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The architecture of Meghalaya | North-East India

Architecture of Meghalaya
Written by Dhrubajyoti Roy

Architecture of Meghalaya

Content:

  • Meghalaya
    • Lifestyle and culture
    • Architecture of Meghalaya
      • Garo architecture
      • Khasi architecture
    • Incredible irrigation & farming system
    • Conclusion

Meghalaya: the land of clouds:

The architecture of Meghalaya-In India some states have outstanding climates and natural resources, some have fabular culture and traditions and some have tremendous architecture and histories, but what if a single state has all the above thing and still stands as the pleasant natural location with traditional peoples and their own culture.

Meghalaya is one of the beautiful states of seven sisters of northeast India with enjoyable climate and the wettest place in India, Meghalaya marks the highest rainfall in the country and have history which goes backs to the Neolithic era, like every northeastern state of India Meghalaya is also famous for their tribal culture like Khasi, Garo and Jaintia tribes, each of the tribal people owned kingdoms of their own before the British entry into India.

Lifestyle and tradition of Meghalaya:

Three major ancient tribes are still living in the wonderful state of Meghalaya with vast population, the Khasi, Garo, and Jaintia are the three major tribes and also have history of about Neolithic era, it is even proven that the three tribal communities are one of the earliest people in Indian subcontinent along with other ancient tribal communities.

Even today the Khasi people live in the Khasi Hills, Jaintia peoples in the Jaintia Hills and Garo people in the western Garo hill region, Meghalaya is the only state in India that respects women more than men and also gives first preference to women in case of the matrilineal system.

Each of the tribal communities follow their own religion with the mixture of Hinduism and also have different gods from the ancient times, the Khasi and Jaintia are famous for their songs about the nature and the place they live, with over 83% of agriculture as the major resource of the state, the people of Meghalaya live all their life with the connected environment of nature.

Rain is so special in Meghalaya and even Cherapunji a place where there is rain for the entire year, with lots of hidden treasure Meghalaya stands as the land of clouds, waving is an ancient craft in the state of Meghalaya like other northeastern sisters of India, bamboo, and cane crafts are vastly famous and people are amazed of their crafting style in cloths and their very own musical instruments made of cane, bamboo-like cup violin to mouth organ.

With rice, maize, and potato, black pepper along with cotton and turmeric Meghalaya is at the top of the agriculture system and every household people are into the agriculture either one way or the other way.

The festivals of Meghalaya looks even more astonishing, Nongkrem dance is one of famous festival in Meghalaya which lasts about five days with colorful dance and thanksgiving to the god, like some states of India, the Khasi tribes celebrate the festival by sacrificing goats(goat killing) for the god with many drums and pipes played around and men dance with the swords to show their mightiness it is also considered as the harvesting festival in the state.

Wangala festival:

Like the tribes of Khasi, the Garo tribes celebrate their own festival called Wangala which is a very important harvesting festival in the tribal community lasts about three days with drinks and music, it is considered as the thanksgiving festival which celebrated before harvesting in the month of November, about 100 drums are beaten, swords are celebrated in the first day of the festival.

Behdienkhalm:

The third tribal community of Jaintia celebrates the Behdienkham festival to chase away the demon of cholera away, this is also considered as the harvesting festival and women do not dance during the celebration, and people believe that it should rain in this particular day of the festival.

With different festivals celebrated by different peoples, Meghalaya has a great culture even in the present day.

The architecture of Meghalaya:

The Khasi architecture, houses of the Khasi tribes are built on the plinth and raised wooden floor inside the walls, with rectangular in shape and boat like roof structure, at some part of the Khasi hill some people build a house with wooden walls and mud-plastered bamboos, stones are used in the high hilly region.

The Khasi people do follow heir own vernacular architecture style but in today most of the Khasi people are adapted to the modern way of building a house with bricks and cement, as bamboo and other woods are the most available resources in the Khasi hills, people used it to build their house mostly.

The Garo architecture:

The Garo architecture is mostly found in the hilltop region of the Garo hills and towards the river, the houses are constructed in grouped shape, bamboo and wood are the main construction material used by the Garo peoples, they build their houses with rooms from floor to walls entire house are made up of woods.

Treehouse is so famous with the Garo peoples, it used to watch the crops and to protect it from animals.

The Garo architecture can be partitioned Nokmong, Nokpante, Jamsreng, and Jamatal.

Nokmong– where every people of the family stay together, most of the Nokmong used for sleeping, sanitary arrangement, kitchen, and water storage facility, and also for storing firewood along, this type of house is called Nokmong.

Nokpante

In the Garo architecture, the house where the unmarried male lives called Nokpante(house of the bachelors), the Nokpante constructed in front of the Nokma the courtyard of the chief,  art, cultivation, and games are taught in the Nokpante to the young men by the aged one.

Jamserng

Jamsereng is constructed in the rice fields as small huts, the season’s fruits and grains are collected and stored in the Jamsereng and even for sleeping it is used.

Jamatal

the miniature house built in the Jhum fields which used as the treetop house to stay safe from the animals in dangerous places or to watch and protect the crops.

Incredible irrigation & farming system:

As Meghalaya is so famous for its traditional farming and irrigation system from shifting cultivation to bun agriculture, even tree-based farming is being practiced by the peoples of Meghalaya.

The traditional farming method of Meghalaya which provides sufficient food to the people and to preserve nature and to protect the environment for the next generation.

The shifting agriculture is one of the most popular farming methods followed even today in the state of Meghalaya,  slash and burn, clearing the forest area for agricultural usages to grow crops for a very little period from one to ten years, people move to another place for cultivation and waits till the soil gets the fertility back.

Bun or terrace cultivation is practiced widely in the valleys of Meghalaya, it helps the soil to be moisture all the time and prevent land degradation and soil erosion.

The irrigation process is very important in crop production as it allows to use water in proper way, bamboo drip irrigation is a perfect traditional farmer’s skill in agriculture and it widely practice in the hilly region of Jaintia, to maintain the soils poor farming condition, bamboo culms used for the irrigation process, locally available bamboos are used in the water channels, by the usage of bamboo culms it prevents the leakage of water and prevent water loss.

Black pepper, areca, betel vines are irrigated using the bamboo irrigation system.

Bench terrace irrigation system is another way followed in the state of Meghalaya, water from the streams are used as soon it comes from the forest, the water flows from upper to the lower part of the terrace fields, it is mostly used in the non-fertile areas.

The tree-based plantation is one of the traditional ways of plantation and it is being followed by the native folks of Meghalaya, the tree plantation involves using various tree plantations according to the afro-climatic condition, it helps to increase the agricultural crops and forest production.

At least some people in the world are caring about nature which gives us food, water, and space to live in.

Conclusion:

With traditional architecture and rich cultivation methodologies with more natural resources, Meghalaya is one of a treasure to the Indian sub-continent, even today the state shines with its native tribal way of living and practicing the ancient farming methods which add more value to the agriculture and it also helps soil to get more fertilization without the use of chemicals, if you want to explore one place in the upcoming summer vacation, do book a ticket to Meghalaya where the cloud dances in the roads and nature welcomes you with a broader smile,

With lots and lots of incredible natural valleys and tribal people at the top of the mountains, it is a state of joy, woods, and music along with dance, do a dance with nature and live life to the fullest in the very human way.

About the author

Dhrubajyoti Roy

I am a 5th-year student pursuing a bachelor's course in Architecture. I partake in freelancing work in the field of Architecture range from buildings in Autocad to 3D Rendering and work through in Lumion.

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