Thinnai – What is the history behind it?

The traditional architectural wonderment of Tamil Houses

If you’re not a south Indian who grew up in a somewhat ancient house, you might not have heard about an important thing about the ancient south Indian houses. The architecture of ancient south India consisted of many things and including a Thinnai in a house was one of them. You can still see the houses having Thinnai’s in rural areas of South India. But you must first know what it is and what is the history behind it, right? So let’s take a look at some important things you should know about Thinnai and why they were pretty important. Keep reading!

Thinnai and everything you need to know about it:

A ‘thinnai’ is a shaded area where you can sit and watch your surroundings. Of course, in South India, thinnais were typically used to monitor the surrounding neighbourhood and converse with people as they passed by. This made the feature a booster of socialisation within the neighbourhood. A thinnai is a covered verandah or sit-out with built-in seating near the front door of a house. A gathering spot for the family to chat, debate news, read, or perhaps take a nap whenever they want.

The thinnai is a multi-functional structure that encourages socialisation while also shading the home’s main walls from direct heat penetration. And it keeps the indoor environment cool. Because it is located near the entrance, the thinnai or verandah becomes a key architectural aspect of the home. Aesthetics are frequently used to characterise architectural and cultural influences. It is a transitory place that connects the inside and external, removing the abrupt and jarring transition from the vastness of the exterior world to the confined inner spaces.

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The history of Thinnai or Verandah:

Even though thinnai is most commonly linked with south Indian architecture, similarities can be seen all around the world. The ‘verandah’ first appeared in colonial architecture in Australia in the 1850s, with ornamental ironwork screens and cast-iron framework. They were seen throughout the southern United States, such as in New Orleans, where it is still an important feature of the city’s architecture. In Victorian England, the feature was particularly popular as a shaded area to relax. Large verandahs were common in early colonial houses in Africa, specifically to keep comfortable during hot weather. The British in India additionally built verandahs that wrapped around their homes.

What are the benefits of having a Thinnai?
  • It will give your home enough natural light so you never have to worry about not feeling fresh every day. And it’s also good for your overall body health because getting enough Vitamin D is more important than you might think.
  •  You can grow plants with the natural sunlight in Thinnai if you’re passionate about plants. Many ancient south Indian homes even had the habit of placing a few plants at every corner of a Thinnai.
  •  It can be great for pets because they crave sunlight more than anything. Your pets can freely relax or even walk around to get the fresh air they deserve if you have a Thinnai or Verandah.
  •  You can dry your clothes without any effort of having to go up to the terrace. You can also dry anything you want in the natural sunlight and never have to worry about your dryer not working properly.
  •  It will be aesthetic and beautiful for even modern homes. A home with a Verandah or Thinnai will look more spacious and welcoming.
  •  You will have your own exercising area that is fresh and has enough space. It might be hard to exercise at home in small apartments so having a home with Thinnai or Verandah can be pretty useful.

And that is everything you need to know about Thinnai – An ancient architectural element of South India. Are you someone who’s fond of ancient architecture? Did you find this post about Thinnai useful? Let us know!

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