Vernacular Indian Architecture Of Kerala

  • Vernacular Architecture Of Kerala

Kerala is situated on India’s tropical Malabar Coast having nearly 600 km of Arabian Sea shoreline. The temperature ranges from maximum average 35°C and minimum 22°C. The rainfall is heavy from south-west and north-east monsoons. To protect the building from sun and rain the roof comes down. The verandha also protects the outer walls from sun and rain.They had windows with jaalis to prevent glare and inner courtyards for ventilation. The width of the verandah varies from 2 ft to 12ft.



Site sloping from South West to North East
was supposed to be best.Testing the soil by digging trench and

  1. Squaring The Site

    Square sites were only used. Best possible square was taken
    from the irregular sites in cardinal direction. The square shaped area in which
    the rules are applied is called Vastukshethra.



Traditional Kerala architecture is the Vastu vidhya is derived from the Stapatya Veda of Adharva Veda and deals with two types of architecture Residential Architecture(Manusyalaya) under functional architecture and Temples coming under conceptual architecture.

        2. Division Into Khandas

Vastukshethra is divided into 4 parts using lines drawn in cardinal directions. The squire divisions are called Khandas and the center is called Brahmanabhi. In the four Khandas the construction was permitted only in
Devakhanda and Manushyakhanda.



        3. Division Into Vidhis

Vastukshethra is divided into 4 or 9 parts from center. These divisions are called Vidhis. Vidhis helped in providing proper set backs in the olden days.

division -into-vidhis


        4. Vastupurusha

Vasthupurusha is believed as laying in the vasthumandala with head in the Jala corner and feet in
Nirathi Corner. Different parts of body is assumed to be occupied by different gods. Planning is done according to the parts of the Vasthupurusha’s body.


        5. Layout and Planning of Salas

Planning was according to the perimeter other than the area.Planning around a courtyard. Classification according to the basic building units or Salas.


The ridged roof pitched at angles between 30degree to 40degree. The roof with intricately carved gables protruding from the roof with overhangs supported by wooden brackets. The roof is prefabricated that is different members are fixed on the ground and assembled at the top. No nails are used.

The roof is kept in position by interlocking with the hole in the rafters.

Walls made of timber or earth and roof of coconut leaves or tiles are common in many parts of Kerala

Structurally the roof frame was supported on the pillars on walls erected on a plinth raised from the ground for protection against dampness and insects in the tropical climate.



The most common type of flooring was that of beaten earth polished with cow dung at regular intervals

Black colored traditional flooring used in the more expensive buildings was done with the mixture of lime, sand, coconut shell, white of egg, jaggery, coconut water and other vegetable extracts. The smoothness was achieved by polishing the floor with a particular variety of banana.


Rectangular in Plan.


  1. Placed at 45 to the predominant wind direction.
  2. Pitched roof helped in reducing the heat reception.


3. High pitch of roof of 33° sloped roof created a high pressure zone in the windward direction and forced              the air in. Wooden trellis work welcomed the air inside.


4. Double roof.High thermal insulation with the double roof.

5. Use of wood and laterate for walls facilitated more thermal comfort.


6. Low roof, overhanging eaves and high plinth. Protected from rainfall and solar radiation.

7. Provision of wide corridor all around again helped in protecting the wall from rain and sun.


8. Courtyards. Provided sufficient lighting and ventilation inside the
building. Dimension of the courtyards were less.

9. Vegetation around house


10. Changes occurred from Southern to Northern Kerala
• Gables are found in the structures of Central Kerala.
• Double storied houses are seen in the Northern parts.


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