Love antique homes? You must visit Dakshina Chitra in Tamil NadušŸ 

Everyday, we step outside dressed to fit in; but we strive to ensure that our homes reflect our uniqueness. In a country like India, the houses are treasure troves showcasing the diversity of its people. The old houses were built – both in and out – to reflect the family’s caste, social status and means of livelihood and this old way of life is preserved at Dakshina Chitra near Mahabalipuram in the Tamil Nadu district of India. Here is a glimpse –

We reached the place by 2:30 pm – it was hot and humid. Dakshina Chitra showcases antique houses from the four states of South India – Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. A museum for houses – that would be a very narrow description; it’s more than a display of life size old houses, it’s a showcase of the forgotten way of life. We start with the Kerala houses.

The Kerala pavilion has Hindu homes from Thiruvananthapuarm and Kozhikode district sand two Christian homes – from Puthupally and Koothattukulam in Kottayam district.

The kitchen part of a typical Syrian Christian home in Kerala
The kitchen part of a typical Syrian Christian home in Kerala
The living room side of the Syrian Christian home  has this verandah - a casual visitor needn't be welcomed into the house, the verandah was apt to sit and talk
The living room side of the Syrian Christian home has this verandah – a casual visitor needn’t be welcomed into the house, the verandah was apt to sit and talk
A glimpse into the living room of the Syrian Christian home - we have this recliner chair back home; next to the window is the perfect location; lie back and watch the life outside
A glimpse into the living room of the Syrian Christian home – we have this recliner chair back home; next to the window is the perfect location; lie back and watch the life outside

The recliner chair above has extended leg rests, if you noticed šŸ˜€šŸ‘†.

The kitchen in a Syrian Christian home - the well (the pulley is seen from the open window) for drawing water was right next to the kitchen - even if it is pouring rain outside, you can draw water from the comfort of the house.
The kitchen in a Syrian Christian home – the well (the pulley is seen from the open window) for drawing water was right next to the kitchen – even if it is pouring rain outside, you can draw water from the comfort of the house.

We have a vested interest in visiting Dakshina Chitra; below is a house that belonged to my husband’s family. It belonged to his grandfather’s brother. The family moved to a new home and the old house was dismantled and reconstructed at Dakshina Chitra. Hubs only has a vague memory of the house, but everyone in the family talks about it and we got to see it finallyšŸ‘‡.

Koothatukulam House at Dakshina Chitra
Koothatukulam House at Dakshina Chitra

AĀ Syrian Christian house – this home from Koothatukulam is different from the previous one – the arched verandah reflects British influence.

Verandah of the Koothatukulam Syrian Christian home
Verandah of the Koothatukulam Syrian Christian home

From Ā the Tamil Nadu district, there are two homes – first a Chettinad House from the Pudukottai district. TheĀ Chettiars were a prosperous community of bankers and traders.

The pillars on the verandah or tinnai at the Chettinad house
The pillars on the verandah or tinnai at the Chettinad house
The writing desk of the house accountant in the Chettinad house
The writing desk of the house accountant in the Chettinad house
The ornate doorway of the Chettinad House of Tamil Nadu
The ornate doorway of the Chettinad House of Tamil Nadu

The second house from Tamil Nadu is the Agraharam Brahmin House. The agraharams have rows of houses on either sides of the road and a temple to the village god at the centre. The brahmins lived here. You will be surprised at how low the doorway and ceilings are !!

Agraharam Brahmin House from Tamil Nadu
Agraharam Brahmin House from Tamil Nadu
Dances at Dakshina Chitra
Dances at Dakshina Chitra
A handicraft exhibition at Dakshina Chitra
A handicraft exhibition at Dakshina Chitra

I got a wall hanging and framed it up….looks very pretty šŸ˜˜šŸ‘‡

A souvenir from Dakshina Chitra
A souvenir from Dakshina Chitra

You have to take a pause and quench your thirst from the heat. The perfect antidote is Ā the refreshing cold sweetĀ Goli soda – a lemon carbonated drink that you must try, the name is derived from theĀ goli (marble) in neck of the bottle.

Next, we went to see the Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh pavilions. This beautiful yellow house stands out – a Muslim house from the Chikmagalur district in Karnataka. Chikmagalur’s claim to fame was the fact that after Congress party lost the general elections for the first time in 1977, Indira Gandhi contested and won from Chikmagalur in a by-election the following year.

Chikmagalur isĀ a hill station in Karnataka known for coffee plantations. The house below was built in 1914 by a Muslim family who owned a large general store in the local village and a five acres of coffee plantations; however it remained empty for over 20 years. The dilapidated structure was restored and reassembled in Dakshina Chitra.

Muslim House - Aldur Village in Chikmagalur district of Karnataka
Muslim House – Aldur Village in Chikmagalur district of Karnataka
Upstairs and inside the Muslim house  in Karnataka
Upstairs and inside the Muslim house in Karnataka

A second home typical to Karnataka – a weaver’s home in north of Karnataka from theĀ Bagalkote district. The Ilkal sari named after the Ilkal town in Bagalkot district is famous and marked by the alternating red and white stripes on the pallu – signifying the colours of their deities – male (white) and female (red).

A weaver's home in north of Karnataka from theĀ Bagalkote district
A weaver’s home in north of Karnataka from theĀ Bagalkote district

Last to the Andhra Pradesh houses šŸ‘‡

House typical of Andhra Pradesh
House typical of Andhra Pradesh

Last was a mud house built by the fishermen in the cyclone prone coastal area called Yelamanchili in Visakhapatnam districtĀ of Andhra Pradesh. These homes are called Chuttilu houses – circular in shape with mud walls and palmyra thatched roof, nestled close to one another to form clusters. The roof comes all the way to the ground and getting in to the house is an effort; inside is pleasantly cool.

Chuttilu houses from Yelamanchili in Visakhapatnam districtĀ of Andhra Pradesh
Chuttilu houses from Yelamanchili in Visakhapatnam districtĀ of Andhra Pradesh

If you are visiting either Chennai or the nearby historic Mahabalipuram town, a half day visit to Dakshina ChitraĀ is a worthwhile expedition. But the heat is tiring šŸŒž. We stopped here while on a visit to Mahabalipuram from Pondicherry; here’s the itinerary –Ā Pondicherry & Mahabalipuram by road …šŸš™šŸ’Ø the Itinerary

Till next post, take care !!

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