Aroma of antiquity in mod mode

THE STONE paved path leads you to the ancestral home of Palal Kalapurayil Varghese Itoop at Kakkanad, on the outskirts of Kochi. What was a `kalappura' (storehouse), used to store the bundles of grain brought from their ancestral land, was modified nearly 150 years ago into a choice living place.

A section of the building, with the kitchen and other living spaces, in the simple `nalukettu' style, complete with a `nadumuttom' (enclosed courtyard) was added to the original structure. Reena and Itoop have preserved the house in its original form and beauty. The house has been modernised, adding amenities, without making any structural change to the original building. "We were told that the house was built according to `thachushastra' and that, any change made to the structure, would disturb its harmony,'' explains Reena.

Aroma of antiquity in mod mode

From the front lawn, this house looks just plain, bereft of ornamental d�cor, save the beauty of the ground floor verandah with its slim pillars and cute arches. This verandah runs right around the house. The doors on the ground floor are all set into the small arches and the front door has an exquisitely carved brass lock.

The door leads directly to the verandah of the courtyard. The four sides are put to various uses. While the frontage is arranged into a sitting room, the area opposite this is utilised as the dining area. You cannot miss the antique family heirlooms, placed at the corner of the sitting room. The ancient artefacts add to the charm of the area. An old cupboard, now used to store crockery, is placed at one end of the dining section.

Aroma of antiquity in mod mode

The single storied kitchen section and an informal dining room is on one side and the `maalika' (the two storied section) is on the other side. There is an `ozhuvaram' or an inner corridor that surrounds three sides of the ground floor of this two-storied section of the house. All the rooms have a wooden ceiling. The guest bedroom directly across the `nadumuttam' has a wooden staircase on one corner that leads directly to the bedroom upstairs. While a couple of steps on the floor on one side of the room lead to a big `nilavara' or storage space in the basement.

The inner corridor has been aesthetically modified. The area leading off the guest bedroom now serves as a dressing room. Directly across, on the other end is the bathroom, set into the corner of the corridor. This inner corridor is enclosed on the other side to form a room, which must have been used as a maternity room in the past.

From the sitting room space, a narrow flight of stairs leads to the corridor on the first floor. Here, there are two rooms with an `ara' or a storage space, in between. The corridor on the front is bright with sunlight pouring in through the array of windows that open into the courtyard. The view from the corridor is beautiful. The windows open into the garden, the flowers, the lush green lawn, the huge, ancient trees in the yard beyond, all adding charm to the landscape.

Aroma of antiquity in mod mode

A flight of stairs from the children's room leads to a huge attic. The master bedroom on the other side of the storage space has an antique ambience. The antique wooden chests, table, other small pieces, the wooden furniture, all have that antique charm. The inner corridor behind the first floor rooms has a bathroom on one corner whereas the other corner guides you to a small attic above the single storied section of the house. The space in the front of the storage space serves as a computer room. The door to the `ara' or the storage space is fitted with an exquisitely carved, ornamental lock with images of a half moon, cross and the sign `Ohm' embossed on it.

The house originally had about 30 acres of land around it, of which the family has retained about 15 acres. There is an ancient sacred grove in the compound, which is well preserved.

The family takes great pride in their heritage. And this pride is there to see. An ancient, magnificent structure maintained with loving care and fondly preserved.