Varikkasery mana is etched in the hearts of Malayalam movie enthusiasts as the grand old traditional mansion has reprised in Malayalam movies for a record number of times, and hence rightly deserves the title 'Malayalam cinema's ancestral home’. The mana or the traditional household is at the beautiful countryside of Maniserry in Palakkad district. This spectacular mansion belonged to a noted Brahman family that claimed allegiance to the Zamorins of Kozhikode. The audience has only seen the mana, on screen, with the added glitz and glamour of the films. However, the mana, without its cinematic aura, is in fact more regal, elegant and charmingly rustic.
The Varikkasery mana is around 120 years old and had been built using laterite stones that were locally available. The famous sit-out and the facade was added to the structure only 35 years ago.
The mana became an auspicious film location after the movie Devasuram, in which super star Mohanlal shined as Mangalaserry Neelandan, became a blockbuster. The beautiful corridors and the splendid courtyard of the mana got featured in more than 180 movies including Aaram Thampuran, Valyettan, Rapakal, Chandrotsavam, Madambi and Shylock.
The household faces westward direction. Pillars and ceilings that exude the regal charm of wooden carvings are the highlights of the grand sit-out. Meanwhile, a beautiful wall art, done in the traditional temple art form, is what welcomes one into the interiors.
Varikkasery mana is often touted as visually, the most appealing naalukettu in Kerala. The spacious and open central courtyard is the real soul of the mana. The rooms and other spaces are arranged around this courtyard. Interestingly, stunning views of this courtyard could be enjoyed from all the rooms.
The amazing beauty of this courtyard has been perfectly portrayed in songs like Kalyanakacheri from Madambi and Muttathethum Thennale from Chandrotsavam. There are countless doors and windows which facilitates incredible cross ventilation. It is quite astonishing that such brilliant cross ventilation features were designed a century ago. The wooden stairway leads to a spacious hall. Earlier, when large and extended joint families in the house, there weren’t individual rooms for everyone. They might have had slept in this spacious hall by paving a palm leaf paya or mat on the floor.
The balcony is the perfect place to enjoy a panoramic view of the beautiful surroundings. One could grab the stunning views of the nearby pathayapura or granary and the temple pond, in all its glory, from this balcony.
The majestic granary is just beside the main structure. It was featured in movies like Thoovalkottaram, Bodyguard and Pretham 2. This granary was built to store tones of grains that were farmed in acres of land that was owned by the family. Long verandahs and spacious balconies are the highlights of the pathayapura. From here, one could enjoy the side view of the mana.
The family temple is just a few meters away from the mana. Regular poojas and rituals are conducted at this old temple. The huge pond, where many popular scenes were shot, is just beside this temple.
Varikkasery mana is the perfect example of a grand mansion where traditional architecture combines with ancient myths and legends. It would be worth taking a trip to the Varikkasery mana to see and enjoy this fabulous structure, if you are interested in traditional architecture.
Pictures and video – Ajith Thomas