Vernacular Kerala Architecture – Hindu House (Manakavu, Calicut)

This two-storey house built of laterite and timber is representative of many turn-of-the century middle class homes throughout the central and northern parts of Kerala. This house belonged to a Menon family, one of the many traditionally matrilineal Hindu communities in Kerala. The owners of this house earlier had ten acres of agricultural
land which was sold.
Originally facing east, the house has been reconstructed without its original kitchen, which had already fallen down. The kitchen, which was in the northeast side of the house, had a separate courtyard with a well at the end of the building. The complex also included a separate two storey granary with storage for household vessels and agricultural produce.
Representative of a northern Kerala house, the Calicut house has many small rooms that afford a modicum of privacy to couples within the joint family. The typical Hindu family at the turn of the century was an extended family, often comprising three to four generations within the same house — even when the house was relatively small.
In the matrilineal communities, property passed from mother to daughters. The eldest son usually managed the estate for his sister, while other married sons moved into their wives’ homes. Today, under the current legal system, brothers and sisters have equal rights to property.
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