Nestled in the greenery and the best of nature, Nirviti homestay is a heritage property that signifies the lost culture of the Gounder community of Kulukkappara.
Much far from the hustle and bustle of the city lives and fast-paced time lies this 157-year-old house in Palakkad in Kerala. Surrounded amidst the serene beauty of God’s own country, the house, now called Nirviti homestay, enjoys the privilege of being a heritage property that once belonged to the Gounder community of Kulukkappara. The folklore is that the community had settled in these parts more than two centuries ago.
After the construction of the house in 1865, it was passed on to the descendants of the same community. In 1982, it was sold to a family outside the community. The years passed by, and Thomas Chakola acquired it in 2004 and gifted it to his brother Joseph Chakola, the current property owner. Joseph does not take a moment to say that almost 95% of the house still depicts the craftsmanship of the 1865 construction.
Chakola’s claim can be well justified by the fact that the homestay still outshines the features of the colonial architecture, with the outer part consisting of pillars and arches, also aligning with the Portuguese architecture visible in Goa. The sloping tile roof and the doors inside the house are a medium to peek into the past.
The travellers, Joseph Chakola and his wife Ria Joseph, on the other hand, were touring around the world until March 2020, when they came back to their country and hometown to live in their house. It was in the year 2016 that they planned to convert the property into a homestay while also deciding to continue living there.
The decision invited various needful modifications in the house without letting the original charm of the place vanish. The duo handed over the responsibility to Anita Chauduri and Vinod Cyriac, the architects who are the minds behind the current outlook. A total of four adults and two kids can be accommodated in the two suits comprising two floors.
The kitchen block has been dedicated to the family of Chakola and the two blocks open up to a common courtyard. Although the guest suits have not been facilitated with television, Chakola mentions that the high-speed wifi connectivity turns out to be a big entertainment source for the guests.
Out of great love for food and owing to their travel journey, Chakola and Ria keep experimenting with the national and international cuisines, and no doubt, guests can get to become part of it. While the kitchen is not open for guests to cook food on their own, they can assist in the making as the owners love to serve dessert to them.
Around 100 yards from the house lies an organic farm owned and managed by Chakola’s nephew. Joseph Chakola says, “I see him using various natural practices to keep it 100% organic.” From bananas, areca nuts, and lime to tomatoes and chillies, various products are sourced from the farm that is used in the food preparation by Chakola’s family. In contrast, they also source milk from local farmers in the area.
Saravanan and his wife, Suganthi, have been managing the house for the last few years and live nearby the property. One of the major beneficiaries of an initiative – ‘Nirviti Store’ is the women living near the house as the store is a digital medium for them to sell their products like cakes, soaps, and towels.
The weavers, bakers, and even artisans get a fair share of recognition through the products they curate as these are attached to the person who made them, Chakola says. “The idea is to showcase the face behind the product and acknowledge their hard work,” Chakola adds.
The homestay will be open for the guests from September to March, being the best time to visit the place, but according to Chakola. He states that the guests between 35 years to 70 years of age would well value the cultural ethos of the property.
At the end of the conversation, Chakola does not forget to mention that he and his family look forward to making their guests also their family. “But for that,” he adds, “they will have to live with us for a longer time possible.”