Where time stands still – Erumbala Tharavadu

The Tharavadu, a joint family abode, was originally unique to the Nairs and the Thiyars from Kerala. Later, others like Namboothiris, Christians and Muslims also started referring to their ancestral homes as Tharavadus.

Located in Kalliasseri in Kerala’s Kannur district, the Erumbala Tharavadu, with history spanning more than a 100 years, has been a constant source of fascination and awe for me over the years. The sight of this introverted giant standing tall on moonlit nights has fed my childhood nightmares on more occasions than one. Only recently, probably in the last decade or so, have I realized the importance of respecting this as an amazing piece of tangible history. Belonging to the Erumbala lineage, I have taken it upon myself to document this and if and when possible help to conserve it.

What is equally fascinating is the fact that the open space around the structure have also not been tampered with in the name of development. The space plays home to snakes (including cobras), insects, birds, fruit bats, mongooses and foxes. Snakes have always played an important role in the lives of people from this region. Every Tharavadu has its own Kaavu (Snake grove), the home of the snake deity, which is even today considered to be a holy space and remains undisturbed.

This post is an attempt at documenting this magnificent structure through photographs.

If you are interested in visiting this site, do leave me a message.

The Erumbala Tharavadu as seen by passersby.

The Erumbala Tharavadu as seen by passersby.

A closer view of the front elevation.

A closer view of the front elevation.

Another view of the elevation.

Another view of the elevation.

The outer verandah/corridor with beautiful old wooden columns and some elaborate truss work.

The outer verandah/corridor with beautiful old wooden columns and some elaborate truss work.

The one-piece wooden column with its intricately carved capital.

The one-piece wooden column with its intricately carved capital.

Details of the column capital and ornate workmanship.

Details of the column capital and ornate workmanship.

Window connecting the inner corridor to the sitout outside.

Window connecting the inner corridor to the sit-out outside.

Ornate lintel detail.

Ornate window lintel detail.

Main entry door.

Main entry door.

Wooden staircase leading to the upper floor.

Wooden staircase leading to the upper floor.

View from upper floor showing the stairs leading to the ground floor and light streaming in through the courtyard and the external window.

View from upper floor showing the stairs leading to the ground floor and light streaming in through the courtyard and the external window.

Trusses holding the tiled roof.

Trusses holding the tiled roof.

One of the rooms has been refurbished in an attempt to conserve this structure.The polished wood on the ceiling and the painted wall can be seen here.

One of the rooms has been refurbished in an attempt to conserve this structure.The polished wood on the ceiling and the painted wall can be seen here.

An exterior view of a window opening into the central courtyard and the tiled roof.

An exterior view of a window opening into the central courtyard and the tiled roof.

Exterior window detail.

Exterior window detail.

The space outside has been kept wild and there has been no human interference. Seen here is one of the many snake holes and a pit in which foxes live.

The space outside has been kept wild and there has been no human interference. Seen here is one of the many snake holes and a pit in which foxes live.

Giant fruit bats rule the canopy outside the Tharavadu.

Giant fruit bats rule the canopy outside the Tharavadu.

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