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Some Namboothiri Illams

This section contains the descriptions of a few homes of Namboothiris (called "Illams" in Malayalam). Namboothiri homes are variously called Illam, Mana, or Madhom, with unclear distinction between them. The word Illam may have its origin from Tamil, while Mana may be from Kannada / Tulu, and Madhom is still used by many who had emigrated long ago from Tulu Naadu.

Illams are, in general, constructed according to the principles of "Vasthu Vidya" (Thachu Saasthram) or Vedic architecture. Most of the Illams were of the "Naalukettu" pattern of architecture, with four sets of room-complex, each set facing east, west, north or south. However, the homes of some aristocratic Namboothiris were larger and bigger, being "Ettu (eight) kettu", "Panthrandu (twelve) kettu" or "Pathinaaru (sixteen) kettu" in accordance with the status of affluence of the families. Perhaps because of the traditional importance attached to absolute cleanliness and routine habits of bathing in ponds, Illams invariably had more than one open well and a bathing pond. In brief, Illams were always located in places assured of perennial and plentiful supply of water. Adjacent to the main house, there were "Pathaayappura"s (granary plus other utility rooms for dependents) and bungalows ("Maalikas") to accommodate guests. In some Illams, the inmates outnumbered the family members. There were temples associated with the Illams. Therefore, accommodation had to be provided for Poojaris, Karmiks, and others who conducted the rituals in the temples. Besides them, there were other inmates who taught Sanskrit, Vedams, Manthrams, Thanthric rites and so on. The Illams, also engaged a large array of servants to look after the comforts and welfare, and clerical staff for the management of assets of the family. Traditionally, Namboothiris were not only proficient in their knowledge of ancient scriptures and literature, but they had also a deep understanding and aesthetic appreciation of various forms of indigenous arts and culture. In fact, they encouraged and nurtured them with their patronage.

The descriptions that follow give glimpses into the Illams of some families. Only a very few Illams remain intact at present. Many have disintegrated or have been demolished. The implementation of the Land Reforms Act and the disintegration of the joint family system into nuclear family units have resulted in the sale and demolition of many Illams under the pressure of severe financial stress. There has been so far, no effort on the part of the government or the Archeological Department to conserve some of these Illams as heritage sites. It is hoped that the descriptions appended here, will at least help to ruminate on the past heritage. We do not claim that these are the only big or important Illams; there are still many more and these are only some samples.

Though we corresponded with more than hundred people seeking information, only one-fourth of them responded with descriptions of their Illams. It is sad that many who are alive today have very little knowledge about their own ancestral Illams.

[click : (1) A Typical Illam; (2) Namboothiri Illams : A photo feature ]

- Editor

[Click on the Illam about which you want to know more.]

01. Akavoor Mana
02. Brahmakkulathu Mangalath Mana
03. Chemmangaattu Mana
04. Desamangalam Mana
05. Edamana Mana
06. Kaadampatta Mana
07. Kaanippayyoor Mana
08. Kaanjirappilly Mana
09. Kallanthaattil Gurukkal Mattham
10. Killimangalathu Mana
11. Kootalloor Mana
12. Kunnathoor Padinjaaredath Mana
13. Kurumaathoor (Naaikkar) Mana
14. Madangarli Mana
15. Mannazhi Mana
16. Maranaattu Mana
17. Moothiringottu Mana
18. Mundaaya Mana
19. Myaalpaazhoor Mana
20. Nenmini Mana
21. Olappamanna Mana
22. Ottoor Mana
23. Paandamparambathu Mana
24. Paazhoor Karuthedathu Mana
25. Paduthol Paazhoor Mana
26. Panayil Paazhoor Mana
27. Payyoor Mana
28. Pelakkaattu Payyoor Mana
29. Perindiri Chennaas Mana
30. Polpaaya Mana
31. Poomulli Mana
32. Thekkedathu Mana
33. Thekkedathu Kadalaayil Mana
34. Thenezhi Mana
35. Vadakkiniyedathu Mana
36. Varikkaasseri Mana
37. Vemancheri Mana



Akavoor Mana is situated on the northern bank of river Periyar, in Vellarappilly near Kalady of Ernakulam district. This Mana is of legendary repute and is historically famous.

Akavoor Chaathan, one among the twelve children born to the "Parayi" according to the ancestral folklore, "Parayi Petta Panthirukulam" [click], was a dependant and advisor to Akavoor Nambudiripad. During the reign of Perumaal, the inmates of Akavoor Mana were believed to have lived in Thiruvanchikkulam performing Poojaas [click] and rites to appease the virulent deity, (Aghoramoorthy) Sivan. Akavoor Nambudiripads were the lords of Airaanikkulam village.

In gratitude for the help rendered to the king in accruing more territories to his kingdom through conquests, the Thiruvithaamcoor Mahaaraaja, presented the Akavoor Nambudiripad with wealth in the form of extensive land properties. Moreover, in AD 1804 (ME 979) when the huge sprawling 32-Kettu Illam which was thatched with palm leaves was gutted by fire, the Mahaaraaja actively helped the Mana to be rebuilt into a tile-roofed 16-Kettu within a short span of ten months. Further, the Mahaaraaja also contributed to the construction of steps or jetties along the river bank, a bathing ghat (Kulappura) and a Sastha temple.

The present building complex in the Mana consists of a spacious "Naalukuttu", dining hall ("Oottupura"), a set of dressing rooms ("Aniyara"), two Madhams and 2 bungalows. Naalukuttu has not been raised with upper floors. Apart from bathing ghats near the river bank, there are also separate ponds inside and outside the complex.

On the eastern side of the extensive inner courtyard ("Nadumittam"), there is a "Sreelakam" (sanctum sanctorum) in which the idol of "Sreeraama-swaami" has been consecrated. Therefore, "Chaakyaar Koothu" (a folk art) which is not normally conducted in Illams can be conducted in the "Padinjaatti" of Akavoor Mana. There is a "Sree-chakram" placed underneath the floor of the sanctum sanctorum. Besides, "Vettekkaran" and later "Mannaadi Bhagavathy" were consecrated nearby.

The village deity ("Graama Devatha") of Akavoor Nambudiris is Sivan and family deity ("Kuladevatha") is Sreeraman. Because all the wealth and properties of the Mana have been bequeathed to Sreerama-swaami, all legal documents carry the inscription, "Sreerama Moorthy Vaka" (belonging to "Sreerama Moorthy").

Akavoor Nambudiris were "Thapaswis" (ascetic), devoted to prayers, meditation, and Thaanthric rites. Before a century or two ago, there was a well-trained "Kathhakali" troupe associated with the Mana. Kaavungal Panikkars were in charge of the maintenance and training of the Kathhakali troupe and also conduct of the performances. Akavoor Narayanan Nambudiripad alias "Valiya Thampuraan" had composed about a dozen "Aattakkathhaas" [click] for performance by this troupe. He also possessed a rich library with valuable scripts and books.

Around 1980, Akavoor Mana was completely dismantled and sold. One sanctum sanctorum alone was rebuilt.

- Dr Akavoor Narayanan, Akavoor Mana / 07-04-2005


Mangalath Mana, also known as Kappiyoor Mana is located in Brahmakkulam in Thaikkad near Guruvayur of Thrissur district. The ancient "Naalukettu" which was rebuilt in 1936, was demolished and rebuilt in 1974. The foundation of the building was built with laterite stones, while the walls were made of clay and mud. The "Padinjaatti" and "Thekkini" (western and southern wings) were raised with upper storey. There are three ponds, a well and a "Naaga" temple ("Sarpakkaavu") in the 4-acre compound.

The original abode of Mangalath Bhattathiris was located in Kappiyoor near Punnathoor, about three kilometers north of Guruvayur. This is why people name this as Kappiyoor Mana instead of Mangalath Mana. The original house was a spacious "Naalukettu", with the "Padinjaatti" (western wing) alone raised by a storey. The foundation and walls were all built of mud. The roof was thatched with coconut palm leaves.

The folk traditional "Paana" is inaugurated and conducted under the special drapery erected in the hall of arts ("Naadakasaala") on the southern side. There are "Sarpakkaavu" on all four court yards around the house. Nearby there are two more temples, one in which "Narasimhamoorthy" and the other in which "Bhagavathy" are the deities. The chief "Ooraalan" (trustee) of the latter is Nedumpurakkal Karippala Namboodiri and that of Narasimhamoorthy temple is Kappiyoor Bhattathiripad.

There was one "Vaiyaakaranan" (grammarian) who was the disciple of Koodallur Divakaran (Anujan) Nambudiripad. Another Bhattathiripad from this Mana, named Neelakandhan was believed to have taken to asceticism (become a "Samnyaasi") in the Chovvannoor "Sabha Madham".

The old Kappiyoor Mana was gutted in fire in ME 1131 in the month of Makaram (AD 1956, January-February) on "Aswathy" star. The house was completely rebuilt in the same spot and occupied on the same "Aswathy" star, next year. This is also going to be demolished soon. The descendants of the Mana have constructed a modern house on the southern side of it and have started living there.

- M V Bhattathiripad, Mangalathu Mana / 19-04-2005


For the past thousand years or so, the Bhattathiris of Chemmangaattu Mana were the owners of "Naalukettu Illams" surrounded by sprawling compounds at three places: one, south and adjacent to the Brahmakkulam temple, near Guruvayur; another one, on the northern side of the temple complex in Adat; and yet another one, close to the southern side of Engakkad temple, near Wadakkancherry, all in Thrissur district. It is difficult to guess which among them, the original ancient Illam of the family was. For the past three hundred years, the family is living in Adat.

Chemmangaattu Mana is located in a ten-acre compound lying on the eastern bank of Adat backwaters. There are three ponds and four wells in the compound. Being adjacent to the lake, fresh water is plenteous in all these water sources. The Illam is constructed in accordance with the principles of "Vaasthu Vidya". The "Padinjaatti" alone is raised into three stories.

There were separate coconut farm, areca nut farm and mango farm in the compound. "Plaasu" (Butea frondosa), "Elinji" (Mimosops elenji), "Vaaka" (Albizzia sp.) and "Darbha Pullu" (Darbha grass) (Pao cynosuroides) were grown in special plots. Similarly, gooseberry trees (Phyllanthus emblica), tamarind trees (Tamarindus indica) and coffee plants (Coffea arabica) were grown in separate rows.

When the family partition took place in 1939, another new Illam was constructed north of the old one. By 1980, the old Illam and adjacent compound was sold off and the new Illam was reconstructed, on modern concepts discarding the "Naalukettu" style. At the same time, the properties at Brahmakkulam and Engakkad were sold and thus lost.

In observance of the documented instructions left by a girl-member of the family who met with premature death at the age of 13, and who is believed to be an incarnation of goddess Durga, the inmates of this Mana observe a 12-day long special "Yajnam" [click] and "Thrisandha" [click], once every 12 years.

This Mana had a rich heritage of Vedic scholars. The last reputed link of the scholarly lineage was Narasimhan Brattathiripad who was famous as "Unni" of Chottanikkara Devi (1867 - 1942).

- C N Bhattathiripad, Chemmangattu Mana / 15-04-2005


Desamangalam Mana was located in Desamangalam in Thrissur district. The real name of the Mana is "Avanaavu-Kaanjoor-Thekkiniyedathu-Kiraangaattu Mana" (A.K.T.K.M.), and was originally in the Perumanam area.

In this village, the main building which was a "Pathinaaru-Kettu" stood with grandeur in a 13-acre compound for a short span of 55 years. It was built in 1929 and demolished and sold in 1985. The building was constructed on the basis of plans and calculations made by the famous "Vaasthu Vidya" expert, Kanippayyur Damodaran Nambudiripad.

The 16-Kettu building was decorated with exquisite wooden carvings and other forms of art. The pillars and supports were made of teak (Tectona grandis) and rosewood (Dalbergia sissoo) which were shaped into beautiful forms and ornamental carvings. The staircase was built with soft and smooth wooden steps. Exquisite and colourful Italian tiles lined the sides of the front Poomukham. This Illam should have been preserved as a heritage site.

In the southern "Naalukettu" of the building, there was a library with precious and rare collections of books written in palm leaves ("Thaaliyola Grandhhangal"). There were four ponds, and Sreeraama - Sreekrishna temples in the same compound.

Source : Newspaper Reports


Edamana Mana is located in Kodarmanna which is near Punchappaadam situated on the Palakkad - Cherpulassery main road. The centuries old Illam was reconstructed around 1825. The "Ettukettu" consisted of a large "Naalukettuu" with the western wing raised with upper storey, and a smaller "Naalukettu" beside the former. They were demolished in 1993. The pond with bathing ghat and shelter ("Kulappura") as also three wells remain intact. Of the three out-houses ("Pathaayappura"), two remain as part of the building complex.

There is a Vishnu temple within the 5.5 acre Illam compound, and a Sreekrishna temple outside.

Many of the members were reputed to be expert Sanskrit scholars and were deeply knowledgeable in subjects like music, astrology, indigenous medicines, and so on. They encouraged musicians without any reservation and honored them with deep reverence.

- E M Krishnan Namboodiripad, Edamana Mana / 23-04-2005


This Mana is situated in Chalavara near Cherppulassery in Palakkad district. It was constructed during 1840 - 45.

Konothu Varier, Maannaanampatta Namboodiri and Poothrikkovil Variath Sankara Varier were the "Vaasthu" consultants. Among them, Konothu Varier was the chief expert. The "Ettukettu" main building, "Pathaayappura", dining hall ("Oottupura"), "Kulappura" were all constructed in an 18-acre compound.

Besides, there were four wells and three ponds with perennial water supply. The "Naalukettu" was entirely built with clay and mud. The "Padinjaatti" was raised with two stories and the "Thekkini" by one storey. There were large pillars, beautified with ornamental wood carvings.

It was during the "Maappila" riots (1921) that the residence of Kaadampatta Mana was shifted from Kaadampatta to Chalavara, with the yeoman services rendered by a Muslim named Kunjaaran Mammy.

A "Sreechakram" is believed to be placed in the floor of the sanctum sanctorum ("Sreelakam") situated in the "Naalukettu". In the northern wing, another Sreechakram was placed with the idol of Bhagavathy, and worshipped. The "Pooja" [click] here is still continued. Naalukettu and Pathaayappura were all demolished in the course of time.

"Padikkal Pantheeraayiram" [meaning, twelve thousand "Paras" (a measure) of paddy available just in front of the gate)] is a term often associated with Kaadampatta Mana.

There was a Sanskrit school under the guidance of a reputed "Saasthri" (scholar) conducted in the Mana. Several students used to stay here for acquiring in-depth knowledge in Sanskrit [click].

- K M Raveendran, Kadampatta Mana / 28-04-2005


This famous Mana is located in Kanippayur near Kunnamkulam in Thrissur district [click]. The building complex of the Illam consisted of a "Panthrandu Kettu", with a storied "Padippura" (out house), two "Pathaayappuras" and a large hall for performing arts ("Naadakasaala"). In 1875, the thatched roofs were replaced with tiled-roofs, and the southern and western wings were raised with an upper storey each.

In 1930, when Sankaran Nambudiripad shifted his residence to Kunnamkulam, the out house and Pathaayappuras became superfluous and were, therefore, demolished. Later, when two more branches of the joint family shifted their residence, the eastern Naalukettu and the hall-of-arts were also demolished. In 1972, the remaining two sides of the Naalukettu were demolished and replaced by the present building.

The Illam compound is about 3 acres in extent. In the eastern side of the compound, there is a "Bharadevatha" (family deity) temple with Annamkulangara Bhagavathy consecrated. There is a pond adjacent to this temple. On the southern side, there is a "Vishnu" temple belonging to the Illam with the main deity in the sanctum sanctorum and other deities located in and around the "Chuttambalam" (building surrounding the sanctum sanctorum). There are seven acres of paddy field belonging to the Illam, but have not been cultivated for the past ten years.

Traditionally, the Nambudiris of Kanippayyoor Mana are experts in astrology and "Vaasthu Vidya". The blessings of Lord Parasuraaman who assigned different Thaanthric traditions to different Namboothiri families, is believed to be the basis of inspiration of the scientific traditions of Kanippayoor family.

- Kanippayyur Krishnan Nambudiripad, Kanippayyur Mana / 31-05-2005


Kaanjirappilly Mana is located in Kakkur "Kara" of Muvattupuzha Thaluk in Ernakulam district. The Illam is believed to be nearly 400 years old. It is situated in a compound, 8 acres in extent.

Originally, the Illam was an "Ettukettu", the northern "Naalukettu" was demolished in recent times. The southern wing of the present "Naalukettu" is raised by two stories. There is an extensive uppermost storey, the "Thattinpuram". The floor of the "Padinjaatti" is paved with bricks. The "Pooja" room is in the eastern wing ("Kizhakkini"). There is also a Sastha temple facing westwards.

The compound and paddy fields around the Illam are still owned by the Mana. For irrigation, a temporary bund is constructed in adjacent Uzhavoor rivulet. There are two ponds and two wells in the compound. The bathing pond is large and the retaining walls are built in the northern style. The steps of the pond are made of granite stones. The Illam which faces south, has more or less the look of a "Kovilakam" (palace). The wooden framework on the veranda of the first floor is reminiscent of the looks of a temple or "Koothambalam" (a hall attached to a temple where temple arts are staged). Half of the "Pathaayappura" has now been reconstructed with reinforced concrete. There is no outhouse ("Padippura"). There is a Sastha temple and a snake shrine. There are traces of carvings in the sitting room.

Many of the ancient palm-leaf manuscripts have been handed over to the Manuscript Library. Many ancient books, utensils, curios are all still in the possession of the Mana. The cellar remains in use. The secret chamber situated in between the two upper stories was demolished only recently. Though separated after partition, members of the family continue to rejoin on all special occasions.

The "Naalukettu" continues to remain sturdy and strong, probably because of the regular repairs and maintenance work undertaken from time to time.

- Harish R Namboothiripad, Kanjirappilly Mana / 17-04-2005


The "Gurus" of this Illam had taught martial arts and "Kalari" (training centre for fencing) practices to several generations of the members of the royal family of Travancore and thus acquired fame as "Gurukkal Mattham". The Illam is situated in a four acre plot in Karakkal village, near Thiruvalla in Pathanamthitta district.

There are two family branches now. There is a "Naalukettu" which is around 1,000 years old and in a dilapidated state. Recently the kitchen was rebuilt. There is a 100 year old boat house ("Vallappura") with grills, still in existence. There is a large pond, about 40 cents in extent, and three smaller ponds, none of which are in use now. The "Oottupura" (dining hall) which was used for "Annadaanam" (feeding lay people) was demolished. There is a government-owned, wide rivulet flowing along the northern border of the compound. The huge palatial "Ettukettu" decorated with exquisite wooden carvings and so on, which was built and gifted by the Travancore Mahaaraaja 100 years ago, has now been dismantled and reassembled as a foreign tourist resort and restaurant at Kumarakam near Kottayam.

Only the dilapidated Naalukettu, Kalari, boat-house, eastern "Padippura" (gate house), the small "Bhadrakaali" temple, four wells and the remnants of the four ponds now remain.

The original Naalukettu of the Gurukkal in North Malabar, no longer exists. However, the Kalari and the idol of "Kaali" (which is believed to have originated on its own ("Swayambhoo") still mark the site in Malabar.

- V Sankaran Nampoothiri, Kallanthattil Mattham / 23-04-2005


The Killimangalathu Mana is located 10 kilometers south-east of Cheruthuruthy, which is at the northern border of Thrissur district. The full name is Killimangalathu Naduvathu Mana. The old abode was a "Pathinaaru Kettu" (16 Kettu) with the Padinjaatti raised by three stories. The building was renovated and remained as such for 40 years, after which the entire building was sold. A small concrete building has been built on the foundations of the demolished one.

There were two three-storied "Pathaayappuras" earlier, one on the south side and another on the east. Two "Pooja" rooms, two kitchens, two big "Kettu", existed in the Illam complex, as also four ponds and two open wells in the 4-acre land. There is also a beautiful temple with smooth granite pillars and "Thirumittam" (courtyard around the sanctum sanctorum of a temple) paved with granite slabs.

There were many reputed scholars hailing from Killimangalathu Mana.

- K V Ravi Nambudiripad, Killimangalathu Mana / 23-04-2005


Kootalloor (locally known as Naareri) Mana is situated in Naagalasseri village (Naagaraajasree shortened to Naareeri) near Koottanad in Palakkad district. The family is directly descended from the renowned Mezhathol Agnihothri [click]. The unique feature of this Illam is the idol of "Pathanjali Maharshi" [click] who composed grammar ("Vyaakaranam") and "Yogasookthams" and popularised them. At the southern end of the "Padinjaatti" (western wing) there are "Arayil Bhagavathy" and adjacent to it "Pathanjali Maharshi", both facing east, which are consecrated. To consecrate an idol of a philosophical investigator, next to the idol of goddess and worship it on par with a god, must indeed be a revolutionary concept - a unique and apt one for the Nampoothiris of the Mana who kept up the scholastic tradition for at least 14 generations!

It is said that in the absence of male progeny, one "Kaaranavar" spent 36 years praying to the family's "Paradevatha" - Mookkuthala Bhagavathy - 12 years for begetting male children, another 12 years for Vidya (knowledge), and 12 years for wealth to fund the scholastic activities. Immensely, Bhagavathy followed him home, where she was consecrated.

Till mid-twentieth century, before the first family partition, the Illam had Panthrandu (12) Kettu (3 quadrangles), a 3-storey ladies quarters, a 3-storey Pathaayappura, a separate 2-storey spacious men's quarters, 4 ponds and a Vadakke Madhom for those marrying outside the community.

An extensive courtyard bordered by steps along it, "Padippura" (gate house), and two ponds with "Kulappura" and one with "Maalika" still exist. An extensive "Thekkini", "Kizhakkini", and "Padinjaatti" are the salient characteristics of the "Naalukettu". In ancient times, the Mana was renowned as a Vedic University which attracted disciples from all over India who lived and learned Vedic sciences and related subjects. For hundreds of years it remained as a centre of scholastic excellence. The last of the scholars died during the late nineteen twenties.

There were at least two Kathhakali troupes affiliated to the Mana at different periods, the last one during the mid-twentieth century. The steps along the courtyard were built as a gallery for seating the large audience attracted to the performance.

There is speculation that the Illam was originally in the place called Kootalloor near Kumbidi, on the banks of river Nila (Bhaarathappuzha), and the family migrated like many others at the height of the unhealthy Panniyoor - Sukapuram conflict [click]. [Also see : Namboothiri Illams - A Photo Feature]

- K D Nambudripad, Koodalloor Mana / 18-06-2005


On the southern border of the Peruvanam temple in Thrissur distrct, there were two Illams located in a two-acre compound. They were known as Kunnathoor Padinjaaredathu and Kunnathoor Kizhakkedathu Illams. The "Thanthri" [click] family in Kizhakkedathu became extinct in course of time and their assets were handed over to Padinjaaredathu family of Bhattathiris. However, the "Thanthra Vidya" of the Kizhakkedathu family was not inherited by the Padinjaaredathu family.

The original Illam of Padinjaaredathu is now owned by the Thiruvithaamkoor Devaswam Board. It is now known as "Kacheri" and is used as a teaching institution for temple arts. The Illam is estimated to be 200 years old. A fairly large "Naalukettu" only remains now. All the four wings have been raised by upper stories. The entire eastern wing forms the "Kettu". The "Sreelakam" (prayer room) is situated in the southern end of the eastern wing. There were two "Pathaayappuras" in the south-western corner of the Naalukettu. There was a "Maalika" attached to the "Padippura" (gate house). The Maalika on the eastern side of Padippura still exists.

In the compound there is a well with perennial water supply and two ponds, one for Namboothiri men and the other for women. There was a "Kulappura Maalika" attached to the men's pond, which was demolished only recently. In the south-western corner of this pond, there is a Pathaayappura. There is an old Maalika on the western side of the road, leading from the southern "Nada" (entrance) of the Peruvanam temple. Some Bhattathiri families of Padinjaaredathu Mana are residing close to their ancestral house ("Tharavaadu").

There were eminent scholars in Sanskrit and "Thanthra Vidya" in this family. Also there was a Kathhakali troupe maintained by the family.

- K P C Narayanan Bhattathiripad, Kunnathur Padinjaredathu Mana / 19-05-2005


The Kurumaathoor Mana is located about 8 kilometers east of Taliparamba in Kannur district. The present Mana was reconstructed nearly 80 years ago in a 7.5 acre compound. The "Thekkini" (southern) and "Padinjaatti" (western) have been raised by two upper stories; the uppermost storey is low in height and is not partitioned.

There is a "Pathaayappura" and "Padippura" which are both raised. These are about 200 years old. The "Pathaayappura" has been constructed in the "Naalukettu" style. There is a pond with a bathing shelter ("Kulappura").

The original and ancient Illam of "Naikkars" was situated in a 9-acre plot about 150 meters from the present border. This area is now protected as the precincts of a temple complex. The "Kizhakkini" and "Vadakkini" of the ancient house are still habitable. "Thevaaram" (prayer) is performed in the Kizhakkini and the Bhagavathy idol is consecrated in the sanctum sanctorum situated in the central inner courtyard (Nadumittam). The Bhagavathy here is worshipped by performing "Thrikaala Pooja" (three Poojas a day) even to this date. The debris of Padinjaatti was visible till recently; while there were no signs of Thekkini. However, on the southern side there exists a stone-built ancient room, 100' x 60' x 30' in size, and built about 700 years ago. According to folklore, the Naikkars are believed to have been receiving rice from Coorg in ancient times, and this structure was built as a granary or store room for the imported rice.

The Kurumaathoor Namboodiris have intricate relationship with Kottiyoor temple. The traditional right to perform the "Aalingana Pooja" as part of the rituals on Rohini day at Kottiyoor rests with the eldest of the Kurumaathoor Namboodiris, even now.

Among the two judges ruling over 32 Namboothiri villages [click], one is Kurumaathoor Namboodiripad, the other being Aazhuvaancherri Thampraakkal [click]. As they were responsible for the discipline and welfare of these villages, they were hailed as "Prabhus" ("Naikkars"). Kurumaathoor Namboodiripad was the lord of Perinchelloor village [click].

Earlier there was a Kathhakali training centre attached to the Mana.

- K H Namboodiripad, Kurumaathoor Mana / 02-05-2005


The Madangarli Mana was located in Thrangali Desam in Vaniyamkulam village of Palakkad district. The "Tharavaad Illam" was demolished in 1990. The Illam was a "Naalukettu". "Thekkini" was three storied. In the inner courtyard, there was a shrine for Lord Ayyappan. Though the Illam was demolished, the lamp continues to be kept lighted in front of the idol. Before partition of the joint family, the compound used to be 5 to 6 acres in extent. There was a large snake shrine ("Sarpakkaavu") in the compound.

There is a large pond about three-fourth of an acre in area, as also a well. The "Kulappura" is three-storied and one family now occupies the modified Kulappura. Apart from "Kizhakkini", there was a large hall on the eastern side.

The Madangarli family has contributed many reputed Vedic scholars and Ayurveda physicians.

- Dr M P Parameswaran, Madangarli Mana / 04-04-2005


The ancestors of Mannazhi Mana are believed to have migrated 400 to 450 years ago from erstwhile Malabar and settled down in Cheruthuruthy in Thrissur district.

At first the "Naalukettu" was constructed with a raised "Padinjaatti". When accommodation was inadequate, an "Ettukettu" was constructed slightly north of the original Naalukettu. The Padinjaatti of the new Ettukettu was three-storied. Soon the family shifted to the new residence. South of this building, a large, three-storied "Pathaayappura" and a "Padippura Maalika" in the east-west direction were constructed later. They are only 300 - 350 years old. These buildings along with 4 acre compound were sold off recently.

There were only very few Namboothiri families who undertook agricultural cultivation directly. Mannazhi Mana was one of these types. Therefore, the family owned nearly 200 acres of wetlands and almost the same acreage of dry lands for cultivation. There was a large "Kottil", a large cattle shed and so on for agricultural operations. There were two large ponds with "Kulappuras", and three or four wells with perennial water supply in the compound. Even though the properties were sold off, the original "Naalukettu Illam" exists even now.

- M Brahmadathan Nambudiripad, Mannazhi Mana / 16-04-2005


Maranaattu (commonly called Maraattu) Mana is situated in Kodasseri Desam of Karikkaattu Graamam [click] in Malappuram district. In the Kizhakkini of this 150 year old Illam, there is a very famous Mahaa Ganapathy Prathishttha (consecrated idol of Ganapathy). This Illam with Thanthri status has presently (2009) 50 members.

Maranaattu Mana
Sketch : Madanan

The 16-Kettu Illam in an 8-acre plot is one of the very few which has not been demolished or sold out, and is in continuous use, and well-maintained. The western wing is three-storey high. To the south is a 3-storey Pathaayappura and Kulappuras. There are two wells attached to the Mana and two more in the compound. To the north is a well-built Kulam (pond) with four separate bathing areas (Kadavu), and to the east is another Kulam. On the north-east part of the compound there is a Siva temple.

Recently the 3-storey Pathaayappura has been retained and operated as a "heritage home stay"* with the idea of letting others know and experience the traditional Namboothiri life style.

- Praveen Maranaatt, Maranaattu Mana / 23-11-2009
* PO : Chembrasseri, Pandikkad - 676 521, Malappuram Dist., Kerala, Phone : 0483-2783229


Moothiringottu Mana is situated in Mannangote village which is 3 kilometers east of Koppam town located on the Pattambi - Perinthalmanna road. The Illam set in a six acre plot is a "Naalukettu" with the Padinjaatti and Thekkini raised by three stories. The Illam must be about 600 years old. Though the Naalukettu remains in its original form, the Pathaayappura and two Padippuras are non-existent now. Kulappura and Agrasaala are still in good shape. The extensive Parlour ("Poomukham") was rebuilt in 1940, along with repairs of the Illam building. There are three ponds and three open wells attached to the Illam.

There is a sanctum sanctorum ("Sreelakam") in the Naalukettu, in which the idols of Vettekkaran and Durga are worshipped. Apart from this, there are three temples belonging to the "Tharavaad". The family shares trusteeship with others in the Thrimoorthy temple located in Thrikkadeeri near Ottappalam. There was a Naalukettu Illam in this area also, which does not exist now.

Moothiringottu is a Tharavaad of Vedic scholars. The family consists of descendants of Bhavathraathan who wrote a scholarly book entitled "Bhavathraatheeyam" about Jaimineeya Saamavedam [click]. The members of the Mana are well-known experts in different arenas of knowledge ranging from Vedaantham, Vyaakaranam (grammar), literature, and fine arts, to modern scientific advances such as electronics.

According to legends, it is believed that either the author of Bhavathraatheeyam or some other Bhavathraathan of the family were reciting the "Saamasthuthy" named "Subrahmanyam" during the Yaagams of Mezhathol Agnihothri [click].

- M C Nambudiripad, Moothiringottu Mana, / 17-04-2005


Mundaaya Mana is situated in Punchapadam in Palakkad district. The Illam was situated in a 3 acre compound and was a Naalukettu with Padinjaatti alone raised. There was a special Pooja room within the Nadumittam. The Naalukettu was about 150 years old. During 1987-88, the Naalukettu was demolished completely along with the Pathaayappura and Padippura. There are two ponds and three wells in the compound, which is still owned by the family.

The family members are Saamavedis [click], but there was a Dwivedi who was proficient in both Saamavedam and Rigvedam [click].

- M P Brahmadathan Nambudiripad, Mundaya Mana / 12-05-2005


Myaalpaazhoor Mana is situated in Veliyanadu near Piravam in Ernakulam district. According to legends, this Illam is believed to be Sankaraachaaryar's [click] mother's Illam or "Ammaathu". Therefore, it is estimated that the Illam must be about 1,350 years old!

The Illam is situated in a seven-acre plot bordered all around with a compound wall. The Illam is an Ettukettu without a Maalika. The eastern wing was demolished a few years ago. In 1988, the Illam was sold to Chinmaya Mission. The main Naalukettu is still preserved and maintained by the Mission.

A Kulappura, a Kulappura Maalika and a Nadappura were associated with the Illam, earlier. However, they do not exist now. There are two Oottupuras attached to the kitchen, one was used for cooking and the other was used as Kalavara (store room).

There are four ponds and two open wells in the Illam compound. There are five temples also in addition to the Sreelakam and Pooja room located in the northern side of the eastern wing of the Naalukettu.

- M V Nambudiripad, Myalpazhoor Mana / 10-04-2005


Nenmini Mana is located near Guruvayur in the erstwhile Ponnani Taluk of Malabar. After the State Reorganisation, it is in Nenmini Desam of Chavakkad Taluk in Thrissur district. The compound consists of about 30 acres of coconut plantation and 3 acres of paddy fields. There are two separate ponds, each with Kulappura, one for women and the other for men, adjacent to the Illam building. There are other ponds also in the compound. There is a well, attached to the kitchen and another large well in this compound.

The Illam of Nenmini Tharavaad has been reconstructed at least three times : (1) The ancient Tharavaad, the age of which is anybody's guess, was partly demolished during the rampage of an elephant belonging to Guruvayur Devaswam. The Thekkini Maalika which escaped damage remained. Attached to this, a new Naalukettu with a new Thekkini was constructed. (2) A second Naalukettu was constructed in 1892, which was not raised into stories. The Thekkini Maalika of the earlier Naalukettu was utilised for living purposes. This Naalukettu was constructed in accordance with the calculation and the Vaasthu plan prepared by Kannanur Akkooram Namboodiri and supervised by the famous Vaasthu-expert Velanezhi Namboodiri. Though the Nadumittam (inner courtyard) was comparatively small, "Naalirayam" (veranda around inner courtyard) was fairly spacious. Around the Naalirayam there was a four-foot high wooden railing with bars perched atop the mud wall. Till recent times every first Friday of the month and during the Malayalam month of "Karkkitakam", "Ganapathy Homam" (offering to Ganapathy) used to be performed in the Vadakkini. Rafters made of coconut wood were used for the roof of the Thekkini Maalika. Parallel to the Thekkini, there was a Pathaayappura on the southern side, which was demolished and sold in 1985. (3) In 1985, the Naalukettu was expanded and reconstructed as an Ettukettu with Maalika and other facilities. In 1995, this renewed building also was demolished and sold, and was replaced by a building with concrete roof and modern amenities.

There is a snake shrine in the proximity of the house. In the front courtyard, there are idols of Manikandhan, Raktheswari, Paathiraapanchami, Durga and Baala Saasthaavu, which are worshipped and offered Nivedyam once a year. There were three temples belonging to the Illam - Balaraama temple, Ayyappan Kaavu, and Kaaveedu Bhagavathy temple. In 1989, these three temples with their entitled properties were donated to Guruvayur temple by a registered deed.

There was an ancient Illam at Kaaveedu Desam also, which is 5 kilometers north-west of Guruvayur. That also has now been demolished and sold. The "Sapthami Vilakku" associated with Guruvayur Ekaadasi festival is still conducted by Nenmini Mana. Many of the Nenmini Bhattathiris were proficient and reputed scholars in the studies of Vedam, Astrology, Vaasthu Vidya and Aayurvedam [click].

- N P Neelakandhan Bhattathiripad, Nenmini Mana / 17-04-2005


The famous Olappamanna Mana is located in Vellinezhi near Cherpulassery in Palakkad district. This Illam is about 500 years old.

The Illam was originally a Naalukettu, which was subsequently expanded into an Ettukettu. There were four Pathaayappuras around the house. Among them the Kacheri was later demolished. There is no Padippura. Because of the enmity with the Mana, the Saamoothiripaad sent an army chieftain to demolish the Padippura as a punitive action. Thereafter the Padippura was never constructed.

Olappamanna Mana
Sketch : Madanan

Within the Ettukettu there is a Sreelakam with the idol of Sreechakram. As to when the Sreechakram was consecrated is anybody's guess. It is believed to have occurred at least 500 years ago. Though the idol is Sreechakram, the goddess worshipped is Bhadrakaali - Bhagavathy of Thirumaandhaamkunnu. The ritual, "Kalam Ezhuthu Paattu" is conducted here even now.

The Olappamanna Mana family has always fostered not only Vedic studies, but also fine arts, music, literature and so on.

200 years ago, there was a Kathhakali troupe maintained by the Illam. Ittiraaricha Menon, who was the originator of "Kalluvazhi Chitta" (Kalluvazhi School) in Kathhakali was the teacher of the troupe. The practicing venue for Kathhakali used to be the hall attached to the Kaanthalloor temple, situated close to the Mana. The Kathhakali Yogam came to an end in 1938.

A portion of the house is now being used for Home Stay* for tourists.

- O N Damodaran Namboodiripad, Olappamanna Mana / 03-04-2005
* Phone : 0466-2285383


Ottur Mana is located in Mayannur village of Thrissur district. The Illam was originally a building roofed with tiles, situated in a plot about 3 acres in extent. This building was gutted by fire in 1925 (ME 1099). Subsequently, Naalukettu with a raised Padinjaatti was constructed. This was occupied in 1929. In front of the 50 meter long Padinjaatti, there was full length veranda. There were two Pooja rooms within the Illam. In addition there were three Pathaayappuras, a Padippura, a Kulappura and Maalika. All these along with the Tharavaad building were demolished and sold in 1996.

Ottur Mana was richly endowed with perennial water supply. On the northern border of the adjacent Chirakkara temple pond, there were separate bathing ghats for women and men of the family, so also the male and female servants. Apart from this large pond, there was another small pond in the compound. There was a well dug in the centre of this pond.

This Illam is blessed by the birth and life of the famous divine poet, Ottoor Unni Nambudiripad.

- (Late) Ottoor Kunjunni Nambudiripad, [died on 12-11-2005]
[This note was prepared by him just a few days before his death, and later sent to us by his son, Ottoor Damodaran. - Editor]


Paandamparambathu Mana is situated in a place called "Graamam" near Veliancod, not too far from Ponnani in Malappuram district. It was built as per the plans and measurements of the famous "Perunthachan". The status of the family has since declined and the structure deteriorated. Only the Thekkini is in tact now.

The Mana was indeed rich and famous long ago, but its fame spread to the outside world more recently through the renowned work "Aithihyamaala" ("Garland of Legends") of Kottaarathil Sankunni through his narration of the "Uppumaanga" (salted pickled mango) in the Mana's Kodanbharani (large earthen jar) and connected to Chinese sailors (traders) of ancient times.

Source : Newspaper Reports


Paazhoor Karuthedathu Illam is located in Piravam village of Ernakulam district. The compound in which the Illam is now situated is about 1.5 acres in extent, though it is believed that nearly 100 years ago, the area was nearly 3.5 acres.

The Illam is about 200 years old. It was an Ettukettu without any raised wing. Only 1/8th of the Ettukettu now exists and that is the Padinjaatti. After the family partition in 1946 (ME 1121), the building started disintegrating and Padinjaatti was the only remnant that survived. There was no other building attached to the main building. An old "Kaaranavar" (eldest in the family) is believed to have taken to "Samnyaasam" in olden days and after he died, a temple was built around the site of his "Samaadhi" (place where cremated). He is still worshipped as the family deity.

Another old Kaaranavar who was a dependant of the Mahaaraaja of Travancore, was the one who built the Ettukettu. About 25 "Kandis" ("kandi" = a measure of weight, about 500 kG) of timber [jackwood (Artocarpus integrifolia), teak (Tectona grandis), Aanjili (Artocarpus hertuza), etc.] was donated by the Government free of cost for the construction of this house. It took seven years to complete the work of the building.

A kitchen well with perennial water supply exists even now. There is no pond. The Illam is located on the eastern bank of the north-south flowing Muvattupuzha River. The river is only about 15 meters from the building. In early years, flooding around the building was of common occurrence when the river overflows. Now, due to sand mining, pollution and other factors, the river is dying out and so floods are uncommon. But summer flow has been large from the tail water of Idukki hydroelectric project.

The foundations of the building are built rather high, probably to withstand the flood waters. Though wood has been liberally used in construction, there are no ornate carvings or Vaasthu specialties in the building. More importance seems to have been given to the strength and safety of the building as evident by the door frames ("Kattila") which are firmly fixed in the ground.

Devan Thuppan Namboothiripad of this Illam (1830 - 1910) was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Sreemoolam Maharaja of Travancore. The living members of the family, who were born before 1948, continue to get family pension from the government even now.

- K V V Namboothiripad, Karuthedathu Mana / 15-04-2005


Paduthol Paazhoor Mana is situated in Pazhur in Muvattupuzha Thaluk of Ernakulam district. This is one of the Illams belonging to Pazhur group. The "Paradevatha" (the family deity) of Pazhoor Desam is Paazhoor Perumthrikkovilappan (Mahaadevan) of Vedanaattu Graamam [click].

The Illam which is an Ettukettu is located in a fifteen acre compound bordered by Muvattupuzha River along the eastern and northern sides. The age of the original ancient Illam is not clearly known. However, it is known that the building was renovated about 250 years ago. The year of renovation and the name of the carpenter who executed it is etched in the inner room. Padinjaatti has been raised with a Maalika. This portion was reconstructed about 85 years ago. The spacious Maalika has been rebuilt on modern trends. The Vadakkini, dining hall (Oottupura), Kacheri (office) have all been demolished. The steps into the adjacent river (Kadavu) have been built with direct access from the kitchen. Similarly, there is an underground tunnel connecting the river and kitchen well, so that there is a perennial supply of river water in the well for domestic use.

There is a long and wide Kadavu along the river, specially constructed for use of male inmates. This is one of the most important Kadavu-s in the entire stretch of Muvattupuzha River. There is no "Padippura" (gate house) for the Illam, and for that matter in any other house in Pazhoor village. The absence of such a Padippura is believed to be connected with a myth related to Sree Sankaraachaaryar [click].

The family deity of the Mana is Naagaraajan. However, idol that is being worshipped is Lord Sivan with Parvathy beside him. The temple of Naagaraajan is situated on the eastern side of the Illam, close to the river bank. Apart from these, there are idols of Thrippunithura Appan, Chottanikkara Amma, Kumaaranelloor Bhagavathy, Vettekkaran and Bhuvaneswari, as also the Sreechakram which are all worshipped in the "Thevaarappura".

Paduthol "Vidvaan" Subrahmanian Nambudiripad was a Vedic scholar in "Tharkam" (logic), "Vyaakaranam" (grammar), "Meemaamsa" (philosophy) and such other subjects. He was also an expert in scrutinising and evaluating the quality of "Saalagraamam" (a kind of ammonite stone, sacred to Lord Vishnu) and precious stones like diamonds. He had a large library of ancient literature and books. A part of this collection was later transferred to the manuscript library and the rest to the archaeological museum at Thiruvananthapuram.

- P M Godan Nambudiripad, Paduthol Mana / 17-04-2005


"Panamana" as this Mana is generally known is located in Panayaalikkara village of Maanikkamangalam Desam situated three kilometers east of Kalady, the place hallowed by the birth of Sree Sankaraachaaryar [click] in Ernakulam district. According to legends, the Illam was inhabited since 1,500 or more years ago.

The Illam was an "Ettukettu" with the Padinjaatti and Thekkini raised by a storey. The building was about 120 years old. It was a beautiful mixture of ancient and modern architecture, but has been completely demolished. Only the Pathaayappura which is spacious and situated south of the old main building remains intact. It is an ancient building with a modern face-lift.

The Illam compound is about 12 acres in extent. It has a big pond protected by granite side walls. From the vicinity of the pond the Manikkamangalam temple can be clearly seen.

- P R Narayanan Nambudiripad, Panayil Mana / 12-04-2005


The Illam of Payyoor Bhattathiris, who was reputed for their academic prowess, intellectual brilliance and such other scholarly talents, is situated in Vedakkad in Porkkulam village of Thrissur district. Though the Illam building has been demolished, the "Panchaloha" (made of five metals) idol of Lord Sreekrishnan presented by Melpathoor Narayana Bhattathiri 400 years ago, remains intact in the Mana.

Payyoor Bhattathiri was a prominent poet among the famous eighteen-and-half poets ("Pathinettara Kavikal") [click] of the Saamoothiri Raja of Kozhikode. This family has contributed scholars of repute in "Tharkam", Vyaakaranam", Meemaamsa" and "Saasthram" (logic, grammar, philosophy and science) and such subjects. The Payyoor Bhattathiris used to preside over the "Pattathaana Vidwal Sadass conducted in Kozhikode Thali Temple and were the judges in such scholarly meetings.

This Mana was completely demolished around 2000 AD.

- Source : Newspaper Reports


This Mana is located in Pelakkaattu Desam, near Kunnamkulam of Thrissur district. The Illam which is a large Naalukettu is situated in a six acre compound. There is no Thekkini, except a raised platform. Thekkini and Padinjaatti were two storied. The Illam is believed to be 300 years old. There was a Pathaayappura, but there was no Oottupura and Padippura. After partition, the entire building was demolished and replaced by a new concrete building.

There were two ponds, each with a Kulappura, one for men and the other for women. The uniqueness of the steps in the bathing ghats for males was that they were sloping to the front. Probably, this was designed to drain water into the pond, and not allow water to stagnate on the steps, so that purity ("Sudham") [click] after bath could be maintained. There was a small pond ("Kokkarni") for the use of the servants. Only one of the two wells in the Illam still exists. All these water bodies had perennial water supply.

The idols for Pooja [click] were kept in the kitchen itself. From the upper part of the kitchen, steps led to the courtyard of a small temple. It is believed that the Lord Vadakkumnaathan of Thrissur appeared in a self-originated manner ("Swayambhoo") in the location of the temple. There are four temples either directly owned by the family, or as trustees. Theses temples are now managed by the local people with the co-operation of the Mana.

- P M A Namboodiripad, Payyoor Mana / 16-04-2005


The full name of this Mana is Perumudisseri Chennamangalathu Mana. The "Tharavaad" is situated in Perumudisseri Desam, in Ponnani Thaluk of Malappuram district. The foundations of the Ettukettu and the huge well lined all around with laterite stone masonry were in existence till recently. The Naalukettu and the adjacent Pathaayappura were being used till 1965. In 1968, the Pathaayappura was demolished and the family shifted to the new house built there. In 1976, when the family partition took place, the Naalukettu also was demolished and rebuilt into a smaller building.

The compound is about 16 acres in extent. The Illam is believed to be more than 500 years old. The Padinjaatti was raised by two upper stories. The granary ("Nel-pathaayam", cellar ("Nilavara"), etc. were in existence as components of the building. On the western side of the Illam there was a large tank with stone-built retaining walls all around. To the north of this tank is the family temple - "Pullyaattu Siva" Temple. On the southern side there is the temple of "Vettakkoru Makan".

In the Vadakkini, there was a Sreekovil for "Upaasanaa moorthys" (worshipping idols) of the family. The main idol is Sree Mahaaganapathy with trunk and ten arms. Apart from this, there are idols of Vettekkaran and Durga Devi.

Before 1940, there was a Kathhakali troupe under the aegis of the Mana. Pattikkamthodi Ravunni Menon was the teacher ("Aasaan") of this troupe for a short period. Narayanan Nambudiripad (b. 1427) of this Mana was the author of the famous "Thanthra Samuchayam" and was one among the renowned eighteen-and-half poets ("Pathinettara Kavikal") [click] of the Saamoothiri Raja's assembly. He is a pillar of repute of this Illam. The Thaanthric Aachaaryans of Saamoothiri royalty and the temples associated with the royalty belonged to Perindiri Chennaas family. This Mana has also contributed Vedic scholars of great repute.

- Prof: P C K Namboodiripad, Perindiri Chennas Mana / 23-04-2005


Polpaaya Mana is situated in two places : Pulamanthol of Malappuram-Palakkad district border and Kutamaloor of Kottayam district. The Illam at Pulamanthol was originally located on the southern bank of Pulamanthol River while the family owned vast properties on the northern bank as well. This Illam and the compound were almost completely lost during the conquest of Tippu Sultan. The only remnant was the "Thekkinkaadu" (teak forest) which was sold by the family in the 1970s. Only properties on the northern bank of the river were retained.

During the attack on Malabar by Tippu around 1750 AD, the inmates of the Mana built the Ettukettu in Kutamaloor, and shifted their residence there.

Later they purchased some land in Edapal in Malappuram district. This was originally owned by the Muriyanezhi Mana which lost lineage. As the Illam was unoccupied and an uprooted huge tree fell on the Naalukettu, the building was completely destroyed. In 1964, a temple was constructed close to the destroyed Illam, and the compound with the allied properties was donated to the temple. This temple is known as Palliyil temple.

Polpaaya owned many landed properties in Chemmalasseri, Valapuram and Kuruvambalam Desams along the northern bank of Pulamanthol River. The ownership rights of some of these properties which were lost, were retrieved through litigation in 1920s. The "Maalika" which was in Valapuram was reconstructed and some of the inmates resettled in the original habitat. Thus a branch of the family returned to their ancient village and settled there after a period of 170 years.

The Illam which was beautifully designed and built 100 years ago is located in a two acre compound. There are two ponds and a well in the compound.

The "Ettukettu" building in Kutamaaloor which was built 250 years ago, was later modified into a smaller "Naalukettu". A branch of the family continues to live there. This Illam is located in a two-acre compound and has a pond and a well.

Polpaaya Mana belongs to Ashtagrihathil Aadhyan group of Namboothiris and is probably the only illam to perform an annual rite (Pooja) for the prosperity of girls born in the family. (Such Poojas meant for the prosperity of boys are very common in Namboothiri Illams.) Finally, Polpaaya Mana is the root family of Polpaakkara Mana, Paandamparambath Mana and Aazhvaanchery Mana (of Thambraakkal).

[Also see : Namboothiri Illams - A Photo Feature]

- P Vinod Bhattathiripad, Polpaya Mana / 07-04-2005


Poomulli Mana was reputed to be the largest and richest among the aristocratic Illams in Kerala. Once upon a time, a large sprawling "Pathinaarukettu" stood as a symbol of affluent pride in a 5.5 acre compound located in Peringode, a village blessed with rustic serenity, near Koottanad in Palakkad district. The building complex which was a tribute to Kerala Vaasthu Vidya was eventually demolished and on the foundations of this, a smaller building was constructed. However, the ancient "Poomukham" (parlour) and Pathaayappura have been preserved, and retained as a historical monument.

Poomulli Mana
Sketch : Madanan

The "Tharavaad" which is claimed to be more than nine centuries old, was reconstructed in 1856. The reconstruction was completed within two years. The architect was the famous Vaasthu Vidya expert Velanezhi Namboodiri. The age-old belief was that the life-span of a building is almost equal to that of a human being - that is, about 120 years. Accordingly, the building should have disintegrated by 1976, but it did not, and lasted till it was demolished 20 years later.

The main Naalukettu was a three-storied building, beautifully designed as a model of Vaasthu-aesthetics. It had an aesthetically built Poomukham, a drama hall (Naatakasaala), Sreelakam, Vadakkini, Kulappura Maalika and a spacious Nadumittam (central courtyard). Associated with the main Naalukettu, there was a Vadakkekettu meant exclusively for the use of the lady inmates, and two other smaller Naalukettu. Poomulli Illam was thus a good example of Pathinaarukettu. When the Mana was demolished, 15,000 cubic feet of wood was retrieved. Rosewood (Dalbergia sissoo), "Maruthu" (Terminalia paniculata) and jackwood (Artocarpus integrifolia) were the main timber used for construction of the house. In early ages, the use of teak wood (Tectona grandis) was prohibited.

The family members of Poomulli Mana encouraged fine arts like music, Kathhakali, martial arts like "Kalarippayattu", as also medical sciences like Aayurvedam. There is a temple of Lord Sree Rama, close to the Illam.

[Also see : Namboothiri Illams - A Photo Feature]

Source : Newspaper Reports


Thekkedathu Mana is situated in Vellarakkad village of erstwhile Thalappilli Thaluk of Thrissur district. It is about three kilometers west of the Nelluvaya Dhanwanthari temple. The Vellarakkad Lord Sree Rama temple is located 1.5 kilometers west of the Mana.

Thekkedathu Mana is only about 100 years old. The Panthrandu Kettu Illam was situated in a four-and-half acre compound. Now only the Naalukettu remains. There are three wells and ponds in the compound.

- T N N Bhattathiripad, Thekkedathu Mana / 05-04-2005


This Mana is located in Kadalasseri Desam of Vallachira village in Thrissur district. The Illam is only 110 to 120 years old and is situated in a one acre compound. The Naalukettu has only the Padinjaatti raised by a storey. This Naalukettu has now been modified to suit modern trends. A toilet and bath room has now been constructed within the Illam; the cellar has been filled up. The heights of Thekkini and Vadakkini have been lowered in order to merge with the roof level of the outer veranda. The rooms have been renovated with a wooden ceiling. Vadakkini has been converted into a bed room and Kizhakkini into the dining room. Apart from these alterations, the main structure remains intact even now, and not demolished. There is a well and a pond with a Kulappura. There is a bathing ghat with steps along the river border.

The rafters of the veranda ("Naalirayam") are usually fixed on a wooden beam ("Utharam") running close to the wall. But in this Naalukettu, the rafters are fixed on separate wooden bars 1.5 to 2 feet in height above the main wooden beam.

There is a Pooja room within, and a small Saastha temple in the northern compound. There were reputed Yajurvedi scholars in this family.

- T K Jayanthan, Thekkedathu Kadalayil Mana / 05-04-2005


Thenezhi Mana is located in Kuruvattur of Vellinezhi Panchayath of Palakkad district. In the 5.5 acre compound, apart from the main building, there were two Pathaayappuras and three ponds with Kulappuras. The main building was an Ettukettu with the Padinjaatti and Thekkini raised. The original Illam which is more than 300 years old was reconstructed about 100 years ago. The western Pathaayappura which was built along with the reconstruction was a three-storied building. Each Pathaayappura was self-sufficient for a family with kitchen-wells and other amenities attached to them.

Among these, the eastern Pathaayappura still exists. There were three wells attached to the Illam and one more in the compound. During 1998-99, when more than half of the Illam compound including the area of the main building was sold, the Tharavaad (main matriarchal family) home was demolished. The western Pathaayappura was demolished much earlier.

There is an Ayyappa temple known as Chaakyen-kaavu owned by the Illam and two temples, the Kuruvattoor Narasimhamoorthy temple and the Vakkaala-kaavu Bhagavathy temple with Cheleri and Ullaampuzha Illams as joint trustees.

The members of the family encouraged studies of Vedam, astrology, Kathhakali, drama and so on. They were also deeply interested in agriculture, weaving, construction activities, and played a significant role in public affairs and social activities till recent times.

- Prof: T M Sankaran, Thenezhi Mana / 17-04-2005


Vadakkiniyedathu Mana is situated in Edakkunni in Ollur of Thrissur district. The family settled down permanently here only 60 years ago. Before that they were residing in Vallappuzha near Pattambi. There was a huge Pathinaaru Kettu and five associated temples there, which were gifted by the Saamoothiri Raja. 40 years ago this original building was demolished and made smaller.

The Naalukettu at Edakkunni, which is estimated to be 150 years old was reconstructed 20 years ago, retaining the original Vaasthu shape and plan but with a new concrete roof. The Poomukham and Padinjaatti have been raised.

The Illam compound which is about 5 acres in extent has three wells and two ponds. The family deity (Paradevatha) of the "Kiraangaadans" (the family group consisting of Desamangalam, Kiraangaattu and Vadakkiniyedathu Manas) known as Kudumbaattamma ("Bhadrakaali") as also the idol of "Saastha" are consecrated and worshipped in the central courtyard (Nadumittam) of the Illam. There is a Siva temple close to the Illam.

A Namboothiri Vidyaalayam (school) was started in 1917 for teaching not only the traditional subjects of the Namboothiris, but also essential components of modern education like English and other subjects. This was conducted in the Pathaayappura, which was demolished 20 to 25 years ago.

The famous drama, "Adukkalayil Ninnu Arangathekku" ("From Kitchen to the Open Stage") scripted by V T Bhattathiripad, was staged in 1929 for the first time in a "Pandal" (a temporary shed) erected in the outer courtyard of the Illam.

Vadakkiniyedathu Mana stands in pride with the head held high amidst the rural serenity of Edakkunni village.

- V K S Narayanan Nambudiripad, Vadakkiniyedathu Mana / 25-04-2005


Varikkaasseri (Varikkumaanchery) Mana is located in Manisseri near Ottapalam in Palakkad district. The Illam is a typical Naalukettu. The southern and western wings have been raised. The present building is 100 years old. The original Illam is believed to be built by the legendary "Perunthachan" of the "Parayi Petta Panthirukulam" [click]. The plan of the existing Illam was prepared by the Vaasthu Vidya expert, Velanezhi Namboodiri.

The ancient Illam which was designed in accordance with the scientific principles of Vaasthu Vidya, is an architectural marvel. The "Poomukham" (parlour) which was built as an aberration to the general Vaasthu design was constructed only 60 years ago.

Varikkaasseri Mana
Sketch : Madanan

The Naalukettu and the two Pathaayappuras exist even now. The Oottupura (dining hall), "Agrasaala", "Kacherippura" (court hall), Kulappura as also the Oottupura attached to the temple were demolished recently. In the 4.5 acre compound, there are two ponds and six wells with perennial water supply. The notable peculiarity is that one of these wells is in the "Nir-ruthicon" (south-west corner) of the Naalukettu.

There are three temples in the compound. They are the Siva temple, the Vishnu temple within the compound wall and the Ayyappa temple just outside the wall. They are built based on the calculations of Payyoor Bhattathiri. In 1942, the temples were rebuilt under the leadership of Maannaanampatta Namboodiri.

Padinjaatti of the Naalukettu is a large, spacious room with wooden flooring and exquisite wooden pillars. The Mana has attracted the attention of several Malayalam film producers as a site for film shooting. It is rumored that the Illam will soon be converted into a heritage hotel.

In the coronation ceremony (Ariyittu Vaazhcha) [click] of the Saamoothiri Raja, this family has a prominent role to perform. In this ceremony of the first Saamoothiri, the Varikkaasseri Namboodiri is believed to have performed "Hiranyagarbham" rites.

- V Krishnan Nambudiripad, Varikkasseri Mana / 13-04-2005


The ancestral home of the Vemancheri Mana which is now located in Kadambur of erstwhile Valluvanaad Thaluk (present Ottapalam Thaluk) of Palakkad district, was known as "Aadhyellam" situated in Mezhathur. The Nambudiris of this Mana are the descendants of the famous Mezhathol Agnihothri [click]. It is believed that the Agnihothri-era was about 1,600 years ago.

The measurements of "Naalukettu" of the original Illam at Thrithala (Mezhathur) is different from those of other Illams. Instead of those of a "Brahmaalayam" (house of Braahmanan) or a "Devaalayam" (abode of God), the architectural pattern is similar to that of a "Yaagasaala" [click].

There is no certainty as to when the "Naalukettu" was constructed in the Illam compound which is about three acres in extent. No wing of the Naalukettu is raised. The Bhagavathy is in the Padinjaatti where the golden "Soolam" (trident) was erected by Agnihothri. There is a symbolic lamp at this spot and two flames facing eastward are kept burning permanently. One of these flames represents "Maaya" and the other "Parabrahmam". These sacred flames are kept alive even now, and "Poojaas" [click] with "Nivedyam" continued to be performed twice a day. There is a "Thechithara" (a rectangular or squarish raised block with a bed) which occupies about half of the central courtyard. There is a perennial growth of "Thechi" (Ixora coccinea) on this platform which is believed to be blessed with the presence of Bhagavathy. The whole "Naalukettu" is preserved without any breach to purity as it is considered very sacred. The "Thechi" and other flowering plants maintain a lush growth for centuries, even though they are not watered or fertilisers added to the soil. This indeed is a curious phenomenon.

About 250 years ago, the family of Vemancheri Mana shifted to Kadambur and built another Illam. However, they continue to maintain the ancestral abode and compound at Thrithala. It is believed that Punnathur Nambi donated Kadambur Desam to Vemancheri Mana. At first they built a new Illam north of Mulayamkulam and resided there. Subsequently, in 1074 ME (1899 AD) they built an "Ettukettu" Illam, slightly east of the first one.

Vemancheri Mana
Sketch : Madanan

There was a building complex in the compound, 8 to 10 acres in extent. Apart from the main Ettukettu, there were a huge kitchen, a big dining hall, a prominent three-storied "Pathaayappura", a "Nellukuthupura" (shed for pounding paddy), two more Pathaayappuras on the western side, and a compact and tidy Siva temple. The door leading to the "Vadakke Kettu" was big enough for entry of an elephant. Except the eastern side, all the other three sides of the "Ettukettu" were raised to upper storey. For prayers, there was a "Sreelakam" for lady inmates and a "Thotti", especially for gents.

Adjacent to the "Naalukettu" on the eastern side, there is a fairly big bathing tank with four ghats. Also there were two open wells with perennial water supply close to the main building, and two wells and a tank near the western Pathaayappuras. There are two snake shrines ("Paambinkaavu") one on the western side of the main building and another one, near the Siva temple. This account will not be complete without a mention of the famous Kadambur "Paadathe Kulam" (pond in midst of the paddy fields), which is like a modern swimming pool, granite-paved, and crystal clear water flowing all 365 days of the year to another small pond through a channel, also granite paved.

The Illam has no "Padippura" (gate house). However, the long and wide steps from the gate leading to the main building provided the Mana with a unique beauty and grandeur.

It is sad that, except the western Pathaayappuras and the Siva temple, all other properties have been sold, and the buildings demolished.

- Prof: V M N Nambudiripad, Vemancheri Mana, Kadambur / 01-03-2008


[A glossary of Malayalam terms used in this section is given below, for the convenience of the readers.]

1. The community name Namboothiri may be spelt in more than 20 different ways. In general descriptions, it is written as in "". But at times, spellings different from this appear in the text or else where. This is because, the Namboothiris of that particular Illam (generally) spell it that way.
2. The technical terms in this glossary are spelt as is pronounced in Malayalam.
3. The spellings of place or locality are those generally accepted and used in that area.

Aalingana pooja pooja in an embracing posture, especially in Kottiyoor temple
Aasaan teacher, tutor
Aayurvedam indigenous medical science (oriental)
Agrasaala dining hall (also oottupura)
Ammaathu one's mother's house (Namboothiris generally follow Makkathaayam or patriarchal system.)
Aniyara dressing room
Annadaanam feeding lay people
Ariyittu vaazhcha coronation ceremony
Bharadevatha the family deity (Kuladevatha); also Paradevatha
Brahmaalayam house of a Braahmanan
Chaakyaar a Kerala community
Chaakyaar-koothu an ancient Sanskrit drama (folk-art) staged by Chaakyars, in temples
Chuttambalam building surrounding the sanctum sanctorum in a temple
Devaalayam abode of God
Dwivedi one who is proficient in two Vedams
Ettukettu home with eight sets of room complex forming two central courtyards
Ganapathy homam offering to God Ganapathy
Graama-devatha the village deity
Guru preceptor
Hiranyagarbham special rites performed during the coronation ceremony of kings of Kerala
Illam homes of Namboothiris (also Mana, Mathham)
Irupathinaalu kettu home with 24 sets of room complex forming six central courtyards
Kaaranavar eldest member of a family
Kaarmik one who does Karmam (religeous rites)
Kacheri office room
Kadavu bathing ghat
Kalam ezhuthu paattu ritual in which the figure of diety is sketched using 5 coloured powders, and worshipped
Kalari training centre for fencing
Kalarippayattu a martial art
Kalavara store room
Kandi a measure of weight, about 500 kG
Kara a tract of land
Kathhakali classical dance drama of Kerala
Kattila door frame
Kettu part of a "Naalukettu" type of building
Kizhakkini the room on the eastern side of a "Naalukettu"
Kodanbharani large earthen jars with narrow neck and belly-like bottom
Kokkarni a small pond
Koothambalam hall attached to a temple where temple arts are staged
Kottil a barn shed
Kovilakam palace
Kuladevatha the family deity (Bharadevatha)
Kulambathing tank or pond
Kulappura bathing ghat with shelter
Kulappura maalika bathing ghat with raised shelter
Maalika bungalow
Maaya a manifestation of Goddess Lakshmi
Madhom a "samnyaasi" cloister / monastery
Mana homes of Namboothiris (also Illam, Mathham)
Mathham homes of Namboothiris (also Illam, Mana)
Meemaamsa philosophy
Muppathirandu kettu home with 32 sets of room complex forming eight central courtyards
Naagam snake
Naalirayam veranda around inner courtyard
Naalukettu home with four sets of room complex forming one central courtyard
Naatakasaala hall of arts, where programmes are staged
Nada entrance to a temple
Nadappuracovered passage
Nadumittam central inner courtyard
Naikkar an influential and powerful person
Nellukuthupura shed for pounding paddy
Nir-ruthicon southwest corner
Nivedyam cooked rice offered to a god/ goddess
Ooraalan trustee of a temple
Oottupura dining hall (also Agrasaala)
Paadathe kulam pond in midst of the paddy fields
Paana a rustic play staged in honour of goddess "Bhadrakaali"
Padinjaatti the room on the western side of a "Naalukettu"
Padippura out house or gate house
Padippura maalika storeyed gate house
Panchalohamfive metals
Pandal temporary shed
Panthrandu kettu home with 12 sets of room complex forming three central courtyards
Parabrahmam the highest "Brahmam" conceived as being worshipped by the "Thrimoorthy"; the supreme soul
Paradevatha see : Bharadevatha
Parayi feminine gender of Parayan, a scheduled caste
Pathaayappura granary plus other utility rooms
Pathajali famous ascetic; incarnation of "Aadiseshan"; fell from heaven on the palm of "Paanini"
Pathinaaru kettu home with 16 sets of room complex forming four central courtyards
Pooja offering to a god
Poojaari one who performs Pooja (offering to god)
Poomukham parlour (facade)
Prabhu a wealthy person
Rigvedam one of the four Vedams - Rigvedam, Yajurvedam, Saamavedam and Athharvavedam
Saalagraamam a kind of ammonite stone, sacred to Lord Vishnu
Saamavedam one of the four Vedams - Rigvedam, Yajurvedam, Saamavedam and Athharvavedam
Saasthri scholar
Samaadhi place where cremated
Samnyaasam fourth "Aasramam"; to renounce all wordly connections to become an ascetic
Sarppakkaavu snake shrine (temple), Paampinkaavu
Soolam trident
Sreelakam sanctum sanctorum (prayer room)
Swayambhoo idol originated on its own
Thaaliyola grandhhangal   ancient type of books written in palmyra palm leaves, strewn together
Thaanthric Aachaaryan "Thaanthric" preceptor
Thachu saasthram Vedic architecture ("Vaasthu Vidya")
Thanthri a Braahmanan priest, who decides day-to-day observances in temples
Thapaswi ascetic
Tharavaad ancestral family house
Tharkam logic
Thattinpuram uppermost storey without any ceiling, attic
Thechithara rectangular or squarish raised block with a bed where “Thechi” (Ixora coccinea) is grown
Thekkini the room on the southern side of a "Naalukettu"; may be open also.
Thevaaram prayer; worship of the gods by means of offerings
Thevaarappura prayer hall or room
Thirumittam courtyard around the sanctum sanctorum of a temple
Thotti a loft in a house
Thrikaala pooja "pooja" performed three times a day, morning, noon and evening
Thulasithara raised platform in the central courtyard for growing sacred basil (Ocimum sanctum)
Upaasanaa moorthyworshipping idol
Utharam beam
Vaasthu vidya Vedic architecture ("Thachu saasthram")
Vadakkekettu "Kettu" on the northern side
Vadakkini the room on the northern side of a "Naalukettu"
Vaiyaakaranan grammarian
Vallappura boat house
Vedaantham last part of "Vedam" containing self-realisation
Vedam holy scriptures; chiefly any one of the four "Vedams" of the Hindus, Rik, Yajus, Saamam, Athharvam
Vettukallu laterite. Red-coloured stone used for building purposes, containing iron and aluminium hydroxide.
Vidya knowledge
Vyaakaranam grammar
Yaagasaala thatched temporary shed where "Yaagam" is performed
Yajurvedam one of the four Vedams - Rigvedam, Yajurvedam, Saamavedam and Athharvavedam
Yogasooktham a "Soothram" by Pathanjali, dealing with Yoga practices and formulae

| Article No:15.2 | Last update of this article:27th July 2010 |
Compiled and Edited by : Prof.: V M N Nambudiripad
English Translation: Dr: K T Vijayamadhavan, "Pavithra", Vidya Nagar, Chevayur, Kozhikode - 673 017, Telephone : 0495-2357082
Sketch : Madanan

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