Kerala Monuments : Kerala has many ports and harbors where the Europeans and immigrants and traders from all over the world came for trade and commercial purposes. The influences of the diverse cultures can be seen in the historic and cultural monuments of Kerala that manifest a unique fusion of various styles of architecture. Nalukettu is the main typical Kerala style of architecture though the influence of European, Chinese, Jewish and Arabic styles are evident in many of the monuments, such as those in Fort Kochi. The most well reputed forts; monuments and palaces of Kerala are the the Krishnapuram Palace, Jewish Synagogue, the Mattancherry Palace, the Hill Palace and the Kaudiar Palace, to name just a few.
The 17th century Bastion Bungalow situated in the Stromberg Bastion of the old Dutch fort has a tiled roof and typical first floor verandah in wood along its front portion. Bolghatty Palace built by the Dutch in 1744 was formerly the residence of the British of Kochi while Chittur Garumadam on the banks of the River Sokanasini is a memorial to the poet-saint of Thunchath Ezhuthachan, the author of ‘Adhyatma Ramayana’ housing his ‘srichakra’, idols worshipped by him, wooden slippers and a few old manuscripts. Lion Safari is the chief attraction of the Neyyar Dam while Idukki arch dam is the world’s second and Asia’s first arch dam, which is 550 feet high and 650 feet wide. The 19th century Hill Palace, the official residence of the Kochi royalty, consists of 49 buildings built in the traditional architectural style of Kerala. Kerala’s first ever Heritage Museum of the place is talk of town here.
18 km from Trivandrum, Koyikkal Palace is an ancient palace dating back to the 15th century. The palace is noted in the history of Kerala as the official residence of Perakom Thavazhi, the maternal lineage. It once belonged to the Umayamma Rani of the Venad royal family who is said to have ruled the land for seven years from 1677 to 1684. It now houses two museums set up by the Department of Archaeology. The Folklore Museum set up in 1922 houses quaint musical instruments, occupational implements, household utensils and models of folk arts of the native origin. The Numismatics Museum is only one of its kind in the entire state of Kerala and displays rare and historically valuable coins from different parts of the world belonging to different eras that are a vestige of the trade relation of the State with the different countries.
Jewish Synagogue built in 1568 at Mattancherry is the oldest Synagogue in the common wealth countries. It houses the scrolls of the Old Testament and the copper plates with the records of the grants of privilege bequeathed by the Kochi rulers to this place. It was partially destroyed in the war of 1662 but was rebuilt by the Dutch and exhibit more than 200-yr-old superb hand painted blue Chinese tiles. None of these tiles are look alikes. The 18th century clock tower is another attraction here. It also houses many fine gold and silver crowns gifted by the various patrons.
Kowdiar Palace at Thiruvananthapuram is inaccessible to the tourists. The residence of the late Maharaja Sree Chitra Thirunal Bala Rama Varma and the royal family, one may look at the grand and stately building of the palace towering above the gates and with special permission, you may get a closer and a better view too.
Mattancherry Palace or Dutch Place is just 10 km from Ernakulam. Originally built by the Portuguese as a gift for the Maharaja of Kochi perhaps as atonement for the temple they had accidentally damaged, it was renovated by the Dutch later. The palace though simple was unique in those times and it still retains the aura of simplicity and majesty all at once. It was built in 1557 by the Portuguese for Raja Veera Kerala Varma of Kochi, only to be renovated more than a century later in 1663 by the Dutch. There is a Bhagavathi temple in its central courtyard.