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An architectural heritage

An `ettukettu' on the outskirts of Palakkad has become a popular destination with foreign tourists.



The `nadumuttam' in Kandath Tharavad.

THE 200-year old Kandath Tharavad in Thenkurissi village, 10 km from Palakkad town, has become a favourite destination of tourists who want to experience the lifestyle of Kerala in ethnic surroundings.

The tharavad, which is an `ettukettu' (an eight-sided building with a twin elevation plan), is one of the few ancestral homes in Palakkad district that has welcomed tourists.

This gracious family mansion with its many pillars and open courtyards was turned into a homestay eight years ago.

The house is built in accordance with an architectural concept that is truly unique to Kerala. The `nadumuttam,' or the open-to-sky area, is where sacred rituals are still held. A pooja room opens into this courtyard. The low narrow teak doors are all decorated with brass inlays. Well-ventilated rooms add to the charm of this house.

Striking features

One of the most striking features of the Kandath Tharavad is the front elevation, a raised `Purathalam,' with grand, heavily worked teak pillars. Carvings of elephants, snakes, fish and dragons adorn the pillars.

The earthy colour of the floor tiles owes its rich shade to natural dyes.

Traditionally, as in most tharavads, the house is divided into two - for men and women.

At Kandath, the men's area is around the Purathalam. Less than 20 feet from here is an exclusive area for women. This portion is towards the rear of the house. A `Nadumuttam,' (open courtyard) right in the heart of this ancestral home, separates these two areas.

The ancestral home of the Kandath family was built by Kandath Kuppavelan in 1794. He was a landlord who was extremely popular in Palakkad in his days. His great grandson Bhagavaldas now owns this beautiful mansion.

Picturesque setting

The tharavad has not undergone too many changes over five generations. It is set against a picturesque backdrop of lush green paddy fields. Bhagawaldas, who is now the owner, returned from the United States in 1996. He invested Rs. 30 lakhs to maintain the ancestral house and every year he has to spend a substantial amount for its upkeep.

Now he is constructing a yoga and meditation centre in the compound of the tharavad.

G. PRABHAKARAN

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