The ancient Padmanabhapuram Palace is situated in the historical town Padmanabhapuram, about two km east of Thuckalay
, in Kanyakumari District
, Tamil Nadu
. The palace is spread over an area of seven acres at the center of the Padmanabhapuram Fort, amidst hills, valleys and rivers. The ancient palace was built with mud originally and reconstructed with granite by Maharaja
Marthanda Varma of Travancore. The height of the walls varies from 15’ to 24’.
The entrance hall to the palace is through an ornamental gateway. The entrance has a wooden ceiling profusely ornamented with lotus medallions and a clock tower which is one of the oldest in India, erected in 1832. The Poomuham has a council chamber or Mantrasala for holding discussions with ministers and prominent citizens. The Dancing Hall was used for the members of the royal family which is next to the Mantrasala. The Uttupura (dining hall) has two floors each measuring roughly 78 by 6 meters and can accommodate about 2000 people at a time. It is said that the king used to feed 2000 poor persons daily in the hall and so he was called Dharmaraja.
The main attraction of the palace is the Uppirika Malika, a three storied building. 'Uppirika' is the abbreviated term of 'Muppirika' which means the residence of the eldest member of the family. The topmost floor has a wooden cot believed to belong to Lord Vishnu, the chief deity. The Maharaja used to sleep on the first floor on a cot made from the wood of 64 medicinal trees. The medicinal cot was presented to him by the Dutch East India Company in 1750, as a mark of friendship. The Navratri Mandapa lies to the west of Uppirika Mandapa. It is a hall consisting of beautiful granite pillars with drooping pendants reminiscent of the Nayakar style of architecture. This mandapa is used for performances of Bharatanatyam and musical recitals.