Adjacent to the magnificent Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple Trivandrum, with a tranquil pond on one side and the majestic Kuthiramalika Palace on the other. Also known as the Horse House, the palace houses an impressive 122 wooden horses, intricately carved into the wall brackets that support the south roof. Trust me, you will not be able to resist gazing at this stunning spectacle when you visit the temple. Also known as Puthen Malika, this magnificent palace has two floors and was built in the 1840s by Swathi Thirunal Balarama Varma, the illustrious Maharaja of the British Kingdom of Travancore.
Dubbed the New Mansion, this opulent residence is a true testament to the Maharaja’s impeccable taste and unwavering commitment to luxury. One can only imagine the lavish parties that took place within these walls. No wonder the palace remains a beloved landmark to this day. Experience the splendor of the Kerala School of Architecture through this stunning masterpiece. Its pitched roofs, overhanging eaves, colonnades and enclosed courtyards made of the finest teak, mahogany, marble and granite are true testaments to the grandeur of the 1840s.
It’s like traveling back to a bygone era of opulence and elegance. Rest assured, this gem has been carefully preserved for you to bask in its splendor. As we strolled around, Prajith from the Hyatt shared some fascinating information with me. Apparently, the famous music maestro Swathi Thirunal Balarama Varma gazed at the majestic Sree Padmanaswamy temple every morning to pay homage to His works draw inspiration from. But alas, after Swathi Thirunal’s death in 1846, the house remained abandoned for more than a century.
It’s a travesty that such a legendary home has rotted in obscurity for so long. So glad we are here now to admire its splendor. This beauty is just a small piece of the royal puzzle that makes up the Padmanabha Swamy Temple complex. Built in the 1840s, this palace is a fine example of traditional Kerala architecture. The wooden ceilings are decorated with intricate carvings, and each room has its own unique pattern. Get this – it took a whopping 5000 Vishwakarma four years to build this palace.
The roof itself is a masterpiece, made entirely of wood and supported by as many as 42 beams. Let’s not forget those granite pillars that hold everything up. Oh, and did we mention the floral pattern dotting the balcony ceiling? The main 16 rooms of the palace have 16 different styles. And that’s just the beginning – the palace has 80 rooms, 20 of which were opened to visitors in 1995. But let’s talk about the floors first.
It’s made from egg whites, charcoal and limestone, a combination that stays cool and smooth even in the hottest weather conditions. If you are lucky enough to attend a concert at the palace, you will see some traditional sound reflectors. These are no ordinary reflectors, though – they are fifty clay pots hanging upside down from the ceiling. Who knew clay pots could be so useful? Overall, the palace is a true masterpiece – from its unique room patterns to its innovative floors and sound reflectors.
National Palace Museum
A small part of the famous Kutila Mallika Palace has been converted into the Palace Museum, showcasing the lavish properties of the revered royal family of Travancore. There are only 20 places to visit in the Grand Palace. You will be amazed when you see the white marble idols and sculptures and the two royal thrones – one made of 24 ivory tusks (Dantasimhasana) and the other made of Bohemian crystal with a special emblem on the top of the backrest Lavanco symbol conch. The palace collection has everything from 14 life-size Kathakali mannequins to Belgian and Italian mirrors that will make you question your own reflection.
The paintings will transport you to another world, the giant Belgian harpoon will make you feel like a real adventurer, and the weapons will make you feel like a warrior. For all music lovers, they have traditional instruments that will make your heart sing. But the real highlight? The music tree produces eight different sounds when struck. It’s like having your orchestra at your fingertips. Don’t even get us started on the ivory bassinets in various sizes that will make you want to curl up and take a nap like a true royal.
On the first floor, history and art collide in a symphony of elegance and beauty. Once upon a time, these rooms served as the audience room, library and meditation room of the legendary Swathi Thirunal. It was here that he conceived many of his famous musical compositions, and you can almost feel the creativity flowing through the walls. The views from this floor are simply breathtaking. You can gaze at the Padmanaba Swamy Temple in Gopuram and admire the majesty of its architecture and its spiritual significance to many people. The small wooden staircase is decorated with intricate carvings of peacocks, elephants and dragons.
When you look up, you’ll notice that the ceiling is decorated with stunning paintings of parrots, peacocks, and elephants. It’s like being transported to a magical jungle where every creature is a work of art. But the most important work has to be the phantom portrait of Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, painted by the inimitable Svetoslav Roerich. The king’s face and shoes seem to follow you wherever you go in the room, like a playful ghost playing hide and seek. It’s like stepping into a royal world where history and art come alive before your eyes. Please note that secretly taking photos or videos is not allowed inside the museum.
Swati Sangeet Savam
Swathi Sangeethotsavam (also known as Kuthiramalika Festival) is held at Kuthiramalika Courtyard from January 6 to 12 every year. This musical extravaganza pays homage to the legendary Swathi Thirunal and attracts the crème de la crème of Carnatic and Hindustani classical music. We are talking about the likes of Bismillah Khan, Kishori Amonkar, M. Balamuralikrishna, DK Pattammal and Gangubai Hangal, who have graced the stage with their soulful melodies in the past. So if you are a music lover, mark your calendar and get ready to enter a world of pure bliss. Trust us; you don’t want to miss this musical extravaganza.