The rural settlement within the Malda district highlights human attempts for the livelihood and building the habitat on the diverse geographical landscapes. The characteristics of its natural endowments, social conditionality and historical antecedents and most importantly the human efforts gave the rural countryside a certain kind of social and morphological characteristics. The morphological characteristics of the villages have been collected from the different natural regions of the districts in order to understand the divergent forces and feature of it. This paper has focused on understanding the settlement pattern in the Malda district in the three broad geographic regions of it namely Tal, Diara and Barind.
Key Words: Village, Morphological structure, Geographical landscapes, landuse, The Malda district.
Settlement morphology is primarily concerned with the lay-out, plan and internal structure of the settlements. It not only views settled area in terms of physical space but identifies its various components in respect of socio-economic space which has its direct bearing in controlling the arrangement of buildings, patterns of streets and fields and functional characteristics of settlements in general. Types, Form and Pattern constitute the three basic elements of morphology of rural settlements. Type would refer to three sets of formal and functional relationship: I) house to house, II) street to street and III) street to street. The inherent principle of village morphology is the human instinct of gregariousness. To have a comprehensive view of settlement, it deals with the morphogenesis and the morphological structure of rural settlement. Besides the geometrical shape, this is visualized through air view or on a well drawn map, as one aspects of the form of a settlement, the internal arrangement of lanes, houses, with varies relationship, provide another aspect, named as morphology, hence morphological structure. The morphological structure of villages, as concrete expression of human activity in space, involves five principles of settlement formation, advocated by Doxiadis. His hypothetical frame for any settlement consists of four parts: Homogenous parts, Central part, Circulatory part and Special part. These basic parts are closely associated with the dimensions of height, length, width and time, which are best explained by morphological analysis of the villages. The internal morphology naturally involves analysis of structural morphology and social morphology. Of these, the former concern with the description and interpretation of relationship involves and deals with the varied dwelling group, community structures and land or spaces.
Agglomerate and isolated homestead would be the two extreme types intervened by a large number of intermediate types. While in an agglomerate type there is one habitation site on which are located all the buildings, in the dispersed or isolated type there would be as many habitation sites as the building. Form connotes the geometric shape of the aggregate of building and streets, and thus, is expressed through innumerable categories, such as circular, rectangular, square, quadrilateral and irregular. Finally, pattern would be indicating geometrical arrangement of large number of settlement suggestive of correlation with natural and cultural features of the landscapes. Form, type can be applied to individual settlements but pattern is applicable only to a set of large number of rural settlements (Mukerji A.B, 1976). Generally rural settlements spread over number of buildings and distribution of cultivated lands on several levels. Just as in the cases of scattered and dispersed villages, this type of settlements represents a typical form which there can be established a sequence of form and structure (Gh. Iordache, 1974). The tendency of grouped households, agglomerating in the heartland is typical for settlement within plain...