The traditional Kerala house is the Nalukettu, a quadrangular building constructed according to the tenets of Thachu Sastra (science of architecture). It is specially designed to cater to the needs of a large family which comprised the old taravads under the marumakkathayam (matrili-neal) system. Nalukettu consists of nalu (four) blocks with a courtyard in the centre called nadumuttom. The vadakkini (northern block) consists of a kitchen and the dining room. The padinjattini (western block) has three rooms of which the middle one is the storeroom and the other two are bedrooms. The kizhakkini (eastern block) and thekkini (southern block) have open halls reserved for visitors and guests. Verandahs are built on all sides of the building and the inner courtyards. At the entrance to the compound stands the gatehouse called the padippura and the eastern part of the courtyard houses a thulasithara, a raised platform on which a sacred basil shrub is planted.Kerala’s palaces are also built in the same style with wood being used lavishly. The Padmanabhapuram Palace (now in Tamil Nadu), and the Krishnapuram palace near Kayamkulam, Alappuzha, are good examples.
In this style of architecture all the wooden beams and sections of the building interlock to form a strong structure. These buildings can be dismantled and reconstructed at a different location without any damage or change to the original structure.
The hospitality industry has preserved many old unwanted homes by dismantling and reconstructing them in a different location. The buildings are reconstructed keeping the original wood structures, roofing and furniture and adding extra amenities like air-conditioning and modern toilets without loss of the the essence and spirit of the traditional architectural style.
Since traditionally, Malayalis bathe in the rivers, these resorts have added ultra-modern bathrooms to the reassembled traditional structures. The bathroom is located in an inner courtyard, usually partially covered by a coconut or banana tree. Bathing under the stars in complete privacy is an unbelievable experience.
Among the resorts are the Coconut Lagoon Heritage Resort. Located on the eastern shore of the Vembanad Lake at the mouth of the Kavanar River, it is set within a coconut plantation in the heart of charming backwaters, and can only be reached by boat.
Another is the Travancore Heritage Resort, which is set high on a cliff overlooking the pristine beach of Chowara. Set under a canopy of green coconut palms, the resort is spread over seven acres of breathtaking landscape.
Traditional tarawad houses have been relocated, fitted with modern amenities and converted into tourist resorts