wellington, “Memorandum on Mutiny at Barrackpoor,” October 10, 1825, in 2nd Duke ofWellington, Despatches, Correspondence and Memoranda of Field Marshal Arthur, Duke of Wellington, K.G., vol. 2, London, 1867-1880, p. 526: “and I beg to observe that the troops in those provinces have always been supposed to be in peace cantonments, whereas those in Benares and Oude are in camp or in war cantonments.”

67 Douglas M. Peers, Imperial Vice, op. cit. (note 66).

68 “Form No. 1” (Military Board, July 3, 1801), in Abstracts of General Orders & Regulations in Force in the Honourable East India Company’s Army on the Bengal Establishment, Completed to the 1st February 1812 […] , Calcutta: Telegraph Press, 1812, IOR, L/MIL/17/2/433, p. 370.

69 “Statement, exhibiting the dimensions of the several BUILDINGS required for the different descriptions of TROOPS, and improved Plans adopted in the Cantonments recently constructed.” Ibid.

70 Lt-Gen. Sir Charles Napier, Defects, Civil and Military, of the Indian Government, London: Charles Westerton, 1853, p. 204.

71 For example, see “Copy correspondence and proceedings against Cpt. James Hyde, Bengal Eng, on a charge of sending in extravagant estimates, 1818,” IOR, L/MIL/5/379 (39), p. 364a ff.

72 Robert Jackson, A Systematic View of the Formation, Discipline, and Economy of Armies, London: John Stockdale, 1804, p. 275-80, 326-9. He ought also to be considered as one of the earliest of “medical topographers.”

73 Ibid., p. 191. Similar analogies by Jackson of the army akin to building materials were not lost on later commentators. For example, see James Ranald Martin, Notes on the Medical Topography of Calcutta, Calcutta: G. H. Huttman, 1837, p. 160: (citing Jackson) “An estimate of materials is primary to the erection of the military as well as other fabric […]”.

74 James Ranald Martin, Notes on the Medical Topography of Calcutta, op. cit. (note 73), p. 21, 45-6.

75 Discussions between the Marquis of Dahousie and Lieut-Gen. Sir C. J. Napier, G.C.B., also Proceedings Regarding the Construction of Barracks for the European Troops, London: J. & H. Cox, 1854, p. 144-5; Charles Napier, Defects, Civil and Military, op. cit. (note 70), p. 200-1.

76 […] Proceedings Regarding the Construction of Barracks, op. cit. (note. 75), p. 141-3.

77 “As per return furnished by the Deputy Commissioner of Sealkote,” Colburn’s United Service Magazine, vol. 2, 1858, p. 287-8.

78 Ibid., p. 288. The two doctors were not related. It must be noted that Brigadier-Major Bishop eventually suffered the same fate. His party was set upon by a different band of rebels concealed under the (pakkā) walls of the fort, with the officer jumping from the carriage only to die in a nearby ditch.

79 Emma Roberts, Scenes and Characteristics of Hindostan, With Sketches of Anglo-Indian Society, London: W. H. Allen, 1835, vol. 1, p. 2-3.

80 Ibid., p. 3.

81 J. G. Medley, “Preface to the Second Edition,” The Roorkee Treatise on Civil Engineering in India, 2nd ed., Roorkee: Thomason College Press, 1869, vol 1.

82 John Lockwood Kipling, “Indian Architecture of To-day,” Journal of Indian Art, 1886, vol. 1, p. 1.

83 Ibid., p. 2.

84 Rudyard Kipling, From Sea to Sea, vol. 1, New York, 1907, p. 10, in Giles Tillotson, The Traditions of Indian Architecture: Continuity, Controversy and Change since 1850, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989, p. 72.

85 R. C. Temple, “A Study of Modern Indian Architecture,” op. cit. (note 46), p. 57, 60.

86 Ibid., p. 58-9.

87 Cantonment Regulations framed under Act XXII of 1864 and Act III of 1880, Simla: Office of the Quarter Master General in India, reprint 1887, IOR, L/MIL/17/5/1828. For the last-mentioned regulation see “Rule 13,” ibid., p. 71. The Act’s juridical enforcement had been through the created figure of the “Cantonment Magistrate” of which Captain Temple was one, with support from a “Cantonment Committee.”

88 Maj. T. Gracey, R.E., “Notice to Applicants for Building-sites within the City, Mandalay Cantonment” in R. C. Temple, Memoranda on Draft Rules Concerning Cantonments (Framed Under Cants Act 1889), IOR, Mss Eur F86/265, p. 14.

89 Interestingly, and rather wonderfully, there are recent attempts in India to resuscitate and equate kacchā practice with environmental conservancy and sustainability, but these experiments are still far from mainstream in acceptance and cannot claim to have overridden the wider societal prejudices still in place.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1: F. Fiebig, “Brick kiln on the Hooghly, Calcutta” (1851).
Crédits Source: © The British Library Board, Photo 247, No. 21.
URL http://abe.revues.org/docannexe/image/3224/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 441k
Titre Figure 2: Map showing the string of early cantonments across the Bengal Presidency.
Crédits Source: James Rennell, A Map of Bengal, Bahar, Oude & Allahabad, London: William Faden, 1786.
URL http://abe.revues.org/docannexe/image/3224/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 911k
Titre Figure 3a: “Cantonment and Civil Station of Berhampoor” (1859), detail.
Crédits Source: © The British Library Board, India Office Records (hereafter IOR), X/1187.
URL http://abe.revues.org/docannexe/image/3224/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,1M
Titre Figure 3b: “Cantonment and Environs of Dinapore” (1863-1864), detail.
Crédits Source: © The British Library Board, IOR, X/1161/1-2.
URL http://abe.revues.org/docannexe/image/3224/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 221k
Titre Figure 4: “The Figure of the Hollow-Square.”
Crédits Source: Anonymous, New Art of War, London: E. Midwinter, 1726.
URL http://abe.revues.org/docannexe/image/3224/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 132k
Titre Figure 5: Sita Ram, “The Walls of Gaur, with Heaps of Bricks Lying Around” (1817).
Crédits Source: © The British Library Board, IOR, Select Materials, Add.Or.4890.
URL http://abe.revues.org/docannexe/image/3224/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 389k
Titre Figure 6: “Cantonment and Environs of Meerut” (1867-1868), detail. The red line indicates the seeming haphazard boundary between the indigenous settlement (left) and the cantonment (right) determined only on paper by the notional linking of boundary pillars at its vertices.
Crédits Source: © The British Library Board, IOR, X/1459/1-4.
URL http://abe.revues.org/docannexe/image/3224/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 824k
Titre Figure 7: “Plan of the Poona Cantonments,” An Atlas of Plans of Cantonments and Plans of the Country 10 miles round Cantonments in the Bombay Presidency (c. 1850).
Crédits Source: © The British Library Board, IOR, X/2612/2.
URL http://abe.revues.org/docannexe/image/3224/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 814k
Titre Figure 8: Sepoy Lines at Cawnpore Cantonment, c. 1857.
Crédits Source: “The Infantry Parade-Ground at Cawnpore,” Illustrated London News, 5 Sep 1857.
URL http://abe.revues.org/docannexe/image/3224/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 591k
Titre Figure 9: Sita Ram, “The Cantonment at Ghazipur” (1814-1815), detail.
Crédits Source: © The British Library Board, IOR, Select Materials, Add.Or.4714.
URL http://abe.revues.org/docannexe/image/3224/img-10.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 480k
Titre Figure 10: James Moffat, “View of the Cantonments at Berhampore” (1806), detail.
Crédits Source: © The British Library Board, IOR, Select Materials, P3094.
URL http://abe.revues.org/docannexe/image/3224/img-11.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 385k
Titre Figure 11: Form No. 1, Abstracts of General Orders & Regulations (1812), p. 370.
Crédits Source: IOR, L/MIL/17/2/433.
URL http://abe.revues.org/docannexe/image/3224/img-12.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 615k
Titre Figure 12: Anonymous, “View of Deolali Cantonment, Bombay Presidency” (1870), showing a relentless arrangement of the “Standard Plan.”
Crédits Source: © The British Library Board, Temple Collection, 125/1(10).
URL http://abe.revues.org/docannexe/image/3224/img-13.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 469k
Titre Figure 13: Charles D’Oyly, “View in Clive Street,” Calcutta.
Crédits Source: Views of Calcutta and its Environs, London: Dickenson & Co., 1848.
URL http://abe.revues.org/docannexe/image/3224/img-14.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 672k
Titre Figure 14: John Lockwood Kipling, “Architecture as Understood by the Public Works Department.”
Crédits Source: Journal of Indian Art, vol. 1, no. 3, London: Government of India, 1886.
URL http://abe.revues.org/docannexe/image/3224/img-15.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 116k
Titre Figure 15: R.C. Temple, Facades of Indian Houses along the Sadr Bazaar, Ambala Cantonment, c. 1886.
Crédits Source: Journal of Indian Art, vol. 1, no. 8, London: Government of India, 1886.
URL http://abe.revues.org/docannexe/image/3224/img-16.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 207k
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Référence électronique

Christopher Cowell, « The Kacchā-Pakkā Divide: Material, Space and Architecture in the Military Cantonments of British India (1765-1889) », ABE Journal [En ligne], 9-10 | 2016, mis en ligne le 28 décembre 2016, consulté le 19 octobre 2017. URL : http://abe.revues.org/3224 ; DOI : 10.4000/abe.3224

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Auteur

Christopher Cowell

PhD candidate, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA

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La revue ABE Journal est mise à disposition selon les termes de la Licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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