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Padmanabhapuram Palace


The Royal Mansion – Padmanabapuram palace is being included in the tentative list of the “UNESCO World Heritage Sites” in South India.

An exemplar of Kerala architecture, magnificent wooden palace of 16th century, Padmanabhapuram Palace is located in Padmanabhapuram Fort, close to the town of Thuckalay in Kanyakumari, on the road from Kulasekaram to Thuckalay. It is about 20 km from Nagercoil and about 65 kilometers from Trivandrum. This palace is a good example for a traditional timber construction.

The palace complex is inside an old granite fortress around four kilometers long and it is located at the foot of the Veli Hills, which form a part of the Western Ghats. The palace was constructed around 1601 CE by Iravi Varma Kulasekhara Perumal who ruled Travancore between 1592 CE and 1609 CE.

The maker of modern Travancore Anizham Thirunal Marthandavarma ( CE 1706 -1758 ) who ruled Travancore from CE1729 to 1758 rebuilt the palace around 1750. King Marthaanda Varma dedicated the kingdom to his family deity Sree Padmanabha, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and ruled the kingdom as Padmanabha dasa or servant of Lord Padmanabha. Hence the name Padmanabhapuram or City of Lord Padmanabha.

In the late 18th century, precisely in 1795 CE the capital of Travancore was shifted from here to Trivandrum and the place lost its former glory. However, the palace complex continues to be one of the best examples of traditional Kerala architecture, and some portions of the sprawling complex are also the hallmark of traditional Kerala style architecture

The antique interiors are replete with intricate rosewood carvings and sculptured decor. The palace also contains 17th and 18th century murals. One can see: the musical bow in mahogany, windows with coloured mica, royal chairs with Chinese carvings, 'Thaikkottaram' or the Queen Mother's palace with painted ceilings, rose wood and teak carved ceilings with 90 different floral designs.

Durbar Hall of the palace has a with a shiny black floor specially made from a combination of egg white, jaggery lime, burnt coconut, charcoal and river sand, granite tubs to cool curd and buttermilk, secret underground passages, the King's bedroom with a four poster medicinal bed, mural paintings, pictures of Lord Krishna, hanging brass lanterns lit continuously since the 18th century, open air swimming bath, granite dance hall, Saraswathi (goddess of knowledge) temple, large earthen urns, room for scribes and accountants, carved figures on columns holding oil lamps, pooja (worship) rooms with jackfruit tree columns, fish carvings on the ceilings, enormous teak beams, Belgian mirrors and an outer cyclopean stone wall fitted together without mortar.

Visitors to the palace are often overwhelmed by the royal splendour of erstwhile Travancore. Though the palace is situated in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu State, it comes under the Government of Kerala's administration.

Visiting hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on all days except Mondays, Wednesday’s forenoon session and national holidays