Kerala is unique in many ways and this holds true for its traditional architecture too. Till the turn of the century, the construction strictly adhered to texts like the 'vastushastra', 'thanthra samuchaya' and the 'thachu shastra' - the texts that laid down how buildings should be constructed in harmony with nature and the climate conditions of the land.
It is hard to define one building as an architectural wonder. We take a look at the various wonders based on the following categories. The places of worship, The forts and the residences
The Places of Worship
Kerala has been a melting pot of cultures and it has been inspired by the design and architectural elements from the people and places that it had trade links with. Be it temples, mosques or churches, the Kerala style has been inspired by the various cultures of the period. The earlier temples in Kerala were influenced heavily by the Dravidian Style as can be noted while discussing the architecture of the Padmanabha Swamy temple in Trivandrum. The Vadakkumnatha temple in Thrissur, however, varies and adheres mostly to the Kerala tradition with a koothambalam and the oottupura. The St Francis Church has been inspired by European architecture, the Jewish Synagogue speaks about a different design altogether. The Cheraman Juma Masjid near Kochi blends the Arabian architecture with the native twist.
With wars being frequent since the European invasion, the need for forts became acute. And they still stand a witness to the architectural influence from the visitors. The Bekal fort and the Thalassery fort differ even though they under 200 kms apart. The Thalassery Fort speaks about a European influence while the Bekal Fort sticks to the style followed by Nayakas.
Huge palatial homes and palaces were influenced by the European and Arabian styles. The high ceiling halls, the rounded frontage and large gables inspired by English architecture compete with the traditional nalu kettus and the ettukettus typical to Kerala. The amalgamation of cultures is evident in many monuments across the state.
In addition to the strict adherence to the guide books, Kerala architecture has been inspired and have adapted to various other schools too. The Greco- Roman style, the European and the Arabic styles have been adapted and stand as monuments even to this day. A visit to these monuments is a must for an enthusiastic architecture student.