Kilimanoor palace, Kerala, great painter Raja Ravi Verma's birth place (175th anniversary year)

Birthplace of Raja Ravi Varma.his studio in the foreground

Above image  Kilimanoor palace-the birthplace of  painter Raja Ravi Varma, it is close to the capital of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram;  The palace complex has many buildings and most of them are not in good shale due to poor maintenance. It is a govt. protected monument. ..........

Renowned painter Raja Ravi Verma,

Above image: Raja Ravi Verma  (1848-1906): Hailing from  a royal  family from   Kilimanoor  in the erstwhile Travancore  in Kerala, his 175th birth anniversary is coming up soon One of the greatest painters  India has ever produced,  he excelled in  painting mythological  as well as portrait paintings. He got the covetous award   Kaisar-i-Hind Gold Medal by Viceroy Lord Curzon, on behalf of the British Emperor in 1904. In 1873, he got the first prize at the Vienna Art Exhibition. Before his death at 58, he is said to have made about 7000 painting, each surpassing the other in artwork and presentation.  ............

The history of the royal house at Choottayil, Kilimanoor is much older than 300 years and has close connection with the Royal family of Travancore.    Kolathunadu royal house, Royal house of Venad have close matrimonial  alliance with the royal family of  Travancore kingdom. The political scenario in this part changed and  in 1740  in a battle between Venad and the ruler of Kollam, (formerly called  Deshinganadu)  supported by  Dutch army led by  Dutchman Captain Hockert,  the army from Kilimanoor chipped in and then defeated the invaders.   Quite happy over the defeat of the European forces,  in 1753, in recognition of this simple but great victory, ruler  Marthanda Varma granted  autonomous status to the lands  controlled by  the Kilimanoor palace.  The present palace complex with an Ayyappa temple   came into being during this period,

Birthplace of Raja Ravi

Birthplace of Raja Ravi Varma.his studio in the

Kilimanoor palace, a protected monument of Kerala is steeped in history - it is the  birthplace of renowned  Indian painter Raja Ravi Varma and  Raghava Varma, Father of Maharajah  Marthanda Varma Maharajah  Raja Raja Varma was the  uncle of Raja Ravi. Located in in a quite village of  Kilimanoor  it was here a historical event took place.  Velu Thampi Dalawa (1765–1809), the Dalawa or Prime Minister of the Indian kingdom of Travancore between 1802 and 1809   was one of the earliest patriots from this part to have  rebelled  against the obdurate British rule under the English Co.  It was at this  palace he handed over his sword before  his final  upraising against the English.  Presented to the Indian government through the then Indian President Dr Rajendra Prasad  the sword  is now on display  in the National Museum in Delhi.

Kilimanoor palace,

Above  image: Kilimanoor palace near Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala . One of the buildings in the complex..........................

Kilimanoor palace, Kerala

Kilimanoor palace, Kerala. archway

Kilimanoor palace, Kerala.stone archway entrance.

Built in  1753  in the Nalukettu traditional Kerala plan,  the palace complex with small structures is built in the midst of  a huge land comprising   more than six hectares of lush  green lands.  Also included are   two ponds, wells and sacred groves (kaavu). ''Records show that the original palace and fort used to be at nearby Kunjukoyikkal. No trace of it exists now. After Marthanda Varma, king of Travancore, granted autonomy to Kilimanoor, the palace was built circa 1753,” according to  Biju Rama Varma, secretary of the Kilimanoor Palace Trust that maintains the palace and its extensive acreage.

Kilimanoo palace patchstravelog

Above image: Creepy wooden stairway down to Raja Ravi Verma's studio, Kilamanoor palace, Kerala  It is said he himself designed the stairway. The wooden planks and railing need repair and restoration.

Kilimanoor, Kerala.

Part of the palace designed by Ravi Verma, Kilimanoor
palace, Kerala  patchstravelog

Inside court yard Kilimanoor palace, Kerala.patchstravelog

Raja Ravi Verma built one of the more recent buildings in the palace  complex that housed his studio an he met the cost  on his own from the income he got from the sale of his wonderful painting - mostly mythological themes or Hindu deities. The new building was meant to receive royal guests from other states and his closest friend was the Maharajah of Baroda (Vadadora), Gujarat. There  are a series of residential buildings on either side of the lawn including Ravi Varma's studio  that can be accessed through an old styled stone arch way. ''Up until the mid-1980s it was a thriving homestead, a joint family with around 300 members,” says Biju. Unfortunately, several families left this place for good and,  by 1980  the place became  deserted and miserable, much of the buildings are in ruins. 

Parts of the big palaces such as Pazhayamalika’ (living quarters of  Ravi Varma), the ‘Natakashala’, where Kathakali and Koodiyattam were once staged, the ‘Madapally’, the great dining hall, ‘Kochu Madapally’ where Velu Thampi Dalawa is believed to have taken his last supper (before fleeing from colonial forces), and a few other residential buildings that have been given a bit of facelift over the years, not much seems to be well preserved.  Much of the buildings had fallen into disuse, consequently they appear dilapidated  with overgrowth of plants, weeds and cobwebs, serving as an abode for all kinds of  critters.  The stone-etched commemorative plaque  marks the heyday of this palace, its opulence and part days  in the past and Ravi Varma’s legacy in fine arts. The paradox is the  plaque  lies among the  ruins of this palace - a solid reminder that the world that we are living is ever transitory.