''Kalari Kovilakom'' old palace, Kollengode - a brief history and conservation

Kalari Kovilakom palace, Kollengode, Palakkad, Kerala destinasian.com

Kalari  Kovilakaom, the 19th century palace, located in the old town of Kollengode  was  once the residence of the rulers of Vengunad, the land of Vengu trees in the foot hills of Anamalai.  Its founder was Prince Dharmavarman  and  being a  man of wisdom and vision, it dawned on  him   to convert this place  into  a center of healing, particularly  serious skin ailment. The medication, fresh spring water and the clean fresh unpolluted air helped the healing process.

Kollengode, Palakkad didtrict, Kerala.mapsofindia.com

Stepping into the shoes of his father,  his  grandson Vira Ravi is believed to have inherited the land and begun the legacy of Kalari Kovilakom started by Dharmavarman.  Kerala besides being endowed with nature's bounty and beauty is   home to all kinds of herbal plants and shrubs from which quality medication is prepared under the guidance of people well-versed in Ayurvedha. The Ayurvedic medication is effective and does not have any side effects as allopathic medicine. 

The name Kalari Kovilakam  was once the ritual space reserved for famous traditional martial art - Kalari Payattu. being suspicious, the British banned it  fearing threat to their rule. In the wake of it,  the martial art  fell into  disuse and  in some places  of this palace one can  see remnants mud walls that remind us of   the vibrant history associated with Kovilakom.

No longer  used by the descendants of  prince  Dharmavarman.  Kalari Kovilakaom,  the old palace has emerged as an   Ayurvedha clinic and lots of people including westerners come here for  treatments of various kinds being  offered in a quiet and soothing ambiance.  The added advantage is there is a heritage hotel attached to the clinic catering to the patients in residence here.  

 Located in in the midst of greenery  on a plot  of 6.5 acres of  land   about 26 Km   from Palakkad Railway Station,  Kalari Kovilakom was built  by the local Raja  in typical Kerala style architecture.  A two- story structure with masonry ground floor and  a sloping tiled roof on the  top floor the palace looks simple, but elegant.  The windows and the top floor have protection against rains and sunshine with extended tiled roof - a typical feature in  all types of Kerala homes and buildings.  The 200 year old  palace is set in a  rural  area free from urban din and noise; so quiet and peaceful one could hear birds chirping at a far distance . 

 As time went by Vengunad kingdom came under the rule of  the Zamorins of Calicut. One of the royal members of Zamorin took  up the reins and as part of their custom brought a lamp with them  and in the later generation  they started worshipping it as  Goddess ‘Bhagavathy.’ Dhatri Thampuratti’ , the Ranee of Vengunad in the 19th century had a shrine  built  within the confines of   Kovilakom palace.   This palace remains the last surviving aspect of this erstwhile kingdom. The CGH Earth Group that is managing the Ayurvedha clinic and the hotel has never failed to keep up the legacy and age old tradition of Kalari Kovilakom.  

The town   surrounded by the Nelliampathy Hills on one side and a large area of fertile paddy fields on the other offers  rural setting and tourists come here to enjoy the rustic like quite different from stressed urban life. There is a famous Vishnu temple in Kollengode which is built in typical Kerala style of architecture. There are facilities for hiking  in Seethakundu and Government hills near Kaachankurchi.

Vengunad kings during their heyday gave due importance to  the classical arts ‐ especially Kathakali dance and Carnatic music and encouraged the artists.  Continuing the old cultural ethos, cultural programs were an essential part of the daily ritual at Kalari Kovilakom. Dance and music performances, with the use of various  traditional Indian instruments  were held here.

Kalari Kovilakom has long  been associated with  ‘Kollengode Arattu’, a traditional temple festival held annually during the first week of January to honour the Kollengode deity ‘Avvappan’. The festivities included  procession of elephants, along with the ‘Panchavadhyam’ – a classical musical ensemble of five different percussion  instruments and performances.  

One Ajit Kajoulgi, an architect. took so much pain to bring the old palace back to glory. Built in nallukettu plan special attention was paid to the colonial wing and the old structures. The conservationist retained as much as he could  much of the   timber doors, windows, carvings and pillars and took care of those that needed repairs. Special attention was given to the colonial wing that had lot of wear and tear. Lime plastering and lime mortar were used extensively and as for the damaged  flooring, matching red oxide cement was   used to give the old look. The large verandah was split into rooms using wooden partitions to save space. The exterior portions were treated with special paint  on the original wall  after removing  the synthetic paint covered earlier. The traditional colorful Athangudi floor tiles (of Chettinad, TN) were laid in the guest rooms to give a fascinating look. The new additions at Kalahari are e two-story Guest House,  community dinning facilities and Ayurvedha building near the pond 


 with two wings one for the males and the other for the females, each with massage rooms with bath facilities. All the therapy rooms look out on the kulam - pond without compromising on privacy.

Kalari Kovilakom Ayurvedhic center is a unique place where the therapists take  care of the physical mental being of the resident patients  in a congenial and friendly atmosphere. They  offer  spiritual experience where the mind and the body  work together in unison oblivious to mundane life.  

This Ayurvedha  clinic  is on the Kollengode Kunisseri Road, Kollengode, Palakkad district, Kerala.

Kalari Kovilakom etterinteriors.in

Above image   A view of the palace entrance as seen from the colonial wing: the beautiful pillar-lined passageway that connects the colonial wing to the palace. The Ayurvedha clinic was opened in 2005 solving health issues in the old Indian traditional way with a dose of modernity. The patients are taught to make journey into   themselves into their mind by being close to the nature using three major elements - air, water and fire.........

Kalari Kovilakom, Kerala  .keralatravels.com

Above image: The old palace was repaired and renovated in the recent pat and most of the rooms in the colonial wing are European styled. One Ajit Kajoulgi, an architect took so much pain to bring the  palace back to old glory. .........

Kalari Kovilakom 

Above image: A typical balcony with slanted extended roof to drain the rains falling on the roof. Closely spaced wooden rafters support the roof along with brick rounded column on the outer side.......... 

Kalari Kovilakom happysoul.in

Above image: Interior of Kalari Kovilakom - old palace. Palakkad.....

Kalarikovilakom, Palakkad, Kerala. keralatravels.com

Above image: Kalari Kovilakom palace  built in 19th century., Thiruchengode, near Palakkad, Kerala state. Interior  halls supported by beautifully lathed wooden pillars...........