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Southern States - Kerala-Thiruvananthapuram

Kanakakunnu palace: landscaped garden next month
By Our Staff Reporter

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, FEB. 7. The work on a landscaped garden, with lush green lawns, flowering plants, designer pathways and ornamental lights, being set up around the century-old Kanakakkunnu Palace to match its grandeur, is nearing completion and the garden is expected to be thrown open to the public next month.

The ambitious project, which was to be completed by March last year, had got delayed as the Department of Tourism was not able to provide funds to the private contractor entrusted with the job of landscaping. ``Nearly 90 per cent of the works have been completed and the garden will be commissioned soon,'' a department official told The Hindu.

The project, being implemented as part of the Rs. 2.5-crore renovation of the Kanakakkunnu palace premises, demarcates the 18-acre sprawling premises into two zones_recreation and heritage. Well-defined passageways to the Nishagandhi open-air auditorium and Suryakanti Utsavanagiri, ramps near the entrance for joggers and restrictions on the entry of vehicles to the palace are some of the key features of the project.

Lawns have come on the slopes of the grounds near the palace, especially near the main entrance, along with foliage plants and shrubs. The electrical cables and sewerage lines have been concealed. Ornamental lights, specially designed to match the grandeur of the palace, are to be installed. The paving of the pathways around the palace is to be taken up in the coming days.

The authorities have decided to delay the planting of trees in view of the coming summer. An automatic sprinkler system has been set up and an old pond near the Suryakanti Utsavanagiri has been renovated and a 60,000-litre sump set up to cater to the daily water needs of the garden.

The main entrance has been revamped to provide the visitor a clear view of the imposing palace. The main approach to the palace will be the tiled pathway from the bandstand with a formal garden on both sides.

The garden will also act as the entry to the heritage zone. The planting of grass in the garden has been completed and only the planting of flowering plants remains.

The entry of vehicles has been restricted to the left side of the entrance and only VIPs' cars will be allowed to proceed to the palace. The area near the portico, now being used for car parking, has been revamped.

The entry to the cultural zone, comprising the Nishagandhi open auditorium, will be through the left side of the main gate. A tiled courtyard, `Plaza', has already come up in front of the auditorium. For visitors, two pay-and-use high class toilets, a restaurant and refreshment stalls have also been set up near the Plaza.

Although it was announced that developing the garden will cost an estimated Rs. 1.12 crores, the cost has been brought down to less than Rs. 80 lakhs. The department has already paid Rs. 40 lakhs to a Bangalore-based firm, which has been entrusted with the execution of the ambitious project.

The Tourism Department has decided to entrust the garden's upkeep to a private contractor on an annual maintenance contract after the project has been completed and commissioned. The city-based LBS Centre for Science and Technology has been entrusted with the task of preparing the plan for restoring the exterior of the palace.

Meanwhile, the work on the adjoining Suryakanti Utasavanagari, which includes paving of the roads and construction of the gate, remains to be completed.

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