Nalukettu is a traditional architectural style of houses in Kerala, a state in southern India. The word “Nalukettu” translates to “four blocks” in Malayalam, which refers to the four wings or blocks that surround a central courtyard. It is a unique and iconic feature of traditional Kerala architecture.
Nalukettu houses are typically large, spacious, and designed to accommodate extended families. They are characterized by a central courtyard, which is open to the sky and serves as a gathering space for family members. The courtyard often has a well or a small garden, adding to the aesthetics of the house.
The four wings of the Nalukettu house are built around the courtyard, forming a rectangular or square layout. These wings are usually two or three stories high, with sloping roofs covered in traditional red clay tiles. The rooms are arranged along the sides of the wings, and the inner walls often have ornate wooden carvings and artwork.
One of the prominent features of a Nalukettu house is the “Mukhappu” or the main entrance. It is typically a grand doorway with elaborate carvings and a traditional Kerala-style arch. The Mukhappu leads to a spacious veranda called the “Poomukham,” which is an important part of the house where guests are welcomed.
Nalukettu houses are known for their wooden architecture and craftsmanship. The interiors feature intricately carved wooden pillars, beams, and ceilings. The wood used is usually teak or jackfruit wood, known for its durability and aesthetic appeal. The architecture also incorporates “thulasithara” (central courtyard with a sacred basil plant) and “nadumuttam” (a smaller inner courtyard).
Nalukettu houses are designed to optimize natural ventilation and lighting. The open courtyard in the center allows for airflow, keeping the interiors cool. The design also allows natural light to penetrate deep into the house, reducing the need for artificial lighting during the daytime.
Over time, the popularity of Nalukettu houses has decreased due to changing lifestyles and modern construction practices. However, efforts are being made to preserve and revive this traditional architectural style, as it represents the cultural heritage and identity of Kerala.
Nalukettu houses serve as a symbol of the grandeur and rich cultural legacy of Kerala. They showcase the harmonious blending of aesthetics, functionality, and sustainability, making them an integral part of Kerala’s architectural heritage.