Despite the onslaught of contemporary abodes and modern construction techniques, Keralites still cherish a traditional house that boasts of the majestic indigenous architecture. Businessman Zacharia Philip, a native of the beautiful countryside of Kumarakam, is a self-confessed lover of traditional homes. He has been proudly preserving his 100 year old ancestral home named ‘Paniyathara’ where five generations of his family members lived.
Zacharia began thinking about a major renovation after the house survived the mega floods of 2018. A tributary of the Kottathodu lake flows through the backside of the house. It is at this lake that the famed Kumarakam boat race takes place every year. In 2018, the flood water breached the embankment and gushed into the house. Zacharia and his family had to move from the house as the water level began rising alarmingly. After the flood water subsided and every thing was back to normal, Zacharia didn’t delay to contact those who have expertise in raising houses in flood prone areas.
They visited the house; but expressed doubts about working on such an old structure. However, Zacharia couldn’t be dissuaded; hence, they went ahead with the task of raising the house. The soil from around the foundation was removed before raising the foundation using jack and lifts. The experts were able to successfully complete the massive task of raising the house. This indeed is an incredible feat as the house has a granary that could store up to 500 para (local measurement) paddy. Moreover, the structure was raised up to four feet by retaining the heavy traditional roof.
The pillars in the front were weak and had to be dismantled. They were then replaced with concrete pillars in wooden finish. The interiors too have been renovated to suit the modern times and needs. However, the house was given a makeover without altering the area of the structure. As per the vastusastra, new rooms haven’t been added in the main structure. However, the old and congested rooms were made spacious by dismantling the redundant walls. This classy house in 1800 sqft now has a sit out, spacious formal living area, dining space, kitchen with an adjacent work area and two bedrooms.
The entrance of the house is a bit away from the road, separated by long and spacious front yard. So, the dust and pollution from the road doesn’t reach here. There is a padipura or a traditional gateway, in the backside, that grants entry from the lake. The spacious and elaborate sit out here is the perfect spot to enjoy the serene beauty of the lake. Interestingly, the diwan here is an old wooden cot that has been given a facelift.
Zacharia lives with is wife, two kids and his old mother in this ancestral house. Zacharia has also built an out house of 1000 sqft, close to the main structure, to meet the requirements of the family. This is also done in the traditional style to match the ancestral home. Here, there is a quaint sit out, two bedrooms and a living area.
The grand elegance of exquisite teak wood is the highlight of the windows and doors, ceiling, wardrobes and cupboards. Earlier, the house had a red oxide flooring. Though tiles were paved later, it got ruined when the house was raised. So, the flooring was redone by paving new set of tiles. The old wiring and plumbing too have been replaced as part of the renovation.
You cannot miss the spectacular landscape that helps in elevating the overall look of the house. Bangalore stones are paved on the front yard. Meanwhile, the lush lawns on one side adds a pop of green. The old mango trees and the coconut palms have been preserved in the garden. A spacious car porch and an adjacent servant’s quarters too are newly built on the backside.
Lots of money and man power were spent to raise this house so that the past could be preserved. However, Zacharia doesn’t consider it a loss as he is proud and happy that he has honoured the memory of his ancestors by upholding the magnificent elegance of their ancestral home.
Location – Kumarakom, Kottayam
Owner – Zachariya Philip
Mob – 9447195224