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A home amongst the stars set in the backwaters of Kerala

  • Ideas & Inspiration
Mar 15, 2024
Kerala Home With Backwaters - Beautiful Homes

With their second home, Nakshatra Mana, owners Sneha Iype and Prakash Verma have created an environment that fosters a sense of tranquillity

Sneha Iype and Prakash Verma are the founders of Nirvana Films, a production house in Bangalore, with a focus on crafting engaging narratives for the silver screen. The design of their Indiranagar office was entrusted to Shimul Jhaveri Kadri, the Mumbai-based architect, reflecting their unconventional approach and creative mindset. Sneha and Prakash hail from Kerala, with Sneha's upbringing spanning between Kochi and Mumbai, while Prakash grew up in Alleppey, renowned for its scenic backwaters. Their deep affection for Malayali culture and heritage is evident, as they often spend their vacations dividing time between their family residences in Kochi and Alleppey.

The founders of Nirvana Films, a production house in Bangalore, Sneha Iype and Prakash Verma have a second home in Kochi that exudes an old-world charm while seamlessly integrating modern amenities essential for a functional house.

As the years passed, Sneha and Prakash began making road trips to Kerala with their three children and observed a noticeable transformation in Prakash's mood as soon as they crossed the state border. Sneha recalls, "He became happier, more jovial, rolling down the windows to inhale the fresh air." She goes on to share, "Prakash harboured a profound desire to establish a home in his native land, ensuring that our children would feel connected and have a sense of belonging to their heritage." This strong motivation led them to embark on the journey of building a second home in Kerala. With Nakshatra Mana their objective is to create an environment where one can simply unwind.


We spoke to Sneha about what went behind designing this beautiful home:

Beautiful Homes: What does the name of your home Nakshatra Mana mean?

Sneha Iype: Nakshatra Mana means home within the stars. This was the name of the original house owned by photographer Ashok Koshy. We loved it and kept the name.

BH: You built this as a second home, what is the history behind this place?

SI: We initiated the search for a piece of land to construct our second home in Kerala. Eventually, we discovered a property in Poothotta, situated along the route to the renowned Vaikom Mahadeva Temple. Situated in the Ernakulam district with convenient accessibility, we chose to explore the property. The residence was owned by the accomplished photographer and flautist, Ashok Koshy, whose work pays homage to the artistic richness of India. The residence reflected Ashok's vibrant personality. Its design was unconventional and captivating.

Beautiful Kerala House With Backwaters - Beautiful Homes

The entrance to NM is a limitless view through the house into the backwaters on the other side of the house.

My most cherished recollection of Ashok features him clad in a black mundu, a leather belt with a sizable shiny buckle, a vest, and a Stetson hat, while holding a pipe. He enchanted us with a delectable meal of freshly caught karimeen (pearl spot). Although we purchased the property in 2015, it was only during the initial days of the first wave of the Covid pandemic that we commenced the actual work on it.

BH: What were the architectural and design challenges you faced while building the house?

SI: A significant portion of the house is situated over a water body, presenting its own set of architectural challenges. At the time, we were in the process of constructing our home in Bangalore with the assistance of Poonam Sachdev and her firm, Play Architecture. Seeking to align Nakshatra Mana with our family's needs, we engaged Poonam who, despite her impending move to London, graciously offered her support. After extensive discussions, we made the decision to dismantle a considerable portion of the structure and reconstruct it, maintaining a similar layout. While not particularly religious, Prakash insisted on consulting an astrologer for final approval. The astrologer recommended crucial modifications, such as relocating the kitchen, which was directly above the water body, emphasising the incompatibility of fire and water. Additionally, an irregularly shaped corner was transformed into an evenly shaped room. Regrettably, we had to part with an ancient well in the kitchen, believed to be the source of various issues in the house. With the astrologer's guidance and Poonam's expertise, we successfully implemented these changes, and a local team was brought in to carry out the construction.

Warm And Sunny Hallway - Beautiful Homes

Step in to the main home and allow the courtyard to reveal itself to you as you discover the home in bits and pieces.

Majestic Red Dining Room - Beautiful Homes

The dining room is the lung space .. adjacent and connected to the central courtyard and filled with color and vibrancy and art.

BH: What made you bring Rajesh George on to the design team?

SI: Our vision for a home included a spacious courtyard, seamlessly integrating the outdoors with the indoors, and offering direct views of the backwaters. Drawn to tropical Dutch architecture, Prakash and I travelled to Sri Lanka, where we met Channa Daswatte, a close friend and the principal assistant to Sri Lanka's esteemed architect, Geoffrey Bawa. 

Mesmerizing Backwaters View Sitting Space - Beautiful Homes

The home flows and connects all spaces into and out of the water here.

Inspired by this encounter, we envisioned a house with thicker-than-usual walls featuring curved edges. Considering the Kerala climate, we opted for an increased roof height to enhance ventilation. Recognizing the importance of an architect familiar with the local landscape, terrain, and weather, we included Rajesh George, founder, principal architect, and horticulturist of Paushtika Architectural Design Consultancy, to our team. With his expertise as a landscape designer, he transformed the 7,000 square metre plot into a tropical paradise.

BH: What are the primary materials used in building this house? Anything special that stands out for you?

SI: The entire residence exudes an old-world charm while seamlessly integrating modern amenities essential for a functional home. Rajesh incorporated a sustainable approach by repurposing tiles and wood from the original structure, imparting a rustic yet highly modern ambiance to the house. Old mud tiles were transformed into chips and utilised to preserve primary walls, fostering the growth of moss for a refreshing green finish. The wooden floor panels found a new purpose in constructing the attic. Each room provides a walkout space, contributing to the connection with nature. Drawing from our travel experiences, we implemented elements that enhance the comfort of the stay. Old-world style latches, knobs, and curios collected over time were sourced from a Mumbai artisan and fittingly incorporated into the house. Art pieces, including paintings by local artist Sara Hussain and a series by Goan artist Richa Kashelkar, capture the essence of Kerala living. The master bedroom wall is adorned with a collection of bleeding hearts arranged to form a large heart. Verandah lights have a frog installation beneath them to diffuse direct light. The flooring comprises old-world clay tiles with a pitted and slightly unfinished texture, creating an understated yet luxurious atmosphere throughout the house.

Brown Wood Detailing In Bedroom - Beautiful Homes

One of the bedroom has a narrow wooden stair leading to a mezzanine . A great place to hide.

Inhouse Open Roof Spot - Beautiful Homes

An external courtyard leads out into the garden via this old wooden door frame.

BH: Is the house available for guests to book?

SI: Originally intending to share our home with friends, we gradually opened it up for them to stay. This led to the realisation that having people in the house made maintenance more manageable. To facilitate this transition, the luxury villa management company, Lux Unlock, collaborated with us to attract the right audience. As a result, we decided to extend the invitation to anyone who would appreciate the unique experience of our home. A neighbour from the village contributes to our culinary team, using the freshest produce, some of which is sourced from our own garden. 

Sneha Iype and Prakash Verma of Nirvana Films – Beautiful Homes
Sneha Iype and Prakash Verma of Nirvana Films.
Open Sitting Room With Swing - Beautiful Homes
A swing adorns the dining space leading to the kitchen and a great place to savor the smells of the home kitchen.
Elegant Dark Brown Ceiling In Sitting Room - Beautiful Homes
The heart of the house. The gathering place. The living room and the music room and the game room all rolled into one. It over looks the water and brings the outdoor in.
Dining Area With Large Seating - Beautiful Homes
Sandpit dining The external dining space has a sand pit for adults to feel the earth and for children to get creative.
Amazing Open Dining Area - Beautiful Homes
The dining area.
Beautiful Dark Wood Detailed Kitchen - Beautiful Homes
The kitchen is where it all happens. The staff are busy cooking up kerala fare in this double height large kitchen.
Artistic Kitchen Serving Window - Beautiful Homes
Art by Richa Kashelkar adorns the kitchen wall depicting life by the coast.
Simple White And Yellow Coloured Bedroom - Beautiful Homes
The master bedroom is luxurious and reveals elements of art and a beautiful partially open to sky bath area.
Rustic Wooden Roof In Bedroom - Beautiful Homes
The step out from the bedroom connects to the main house and the views into the water body make it tempting to step outdoors into the green.
Brown Wooden Triangular Roof Ceiling - Beautiful Homes
The attic is quietly tucked away and yet connected for the loner in you.
Pretty Partially Open Roof Bathroom - Beautiful Homes
Another partially open to sky bathroom.
Kerala Home With Backwaters - Beautiful Homes
A home surrounded by water bodies and draws you in to a serene mindset.

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