Koyikkal Palace, beautiful 16th century royal residence, Kerala

Unlike the palaces of Northern India which are big and highly embellished, the palaces of Kerala set among the green patches,coconut groves,etc are simplicity personified, but elegance in look. Once, they were the traditional residences of the Royal families of Kerala. Invariably, with some exceptions, most of them are wooden structures with brick-lime masonry built in local style suitable for tropical climate and heavy monsoon seasons.

Koyikkal palace. keralaculture.org

 The Koyikkal Palace or kottaram, a 16th century building was built for Umayamma Rani of the Venad Royal Family (the royal seat of the Perakathavazhy Swaroopam, a collateral branch of Venad). Located in Nedumangadu,Thiruvananthapuram District of Kerala in South India,it is a double storeyed building, following traditional architectural style of Kerala.  Umayamma Rani happened to be the regent of Venad between 1677 and 1684. The famous palace is a naalukattu structure with slanting gabled roofs central courtyard, ornate pillars and long corridors and an inner courtyard. The nadumuttam or central courtyard is paved with granite stones. As in other palaces of Travancore, this one has a fine  underground drainage system, using stone pipes to take the waste water out of the Nadumuttam. On  four sides of nadumuttam, there are ornate granite pillars that enhance the beauty of the interior parts. As it was a custom to have a temple on the palace premises, the Koyikkal Palace has a temple attached to it. Essential ancellary structures like padippura, kitchen, oottupura, urappura, kulappura etc., seem to have been lost due to onslaught of time and age of the building. The palace has thick walls built with laterite blocks set in lime mortar with finely plastered surfaces

Presently, it is being managed by the  Archaeological Department of Kerala that houses a   Folklore Museum as well as a Numismatics Museum. The exhibits in the Folklore museum include rare and strange instruments like 'Chandravalam', a small percussion instrument used in Ramakathappattu (story of Sri Rama)and 'Nanthuni' (a fine sounding wind instrument), a small musical instrument made of wood and string used in Onappattu etc. Besides, on display are occupational implements, household utensils, models of folk arts etc. Some  musical instruments are used during the Onam festival. The exhibits throw light on the richness and artistic traditional and cultural life of Kerala that has existed for centuries.

Museeum, musical instruments.explorerkerala.com 

The Folklore Museum housed on the first floor of the palace  is of particular interest. Household utensils include wooden kitchenware, brass/copper ware etc. representing  different periods. Thaliyola (old manuscripts), Chilambu (a sort of anklet) used by Umayamma Rani and Maravuri (dress material made of the bark of trees) etc. are well preserved here. Oorakkudukku a brain-teasing exercise used by the Yogis as a pastime, Gajalekshmi - a lamp representing the Goddess of prosperity  commonly used at dusk  during the harvest season to welcome the goddess), the Kettuvillakku - a ceremonial lamp (artistically made out of colored paper and locally available light wood splits/rails), used during festivals at the Bhagavathy (goddess) temples of Southern Kerala, Patayani kolam model, the headgear and dress used by Ottanthulal artistes  are on display here.

koyikkal kottaram at nedumangad www.google.co.in/

The Numismatics Museum on the ground floor of  the Koyikkal Palace is an interesting one and it is the only one of its kind in the State, displaying rare coins of  different parts of the world and of different periods. This  collection has historical value and is the remnant  of the flourishing maritime trade activities  of Kerala (in spices, etc) in the bygone ages. Among the exhibits one can find oldest coins  of Kerala in the world  - Ottaputhen, Erattaputhen, Kaliyugarayan Panam etc. A fascinating coin - a   Venetian coin named Amaida, believed to have been presented to Jesus Christ, Indian coins  called  Karsha.(  2500 years old. Rasi, the world's smallest coins),  Sreekrishna Rasi, one of the rasis (regional coins) issued by the local kings of Kerala around the 10th century, Anantharayan Panam - the first modern gold coin of Travancore in circulation in the 15th and 17th centuries, Kochi Puthen - one of the coins of the Kochi Kingdom, rare old Roman gold coins (representing Roman goddess) etc., are other  interesting coins housed here.   The museum also has coins used by various Indian dynasties - the Gwalior royal family, the Nizam of Hyderabad, Tipu Sultan, Hyder Ali, etc.

 Thiruvananthapuram Central Railway station is  about 18 km from the palace.