Away from noise and pollution, Sylviander House is located in the idyllic village landscape of Chettikad, 5 km north of Alappuzha, 70 km from Kochi International Airport at Nedumbassery and about 6 km from Alappuzha Railway Station. (Refer Google Maps Below)
For several years, Sylvie and Alexander were searching for a place where they could live and work as artists, where there would be enough space to welcome our guests, a place where we gather like-minded people for creative activities, to exchange ideas, to build intercultural bridges or simply to relax and enjoy the good things in life. Their search for such a place started in southern France and went to Sicily in Italy. Soon, they realised that they could not 'afford' such a vision in Europe, so they continued their search in Alexander's birthplace in Kerala, South India. They finally found a piece of land at Chettikad near Alappuzha. The true beauty of this place made both of them say — Yes! This is it!
Opened in December 2012 after seven years of construction, silence and privacy are the "luxuries" of Sylviander House, situated on the outskirts of the southern city of Alappuzha (also known as the "Venice of the East"). A beautiful garden with small ponds surrounds the Green Building. The structures are built with the natural material 'kummayam' (Lime Mortar), antique wooden windows and traditional wooden doors, which keep the rooms airy and cool. The traditional Kerala-style bathrooms and spacious verandas create an ambience of olden times — when nature and humans were in perfect balance.
ALAPPUZHA, KERALA, INDIA
SYLVIANDER HOUSE HOMESTAY
The plan of the two-floor building has a L-shape, and both floors have verandas. To the east is the main entrance, and upstairs is the morning tea veranda for reading the newspaper and having tea with the rising sun's first light. To the west is an ample space to enjoy the garden view with a round pond and an old grown biotope and the coloured sky during sunset or stars in the night. Sylviander House has 12 rooms: an Art Museum, guest room, hall, family room, kitchen and massage room, an artist studio with a sleeping space, and a writer's room with a sleeping room.
The house has been built according to Vaastu, a science enabling nature and people to live harmoniously. It is a good place for a relaxed holiday, a traditional Kerala massage, and for workshops/seminars of all kinds. We could accommodate eight people comfortably. The conventional way of construction, use of organic materials, ceiling height of rooms, number of windows which allow good airflow, plastering with 'kummayam' — traditionally known and used in olden times to keep the room cool and dry – a blessing in the tropical climate of Kerala. ('Kummayam' is a mixture of burnt shell powder and sand with the natural glue of a creeper grown in the area).
The windows and doors were collected over 12 years, and precious pieces were rescued from old, demolished traditional houses in Kerala. The windows and doors have different formats, giving a unique look. Some windows and doors are over 100 years old and made of teak wood. The entrance of the Art Museum and some windows come from a church; the door of Alexander's Studio once belonged to the room of a Vicar in the church. The gable roof with the double tiles technique was once considered 'typical' for the colonial old buildings in Fort Cochin. The tiles and some windows come from the ancient Travancore Post Office in Cochin Harbour.
Sylvie Bantle and Alexander Devasia
The nearby surroundings are easy to explore with cycles or auto-rickshaws. A boat may also be hired from the nearby jetty for a beautiful trip through the backwaters since the location is right in the heart of Alappuzha. For sightseeing a taxi may also be arranged. Numerous spots of interest can be found within 50 km. An additional secret excursion point is – a forest temple in a cave. Sylvie likes to refer to this part of the excursion as "The search for the dancing God" and describes it in German as "Die Suche nach dem tanzenden Gott"
An Art Museum in Kerala — why not in a village? That is an old dream of Alexander Devasia. His permanent collection and new paintings have a space of 60 sqm, and Alexander is happy to showcase and exhibit the works of other painters and hold painting workshops here. The elastic dance floor of the Art Museum is made of wood, which was Sylvie Bantle's wish to have a space dedicated to dance, yoga, and public performances.
Each guest room is approximately 20 sqm and is equipped with a large bed of 1.80m x 2.00m with a mosquito net, two small side tables with a reading lamp, a ventilator, an antique cabinet, two chairs and a table. To the south leads a second door to a small veranda with an over-roofed open-air washing place. From there, you enter the bathroom with the toilet. The walls are plastered with coloured shell powder and waxed like the terracotta tiles on the floor. In one corner is a basin, where you draw water to shower. This last breath of Kerala's past is an excellent pleasure besides saving water.
Various birds From the western veranda can be spotted — these include kingfishers, woodpeckers, Kakadu, uppan, hummingbirds, and many crows chasing the Krishna eagle away high up in the sky.
Depending on the season, the sound of the sea is heard, especially during the monsoon and soon after (June to October). In these months, it is impossible to swim in the sea, but you still can swim in one of the ponds of Sylviander House. The fisherman's beach, which is close by (400m), is garlanded by coconut palms.
POSSIBILITIES: WORKSHOPS, SEMINARS
Sylviander House is ideal for small groups to use the space for their workshops or seminar activities. Guests interested in art or writing can find tips and inspiration from Alexander or Sylvie. Guests can contact local artists, dancers, Yoga teachers, and musicians or attend exhibitions in Cochin or temple festivals, classical dance performances, snake rituals, etc.
POSSIBILITIES: TRADITIONAL KERALA MASSAGE
Massage treatment for a minimum of nine days should be considered. Exhausting activities are not recommended during these days. The massage with a traditional mixture of Ayurvedic oil takes around 45 minutes, followed by a medicinal bath in warm water of boiled herbs or bark.
At Sylviander House, organic local food is cooked carefully and always fresh, which is preferred and combines Kerala and European foods. Some vegetables even grow at Sylviander House. Breakfast is mainly a variety of Kerala dishes — Upma, Dosa, Idli, Idiappam, Appam, Roti… sometimes Sylvie can bake fresh bread served with home-made jam, and of course tea, black or green, Chai or coffee. Lunch includes rice, vegetable curries and — mostly — fish and a salad of cucumber and tomatoes with olive oil dressing.
The price of staying includes breakfast. If you wish, you may have lunch and/or dinner with Sylvie and Alexander for a moderate additional amount. Green tea and rainwater are provided all day.
Sylviander House Art Museum, Blue Star Library Road, Chettikad, Pathirapally PO, Alappuzha 688 521, Kerala, India.
Tel: +91.9645817014 Email: Life@sylvianderhouse.com Web: www.sylvianderhouse.com