Kalakkathu tharavadu – The birthplace of Kunchan Nambiar- A small journey to its History

Kalakkathu Tharavad* is located in Lakkidi in Palakkad district, the birthplace of Kunchan Nambiar, the founder of the Thullal Prasthanam*. Today it is a government-run institution called the Kunchan Memorial. There will be no Malayalees who do not know Kunchan Nambiar. Isn’t that right ?. Anyway, let’s go to Kunchan. The ancestor of the Kalakkathu peopleĀ  is in the village of Ammannur near Pattambi. A Chakyar and his family lived near the Ammannoor Ayyappa temple. The king who ruled the land of Anna was said to be cruel, and there was only Namboothiri in the Monthol house to oppose him. The king who tried to eliminate him,and did so very secretly. The locals began to know about the incident. But no one can say it out loud. Anyway, that night in the Koothu event* of the temple, in the part describing the exile period of the Pandavas*, the funny Chakyar said that the mantol was burning here and smells coming and thus made the people understand the matter. The matter reached the king’s ears, and Chakyar and Nambiar became displeased with him. When the king sent for them, their fears increased, and night after night the two families left the land and came to Killikurishi Mangalam, across the border, where the Nambiar family bought a house belonging to a Bhattathiri* and started living there. The Chakyar family later moved to Irinjalakuda.

Their main occupation was playing Mizhavu( A kind of musical instrument). Kunchan’s first guru was his mother’s uncle Raghavan Nambiar. From an early age, Nambiar received a divine poetic achievement. He gained experience in Velakali, Padayani, Thullal and Kathakali from Mathur Panicker, the military commander of the King of Chembakassery, learned from NandiKattu Unni Ravi Kurup on literature and science, and from Acharya Dronampally on the subject of hospitality. He was also proficient in Chakyar arts such as Koothu Koodiyattam. In 1757, Maharaja Marthanda Varma took Nambiar to Thiruvananthapuram. Nambiar maintained close ties with Sri Marthanda Varma, Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma and Ayyappan Marthanda Pillai Dalava. During his stay in Thiruvananthapuram from 1757 to 1764, he wrote many thullal writings and other poems. Nambiar wrote Attakkathas like Palazhi Mathanam and Sambara Vadham for Karthika Thirunal who was a lover of Attakkatha. After leaving the royal court, Nambiar returned to Ambalappuzha in 1764. From the death of Ayyappan Pillai in 1763, Nambiar wanted to go to Ambalappuzha. Karthika Thirunal had allowed him to stay in Ambalapuzha at Nambiar Madam* and all other benefits. He died between 1765-1770.

It is believed that he was died of Rabies. He had no family life. The sense of freedom and absurdity found in his works indicate that he was a bachelor for the rest of his life. Even after Nambiar’s death, the people of Calcutta received the same benefits from the Maharaja of Travancore. Nambiar fell asleep while reading Mizhava at Chakyar Koothu in Ambalapuzha. It is said that Chakyar trolled him when he saw that. Kunchan Nambiar created the art form of thullal because of the pain and humiliation caused by Chakyar. One thing is for sure, that joke is just a instance. Prior to that, research into the art of Nambiar Thullal may have begun. There is no doubt about it. All of that is possible for that genius.

The great devotee performed his first work, Kalyana Saugandhikam, at the Ambalapuzha Sri Krishna Temple, from where he set out in the golden chariot of poetry. The life of the great poet was devoted solely to art and literature. His life was a struggle for human goodness and Kerala culture. He tore off several masks with sarcasm. Critics cite that social criticism, satire, Keralites, the language of the common man, and proverbs as hallmarks of Nambiar’s work. These features of his writings made the poet very popular. Nambiar is often described as a popular poet. No matter how long it takes, there will be no replacement for Kunchan Nambiar. No matter how long it takes, those works will always stay fresh.

The land bought by the Nambiar family from Bhattathiri in Killikurussi Mangalam was inherited. The Nambiar family did not have to pay any rent or rent. The four-storey house in Calcutta is more than 800 years old. You can know that antiquity when you see a house made of mud. It’s like stepping into a temple. The house in Calcutta has a porch, a veranda, a small courtyard, a kitchen, floors, corridors, small thatched rooms, a well, a barn, a staircase, and a serpent’s den. When I visited this place, the room where Nambiar was born filled my mind with a poem written by P Kunhiraman Nair and a centuries-old poem. Today it is overseen by the government. My opinion is that if you are born as a Malayalee, you should visit this place at least once. There are Ayyappan and Manjaloor Bhagavathy who were brought from Ammannur, . Nambiar’s relatives still light lamps there. Even during the time of Kunchan Nambiar, he used to come here from anywhere to light the lamps. The Maharaja of Travancore and the King of Chembakassery used to make all the necessary arrangements for the journey to Kunchan Nambiar. The Maharaja of Travancore once gave his Pallak to Nambiar to go to Vela( Special religious prayer) in the temple of goddess Manjalur Bhagavathy. That is what the king did every year thereafter. The women of the Kalakkathu house have the right to perform the Nangyar Koothu which is held in connection with the Mulanjoor Bharani Vela( A temple Festival art form).

Today, the Kalakkathu house is a national monument and center of learning. Even though the seasons change, Nambiar’s poems are heard all over Kerala. Since everyone knows the stories of Kunchan Nambiar, I do not write it and enlarge the post. We would like to thank Professor Shri Raghavan Nambiar, who is also a relative of Kunchan Nambiar, and his brother for sharing information about Nambiar with us.