Revisiting Raja Ravi Varma’s birth place

Participants of Heritage Walk outside Raja Ravi Varma's studio, now a memorial.  

Nearly four years after it was launched, Heritage Walk coordinator Bina Thomas, an archaeologist, thought it was time to give the participants a perspective of the erstwhile Travancore beyond the city and its surroundings.

So, walks were organised to Keralapuram, Chitharal, Thirunandikara, and Eraniel Palace, and towards the north to Varkala and Kallambalam. Coinciding with the 170th birth anniversary of painter Raja Ravi Varma on April 29, Heritage Walk decided to organise a walk to the Kilimanoor Palace, his birthplace, last weekend.

Nearly 130 people took part in the walk. The palace and the premises were scientifically restored recently. Earlier, it used to be in bad condition, recalls Bina.

The participants visited the studio where Ravi Varma painted, and died. The room is maintained as a memorial to the artist.

Though a palace, it has been built more like a homestead, and the participants went around the premises and were could see areas open to the public. They saw the ‘natakashala’ where Kathakali performances were held, sacred groves and ponds.

The oldest construction on the premises was over 300 years old, but the latest was just over a century old. Most of them were mud constructions, but some were laterite too. Conservation by the department had helped prevent the constructions from crumbling, Bina said.

The only building that could be said to have palatial features was the one built the last, in Indo-Saracenic style. The rest of the palace was built on traditional lines, Bina said.

The palace has been undergoing restoration in parts since it was declared a protected monument over a decade ago. S. Hemachandran, former Director of the Archaeology Department, said the work began in 2010 with the renovation of the studio where Ravi Varma painted. Some other buildings too were conserved. Work on the larger, main building that Ravi Varma built in connection with his 60th birthday began in 2016. This was completed last year under the supervision of the Archaeology Department.

Ramavarma, a descendant of a family living there, interacted with the participants, and even sang for them.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 1:20:11 PM |

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