Kerala Home Garden
In Kerala, you rarely find residential clusters as you would find in rest of India. Traditionally, a Kerala home is in the middle of a garden compound. All elements of a traditional home are built with its location with respect to the garden (ankanam) in mind.
The block to the eastern side of the garden (ankanam in the local language),is called Kizhakkini. Kizhakkini, means the block on the east. Similarly the block to the west, north and south are called Padinjattini, Vadakkini and Thekkni respectively. A Keralite traditionally, could not imagine a home without a garden.
Most homes in the state, with the exception of tall residential towers in cities, have gardens. May be due to the strong influence of the past, residential apartment towers often lose their attraction in a real estate down turn.
You will almost never find a home without a coconut tree. They say, Kerala got its name from the abundance of coconut trees here. Coconut is called ‘Kera’ in the local language. As a place with large coconut plantations, the state came to be called Keralam. But, of course, there are several other legends about how the state got its name.
Coconut tree is considered the ‘Kalpa Vriksham’ (the mythical tree) because of the usefulness of all its parts. The nuts are used as food, the leaves are used for thatching hutments, trunk is used as a construction material and the husk of the nuts used in making coir products.
Mango trees, areca trees, and jack fruit trees are the most commonly seen other trees in Kerala.
A modern home
Due to pressure on land, the Kerala dream of a large compound and a beautiful little house is no longer easy to realize. But still independent houses are built in increasingly small parcels with boundary walls all around.
In the little area around the house, you find plants of various colours and styles. While lawns are not very common, you would'nt find many houses with no garden. Here are a few common plants you would find in any such garden:
And here is the legendary Thulasi, without which no Kerala home garden is complete. Thulasi is part of many religious rituals and is known for its medicinal qualities.
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