Ancient Hindu traditions dictated the proper use and treatment of wood, prescribing the best time to harvest timber, indicated by the astrological calendar. Trees to be harvested were blessed with offerings of food and flowers and praised with hymns designed to frighten away the forest demons.

Timber was fallen in a favourable direction, de-barked, limbed, and squared, and then dried for at least six months. An ancient Sanskrit text on architecture, the Mayamata, advises prudence when selecting trees for timber.  Beyond their structural quality (and probably because of it), certain specimens are said to be conducive to prosperity and good fortune. Good trees were “perfect, hard, vigorous” as well as “middle-aged, from a holy place, and pleasing to the eye and mind”. Many different species were used for traditional Indian woodwork, but the most important were the deodar, the sal, and the tekku (teak).

Long-standing traditions of woodsmanship and carpentry were developed by the people of the Himalayas and brought southward. Of primary importance were pine, fir, and especially deodar (cedrus deodara), the ‘timber of the gods’, which could grow up to 50 meters in height and 3 meters in width.  The high and remote deodar forests were a favourite abode for meditative hermits.