The illam of Kurumathur Naikkars

Mar 01, 2017 | Vol 09 | Issue 02
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In the architectural tradition of Kerala, Kurumathur illam on the bank of River Valapattanam in Kannur district is one among the few 'Ettukettu' structures that still exist. This heritage property is now conserved by their family trust.

In the architectural tradition of Kerala, Kurumathur illam on the bank of River Valapattanam in Kannur district is one among the few 'Ettukettu' structures that still exist. Mana or illam is the home of Nambuthiri, the Brahmin community of Kerala. The illam is situated in a rustic village Kurumathur (the place name as well as the family name is the same) with a vast land and additional structures – Padippura (entrance gate with guest rooms), Pathayappura (Granary complex), Kulappura (pond with a bathing shelter) and a temple nearby. They were addressed as Kurumathur Naikkar.

The illam

The Illam is an Ettukettu structure with eight blocks and two inner courtyards constructed nearly 90 years before. The complex consists of a main inner courtyard (approx.12ft x 12 ft size) and the four blocks surrounding it, known as Valiyam bhagam. The smaller courtyard (approx.7ft X 7ft size) and the surrounding blocks are together called as Kunjhan Bhagam. As per tradition, this area was for the ladies of the family. The Kitchen, dining area etc are also in this block.

Apart from the ground floor, there are two more floors on Thekkini'(southern block) and Padinjaatti (western block). The second floor is an attic and is not partitioned. Even though the family has about 60 plus members, at present, no one stays in the Illam. But daily rituals and worship for the family deities are performed.

Padippura is a two storied structure with rooms. It was earlier the administrative office of the Naykkar's. The present head of the family is 84 year old Parameswaran Nambuthiripad. He is staying at the Paddippura building along with his wife Nirmala, son Hari and Hari's family.

According to Hari, centuries back, the temple nearby, Akathoottu Bhagavathi Kshethram was the residential complex of the  Kurumathur family. It is a four block square structure (Nalukettu) with a spacious center courtyard.  The sanctorum is at the centre courtyard, which was surrounded by four separate buildings. Two of the buildings are now remaining and has been renovated. One part of the foundation still exists. The fourth block was a granary complex with laterite structure, but in dilapidated condition and without a roof. It is said that the family later shifted to the present Pathayapura complex.

Pathayappura was also a Nalukettu, but only two sides are now remaining. One block has two floors. It is about 200 years old. Now it functions as the office cum residence of the Manager of the trust.

Apart from the Illam complex, the family owns some temples- Perumba Mahavishnu Kshethram, Thrichambaram Durga Kshethram, Thrichambaram Neerkottil Ganapathi Parthasarathi Kshethram, etc The whole management is under Kurumathur illam trust, which is headed by Kurumathur Sankaranarayanan, one of the family members and a practicing lawyer residing at Thalassery.

The Kurumaathoor Namboodiripad has close association with Kottiyur Shiva Kshethram, Payyavur Kshethram, Thrichambaram Sreekrishna Kshethram etc. The family also had a Kathakali training centre during 1960s under the tutelage of the late Mezhuvil Narayanan Nair Asan a renowned Kathakali artist and trainer.

Location/access: 8km from Taliparamba in Kannur District. On Taliparamba- Payyavur road, take diversion from Pokkundu junction. From Pokkundu its about 2.5km.

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