Traditional Nicobarese Hut – Nicobar Islands 

Nicobar Islands isolated in eastern Indian Ocean, form part of the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.  Nicobarese tribal population dwells in Nicobarese Hut. The traditional mode of construction, use of indigenous material and vernacular architecture by their occupant forms an eco-friendly, disaster resistant (earthquake and tsunami) abode which sustains in the hot and humid tropical climate of the region. 

The Nicobarese hut located in the interior of the islands, far away from the coastline and on the high ground feature the following points to reinforce the environment integrity.

• The circular, inverted war helmet shaped Nicobarese hut raised 6-8 feet above the ground, supported on 6-8 vertical sturdy timber posts defies the effects of high amplitude waves. 

• The hut is roughly 20 feet in diameter and 15-20 feet in height from floor to apex.

• The raised floor is usually a wooden/ bamboo platform consists of a stiff mat with perforations supported on horizontal timber members, running in two mutually perpendicular directions, which are supported on vertical peripheral posts.

• An appropriate storage space is made in the floor mat for crockery, family possessions etc., so that it did not topple during the earthquake shaking.

• The timber skeleton of walls is lined with mat (palm wood).

• The domical skeleton formed from local thin stems of wood/ bamboo is covered by thick dry bushes and grass, locally known as ‘Bhent’.

• The entrance is through the trapdoor in the floor, approachable with the help of a bamboo ladder.

• Traditional Nicobarese huts are made of locally available light building material. Timber and bamboo are used in plenty together with coconut, melon tree wood, ‘bhent’, bushes, stems, and grass.

• Beneath the house, there is generally a swing, and also a platform of springy cane that serves the native for a lounge.

There are four types of huts which comprise a village, each for different use. The circular hut, called the ‘ma pati tuhet’ is the principal house of a family, in which they sleep, reside and meet visitors. The ‘taliko’ is the kitchen, where entire family's meal is cooked, which has ridged roof with long floor. The ‘pati yong nyio’ and ‘pati kupah’ are respectively the communal birth and death houses situated in the area along the seashore, a little outside the village, called ‘elpanam’. 

The gradually modified Nicobarese hut lacks the earthquake resistant measures and shows the visible signs of structural stress in disaster, which otherwise is amply evident in traditional Nicobarese construction.