Unprotected Built heritage in Kerala and Tamilnadu within the political boundary of the erstwhile princely state of Travancore
Though the mother country of Travancore was the Mandala Kingdom Chera, during Kali Yuga, it was reduced to the erstwhile region of Travancore with its area of 66531/2 square miles situated between the 8th and 10th degree of North latitude. This 17th century Princely Kingdom lie in the geographical regions that extended from the present day Kanyakumari (Tamil Nadu) in the South, to Cochin (Kerala) in the North. (for map refer Appendix A1 ).
A warm humidity is one of the special features of the climate of Travancore. The land is protected by the Western Ghats on the eastern side and the Arabian Sea on the western side and due to this peculiar geographical position external cultural invasions and influences did not really affect this narrow stretch of land (though there was transfer of knowledge), and remained comparatively pure in its culture.
Rich in timber, religious as well as domestic buildings were in wood; with granite/ laterite stone used minimally for plinths and selected walls. The land with buildings about one to five centuries old is characterized by superior quality of building skill and meticulous craftsmanship in timber, pertaining to the southern regional style. Constructed primarily of wood, these buildings are replete with exquisite ornamentation of a very functional nature. Religion has played a major role in the erection of a house or a temple, the selection of the site, the measurement systems followed, the date of commencement of the work, the materials employed, the orientation of the structure, its layout, and other factors which were associated with the religious dogmas, beliefs which it was believed that if overlooked, will displease the Gods and bring ill luck to the people residing in the building. They were erected with relatively strict adherence to the canons which were formulated over the years of experience obtained in building construction crystallized into a number of formulae governing proportions, dimensions, orientation, location and procedures thus creating a genetic code for architecture in Timber.
Travancore bears testimony of being the rich treasury of built and unbuilt heritage. The attempt undertaken through this research project is to identify, document and prepare a data base of unprotected built heritage existing in the expanse of the princely kingdom of Travancore.