Kerala is one of the most popular states in India for tourism related activities. Travellers from across the country and the world visit the various cities and towns of Kerala to witness the pristine, lush beauty, that has rightfully earned it the title of 'God's Own Country'. But Kerala has a lot more to offer travellers than scenic beauty. The various regions also provide an interesting peek into the history of the region with the many palaces, forts and other monuments of historical importance located here.
Kerala situated on the western coast of the country has always been a popular stop along trading routes. Through history, people from various countries visited Kerala and the mixture of influences has definitely left an interesting mark on the region. Architecture is one of the prominent areas of influence, explore architecture styles ranging from British to the Dutch as you read our travel guide on heritage travel in Kerala.
This stunning palace located in Alappuzha district is not something your mind conjures up if you have been travelling the palaces in the other parts of the country. The 18th century Kerala palace built by the Travancore king is a fine example of Kerala architecture. The attractions within the palace complex includes; a palace pond, wall mural paintings and the many articles used by the Travancore kings. Prominent items to observe are the Gajendra Moksham mural, the Kayamkulam sword and a 10th century Buddha statue.
Photo Courtesy: Appusviews
Among the large forts in India, the Bekal Fort is a place of immense historical importance in Kerala. Situated in the Kasargode district, the fort spans an area of forty acres and is the largest in the state. Purely built for defence purposes the fort does not protect any palace or other structures within its complex. Noteworthy features include the various steps leading to various parts of the fort, the water tank, observation points and of course the stunning views of the sea!
Photo Courtesy: Renjithks
A simple exterior and rich interiors is the best way to describe the Mattanchery or Dutch Palace, as it is also known. The palace has a fascinating history, surrounded by political and cultural tales. The palace was originally built by the Portuguese for the Raja of Cochin. It was later modified further by the Dutch in 1663. The interiors sport exquisite woodwork and stunning wall murals of Hindu mythology. Much of the paintings are presently in a state of disintegration and the government has enforced strict rules to ensure its protection. This also means you won't get to take a photo of the lovely interiors.
Photo Courtesy: Mark Hills
St. Angelo Fort
Located at close proximity to the city of Kannur is the St.Anglo or Kannur Fort. Commissioned by the first Portuguese Viceroy of India in 1505, it was later captured by the Dutch forces. Further modifications were done to the fort, and it was eventually sold to the king of Arakkal, Ali Raja. It again changed hands during the time of the British. Today, the monument is open for tourists everyday between 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Photo Courtesy: Arun Punnathatta
The Cochin Jewish Synagogue or Paradesi Synagogue was built in the year 1567 and is the oldest such religious place for the Jews that is still active in the country. Located in Cochin's Jew Town, the synagogue is near the Dutch Palace and is definitely a must-visit destination in the state. The inside of the synagogue also displays various antiques and objects of interest.
Photo Courtesy: jungpionier
One of the well-preserved heritage sites in Kerala is the Palakkad Fort or Tippu Fort built in 1766 by Hyder Ali. The origins of the fort remains unclear, though it is believed that the fort existed even before its construction in the the present form. The fort saw many sieges and change of hands with the battles between the Mysore Sultans and the British forces lasting several years. The large grounds that once held stables outside the fort, now functions as a community space for sports and other events.
Photo Courtesy: Ranjithsiji
Kuthira Malika Palace and Museum
Originally referred to as the Puthen Malika or new mansion, the palace earned the name Kuthira Malika or horses mansion for the carvings of over 122 horses in the supporting sections of the roof. The grand palace that has used a variety of exotic wood and materials in construction was supposedly built by over 5,000 workers across a span of four years! That should give you some sense as to the detailing that the architecture, carvings and sculptures of the palace display. Intricate woodwork and each room having a distinctive appearance, has made this palace a popular heritage destination in the state.
Photo Courtesy: Dinakarr
The Art and Natural History museum is situated in Trivandrum. The stunning architecture of the Napier Museum is the brainchild of Robert Chisholm. The many unique features of the museum include the exquisite ornamentation of walls, Gothic roofs and towering minarets, etc. The museum has a good display of artefacts and also houses one of the oldest zoos in the country.
Photo Courtesy: Ajeesh C Philip
As the oldest European church in the country, the St.Francis Church in Cochin is an important historical monument to visit in the state. The structure has stood sole witness to the many power struggles, and political upheavals through history that has created the state of Kerala as it is today. The mixed influences are apparent in the architecture of the worn walls of this stately church.
Photo Courtesy: Hemanthreddy
A rather interesting heritage site to visit in Kerala is the Ariyannur Umbrellas or the prehistoric Megalithic site of burial. Located in the Thrissur district, the place is a protected monument and showcases stone placements that look like umbrellas or mushrooms and are locally referred as the Kudaikkallu.
Photo Courtesy: Smokingsingh