Noted industrialist and philanthropist Kochouseph Chittilappily’s name would be etched in gold as the first Keralite to emerge successful in a startup even when no one had heard about the term. In 1977, a young Kochouseph started making electronic stabilizers with Rs 1 lakh that he had borrowed from his father and two labourers. Now, the V – Guard industries has grown into a successful business empire with more than 2000 employees and an annual turnover of whopping Rs 300 crore. Later, he ventured into the entertainment industry and real estate as well. The Wonder La amusement parks in Bengaluru and Kochi are one of its kinds. More than a highly successful businessman, Kochouseph Chittilappily stands out for his strong opinions and philanthropic nature. He amazed everyone when he donated one of his kidneys and won the hearts of the common man when he raised his voice against the threat of street dogs and the authority’s apathy to it. In another incident, the business honcho left the members of a labour union aghast when he refused to give in to their unjust demand of ‘nokku kooli’ (literally gawk fee) and unloaded the cartons from the truck himself.
Now, Kochouseph has handed over most of his businesses to his children and concentrates more on the V – Guard Developers and charitable works. His wife Sheela too has carved a niche for her herself in the business world by turning her venture V Star into one of the leading clothing brands in the country. The couple shows around their house and shares how much they enjoy spending special moments in their dream abode.
Kochouseph Chittilappily’s beautiful mansion stands in a vast and spacious piece of land that is covered with lush greenery, on the side of Vennala – Palarivattom bypass in Ernakulam. Flanked by verdant meadows and garden, the drive way which is paved with hard rocks, lead to the sit out of the house. The aesthetically designed landscape with lively and beautiful gardens, flowering plants and shading tress clearly reflects the family’s affinity to nature and greenery. A gazebo too has been arranged in the garden for the family members to relax and enjoy the beautiful views of the landscape.
Born in a countryside in Thrissur district, Kerala, Kochouseph and his five siblings grew up in a financially well off family. However, his father insisted that his children shouldn’t be allowed too much comfort or luxuries, thinking that it could turn them lazy or spoiled.
After completing his studies, young Kochouseph had landed a decent job as well. However, he quit his job to start V – Guard. With Rs 1 lakh that he borrowed from his father as the capital investment, Chittilappily began his startup in a small rented shed. Soon, he shifted to Kochi and lived in a rented home. After his business began showing signs of profit, the family shifted to another house in Kaloor. As his children grew up, the businessman wished for a spacious house with more facilities. It was then that he purchased this land and built the house. Kochouseph and Sheela have been living in this palatial house for the last 25 years.
“I was actively involved in all the stages of building this house. I experimented with many building techniques that are popular now then itself. During that time, designing the interiors in the open style was scarcely popular in Kerala. But, I realized that this style would ensure lots of light and air inside the house. So, I had asked my architect to design the interiors in the open style. The roof is plastered and is paved with roofing tiles to reduce the heat. The interior spaces have double heighted ceiling. The induction chimney in the kitchen was designed by me. The gazebo in the garden too was a novel idea,” Kochouseph proudly says about his house.
The beautiful garden and the landscape which instantly draws attention bear the signature of Sheela Kochouseph. It was Sheela’s idea to build the house leaving lots of space in the front. The construction of Wonderla in Kochi had begun after the family had moved into their brand new house. Kochouseph says that the experiences and ideas that he gained by overseeing the construction of his house had helped him while conceiving and building the amusement park as well.
A sit out, formal and family living areas, dining space, kitchen with adjacent work area, four bedrooms and a balcony have been arranged in this palatial mansion that is sprawled in 4000 sqft. The interior spaces are mostly designed in the open theme to receive lots of sun shine and cool air.
The entrance door opens to the spacious family living hall which is in double height. The formal living area is arranged just beside this space, ensuring enough privacy. The dining area is where the family gathers whenever the couple’s children and grand children are home. The kitchen and the adjacent work area are closer to the dining area.
Sheela is a talented artist who loves painting during her spare time. A small space has been arranged for it just beside the stairway. The majestic stairway, built entirely in teak wood, is the highlight of the interiors. The stairway leads to a mini gym space in the upper storey. A long corridor from here leads to the balcony which is decorated with vibrant bougainvillea vines. One could enjoy the panoramic view of the scintillating landscape and the main road from this balcony.
Sheela is only too happy to share her success story as a business woman. “I had lots of free time when my kids completed school education and moved on with further studies. That was when I began thinking about doing something on my own. I was always interested in fashion and textiles. During those days, most garments and fabrics came to Kerala from Mumbai. I began thinking about designing garment and textiles that suit the taste and climate of Kerala. The brand V –Star began from that idea. Gradually, I developed it into one of the most trusted brands,” says Sheela.
The couple has two sons, Arun and Mithun. Both of them are married and are involved in the family businesses. Arun heads Wonderla in Bengaluru and Mithun manages V – Guard in Kochi.
“When I look back, life often seems very surprising. I had to work hard and face many challenges to make V – Guard what it is today. When I was young and busy with the business, I couldn’t spare much time for my family and kids. The support that I got from my family during then was my greatest strength. I truly believe that the home is the stepping stone for a person’s success in life,” notes Kochouspeh.