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Traditional Architectural Style of Kerala - Nalukettu

Exterior View of a typical Nalukettu

Exterior View of a typical Nalukettu

Traditional Nalukettu Plan

Traditional Nalukettu Plan

Open coutyard of Nalukettu

Open coutyard of Nalukettu

While building your house a lot depend upon what is your dream is. Your house not only serves your utility aspect but also fulfills your dreams. In this article, an ancient form of architecture called “Nalukettu” House is explained. This is one of the best architectural works of southernmost state of India-Kerala. Nalukettu is explained in ancient science of house building called “Thachu Shatra”. The local translation of Nalukettu is 'nalu' (four) and 'kettu' (built up side blocks). It is a house built up with four blocks and a central open courtyard.


Nalukettu has four blocks known asVadakkini (northern block),Padinjattini (western block),Kizhakkini (eastern block) andThekkini (southern block). Nalukettu may consist of a basement storage room called “Nilavara”. Usually in the ancient times, there were joint families staying together and the Nalukettu served all the purpose. There used to be even larger families where “Ettukettu” were constructed having Eight Blocks and two courtyards in between. The style of construction was such that it provided ample ventilation and sunlight to each and every room in the Nalukettu. Some believed that Nalukettu style of Architecture evolved from “Pagodas” of South Asia and from Aryan Culture.

The union of four blocks is very critical in Nalukettu. And the open courtyard to which these four blocks faces are equally important in terms of its dimensional ratios and the size. Usually Nalukettu uses building materials available locally like red bricks, mud and woods.

Modern Times

The present generation is of nucleus family. Hence the importance of Nalukettu has diminished. The following are some of the reasons for people not opting for Nalukettu in Kerala, India: -

1. Modern contemporary style getting popular

2. Joint family culture is taken over by nuclear family of 4 or 5 members.

3. Cost of Construction is huge for Nalukettu.

4. Wood work, a predominant part of Nalukettu architecture is scarcely available.

5. Lack of good workmanship for Carpentry with knowledge of Nalukettu construction.

6. Reduction in availability of Build-up area of houses

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7. Maintenance cost of Nalukettu is huge compared to other houses or villas.

Yet, the style of Nalukettu is still very popular as a vintage model and lots of tourist comes to Kerala to stay in such houses. They prefer so to enjoy the ventilation and natural lightning along with the climate and greenery of Kerala.

Future of Nalukettu

The future of Nalukettu is looking really bright as the demand for such houses are rising. The main reasons for the same are: -

1. To exhibit the lavish lifestyle of Traditional Kerala

2. To explore the tourism opportunities.

But having discussed with lots of Architects in Kerala, I have concluded that it is a very time consuming affair to build a Nalukettu and lots of the new generation architects do not have proper knowledge of the same. Moreover skillful workers for Nalukettu are not available. Nalukettu houses prevailed in a society where lots of members were staying together. Now the burglary and house break are so common that people do not prefer to stay in Nalukettu for long. The proportion and style of Nalukettu architecture is itself a study for the future. The modern concept of Green Building can easily be met with such constructions. The popularity of Nalukettu can be identified by some of the famous builders of Kerala who are preparing Nalukettu Villas for their clients who are mostly Non-Resident Indians.


inggo on September 02, 2012:

Thanks for this great hub!

pradeep on May 13, 2012:

Most of the nalukettu villas offered by popular builders are really not nalukettus. people have mistaken that if there is a central courtyard it is called a nalukettu. Nalukettu has specila calculations for the courtyard and all the four houses. A true nalukettu is based on vasthu . it is true that cost for the nalukettu is slightly higher it has features like reduction of heat due to open space, living with nature etc.

Sanath Nair (author) from Kochi,India on April 01, 2012:

Thanks Deepateresa. My house initially was a Ettukettu when I was a small child But later on changed to accommodate some modern architecture and now I regreat it very much.

DEEPA JOHN from Trivandrum, Kerala,India on April 01, 2012:

Nice Hub!

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