Far from the hippie beaches of Kovalam and actually technically into Tamil Nadu, but still part of Kerala lies the unpronounceable (like many Kerala names) Padmanabhapuram Palace.
Named as the finest surviving example of Keralan architecture due to its history as the seat of the rulers of the princely state of Travancore, it is a magnificent structure of carved teak and granite partially dating from 1550. Rosewood ceilings in floral designs, windows with jewel-colored mica, floors polished with a shell, coconut, egg-white, plant-juice compound, intricately Chinese-designed screens and pickle-jars, and beautiful people enjoying the coolness and peace.
Built in spurts with significant construction in 1601 and 1750, it was dedicated to King Marthaanda Varma's family deity Lord Padmanabha, a form of Lord Vishnu,so Padmanabhapuram translates to City of Lord Padmanabha. It lost importance when the capital was moved to Trhiruvananthapuram in 1795. Interesting parts of the palace include the King's Council Chamber (Mantrasala) which has beautiful windows decorated with mica, the Mother's Palace (Thai Kottaram) which is the oldest part of the palace and has an inner courtyard with downward-sloping roofs and the Nataksala performance hall. Most impressive, however is the four storey Upirrika Maliga with the king's bedrooms, the royal treasury, and in-wall storage for weapons as well as a worship chamber.
- The clock in the clock tower is 300 years old but still keeps time.
- The big hall can accommodate 1000 guests
- The palace has a secret passage through which the king could escape to a safe place not far away
- The Chinese jars (which fill an entire room) are said to be gifts from Chinese merchants that stayed
The courtyards and buildings are all unique in size, shape, purpose and decoration. The palace is beautiful and easy to wander about, with each corner yielding some other special surprise.
Lonely Planet India 11th Edition 2005