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Hill Palace Museum

Hill Palace Rd, Ernakulam District, Irumpanam, Thrippunithura, Tripunithura, Kerala 682301, India


The largest museum in Kerala and the former residence of the Cochin King.

Location of Hill Palace Museum

More about Hill Palace Museum

The Hill Palace Museum, formerly the residence of the Cochin Kings, is the largest archaeological museum in Kerala. Built in 1865, the palace complex consists of 49 buildings in the traditional Kerala and European architecture styles spreading over an area of 52 acres.

History of Hill Palace and Museum

The official capital of Cochin Kingdom along with with the royal office and the court was previously located at Thrissur City. As per customs, the seat of the queen was seen as the royal capital as Cochin royal family had matrilineal traditions and the queen was regarded as the sovereign of the state under whose authority the king ruled. Since 1755, the queen and her entourage lived at Thripunithura thereby making the city the official capital.

The time of Prince Rama Varma XIV

Prince Rama Varma XIV who later became king was raised in Thripunithura and preferred to stay in the city after his coronation. A royal office was constructed in 1865 along with a court building, offices of the royal secretaries, and nobles of the court. Soon more and more structures were added for various purposes. An imperial residence building was also added for the residence of the king and his immediate family even though other members of the family had their own allocated bungalows and official residences.

Handing over to the Department of Archeology

After the death of the last king of Cochin in 1964, the palace went into a period of neglect. It was handed over to the Government of Kerala by the Cochin Royal Family and it was taken over by the Department of Archeology in 1980. Later the museum was opened to the public in 1986 in the palace building.

Artefacts on display at the Museum

The Museum is the largest in Kerala, displaying myriad of artefacts ranging from the period of stone ages to the recent 20th century.  There are more than 10 galleries altogether. Some of the notable exhibits include oil paintings, murals, sculptures, manuscripts, inscriptions, coins, belongings of Cochin royal family etc. The collections displayed on the museum are mainly  from the Cochin Royal Family, Travancore Royal family, Paliam Devaswom and from the Department of Archeology.

One of the most outstanding item on display here is the gold crown embedded with precious stones that was presented to the Cochin King by King Immanuel of Portugal. The throne of the king is also displayed at the museum. A Torah written on goat skin draws much attention as well.

Some of the interesting galleries at the Museum are the portrait gallery, wood carvings gallery, jewellery gallery, porcelain gallery, epigraphy gallery, numismatic gallery, folklore gallery,  metalware gallery, chariots gallery, and the sculpture gallery among many others.

Exploring the palace and its premises

The elegant looking palace is noted for its terraced landscape dotted with ponds, fountains and lawns. The complex has an archaeological museum, a heritage museum, a deer park, a pre-historic park and a children’s park. The oldest structure in the 49 building complex is the single storied ‘ettukettu’ constructed around AD 1850. Ettukettu is a traditional Kerala style architecture with eight halls with two central courtyards for the building.

Close by the ettukettu is a pond and a temple. The other buildings at the palace display a combination of traditional and European architecture. The three storied office building constructed in 1950 draws eyes due to its classy yet modern style. You can also find a botanical garden on the palaces grounds with tropical tree species brought from Central America and Australia. The surroundings of the palace display several species of flora and fauna including rare medicinal plants. There is also a deer park in the palace premises.

Getting to the Hill Palace

The palace is situated at Tripunithura in Ernakulam City of Kerala in Southern India. There are numerous bus services within Ernakulam City to Tripunithura bus station passing through the palace premises. The nearest major railway station too is in Ernakulam which is well connected to rest of the districts of the state and country.