Fascinating Nalknad Palace , Kodagu district, KA - a well preserved heritage site.

No doubt, Karnataka state  hosts hundreds of heritage structures and monuments of great antiquity. According to Prof. K.N. Iyengar, professor of Archaeology,  in 1986 there were 800 heritage sites alone in Bangalore  city itself, in the later period, most of them were gone because of rapid urbanization.  The monuments across the state remain uncared for and  poor maintenance, careless  attitude and  sheer lack of political  will  are reasons for their pathetic condition. 

Nalknad Palace Kodagu dist.  onmanorama.com

Nalknad palace, Kdagu dist deccanherald.com

Located near a village of  of  Yavakapadi Kodagu  district, Karnataka is an old palace called   Nalknad Palace or Naalnaad Aramane in the local Kodava language.  A heritage site built between the years 1792 and 1794 AD,  this palace was the final resting place of  the last of the Haleri kings of Kodagu, Chikka Veerarajendra. Subsequently, he was deposed by the British army of the EIC.

Nalknad palace, Kodagu dist travel.bhushavali.com

Nalknad palace, Kodagu dist. KA  stepstogether.in

Nalknad palace, Kodagu dist. KA  mycameralog.com

In 1780 AD, Hyder Ali  surreptitiously took control over  Kodagu after the death of the ruler Lingaraja I  who made his eldest son Dodda Vira Rajendra, the legal heir to the throne.  Using some excuse Hyder Ali  sent the three minor boys, including  Vira Rajendra, to a fort in Gorur in Hassan district. He selected a former minister to run the kingdom and  people there were furious  the way Hyder Ali cheated the royal family to put the kingdom under his control just like the way he seized the Mysore kingdom from the Wodeyar royal family. In the ensuing rebellion in the later period in 1782 the Kodava nobility proclaimed their independence. but the young princes were under the custody of Hyder Ali and continued to reside under his "protection" in Gorur fort.

 When Tipu succeeded the throne, after Hyder Al,. the political satiation never changed and Tipu Sultan put the minor princes under arrest at a new place Periyapatna.  Among the princes, legal heir - Dodda Veerarajendra gave a slip  in 1786 (after six years' "protection"), returned to Kodagu  and took over the reins.  Though the capital of his kingdom, Madikere (Mercara) was under the occupation of Tipu's Army, Veerarajendra  waged war against Tipu's mighty army. Ultimately. Tipu Sultan's army was able to capture some forts but suffered heavy losses as well.

Veerarajendra made Nalknad his temporary abode  and continued his reign from there. He had a palace built there in native architectural style very much similar to that of Kerala. In 1793, determined to fight against Tipu,  he concluded a treaty with the British at  Cannanore represented by Sir Robert Abercromby.  Being an alley of the British  he was particular about the down fall of Tipu whose father cunningly took away their kingdom in Kodagu.  

The palace, 30 km from the district headquarters Madikeri on the Virajpet-Thalacauvery road is a tourist spot in this picturesque Kodugu area.   Located at Yavakapadi in Kakkabe  this 227 year old one story structure is primarily made of  decorated stones and nicely carved wood. The First floor has a tiled deep sloping roof typical of this region. Built in 1792 by ruler Veerarajendra  in the wooded area it served as a hide out for the  members of  Haleri royal family. It  came up soon after his daring escape from TIpu's army. Being careful and shrewd as he was, he had an underground secret tunnel built from the palace to Madikeri as an escape route. This could take care of him and his family in an emergency in case of raid from Tipu Sultan. Besides, he had two additional dark rooms built in the basement to serve as hideout for him.  The Haleri ruler in 1796  married Mahadevammaji at Nalknad.

Presently under the management of the department of Archaeology and museum, the building also houses a museum. This old palace was renovated at a cost of 22.9 lakhs  in the recent past under the expert guidance of INTACH who used traditional techniques to conserve this building which is more than 220 years old.