the people

As a Silent spectator for two centuries

The huge building is still standing intact as a silent spectator of moments that marked the history of the land. The two storied building was the abode of the Kalliat Nambiars who once enjoyed complete authority over the life and property of the vast tracts of the land , large number of hillocks and paddy fields. There was a time when scores of servants moved around the house collecting and measuring enormous quantities of paddy and other agricultural produces from the tenants of the tharavad. According to Malabar Manual written by William Logan ,after doing enormous attrocities in the district in 1852 a group of rioters reached this house to attack and kill Kalliad Nambiar. But all of them were killed there itself under the leadership of the then Karanavar and the retainers of him.

The house is named “Kalliad Thazhathuveedu “ meaning a house that is located in a low land. Kalliad is towards eastern hilly tracts of Kannur district, near Irikkur ,35 kms from Kannur. The available history documented here and there indicates an antiquity of around two hundred years to this house. This house is believed to be built by Kalliat Valiya Kammaran Nambiar,the senior most member of the house then. Some inscriptions found on an old lock substantiate this. The narrow corridors that precede to the inner rooms lead one to the eventful days of the past . This two storey house complex have two “nalukettus”( for cornered openings inside the construction) inside the whole structure. Completely made of laterite blocks each story has more than ten spacious rooms in it. From the main Nalukettu one can enter the traditional padinjitta(Prayer room) and kottila( a large bed room).Besides the “thekkinthara” meaning platform at the southern side of the house is also accessible from there ,where traditional rituals and poojas take place.The entrance of the house is quite wide with decorated wooden seats and pillars with wooden carvings of creatures like snakes and lizards. One would surely be astonished by the skill and persistence of the people who made carvings in those pillars and windows in an era when no machines or tools were available for such delicate works. A huge window in the “Poomukham” (entrance) might have took hundreds of days of laborious and creative work. The chirping sound generated while moving the huge doors echoes into the glorious and fanciful aisle of the joint family days that witnessed it's love ,affection,authority ,supremacy and suppression, grief and unhappiness as well. Every rooms has different types of windows constructed in wood,with very beautiful woodcarvings. Some of them have gliding pairs of wooden panels while some others have star shaped and circle shaped holes as openings to the outer side. As some of the ancient Kerala architecture were designed ,persons inside the rooms can see others outside very clearly ,but those people standing outside can't see anyone inside. It must have been to assure the security and to refrain the members of the family, especially the women folk from direct contact with unknown people. The kitchen complex which served food to a lot of people-both insiders and outsiders consists of three rooms and a separate dining hall. A well with traditional “nellipala” (wooden sheets paved at the bottom in old wells to purify the water )beneath the water table is also there. People stayed there used the vast pond lying north to the building to wash and bath. Adjoining the main building there exist a huge “Pathayapura”( granary) to collect the paddy received from tharavad's own fields lying adjacent to the house and also paddy collected from their tenants in different parts of the area. A bunglow for the stay of guests also existed outside the main building .
Though stories of magnanimity valour and glory are plenty about different Karanavars ruthless acts and tyrannical incidents are also there about some others. When entire nation was plunged in nationalistic movement it's ripples reached inside the walls of the house. One of the senior member of the family married his daughter off to a nationalist leader and the then Kerala Pradesh Congress Committe President K T Kunhiraman Nambiar . Even before that K T Chathukutty nambiar who administered the family as it's head supported and promoted the movement led by social reformer and progressive leader Vagbhatananda Guru in 1920s. Vagbhatananda gave the name “Yajamanan” to the official magazine of 'Atmavidyasangham' in response to his support and K T Chathukutty Nambiar himself with great erudition and oratorial skills gave lectures all over the province in support of "Atmavidyasangham".The tharavad karanavar enjoyed huge powers then.He was an uncrowned king of the area during the British rule and before. Old letters written by Pazhassiraja and some British documents substantiate this. No one spoke against their authority then. All the famous temples of the area were under the trusteeship of the family including Vayathur Kaliar temple at Vayathur and Mamanikkunnu Mahadevi temple at Irikkur. Both national movement and communist movements in the area had had their influences and their ripples in the system. After independence the joint family system got crumbled due to the pressures from within and outside and tharavad began to disintegrate. Several of the successors appproached courts for their part of right over tharavad property. Land reforms act was the last nail in the coffin. All the power and land once enjoyed became a story. After the partition some members of the family who got the old tharavad house as their property right decided to maintain the tharavad structure intact and keep the mansion as a public property among it's members. Now a tharavad trust including all the members of the family maintain the building. Thus that magnificent building stand there showing light over the unknown and unheard stories of the past to the new generation,quite wonderful and incredible stories.

The "report of the study submitted to Kerala Council For Historical Research on the tharavad as a part of a fellowship program is here.

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