Kerala architecture is a kind of architectural style that is mostly found in Indian state of Kerala. Kerala's style of architecture is unique in India, in its striking contrast to Dravidian architecture which is normally practiced in other parts of South India. The architecture of Kerala has been influenced by Dravidian and Indian Vedic architectural science (Vastu Shastra) over two millennia. The Tantrasamuchaya, Thachu-Shastra, Manushyalaya-Chandrika and Silparatna are important architectural sciences, which have had a strong impact in Kerala Architecture style. The Manushyalaya-Chandrika, a work devoted to domestic architecture is one such science which has its strong roots in Kerala.
The architectural style has evolved from Kerala’s peculiar climate and long history of influences of its major maritime trading partners like Chinese, Arabs and Europeans.
Kerala architecture can be broadly divided into 2 distinctive areas based on their functionality, each guided by different set of principles;
· Religious Architecture, primarily patronised by temples of Kerala as well as several old churches, mosques etc.
· Domestic Architecture, primarily seen in most of the residential houses. There are distinctively styles in this area, as Palaces and large mansions of feudal lords different from houses of commoners and also marked difference exists between religious communities.
The belief system of Vastu plays a very important role in developing architecture styles. The basic underlying belief is that, every structure built on earth has its own life, with a soul and personality which is shaped by its surroundings. The most important science which has Kerala has developed purely indigenously is Thachu-Shastra (Science of Carpentry) as the easily availability of timber and its heavy use of it. The concept of Thachu underlines that as timber is derived from a living form, the wood, when used for construction, has its own life which must be synthesised in harmony with its surroundings and people whom dwell inside it.
A Classic Nalukettu of Kerala built in Kerala architecture
Nālukettu is the traditional homestead of Tharavadu where many generations of a matrilineal family lived. These types of buildings are typically found in the Indian state of Kerala. The traditional architecture is typically a rectangular structure where four blocks are joined together with a central courtyard open to the sky. The four halls on the sides are named Vadakkini (northern block), Padinjattini (western block), Kizhakkini (eastern block) and Thekkini (southern block). The architecture was especially catered to large families of the traditional tharavadu, to live under one roof and enjoy the commonly owned facilities of the marumakkathayam homestead
Elements of Nalukettu
It is a structure containing a door forming part of Compound wall for the house with a tiled roof on top. It is the formal entry to the compound with the house. At present the door is not there as car will have to enter the house through the entry. Still tiled roof is provided preferably with a traditional type lamp below the roof. Instead of door of entry, we now have the Gate
It is the prime portico soon after steps to the house. Traditionally it has a slope tiled roof with pillars supporting roof. Sides are open. In the earlier days, the head of the family called Karanavar used to sit here in a reclining chair with thuppal kolambi (Spittoon) by the side of chair. This chair will have long rails on either side where the Karanavar will keep his legs raised for comfortable rest
From the Poomukham, a verandah to either side in front of the house through open passage called Chuttu Verandah. Chuttu verandah will have hanging lights in equal distance hanging from its slope roof.
By the side of Chuttu verandah and Poomukham, wooden benches with carved decorative resting wooden pieces for resting the back are provided. This is called Charupady. Traditionally the family members or visitors used to sit on these charupady to talk.
Almost every Nalukettu has its own Kulam or Pond for bathing of its members.
At the end of Chuttu verandah there used to be a small pond built with rubble on sides where lotus or Ambal used to be planted. The water bodies are maintained to synthesised energy flow inside
A typical Nadumuttom of Kerala Nalukettu
Traditionally Nadumuttom or central open courtyard is the prime center the Nalukettu. There is an open area usually square shaped in the exact middle of the house dividing the house in its four sides. Due to this four side division of the house by having a Nadumuttom. Similarly there was Ettu kettu and Pathinaru kettu which are quite rare with two and four Nadumuttom respectively
Nadumuttom will be normally open to sky, allowing sunshine and rains to pour in. This is to allow natural energies to circulate within the house and allow positive vibrance within. A thulsi or tree will be normally planted in center of Nadumuttom, which is used to worship. Architecturally the logic is allow tree to act as a natural air purifier.
Pooja room should preferably be in the North East corner of the house. Idols can be placed facing east or west and the person praying can face west or east respectively. At present, wooden panelling is done on Pooja room walls and there is a standard design for Pooja room which can be given to clients interested in having traditional Pooja room