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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.
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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.
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.