Thiruvananthapuram was the capital of Kingdom of Travancore when it was ruled by Maharajas. One of the advantage of being the capital city during the Raja's regime is that, lot of palaces and beautiful temples all signifying the class of the bygone era stands tall amongst the modern concrete structures.
Luckily many of these palaces are maintained as such with the premises still left untouched, eventhough most of these monuments are situated right in the heart of the city.
Eventhough the city is hilly and made up of many hills, one never feels like it is a hill city because the hills are not very high in altitude. Still the undulating roads with many uphill and downhill roads signify this terrain.
Kanakakunnu, meaning "A golden hill" is one such small hill, was chosen by the Maharaja of Travancore for constructing a Palace, primarily aimed as a recreation centre where the Maharaja's used to enjoy the traditional artforms during their leisure time. This place is around 2 kilometers away from the Maharaja's dwelling Palace, which signifies that this place must have been chosen because of the proximity with the Maharaja's palace, so that the King can reach here anytime when he is free.
Once the maharaja rule came to an end and democracy took over, the Government has took over this place and is now under its control. Luckily all the governments which looked after the place has not done much harm to the architecture.
The road in front of Kanakakkunnu is called the royal road and even now it looks royal with those big trees on both sides giving it a majestic appeal.
From the entry point we can see only a hilly area with some building on the top. The greenery of the hill is the first thing to capture our attention.
Cross the royal gate and one will not feel like he is travelling through a road in the middle of the city. Such is the density of the trees and other flora and fauna leaning on to the roads as if it is a jungle.
These plants makes the environment give a cleaner and pollution free look, something which attracts lots of fitness conscious city dwellers to come to this road in Palace premises to take a morning or evening strolls making this place busy with activity every morning and evening.
Travel up through the road, get inside the beautiful lawn and take a look at the royal palace. It is not very sprawling or it does not have any exuberance in architecture, but it is ROYAL as is evident from this sight.
The clouds seemed to have sensed that I am here with my camera to take some snaps to share in the blogsphere, for it started creating interesting patterns to enhance the appearance of the palace.
I was standing in a beautiful and well maintained lawn where I could simply spend hours together just lying down, watching the palace and the skies.
Let us cross the lawn and climb up these royal steps to watch the palace up close.
Once on top of the steps, just look back and view the lawn. Watch those trees and greenery and who will beleive that I am standing in the midst of a busy city.
The front view of the palace has a lot of resemblance to the Italian architecture, mainly due to those big pillars.
The garden in front of palace is not in a better shape though. It essentially contains lot of flower pots, felt like it could have been made more attractive. Neverthless the green cover makes it look quite attractive.
Let us now take a walk around this beautiful work of art. Towards the sides the palace has got no sharp corners. All the walls are rounded and the french windows are perfectly blended with the design.
The curves upclose !!
There is a tomb like structure on top of which there is a lightning conductor.
Towards one side there is a small construction which also signfies traditional architecture.
There is a sprawling lawn on this side of the palace too. Walk down the steps and we reach here
There are some pillar like thingy on both sides of the lawn resembling a goal post. This is a new addition to the lawn and was created recently. Somehow it doesn't seem to gel with the whole scheme of things even though a great deal of effort seems to have gone in to create structures like this carved out of rocks.
Once we cross this lawn we can see this structure in an elevated position.
That is the balcony of Nishgandhi open air theatre. Climb on it and you get a view of the beautiful theatre.
Almost all who are born and brought up in Thiruvananthapuram must have got nostalgic memories of this theatre. In the 1980s I used to come here with my parents to watch a kids movie show every saturdays. In those days when television was not very popular, this place had always a special place in our hearts, for we always longed to be here on weekends.
Not only the movie shows, but this palace compounds are virtually flooded with crores of people during the festival - Onam, when the government sponsored cultural extravaganza will be hosted here. Who will forget the walk around those beautiful decoration lights hanging around the trees in the palace premises and also the art forms being performed here in Nishagandhi as well as in the makeshift podiums.
Off late the festival has been taken over by carnival specialists who installs lots of ugly looking rides and other junk items which has taken away its old charm.
The Nishagandhi auditorium still retains in old glory and a visit here rekindled lots of olden golden memories in me.
Recently the palace premises was given an additional entrance in the back side to facilitate entry of people during exhibitions. This was really a nicely thought out idea for it meant that all make shift stalls for exhibitions will be put up in the backyard rather than in the front of the palace thus allowing the palace premises to be kept clean.
By this time we completed one full circle of the Palace and again reached its front
Since some function was going on inside I did not venture to peek inside. Next time when I go there I will take some snaps and update this post here. Since the purpose of the palace is for watching entertainment events, it essentially contains a big hall along with some royal suites for the maharaja to take rest.
While stepping down from the hill catch the glimpse of the road in front.
Watch how the trees essentially cover up the busy streets.
Just opposite to this kanakakkunnu hill is the Observatory hill where the observatory is situated. The waterworks building also is housed there. The artificial waterfall created in that hill is completely visible from here.
Another place which will be busy with activities during Onam and also now a days during the flower show arranged annually.
These are places surely to tickle the nostalgic memories of Trivandrumites and we are lucky to see these places still in its glory. Praying to God to allow this place to remain as such without getting in the eyes of those fellows who are masters in the art of destroying contemperary structures and erecting modern junk in the name of development. Let Thiruvananthapuram be as it is, eventhough that means a slow progress in development in terms of destruction of trees and beautiful monuments.
Name of place:
What to see
Nice looking palace with lush green surroundings in the midst of the city
When to visit
Mornings and evenings
If you love calmness, visit during non festive seasons.
If you love color, come here during Onam (august - september)
Nearby attractions - Click on names to view exclusive coverage of the place
- Trivandrum Zoo
- Neyyar Dam - Screen shots Galore
- Aruvikkara Dam
- Vellayani Lake
- Ponmudi - A hill station
- Veli - Where lake meets Sea
- Golden Isle - Varkala