The Ancestral Home

This Home was built by our grandfather Thomman Karikkassery for his brother's widow in 1924, but since she chose not to move from the main ancestral house, he moved into with his family. The design is inspired by his Portuguese friend Mr. Carlos. And it was drawn by my grandfather with help of senior Assaries (Architect-Carpenters as they were the civil engineers and architects in those days ) It took five years to complete and was the largest residence in Thiru Kochi state except for on or two palaces. At present it is the residence of the youngest brother Norbert Karikkassery. This is located on the Karthedom road at Malippuram, Vypeen Island. The main ancestral house is on the other side of the Bunder canal and is the residence of Sabu Karikkassery the grandson of our grandfather Thomman Karikkassery's elder brother.

The western fore-court of the house. The mango tree in the foreground is famous for its huge mangoes weighing over 6Kgs each, sour and meant only for cooking. We call it Ammini manga as there is no similar mangoe to our knowledge. A favorite place to climb to, when doctors come for immunization programs. Note the squat upper floor, designed to be lower than the local temple, as the carpenters refused to build higher than that. The hexagon shaped room was called pattom and the upper room was the study and tuition room.

The roof has 36 edges which is about the largest number in Kerala including ettu kettu manas and carpenters used to travel from far and wide to come and take a look at this strange house influenced by Portuguese design.

There used to be two large jasmine bushes in front on either side under which there were rabbit warrens.



The right side of the house with my father in the entrance verandah. There are a total of 32 pillars supporting the verandah roof. In the enclosed fore-court we used to have smooth round pebbles brought from the Periar river at Alwaye.

I remember that when we go to our summer house on the Sivarathri Temple Road in Thottekattukara, for the school holidays. We used to collect these pebbles from the river every morning during our bathe, and then use them to play with our cousins who would have also come to their summer homes alongside ours. We used to take back our winnings in sacks, and pour it all out in the fore-court of this house, so that the entire surface became filled. My sister Ammini used to be specially proficient at this game and bring back a lot every summer holiday that we spent in Alwaye.




My father George Karikkassery, who followed his father as panchayath president stands on lower verandah. These old houses had a two level verandah as protection during the monsoon. The wooden fascia of the house with cherubs and bunches of grapes was drawn by my grandfather. It used to be colorfully painted. There used to be a carved oval table in front of the door to prevent cows from charging through the house when they are brought in from grazing.

Thambi, our major-domo used to make them all run in through the main gate and some used to run straight down the path, and in through the front door, through the sitting room, the prayer hall, the larger dining room and sometime even the kitchen, upsetting all of us. It was almost like an avalanche with the large brown Jersey cow skidding on the polished floor, knocking over small tables and chairs and a source of merriment for the children. The cow of course used to totally ignore the shouted commands of my mother, aunties and other assorted elders.

This is a new wall and gate built by Nobby after the old one fell down as the  foundation had deteriorated. There was an Athani (resting bench for travelers) built beside the road where my grandfather used to site in the evenings, meet and chat with the village elders. Many decisions concerning the village would be taken here rather than in the panchayath, of which he was the founder president. It was not re-built after it cracked because it would now become a different sort of haunt in front of the house. The wall is the longest in the village encompassing the entire 3.5 acres of the house compound.

In the old days only the front had a wall, the rest was made of fencing decorated with coconut palm fronds, perennially being renovated by two lazy experts. My dad got fed up when they became too old to do it, and began building the wall which was completed by Nobby.



The drive-way

This where the cow would pick up speed in the old days and be too fast to turn aside and go on through the front door. The paving stones were laid by Nobby after the death of the woman who used to sweep the ground, leaving a beautiful pattern in the fine white river sand from her spread broom. there was art in her sweeping.






My father, looks at the re-arrangement carried out by Nobby. There was an old wooden Arra (granary) separating the main dining room from the smaller dining room with a gloomy pathway beside it, where they used to hang bunches of bananas to ripen. A place so gloomy, and sometimes crossed by rats residing the ventilation area below the Are. We children, used to be scared to pass through it into the small dining room and would rather go through the verandah room. Since the paddy cultivation was reduced, there was no longer any need for the Arra and the occasional rat below it, so it was removed providing for a 40ft dining area cum TV viewing area. The door that can be seen is an exit to the bathing pond. There were five ponds. A large bathing one with a submerged wooden stage in the centre, for children to stand on, a drinking water pond at the back near the kitchen, a dipping pond for wetting the rice seedling bundles for sprouting. And for washing the cows and dogs. two smaller ponds in the Gents and Ladies lavatory area. I used to remember the in-out board to let others know that you are somewhere in that fenced compound area sitting on the two planks placed over a pit (covered every evening by workers for the next day's load. After one pit is fully covered up, the next would be dug. Great fertilizer!) The ponds were for washing our behinds.

Detail of the external doors and pillars.

All the external doors and windows were carved with this type of design, the windows having a oval shape on both sides.

The pillars had a slight taper towards the top, we used to get caned for writing our names on it in black lead pencil.


More pictures will be put later on