Maratha - Settlements



A Maratha village in the coastal lowlands is not a well-defined unit. A village ( kalati ) consists of a long street running north-south with houses on either side, each with its own yard. This street is also the main artery joining a village to the neighboring ones north and south. Hence the perimeter of the village is not well defined. Each house stands in its own walled or fenced enclosure; but the rice fields that stretch all around are bounded by narrow earth bunds zigzagging in all directions, which make communication between houses in the growing season difficult. In contrast, villages in the Plateau ranges are tightly clustered, and the village boundaries are sharply defined. An outstanding structure in such a Village might be a temple or the big house ( wada ) of a rich landlord. The typical house is a rectangular block of four walls, with the bigger houses being made up of more than one such rectangle. Frequently an open square in the center of the house serves as a sun court. Some of the rooms leading off this courtyard have no inner walls, so that there may be one or two rooms which can be closed and private and the rest of the house is a space with or without divisions for different purposes, like a kitchen, an eating area, etc. The houses had very small and very high windows and faced inwards onto the court. A village of such wadas is surrounded by fields with temporary shelters in them called vadi. Individual fields are large, and worked with draft animals. The use of the land has been dramatically affected in recent times by the building of dams for hydroelectric and irrigation purposes. Much of the previously arid inland areas can now grow sugarcane. Since Maharashtra is one of the most urbanized areas of India (35 percent urban in 1981), the Marathas have gravitated to the urban centers for jobs as well as farm-related services.


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