The traditional Keralite Home (Dakshin Chitra)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

If you love wood, you will love the architecture in Kerala, the place that advertisers call “Gods own country”. If your vacationing tastes run into super-abundant greenery, lazy backwaters and romantic rainy weather then Kerala is the place for you. It is also home to many ancient temples which are architectural wonders in themselves.
But what I will share with you today is the traditional Kerala home. Fantastically recreated by “Dakshin Chitra” a cultural heritage centre which I wrote about here.

Framed in palm fronds the homes are poetry in wood.
Every house has a verandah or balcony where the senior(elder) of the house sat in his traditional recliner & oversaw the sorting of the harvest. "The traditional Kerala houses have both internal and external verandahs with low eaves, which reduces much of the glare and protects the walls from getting over heated. They also have very wide, low overhangs, which protect the walls from rain, sun glare and this also reduces radiation. "

Roof detail. Keralites obviously dont think sturdy means staid.

Carved pillars... various styles

God is clearly in the details - the door latch

knocker, latch and lock in carved metal

Opens to the living room

Now look up. The low wooden worked ceilings were designed to keep the homes cool in summer & retain the heat in winter.

Wood panelled walls...

...with panels of design motifs running across them
The passages though shaded gets in natural light through the edges & small skylights
This here is the bed- note the natural fibre mat on it with a thatched roof
The ornate headboard

Keralites were firm believers & expounders of 'Ayurveda' an ancient system of healing. So almost every home had a huge medicine chest. Check the no of drawers! and also the huge ceramic jars on them to store herbal preparations. Archana from RangDecor recently posted on an ayurvedic healing resort with scrumtuous pictures, you can read it here.
Kerala has a fair share of Christians and this is reflected in this beautiful altar
The Hindu homes have 'Kerala Mural art' about which I will post in detail. Do click on this pic to see a bigger version. You will also find this style of illustration on eminent temples in Kerala.
The kitchen with its hearth & earthen and stoneware pots and pans
This here is the store room where sacks of grains and provisions are kept in cool conditions wrapped in treated coconut fibre.
And as i stepped out I saw this delightful little detail nestled at the corner of the main wall. I truly don't know what it is for, maybe to keep a spare bunch of keys, or a note for someone or maybe its just a playful bit of design as reward for anyone bothered to look at corners.

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