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Mattancherry & Palace
Right beside Fort Kochi on the same island with a notable palace - Mattanchery Palace. Home to the oldest Jewish community in India. Most have now emigrated to Israel and the community as a whole is pretty much defunct though the synagogue continues to run services.
The old district of red tiled wharves and houses was once the main market area- the epicentre of the Malabar spice trade and home to its wealthiest Jewsish and Jain merchants. Mattancherry is famous for its countless antique shops, which sell some of the original Jewish furniture among Kerala arts and crafts pieces. The curios are often sold at inflated price, so make sure to bargain hard to net reasonable
Mattancherry Palace is the most popular stop over in most visitors' itineraries. ( 10 am -5pm closed Fri). Located right on the road side, it is only a short walk from the Mattancherry Jetty and is only a kilometre south east of Fort Cochin. More famous as the Dutch Palace, The two-storey building was actually erected by the Portuguese to the Raja of Cochin, Vira Kerala varms (1537-61) The simple exteriors conceal a stunning and captivating interior.
The Oriental styled Palace is unique in architectural point of view. Many years later in 1663 the Palace was remodeled by Dutch and it is known as Dutch Palace thereafter. In the remodeling a great amount of improvements went into. The Palace is a hallmark of unique mythological murals in India. The Palliyara (Royal bed chamber) is stunning – one can easily grasp the entire story of Ramayana from the walls. Traditional flooring which is unique in all aspects is sighted here. It is made of burned coconut shells, lime, plant juices and egg-whites, but many mistook it as polished single piece of black marble. It is said, such flooring techniques were employed only in Kerala and nowhere else in the world.
After renovation the Palace was presented to the Kerala Varma Maharaja, the then ruler of Cochin, by the Dutch. Maharaja used it as the Royal House and Coronations used to be held here.
The two-tiered quadrangular Palace is spacious. Its halls are long and roomy. There is a central court-yard where the Royal deity, Palayannur Bhagawati is housed. Ground floor is christened as Ladies Chamber which is linked by a staircase to Karithalam room. Coronation Hall, Dining Hall, Bed Chambers, Assembly Hall and the Staircase room are in the upper storey. Coronations are conducted in the square shaped eastern portion of the Coronation Hall. Western portion is earmarked for distinguished guests. Artistically wood-carved floral designs and Adhopadma (inverted lotus) beautify the ceiling.
Numerous brass cups decor the Dining Hall ceiling. The ceiling of Assembly Hall is different from other ceilings but looks ornamental.
In addition to the temple in central courtyard there are two more temples on either side of the Place. One is of Lord Sri Krishna and the other is of Lord Shiva.
A visit to the Palace is rewarding for its mythological murals, historical and architectural value and heritage value.
The murals adorning some of the rooms are among the finest examples of Kerals's school of painting. Friezes illustrating stories of Ramayana on the first floor date back to the sixteenth century.
Apart from these stunning paintings, there is also a collection of Dutch maps of Old Cochin, coronation robes of past maharaja, royal palanquins, weapons and furniture. Photography without permission from the Archaeological Survey of India is prohibited.
A few hundred meters west of the palace lies the tranquil Jain temple. You can help dish out grain to feed the local pigeons that are fed daily in the afternoon by the temple authorities.