South Palace was renovated at a cost of Rs.55 lakh ten months ago

More than ten months after its renovation, the century-old Shanghumugham South Palace continues to remain shut out to the public.

The city Corporation had renovated the dilapidated structure last year at a cost of Rs.55 lakh with the plan of setting up a museum showcasing the history of the city and its sea trade links. An amount of Rs.10 lakh had also been allocated in the 2011-12 budget for the purpose. However, the civic body is yet to initiate any work on the museum.

Thampanoor councillor R. Harikumar, who brought up the issue in the Corporation council recently, said the restored structure was going back to the ruins due to the neglect of the authorities.

“The renovated South Palace was inaugurated with great pomp by the end of last council's tenure. It has been ten months since then and still there is no word on the proposed museum. If the structure is left unattended like this it will soon go back to its old state,'' Mr. Harikumar said.

The seaside royal abode, which used to be the residence of the Senior Regent of Travancore, is also an archaeological asset combining colonial style architecture with traditional Naalukettu features.

At the time the Corporation took possession of the building from its previous leasers the structure was in a bad shape and the exquisite wooden carvings and fittings in its interiors were badly damaged. A number of unauthorised structures had also cropped up on its premises.

The renovation work taken up by the last Corporation included restoring the original structure and reconstruction of damaged walls, staircase and panelling as well as landscaping of the premises. A committee chaired by the Mayor had also been constituted to guide and monitor the setting up of the museum. However, sources said, the committee had not met since the inauguration of the renovated palace.

Corporation works standing committee chairman V.S. Padmakumar said a detailed discussion on setting up the museum and collecting archaeological artefacts would be held soon.

“We have only had primary discussions on the proposed museum. Although the new council came to power nine months back, due to the State election we could get only three months to work properly on the projects. However, the South Palace museum project will soon be launched,'' Mr. Padmakumar said.

Shanghumugham ward councillor G. Lathamangeshkar said the palace was being well maintained and a watchman had also been appointed to take care of the building and check for trespassers.

“After councillor Harikumar raised this issue in the Corporation I had been to the South Palace to check the situation. But I found that apart from some faults in the electricity connection everything was well maintained inside the palace. Now the power connection has also been restored and arrangements have also been made for completion of the remaining work,'' she said.