A Brahminical interlude in Kerala

Express News Service

Thottuva is simply one other Kerala hamlet, a riverside postscript within the bigger stream of historical past. Thani Illam, a heritage homestay right here, sits beside the Periyar River and seeks to be greater than a homestay by giving uncommon insights to life in Kerala 200 years in the past. Then Namboodiris have been on high of the caste heap; at the moment the illam’s pitch devised by politically incorrect tour operators is “Spend a day with a Brahmin family”. Having stated that, the red-tiled gabled constructing is the primary heritage constructing to be included within the ‘grihasthali’ undertaking of Kerala Tourism, which attracts vacationers to historic properties that package deal Malayali previous with structure and meals.  

Tourists are enchanted by its low wood ceilings, easy wood pillars—considered one of which is comprised of a single tree trunk—the aattukattil (swing-cot) within the entrance room, the historically paved flooring and the conical roofs that time to the sky with proud nostalgia. The place was constructed by Tamil Brahmins, says Santhosh Thanikad, son of TSP Namboothiri, who owns the constructing. “It is constructed in the ‘agraharam’ style (agraharams were the colonies of Tamil Brahmins after they migrated to Kerala). A typical Namboothiri Illam is a ‘nalukettu’,” says Santhosh. A nalukttu is a Kerala home with 4 wings and a central courtyard.

Thottuva, which accurately means ‘canal’s mouth’, is residence to divine inspiration. The Dhanvantari Temple, a uncommon place of worship devoted to the god of therapeutic, is without doubt one of the 4 main temples right here. Places of pilgrimage resembling Shankaracharya’s birthplace Kalady and Malayattoor are shut by.
The illam’s most well-liked friends are international cruise travellers and package deal vacationers. Santhosh says the illam’s objective “is to conserve the heritage building without investing a huge amount of money”. His mother and father purchased the illam in 1993 to spend their retirement away from the incessant bustle of town. But historical past and Santhosh had different plans. 

He was within the tourism enterprise and had gained a Green Globe certification in 2003 for sustainable tourism. Well-versed in houseboat tourism, he knew the riverside home was a perfect cease for Westerners. He utilized to enrol it within the Grihasthali scheme. Officials from the tourism division got here to examine its suitability. Its structure and historic significance impressed them. Santhosh says, “They got my parents on board for their project. Their task was to rope in others.”When Thani Illam opened its doorways, there have been over 100 heritage buildings registered with Grihasthali. Today solely eight stay. But Thani Illam is unconventional. Says Santhosh, “We aren’t a homestay.

Our friends are provided the identical meals the household eats, which is pure vegetarian Brahmin fare made with produce grown on the illam’s land.” Alcohol and smoking are a strict no-no right here.Like so many historic South Indian buildings, Thani Illam, too, doesn’t want air-con to maintain its residents cool. The positioning of the doorways and home windows, and the wood ceiling is accountable for the clement temperature. The prolonged roof prevents solar and rain from falling straight on the partitions. In the start, the illam provided one-night stays, however now as a result of his mother and father’ well being points it hosts day guests. “The tourists, especially from cruise ships, arrive here to spend a day with the family,” he says. Compressing two centuries right into a single day is a part of the illam’s magic.

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