Mattancherry Palace – hub of the best Keralan murals

The Mattancherry Palace is a Portuguese palace popularly known as the Dutch Palace, in Mattancherry, Kochi, Kerala. This palace features  Kerala murals, exhibits and portraits of Kochi Rajas, some of them being important archaeological remains of Indian history.

The Palace was built and gifted by the Portuguese as a present to the king of Cochin around 1555, after which the Dutch made some improvements and extensions to it, renaming it the Dutch Palace.

Cut to the present day, it’s a portrait gallery and museum of some of the exhibits, mythological murals and portraits of the Cochin Rajas.

The palace is a quadrangular structure built in Nālukettu style, the traditional Kerala style of architecture, with a courtyard in the middle.

The murals have been painted in rich earthy colors and very intricate depictions. These murals include paintings of Ramayana, from the beginning of the sacrifice of Dasaratha to Sita’s return from captivity in Lanka.

These paintings date back to almost to the 16th century. Some parts of the painting have peeled off, due to age. But the intricacy and excellence of the paintings can easily be understood. Few paintings depicted the “Krishna Lila “, representing a playful Krishna having six hands and two feet engaged in a foreplay with eight flirtatious Gopis ( milkmaids). Some few other famous murals are that of a sleeping Vishnu (Ananthasayanamurti ), accompanied by Lakhshmi, Garura, Narada and sages, Shiva and Parvati seated with Ardhanariswara and other goddesses, the coronation of Rama, and Krishna lifting Mount Govardhana. There is also an incomplete painting with just a sketch being done and 1/8th color being filled.

Exhibits included a Howrah, an ivory palanquin, the ceremonial dress worn by the males and females. Males wore a sherwani type dress, often paired with a headgear, walking stick furnished with a golden and ivory hilt. Females wore a two-part white garment, paired with golden chains and earrings, often fashioned with a loose bun. There were also some other exhibits including coins, stamps, lamps, swords, spears, and drawings.

This palace can be reached by boarding a ferry from Cochin.

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