Saraswathi Vilasam Palace, Thiruvananthapuram built by Kerala Verma is a fine heritage place!

 Very close to the richest temple in the world Sree Padmanaba Sway temple (the lord is the tutelary deity of the ruling Travancore royal family), there are many wonderful palaces and mansions  in the fort area of Thiruvnanthapuram. The state government  with a view to showcasing cultural richness and   native architectural grandeur of  the erstwhile Travancore kingdom  during their heyday is seriously developing the fort area as a memorable tourist destination. By embarking on a prestigious  and useful  tourism promotion program called  Travancore Heritage Tourism Project (THTP), the Kerala  government has set an example  to other Indian  states where lots of monuments remain uncared for.   The purpose of this project is to   revitalize and rejuvenate palaces, mansions and temples in the fort area  and at the same time to preserve them for posterity.. A sum of Rs 100 crore is allotted  for  conservation of old structures that will bring back the old glory and new charm to this cultural city. Besides covering as many as 19 building complexes, the project also includes old forts, etc.  Krishnavilasam Palace, built in 1885,  Sree Padam Kottaram (1880) situated toward the north of the temple,  Sundaravilasam palace,  Saraswathi vilasam Palace (19th century),  Thevarathu Koikkal and Valiya Koikkal palaces (17th century) are  some of  the palaces worthy of mention. Though simplicity personified, their regal splendor and majesty will daze the visitors and take them back on  a nostalgic trip to past era of power and  and cultural ethos.  

Saraswathy vilasam palace, Fort, TV Puram, Kerala.

Saraswathy (also spelled Saraswati)  Vilasam  palace built  in the 19th century in the Fort area  was once the residence of  Kerala Kalidasan, Kerala Varma Valiya Koil Thampuran (1845-1914).  This amazing  palace is designed in colonial architectural style  with intricately carved gable in the front,  arched gate, cylindrical pillars, long verandah  and high ceiling  to cut down  radiation from outside and to keep interiors cool,

Saraswathy Vilsam palace, Fort, Thiruvananthapuram.

Historians are of the view that the  design of  Saraswathy Vilasam is more toward  European style than  native architecture that is commonly in tune with the terrain of Kerala's  ghat area.  It shows builders taste in  European style of living. This two-story mansion has  large  stained  glass windows of various hues and large doors. This kind of design actually accentuates the living space as a spacious one  and  imparts a positive  mood of the residents. The provision of louvered doors for the windows and doors is yet another novel  way to get the air circulation going in the interior part, as this  place is a tropical one with high humidity.  With shutters on the doors, one can control the sun light falling on the windows.  

oval library room Saraswahy Vilasam palace,

Kerala Varma Valiya Koil Thampuran haripadin.

Above image: Valiya Koil Thampuran (19 February  1845 – 22 September 1914)  fondly known as  Kerala Varma  or Kalidasa of Kerala was a Malayalam – language poet   and translator in English and Sanskrit. Hailing from the  royal family of erstwhile Parappanad,   Malabar,  he was born in Changanacherry   at the Laxmipuram Palace.   His mother was   Pooram Nal Devi Amba Thampuratti while his father was Cheriyoor Mullapally Narayanan Namboothiri of  Perinchelloor Gramam (Taliparamba) in Kannur District.  When Tipu Sultan of Mysore invaded Kerala  toward the end of the 18th century  his  family had fled Malabar and sought refuge in Travancore to avoid death or persecution.  His literary works  Mayoorasandesham on the line of Kalidasa’s MeghaDooth and  Visakhavijaya was written after his release by Visakham Thiruna are quite popular. In 1914, as ill-luck would have it he died in a freak car accident.....................

Kerala  Verma whose wife is  Bharani Tirunal Lakshmi Bayi, the Rani of Travancore (wedding taken place in 1859) was a man of erudition  and  being inquisitive  his pursuit of knowledge was overwhelming. For some  political reasons  and  inevitable palace intrigues the then ruler  Ayilyam Tirunal never maintained a cordial relationship  with Kerala Verma and in 1875 , the ruler armed with regal power, confined him in the palaces in Alappuzha palace and then at Ananthapuram palace  at Harippad.  Only in 1880 Kerala Verma came back to Thiruvanthapauram  after  Visakam Tirunal Rama Varma  reign  (1880-1885) had  become the Maharajah.  So the exact date of construction of this mansion is a subject of debate among researchers. The palace has a separate space for library  and study  called Moon Beam’ , an octagonal room in the back of the palace,  once used by Kerala Varma. It has  a pillared walk way to access it.   With fine stained glass windows, ornate cornice and pediments and oval opening the spacious room provided an ideal ambiance for the scholarly person to work and study. 

This historical palace was sold to 
Hindi Prachar Sabha  in 1989. Later the Anti-corruption Court functioned for 10 years - 1989-99.  Being a heritage site, it  is under the control of  the State Archaeology Department.