The magnificent Padmanabhapuram Palace is located at Thuckalay, 16 km from Nagercoil and 64 km from Thiruvananthapuram. It was the seat of the erstwhile rulers of Travancore. The architecture of the palace is simply fabulous. Almost everything leaves tourists awestruck, be it the Belgian mirrors, intricate carvings and paintings on ceilings or the 17th and 18th-century murals, rosewood and teakwood carvings, huge earthen urns and coloured mica on windows. The artworks can be found in plenty at the palace – in dance halls, queen mother’s palace, museums, council chambers, dining halls, inner courtyards and king’s rooms.

The palace can be accessed from the western side after walking through a big courtyard. Known as Manthrasala, the council chamber is the best part of the palace. It has coloured mica windows and floors with an immaculate finish, including its floor, which had a glass finish made with a combination of lime, coconut, river sand, egg white, lime and jaggery. The Queen Mother’s Palace, known as Thai Kottaram, is the oldest part of the palace that was built in 1550 AD in Kerala style of architecture. It has over 90 different types of floral motifs painted and carved on the ceilings. One of the latest additions to the palace is the audience hall, built between 1829 and 1846. The dining hall can accommodate over 1,000 people. A four-storeyed building stands at the heart of the palace complex. It has a king’s room, royal treasury, king’s bedroom with a four-poster medicinal bed, which was built with 64 varieties of wood with healing properties. The fourth floor or upparikka malika has a meditation hall as well as the royal shrine, the walls of which are adorned with scenes from the Puranas as well as 18th-century murals. A secret passage was also constructed in the palace premises to take the royals to safety, in case of an attack or assault. Known as Thekee Kottaram, the southern palace houses an archaeological museum, which boasts furniture, copper plates, wooden sculptures, granite sculptures, ancient armaments and more from the era gone by. Open on all days except Mondays between 9 am and 4.40 pm as well as national holidays, the palace expects the visitors to leave their footwear outside the premises, in order to maintain the polish of the floors.

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