''Sreepadam Palace'', Thiruvananthapuram - Kerala - 255 year old structure restored back to old charm

Sreepadam palace, T.V. Puram, Kerala thehinduimages.com

Sreepadam palace, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala wikimapia.org

The SW state of Kerala has many places of beauty and simplicity and the Kerala government long ago initiated serious steps to restore the old places back to old charm and glory  and many of them are located in the fort area of the   capital city, Thiruvananthapuram close to  the famous Padmanabha temple,  the richest temple in the world with gold jewelry, etc worth more than  USD 25 billion. 

Sreepadam Palace in Thiruvananthapuram .thehindu.com

Above image:  Housing heritage:  A view of the Sreepadam Palace in the Fort Heritage Zone of  Thiruvananthapuram  city;  it was renovated  to  establish a District Heritage Museum...............

Restoration work  was on in full swing in June 2015  to set up a district  heritage museum  by the  Department of Archaeology.  Located in the Fort Heritage Zone designated by the  state government the 255 year old structure is a naalukettu building called Sreepadam Palace (the name  referrers to Lord Vishnu) Originally it was known as  called the Sreepada Theerthakara Kandukondedathu Koyikkal, the palace. The style of this oldest palace is a blend of Indian as well as colonial styles.  

Sreepadam Palace in Thiruvananthapuram .thehindu.com

The renovated naalukettu on the SreePadam Palace premises in the Fort heritage zone. By 2018 the 62-lakh renovation work at Sreepadam Palace  was  expected to be over. Tp prevent seepage roof tiles of the palace were replaced. In some places  floor tiles  were replaced with terracotta tiles.

The renovation planned in 2 phases  would involve the naalukettu  portion and the Sreepadam pond, in the back of the building  where there is a plan to open a numismatic museum.  Traditional  red-oxide  and black-oxide flooring was done in the  naalukettu part  and in the  court-yard  respectively  along with cleaning and restoration of teak-wood rafters.  The pond   was cleaned of  trash and waste materials  and its sidewalls  were  spruced up. The pond pays a vital role here and it is said the  famous temple being closest to this site,   holy  water from the Sri kovil -  sanctum percolates down to the pond.

An old chimney, being a vestige of the past era building  was to be restored. It was used to  burn  waste papers from  the Fort post office, which used to function from the palace premises. The post office of the fort area   occupied  a large part of the palace and later the Revenue Department acquired it. The renovation work included  landscaping  of the surroundings land including facilities for the visitors, besides  a  walkway. 

The old  palace pillars  wooden steps leading to the first floor were taken care along with wooden windows which  had faulty slats. they were made functional and could be  tilted open and shut. Special restoration work included barrier-free, toilets  and ramps for the for the differently abled persons. The Keralam was sprucing up the naalukettu part for the heritage museum. As for display racks, design, etc., that was undertaken by some other group.  

Sreepadam  palace East fort. archaeology.kerala.gov.in/

People in this area were anxiously waiting for the opening of the numismatic museum. Such museums are rare across India.  Many people may not be aware the  State Archaeology department is a repository of one of the   largest and  most diverse collections of coins in the country, and plans are  afoot to put countless old rare coins on display.  On display will be   coins from the dump series, made in copper and issued by Marthanda Varma, half rupee issued by Chithira Tirunal, etc.  The coin collection will include  a  large variety such as  emperor Ashoka’s ‘karshapanam;’ silver punch-marked coins issued by traders’ guilds and recovered from Angamaly and Eyyal in Thrissur; Roman trade coins of one sovereign each found from Valluvally in Ernakulam and Kottayam; and Travancore coins such as pagoda, Anantha rayan and Anantha varahan. The Veera rayan panam from Kozhikode, the Kannur coins issued by Ali Raja of the Arakkal dynasty, and and miscellaneous coins  from princely states of   colonial  India.

As the palace has lots of rare books along with numismatic museum, a library will be functioning in this 19th century palace.  

Granite heritage walkway. Padmanabha Swamy temple,  deccanchronicle.com

Above image: Padmanabha Swamy temple, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.  The the granite pavement and heritage walkway with glass roofs is  not in sync with near-by heritage features. It mars  the glory of the 'Mathilakam' - the stone wall around Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple and the old  Sreepadam Palace....................

In order to implement  the Heritage Walk  project (a part of Kerala Tourism) under the Swadeshi Darshan Scheme of the center  in September 2019 'dilapidated'  part of the heritage palace was pulled down.  The local people are of the view that the construction of the granite pavement and heritage walkway with glass roofs  on the East 'Nada' (street)  may spoil the glory of  the 'Mathilakam' - the stone wall around the Sree  Padmanabha Swamy Temple and the ancient Sreepadam Palace. The Archaeology department that occupies the Sreepadam palace did not object to this demolition. Further,  objections are raised as the granite pavement is built above the palace underground. During heavy rains, water might enter the palace. Heritage experts say that groundwater recharging  will not happen in this part any digging in the Fort  Heritage Zone must be done on the advice of heritage experts.  "A particular architectural or aesthetic form of construction which syncs with the existing heritage structures can be allowed at such sites. Alien structures are never allowed," Heritage commission expert says.