Mattancherry Palace - Guide India - Active India Holidays

Mattancherry Palace

Mattancherry Palace

Figured amongst one of the most beautiful palaces on the peninsula of Cochin, the grand palace of Mattancherry is worth the visit! During your trip to India, plan a trip to Cochin and discover the magnificent murals in this old palace built by the Portuguese.

History

The Mattancherry Palace was built by the Portuguese in 1555 as a present to the then King of Cochin. In 1663, some renovations were undertaken by a Dutchman, which earned him the name of Dutch palace. In the years that followed, the Rajas also undertook rehabilitation. According to history, it was the Portuguese who turned down the attacks of Zamorins against the Rajas of Cochin. This alliance motivated at the same time the construction of the Mattancherry Palace. In 1663 the Dutch evicted the Portuguese troops and seized the royal residence. Later in 1951, Mattancherry Palace was rehabilitated and declared a protected monument. Around 2007, the building undergoes some redevelopments in an effort to extend the building and to equip it with a museum according to international standards.

Visit of Mattancherry Palace

The most important attractions of the Mattancherry palace are undoubtedly the typical Hindu murals. These frescoes represent famous Hindu legends and mythologies such as the highly preserved Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranic.

Architecture

The main building of the Mattancherry Palace stands on the shores of Kosi Bay and comprises two floors. The building adopts the shape of a quadrangular Nalekettu style, but also features architectural lines typical of Kerala, with a large inner courtyard. In addition, some architectural elements of European influences complete the charm of the monument. In the courtyard is a small temple dedicated to Pazhayannur Bhagavati, the protective goddess of the royal family of Cochin. There are also two other temples devoted respectively to Krishna and Shiva. Note that some walls of the palace rise at a height of more than 90 meters. The dining room of the palace has a ceiling made of carved wood and decorated with a series of brass cups. Its traditional Kerala floors look like polished black marble, but in reality, they were made with a blend of burnt coconut shells and other local materials.

The Palace

The popularity of the palace rests on various paintings it displays. These paintings mostly describe scenes of life in past. The frescoes were made real with warm colors impregnating the whole palace with a singular atmosphere. In addition, it displays accessories belonging to royal family, including weapons and furniture, offering a glimpse of imperial lifestyle of that time. In the south-west corner, to the left of the entrance of the palace is the room of King Palliyara. The ceilings of this room are made of wood and its walls have an area of 300 m2. 48 paintings depicting the Ramayana, including the erotic scenes, are exhibited in the room. These paintings dating from the 16th century are the oldest frescoes of the castle. It is said that the last five scenes would come from the Krishna Lila and that the paintings are attributed to the folded art of the spirit of Veera Kerala Verma. The rooms on the first floor, including the coronation hall, have been fitted out by the Dutch. It also houses wall paintings. There are paintings depicting the Lakshmi sitting on a lotus, Vishnu in his sleeping position, Shiva and Parvati sitting with Ardhanariswara and other gods, the coronation of Rama and an illustration of Krishna above Mt. Govardhana. Facing the coronation room is the stair room or Kovinithalam, with a descent into the lower floor. You will see four paintings: three of them represent Shiva, Vishnu and Devi, while the fourth work depicts scenes from Kumarasambhava and Kalidasa. All these paintings belong to 18th century.

Museum

The instructions at the entry point

As the palace has now become a large museum, from the entrance you will be welcomed by the staff. Site managers will ask you not to take pictures inside. Agents will monitor you throughout the visit and may even confiscate your cameras if you do not follow the instructions. It is also forbidden to touch objects exhibited in the museum.

First Gallery

The first gallery is a magnificent outbuilding entirely built in varnished or painted wood. There are chairs and palanquins of the royal family on display. During the visit, several seats will allow you to rest while admiring the objects. The royal furniture is protected not only by beads labeled with the "Archeological Survey of India" label, but also by large sheets of Plexiglas.

Second room

The beautiful 17th century murals, depicting the scenes of Ramayana, decorates the second room. Apparently, they have been restored with bias. There are also some cartels written by hand on wooden plates placed on the ground. The room has beautiful old doors.

Third room

This gallery is dedicated to the Dutch. Indeed, it highlights the history of the Dutch occupation in Cochin. As a result, there are drawings, plans and large explanatory tables. You will discover windows exclusively dedicated to the stamps. However, most of the graphic arts exhibited in the room are quite damaged.

Fourth gallery

The fourth gallery focuses on the history of Kerala. It is spread over several rooms and is the major attraction of the museum. In fact, this space depicts the history of royal family, parallel to that of Kerala. The exhibition is translated into three languages: Hindi, Tamil and English. During a visit, a staff member would offer you tea in this room. The exhibition ends with a panel retracing the rehabilitation of the palace and the setting up of the museum. Photos illustrate the work that has been undertaken. Rajas Gallery

After the fourth room you will reach the gallery of the Rajas where are displayed the portraits on feet of all the Rajas of Cochin with explanatory texts. There is a preponderance of European portraits made in the 17th century. In the middle of this room are the personal belongings of the local rulers. You will also see a magnificent ivory palanquin dating from the 18th century. The room has a few benches where you can relax while watching the paintings.

The hall of Arms

As its name suggests, this room is dedicated to the collection of weapons. Indeed, like any Indian palace, the palace of Mattancherry also has its own collection of weapons formerly belonging to the royal family. The collection includes a sword called Vala and a series of Cinquedea. Explanatory panels recounting the history of the Kalaripayat, the traditional martial art in Kerala are also visible in the gallery.

The royal room

It is in the royal hall that are displayed the different traditional outfits, the old liturgical material, the cooking utensils, or the rest of the toiletries. Some of the kitchen items have been provided by local associations and illustrate a part of the daily life of the aboriginal people. Explanatory panels describe the "regalia" of the Cochin rajas in the past. Taken between 1880 and 1920, photos show members of the royal family wearing different traditional outfits. Here, each outfit represents a time and this was transcribed in a cliché.

The room of murals

These are the last two rooms before the first gallery. In fact, the visit of the museum presents itself as a loop. The rooms with wall paintings occupy the entire floor of the building. In the first room is a canvas representing the god Vishnu in his extended position. The first room has a canvas representing god Vishnu in his extended position. The second is covered, from the floor to the ceiling, with beautiful paintings enhanced by lintels of authentic doors.

How to get there ?

The nearest station to the Mattancherry Palace is that of Ernakulam. This resort is about 10 km from Cochin. From here, you can rent a tuk-tuk, the most common means of transportation for Indians in large cities.

Time and Rates

The museum is open every Thursday and Sunday from 9 am until 5 pm. Admission is free for children under 5 years old, while adults will pay 50 rupees per person. It is forbidden to take photographs at the museum.

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