House Construction and Carpentry in Kerala

During the visit to the Yogeeswara Sabha in Janani, Kilimanoor, Bodhinatha met everyone in a 300-year-old Kerala style house. We don't have a good photo of it from outside, though you can see it clearly in the background of the short movie clip of this visit.

It is now roofed with metal, rather than tile or thatch, and did not immediately attract the attention of the one among us most interested in carpentry....

The workmanship is extraordinary. The structure is put together with the precision of a piece of fine furniture but on the scale of a building! Complex joinery is complemented with artistic carvings throughout. Unlike a Western building, there is no "roof framing" which is then covered up by wallboard or wood. All the structural elements are visible and extremely refined.

This particular building is a guest receiving house situated in front of the main family home. The home has been replaced with a concrete house, but this has been preserved, though definitely showing signs of age. The building was originally roofed with thatch, which eventually leaked in the monsoon season, leading to mold and termite damage to the wood.

The building was raised up and overlooked the adjacent paddy fields. The wind naturally wafted through it, making the place very pleasant.

This house was owned by the local zamindar, the person responsible for collecting taxes from the people. He passed on part of the income to the king and was expected to maintain security and infrastructure in the area. The British retained the zamindar system, using it to bleed the peasants for decades.

We were told very few carpenters with this skill remain; the modern generation is not interested in this work.

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