Thursday, 17 December 2020

Historical Aluva Palace, Aluva, Kerala

Aluva Palace, Kerala. tripadvisor.in

Aluva palace, Aluva, Kerala.pinterest.com

There is no dearth of historical monuments in India  and the south western state of Kerala in the southern peninsular part  is no exception. This state has historical churches and forts built by the Portuguese and other colonial rulers. The Aluva palace 15 km from the Cochin city built by the local ruler, is an interesting one. 

Located in the industrial town of Aluva (Ernakulam district), close to Ernakulam city on the banks of the majestic Periyar rive is a simple, but elegant looking  heritage monument  called Aluva Palace (also known as Alwaye Palace) which is more than 120 years old.  Steeped in historical events, the old palace brings to our mind Kerala's glorious past  era when monarchy ruled the roost. It was built by Maharajah  Karthika Thirunal Dharma Raja in  1900 during the reign of the Chera kings of Travancore. Since 1991 after the demise of the past  ruler, the palace has been under the management of the state government. During quiet periods free from enemy threats from the neighboring kingdoms, the royal members used the palace as their  summer destination  to be away from the hot summer. With the cool breeze coming in  across the  river flowing near-by, the members enjoyed their stay there that had lots of greenery around it.  The circular balcony offers visitors with one of the best views of the river.

Aluva Palace, Kerala. indianholiday.com

Historical Aluva palace, Kerala state. Justdial.com

It was in 2017, the Kerala govt's PWD department wanted to renovate the old palace, but it was stalled by  the Kerala History Association  stating any move by the PWD would result in the loss of its heritage value  and its  architectural splendor. The past ruler  Karthika Thirunal's fascination for the nearby Periyar River (the longest one),  made him  build the palace in a serene, quiet surrounding, overlooking the river. This palace used to serve the special guests who were  on a visit at the invitation of the ruler.  According to Kerala History Association (KHA), secretary, N Ashok Kumar many historical monuments lost their grandeur after renovation. Further he said,  “It is our duty to preserve such monuments so that the future generations get to see and learn about the valour of our ancestors,” Another  executive member of KHA, in his  two-page resolution  focused   on the destruction  of the architectural beauty of the palace. Many monument lovers were concerned about the substandard renovation work and the erosion of heritage value of this palace that is closely linked with the history of Kerala. 

Location map, Aluva, Kerala. Maps of India.com

Unlike many old monuments, this palace has a cult status because this part of Kerala saw many battles  in the past 18th century), in particular from  Tipu Sultan of Srirangapatna, Karnataka.  In the later periods, before the raids by the enemies,  it was here the military strategies were clandestinely drawn up  by  the ruler and his close entourage. So, it served as a wartime make-shift military office and the quiet ambiance helped them remain cool to come up with  right strategies to outwit the enemies. 

Presently, the palace has become a  heritage hotel, being run by the  Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (State agency). During India's freedom struggle in the early part of the 20th century this two-story structure played no less role than other palaces in the south. Gandhiji and Nehru  visited this palace. The famous European visitors included   Prince of Wales and H H Charles. What is so special about this palace is its nicely carved wooden structure  and the way the wooden beams, rafters, metal works, etc  are handled. The builder used different types of teak wood and metals  to enhance its architectural grandeur and look.  Despite its age,  the overall wood work, doors, corridors, windows, staircase and other interior structures look fresh as if they were made  recently. The palace has a good collection of  antique lamps and furniture. 

According to  PWD, only minor renovation will be carried out and refuted many allegations that had no truth in them.  Any renovation work amounting to altering the heritage value will not be tried in this beautiful palace, PWD emphasized. .