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Kuthiramalika Palace

East Fort, Pazhavangadi, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala 695023, India

Palace
Museum
Music Festival

The former residence of Travancore King Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma. Known for its architecture and its museum storing unique exhibits

Location of Kuthiramalika Palace

More about Kuthiramalika Palace

Kuthiramalika Palace, also known as Puthenmalika Palace and Maharaja Swathi Thirunal Palace is a beautiful two storied building situating near the Padmanabhaswamy Temple. The palace, once home to the King Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma now stands majestic with its Kerala Style Architecture and it houses a museum.

The meaning behind the name of the palace

Kuthiramalika means ‘Mansion of the horse’. It received it’s name from the 122 horse statues that are carved into the wooden wall brackets which supports the southern roof of the palace. The official name of the palace is ‘Puthenmalika’ which means ‘New Mansion’- perhaps due to the fact that the palace was home to the Travancore Kings after they shifted from their old residence from Padmanabhapuram to Thiruvananthapuram.

The palace also goes by the name Maharaja Swathi Thirunal Palace as it was the official residence of the Travancore king Swathi Thirunal.

Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma- the King who was a poet

The palace was built in 1,840 by Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma- the King of Travancore from 1,813 to1,846. Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma, in addition to being a great statesman was a well known poet and musician. The king was a great admirer of art- especially music and dance and he himself composed music leaving a rich legacy to classical Carnatic music.

The annual music festival at the palace commemorating Swathi Thirunal

Every year from 3rd to 14th January, the palace’s courtyard becomes alive to conduct the yearly music festival ‘Swathi Sangeethotsavam’. The festival commemorates the legacy of Swathi Thirunal and his contributions to music. The festival attracts many of the leading musicians of Carnatic and Hindustani classical music. Some of the famous performers of the past includes Bismillah Khan, Kishori Amonkar, M. Balamuralikrishna, D. K. Pattammal, Gangubai Hangal etc.

The palace architecture

Kuthiramalika is a fine example of traditional Kerala Architecture- with its typical sloping roofs, overhanging eaves, pillared and enclosed courtyards. Intricate wood carvings adorn the ceilings with each room having unique artworks on its ceiling. The palace is mostly made from teakwood, marble and granite. The floor of the rooms are made and polished out of a mixture of egg whites, charcoal and limestone which helps to keep the palace cool even in warm weathers.

All in all, there are 80 rooms at the place out of which 20 are accessible for the public to visit. The rooms in the first floor once housed an audience chamber, a library and an alcove that King Swathi Thirunal used for meditating and forming his musical compositions. The palace offers a direct view of the towers of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple.

The sound reflectors in the concert venue

The concert venue in which the annual Swathi Sangeethotsavam is conducted has a traditional sound reflector in the form of fifty clay ports hung upside down from its ceiling.

The palace museum

A portion of Kuthiramalika has been converted to a museum housing some of the assets owned by the Travancore Royal Family. The collection includes 14 life size Kathakali (a traditional art form of Kerala) costumes, Belgian and Italian mirrors, crystal chandeliers, paintings, a giant Belgian harpoon, weaponries, musical instruments, traditional furnitures, greek statues, a musical tree that produces 8 sounds, ivory cradles and many other artefacts.

The palace also has on display two royal thrones. One made from 24 elephant tusks and other of Bohemian crystal with the Royal Travancore’s emblem- ‘conch’ adorning the top of  its backrest. The palace also has a large collection of idols and sculptures made from white marble.

Getting to Kuthiramalika Palace

Kuthiramalika Palace is located right next to Padmanabhaswamy Temple, in Thiruvananthapuram District of Kerala State in Southern India. Situated right at the heart of Thiruvananthapuram City, it is walking distance from the Thiruvananthapuram railway station which connects the city to most other parts of the country.