In a shocking incident, Varikkolil Tharavad, an antique house belonging to the Varikkolil family in Perumbulikkal near Pandalam got completely gutted in a fire that blazed up on Saturday night. The house was believed to be around 1200 years old. No one was living at the house when the incident happened.
Located beneath the Pavvathu Hills in Perumbulikkal, the ancient house had a top to bottom wooden structure, completely made with teak and jackfruit. The house had all the components of Kerala's ancient ancestral homes like the ‘Ara,’ the ‘Nilavara,’ (the underground chamber), ‘Poomukham,’ (the patio), the Verandah, the ‘thirichu kettu,’ ‘chavadi’ (outhouse) and ‘thozhuthu’ (the cattle shed). The Nilavara or the underground chamber was made from polished laterite. Varikkolil Janaki Amma, a senior member of the family said that this was the first house to be built in that locality.
The Varikkolil family has administrative powers over the Perumbulikkal Devi Temple, Thazhathundil Devi Temple and Poovathu Malanada Temple, which is believed to have been consecrated by Duryodhana. According to some local legends, the hill got its name from the belief that Duryodhana had divided gold to others on top of this hill. Thus, ‘Ponnu Pakutha Mala,’ later became Pavvathumalai. According to old timers, the Duryodhana Vadham Kathakali, in which Duryodhana was killed, is not performed here.
The golden ornaments of the deities in theses temples were kept at the Varikkolil house till recently. Because of the presence of the divine ornaments, the ceremonial lamp was lit here every day. However, the ornaments were shifted out of the house considering security aspects.
The Varikkolil family boasts of around 10,000 members spread over nine branches living both inside and outside Kerala. As the deities’ ornaments were kept at the ancient house, usually the family elders used to stay at the ‘Chavadi.’ However, after their life time was over, the responsibilities of lighting the lamp and taking care of the ancient house was vested with a caretaker, in return for which he was allowed to cultivate vegetables in the land belonging to the Tharavad, according to K.P. Jayaprakash and K.Gopakumaran Nair, office bearers of the family Trust. It was the members of that family who were responsible for lighting g the traditional lamp every day. The lamp was lit at the Poomukham even on the day when the house got gutted, according to Mahesh, a family member.
The house was located at the foot of the 100 acre Pavvathumala, owned by the family. The family trust also owns more than 200 acres of paddy fields and other landed property. The trust has decided to rebuild the burnt down structure.
A police enquiry was initiated led by the Sub Inspector of Police, Pandalam, following the complaint made by the Trust office bearers that the circumstances of the incident were suspicious. Assistance was also sought from the Dog Squad, which arrived on the site.