One of the incredible facts of Kerala is that it’s got evidence of some of the greatest architecture in the entire country. In fact, the domestic architecture bears striking resemblances to that of temple architecture, especially for the palatial residential buildings of the royalty.
Almost every building in the state, even the colonial vernacular architecture and the vernacular houses followed the ancient Science of architecture and the Science of carpentry rules. This set of rules was known as Thatchu Shashtra.
And the wondrous fact is that these buildings, palaces and monuments were built conforming to the indigenous climatic conditions of the area and were thus, in perfect harmony with nature.
In this article, we will explore the history of another significant building in the history of Kerala architecture and takes you through the glorious past of a great land – Krishnapuram Palace.
Krishnapuram Palace was built (some people claim that it was renovated then, but the palace was built much earlier) in the 18th century by Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma Maharaja (king) of the Travancore kingdom. The palace is one of the must-visit places in Aleppey district, near Kayamkulam town to commemorate the conquering of Kayamkulam to make it a part of Travancore.
Palaces that have been converted into museums and the temples adjacent to the palaces are living legacies that most kings leave behind. The palace is a perfect example of ancient Kerala architecture, with typical Kerala colonial-style structure, complete with gabled roofs, narrow corridors and dormer windows.
The three-storied palace building bears a striking resemblance to the Padmanabhapuram Palace at Trivandrum. Now you can walk through the interior of the palace, as it serves as a museum.
A noted architectural delight of the palace is the Pathinaru-kettu (16 block style structure built around Nadumuttams or courtyard). There are small rooms/units around the Pathinaru-kettu too which housed the royal family. Many of the units were lost, and only the main structure survived.
There are numerous other things to watch, observe and learn here. A number of artifacts belonging to the royal family are housed here – swords, paintings, megalithic remains, coins, sculptures and antiques. A noted artifact of the temple is the double-edged sword known as the Kayamkulam Vaal (sword).
You have a hall called the Buddha Mandapam as it houses a huge statue of Lord Buddha. The statue, along with four others, was recovered from a pond in the fields of Aleppey. You can also see a Bible among the exhibits, written in Sanskrit.
Other exhibits include lamps belonging to the royal family, miniature figures made of Panchaloha (five metals), utensils that they used and so on.
The palace is also famous for its magnificent mural paintings. The most famous mural of Kerala can also be found here – Gajendra Moksham is a really big one, 14 feet by 11 feet. Gajendra Moksham means the salvation of the elephant. It is an exquisite piece of art depicting an elephant saluting Lord Vishnu, the Protector, while other gods, goddesses and sages observe reverently. Lord Vishnu was the main deity worshipped by the royalty when they lived in the palace.
Krishnapuram Palace is a protected monument under the Department of Archaeology, and they maintain the palace presently. It was recently renovated, following the rules of protecting a heritage building.
You can reach the temple by taking NH 47. The palace was built near the Sree Krishna Swamy Temple in the village of Krishnapuram, between Ochira and Kayamkulam. If you are coming in from Trivandrum, the airport is just about 103 kilometers away. The distance is about 103 kilometers if you are coming from Nedumbassery Airport.
If you are traveling by train, then Kayamkulam Junction is 8 kilometers away. The palace is closed for visitors on Mondays and National Holidays. The visiting time is from 9:00 to 5:00 pm.
Krishnapuram Palace is not just any palace; it is a living legacy of the erstwhile rulers with a fascinating collection of artifacts and splendid architecture. The palace is just 47 kilometers from Aleppey, so it should be included in your itinerary when you are visiting that part of Kerala.