VERNACULAR ARCHITECTURE

PATHMANABAPURAM PALACE

BY R.NIVETHA B.ARCH , 2nd YR

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LOCATION 
Padmanabhapuram Palace complex is located in at Padmanabhapuram Fort, close to the town of Thuckalay in Kanyakumari District,Tamilnadu.  It is about 20 km from Nagercoil, and about 50 kilometers from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.  The palace complex is inside an old granite fortress around four kilometers long.  The palace is located at the foot of the Veli Hills, which form a part of the Western Ghats.  The river Valli flows nearby.  The palace is administered by the Government of Kerala archeology department.
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commerce.D by Iravi Varma Kulasekhara Perumal who ruled Travancore between 1592 A. Padmanabhapuram reigned supreme as the seat of royal power.  The construction of the Perumal palace at the centre of the complex was completed in 1744 A.E and 784 M.lotus.D. culture.navel.  From then on the fort and the surroundings earlier known as Kalkulam came to be known as Padmanabhapuram.HISTORY  The palace was built by Trippapur Moopam. Maharaja Anizham Tirunal Marthanda Varma. art and literature throughout the region that today comprises Kerala and Southern Tamil Nadu.D. .  The name refers to the image of the lotus coming from the navel of Vishnu 3 (Padma .  For nearly two and a half Centuries.  On the day of its completion. from 1500 to 1790 CE. nabha . dedicated this palace to Lord Padmanabha and named the palace Sri Padmanabha Perumal Palace.E). (767 M. as a mud palace in the Nalukettu style of architecture that prevailed in Kerala. Puram . and 1609 A. the head of the Trippapur Swarupam Dynasty that ruled over Padmanabhapuram.D. and the pivotal point for the growth of trade.Town).  The palace complex was constructed around 1601 A. It was constructed in the 14th Century.

In the late 18th century. which was a princely state for over 400 years. the capital of Travancore was shifted from here to Thiruvananthapuram. and some portions of the sprawling complex are also the hallmark of traditional Kerala style architecture. 4 .  The main attractions of the Padmanabhapuram Palace are its sheer aesthetic beauty. included a large part of present-day Kerala and the western part of Tamil Nadu. The palace is known for its planning and military architecture and remained the center of power till 1790. The earliest of structures was built about 1335 AD. and the place lost its former glory. innovative designs and time tested wooden carvings. it was once the traditional home of the royal family of Travancore. the palace complex continues to be one of the best examples of traditional Kerala architecture. The palace is situated in the centre of the Padmanabhapuram Fort with an area of 186 acres amidst hills. so it is maintained by the Government of Kerala. murals. when the capital was shifted to Thiruvananthapuram. dales and rivers. All the buildings in it are elegantly designed and display a simplicity of architectural style characterised by pointed gables. Travancore. Though the palace is now in the State of Tamil Nadu. However. dormer windows and long corridors.

LAYOUT 5 .

LAYOUT 6 .

PLANS AND SECTION 7 .

ELEVATION OF CLOCK TOWER 8 .

SECTIONS 9 .

10 . burnt coconut shells and decorated with colored mica. for council meetings. The palace consists of the King's Chamber called Mantrasala. one of which is a masterpiece as it is carved out of a single piece of wood. The palace gets its uniqueness from its subtle facade.ARCHITECTURE The palace is known to be an architectural marvel of the south. has a shiny polished granite flooring and a room for the royal women folk to watch the performances from. Thekee Kotaram also known as the Southern Palace. A collection of 14 ethnic palaces and 127 beautiful royal rooms. being the largest wooden castle in Asia. constructed in the traditional style of Kerala using egg-whites. houses the royal artifacts and various articles of cultural and traditional importance. Natakshala. Padmanabhapuram palace is a restores the rich cultural heritage and royal styles of living. a huge hall where performances used to take place. The King's mother's palace is the oldest one which comprise of sloping roofs and carved pillars. differentiated style of architecture and its intricately carved woodwork and granite work. safely within its periphery.

The remaining blocs were constructed by different rulers. AND THEKKE KOTTARAM. ¤UDAYARVILAKOM KOTTARAM. NAVARATHRI MANDAPAM. Construction continued till the reign of Swati Tirunal. VEPPINMOODU KOTTARAM. ¤HOMAPPURA. 11 . The main blocs include: ¤POOMUGHA MALIKA PLAMOOTTIL KOTTARAM. PUTHEN KOTTARAM. ¤AAYUDA PURA. ¤OTTUPPURA. ¤THAI KOTTARAM. ¤INDRA VILASOM.Thai Kottaaram is the oldest building in this palace complex. UPPIRIKKA MALIKA. ¤CHANDRA VILASOM.

It has windows.  The remarkable aspect is that this particular floor finish and texture could not be duplicated in any other construction.  Delicate and beautiful lattice work can be seen all around the council chamber. Nearly 2000 people can sit at a time. egg white and so on. with coloured mica. which houses the mantrasala. The narrow corridor from here leads to huge oottupura/dining hall.  The floor is also beautifully done. which keep the heat and the dust away. and the inside of the council chamber remains cool and dark. or council chamber. The floor is dark coloured and is made of a mixture of varied substances.MANTRASALA (COUNCIL CHAMBER)  A steep and narrow flight of wooden stairs leads to a trap door that opens into the first floor. with a fine and perfect finish.  On the ceiling is depicted the images of Navagriha. where the king held his cabinet meetings. including burnt coconut shells. 12 .  The narrow staircase and the heavy trap door are said to have been designed with the intention of warding off unexpected person can enter at a time  King·s Council chamber is the most beautiful parts of the entire palace complex.

 All the flowers except the central one have two rows of petals.  In the inner courtyard. designed in traditional Kerala style. with very detailed and beautiful floral designs. sloping roofs from all four sided taper down.  There is a pond and a hall for massaging.  On the south-west corner of the mother·s palace.  There is an underground passage from here to charottu kottaram. there is a relatively small room.  Of particular interest is a pillar of single jackfruit wood.Thai Kottaram (Mother's palace)  Mother·s palace.  Thai kottaram is built in the Nalukkettu style. The pillar in the palace made of one Jackfruit tree with intricate carvings 13 . which is 2 kms away. called the chamber of solitude or 'ekantha mandapam'. called 'nalukettu'.  This is also Dharbakulangara Kottaram.  The chamber of solitude has very beautiful and intricate wood carvings of every description all around. is the oldest construction in the entire palace complex and is believed to be constructed around mid-16th century. Four pillars on four corners support the roof.  True to the traditional Kerala style.  The ceiling of the Dhyanamandapam in this structure is adorned with 63 floral motifs. there is an inner courtyard.

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 He himself composed music and has left a rich legacy to classical carnatic music.NATAKSALA (HALL OF PERFORMANCE)  This is a relatively new building.  He was a great connoisseur of arts. constructed at the behest of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal.  The Nataksala or the hall or performance has solid granite pillars and gleaming black floor. where the women of the royal household used to sit and watch the performance. 15 .  There is a wooden enclosure. with peepholes. who reigned in Travancore from 1829 to 1846. especially music and dance.

 There are several rooms just below the worship chambers.  The test? Lifting 38Kg stone on to the top of a pillar . and also few scenes from the social life of the Travancore of that time.not once.  The ornamental bedstead is made of 64 types of herbal and medicinal woods. who complied the Hortus Indicus Malabaricus in the 16th Century. and was a gift from the Dutch merchants. but a hundred times.  Its walls are covered with exquisite 18th century murals.  Most of the rooms here and in other parts of the palace complex have built-in recesses in walls for storing weapons like swords and daggers.  The centrepiece of attraction in the King's bedroom is the huge four-poster bed made of 67 different pieces of wood from medicinal trees.  The top floor (called upparikka malika) served as the worship chamber of the royal household.  The four-storied building is located at the centre of the palace complex. which included the king's bedroom.  The bed.  16 .The courtyard here was the testing ground for hopeful recuits into the royal army. depicting scenes from the puranas. which has a symbol of serpents entwined around a cross over a pot of nectar is believed to have been gifted to the king by the Dutch East India Company during the time of Captain Adrian Van Goens.Four-storeyed central building (UPPIRIKKA MALIGA)  built by MarthandaVarma in 1744 CE.

All you can do now is stare at the closed heavy door at the top of the staircase and make do with the photographs in the official guidebook. but it requires a feat of imagination to conjure up visions of princesses gazing forlornly at the impossibly perfect images of the master of love. this room has been closed to the public because of the weakening walls and the need to preserve the rare murals.000 gopikas. bathed in the yellow glow from the oil-wick lamps. since 1990. the dark-skinned lover boy of 6. filled as it is with 8th Century murals in dull. even as dancers performed at the navarathri mandapam below. called veppumoottu kottaram. earth colours. while on the walls are watercolours of Lord Krishna. Adorning the ladies' quarters. are two large belgian mirrors that stretch almost from floor to ceiling. The watercolours have since been shiffted to another room. Unfortunately. perhaps the most captivating part of the palace.The third floor of the King's quarters houses the puja room. all 17 .

Kerala. exhibiting antique household articles and curios.  18 .Thekee kottaram (Southern palace) In the southern side of the main complex of Padmanabhapuram Palace but outside the compound wall there is a small palace.The southern palace is as old as the ¶Thai kottaram· (Mother's palace).  It is actually a traditional building in the style of a Naluketu. which would make it about 400 year old. Collections of items give an insight into the social and cultural ethos of that period.  This wonderful architectural elegance shows the beauty of our domestic architecture.  Padmanabhapuram Palace and Thekke Kottaram with their premises are now protected monuments under the Department of Archaeology.  Now. it serves as a heritage museum.  Now a Heritage Museum is housed in this building.

 Within the Palace complex. to Thrissur in the north.  The paintings existed during reign of Anizham Tirunal MarthandaVarma. there was discovered under a coagulation of decades of white washing what turned out to be a mandapam in front of a saraswati shrine in the characteristic style of Vijayanagara with monolith granite pillars.  The wall is 9.THE CHAMBER OF MURALS  The mural room remains one of the most important single collections of wall paintings in India. 19 . the walls are covered with murals without intervals. thickly carved with Hindu deific figures and puranic incidents.  Located on the fourth floor. of what had been of the private rooms of the Maharaja.  Excellent copies of the murals have been hung in the Sree Chithra Art Gallery in the Museum and Zoo Complex Thiruvananthapuram.  The picture surface is therefore is 900 square ft.25 ft high.  They are seen in here fullness with the pleasing effect of colonnades of sculpture topped by elaborately carved capitals.  The mural of Sree Padmanabhaswami adorns both end of the room in order that the image of Deity should be the first thing to be seen by the Maharaja which ever side he woke on.  These murals belong to a school of art of wide extent is seen in the existence of similar works in Sucheendram in the South.  The room is 33ftx16ft giving a perimeter of 98 ft.  This chamber the bedroom of the Maharaja has a notable feature.

 The mandapam 73ftx20ft is believed to have erected in the 16th century. and portraits of the rulers adorn the walls.  At the instance of Amma Maharani. an image of Saraswati was installed in the long disused shrine at which the then Maharajas worshipped and in whose hall performing arts were staged.  The installation of the image is not for worship but in order to give the visitors of all faiths an idea of a Hindu Shrine.  Series of paintings of Lord Krishna based on Krishna Karnamrutham. 20 . But Thai kottaram is the oldest construction. There is a clock tower.  The building houses stone tablets from the chola days and Venad Kingdoms.  Whether it was constructed as a detail of the main palace or the latter grew around the mandapam. is a matter of speculation.

and narrow verandahs are common around most rooms.that once surrounded the fortress. called the King used to receive visiting dignitaries from over from overseas. while the smaller ones are toilets and utility areas. Its beauty. the area comprising the fort. Almost all the rooms feature intricate carvings in teak and the wood of the jackfruit tree. as the guide will enthusiastically point out. and complements the other magnificent piece of furniture in 21 . it will return to its original position and remain absoultely horizontal. A large courtyard separates the main entrance. used for dwelling and administration. The ceiling of the poormugham has carvings of 90 different flowers in full bloom.most are large and airy. That is all that is left of the moat infested with crocodiles. is that whichever direction you turn it. thus ensuring that no oil is ever spilled.5 acres. while on the behind the chinese chair. hanging from the carved ceiling. At the centre of the hall.a gift from visiting Chinese traders .CRAFTSMANSHIP Originally. the palace and its surrounds covered a total of 86 acres. so it is believed . Today the area administered by the Kerala Department of Archaeology is 6. also known as Padmanabhaswamy.is a brass lamp.The chair bears the inscriptions of 17th century Chinese art. If you look very hard. Such mastery od craftsmanship will be a recurring theme as you meander through the 127 rooms of the palace .can be seen coloured wooden planks depicting the reclining figure of Lord Vishnu. you'll see a deep gutter on either side of the entrance to the Palace. shaped like a horse-rider.

The pictures are: Chinese Jars. Shrine room 22 . Brass lamp in the Poomugham. Carved Jackfruit .Wood Pillars Slats in the Viewing Corridor. Coloured Window.

which can accommodate around 1000 guests. ¤ A big hall now bare. which has lost its freshness due to neglect and years of disuse. ¤ A fligh t of steps leads to a bathing pond. which still keeps time. a variety of furniture and large mirrors made of polished metal. o A gallery of paintings depicting incidents from the history of Travancore. ¤ A secret passage. all gifts by Chinese merchants. located several kilometers away in the event of any emergency. his immediate family members.Other interesting features The Padamnabhapuram Palace complex has several other interesting features: ¤ The Palace though surrounded entirely by the State of Tamil Nadu is still part of Kerala and the land and Palace belongs to the Government of Kerala. on auspicious occasions. through which the king. and where ceremonial feasts were held. ¤ The clock tower in the palace complex has a 300 year old clock. Name of this palace is Charottu kottaram. The Palace complex also has a section of curios and several interesting objects: o An entire room filled with old Chinese jars. o A wooden cot made of up to 64 wooden pieces of a variety of medicinal tree trunks o Polished stone cot. meant for cool effect o Toilet and well 23 . now blocked. including swords and daggers. and their entourage could escape to another palace. o Brass lamps. o A variety of weapons (which were actually used in warfare). wood and stone sculpture.

The structure built in the shape of Ambari.Built for King to view chariot races. the seat put on the elephant back for safaris Ambari Mukhappu . the seat put on the elephant back for safaris Queen's dressing room Polished stone cot. meant for cooling effect Cot made with about 64 medicinal woods Palace Toilet 24 .Built for King to view chariot races.Ambari Mukhappu .The structure built in the shape of Ambari.

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