|Kuthira Malika Palace Tiruvananthapuram.SouthDreamZ|
The architectural style quite suitable to Kerala’s peculiar climate also brings out its long history of influences of its major maritime trading connections with countries like Chinese, Arabs and Europeans. As you may be aware, Kerala was the leading exporter of spices centuries ago even before the arrival of Vasco de Gama in 1498-99.
Kuthira Malika Palace Museum or Puthen Malika Palace Museum located adjacent to Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple on the SE side in the capital city of Kerala -Tiruvanantha Puram is a fascinating two-storied palace and it attracts the attention of the visitors to the Hindu temple because of its location. Also called horse palace (Kuthira in Tamil or Malayalam means horse), the palace has a fine collection of exhibits - countless artifacts, etc.
|Kuthira Malika Palace ,Tiruvananthapuram. Alamy|
|Kathakili artists, Kuthira Malika palace. Alamy|
Built by Maharaja Swathi Thirunal Balarama Varma - the King of Travancore, who was a well-known poet, musician, social reformer and statesman, the palace is a fine example of traditional Kerala type of architecture of this region. The superb workmanship, exquisite wood carvings. the display of beautiful paintings belonging to the royal family not only show the extend of interest in arts taken by the royal family but also they bring to light the pool of talents available in this regions - painting artists, artisans, wood workers, etc.
The palace is frequently referred to as Kuthira Malika because it has 122 horses that are carved into the wooden wall brackets that support the southern roof. The official name of the palace is Puthen Malika (New Mansion) is not being frequently used by the people. The palace forms part of a vast complex of royal buildings in the vicinity of Padmanabhaswamy Temple.The palace complex was not under the occupation for more than a century, following the demise of Swathi Thirunal in 1846.
|Kuthira Malika Palace ,Tiruvananthapuram.Flick|
|Ornate wooden ceiling Kuthira Malika palaceAlamy|
It is said the the palace work was completed by 5000 Vishwabrahmins in four years. The entire palace is mostly made from wood - teak wood, rosewood, marble, and granite were the construction materials one can find in this palace. The amazing features that may attract our attention are : the wooden roof of the palace supported by 42 ornate beams granite pillars; floral motifs that enhance the beauty of the ceiling of the veranda; the total number of room is 80, of which, the public can access only20 rooms; among them the main 16 rooms are built differently with different styles and patterns; all rooms are well ventilated and no suffocation is possible. The floor inside the palace made of egg whites, charcoal, and limestone is unique and it is cool even if the outside temperature is hot, besides it gives an impressive appearance. An interesting feature of the concert hall - Navarathri Mandapam in the front part of the palace is it uses traditional sound reflectors comprising of fifty clay pots that are hung upside down from the ceiling. The effect is so unique that it surpasses the modern sound system.
| Kuthira Malika Palace, Tiruvanthapuram Alamy|
On the first floor one can find an out of service audience chamber, the library and an alcove - a sort of booth that Swathi Thirunal used for meditation and for writing many of his famous musical compositions. This place offers a direct view of the Padmanabhaswamy temple gopuram. The small wooden stair way is ornate containing carvings of peacock, elephant, and dragon. Ceiling of the rooms contain paintings of parrot, peacock, and elephant.
Raja Swathi Thirunal was a great composer of Carnatic Music and his compositions are sung by great musicians of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and other states. A yearly music festival is conducted in the courtyard of Kuthira Malika called Swathi Sangeethotsavam (also known as Kuthira Malika Festival) in memory of that great intellectual ruler. This music festival is held from 6 to 12 January every year. Many stalwarts of Carnatic and Hindustani classical music come here and perform . Noted performers of the past included Bismillah Khan, Kishori Amonkar, M. Balamuralikrishna, D. K. Pattammal, and Gangubai Hangal. The great Carnatic musician of Tamil Nadu late Semmankudi Srinivasa Aiyar was a well-known patron of Swathithrunal compositions