I hate noise. But living in a city like Mumbai, you just don’t have a choice but to accept it as part of your everyday life. Now, to a large extent, I can cope up with noise, but at times it reaches a point where it gets on my nerves and all I want to do is escape. It was one such escape that took me to Olappamanna Mana, the house of the famous poet Olappamanna manakkal Subramanian Namboothirippad, in the small and culturally rich village of Vellinezhi in Palakkad district, Kerala. (Mana means a Kerala Brahmin home.)
An early morning train from Ernakulam to Shoranur, then a bus to Cherpulassery, breakfast from a roadside hotel, and an approximately 45-minute rickshaw ride, I was standing right in front of Olappamanna Mana. Writing about the mana is not going to be an easy task because it’s too vast a topic, and so I urge those interested to visit the mana’s official website where you can read all that’s there to know about this 300-year-old architectural marvel.
The photographs below are categorized into 2 sections with some text accompanying each photo. Quite a few Malayalam words are used, but wherever possible, I have given the English equivalent.
Part 1 – the Mana, its interiors, and things that caught my fancy
Part 2 - Kalamezhuthu
My trip to the mana was planned such that it would coincide with the last day of this traditional art form called Kalamezhuthu. Watching the blank floor transforming into a colorful image by these 2 talented artists was absolutely mesmerizing. What amazed me the most was their perfection when it came to drawing these complicated patterns. Guidelines were next to nil, but what they drew were always perfect and symmetric. Never once did they fumble, never once erase! I have a short video below that will give you a better idea how it’s done. The kalamezhuthu was followed later in the evening by kalamezhuthu paattu (song) and puja (religious ritual). More information on the mana’s cultural background can be found here.
A short video on kalamezhuthu. (If you can’t see it, go here.)
Before I conclude, I want to say a big thanks to Mrs. Sreedevi and Mr. Damodaran, the two wonderful people who made my stay at Olappamanna Mana truly beautiful and unforgettable. Never once did I feel I am meeting them for the first time. It was such a homely experience. My only regret though is that I couldn’t spend more time there. Time passed by way too quickly much to my dislike, and even before I realized, the moment had arrived to say goodbye.
Mr. Damodaran was literally an encyclopedia when it came to the mana and very patient in explaining everything, but I was way too overwhelmed by the mana and its serenity that most of it just went over my head or maybe it was way too much information for me to digest in the short time I spent there. Does that mean I have a longer visit planned? Maybe. If not for anything, but Mrs. Sreedevi’s cooking. You really need to go there and experience those truly authentic Kerala dishes to understand what I am talking about. And it’s highly commendable that she does most of the cooking for the guests by herself!
Olappamanna Mana – a chapter I will never forget in my life.