Kerala is witnessing an interesting trend in home architecture: the return of the traditional ‘Nalukettu’.
Homeowners cite a variety of reasons for this rising trend, ranging from superior ventilation to nostalgia.
This is especially noticeable in the preferences of returning NRIs who relocate back to Kerala, not just for their love of the land but also because Kerala offers spacious and comfortable housing at affordable prices.
The history of the Nalukettu style of architecture is an interesting one. Even the veteran novelist M.T Vasudevan Nair has written a novel entitled ‘Nalukettu which is considered to be a classic piece in malayalam literature. Nalukettu model houses have been even showcased on big screen. For instance, you can see a glimpse of it in the Mangalassery Mana, the home of the protagonist Neelakandan played by Mohanlal in the movie ‘Aramthampuran’.
Nalukettu architecture is basically a rectangular shaped structure wherein four halls are joined together with an inner courtyard called ‘Nadumuttam’ which faces the open sky. The four halls on the sides are named Vadakkini (Northern block), Kizhakkini (Eastern block), Thekkini (Southern block) and Padinjatti (Western block). Nalukettu also consists of a basement storage room called “Nilavara”. Many believe that this form of architecture have been inspired from the“Pagodas” of South Asia and Aryan Culture. The union of four blocks is vital in Nalukettu. The open courtyard to which these four blocks faces is also very important when its considered in terms of dimensional ratios and size. The building materials like red bricks, mud and woods used in Nalukettu were also locally available.
Nalukettu was a typical feature of the Tharavadu houses in Kerala and most of the joint families lived under one roof in such homes. This architecture concept was purely based on Thatchu Shasthra, the Science of Carpentry and Traditional Vasthu. Just like Nalukettu, you can also find Ettukettu (a house with two nadumuttams) and Pathinarukettu (a house with four nadumuttams) in Kerala. All these houses had a simple layout and sheltered numerous people.
Nalukettu architecture was evolved in the era of feudal lords, Nairs and Namboothiris who were known for their aristocracy and caste dominance. When years passed, these traditional houses were dismantled due to several reasons. The socio-cultural changes was a major cause behind it. With the emergence of nuclear family system, people said bye to the Nalukettu system. The heavy maintenance costs of wood also made many to stay away from it. Lack of skilled carpenters specialized in this genre of architecture was also another reason. As a result, most of the Nalukettu homes were converted to museums, ayurvedic health care centres and home stays. Now,only few ancient Nalukettu homes exist in Kerala.
The ‘Nalukettu’ concept has come into vogue once again. Nowadays many people wish to own a Nalukettu home with a ‘nadumuttam’.You can easily identify the popularity of Nalukettu homes by looking at the projects of renowned builders in Kerala. Nestinfratech’s ‘The World villas project is a perfect example for it. This township comprises of architectural styles that includes contemporary as well as traditional Nalukettu Villas and luxurious apartments, ranging from 29 lakhs. The World sprawls over an area of 25 acres in the ever bracing surroundings of Alwaye.
Nalukettu architecture gives excellent ventilation for your homes and you will absolutely enjoy the natural sunbath experience inside your home. Such homes are just perfect for Kerala’s weather and you also won’t feel much heat inside your home even when it’s boiling outside. You will just love that feeling when tiny rain drops fall inside the Nadumuttam in your home. For non resident Indians who crave for a touch of tradition, Nalukettu homes are a perfect choice.