Padmanabhapuram Palace is located in the Padmanabhapuaram Fort close to the town Thuckalay in the Kanyakumari District of Tamil Nadu. This fort is located at a distance of about 64 km from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
The Padmanabhapuram Palace was constructed in the year 1601 under the rule of Iravi Varma Kulasekhara Perumal of Travancore. It is located inside the 4 km long granite walls of the old fort, at the foothills of the Veli Hills, a part of the Western Ghats. It is a popular belief that King Marthaanda Varma one of the descendents of the former king, dedicated his kingdom to his family deity Sree Padmanabha, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu which led to the Padmanabhapuram Palace getting its name. Padmanabhapuram used to be the kingdom of the rulers of Travancore, but towards the end of 18th century, the capital was shifted to Thiruvananthapuram.
The palace is a great example of traditional architectural style of Kerala. There are various other important buildings and structure in the vicinity of the Padmanabhapuram Palace complex. Some of the must-see sites in the complex are, Mantrasala which is the council chamber, Thai Kottaram which is the Mother’s Palace, Nataksala which is the hall of performance, Thekee Kottaram which is the southern palace and the Uppirikka Maliga, a four-storey structure right in the centre of the palace built in 1744 A.D.
The Mantrasala was the council chamber of the king and is beautifully decorated, with numerous mica colored windows, the ceilings are beautifully designed in a delicate web-like work and floors of the chamber a shiny and made out of a variety of unusual materials such as coconut shells and egg whites. Thai Kottaram or the Mother’s Palace is the oldest structure of the palace constructed in the 16th century.
This traditional Kerala architecture styled area has a courtyard and sloping roofs supported by four pillars. There is also a solitude chambers with intricate wooden carvings. This chamber also has a very unusual pillar made out of jackfruit wood and is designed with floral carvings. The hall of performance is comparatively new and was constructed by Maharaja Swathi Thrirunal, who was very fond of recreation and entertainment, music and dance in particular. The surrounding area of this hall has several peepholes in the walls, through which the women of the household used to see the entertainment. The Uppirikka Maliga is the king’s chamber, with the royal treasury on the ground floor, the King’s bedrooms of the first floor, king’s leisure room and study on the second floor and top floor which was the worship hall of the household. The southern palace or the Thekee Kottaram was also built around the same time as the Mother’s Palace, and its now built into a heritage museum displaying antique of the household, weapons, paintings and other cultural and social remains and relics of the olden times.
The construction of the Mother’s Palace and the Southern Palace, namely Thai Kottaram and Thekee Kottaram is nearly 400 years old.
The Clock Tower in the palace is nearly 300 years old and it still shows time.
There was a secret passage in the palace linking the palace to another palace, Charottu Kottaram a few kilometers away. This passage has been blocked.