Introduction to heritage homes in Kerala and their design.
Heritage houses in Kerala date to a time when the joint family and matriarchal system prevailed. They are necessarily huge structures where generations of families lived at the same time along with the servants for looking after the inmates and for the maintenance of the house.
Kerala was rich in timber, so all the heritage houses are mostly made out of teak wood with typical carvings on the ceiling.
A house may be a Nalukettu (one central open courtyard)or Etukettu (two central open air courtyards). These open courtyards provided for air circulation within the house. There would be strongrooms called (aras); secret ones were for storing gold and silver coins; big ones for storing coconuts and grain.
Some of these houses have underground tunnels extending up to a mile which might lead to the basement of another house. There are also secret hiding places, probably to hide from enemies.
It is believed that when these houses were built gold and silver coins and jewellery were placed in secret places in the walls; obviously with the intention that if the family fell on very bad times and resorted to pulling down the structure they would find this treasure which would revive their finances.