Kerala, God’s Own Country is bestowed with rich cultural heritage, and heritage monuments of the royal kings and princes are testimony to the erstwhile princely states of Travancore. The rulers resided in the royal palaces which are now converted into museums. Kerala was a colony of the European traders like Portuguese, Dutch, and British and some of the museums are forts and places constructed by the Dutch architect.
Hill Palace Museum, one of the most significant museums of Kerala was erstwhile the royal residence of Cochin royal family. This museum is now a major attraction to the tourists which houses various royal artifacts collected from Cochin State and entire of Kerala. The most renowned worthvisiitng museums of Kerala are Archaeological Museum, Thrissur, Koyikkal Palace-Folklore and Numismatics, Krishnapuram Palace and Museum Kayamkulam, Alapuzzha, Padmanabhapuram Palace and Archaeological Museum, Pazhassi Raja Archaeological Museum, Kozhikode, etc.
Some of the houses, bungalows & memorials of Kerala were converted into museums to preserve the objects of past. These are Vasco House, Thakur House, Pierce Leslie Bungalow, Koder House, Bishop's House, Bastion's Bungalow, Gundert Bungalow, Mannadi, and Chittur Garumadam. They are all emblem of culture, history and tradition.
On a Kerala tour one must explore the museums of the state to have a clear view of the rich cultural heritage and traditional Kerala architecture. These museums come under the Archeological Department of the state.
1 Krishnapuram Palace in Kerala
The Krishnapuram Palace is a rare specimen of the Kerala style of architecture, complete with gabled roofs, narrow corridors and dormer windows. Residence of the rulers of Kayamkulam Kingdom, the age of the palace is unknown.
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2 Koyikkal Palace in Kerala
The Koyikkal Palace, situated far of away from the city, was actually built for Umayamma Rani of the Venad Royal Family who ruled the land between 1677 and 1684. The palace is a double stroreyed traditional nalukettu with slanting gabled roofs and an inner courtyard.
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3 Padmanabhapuram Palace in Kerala
A magnificent wooden palace of the 16th century, Padmanabhapuram Palace lies at the land's end of mainland India - Kanyakumari. An enticing ediffice to any lover of art and architecture this old palace of the Rajas of the erstwhile Travancore (1550 to 1750 AD) is a fine specimen of Kerala's indigenous style of architecture. The antique interiors are replete with intricate rosewood carvings and sculptured decor. The palace also contains 17th and 18th century murals. One can see: the musical bow in mahogany, windows with coloured mica, royal chairs with Chinese carvings, 'Thaikkottaram' or the Queen Mother's palace with painted ceilings, rose wood and teak carved ceilings with 90 different floral designs.
Read more: Padmanabhapuram Palace
4Archaeological Museum & Hill Palace
The Hill Palace is one of the major palaces of Kerala built by the erstwhile rulers of the state. It was the residence of the kings of the state of Cochin from the last decade of the 19th century till the middle of the 20th century.
Read more: Hill Palace
5Pazhassi Raja Archaeological Museum
The Pazhassi Raja Archaeological Museum, Kozhikode is one of the most renowned museums in Kerala. It is formed in 1975 in the old Malabar Collector’s Bungalow at East Hill. Various types of objects collected from entire Malabar region are preserved in this museum.
Read more: Pazhassi Raja Museum
6Thrissur Archaeological Museum
The Government of Cochin started the Archaeological Museum, Thrissur as Sree Mulam Chithrasala (picture Gallery) in 1938. Mainly the collections of the museums are one year’s work of crafting of exact copies of mural paintings housed in Mattancherry palace and other temples of the former Cochin state
Read more: Thrissur Archaeological Museum
7 Nilambur Kovilakam in Kerala
Nilambur Kovilakam is is located 30 km from Malappuram district in Kerala. It is the erstwhile residence of local rulers and is famous for its beautiful frescoes and artwork in wood. On the grounds of this dismantled ancestral home of the Nilambur Royal Family is the Vettakkorumakan Temple.
8 Mattancherry Dutch Palace in Kerala
Built by the Portuguese in 1557 and presented to Raja Veera Kerala Varma of Kochi, the Palace was renovated in 1663 by the Dutch. The palace with a Bhagavathi Temple in the central courtyard is built like the typical Kerala style mansion - the Nalukettu - the home of the aristocracy, nobility and upper classes, with four separate wings opening out to a central courtyard.
9 Kilimanoor Palace in Kerala
A palace dedicated to a prince responsible for fetching Kerala a prominent place among the wizards of painting. He is of royal birth, but his deeds fetched him fame in a vocation, which had few takers among his peer group. Raja Ravi Varma the renowned painter from Kerala and his birth palace, the Kilimanoor Palace holds a very special place in the hearts of those who love the fine art of painting. His fame and his style of painting transcended the borders of Kerala and Ravi Varma soon got reckoned as a master painter of international repute.
10 Anjengo Fort in Kerala
Located about 36 km North of Thiruvananthapuram, near the famed beach of Varkala, and lying on the seacoast is Anjengo or Anjuthengu, meaning five coconut trees. A place of historic importance as well as beautiful natural setting, Anjengo is an ideal destination for those who don't mind walking around and explore what is in store.
11 Bastion Bungalow in Kerala
Built in the Indo-European style way back in 1667, the Bastion Bungalow gets its name from its location on the site of the Stromberg Bastion of the old Dutch fort. The bungalow is situated on River Road in Fort Kochi, Ernakulam. The building blends beautifully into the circular structure of the bastion, has a tiled roof and a typical first floor verandah in wood along its front portion. Though it has been said that a network of secret tunnels runs beneath the bungalow, none have been found. Today, the Bungalow is the official residence of the Sub Collector.
12 Bekal Fort in Kerala
Kasaragod is a beautiful town poised at the Northern extreme of Kerala State.16 km south of the town on the National Highway, is the largest and best preserved fort in the whole of Kerala, bordered by a splendid beach. Shaped like a giant keyhole, the historic Bekal Fort- built in 17th century - offers a superb view of the Arabian Sea from its tall observation towers, which were occupied by huge cannons, couple of centuries ago
13 Chandragiri Fort & River in Kerala
Situated near the confluence of the Payaswini River and the Arabian Sea, the Chandragiri Village is known for its large 17th century fort built by Sivappa Naik of Bedanore. The Chandragiri Fort, one among a chain of forts built by the same ruler, perched atop a hill is in ruins now. But the location offers a breathtaking view of the convergence of the river and the Arabian Sea. The place is a vantage point to watch the sunset from the ancient Kizhur State Temple at Chandragiri, which celebrates the annual festival called Pattu Utsavam. Chandragiri is situated 4 km from Bekal.
14 Pierce Leslie Bungalow, Fort in Kerala
15 Poonjar Palace in Kerala
The Poonjar Palace is a glorious testimony to the regal opulence of a bygone era. Within the palace walls is an extraordinary royal collection of antiques and exquisite furniture including a palanquin, a droni (treatment bed) carved out of a single piece of wood for Ayurvedic massages, huge chandeliers, palm leaf engravings, jewel boxes, varieties of lamps, sculptures of Nataraja (the dancing Siva), grain measures, statues and weapons. A unique conch preserved here is taken out once a year for ritualistic purposes.
16 Shakthan Thampuran Palace in Kerala
The Palace of Shakthan Thampuran located in the district of Thrissur is a landmark in the annals of the Perumpadappu Swaroopam, the former ruling dynasty of Kochi. The palace located in the heart of Thrissur town is a major attraction, especially for those with a special interest on rulers and dynasties. At the Shakthan Thampuran Palace, one can come across and understand several interesting and remarkable aspects of the erstwhile rulers of Kochi.
17St. Angelo Fort in Kerala
A massive triangular laterite fort, replete with a moat and flanking bastions, the St. Angelo's Fort also called Kannur Fort was constructed by the first Portuguese Viceroy, Don Francesco de Almeida in 1505.In 1663, the Dutch captured the fort from the Portuguese and sold it to Ali Raja of Kannur. In 1790 the British who seized control over the fort, renovated and equipped it to be their most important military station in Malabar.
18 Thalassery Fort in Kerala
22 km from the land of the exotic art form of theyyam in the Northern district of Kannur is the small town of Thalassery. In this town stands an imposing historical monument - the Thalassery Fort.The East India Company which had established its settlement on the Malabar Coast in 1683 built the monument as a testimonial of their colonial imperialism in 1703. The fort was once the nucleus of Thalassery's development.
19 Thangasseri in Kerala
hangasseri or ‘Dutch Quilon’ as it was called, was once a British enclave. Meaning ‘gold village’ in local parlance, this was the hub of a flourishing trade that used gold as currency. This seaside village of historic importance shelters the ruins of an old Portuguese fort and churches built during the 18th century. It is situated 5 km away from Kottayam town in the state of Kerala.
20 Tipu's Fort, in Kerala
The Tipu's Fort, also known as Palakkad Fort, stands in the heart of Palakkad town. Palakkad is a small town on the lower edges of the Sahyadri ranges of the Western Ghats, with patches of dense forests and crisscrossed with rivers.
More great destinations can be found in the Explore India page.