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Krishnapuram Palace

Krishnapuram Palace, Oachira, Kerala 690502, India


18th century palace standing as a prime example of traditional Kerala Architecture.

Location of Krishnapuram Palace

More about Krishnapuram Palace

Krishnapuram Palace is a palace and museum built in the traditional Kerala architecture, currently maintained by the Archeological Department of Kerala State. The palace was built in the 18th century by Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma who was the ruler of the Travancore Kingdom from 1729 to 1758 AD. The palace was built following the annexation of Kayamkulam Kingdom to the nearby Travancore Kingdom. 

Traditional Kerala architecture of Krishnapuram Palace

The palace is one of the finest and rarest example of the traditional architectural style of Kerala with a gabled roof, narrow corridors, and dormer windows. It is built in the model of Pathinarukettu - a structure consisting of sixteen halls with four central courtyards. The palace is a miniature replica of Padmanabhapuram Palace in Tamil Nadu State, the headquarters of the Travancore rulers.

A period of neglect and the restorations

The palace complex originally encompassed an area of 56 acres, however over the years as the monarch rule ended it was completely neglected and dilapidated. Many of the buildings surrounding the main palace were demolished and the complex was reduced to a mere 2.5 acre area enclosed in a 3 meter high compound wall. The main palace which was run down was rebuilt to its original state as a three storied monument by the Archeological Department of Kerala in 1950’s. The rare documents and artefacts which were kept at the other locations were brought back, restored, and exhibited at the palace that has been converted to a museum.

Interior features and speciality of Krishnapuram Palace architecture

The windows, doors, and ventilators/fans of the palace are placed in such a way that fresh air and natural light circulates well in all the rooms. There are 22 rooms in total with ornamental wooden partitions and carvings that open to the courtyards inside. The building is set with passages all around to protect the outer walls from damages due to rains. The materials used in the construction of the palace consists of laterite stones, rubble, teak, rosewood, and anjili wood. The roof is steep and covered with terracotta tiles.

A special feature of the building is the carpentry adopted in placement of its doors and windows. Instead of metallic fittings and fixtures, wooden hinges and locks are used for doors and windows. The floor is of polished wood and a mix of black and red oxide coated concrete. The steps are made of polished granite rocks and the stairs are designed straight, curved and spiral. The palace pond stretches to the centre of the building providing an air conditioned effect in all interior rooms.

Exhibits in the palace museum

The palace contains exhibits that belonged to the palace and its former occupants - the rulers of the Travancore Kingdom. The collections in the museum include ancient paintings and inscriptions, coins, megalithic remains, artefacts made of wood, brass and stone sculptures, ceremonial utensils etc. There is also a bible written in Sanskrit displayed at the museum. 

The large fascinating ‘Gajendra Moksha’ mural

Among the many paintings and murals present in the palace, a large mural called ‘Gajendra Moksha’ (the salvation of the elephant king Gajendra) attracts much attention. The mural is thre meters high, located in the western end of the ground floor. The theme depicts an elephant saluting Lord Vishnu while other gods, goddesses and saints look on from the skies.

The legend narrated on the mural is mentioned in the Bhagavata Purana, one of the eighteen ancient texts of Hinduism. As per the legend the Pandya King Indradyumna was cursed by the sage Agastya to be reborn as an elephant. The king was reborn as Gajendra, the elephant king and on a pleasure trip to a lake he was seized by a crocodile that caught hold of his leg. The hapless Gajendra appealed to Lord Vishnu to rescue him from his plight and soon after Vishnu made his presence riding on his vehicle Garuda (the celestial half man half bird) and killed the crocodile. 

Double edged sword of Kayamkulam Kings

The double edged ‘Kayamkulam vaal' (sword) is also on display at the museum. Both edges of the sword are sharp thus more dangerous than the typical martial weapons. It is said to have been used by the Kayamkulam Kings in the 18th century. 

The ancient Buddha statue 

The palace houses a statue of Buddha in its courtyard surrounded by a garden. This is one of the four ancient Buddha statues recovered from the ponds and fields in areas near to Alapuzha district. The statue, cut out of a single piece of rock was found in a pond at Karunagappalli town and it was first installed there. Later, it moved to the Krishnapuram Palace. The statue has a skull cap adorned with lines of pearls/ diamonds representing the highest wisdom attained by Buddha. It is believed to be from the 10th century. 

Getting to Krishnapuram Palace

Krishnapuram Palace is located at Kayamkulam town in Alapuzha District of Kerala State in Southern India. The palace is located near to the national highway that connects Thiruvananthapuram to Manglore so it is very easy to reach the palace from any part of Kerala State. Nearest major railway station too is in Kayamkulam, connected with most other parts of the country.