A splendid wooden piece of architecture situated at the land's end of mainland India. Such is the feel and locality of Padmanabhapuram Palace, which lies at Padmanabhapuram Fort at Thuckalay in the Kanyakumari district, the end point of India, of Tamil Nadu. A typical specimen of Kerala's indigenous style of edifice, this magnificent palace was once the home of the Rajas of the erstwhile Travancore. Constructed by Ravi Varma around 1601 AD, the palace was his capital for sometime, but was later shifted to Thiruvananthapuram, leading to the loss of the glory and beauty of Travancore. However, architecture of the palace is still an excellent example of traditional Kerala architecture. The palace is administered and maintained by the Government of Kerala Archaeology Department.
The intricate rosewood carvings and sculptured dcors fill up the antique interiors of the palace. The Padmanabhapuram Palace contains ancient murals belonging to the 17th and 18th centuries. The musical bow in mahogany, royal chairs with Chinese carvings, windows with colored mica, 'Thaikkottaram' or the Queen Mother's palace with painted ceilings, rose wood and teak carved ceilings with 90 different floral designs form the major highlights of the palace. The palace complex consists of several different structures, like Mantrashala, which was once used as the kings' Council Chamber. Fitted with colored mica, the chamber has been decorated with delicate lattice work.
Besides, there is the Nataksala, comparatively a recent building constructed by King Swathi Thirunal who was a great connoisseur of performing arts. As such, the Nataksala was used as the performance hall. Some other major attractions include the Durbar Hall, with a shiny black floor created from a blend of egg white, jaggery lime, burnt coconut, charcoal and river sand, and granite tubs to cool curd and buttermilk. The palace also has a 300-year old clock tower which is still used for keeping time. The palace contains a secret underground passage, though blocked now, through which the King, the royal family, and their entourage could escape to another palace, located several kilometers away, in case of emergency. A small bathing pond too lies inside the palace which is not in good state due to negligence.
Apart from these major sightseeing spots, there are a number of different interesting facts about the palace that are sure to delight you. There is a room filled completely with Chinese jars, a wide variety of innovative weapons, a wooden cot made from 64 wooden pieces of different tree trunks, a stone cot, and a gallery of paintings depicting the history of Travancore. All these impressive attractions represent the grandeur and magnificence of the grand erstwhile Travancore. The majestic Padmanabhapuram Palace is located 50 km from the capital city of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram.
The Padmanabhapuram Palace is one of the most famous monuments of Kerala.