PadmanabhapuramPalace<br />The legendary kings of Venad ruled from this magnificent 16th century wooden palace. The Padmanabhapuram Palace, 60 kilometres from Trivandrum, is now within the State of Tamilnadu but it was once the traditional home of the royal family of Travancore, so it is maintained by the Kerala government. The palace is one of the best examples of the traditional wooden architecture of Kerala. Such stately homes were adorned with carved wooden ceilings, curved and slatted shuttered windows, intricate interlocking beams for the roof, sculpted door panels and pagoda like tiled roofs. Intricate carvings and murals and exquisite wall paintings reflect the unique talent of the sculptors and painters of the olden times. <br />
Padmanabhapuram Palace complex is located in at Padmanabhapuram Fort, close to the town of Thuckalay in Kanyakumari District,Tamilnadu. It is about 20 km from Nagercoil, and about 50 kilometers from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. The palace complex is inside an old granite fortress around four kilometers long. The palace is located at the foot of the Veli Hills, which form a part of the Western Ghats. The river Valli flows nearby.<br />The palace was constructed around 1601 A.D by Iravipillai Iravivarma Kulasekhara Perumal who ruled Travancore between 1592 A.D. and 1609 A.D. In the late 18th century, the capital of Travancore was shifted from here to Trivandrum, and the place lost its former glory. However, the palace complex continue to be the best examples of traditional Kerala architecture, and some portions of the sprawling complex are also the hall mark of traditional Kerala style building art. <br />
Inner court<br />Inner court of the Palace, most of the buildings are connected to each other with green patios in between. The roof is enlarged to keep out the hot sun and the heat from the tiles can cool off as they respire air, still the hot air can escape from the top windows built in a innovative way.<br />
The mantrasala - the discussion chamber of courtiers has an impressive display of light and shade created by wooden window grills. The colourful windows have placeholders to store perfumes that spread in the room when the wind blows in. The dark and hard flooring of the room and rest of the palace have a superb finish that almost match marbles in their finesse.<br />
Mantrasala(Council chamber)<br />King’s Council chamber is the most beautiful part of the entire palace complex. It has windows, with coloured mica, which keep the heat and the dust away, and the inside of the council chamber remains cool and dark. Delicate and beautiful lattice work can be seen all around the council chamber.<br />The floor is also beautifully done, with a fine and perfect finish. The floor is dark coloured and is made of a mixture of varied substances, including burnt coconut shells, egg white and so on. The remarkable aspect is that this particular floor finish and texture could not be duplicated in any other construction.<br />
Inside the Palace<br />The corridors around the main rooms are very airy and the constant cool stream of the air cools off the inner walls. The polished coconut-shell floor is very easy to maintain. <br />
The Nataksalaor the hall or performance has solid granite pillars and gleaming black floor. There is a wooden enclosure, with peepholes, where the women of the royal household used to sit and watch the performance.<br />
NavarathriMantapaand Saraswati Temple. These are carved from stone, a significant detour from the wooden structures in rest of the palace. The Mantapa, the place for performances in the palace, is adorned with carved pillars and a floor that is polished well enough to create reflections.<br />
An old Oil lamp<br />In Madurai you find a lot of those lamps with peacoks but never with this kind of horse. There are not many artefacts left in the Palace, like furniture, except for a bed and ceramic pots to keep rice in, but you don't miss them at all as the carved ceilings and doors in rosewood, the shiny floors made of highly polished coconut shells make up for it; and the rooms are connected by stairs, halls, patios and corridors<br />
The Napier Museum was established by the ruler of Travancore in 1855 and is named after the then Madras Governor, General John Napier. Chisholm, its British architect, combined Kerala, Mughal, Chinese and Italian styles of architecture in his design. This architectural splendor has a natural air conditioning system which keeps the museum pleasant in any weather.<br />Napier Museum houses a rare collection of archaeological and historic artifacts, bronze idols, ancient ornaments, a temple chariot, ivory carvings and life-size Kathakali dancers. The figurines preserved here amply illustrate the varying features of South-Indian sculpture from the 8th to 18th century. <br />
………an uninvited but most welcome visitor to the palace!<br />On my way back to Kanyakumari the taxidriver insisted to see the garden belonging also to the Padnamabhapuram Palace build in the same period between high walls. I was not really in the mood as I had a terrible headache but finally I agreed. It was not really worth the sightseeing but this pawn was remarkable as he was so narcistic to pose for me like a real Tamil, so I did him that favour. :)<br />Trinity October 2009<br />
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