Kerala is famous for Palaces, Museums & Forts of historic touch. Kerala's rich historical and cultural past makes the state a unique place to visit. The monuments include Kerala temples, Kerala churches, Kerala mosques, Kerala forts, Kerala palaces, Kerala houses and Kerala mansion. The most famous palaces are Bolghatty Palace, Krishnapuram Palace, Mattanchery Palace etc. Every step you take in the state instills in you a further sense of admiration for the abundant historical and cultural wealth of the state. These entire monuments together take place in reconstructing the bygone era.
KERALA PALACES, MUZEUMS & FORTS
This palace, which has now been converted into a KTDC hotel, was constructed by the Dutch in 1744 and served as the Governor's residence. The hotel stands comfortably on an Island by the same name and is a two storeyed structure with historical portraits adorning the walls. A ferry ride to the Boghatty Island is extremely enjoyable experience.
Standing on the banks of river Periyar, the Alwaye palace has now been converted into a Guest House. The circular verandah provides spectacular view of the surroundings along with the Periyar River.
Amongst the best preserved forts in Kerala, the Bekal Fort claims to be 300 year old. The fort was supposedly constructed in 1650s by Sivappa Naik of the Ikkeri dynasty. Later on, the fort also passed into the hands of Hyder Ali, Tipu Sultan and Britishers. The fort was primarily built as a defensive structure and therefore has no palace inside. There is an old mosque near the fort which is believed to have been constructed by the Mysore forces.
Situated at a distance of 47 km from Alappuzha, the Krishnapuram palace was constructed by Marthanda Varma in the 18th century. The palace today serves as an archaeological museum displaying the largest mural panels of Kerala. Other items on display include antique bronze sculptures, paintings, ceremonial utensils, oil lamps, fine miniature figures and small stone columns carved with serpent deities. A recently erected Buddha mandapam houses a statue of Buddha.
This is also a Dutch Palace (though it was originally built by the Portuguese) located in the Ernakulam district of Kerala. The palace today houses rare regalia of the Raja of Kochi including coronation robes and palanquins. Other attractions of the palaces are mural depicting scenes from Ramayana and Krishna leela. The palace is open everyday for public except Fridays from 10 am to 5 pm.
Hill Palace Museum:
Built in the year 1865, this was the official residence of the royal family of Kochi. Today, the palace is a Heritage Museum and displays all sorts of royal relics including the royal furniture and the 'simhasana' (the throne or the king's chair). Other articles on display include 19th century paintings, murals, sculptures in stone and plaster of Paris, manuscripts, inscriptions and coins. Moreover, there are also antique pieces of pottery and ceramic vases from China and Japan; rock cut caves from the early Iron Age, wooden temple models and models of objects from Mohanjodaro and Harappa.
Arakkal Palace & Kannur Fort:
Arakkal Palace, located 3 km from Kannur, holds the distinction of being the only royal residence of Muslims in Kerala. The Kannur Fort, also known by the name of St Angelo's Fort was constructed in 1505 by a Portuguese called Don Francisco De Almeida. Later, the Dutch conquered the fort and sold it to the king Ali Raja of Arakkal kingdom. The palace and the fort are close by and are under the care of ASI. It is also believed that the fort has a secret underground tunnel through the sea that leads to the Thalessery palace which is 21 km away.
This palace was built sometime around 15th century and housed the Perakom Thavazhi (the maternal lineage). Today, the two storeyed structure of the palace houses a Folklore Museum as well as the Numisamtics Museum. Items on display in the Folklore Museum include quaint musical instruments, occupational implements, household utensils, models of folk arts etc along with old manuscripts and dress material made of the bark of trees (Maravuri). The Numismatic Museum exhibits coins from different parts of the world as well as different eras. The palace is located at a convenient distance of 18 km from Thiruvanantpuram.
KERALA HOUSES, BUNGALOWS & MEMORIALS
This 16th century structure was supposedly the residence of the Portuguese sailor, Vasco da gama. It is located inside the Fort Kochi in Ernakulam. Highlight of the house include European glass paned windows and Balcony cum Verandas.
Originally the residence of the managers of National Bank of India during the British era, the Thakur House today is possessed by a respectable tea company. The house is a standing reminder of the architecture of the colonial era. The house was earlier known as Kunal or Hill Bungalow.
Pierce Leslie Bungalow:
This 19th century bungalow initially belonged to Pierce Leslie & Co., the famous coffee merchants. The structure is a classic example of a combination of an architecture that is a mix of Portuguese, Dutch and local influences. The highlights of the house are wood panel roof of the ground floor, arched doorways, carved doors and spacious rooms. Water front verandas are also interesting to roam around.
Named after its constructor, Samuel. S. Koder of the Cochin Electric Company, the Koder House was built in the year 1808 AD. The House is located in the Ernakulam district and is a wonderful example of the change of architectural style - from colonial to Indo-European architecture. The chess board pattern of floor, the red brick facade and the wooden bridge that joins the house to other structures across the street are some of the quiet interesting aspects of the house.
Constructed in the early 16th century, the Bishop's House served as the residence of the Portuguese Governor. It is perched over a small hillock and is marked by typical Gothic arches. Additionally, the circular garden path that leads up to the main entrance is another attraction. It was earlier known by the name of Dome Jos Gomes Ferreira who was the 27th Bishop of the Diocese of Cochin.
This one is the official residence of the sub collector of Ernakulum. It was built in the middle of the 17th century and depicts the Indo European style of architecture. The name of the Bungalow is drawn from the site where it stands - the Stromberg Bastion of the Old Dutch fort. This bungalow is believed to have secret tunnel, however, till date none of them has been discovered.
Gundert Bungalow was the residence of Dr. Hermann Gundert, a scholar who successfully compiled the first Malayalam dictionary, from 1839-59. Also, it was in this bungalow that Malayalam's oldest newspaper 'Paschimodayam' (also published by Gundert), developed. The bungalow is a typical colonial mansion with deep eaves, wide verandah and huge doors. Today, a technical training institute is being run in the Gundert Bungalow.
This is a memorial of the erstwhile diwan of the Travancore state, Veluthampi Dalawa, who gave up his life fighting for the freedom of his land against the mighty Britishers. The memorial, today reminds the visitors of the great courage shown by the diwan in face of extreme pressure.
This is yet another memorial that remembers a highly revered poet saint, Thunchath Ezhuthachan. He authored the well known 'Adhyatma Ramayana'. Thunchath Ezhuthachan is also credited for translating Mahabharata into Malayalam. The Garumadam displays items like a 'srichakra', some of the idols worshipped by him, wooden slippers used by him and a few old manuscripts are exhibited here. The day of Vijaydashmi sees hundreds of children being brought to the Gramudom for a ritualistic initiation of learning. The Gramodam is located on the banks of Solkanasini river (destroyer of sorrows) in the Pallakad district of Kerala.