On a very recent trip to Kerala – a trip perhaps among my most memorable – I had only one regret: missing out on the Padmanabhpuram Palace. Always game for a slice of history, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the palace was denied to me on account of the day of the week. Alas, the temple is closed on Mondays!
So, about the palace: located in the Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu, it is close to Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu and Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. It is, to be precise, situated at Padmanabhapuram Fort, at the foot of the Veli Hills providing it a lush locale.
The palace was constructed around 1601 CE by the then Travancore ruler, Iravi Varma Kulasekhara Perumal. The palace was rebuilt around 1750 by the maker of modern Travancore, Anizham Thirunal Marthandavarma. It was the king Marthaanda Varma who dedicated the kingdom to his family deity – believed to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu – Sree Padmanabha. He ruled the kingdom as Padmanabha Dasa or “the servant of Lord Padmanabha”. Hence, the name Padmanabhapuram or, literally, “city of Lord Padmanabha”
The splendor of the palace is a fine example of the architecture of Kerala. The interiors, from what I’ve heard, consist of intricately detailed rosewood carvings and immensely fine sculptures. There exist intact 17th and 18th century murals as well as a musical bow in mahogany.
The place is a haven for historical curios with entire rooms filled with nothing else but Chinese jars gifted by Chinese merchants, weapons used in actual warfare, brass lamps, antique polished furniture and even an old style toilet and well. Moreover, there is a series of paintings depicting historical incidents and facts about the royal family of Travancore. There were even rumours about a secret passageway existing as an escape route out of the palace built for the royal family. This spooky yet fascinating detail leaves me wanting to visit this palace even more!
Location: Kanyakumari district, Padmanabhapuram, Tamil Nadu 629175
Opening Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Closed on Monday and National Holidays.
- For Indian citizens: Rs. 25
- For Foreigners : Rs. 200