Awe-inspiring Krishnapuram palace, Alappuzha, Kerala

Krishnapuram palace, Alappuzha,

Krishnapuram palace, Alappuzha, Kerala.

Historically an important palace close  to Sree Krishnaswamy Temple at Krishnapuram near Alappuzha, the original builder of Krishnapuram palace was Ramayyan Dalawa. Ayyappan Marthandapilla, who succeeded him as the Diwan,  did some additions and extended the palace. Built  between 1750 and 1753 as a two-story structure it underwent renovation later during 1761-1764. Its palace design is a traditional one as followed by other rulers and basically it is a Nallutikattu plan with a central court yard.

Krishnapuram palace, Alappuzha,

It is said it is here  the kings of Kayamkulam dynasty last stayed. The credit goes to the erstwhile Travancore king Marthanda Varma Maharajah who evinced keen interest to build  the palace and it came up  soon after the war of Odanad–Travancore in 1746 which ended in his favor. Odanad  came under the control of the Cochin ruler.  The new one came up in the place of the existing palace which was pulled down by the ruler. The  old one was built by the King Veera Ravi Varma of Odanad (reign 1700–1775). 

Krishnapuram palace, Alappuzha, Kerala.

The design of the palace is Pathinarukettu, with gabled roofs, narrow corridors and dormer windows. In terms of its design style and configuration,  it is almost like  mini Padmanabhapuram palace.  An excellent example of Kerala style architecture in which due importance is given to topology and the terrains.  

 What was once a palace of beauty and architectural splendor built on a vast land of 53 acres long long ago is now on a small piece of land, covering just 2.55 acres with a 10 foot tall compound wall around it.   What are the reasons for the loss of its glory:   01. Change of political scenarios in the land. 02. After India's independence the princely states in Kerala joined the Indian union. 03. The union-take over already tolled the death knell of  the Monarchy system of governance. 04. Fell into disuse, the palace was in a state of dilapidated state for a pretty long time, 05. No periodic maintenance. 06. Official apathy and total negligence galore, many buildings around the main palace were either demolished  due to severe  damages or got destroyed on their own  due to total negligence.

Mind you  when a heritage structure is lost, a small segment of history is gone for ever. There is no question of redemption or recovery of the lost vintage structure. The main palace in a poor state was facing slow death; it was like run down buildings in a ghost town or jerk-water town.         

The Archaeological Department of Kerala in the 1950s finally got up from their winter hibernation and soon took up steps to restore the main palace three-story building  back to old glory by sticking with the original plan.  Built as per  Vastu Shastra norms, the basic plan of the palace is Nallukattu  with   16 blocks or Kettus with four Nadumuttam or open area in the center or  courtyards. Construction  materials included in the past were  laterite stones, rubble, teak, rosewood and Angili wood.  

Because of proper placing of doors, windows and ventilators, interior will be cool  aided by fresh air circulation all around besides natural lighting.  Open into  the shady inner court yards are 22 rooms  with nice wooden carvings and ornamental partitions. In order to avoid dampness and damages to the wall during rainy season the building has veranda all around it. 

As in many palaces in Kerala, to accentuate the beauty and look of the structure,  tiled gables are set in certain places to match the steep sloping roof. Mangalore tiles are used on the roofing.  Again the advantage of sloping  roof with extension over the edges  is  the rain water will drain out easily. With respect to flooring polished wood and also of black and red oxide-coated concrete are common in old building.  As for wood work and carpentry, the palace buildings used to adopt  to  wooden hinges and locks for doors and windows, instead of metallic fittings and fixtures. Many old palace have spiral or sweeping stairways  with decorative railings and wide sunshade   to add aesthetics to native architecture.    

.This  palace is turned into an archaeological museum where many antique sculptures, exquisite paintings, amazing mural paintings, rare documents and artefacts  are on display.