Yelagiri hut shelters 200 years of hill tribe history

Syllabus: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

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In the hamlet for about 200 years, this last old-fashioned hut of the tribe is owned and maintained by Govinthasamy, a tribesman and former member of the Yelagiri panchayat. The rest have given way to concrete houses over the decades.

A single antiquated hut

  • More than two centuries ago, over 200 Malaiyali tribespeople built traditional clay huts on the flat peak of the picturesque Yelagiri hill in what is now northern Tamil Nadu
  • Establishing an all-encompassing system for shelter, storage, farming, and cattle rearing.
  • All that remains of that settlement today is a single antiquated hut, juxtaposed with new concrete houses, a standing testament to the tribe’s evolution from foraging to a more modern lifestyle.

The Malaiyali tribe

  • Malai meaning “hill” and yali meaning “people” — is spread across Tamil Nadu’s hilly regions.
  • The tribespeople were foragers who settled in the upper Nillavur region of Yelagiri and began cultivating its tabletop peak for food.
  • Initially living in makeshift huts, they found a permanent solution in the red loam clay abundant in the hills and constructed simple one-room structures that measured 16 by 22 feet.

Red clay

  • Red clay is very important to us.
  • We used it to build huts to live in and we also buried the dead in it. From birth to death, it comes full circle
  • With a four-foot-tall entrance, his house was formed by placing red clay on a frame of beams and posts built using teakwood. “A log costs ₹1 lakh today.
  • The hut might look worn but it is worth a fortune

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