A New Thatched Roof


To get ready for the summer – April and May – I wanted a thatched roof put up. This way we can enjoy being outside during the days of agni without being in the hot sun. We can sit on the roof, listen to a satsang from Nome while sitting with Arunachala.

I know a bit more about these roofs now, so wanted it built at a good angle so it will be waterproof. This way I can install a fan, which will be so important for the next few months.

So today, all the materials will be brought, carried up the two flights  of stairs, and a crew of three men will build the frame, then seven men will lash the coconut leaf thatch to it.

Before the work

Here is a photo of the house before the day’s work:


The First Day


Bringing in materials





The pile of materials


Now all the materials need to get carried up the stairs. the poles will go up first, for the initial part of the construction, and after this all the coconut thatches will be carried up. This will be done the next day. By the time everything was unloaded it was 11 AM and the temperature was close to 95 F. Everyone agreed that it would be best to start the building on the next morning, when it would be cooler.   

The Second Day

A three man crew showed up about 7 AM the next day. They started by passing up the poles. There were many poles.

Carrying up the poles

They formed a chain of three people. One man passed the pole to a man at mid-level.


The mid level man took the pole …


Then passed it to the man on top. 


Building the frame

Next to the house, to add the the noise, confusion and dirt, there was a rig drilling for water. They also started early in the day.


To start building the frame, a number of poles were placed vertically into rings that had been set into the brick and concrete wall.


After this, a ‘box frame’ of big bamboo poles was built around the verticals. 


The drill rig is just drilling into hard rock. All we see is a plume of gray dust (that is getting on everything in our house). No water. They are at 300 feet already, just gray dust. It will take us quite an effort to clean all this dust out of the house.


Still working  on the lower part of the frame. If you look closely, you might notice that these are different men than those who brought the poles up. Rajan noticed that they were drinking alcohol, already, early in the day. This meant the work might not be good, and, so high off the ground, a real safety hazard. He fired the first crew on the spot and went into town to get another crew.




Now they start to extend the structure up beyond the initial box on poles.



The basic structure starts to form. Here it is faint, but present.


Now as the cross pieces for the roof are added, it becomes clearer just what the roof will be  like.


The crew works easily standing on poles up in the air.


Now we see the form of the roof.       



The Third Day

Completing the frame

Cross members need to be added to the pieces put in place yesterday. A gibber crew is here today.


The drilling rig is moved to another location. They drilled 500 feet down yesterday and just got rock and gray dust.


Where the rig was yesterday there is just a big pile of dust, with a six-inch hole in the middle.


Meanwhile the men are making good progress adding the cross pieces.




Carrying up the thatch

Now they need to bring up the thatch. This is done as before, with a chain of people passing them up.


And up …


Until they get to the top.


Tying the thatch

Now all the thatch needs to be tied to the frame. Strips of what looks like some woody fiber are used for this, after they are first soaked in water.


They are getting started.


Then they break for a meal. I have learned that for this kind of work, it is expected that you will feed the workers. Rajan went into town and got idlis, vadas, pongal, chutney and sambar. He got some for us, too. He usually goes to a small restaurant, only frequented by Indians, that has been serving meals for about 30 years. Any time you go past this place at meal time there are crowds of cycles on the street around  it.


Now back to work.


Below is shot straight up as the last level of thatches are being added.


From the ground, you can see that only one big face is left to be completed.


Now this is about done, too.


The Final Result

From the shade under the roof, we can comfortably look out at  Arunachala during the heat of the day.


We can still see all around the house,  into the green of the nearby houses and farm fields. 


From the ground, we like how it looks.


This work was just done in time. It hits 95 F now, and will soon reach 100 F (or more) every day. The shade and breeze that are commonly there make the roof top a most pleasant environment now.

Next we will add a ceiling fan and some lights. Even without these, the new  roof is a great addition to the house.                    



4 Responses to “A New Thatched Roof”

  1. reetgurth Says:

    Hi Richard,
    Well, I ve not decided on other facts yet. My top priority would be to visit Varanasi or also called as Kasi. Ve u been there? Its a great Holy place of Shiva in India. Its a place where u can witnessed death and birth…. Than, I want to wander around Himalayas… and finally surrender at the feet of Arunachala….


  2. reetgurth Says:

    nice house. is it a rented house? hows much would a similar house for rent there? i would be considering one when im there?


    • richardclarke Says:

      We pay Rs 10,000 per month, but on a year’s agreement. Seasonal rents can be higher, but it depends on what you get. Many people find nice rentals for less that this. Some pay more.

      How long do you plan on being here? What time of year?

      Another issue is do you wnat to live in otwn or in the country. We think the country is great, BUT you need a good rickshaw driver and/or a bike or scooter to get around.

  3. drpvssnraju Says:

    Dear Clarke,
    This protects your body from summer,you have done a good thing.

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