Mar 30

Kuthira Malika Palace Museum – Where History Sleeps

by in Guest Posts

You don’t know where history lies sleeping. It can be in a huge palace, a nondescript temple or even in a small wooden gate outside a men’s hostel. Stumbling upon historically and culturally relevant is what makes a trip to a destination complete and memorable. God’s Own Country, once being the kingdom of many kings who ruled the place with all grandeur and glory have left back many historically relevant monuments, buildings, temples and scriptures for the present generation history seekers to look up in awe and joy.

The Kuthira Malika is one such building. As an extension to the Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, it doesn’t shout itself out to the world. The Kuthira Malika (Mansion of Horses) is on the south-eastern side of the Temple and it was built by Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma, the King of Travancore, in 1840s.

The official name of the palace is Puthen Malika (New Mansion) but the 122 horses that are carved into the wooden wall bracket that support the southern roof gave it the name Kuthira Malika. With its typical sloping roofs, overhanging eaves, pillared verandahs and enclosed courtyards, Kuthira Malika is an excellent example of traditional Kerala architecture. There are a lot of intricate carvings that adorn the wooden ceilings with each room having a distinctive pattern. Kuthira Malika is now a museum open to the public.

A lot of paintings, ornaments and artifacts of the Royal family are kept on display.Swathi Thirunal’s ivory throne, marble idols and Chinese artifacts are also kept in the Palace.  There is a Bohemian crystal throne that belonged to Vishakom Thirunal kept next to the ivory throne. Both the thrones sport the Travancore crest, the ‘Conch’, on its backrest.

The muskets used by the Travancore army in the Colachel War are also displayed in the palace. One of the main attractions at the palace is the illusion painting of Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, painted by Svetoslav Roerich. The painting creates an illusion that the face and the shoes of Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma face the onlooker from each and every corner of the room.

On the first floor of the palace are the audience chamber, library and an alcove that Swathi Thirunal used for meditating and for conceiving many of his famous musical compositions.

The palace is open all days of the week except Monday and there is a guide who takes you through the palace museum explaining everything and giving you a sense of history when you walk through.

This article is authored by Syamnath JG who is one of the authors of the blog Kerala Ayurveda.

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