In 1927, V Krishnan Thampi, an erudite Sanskrit scholar and writer, made a statement by constructing his house near the beach
The historic fort area of Thiruvananthapuram was initially concentrated around the fort walls that enclosed Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple, the agraharams and the royal abodes within. During the early nineteenth century, the town stretched from the banks of Karamana river to the east, Thiruvallam to the south, Kannammoola towards the north and Shanghumughom in the west. Distribution of settlements strictly followed a sectorial pattern based on caste system.
While families connected to the royal family and the temple resided in the Fort and its immediate precincts, less-privileged communities resided in places away from the religious core.
The coastline was chiefly inhabited by fishermen, whose hamlets were segregated from the Fort area by a vast strip of farmlands and coconut groves and further to the west, by sand dunes. The ancient Devi temple at Shanghumughom and the Arattu ceremony were the major attractions in the otherwise uninhabited Shanghumughom coast.
It was only in the later half of the nineteenth century that some families and persons constructed their houses beyond Eenchakkal, towards Shanghumughom. Easwara Vilasam, a sprawling courtyard house at Vallakadavu, belonged to Punnakkal Easwara Pillai Vicharippukar, a Kathakali maestro and steward to Uthram Tirunal Marthanda Varma. Rohininal Thampuran, a member of Mavelikkara royal house, had constructed Rohini Vilasam, a multi-storied mansion along the Arattu way, west of Eenchakkal.
In 1927, V Krishnan Thampi, an erudite Sanskrit scholar and writer, set up his abode in Shanghumughom, close to the Shanghumughom Devi temple. The house, constructed in the colonial style, has traces of conventional design in the form of a courtyard. According to his biographer, Thampi was advised to settle on the beach by Dr K Raman Thampi. The sea breeze, according to the doctor, could offer relief to Thampi who suffered from arthritis. ‘Beach Bungalow’, the mansion on Shanghumughom beach, soon became a beehive of activities. Kathakali performers, writers, and scholars from across the State visited the house. “The hall was designed with huge louvered doors on east and west elevations, facilitating easy flow of cool sea breeze in the interiors,” says S Radhakrishnan, grandson of Krishnan Thampi. The southern façade of the house has two huge windows with a view of the nearby temple. “Grandfather, when he designed the house, had planned to erect a huge loft on the first floor, facing south. In olden days, one could clearly see the Arattu procession and the breathtaking sunset from the balcony,” recalls Radhakrishnan.
“I cherish my childhood days at Beach Bungalow,” recalls Uma Thampuran, granddaughter of Thampi. “Every morning we would race to the nearby Devi temple before leaving for school,” she adds. Uma also recalls the evening she and her cousins spent by the sea shore. “The sea shore was just an extension of our yard and often we had distinguished visitors like former president VV Giri and his family, who came to enjoy the sea breeze.”
The credit of developing Shanghumughom beach into a sought-after residential zone goes to Krishnan Thampi. N Balakrishnan Nair writes, ‘V. Krishnan Thampi was instrumental in developing Sangumugham into a respectable residential colony. Following Thampi’s footsteps, his friends and other members of the prominent families started to construct houses in the beach area’. Sanguchakram, Summer Ville and Sea Shell were some other houses located near Beach Bungalow. Dr KL Moudgil, a friend of Thampi, also set up his residence in Shanghumughom.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Society> Hidden Histories – History & Culture / by Sharat Sunder Rajeev / Thiruvananthapuram – April 21st, 2017