Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The traditional Keralite Home (Dakshin Chitra)

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...

...in 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.

33 comments:

studio wellspring said...

omg vineeta ~ this place is absolutely incredible! thanks for sharing so much ~ i'm swooning with wooden coveting over here.

vineeta said...

wow studio wellspring! that was quick! I just posted 5 mins back :) Work lifes been REALLY hectic & and i havent been able to post as often as i like to.
Thanx :) Thats a lot of beautiful wood there :)

Spandana said...

beautiful pictures, great location. thanks!

Arch at Rang said...

Gosh Vineeta,
You have really done an indepth research and photo session in Dakshinachitra.
Fantastic post ...I always loved the details and workmanship in wood.
I am digging the multiple drawers cupboard with the ceramic 'Jaadis' and the ornate brass latches:-)

In your words "Kickass" post;-)

~ ॐ ~ said...

i have to see this in real... probably spend a day or two there...

vineeta said...

Spandana, thanx for dropping by & the compliments :)

archana, thanx so much! coming from u that's high praise :) the last time I went I took truckloads of pics- couldnt stop clicking. I also shot with the intention of posting. so I guess theres a lot :)

vineeta said...

Om, you must go. Its completely beautiful! This place I have featured is in Chennai. But to see the real thing head to Trivandrum & check out the Padmanabhapuram palace. If i manage to go there anytime soon, I will do another photoessay, but like you said, nothing like being there & soaking in the ambience.

Vinita said...

Wow Vineeta, Do such homes really exist?? Even though this must be just a show case house do poeple in kerela have such homes? How lucky one can be .. breathtaking nature outside and equally magical artwork inside. I would love to have that kind of stove in my kitchen where I can cook on woodfire. Here in US wood fired pizza is a gourmet treat but for most of us from India when we ate at our grandmother's house where food was cooked only on woodfire it was sooooo taken for granted. Great post and nice to see that you are back.
Vinita

Reeta Skeeter said...

Splendid!

vineeta said...

Vinita, They do exist :) Though not all homes in Kerala are now like that, what with most people opting for more modern adaptations of this. There are many many such homes in kerala & though I didn't think of it till now, I will definitely try and shoot some such homes on my next visit to the place.

vineeta said...

Reeta, thanx so much for dropping by, I checked your blog & it really made for interesting reading.

Anrosh said...

just imagine if the grain of the woods were to be seen in them

amber said...

wow. my jaw is still hanging open. what an incredible place, thanks for sharing!
A

vineeta said...

Anrosh! hi :) The wood they used were the very best, treated & yes one can see the grains & that only adds to the beauty.

Amber, Thanx for dropping by, Im a huge fan of your blog myself.
yes, this style can be quite breathtaking :)

design for mankind. said...

SUCH beautiful detailing!!! THANK YOU for featuring this!!!

vineeta said...

design for mankind, Im so glad you liked it. There is so much that went into making those homes in that era.

Viva said...

love this post! such beauty :)
thanks for sharing....

vineeta said...

Viva, thanx for dropping by! I just checked your blog & found it most interesting!

designflute said...

this is a kind of post I love to come back again & again, want to copy all images for reference. loved every single/small detail you have put through images!Great work! I love the real journalist in you!

vineeta said...

Roma, I really feel happy when i read your comment. Thanx- I love doing this. so i guess it shows :)

Jac said...

That was splendid and a tribute to Kerala.

The paneled walls and accompanying wooden containers (large box shaped rooms) that were used as storage for valuable things are called 'Ara' and 'Nira'

I say this with out knowing if you are from Kerala.

vineeta said...

Thanx for stopping by & the appreciation :)
I knew it was called 'Ara' but I didn't know about 'Nira'. Yes I am a keralite, but don't stay there.

AM I A HINDU? said...

Vineeta, you have done an excellent job of describing Tharavad the traditional home of Malayalees [ people of Kerala orgin ].

I wish you could elaborate further about 'Nadumuttam', the central open courtyard,which all Tharavads have.

I can still recollect the stories my mom told me, sitting in 'Nadumuttam'.

Thanks again for a very good write up as well as the photos of the traditional Kerala home.

aamiahindu@yahoo.com

vinz-Q8 said...

hie vineetha,
i was just checking on the internet for an antiquie design for my new home and thats how i came across ur home.

I would like to inform you that the nest like sturcture that u saw (ur last pic in this topic) is actually a Vasthu design (veddipotthu)its belived to allow the flow of air/light(vayu/velicham). Its belived that by doing so, the house is rich in all the elements required for life.

Appreciate your view on kerala antique architecture. Keep up the good work.

R.A.J.E.S.H. said...

i would like to get some nadumuttam pictures

dr.sahin.h said...

Hi vineetha

realy amazing.we are also trying to preserving these type of keralite traditional houses.

dr.sahin.h

Karen said...

Vineeta, I am in BYW and I just love this post and in general viewing the traditional architecture from India especially being an American. The opportunity to see how real people live in another country is not easy to find in other blogs. By the way, what does the # of drawers mean on the medicine chest?

vineeta said...

Karen, Thanx for stopping by :) the many drawers on the medicine chest is to sort & store different herbs & medicines neatly.

parasu said...

The most amazing house I have ever seen. I lived in norway for many years and I thought no one could come close to a traditional stav church. Is it all made by hand ?

Anonymous said...

Great work.Beautiful house.I would like to see it in real and built a house like this.I liked the chest drawers, kitchen with pots and decortions on the wood, cot, and key holder.Thank you for posting this.Continue your good job.

SV said...

Planning to visit dakshina chitra.Your work is great!
Wood works are amazing!Loved the cot and the chest drawers with bharani on it.Your photography is fantastic.

Sony Krishna Swamy said...

I think the images for Kerala home were taken from: http://traditional-kerala.blogspot.in/
If so, you have not mentioned the original owner.

vineeta said...

Sony Krishna Swamy thank you for bringing this to my attention. I took these photographs when I went to Dakshin Chitra, in which there are constructed miniature south Indian homes. This blog that you have pasted a link of has taken this entire post & posted it onto his blog without any permission from or credits to me. i will contact him, thank you.