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In honour of the State

The Ram Mohan Palace is built in the art deco style. Photo: By special arrangement  

One January day in 1942, according to the Rotary Club of Cochin website, the Rotary Club organised a grand carnival at the stately Ram Mohan Palace. It was held to raise aid for the War Fund for WWII. The proceeds collected were around Rs. 6,637. The venue was relatively new, built in the mid-1930s (some historians date it at 1935-36).

The two-storied Ram Mohan Palace has been part of Kerala history in many capacities. We remember it as housing the High Court of Kerala.

With its private boat jetty, the palace overlooked the backwaters in the old days when the then-Diwan, Sir Shanmugham Chetty had it built as the State Guest House or the Viceregal Guest House.

When the Viceroy Lord Linlithgow visited, in 1938, he stayed there. A curiosity, long queues of people used to wait at the gates to see the palace. In order to contain the rush, authorities began charging a fee of one rupee in the hope that the fee would prove to be a deterrent.

Change has visited Ram Mohan Palace too. The backwaters have been pushed back and land claimed (in the 70s) has high rises across the road that tower over it. It seems to stand steadfast and lonely.

The heritage building in the art deco style, which was current at the time, was built by Chennai-based architects Prynne, Abbott and Davis. The work was contracted to P. Vasu Kurup. The building sits on a magnificent five acre complex. The many-windowed building is said to be spacious and well appointed with amenities.

The art deco style set it apart from contemporary buildings and hence made it something of a curiosity.

“In the early 1940s, during World War II, the palace served as the combined military hospital where British and Indian officers of the British Army recuperated from their injuries. This was only for the officers, St. Teresa’s was converted to a hospital for the other ranks,” says city historian V.N. Venugopal.

Wounded soldiers were brought here to get well. One can only imagine the scenery the convalescing officers would have looked at and taken in as they healed.

The war over, in 1946-47 the Ram Mohan Palace was the State Secretariat till 1949, when the re-integration of States took place. 1949 onward it became the High Court building of the Cochin-Travancore State; and in 1956, following Kerala piravi, it became the High Court of Kerala.

It functioned in that capacity till 2006, when the new High Court Building was completed. That year, the new building was inaugurated and the court moved to the new premises.

At present it houses the offices of the Judicial Academy, ADR Centre and the Vigilance Registrar.

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Printable version | May 5, 2021 10:17:28 PM |

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