Arakkal Kettu Museum
Ayikkara Govt Hospital Rd, Near District Hospital, Ayikkara, Thavakkara, Kannur, Kerala 670013, India
A Museum that reflects the history of Arakkal Kings and Queens.
Location of Arakkal Kettu Museum
More about Arakkal Kettu Museum
Arakkal Museum (also known as Arakkal Kettu/ Arakkal Palace) was the residence of the former Arakkal Ali Rajas, the only Muslim royal family of Kerala. The museum is located in Ayikkara Mapila Bay, about three kilometres from Kannur Town of Kerala State in Southern India. The museum now displays numerous artefacts and ornaments belonging to the Rajas and it is protected by Archeological and Tourism Departments.
History of the Museum and the Arakkal Ali Rajas
The Arakkal Ali Rajas is believed to have their lineage from nair caste of the Kolathiri Rajas (ruler of Kolathundu, a feudal kingdom in North Kerala) who later converted to Islam with the name Mammali. A story about Mammali is that he once saved a girl from the royal family of Kolathiri Rajas from drowning. Consequently she was declared an outcast and Mammali married the girl. The Kolathiri Rajas granted her land at Kannur and the palace Arakkal Kettu as dowry.
The prominent times of the Rajas
The Arakkal family were well known rulers of Kannur and adjoining areas. They once ruled most parts of Malabar (North Kerala) and Lakshadweep Islands as well. The family and their kingdom had good relationships with the Mysore Kings Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan who invaded much of North Kerala regions in 1700’s. They also had good rapport with Dutch and the Sultan of Bijapur (parts of present day Karnataka State). When the British conquered the Mysore Kingdom during the last decade of the 18th century, the Arakkal Family had to surrender their land to the British. The Arakkal Kett, which was used to be the families administrative headquarters later became the office of the collector of Malabar during British times.
The rulers and their descent
One of the unique things about the family is that when it comes to ruling and administrations, there was no gender difference. They followed matriarchal system of descent and admitted both males and females as head of the family and the state. The male rulers were called Ali Rajas and the females were called Arakkal Beevis
The present day Arakkal Kettu
Today, although the palace is renovated by the government, the Arakkal Kettu is owned by the Arakkal Royal Trust and does not fall under the control of the countries archeological department, the Archeological Survey of India. The government had taken keen interest in preserving the heritage of the Arakkal Kettu and the family which had played a prominent role in the history of North Kerala.
Architecture of Arakkal Museum and Palace
The Arakkal Kettu comprises of many independent units around a large open courtyard. It includes a mosque and a building which was once used as an administrative office. The structure was build of laterite blocks and wood and most of the rooms in the palace have intricate woodworks. The palace has long Verandahs in the front that speaks of a combination of local architecture with a colonial touch.
The main palace building is two stories and the upper floor has large halls with wooden floors. The double shutters windows of the palace has coloured glass panels that look amazing when they catch the light. One of the room is considered sacred and a lamp is present there which is alway lit. Such lamps are called Kedavilakku (the lamp that never extinguish) and prominently present in Hindu community of Kerala.
Museum and its exhibits
The main building of the palace complex houses the museum opened by the government of Kerala in 2005. It mainly exhibits the artefacts and heirlooms of the royal family which includes the family seal, Pathayam (a wooden box to store grain), a document box and a lot more. The royal copies of the Holy Koran, an old-fashioned telephone, swords and daggers used by the rulers, and an old telescope are also on display. There are many other items too such as royal chairs and furnitures, glass wares etc.
Apart from these, there are exhibits that stand as testimonies to the Arakkal Rajas relationship with European colonial powers as well as those relating to their maritime activities and spice trade.
Getting to Arakkal Museum
The museum is only three kilometres away from Kannur Town from where you can get direct buses or you can take a taxi to reach. The nearest major railway station is in Kannur as well. Arakkal Museum is located in Kannur district of Kerala State in Southern India.