The Padmanabhapuram Palace of Kanyakumari, a symbol of rich cultural heritage, is one of the chief attractions of Tamil Nadu. Padmanabhapuram Palace is located in Padmanabhapuram village of Kanyakumari District, nearby Thuckalay, at a distance of about 15 km from Nagercoil and 55 km from Thiruvananthapuram.
Padmanabhapuram Palace is rated among the top ten palaces in the world. The Rajas of Travancore ruled the city of Travancore from this fort till 1790. Later the capital of Travancore was shifted from Padmanabhapuram to Thiruvananthapuram, situated in the adjacent state of Kerala.
Padmanabhapuram Palace that spread over a sprawling 6 acres is situated at the foot of Veli Hills of Western Ghats. This Palace was built by Iravipillai Iravivarma Kulasekhara Perumal in the 17th century. Padmanabhapuram Palace is mostly a wooden structure that exhibits the traditional architectural style of Kerala.
The walls of the palace have wooden planks which have carvings of Anantasayana, which depicts Lord Vishnu in a reclined pose on the serpent lord, Ananta. The floor of the palace is made of burnt coconut shells, laterite, lime and sand. The wooden ceiling has carvings of 90 different floral designs.
The ‘Navarathri Mandapam’ within the hall of the palace, which is 66 feet long and 27 feet wide, is made of black granite. The Council chamber is a famous section in the Palace. The King's Council is coloured with mica and it has several windows. The Council is also noteworthy for the intricate latticework done on its inner walls and for the floor made of coconut shells and egg white.
The King's quarters or the Upparika malika of Padmanabhapuram Palace was built in 1744 AD, by Marthanda Verma. The courtyard leading to Upparika malika was used as a parade ground for the recruitment of soldiers.
The inner walls of the Prayer Hall are adorned with about 50 murals that depict Lord Vishnu with his consorts and Lord Krishna with gopikas. Several paintings depicting significant incidents from the life of Marthanda Verma can be seen on the walls of the corridor leading to the guest house.
Today, Padmanabhapuram Palace of Kanyakumari is being looked after by the Archeological Department of Kerala.