Having as soon as served because the summer season residence for the kings of Travancore, the Peermedu Hills of Kerala haven’t misplaced their royalty quotient. The hill station within the Idukki district seems virtually as if a real-life postcard, providing many vacationers a wide ranging view that spans miles.
For anybody standing perched on prime of one of many hills right here, there’d be a wonderful sight in entrance of them — money crop plantations together with tea, cardamom, and pepper; together with fauna in shut quarters. So as to add to this cinematic expertise, there’s the gush of the waterfalls, which have an virtually musical symphony to them.
One morning in 2017, George Manu, an training skilled who relies in Dubai, stood right here. The second by no means left his thoughts, and he determined he would construct his dream residence proper right here, nestled in these hills.
The Ledge Home: Perched atop the Peermedu Hills
At the moment, George’s residence has a distinguished view of the encircling tea plantations. Generally known as ‘The Ledge Home’ as a result of its strategic location, the house is nothing wanting a dream — with its regal framework, full-panel glass home windows, and to not overlook, the truth that it’s burrowed into the mountain.
About why he selected the Peermedu Hills, he says, “It’s near my hometown, the altitude is nice, and the local weather lovely. What’s to not like?”
The house, he says, was meant to be a retirement home. “In Dubai, the summers are sweltering and so I envisioned the house as my respite.”
As George reached out to Vinu Daniel and his group for the design and building of the home, he was clear in his intent. “I didn’t need one thing very large, however on the identical time, needed the home to be spacious. I didn’t need nature round to be disturbed in any approach. I discovered the hills lovely as they have been and needed this to be retained.”
The group was greater than excited on the prospect of this challenge. Nonetheless, as Vinu Daniel says, having a house constructed on a mountaintop shouldn’t be as storylike because it sounds.
“Persons are sceptical. Everybody desires the view. And so, somebody might need the perfect view at the moment, however within the subsequent 10 years, with extra houses arising on that very mountain prime, the view adjustments.”
Thus, they determined to comply with a special method when it got here to The Ledge Home — “To maintain the view, we constructed the house in a approach that it stands on the sting of the cliff however can be burrowed into the mountain.”
The development work started in 2018, and the 1900 sq ft residence, comprising 4 rooms, was prepared in 2019.
Constructed with recycled wooden and no ACs
George says that the partitions of the house are infused with the rocks within the hill, which means there’s a temperature stability, as the warmth radiation is monitored.
“In summer season, when one steps into the house from the skin warmth, it virtually seems like moving into an air-conditioned suite. In winter, it’s vice versa. I don’t use any air conditioners or followers within the residence.”
Vinu Daniel, the architect behind this regal challenge, says that temperature management was simply one of many options of this residence. The selection of supplies used to construct the house is much more fascinating.
“The roof and wall are made from casuarina (an evergreen tree with a pine-like look).” He provides that like bamboo, the plant shouldn’t be a typical alternative for building, however in style in scaffolding.
“We handled the plant after which used the wooden within the partitions. Together with this, we additionally used recycled wooden that was leftover from varied building tasks and mills. We modelled the items and pieced the waste wooden collectively to make the ground,” he provides.
The partitions of the house have 5 per cent cement, and are based mostly on a mannequin referred to as the ‘shutter particles wall’. “These partitions are load bearing and made with soil particles, such because the stones produced throughout excavation and building. It’s then stabilised with cement,” Daniel provides.
Whereas ‘ferrocement’ — a type of concrete that makes use of much less reinforcement — slabs have been used within the building, no bushes have been minimize for finishing The Ledge Home.
“The thought was by no means to break nature within the technique of constructing my dream,” says George, who says this concept took root in his childhood.
Summer time holidays amid cardamom plantations
Recounting the inspiration behind eager to have a residence of this type, George says, he was at all times a nature fanatic.
“Since my rising up years, I’ve at all times liked the outside. Being introduced up in Alleppey, Kerala, meant hours spent within the backwaters and days spent within the fields. This deepened the bond that I had with nature,” he tells The Higher India.
So as to add to this, George’s holidays meant spending time at his grandfather’s cardamom plantations — 560 acres of land crammed with spices of various varieties.
The weeks would fly by in a blur as George would spend what he calls “essentially the most pleasing time of his life” within the fields. However whereas he liked the openness that farming gave him, he made up his thoughts that when the time got here, as a substitute of going the standard route of money crops, he’d do it otherwise.
“I didn’t need to become profitable from farming,” was his notion.
So, whereas George pursued his company ambitions in Dubai, he was at all times looking out to create an area of his personal in his hometown Kerala. One that might be a haven the place nature might bloom. And an area that he might return to for the vacations and when he’d lastly retire from his work.
A sustainable challenge deep within the hills
Tracing again to his preliminary promise of not earning profits out of farming, George determined to put money into a meals forest.
“There’s an abundance of money crops in and across the property, however commercialising farming was by no means my intent. As a substitute, I made a decision to plant fruit bushes that might in time handle themselves and be sustainable,” he explains.
The very yr that George determined to construct his dream residence was when he planted the seeds of 120 totally different species of bushes. At the moment, he says, the bio-diverse land is blooming with the fruits of mango, papaya and guava, together with 40 different fruits.
“Along with this, I’ve just a few crops that I develop for residence use. These embrace cardamom and 160 pepper vegetation, 250 plantains, and in a two-acre space I’ve planted cattle grass.”
All of the farming is completed utilizing cow dung that’s procured from the 2 male cows that George has within the cow shed.
On the land, there’s a setup for aquaponics. “The water from the tank, which has 400-odd fish, circulates and is used for irrigation. This has boosted the expansion of the bushes and different crops right here.”
Ask George if he generally needs he had commercialised the enterprise by promoting the produce in close by markets and he says, “Then I might be simply one other man on the market. I needed to be totally different.”
Because the solar units over Peermedu and the hills are bathed in an orange glow, The Ledge Home stands perched excessive and tall, a world in itself.
George sits again and gazes on the realisation of the dream he had 5 years in the past and says, “Life is sweet.”
Edited by Pranita Bhat