The government will reconstruct the house of Itty Achuthan, a 17th century Ayurvedic physician.

400-year-old house finally gets the attention of Kerala govt after it collapses in the rain
news Conservation Friday, May 12, 2017 - 18:09

 The Kerala government is all set to revive the house of Itty Achuthan, a 17th century Ayurvedic physician, which is believed to be around 400-years-old. The decision came after the roof of the house collapsed because of the heavy summer rain. 

The house name of Itty Achuthan is Kodakutharaparamab located at Kadakkarappally in Chethala in Alappuzha. Itty Achutan was the major contributor of ethno-medical information for the compilation of Hortus Malabaricus, the botanical treatise on the medicinal properties of flora of 17th century Malabar (present day Kerala). He is believed to have had in-depth knowledge of the parallel medicinal system of Ayurveda. 

The local residents, who have been fighting to revive the glory of the scholar, had earlier tried to bring attention to the decaying house and the urgent need to renovate it before the authorities, but in vain.

Finance Minister Thomas Isaac, who is also the legislator of Alappuzha, visited the house after its collapse. He promised that the government will reconstruct and conserve the house by incorporating it in Alappuzha heritage project. The work for the same will commence on Sunday. 

 The house had ara and pura (the portions which were used as store rooms in the traditional affluent Kerala houses), which decayed over time. What remains is a Kazhanchikolu (a measuring instrument of Ayurvedic medicines), and an Urakallu (made out of rock to grind medicines). 

Also the pattum valayum (silk cloth and golden bangle, which kings used to gift to distinguished people as an acknowledgment of their merit) gifted by the king of Cochin to Itty Achuthan. All the Thali Olas (leaves used to write on and document things) have either been lost or decayed or have been taken away and not returned.  

“I am happy that the government has now shown interest in reviving the house,” said 80-year-old Soman, who belongs to the Kodakutharaparamab family. Soman lives in a house in the same place, which was built from a portion of the old house. “I have done everything within my capacity to conserve the house,” Soman added.

The house is located two and half kilometres away from Sanchikavala on the Alappuzha National Highway. There is a kuryala ( a small worship place of Hindus found in temples and old houses) and the remains of the medicinal plant garden, set up by Itty Achuthan near the house. 

“It is believed that the Dutch during the colonisation period had invited Itty Achuthan to compile the Hortus Malabaricus. He had stayed with the Dutch people in a distant place to finish the task. We had earlier approached the authorities to conserve the house which is of historical importance. But at that time nobody listened. The house has now collapsed and almost everything valuable in it has been lost over time. The house had everything which were found in all traditional houses of Kerala. The Thali Olas had rare and rich information on medicinal plants. But in the past nobody knew the value and they all vanished over time,” Suresh Mamparambil, a local resident said.

Suresh is the convener of Vidyul Sadas formed locally in Kadakkarappally. Vidyul Sadas, was a gathering of scholars who used to meet at the Kandamangalam temple in Kadakkarappally at the time of Itty Achuthan. The local residents have also formed the Hortus Malabaricus Trust of which Suresh is a former vice president. 

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