Saturday, 27 December 2014

The oldest,largest wooden building in Asia - Padmanabhapuram Palace,Kerala

Padmanabhapuram Palace.
The Padmanabhapuram Palace complex (6.5 acres) is set within a fort of 185 acres located strategically at the foot hills of Veli hills, Western Ghats. It is 52 km from the capital city of Tiruvanthapuram (also Trivandrum), Kerala State and 2 km east of Thuckalay, Tamil Nadu State. In accordance with  the state reorganization settlement of 1956, the 6.5 acres of Padmanabhapuram Palace complex was retained under the custodianship of the Kerala  Government.  The Palace is a Protected Monument of the Department of Archeology, State Govt. of Kerala.
 Well ventilated Windows,Padmanabhapuram Palace
Padmanabhapuram Palace is the oldest, largest and well preserved surviving example  of the traditional wooden architecture in India and is also the largest and most exquisite wooden building in Asia. The Palace structure is built out of  high quality teak wood with minimum  laterite (locally available building stone)  for plinths and for a few select walls. The roof structure  is made out of timber, covered with clay tiles.
 Well ventillated Windows,Padmanabhapuram Palace.
 The palace buildings were were built between 1590’s to early 1800’s CE, showing continuous building activities of varied styles  and  forms  with consistency of indigenous building techniques and excellent craftsmanship in wood.  The murals at this palace are  best preserved in the original state and are done in the time-tested traditional style of Kerala infusing  grace, beauty and vivid realism of carved figures.

 Built as per the  Taccusastra (science of `taccu’ or carpentry),  using locally available materials, an old  traditional timber architectural style that evolved out of the Hindu religious and astrological principles unique to Kerala, this  historical wooden palace  is an example of structural detailing, simple  royal ambiance, exquisite carvings, extraordinary murals and an indigenous  tradition steeped in distinctive design, craftsmanship and motifs.

The fourteen  purposes  denoted  structures  in the complex include Kottarams (Palaces), Pura (House or structure), Malikas (Mansions), Vilasams (Mansions) and Mandapams (large Halls). 
These are 1. Poomukam (reception hall), 2. Plamootil Kottaram (living quarters), 3. Veppinmoodu Kottaram (living quarters), 4. ThaiKottaram (oldest palace), 5. Uttupura (kitchen and dining hall) 6. Homappura (rituals and prayer hall) 7. Uppirikka Malika (multi-storeyed building) 8. Ayuddhapura (armory house) 9. Chandravilasam (entertainment hall), 10. Indra Vilasam (entertainment hall), 11. Navarathri Mandapam (dance hall), 12. Lekshmi Vilasam (mansion), 13. Thekke Kottaram (palace), 14. Padipura (Entrance porch) and other smaller ancillary buildings. 
These were gradual additions to the initial Thai Kottaram or Mother Palace.

Among them, the  Uttupura or the Dining Hall, and the Uppirika Malika or the four-storeyed  building, are worthy of mention.
The Uttupura or the Dining Hall, has two floors, measuring 72m x 9 m each, large enough to accommodate 2000 people at a time on occasions of free feeding or annadhanam. The Uppirika Malika or the four-storeyed building, built in 1750 CE, has the treasury chamber on the first floor, Maharajah’s resting room on the second floor, and the revered prayer room on the third floor the walls of which are replete with traditional mural art work, so specific to Kerala.

The Tekkek kottaram (literally the palace in the south ) is the most attractive building in the Palace Complex, with elaborately carved wooden pillars, doors beams and ceilings.

 Museum building was set up in (1993) the Palace complex, has invaluable stone inscriptions and copper plate inscriptions, sculptures in wood and stone, armory, coins, paintings, etc. The Thekkek kottaram  Heritage Museum, has on display household articles and utensils, reflecting on the  life and style of  Kerala's  earlier society.