You are on page 1of 5

AN INDIAN PORTFOLIO

PADMAN AB HAPURAM . PALACE


By Raj Rewal, K.T. Ravindran and the Architectural Research Cell

This is the secolld pOl1j(Jlio ~f drawillgs to be pllblished by MIMAR


in the series devoted to illlpol1allt architectllral colllplexes in allciellt
Illdia .
The Architectllral Research Cell (scc list (:flllelllbcrs ill AlIMAR
20) has prodllced scale drawillgs of hithC/'lo IIl1doCIIlllelltcd historical
bllildil~<;5, or Izas colTcCfed alld colllpleted earlier studies. SlIch Inatc-
rial, depictillg the ric/lllcss ~f spatial al1'all,<;elllellfs, omalllCl1tal detail-
illg, alld stl1lctllml SOllltiolls ~f the past adds illllll('llsc/y to the.fillid ~r
resollrce ilifO/1/latioll for architects as well as historialls.
Padlllallabhapllral1l, presented here, is a 15th cmtllry colllplex
locatcd in the sOllthem state ~fKerala ill Illdia. The text is an edited
versioll by Mr. K. T. Ravilldmll, first pllblislzed ill Architectllre ill
Illdia, (Paris, 1985).
- Editors

T he Padmanabhapuram Palace is located close to the


sea in southern India, a region with high rainfall and a
tropical climate. Founded by the royal family ofTra-
Building sciences applied
in the achievement of Pad-
Cl-ll.\;.-l
manabhapuram involved a
vancore, adjoining the State of Kerala, the initial stmctures combination of astronomy,
date from the period 1400-1500, with other buildings added astrology, mathematics, reli-
incrementally over time. The palace's present name was gious values, social moves,
given to it in 1744 by Marthanda Verma Maharaja, who was building technology and ma-
a devotee of Padmanabhan. gic. Such traditional building
Comprised of edifices reflecting a variety of styles, the AmiJiml Sea codes account for the overall
complex bears witness to the socio-political influences preva- cohesion in the design.
lent at different moments in its history. Kerala is a region with abundant timber and excellent
Entry to the palace compound is from the west, through a clay, used for tiles and blicks, as well as laterite stone, granite
high door with a pitched roof stmcture abutting it, typical of and shell lime. While stlict rules also existed for the utilisa-
the Kerala region. A succession of courtyards formed by tion of various materials and structural solutions, it was by
buildings or simply walls becomes progressively more pri- far carpentry that was the most highly developed building
vate in character until one reaches the core of the complex, art. Types of wood, their relative positions to one another,
termed thai kottaram (literally, the generic mother), reputedly kinds of functions to be served, and the types of wood
the oldest building of the palace. It forms the centrepiece or determined by the user's place in the social hierarchy were all
focus of the entire palace compound, corresponding in pat- specified in the traditional codes. Hence, one of the out-
tern to a mandala, the ancient Indian diagram of the cosmos. It standing features of this palace is that these principles were
is the basic reference point in relation to which the location faithfLllly followed over centuries.
and openings of the other buildings have been determined. Another significant quality of the buildings at Padma-
Although the palace may seem to be without any rationale in nabhapuram is the sensitive handling of light and atmos-
the layout and disposition, one comprehends its organisation phere of repose created throughout. The aesthetic import-
the moment the esoteric mles governing its design have been ance of the palace might well be described as a subtle
revealed. Thus, successive generations of builders in the combination of sophisticated understatement in design and a
palace complex adhered to the mles laid down at the start. tactile celebration of the material employed.

61
PADMANABHAPURAM' PALACE

a Gatl!
e
--'1 Fnn I:" .. .. .. .. ..
Ii
(
d
e
COII/tjo/" ceremollies
The old lIIillt
Elltmll{c porch
vVeapoll Sfore
~ . j

r-------~:'. _1. ~'.------


t'E:
-"- W.
~
I

h-;
------" ~

I I Jr-I z
II 1 ..
J
, I

.. . ~ ~

~/ 1"
. .IEl\. . ~i
j KitcJlell
...:I • • .t.
of? Teillple - - -~ --- "
---------lst ---
~ l==.:lI
h Dallce hall
,
.
j AI/dimce halljor Ellropealls ~ ~
• I-
k Millisterial alldience hall I .~ l- t

III Hal/for pe~fol1l"'"g mts ., I


/I
p
q
LmgefeedillS hall
Mother palace
SmallfredillS hall
l'
iI
I
l-
. h ~
I'
I'
p..l.Lj II tl
i

r Bath hOllses I- Jo. ....I. .....

.e ' 1 :
~.

W
-
tt Tallk I
.' . --
a
I
I

-
II Residellce I' ----- ~ ~ =--:
.~~ r
t
I) Kilte's rcsidfllce I- r----;
UI 1;-'
/II

)'
11I01llall's residellce
Well
, Ie r=
1== .. . . . . l-

z PalacC' C!ffices
.....
I

~
1
~
r---
"" "1

\ Ij
-
I

P:~'
Ia
I
f
I
I
'
I
j
I

i:

II

~ ____________________ ~.-------A--------------------------~ - ...


/01234 9

Grolllld./loor plall, PadlllClIIClblJaPlll'alll.

62 63
PADMANABHAPURAM' PALACE

o - -0-

Sectiol1, PadJllal1ablwpllratll.
0.)11-0
Gale
COllrrIor cemllOllies
c The old lIIillI
d ElllrallCC porch
e /tJ1eapOIl 5101'1'
I Kilcilell
,~ TClllplc
h Dallce hall
j Alldicllce !tallfor Ellropealls
k Millislerial (/f/diellCc hall
1/1 Halljor pe~1ol7l1illg (1/15
II L(//;~cjecdill,~ hall
p 1\/olhel' palace
q SlllallIeedill,~ !tall
Balh hOll5C5
If Tallk
II Residellce
Kill,(s /'('sidI!IICC
II' fI'OIlIlIll'S residmce
)' Well
z Palacc (!tficcs

jr

J
I
1
W

,:
Firsfjloor piOI/, {I0dlllOl/olJllajJlIl't1l11.
:UL:=tL~
........ ;~
L

J 1.22;!-.!

Ro~rjJlal/, Padlll(ll/ahhajJlI ralll.

64 65
---------- -------,-~~-

PADMANABHAPURAM· PALACE

0-- - Ii· · .-: se · .'~

I
I I 1
[;/£,{I(lliOIl, clock 101(1cr.

I- Me._
1 0

66 67
AN INDIAN I'ORIFllLIO

PADMANABHAPURAM' PALACE

SeetiNI 1, Killg's residence. Sectioll 2, Killg '5 rcsidmce.

a Cow1ym'd
h StOl'e
( Room
d Passage
e Veralldah
f BalcollY

SWiotl, Itlollier palace. o 1 2

68