The Story of the Mud Houses of Bihar

Since the Iron Age, Bihar has been a land of thirty different tribes on the Chotanagpur plateau. Before British colonization in 1870, Bihar had an agrarian society. Huts made of mud walls and that ched roofs were the standard construction. Along with a thermally-responsive construction, thearchitecture of Jharkhand also responded to interactive social life by creating community courtyards.According to available data, these buildings constituted 48% of total residential construction until 1960.

mud house village

Bihar and Jharkhand have, as per the 2011 census, 75.9 % of its total population living in rural areas, and it is in this context that the development of proper rural architecture is important. With the energy crisis deepening, the role of the built environment becomes more significant.

rural house

Building Materials

The Mud House, kachcha,  is a building made of natural materials such as mud, grass, bamboo, thatch or sticks and is therefore a short-lived structure. Since it is not made for endurance it requires constant maintenance and replacement. The practical limitations of the building materials available dictate the specific form which can have a simple beauty. The advantage of a Clay House is that construction materials are cheap and easily available and relatively little labor is required.


Layout of the houses

An average hut measured approximately 5 to 6 meters (15 to 18 feet) long and 3 to 4 meters (10 to 12feet) wide. The huts vary in size. There are also a considerable number of larger huts that extend up to 12 to 14 meters in length and 8 to 9 meters in width.

mitti ghar

The houses are often on a raised platform made of compacted earth. The high thermal mass helps tokeep the house cool in the evenings in summer which makes it pleasant for people to rest in theevenings. The huts normally have minimal openings. Often the only opening on the external walls isthe main door. Some houses have windows, but they are small and placed high to ventilate the indoors while, at the same time, acting as a visual barrier for the private spaces. The small windows also help to keep the hot summer sun and cold winter winds out.

mud house

To make the houses beautiful, in traditional art form,  we have Madhubani painting which is prominently visible in the present houses build in Madhubani and Gaya District’s villages. The art for is very popular and now people have started doing this on clothes and on different materials but from past it is typically used for wall decoration.

The advantages of this type of houses is the walls are thermal insulators so in hot you feel bit cool and in vice-versa. But again due to lack of the planning in such  houses, in general it’s difficult to find toilets, proper bathrooms etc. With the go green movement many of the western countries have now adopted this model of building a green building. Let’s see when we realise the value of this ancient culture.

Not from Bihar, heard a lot about the state. Always interested in exploring the art culture and politics of the state. So here I am, writing and doing PR for
Come and Join Us 🙂