This 85-year-old barn's transformation into a bed and breakfast is almost magical

by Tuesday , February 21 2017 13:41

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The setting is the quaint Aymanam village in Kottayam district that Arundhati Roy made famous through her book ‘God of Small Things’. It is here that a Thekkepura, which was part of an ancient tharavadu, has rewritten its story. The 85-year-old Thekkepura, the adjacent barn, which is part of the Kollenkeril Pazhayamalikka, has converted itself effortlessly to go with the times.

Basil Thomas, a retired headmistress and the current owner and resident of Pazhayamalikka, introduces us to the many bygone tales that rest here peacefully.

The ancestral tharavadu is almost 150 years old and the Thekkepura got its name as it was on the south side of the tharavadu. This Thekkepura includes the cattle shed, a labour room, a veranda and a bathroom.

It all started with the bathroom!

Used mostly for post-delivery routine baths and ayurvedic treatments, the bathroom was in a rundown state. Basil had first decided to renovate this bathroom and give it some modern touches. That is when her son working in Bengaluru put forward the idea of a bed and breakfast.

Architect Neena Korah entered the picture and when Basil enquired whether the tree near Thekkepura would have to go, she assured that would not be necessary and only a few branches would have to be cut. This urged Basil to get Neena on board the project of refurbishing the Thekkepura.

Renovation within budget

The Thekkepura was in a dilapidated condition. The pillars of the L-shaped veranda were retouched with new wood that they procured from their own plantation. Even the roof tiles were old ones from the smoke room that were polished and reused.

A ramp for aged relatives given at one end of the veranda is a noticeable feature here. This could in future be useful for the guests even. But the star on the veranda is a huge antique jar that was once used to store pickled mangoes for the plantation workers’ mealtimes. Just the sight of it is enough to whet one’s appetite!

Neena did not bring about any drastic changes to Thekkepura. The reading room that Basil’s husband used had bars on all four sides and only the part facing the cattle shed was covered up while the rest was left as such. A shelf for the books was added and this was turned into a living room.

The labour room was converted into a modern bedroom by giving the doors and windows a stylish make over. One of the walls in the room had a slant and Neena retained that. The bathroom was given separate wet and dry areas. The old windows itself was used as the ventilation. A frosted glass opening given on the ceiling of the bathroom lets in ample sunlight. Lights are not required here during the day time and the sunlight ensures that the bathroom always stays dry.

The cattle shed quite surprisingly got an amazing face lift. It was turned into a smaller bedroom with a dining cum kitchen area. The only extension here was an attached bathroom for the bedroom. You can get out onto a sit out from the bedroom to enjoy the beauty of the green surroundings. It is fascinating to see that the top part of the sit out is made of bamboo poles.

With the pleasant breeze, cooling that the nearby trees bring in and a beautiful river that flows by, the locale promises a nostalgic time travel.

In the words of the architect, “Renovation of heritage properties is always a challenge, especially when there is a budget to adhere to without bringing about much wastage. But the challenge is nice in a special and exciting way!”

As for Basil Thomas, she is truly delighted that Thekkepura will see many more years and that too with all its glory and splendor intact.

Photos: Harikrishnan

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