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Assam’s Traditional Houses: From Ikora to Chang Ghar

Explore the diverse world of Assam's traditional houses. From woven Ikora to elevated Chang Ghar, these homes tell stories of adaptation and tradition.

The quintessential Assam’s traditional houses, distinctive of Assamese architecture, reflect Assamese cultural heritage and sustainable living principles. Moreover, these traditional houses, built using locally sourced materials such as bamboo, wood, and thatch, feature raised platforms to protect against floodwaters enhance ventilation, and traditional knowledge and promote eco-friendly construction practices.

Consequently, understanding the architecture of these houses offers valuable lessons in climate-resilient architecture, aligning with contemporary sustainable living trends. Let’s discover some of Assam’s traditional houses, from the Ikora to the Chang Ghar.

Key Features in Assam’s Traditional House Design

Assam’s traditional houses are renowned for their unique features that cater to the region’s climatic and environmental conditions. These houses bear testament to the ingenuity of conventional Assamese construction techniques, offering a blend of practicality, sustainability, and cultural significance.

Traditional houses were made of bamboo and ikora, plastered with mud to enhance insulation. Moreover, initially, thatched roofs were designed with steep slopes to allow rainwater to drain off quickly. Over time, corrugated iron sheets became a popular roofing material, offering greater durability. 

Let us look at the main features:

  • Bamboo and Wood Construction: Bamboo and wood form the main building materials used in Assam house design. Moreover, bamboo is abundant in the region and offers excellent structural strength. Consequently, the houses are typically constructed on stilts, with bamboo frames and walls made of woven bamboo mats. Also, wood is used for beams, columns, and flooring, adding warmth and durability to the structure.
  • Distinct Roof Style: Roofs in traditional Assam houses have steep slopes, initially thatched with hay or palm leaves. Moreover, this steep slope facilitates quick drainage of rainwater. However, corrugated iron sheets have become a popular roofing material. Roofs made of thatch provide insulation and protection from the sun’s heat and keep the interiors cool.
  • Spacious Verandas: Verandas are an integral part of Assam house design. Further, offering a place to relax, socialise and enjoy the natural surroundings. Distinctively, the verandas in traditional houses often feature intricately carved wooden pillars and railings. 
  • Windows: Large windows form an integral part of Assam’s traditional houses. Also, allowing ample natural light and air to circulate throughout the house. Moreover, these distinctive features enhance the living experience and foster a connection with the surrounding environment. 
  • Traditional Decorative Elements: Assam houses showcase traditional decorative elements that reflect local craftsmanship and cultural heritage. Therefore, it is interesting to see motifs depicting animals, flowers, and geometric patterns on doors, windows, and other architectural elements, 
  • Elevated Living Spaces: Assam’s traditional houses have a raised platform, built on stilts, to protect the living areas from frequent flooding, a common occurrence in Assam. Moreover, this design not only ensures safety during floods but also promotes better ventilation. Also, the elevated floors reduce the risk of pests and insects entering the living space. Moreover, this elevation also provides additional space underneath the house for storage and livestock.
  • Courtyard and Inner Spaces: Traditional Assam houses often incorporate a central courtyard or Chotal that serves as a gathering space for family activities, rituals, and social events. Also, the inner rooms of the house are arranged around the courtyard, emphasising a sense of community and togetherness.

Materials Used in Constructing Assam’s Traditional Houses 

The construction of Assam-type houses relies heavily on locally sourced materials that are abundant and suitable for the region’s climate and terrain. Some of the materials are:

Bamboo: Bamboo an abundantly growing grass is perhaps the most iconic material used in the construction of Assam-type houses. Moreover, it is lightweight, flexible, and easily available in Assam’s forests. Also, its strength-to-weight ratio makes it ideal for structural purposes. Further, bamboo has natural resilience to pests and weather conditions.

Wood: Traditional architecture in Assam houses uses various types of wood, including sal, teak, and gamari. Moreover, these locally available woods have durability, resistance to decay, and aesthetic qualities.

Mud and Clay: Traditional Assamese houses have mud and clay as integral components of construction, particularly for the walls and flooring. These locally available materials offer excellent thermal insulation properties and maintain comfortable indoor temperatures throughout the year. 

Thatch and Ikora (Reed): Ikora, a type of common reed, is used as a roofing material due to its water-resistant properties. Consequently, the roofs can withstand heavy rainfall. Also, thatch roofs made of harvested grass or palm leaves provide natural insulation and ventilation.

Types of Assam’s Traditional Houses 

Assam a land of lush landscapes, vibrant cultures, and architectural wonders is renowned for its traditional houses, which stand as testaments to the ingenuity and adaptability of its people. Also, the traditional house in Assam offers a unique insight into the way of life, cultural practices, and environmental harmony of this beautiful region. Let’s explore some types of Assam’s Traditional Houses:

Bamboo Houses: Nature’s Bounty

Bamboo houses are typical of Assam’s rural and semi-urban regions, reflecting the region’s abundance of bamboo forests. Moreover, these houses are lightweight yet sturdy, with bamboo used for the framework, walls, and even flooring. Also, the flexibility of bamboo makes it an ideal building material, capable of withstanding the region’s seismic activity and heavy monsoon rains.

In bamboo houses, the wall is made of bamboo strips and it is plastered with mud. The roof of the house is built with thatch or local grass and can last up to years before it is replaced again. 

Key Features:

  • Materials: Bamboo, palm leaves, reeds
  • Structure: Single or double-story, often raised on stilts
  • Roof: Thatched or corrugated iron sheets
  • Functionality: Durable, earthquake-resistant, well-ventilated

Ikora Houses: The Humble Abodes

Ikora house, or “Assam type house” is common throughout Northeast India. Moreover, these houses are built with lightweight locally available materials like bamboo, wooden planks, thatch etc. Also, the Ikora houses have a proper system of bamboo/wooden beam columns to fulfil the earthquake safety requirements of rectangularity and simplicity. Typically, Iokra houses are single-storey structures consisting of brick or stone masonry walls up to about 1 m above the plinth.

Consequently, the masonry supports the walls consisting of bamboo woven together with a wooden frame and plastered with cement or mud plaster. Moreover, the structure is connected to the masonry foundation walls using steel angles, and flats with bolts and nails. 

Key Features:

  • Materials: Bamboo, mud, thatch
  • Structure: Single-story, rectangular layout
  • Roof: Thatched, sloping design
  • Functionality: Adaptable to local climate, easy maintenance

Also, Ikora walls consist of reed and bamboo mat panels placed in between the wooden frames. Further, plastering is done by preparing an equal proportion of cow dung and mud slurry mixed with sufficient water to form a thin paste to fill the gaps between the panels. Also, plastering is done frequently over the Ikora panels after every summer or rainy season.

Chang Ghar: The Elevated Dwellings

Chang Ghar, or stilt houses, are homes of the Mishing community in Assam. Typically, these elevated homes are built on bamboo stilts, ranging from 4 to 10 feet above the ground. Moreover, the unique design protects the inhabitants from flooding during the monsoon season and keeps them safe from wild animals. Chang ghars have floors made of bamboo slats, allowing air to circulate freely. The roofs, however, are thatched with palm leaves or reeds. The standout feature is the 5-7 steps in the front design.

Key Features:

  • Materials: Bamboo, palm leaves, reeds
  • Structure: Elevated on stilts, single-story
  • Roof: Thatched, steeply sloping
  • Functionality: Flood protection, ventilation

Chang Ghars have certain key layers from the roof to the floor and serve a special purpose like a fireplace, and a common area, keeping food items at different levels.

Mud Houses: Earthen Elegance

Mud houses in Assam are simple structures built using a combination of mud, cow dung, and straw. Moreover, these houses are highly energy-efficient, with thick mud walls that provide natural insulation. Also, the construction process is environmentally friendly, using locally available materials and traditional techniques.

Mud used for plastering is created by combining water in a proportionate amount with clay and soil. Moreover, a typical mud house has a length of 5 to 10 metres and a width of 3 to 5 metres.

Key Features:

  • Materials: Mud, cow dung, straw
  • Structure: Single-story, often rectangular or circular
  • Roof: Thatched or tiled
  • Functionality: Energy-efficient, sustainable

Assam-Type Houses: Colonial Influence

The Assam-type house emerged during the British colonial period, blending traditional Assamese elements with Western architectural styles. Also, these houses are characterised by their raised plinths, wide verandahs, and use of corrugated iron sheets for roofing. Moreover, wooden frames and plastered walls add to the sturdiness and aesthetic appeal of these homes.

Key Features:

  • Materials: Wood, brick, corrugated iron sheets
  • Structure: Raised on plinths, often two stories
  • Roof: Pitched, corrugated iron sheets
  • Functionality: Durable, resistant to floods and earthquakes
  • Open verandahs and large windows
  • Ikora walls, high ceilings
  • Steep roofs
  • finishing of mud and whitewash

Assam-type houses symbolise the region’s adaptive architecture, combining resilience with a touch of colonial charm. Tudor architectural influence is noticeable in tea garden bungalows and residences including steeply pitched gable roofs, half-timber walls, bay windows, and chimneys. 

Assam-type houses, originating in the early 20th century during the British colonial period, were developed to withstand Assam’s frequent floods and earthquakes. Therefore, the colonial rulers combined traditional Assamese building techniques with modern engineering principles to create resilient structures.


Assam’s traditional houses, from the humble Ikora to the elevated Chang Ghar, are more than just structures. A reflection of the region’s cultural heritage, ingenuity, adaptability and eco-friendly architecture they provide practical solutions to environmental challenges. Further, each type of house tells a unique story, offering insights into the lifestyle and values of the communities that build and inhabit them. 

You can discover the beauty and resilience of Assam’s traditional houses with Ridhi Sidhi Group. Whether you’re inspired by the eco-friendly designs or the cultural significance, our experts can help you bring these elements into your own home.

Feel free to reach out to us at +91 8822797071, and let’s explore the incredible opportunities that await you.