Saturday, 2 May 2020

Napier Museum building, Thiruvanantha Puram, Kerala - an awe-inspiring colonial structure designed by Robert Chisholm.

Thiruvananthapuram, Napier bldg. mapio.net
Thiruvananthapuram, Napier bldg. deccanchronicle.com
Napier Museum in Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), Kerala, India established way back in 1855 is an important landmark and a tourist spot in this capital city. It is housed in a fine colonial building  with its unique architectural style - gothic style roof and minarets. Adjacent to this natural history museum is the famous  Trivandrum Zoo. After 1860, decision was taken to demolish the old museum  with a view to building a new one in the same place  The new building  designed by Chisholm was constructed in 1880 and named after Lord  Charles Napier, then Governor of Madras  Presidency  from 1866-1872. 
Thiruvananthapuram, Napier Museum bldg.  designed by Robert Chisholm, en.wikipedia
In the museum you find  rare collections of historical and archaeological  artifacts, bronze idols, ancient ornaments, a temple chariot and ivory carvings. The main attractions are the the Sri Chitra Art Gallery, that carrioes the amazing works of famous artist  Raja Ravi Varma and Nicholas Roerich, as well as examples of Mughal and Tanjore art works and paintings. Also included are  ivory carvings, the Japanese shadow play leather figures, used to depict the epics of Mahabharata and the Ramayana.  The modern building has  skeletal, birds, preserved  animals,etc. The museum located about two and half milometer from the center of the city is instructive and educative. J.A. Brown, then Director of the Trivandrum Observatory and General William Cullen, then British Resident were instrumental in establishing this museum in 1857. A society was formed 2 years earlier in this regard. Sri Uthram Thirunal the Maharajah of Travancore  was a  Patron.

Thiruvanathapuram city  location map cenexcisetvm.gov.in
Napier Museum museum building, T.puram, keraltransindiatravels.com
What is so special about the  museum is its amazing colonial building that has the  Indo-Saracenic style of architecture quite common in those days. The design is quite suitable for tropical climate  and typical  hot summer heat and the structure  with high ceiling and proper ventilation allows free flow of natural air  inside and keeps the interior cool by cutting down radiation from the roof top.  The Museum building has also other architectural elements - Chinese and Italian  blended with native Kerala style. The building  has three big hall with a long corridor. One can see the local Kerala-style architectural features mixed nicely  in many parts.  Beautifully designed wood-crafted beams, pillars, doors and windows. Balconies, corridors and sit outs, etc  are so well planned and designed, they enhance the grandeur of this unique building in this part of the city.
thiruvananthapuram, Napier bldg. deccanchronicle.com
Robert Chisholm (11 January 1840 - 28 May 1915), a British architect who pioneered the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture in Madras, took meticulous care to design the building. His contribution includes Presidency College, Madras (1865–70), the Senate buildings of the University of Madras (1874–79),  offices of the P. Orr & Sons  and the Post and Telegraph Office in Ootacamund (1875–83), etc.  Many people do not know that Chisholm also enlarged and constructed a pavilion at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium (earlier known as Chepauk stadium).  He was the Consulting Architect to the Government of Madras in 1872 and served from 1872 to 1886.   After 1860 about the proposed new building for the museum,  Gov. Lord Napier  recommended famous architect  Chisholm, employee of the Government of Madras.  In 1872,  he  came  to Travancore to design the museum building. After familiarizing with the local design, technique  and domestic art forms, Chisholm attempted to mix the local architectural elements  with those of  European  architecture.
The Napier building is now  a state-recognized heritage site and attracts lots of tourists. Museum ground also holds  a Zoological Garden, one of the oldest in India. 
http://navrangindia.blogspot.com/2017/08/napier-museum-thiruvananthapuram.html
http://keralaculture.org/napier-museum-thiruvananthapuram/543
http://www.qktrips.com/kerala/napier-museum-thiruvananthapuram-kerala-2/