The Dancing Waters

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Ullas villa was the summer palace the late Raja Varma, father of Shankaran Nair had built for himself. It was a grand house but with a good sense of planning and proportion. It was built on a small hill overlooking the Mayillatam thus giving a splendid view for and from the house.

There were a set of private stone steps from the front garden that led into a private bathing area in the river, which was for the exclusive use of the residents of Ullas villa. The house had a splendid pillared veranda that ran the entire stretch of the house. As one entered into the house there was a small central area which formed the living. Straight across the entrance was a small niche in the wall that formed the prayer area with a large brass lamp in the centre. behind which were placed the idols of various Hindu deities. On the left side of this hall were two large bedrooms, the one near the entrance having an extra entrance from the front veranda, which made it a suitable guest room. This room was however given to Saraswathi after her marriage. The other bedroom was smaller in comparison and belonged to Kannan. Adjacent to Kannan’s room was an L-shaped room that became Shankaran Nair’s gun collection room. To the east of the gun room was Janakiamma’s petite bedroom. Moving to the east of the hall, one entered a large dining, where a steep wooden stairway stared right at you. The new bath had been placed to the east of the dining room. To the south of the stairway was a lavish kitchen with a small store room. As one climbed up to the first floor, he could squeeze through a small opening into the attic above the kitchen and store, which was mainly used as a dump yard for old things, utensils and bundles of hay. Reaching the first floor, it was difficult not to be in awe of the spectacular artworks that were displayed on the walls of the hall and the luxurious bedrooms. A long balcony facing the river ran through the whole stretch of the large hall. The first floor was solely used by Shankaran Nair and his artist friends, and therefore was maintained with utmost elegance. The floors were so smooth and fine that one could easily catch their reflection in it. They were furnished with Persian carpets, stone and ceramic antiques, all musical instruments, comfy divans- it was truly the artist’s paradise.

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