Tribal Houses of India – A Home, One With Nature

Houses in every city and town in India are now made of concrete, mortar, cement and bricks.  They seem to touch the sky and are so densely populated that we have stopped calling our house, a home! If you wish to see houses that are unique and one with nature, check out the Tribal houses of India.  Here are a few of them:

North-Eastern India

Since there are many Tribes resident in the Northeastern part of India, you can see the most diverse Tribal houses of India varieties here. They are predominantly made of Bamboo, cane, wood and other natural materials found in the area. The Apatani tribals of Arunachal Pradesh build houses using bamboo and other natural materials. The hearth is the center of all family activities like cooking, eating and talking.

The Adi tribe in the same state, build their houses on stilts with only two doors, the front end is used by men and the back door is used by women.  There are no windows in these houses.  These houses are rebuilt every 5 – 7 years.  Though houses sometimes are built on flat lands, these tribes prefer sloping areas to avoid flooding due to rains.

The Mising, Deoris and Bodo tribes of Assam usually build houses near rivers. Here again the fireplace is the centre place for the meeting of all family members.  The Tribal houses of India in this state is built on stilts and the area below the house is used as a shelter for their livestock.

The families of Garo tribes of Meghalaya live in houses called Nokmong.  The areas for cooking, sleeping and storing are clearly demarcated.  They build separate sheds for cattle.  All unmarried male members live together in special quarters called the Nokpante. These tribals also build separate huts near their fields.

Meitis, Kukis, Nagas and Rongmeis are some tribes Of Manipur.  The houses of these tribals are built using bamboo and cane while wooden plans are used for beds.  The kitchen is usually in the center and the foodstuffs are shelved in racks above the fire.  A verandah is also incorporated in these houses. Storage of grains is outside the house and on a raised room above the ground.

tripura house - Traditional riang house
Traditional riang house, made from bamboo in tripura by GoiMonitor under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Mizo build their houses with their chief’s residence at the center.  Zawlbuk, situated adjacent the chief’s resident, houses unmarried men who carry out various social and economic activities.  Other houses are rectangular in shape made of bamboo, leaves straw and thatch.  Partitions are made of bamboo screens.

Tribal houses in Nagaland are mostly fortified.  The houses are divided into the storage section, cooking and living quarters and the backyard.  There are entrances at the front and the back.

Tribals in Tripura build their houses using grass and bamboo.  Houses are built on a raised ground to protect from wild animals.

While the above houses depict functionality and utility factors, there are tribal houses in some parts of the country which show their artistry.

Western India

Tribal houses of India have different features in different parts of the country.  The building style is based on the weather in the area where it is built.

gujarat house - bhungas
bhungas – 120° panorama, ludia kutch by nevil zaveri under CC BY 2.0

From the Eastern parts of India,  we move to the Western parts of India. Take for example the houses of Banni Meghwal tribe, the Rebari tribe and Maldhari tribes of Gujarat.  The houses are circular and have conical roofs and are built on a raised platform.  The construction is made to ward off whirlwinds and breeze.  A single pillar supports the roof which is lined by bamboos inside.  Outside, it is covered by grass.   The Maldharis  add beautiful decorations featuring mirror mosaics on their huts.

In Maharastra, the Varli tribe decorate their clean houses with Warli paintings. The paintings are done on festive occasions.  Walls are covered first with a mixture of mud, cow dung and branches which creates a red Ochre background.  Then a mixture of rice paste, water and gum are used to do the amazing paints using a chewed bamboo stick as a paintbrush.

Women of Meenas tribe, the oldest in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh practice Madana paintings.Art work is done on their house on walls, floors, insides and outside to ward off evil anArtworkoke blessings from their God.

Tribal houses of India- South

The Toda tribes in Ooty, Tamil Nadu, construct beautiful pent shaped houses that are 10 feet in height.

The huts have bamboo roofs and have tiny entrances to ward off wild animals. Tribals make Mural rock paintings to decorate the entrance.  Thick bamboos form the basic pent structure and thin bamboos are framed with dried grass to complete the basic circular shape of the Toda Hut.

There are about 645 tribes in India, each with its own unique construction style. The Tribal houses of India are as diverse as can be. The common factor in all the houses is that the houses are built using the easily available raw materials.  Another factor is that all these houses are built to withstand climatic abnormalities and attack from wild animals.

Featured Photo: A Toda Hut in the Forest by AntoGros under CC BY 2.0

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