Mar 192 min read

Traditional Styles of Kerala Housing

written by

Aishwarya Bomble

Kerala's way of building houses and structures is unique in India. It's different from the usual style in South India. The design is a mix of Dravidian and Vedic principles, influenced by factors like Kerala's weather and its long history of trading with countries like China, Arabia, and Europe.

Here are some types of Kerala housing systems that evolved on the basis of family size, traditions, caste and occupation -


  • Ekasala refers to a building with a single main building

  • Ekasala house has a single hall divided into three arrayed rooms.

  • It is usually fronted with a verandah, generally facing east or north.


Credits - Indah Widiastuti


  • The Nalukettu serves as the ancestral home for the Tharavadu, housing multiple generations of a matrilineal family. 

  • Nalukettu is a rectangular structure with 4 blocks in cardinal directions.

  • It has one central courtyard open to the sky as a focal point.


Credits - Benny Kuriakose and Associates


  • Nalukettu, having 2 courtyards, are known as Ettukettu.

  • They have altogether 8 blocks in cardinal directions.


Credits - CGH Earth


  • Some structures have 4 courtyards, known as Patinarukettu.

  • They have 16 blocks in cardinal directions & are huge.

  • Padmanabhapuram Palace is an example of the Patinarukettu type.

  • 4.jpg

Credits -


  • Padippura:

    • Structure in the compound wall with a tiled roof.

    • Serves as the formal entry to the house.


Credits - Rajesh Unnupally

  • Poomukham:

    • Primary portico after the house steps.

    • Sloped tiled roof supported by pillars.


Credits -

  • Chuttu Verandah:

    • Verandah extends from Poomukham on either side of the house.

    • Connected by an open passage.

    • Sloped roof with hanging lights at equal intervals.7.jpg

Credits - Vasthu

  • Charupady:

    • Wooden benches with carved decorative backrests.

    • Located beside Chuttu Verandah and Poomukham.

    • Traditionally used by family members or visitors for conversation and relaxation.


Credits - Sahana Singh

  • Ambal Kulam (Pond):

    • Small pond at the end of Chuttu Verandah.

    • Constructed with rubble on the sides.

    • Used for planting lotus or Ambal, contributing to the synthesis of energy flow in the surroundings.


Credits - Tanz

Along with the housing types, Kerala's architecture has also evolved in palaces, temples, and government buildings, with the influence of colonies and climate. 

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Aishwarya Bomble

Aishwarya Bomble

An architect who is always on the go to share stories of her countless journeys.