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Sakthan Thampuran Palace

Stadium Rd, Chembukkav, Thrissur, Kerala 680020, India


The home and resting place of Shakthan Thampuran, the King of Cochin Dynasty

Location of Sakthan Thampuran Palace

More about Sakthan Thampuran Palace

Shakthan Thampuran Palace is situated inthe city of Thrissur in Kerala state in Southern India. Once known as Vadakechira Kovilakam (Vadakechira Palace), the palace belonged to the rulers of the Kingdom of Cochin. Sakthan Thampuran who is considered the greatest ruler of the Cochin dynasty reconstructed the palace in 1795  Dutch style  and it was the centre of power during his rule between 1790 and 1805. 

History of Shakthan Thampuran Palace

The known history of the palace starts in 1700’s when the region was frequently visited by the Mysore kings and after it was reconstructed by Shakthan Thampuran. Even though it belonged to the Cochin dynasty for a long period, the name of the person who built this palace or the previous occupants of the palace is not well known.

During the invasion by the Mysore King Tipu Sultan of the Malabar region in the 18th century, he used to stay at the palace at various points in time. It is believed that the Sultan entered the palace with his troops. The flag mast that he erected can be seen close to the compound wall in-front of the palace. This is before the time when Shakthan Thampuran renovated the palace.

The era of Shakthan Thampuran and the construction of palace 

The era of King Rama Varma Shakthan Thampuran, popularly known as Shakthan (AD 1790- 1805)  is considered the golden era of the Cochin Kingdom. During his reign he maintained cordial relations with European powers including the British and also with neighbouring kingdoms such as Mysore and Travancore, flourishing the trade and exchange of informations. He was a far sighted ruler whose administrative and diplomatic skills resulted in admirable achievements for the Kingdom. He is considered the founder of present day Thrissur City and credited with the starting of the famous festival Thrissur Pooram.

The Vadakkechira Kovilakam, located in the northern most part of the Kingdom was renovated by Shakthan Thampuran in 1795 and he lived there making it the centre of power of the Kingdom. The palace started to be known by his name after the renovations he made to the structure. The final resting place of Shakthan Thampuran is also located inside the palace premises.

Presently the palace is preserved by the Archeological Department. It was converted into a museum in 2005 by the state of Kerala.

Exploring the palace

The sprawling palace sits on a land of about 6 acres. The main structure of Sakthan Thampuran Palace is a two-storied  building in a traditional Kerala style nalukettu (a rectangular structure where four halls are joined together with a central courtyard open to the sky). High roofs, thick walls, large rooms and floors paved with Italian marble are some of the architectural features of the palace that is now a museum, housing multiple galleries.

The many galleries of the Palace Museum

The Bronze Gallery displays bronze statues belonging to the period between 12th and 18th century. The Sculpture Gallery displays granite statues from the 9th to 17th century. The History Gallery depicts the milestones of Cochin Dynasty and the Epigraphy Gallery showcases the genesis and evolution of ancient writings. Some of the other galleries of interest at the palace includes a Gallery of Household Utensils made of bronze and copper used by the rulers of Cochin and Megalithic Gallery exhibiting remains of the great stone age.

The numismatic section of the museum has coins used in Kerala from the 5th century B.C. Roman gold coins, Travancore native coins in silver, Otta Puthan and Iratta Puthan coins issued by the Cochin Kings are also on display. The coins were issued by the Mysore King Tipu Sultan during his brief stint in Kerala, Indo-Dutch coins, Malabar coins issued by the French and coins of British India showcase the different points of history in Kerala.

Gardens in Sakthan Thampuran Palace

The heritage garden located in the southern side of the palace is set-up recently to exhibit and preserve some of the indigenous varieties of plants and trees of Kerala. The palace also has an ancient Serpent Grove where snakes are worshipped according to Hindu belief. The archaeological garden in the northeaster part of the palace has collections from the Stone Age recovered from the outskirts of Thrissur.

How to reach Sakthan Thampuran Palace

The palace is located in the heart of Thrissur city, near to the famous Vadakkunnathan Temple. There are buses passing by from Thrissur Bus Station. Nearest major railway station too is in Thrissur, 2.5 km away from where you can take a taxi or rickshaw to reach the palace. Thrissur is well connected with the rest of the districts of Kerala state and other states by means of buses and trains.