The Architectural Tradition of Ponnani, Kerala: A Historic Malabar Port Town


Vernacular settlement
Traditional knowledge systems
Built heritage typologies
Cultural traditions

How to Cite

Subramanian, S. V. (2021). The Architectural Tradition of Ponnani, Kerala: A Historic Malabar Port Town. Journal of Traditional Building, Architecture and Urbanism, (2), 385–396.


Ponnani, a historic port town located at the mouth of the Bharathappuzha River on the Arabian Sea, was a prominent trading center on the Malabar coast of Kerala, India, in the 15th and 16th centuries. It is one of Malabar’s few surviving historic towns, with its heritage sites intact along with its building types, historic streets and alleys, local culture, and traditions. But some of its historic buildings are on the verge of dereliction and need immediate attention. This study attempts to convey an understanding of Ponnani, with an analysis based on field visits and existing literature. The relationship between the region’s architecture and landscape and current threats to its heritage is explored. Its vanishing traditional knowledge systems and vernacular architectural types are also discussed, in what may serve as a reference for adaptive use by future generations.


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