If you wish to know a bit about the history of Kerala, Tamil Nadu’s neighbouring state, then there are few places in Tamil Nadu that are better than Padmanabhapuram Palace to explore it. Located in the Kanniyakumari district, Padmanabhapuram was once a part of the erstwhile kingdom of Travancore. It is considered that the palace is one of the oldest of its kind in all of India.
Though now situated inside Tamil Nadu, the palace is owned and operated by the Government of Kerala. The core of the palace which was known those days as ‘Kalkulathu Koikkal’ was constructed in 1601 CE by Iravi Varma Kulaskhara Perumal who was the ruler of Venad between 1592 and 1609. Much of the other structures within the palace premises was built during the reign of king Marthanda Varma who dedicated the completed palace to lord Padmanabha Swamy, the tutelary deity of the royal family. Ever since the palace began to be known as Padmanabhapuram Palace.
One of the largest wooden palaces in Asia, Padmanabhapuram Palace is spread over an area of 6.5 acres of land. The palace contains 15 edifices that are all rich in intricate and complex woodwork and sculptures. The palace was active till around the middle of the 19th century. Later, the palace was locked up and opened very rarely for royal visits. In 1935 Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, the last king of Travancore joined hands with the then archeology department to restore and preserve the palace as a museum complex.