FRIDAY REVIEW

A royal landmark

DUNSTAN S. MORRIS

ROYAL LEGACY: Thevally Kottaram was built nearly 200 years ago during the reign of Gauri Parvathi Bai.

ROYAL LEGACY: Thevally Kottaram was built nearly 200 years ago during the reign of Gauri Parvathi Bai.  

Thevally Kottaram stands on a promontory in central Kollam, overlooking the scenic Ashtamudi Lake.

Built nearly 200 years ago, during the reign of Gauri Parvathi Bai, between 1811 and 1819, it was the residence of the Maharaja, whenever he visited Kollam for meetings with the Resident. At that time the Huzoor Cutcherry and public offices were in Kollam, apart from it being an important commercial centre.

The palace, though small, is one of the most proportionate and beautiful palaces of Kerala, says the noted architect Eugene N. Pandala. A single-storey structure, built with laterite and lime plaster, it is a blend of Dutch, Portuguese, and English architectural styles.

The rounded left wing, which represents the exterior of the semi-circular recessed ends of the halls, top and below, with round fish-scale tiled roofs, is in contrast to the stately main edifice with gables and moulded arched windows, seemingly resting on embossed pillar-like designs. The enchanting four- storey tower on the right, adds another dimension, and bestows a romantic aura to the palace.

There is some similarity in the construction of both floors. The rooms are of similar size and identically placed on both floors. The palace has 10 rooms, besides the verandas in the front and rear. All rooms have high corniced ceilings.

The teak doors and windows are set in moulded concave arches, which are embossed with designs of keystones, conches, and floral forms.

The ground floor is tiled, while the top storey has wooden flooring. An engaging feature of the top floor, is a short passage in the rear of the top floor, which overlooks the staircase and the front entrance, as it passes from the Durbar Hall end on the left to rooms at the right end.

The land in front is bordered by a stone fence. A stone stairway leads down to an ornamental wooden boat jetty, which is maintained by the Kerala (3) Naval Wing. A `nallu-kettu' house on the eastern side, which is a palace building, has a similar stairway with a boat jetty below, which is in a tottering condition. This boat jetty once had gardens on either side, with a panoramic view of the lake. The Maharaja and his family were wont to spend their evenings here.

On the southern side, are two bathing tanks with rooms attached. The water in the tank is still very pure and clear.

The palace is at present the Kollam/Alleppey headquarters of the N.C.C. The Public Works Department also has its office here. From 1930 onwards the Palace was vacant. In the early years after Independence, it was for some time the Civil Station.

It is time the Archaeological Department declared it a protected monument.

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