Rural Settlement Systems in India


Village (Photo credit: johnnysam)

Rural Systems

Villagers in India manifest a deep loyalty to their village, identifying themselves to strangers as residents of a particular village, harking back to family residence in the village that typically extends into the distant past. A family rooted in a particular village does not easily move to another and even people who have lived in a city for a generation or two refer to their ancestral village as “our village.”

Patterns of Villages

Villages in India may be considered as a natural outcome of physical and cultural setting. Although they do not possess well-defined shapes and a distinct internal plan, there is some pattern, both internal and external, which can clearly be related to the nature of their site and arrangement. The most common shape of the village is rectangular. One of the main reasons for this pattern is the original rectangular shape of cultivated fields.

Another frequent form of pattern is of elongated villages where one axis of the village is markedly larger than the other. Some natural or cultural forces may be restricting its extension on one axis. This type of situation is often found along the higher ground in inundated areas, narrow strip between two streams and at the edge of an alluvial terrace. Among cultural features most important is the road. If the road is an important link with the surrounding villages or towns, then the elongation is obvious. The extension of a village along the road is often encouraged if the settlement is a market centre. Other common patterns of Indian villages are Fan pattern, circular village, polygonal village, oval village, horseshoe pattern (in plateau regions) double nucleation and irregular clusters.

The distribution of population, setting and type of rural settlements, village patterns are to a great extent related to the natural and cultural features of the area.

Factors Affecting Rural Settlements

There are various factors, which affect settlement types in rural areas. The older settlements were influenced by various physical factors like Topography, soil, side of the slope, favourable climate and economic and cultural factors influence the settlement type greatly. Economic and cultural factors are mainly transport routes, smaller business centres, places of tourist interest and religious and cultural divisions.

Compact settlements in India are often due to the agricultural activities. The type of agriculture that involves large labour force requires both farmers and agricultural labourers to reside in the same nucleated settlement. Due to the lack of transport facilities till very recently, the economic self-sufficiency was a major factor leading to the formation of compact settlements. Most of the settlements selected for the study are compact settlements.

Inhabitants of the rural settlement depend for their livelihood upon the exploitation of the soil, small fishing, quarrying, mining, forestry camps etc. Main factors influencing the rural settlements are:

  • Nature of Topography
  • Local Weather Conditions
  • Quality of the Soil
  • Nature of Surface and Sub-Surface Water
  • Pattern of Landholding
  • Social Organisation and
  • Economic Conditions

2 thoughts on “Rural Settlement Systems in India

  1. Pingback: Rural Settlements in India | Rashid's Blog

  2. Pingback: 2015 in review | Jugraphia Slate

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