'Ariyittuvazhcha Kovilakam', Kochi, coronation cottage house intertwined with Cochin royals

The surviving  heritage structures or monuments  across India on many occasions  face demolition by the state  government  for many  reasons. Some are:  01. They survive vagarious of harsh weather and outlive their utility and is unlikely to be used again. 02. The massive building and the vast space in a prime area may likely fulfil the needs of urban development. 03, Unprotected, in some places, they face abuse due to vandals, 04. Falling apart over a prolonged period of negligence on the part of custodians (mostly the state governments), thy pose dangers to the public.  Steeped in history associated with the  royals of Koch rulers  Ariyittuvazcha Kovilakam (coronation palace) in Mattancherry was in a rundown condition and was  saved from axing by the government roughly 19 years ago. 

Ariyittu vazhcha Kovilakam', Kochi. thehindu.com/

Above image: The over neglected  historical Ariyittu vazhcha Kovilakam', was at last renovated in 2013  with a newly built walkway along the compound wall.  The nalukettu  structure with 4 inter -connected quarters was  carefully conserved using materials that are as close to the ones  used in the original structure. Matching materials like wood, brick, etc., with proper finishes and textures were chosen  to retain the heritage aspect of the existing structure.  The strong room (nilavara), the well and a pond  inside the site were cleaned and restored. For unknown reasons,  the strong room is not open to  public. Credit goes to a Konkani historian and activist,  Puroshottam Mallya, 84,  who got the ASI act promptly through the help of former popular judge A.R. Krishna iyer......... 

Ariyittu vazhcha Kovilakam', Kochi.wikimapia.org/

Cottage like coronation  house, en.wikipedia.org

Above images:  Ariyittuvazhcha Kovilakam', Kochi, Kerala; top image: central court yard in the nalukattu structure.........   

Renovated in 2013   'Ariyittu vazhcha Kovilakam', a fine example of traditional  Nalukettu  architecture of Kerala  is  a state declared heritage site. Way past when monarchy rule prevalent in this region, this place was specially used for  what was called  the Ariyittu Vazhcha, an essential   ceremony linked to the coronation of the new heir of Cochin Royal family. it will be centered around the legal heir who is to ascend the Cochin throne. This tradition had been that  as part of the  coronation ceremony there will be ceremonial  procession from the Dutch palace in Mattancherry to the Ariyittuvazcha Kovilakam where the  maharajah will bathe in the pond at kovilakom. Later he is to sit on the cot with with an olakkuda (umbrella made of palm fronds). During the coronation, the crown is placed on his lap and the priests will perform the vedic rituals chanting related mantras. Rice is showered on the king as a gesture of blessings. It is called Ariyittuvazhcha. Ari is the  Malayalam  word for  rice.  The coronation march from Mattancherry to kovilakom was a grand event in those days.  After a visit to  the Paliyarakavu Temple  and the Mutts run by the Tamil Brahmins to receive blessings, the ruler will  visit the Dutch Palace to hold a formal durbar.

a An information board at Ariyittu vazhcha Kovilakam', 

The locked room in the coronation palace is opened only for this specific purpose. Among the rulers, Maharajah  Rama Varma (1698-1722), refused to wear the crown  until recaptured  the land Vanneri, he lost to the Zamorin of Kozhikode.  When the Zamorin  army tried to size the palace they were defeated at Pallipuram by the Portuguese (1557). As a token of his gratitude, the Maharajah gifted the Immanuel kota (Fort Immanuel) and the Portuguese, reciprocated   by building  the palace in Mattancherry for him. Later, the Dutch modified the structure and improved the fortification.  Hence, it is now called  ''Dutch Palace.

This interesting monument across  Mattancherry Nehru Memorial Town Hall is, no doubt, intertwined with the growth and history  of Kochi. Prior to 2013, this  heritage structure was slowly crumpling  and at one point of time, was slotted for demolition. Because of protests from various quarters, the idea of demolition was given up on this historical structure. In 1994, plans were  afoot to demolish it and build a shopping mall. In 1995, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) moved in to conserve Ariyittu vazcha Kovilakam and later  serious step was taken by the state administration to save it for the next generation of people. ASI allocated six cents of the roughly 30 cents compound for the village office to facilitate the renovation work.    

At Ariyittu vazcha Kovilakam of the erstwhile Cochin royal family, in 1948 the last coronation ceremony -  coronation of Parikshit Thampuran took place. After independence, like so many princely states, this state became part of the Indian Union and the coronation palace came under the custody of the government.  

It is imperative for the Kerala government to preserve this historical coronation palace which played a vital role during the heyday of the Cochin rulers.