An abode inspired by Theyyam

The home Anubhava is built using materials like bamboo, stone and some galvanised iron on the banks of Arayipuzha
The couple zeroed in on the property and bought it in 2008 to make it their home after retirement.
The couple zeroed in on the property and bought it in 2008 to make it their home after retirement.

KOCHI: A pristine river that demurely flows through a verdant land, which holds close to its bosom a treasure trove of traditions. That’s how Balachandran Manikkath and Rtd Commander Prasanna Edayilliam describe their property on the banks of Arayipuzha at Kanhangad in Kasaragod district.

The couple zeroed in on the property and bought it in 2008 to make it their home after retirement. And here on this little plot of land, they have built a home that not only celebrates nature but also the traditional artform of the area: theyyam.

Many things about the house are unique. “The one stand-out feature is the design. The house was designed after a theyyam which is endemic to our village,” says Balachandran, who is a tennis coach working with the leading men’s players in India, including Rohan Bopanna.

An Ernakulam native, he and his wife — who is a retired naval officer — decided to spend their leisure years in Kanhangad, Prasanna’s hometown. “The beauty of the place got us spellbound. It was a big relief as we were living in the concrete jungles for so long,” says Prasanna.

They brought 13 cents of land on the riverfront and in a budget of just over Rs 40 lakh, a home was built, with all its quirkiness, blending traditions, folklore and art with nature.  

The couple with gusto elaborates on why they decided upon the theyyam design. “The idea was proposed by the architect and we also thought, why not? We were celebrating the folk culture of the area. Kasaragod is very famous for theyyams and we have one in the temple near our property. The temple is located just 500m away,” says Balachandran, who is also the director of Rohan Bopanna Tennis Academy.

According to lore, Kartika Chamundi arrives with Theyyayathu Kari and Gulikan Theyyam on a boat from Arayi Karthikakavu to Kalichankavu — basically from one side of the river to the other. “The sight is one to behold. It takes your breath away, transporting you to faraway corners,” says Prasanna. It is said that Kartika Chamundi made Arayi village rich by saving its paddy fields. Karthika Chamundi and her two friends cross the river in a canoe to visit the farmlands of Arayi village every year.

“It’s the mudi (hair) of this Karthika Chamundi that is depicted by the long structure in the front. It’s like the theyyam reaching the Kadavu on a boat,” says Prasanna.

Other features that sets apart is the home is the materials used. The couple met principal architect Sachin Raj of A Line Studio in Kanhangad and discussed building something that would enhance the existing ambience of the area. “We wanted something that relates to the place. They came up with the bamboo as an option and we decided to try it out. Sachin found a person named Sadique who was confident of making this bamboo structure,” explains Balachandran.

The materials are mainly bamboo, black stone and some galvanised iron (GI). There is a minimum use of metal poles and concrete to strengthen the structure. “Our house also has a thatched roof, made up of dry grass,” says Prasanna.

The structure that seamlessly blends with the riverfront, has been a subject of discussion with the couple’s friends. “A friend from Pollachi was awed by the structure and said it projected a tranquil ambience,” Balachandran recalls.

Even the architect fell under the spell of the place, they laugh.

They chose Anubhava as the name of the abode since the structure is nothing short of an experience for those who appreciate nature. The house has been divided into a private block, a semi-private block, a common area and a passage.

The entire space looks and feels open. However, materials like bamboo and dry grass don’t make the space fireproof. “So the kitchen doesn’t have things like a hearth or a gas stove. Instead, we have an electric stove. Now, that is a challenge but that remains so just until you get used to it,” says Prasanna.

The house has a sitout located in the area with the bamboo ‘mudi’ beside the living room, pantry and toilet. The entire mudi encompasses these areas. “Attached to the ‘mudi’ is the indoor dining room followed by the outdoor dining room, kitchen, bedroom, and a passage that opens out into the river,” says Prasanna.

Standing under the ‘mudi’, one can take in the free-flowing Arayipuzha. An awe-inspiring view, especially during the monsoon, smiles the couple. “What else do you need in life.” 

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