Padmanabhapuram Palace

Padmanabhapuram Palace, once the capital state of Travancore situated 54 km from Thiruvananthapuram, this palace lies at the land's end of mainland India - Kanyakumari.

Padmanabhapuram Palace constructed in 14th Century, this ancient Kerla monument representing the indigenous architectural features especially in the traditional style of Southern Kerala. The palace was restructured in the 18th century, using granite in most of the parts of the fort, by Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma, King of Travancore, who named the palace Padmanabhapuram after the name of prime deity of Travancore, Lord Padmanabhaswamy.

The palace is situated in the centre of the Padmanabhapuram Fort with an area of 186 acres amidst hills, dales and rivers. All the buildings in it are elegantly designed and display simplicity of architectural style characterised by pointed gables, dormer windows and long corridors. The most noteworthy edifices are the Entrance Hall (Poomukham), the Council Chamber (Mantrasala), the Natakasala (Theatre Hall), the Pooja Mandapa (Place of worship), The Saraswathy Shrine and above all the Uppirikka Malika (Storeyed building) which contain well preserved mural paintings. The figures painted on the walls are mythological, masterly designed and are wonderfully fresh and unmutilated. They are really valuable artistic heritages of the past, unsurpassed in linear presentation and are full of charm, expression and meditative repose revealing a new world of enchanted riches.

You would need to do a guided tour of the palace complex as it is massive with a maze of 108 rooms, each having its distinct style, mood and artistic expression. Typical Kerala brass oil lamp hanging from ornate teak, painted mahogany musical ceremonial bows adorning the walls and densely carved wooden ceilings further enhance the opulence of the rooms. The sheer size of the two-storied dining hall known locally as ‘oottupura’, where 2000 Brahmins were served lunch everyday, will leave you breathless. Curios at the Padmanabhapuram Palace range from royal chairs with Chinese carvings, Belgian mirrors in the ladies chambers, colorful murals of Lord Krishna, hanging brass oil lamps, hanging cages through which eagles mauled convicts to death, open-air bath area and the two hanging beds in the dressing room of the king’s sister.

Also peruse the collection at the palace archaeological museum housed in the first courtyard from the entrance. It is home to a world of antiques including furniture, coins, granite and rosewood sculptures, stone and copper plate inscriptions, swords, rifles, spears and shields among other ancient armaments. Today the traditional home of the Travancore royal family is maintained by Kerala Archaeological Department.