Out of all my routine escapades, I relish visiting Kerala the most. You may think, it's the view of lush greenery cherished from the window, as the flight starts descending towards the state, or, it is the melodious chirps of birds, or perhaps the temptation of a therapeutic massage that draws me to Kerala? Of course, Kerala is known to provide these experiential treats, but what makes me keep getting back there is something new that I take back with me on my every visit and the feeling that there is more that I have to discover yet!
On my last visit to Cochin, I decided I would divorce the customary options of accommodation and explore something that would give me a different experience. A local friend suggested I stay with her grandparents at their ancestral house in Tripunithura which was mostly devoid of visitors.
Why add a traditional home stay to your next tour?
They are closely knit with the local traditions and culture and provide a great opportunity to understand the lifestyle of the local community Your journey feels more real and you have an exclusive story to tell at the end of the tour Staying in Traditional houses managed by locals improve the host-tourist relationship and they get economic support Traditional houses in India are built according to the type of climate and geography of the place, are eco friendly and pocket friendly.
Kerala has a lot of elderly population living alone while their children work abroad.
I readily accepted the option. In an hour's journey from the airport, I reached Tripunthura. Hidden amongst the coconut groves, the edifice looked welcoming, dressed in red roof tiles.
A Nalukettu house of the tharavadu style of architecture stood tall in front of me. Staying in a Heritage property built in the Colonial times? What more could I ask for?
'Nalukettu' is translated as' four blocks' in Malayalam. A Nalukettu house would be typically divided into four blocks north, south, east, and west. This ancient Kerala architectural form is a major part of the Kerala Tharavadu tradition, housing joint families for generations with a matriarch or a patriarch as the head of the house.
My host, Dr.Nair, and his wife welcomed me. I entered to the gentle air of camphor and sandalwood wandering inside the house.
It was the second quarter of the day and it was bright inside, with sunlight pouring in from the open courtyard. Yes, you read it right, an open courtyard inside the house called Nadumattam. It allows all the five elements to enter directly inside the house.
I toured along the expanse of Nalukettu house. Built-in rich teak wood during colonial times this place was steeped in stories. Numerous wall frames depicting black and white pictures of the Vaikom Satyagraha, Mahatma Gandhiji, and a rare portrait painted on the lines of Raja Ravi Verma were a treat to the eyes.
It was a two-storied house, all built-in wood. All the rooms were adjacent to each other and opened to the courtyard inside the house, which meant on a rainy day you could witness the gush of rain in the house.
I walked past the last photograph on the wall to enter my room. An oil lamp lit on the table, added to my joy. A large open window gave an Excellent view of the adjacent kayal (Lake)
After a traditional lunch, I set to do what I was waiting for. Exploring the property. The lush greenery invited me to walk barefoot. Medicinal plants dominated the greenery. The Nalukettu house had a banana plantation in a corner, while in the other corner there was a well for domestic use. The air spoke of ripe jackfruits that hung lazily in the backyard. Birds cheerfully called out to each other at the thud of fruits falling on the ground. A canopy of trees covered this house which so close to the city but was different in itself. After a brief walk and tasting one of the sweetest guavas, I walked back inside with purple feet - No... not with an insect bite but with wasted java plums that I crushed on my way!
I made an interesting discovery during my stay with the Nair's, which I shall describe in my next blog. Until then... Tips to enhance your homestay experience:
A good research before you book- check the location and availability of transport options Inform the host of your meal preferences before you travel Check payment options well in advance, keep cash handy Be sure to check the rules of the house and guest manual during your stay Go for well-rated, well-reviewed options on travel websites before booking Remember you are not staying at a hotel...be the best guest to your host!Would you like to book a tradional homestay on your next visit? Do let me know what you think in the comments section!