Villages of Gujarat
Most villages are an expression of community living with agriculture
as its essential base. The built-up area of an average village is a mass
of unplanned houses with mud walls and tiled roofs. In all the villages,
the lanes are narrow and circuitous. Sometimes a house is occupied by
several families, in which case the rooms or blocks are allocated to individual
In south Gujarat, a village is a cluster of houses with
no definite plan. The house frontages are not in a straight line and their
facades have no uniformity. The village is arbitrarily divided into 'mohollas'.
The roofs of the houses are invariably sloping and are tiled, thatched,
or covered with iron sheets. Wood is used as a building material and elaborate
carving on the threshold is a common feature of the houses belonging to
the head of the village or a prosperous farmer.
In central Gujarat, the village is characterised
by rows of houses, each row inhabited by a particular community. In the
centre of the village is the panchayat office and a 'Chora', a miniature
square. Many of these villages are electrified and have a dispensary,
a primary school and a high school, besides a temple, a mosque, a burning
ghat and a graveyard.
Village gods are installed on all corners of a village.
Communal grouping of houses is very apparent. Local communities like Thakarda,
Patidar, Wankar, Bhangi, Suthar and Chambadia occupy rows of blocks in
strips. The houses of Bhangis, the sweepers, and Chambadia, a scheduled
caste are isolated in one part of the village. A flat roofed house built
of bricks and cement is symbolic of one's prestige and is built by big
cultivators, usually the Patels. The houses with mud walls and tiled and
thatched roofs belong to the poorer sections of the population like Bharwads,
Most of the villages in Saurashtra are on the river-side. The
temple, the school and the 'Chora' are the common features of a village
in all parts of Saurashtra. Middle-class houses do not have an enclosed
courtyard and could be described as a rectangular block divided into one
or two rooms on the rear and verandah in the front. The building material
is the uncut basalt piled up with clay as mortar to form the walls which
support the sloping tiled roofs. The richer villagers build 'Pucca' houses,
flat-roofed and well ventilated. The communities which inhabit the villages
of Saurashtra include Kolis, Kathis, Rabaris, Bharwad, Lohana and artisans
like tailors, potters, carpenters and barbers.
Village in north Gujarat are on the semi-arid region.
Communal segregation is common in the village and groups of houses belonging
to Patidars, Prajapatis and Thakardas are found here. If Harijans, who
are the scheduled caste among the Hindus, are in the village, they find
a place in one corner, detached from the main settlement. The houses occur
in rows with common outer walls. These are made of stone, brick or mud
and could have a flat roof or a sloping roof covered with tiles. In some
cases, the roof could be even a thatched canopy on a circular hut. These
three types represent the three economic classes in a village. The houses
have generally poor ventilation, low roofs and appear more like temporary
shelters. An open verandah in front of the house is common.
The village in the northern part of Kutch is an aggregation
of groups of huts, often arranged around a tank and separated by groves
of acacia. Each cluster of houses in a village is called a 'Vandh' and
each Vandh has an unlined well as a source
of drinking water. The Vandh represents a closely related homogeneous
group. The individual house in a Vandh is locally called 'Bhunga'. The
roof is a thatched cone supported by a clay or dry-brick wall. The Bhungas
have no partition inside and are ventilated by two or three small windows.
There is no wood work, no door frame or door to the house. The majority
of the total rural houses in Kutch are built of stone.
A characteristic feature of almost every village in Gujarat
is the village tank, large enough to store water for use throughout the
year. Every village has a few wells which are used as a source of drinking