Designer Doors in South Canara homes - eNidhi India Travel Blog

Designer Doors in South Canara homes

An integral part of constructing a house in Coastal/Malnad region of Karnataka was “Dwara Bagilu”(roughly translates as Main Entrance Door). This door and its frame are a treat to the eye as it exhibits extensive artwork, carved on it. Teakwood (Sagavani or Tega in Kannada) is the preferred choice for making these designer doors, reason being, teak is relatively soft and easy to carve upon. Large designs carved on a single stone/wood are a common sight in most of our temples, but similarly artistic doors are common in ancient homes of undivided Dakshina Kannada (Now Udupi & Dakshina Kannada districts) as well as nearby regions.

Couple of decades ago when my parents were constructing our home, I remember our carpenter camping at the construction site for weeks and carefully carving beautiful designs out of wooden planks. Besides visualizing eye catching designs in mind and cautiously realizing them on wood, the carpenter also had to keep in mind the symmetry and the fact that one wrong strike of the chisel can destroy the beauty of entire artifact.

Another factor to note is that the height of Dwara Bagilu is maintained slightly lower than average height of other doors. This is to force people to bend a little when passing through the door, which is a way of showing respect to gods. Unfortunately, this trend of incorporating artistic ‘Dwara Bagilu’ is slowly vanishing in new age homes- primarily due to non availability of skilled carpenters and due to cost of wood and labour (majoori). But if you get a chance to visit any ancient homes in this region, do visit, for a hands on view of these designer pillars and doors.


  1. Good points. Well, nowadays, main entrance door would be a bit taller than other doors!

    The fact that still amazes me is the cost of the wood. It has become so costly people are looking for alternatives to Teak. Forget about Sandalwood :) As the forests are diminishing, the wood cost has shot up exponentially over the years and it is very difficult for a common man to afford for such artistic entrance doors.

  2. Mohan,
    Yes, those were the days when each family had good amount of land and backyard with lots of trees. Building a house was once in a generation phenomenon and one used to sacrifice one or two trees from the backyard for this purpose.

    These days everything needs to be purchased, hence cost aspect deters people.. also this doesn't go well with Go green initiative...

  3. For example, the doors of our home are quite plain and we needed another loan to do the 'woodwork' in the house when we bought it. Wood is that expensive!


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