Everyone has a dream house, Thacholath Gopalan too had one in mind since his childhood. When The Better India (TBI) contacted Gopalan, he said that when he was a child, he wanted a house in a river, like a houseboat. But when he grew up, he came to know that people can’t construct houses in paddy fields as it is against building regulations. All hopes of that dream seemed lost until the chance came actually to build a home.
Environmentalist Gopalan’s father, Chappuni Nair, handed him a 10 cent plot of paddy field to construct a home in the early 90s. “I was very particular that at any cost, I wouldn’t level the field. My childhood dream flashed in my mind. I dug a pond in 4 cents of land and made a 2 cent house in it without levelling the paddy field. Inside the pond, I constructed 15 concrete pillars and then on top of it my house was constructed on a slab which was made above the pillars,” says Gopalan.
The interesting story of Gopalan doesn’t end there. “I constructed the house in Kozhikode’s Mukkam with just Rs 75,000 in 1992. I had received some wood from my wife’s family for the construction of my house. Those who visit my house say that it feels like they are sitting in an air-conditioned house, but here I have no air conditioner. I have made a cooling effect spread in the entire house with some tricks. The walls of the home are made of mud blocks, the roofs with brick and the pond under the house complete the cooling effect,” said Gopalan to TBI.
In the pond, Gopalan has fishes, frogs, snakes, water lilies and many other plants. He also said that none of these frogs or snakes has entered his house or disturbed him as they are happy in the pond.
“If people have some dream and if it is a good one, then that dream will come true. I never thought that I would be able to construct a house in water but yes, proudly I can say that I constructed one without breaking any rule”, Gopalan added.
Gopalan, who is also the former president of Mukkam Panchayat, said that his happy house has different kinds of Ayurvedic plants and he also grows 27 Malayalam birth star trees in his compound. He happily added, “I also give the saplings of the birth star trees to the ones who contact me. I also have the Dasapushpam at my house, which is ‘ten herbs’. These Dasapushpam flowers are also used to make folk medicines. Earlier, these flowers were visible in every Kerala house, but now they have vanished”, added Gopalan.
The former president added that if people contact him saying they have free land, then he is more than ready to travel there and plant trees. With a laugh, he added, “Those who contact me should assure me that they will take care of the plants, then only I am ready to go to their place and plant my seedlings,” he says.
“At home, we have different birds and four Vechur cows. Firstly, I give food to the birds and then to the cows, only after that I have food. At my house, I don’t collect the cow’s milk. I allow the calves to have it because they own it,’ Gopalan added.
Apart from this, Gopalan also owns a 60 cent paddy field. He also cultivates different varieties of vegetables including pumpkin, yam, turmeric, beans, banana and many more on his farm. He guarantees that whatever he cultivates is through organic farming. He uses cow dung and urine as fertilizers for the cultivation.
In 2017, Gopalan was honoured with Vanamitra award, which is given every year (one in each district in Kerala) for protecting medicinal plants, farming, mangroves, sacred groves, and biodiversity.
Talking to TBI, Sudhir Balan, a Kerala school teacher, said that he owns a 25 cent plot of paddy land, but due to building rules, he is unable to construct a home there. “Gopalan master inspired me a lot. Seeing his house, I too got an idea to do something in my paddy land without breaking the building rule. I hope many are there in Kerala, who would have kept their land without doing anything due to the building rule. Master’s innovative idea will surely help those people,” said Sudhir.
“I love advising others, but I won’t force them to take up my advice. If they also get convinced of my advice, then let them use it. I have built a small house, and I believe a smaller house and small happiness make people happy. I am ready to help people to construct a house like mine. Many have contacted me for the same, and I happily helped them in all ways I could,” said 67-year-old Gopalan.
Gopalan can be reached at 9447660347.
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)