The palaces of Kerala are graceful reminders of its vibrant past. Most of the palaces here are defined by gabled roofs, colonnaded facades, and dark passageways. Many of them have been turned into museums. By displaying a collection of the arts and objects of the past, they provide a good opportunity to delve into the traditional culture and lifestyle of Kerala. Majority of the palaces have been built by the Travancore Royals. Kochi Royals have also contributed a few palaces to the region. Here is the list of palaces of Kerala.
Note: If you want to watch the videos of the following palaces, do check out the playlist at the end of the post.
Kuthiramalika Palace (Puthenmalika Palace)
Kuthiramalika, also known as Puthen Malika, is an 18th-century palace. It was built by Swathi Thirunal Balarama Varma – the king of Travancore. Travancore Royals made it their home after shifting here from Padmanabhpuram Palace. Kuthiramalika is a fine example of Kerala style of architecture. This palace-turned-museum has polished-plaster floor and sloping-tiled roof. The cool chambers of the palace are studded with wooden panels. The wood carvings are marvellous, especially the horses jutting out of the columns to support the eaves. These sculpted horses have earned this palace the name of ‘Puthen Malika’ which means ‘Horse Palace’.
Location: Kuthiramalika Palace is situated near Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Trivandrum City.
Kanakakunnu is an elegant palace situated on a hillock near Napier Museum in Trivandrum. Its architecture displays a beautiful fusion of Kerala and colonial Styles. The palace is situated amidst sprawling and well-tended lawns and grooves. It was supposedly built by Sree Moolam Thirunal, who used it for royal banquets. Later on, it was refurbished by Swathi Thirunal – a Travancore King. Now the government owns this palace and its grounds are utilized for cultural programs.
Note: This palace is thrown open to people only on a few occasions. But the grounds are always open, so you can easily get the exterior view of the palace.
Location: Kanakakunnu Palace is just 800 meters from Napier Museum in the Trivandrum City.
Interestingly Padmanabhapuram palace now falls in the geography of the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu. But it is maintained by the government of Kerala. This palace was the home of the Travancore Royals from 1550 to the end of the 18th century. Padmanabhapuram has a collection of buildings which are beautifully laid out in the four adjacent compounds. Worth admiring are its wooden interiors, sculpted pillars, antique furniture, and murals. The pagoda-style-tiled roof makes the palace more charming.
Location: Padmanabhapuram Palace is 53 km south of Trivandrum, on the way to Kanyakumari.
Mattancherry Palace (also called ‘Dutch Palace)
Mattancherry palace has unassuming exteriors, you can easily pass it for an old mansion. But on the inside it is a riot of art. The walls of a series of chambers are profusely painted with murals. These stunning murals depict various instances out of Hindu Mythology. This palace is now a museum and has a collection of royal artefacts. The Durbar Hall is the place where coronation ceremonies were hosted. It is now a picture gallery showcasing the portraits of the rulers.
Location: Mattancherry Palace is situated near Fort Kochi.
Hill Palace Museum
Hill Palace was owned by the Kochi Royals before the government of Kerala took it over. This massive palace complex now houses the largest archaelogical museum of Kerala. There are 49 buildings in the precincts that span over 54 acres. Of all the exhibits in the museum, the most impressive is the wooden hall which has episodes of Ramayana carved all over. Apart from this there are ornaments, antiques, sculptures, and weapons on display. This palace is best avoided on weekends when locals arrive here in hordes.
Location: Hill Palace Museum is situated in Tripunithura, a suburb of the Kochi City.
Koyikkal is a 16th-century palace. It has two storeys and is built in traditional Kerala Style. Koyikkal palace was meant for some of the relatives of the Travancore Royals. Umayamma Ravi, the queen of Attingal and the regent for Ravi Varma, had stayed here for a few years. This palace was owned by Travancore Devaswam Board after independence. In 1979, the state government of Kerala took it over and the palace saw extensive restoration in 1990. Today it houses a folklore museum and a numismatics museum.
With its gabled roofs, dormer windows, and narrow corridor, Krishnapuram palace exudes that real Kerala feeling. Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma built this palace in the 18th century. Now it houses a museum. Paintings, artefacts, and archaelogical objects are displayed here. The most striking exhibit is a gigantic mural called ‘Gajendra Moksham’. In this mural an elephant is saluting Lord Vishnu and other deities are admiring the gesture. This palace is set amidst well-kept gardens.
Location: 2 km south of Kayamkulam and 47 km from Alleppey
Shakthan Thampuran Palace
Shakthan Thampuran palace exhibits an amalgamation of traditional Kerala and Dutch styles of architecture. A king called Rama Varma Shakthan Thampuran had renovated this palace around the end of the 18th century. The museum in the building has many galleries. The most interesting galleries are the ones showcasing bronze statues, sculptures and epigraphs.
If you are an admirer of Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings, you would be aware of Kilimanoor palace. This Palace is the birth place of Ravi Varma. Spread over six hectares, the campus is dotted with residential buildings, ponds, wells, and groves. Art connoisseurs shouldn’t miss to visit the studio in the palace complex. It was the place where Ravi Varma would create his masterpieces. Today it has some of his reproduced works on display.
Paliam Palace is situated in Chendamangalam (also called Chennamangalam) town near Kochi. This clean and green town has three rivers passing throught it. Paliam Palace belonged to the ‘Paliath Achans’ – the oldest male of the Paliam family. Paliams were the prime ministers of Kochi Royals. This palace is said to be more than four centuries old. Along with the palace, this town is also home to a Jewish Synagogue along with a few temples and churches.
This playlist has videos of the palaces mentioned above:
While Kerala is popular for its natural beauty, it has no dearth of heritage monuments. Despite being a small state tucked away in the southern corner of India, it has witnessed a very dramatic past. It has endured territorial conflicts, foreign invasions, and colonization before it became a part of the independent India. So, just like any other region, the rulers and invaders created fortifications for their safety. While some of them could endure the test of time, many of them have crumbled. Read More
Tamil Nadu has witnessed a rich past. This land of Cholas, Pandyans, and Nayakas is dotted with magnificent structures created by them. The dynasties of the surrounding geographies also laid their claim over many regions of this state. Their excursions led to the building of newer structures which added to the heritage of Tamil Nadu. The eastern border of this state is the southeastern coast of India. The Dutch, the French, and the British entered the country from this coast. They built the forts and settlements; they also took over the existing fortifications and reinforced them. Read More
Just like other states, the dynasties that thrived in Tamil Nadu have left behind many palaces. Amongst them, there are a few splendid structures. The most significant ones are Maratha Palace in Thanjavur and Thirumalai Nayaka Palace in Madurai. With sheer coincidence the Padmanabhapuram Palace built by the Travancore kings is also a part of Tamil Nadu. Read More