In the south Indian state of Kerala in Mattanchery, Kochi, resides the Mattanchery Palace which is also commonly known as the Dutch Palace. The palace is located at a distance of 10km from Ernakulam city of Kochi or Cochin and is a famous storehouse for ancient paintings and art forms.
Mattanchery Palace was built in 1555 by the Portuguese and gifted to the Maharaja of Cochin, Veera Kerala Varma. The palace was later renovated by the Dutch in 1663. Today the Mattanchery palace stands as an exquisite portrait gallery hosting the murals and paintings of Maharajas and mythical tales. Inspired by the traditional Hindu temple art, the murals and paintings in the palace display fine artistic craftsmanship belonging to the era. The palace which was presented to the king as a gift was meant to please the king due to the destruction caused by the Portuguese invaders upon their arrival in town. Subsequently the palace became part of the kingdom of Nizam Hyder Ali who later handed it over to the British East India Company.
Covering over 300sq ft of its walls with 48 paintings, the king’s bedchamber has murals that illustrate stories of great Indian epic like Ramayana and Mahabharata. These paintings date back to 16th century. Legends of Hindu gods like Guruvayurappan and scenes from poet Kalidahsa’s work Kumarasambhavam adorn the walls of this ancient palace. The rich warm colors of the murals are painted in tempera technique and are reflective of Raja Veera’s penchant for art and culture. Scenes from Lord Krishna’s playful acts with his milkmaids are also illustrated with equal dexterity. The coronation hall built under Dutch patronage has some beautiful compositions like goddess Laxmi seating on Lotus, Vishnu sleeping and the coronation of Rama to name a few. The royal portraits are displayed in the Coronation hall and they were painted in western style or painting.
The architecture of the palace is a rare blend of traditional and colonial influences. With its Kerala style flooring, quadrangular structure of the palace, wooden ornate ceilings of the dining hall and proportionate chambers and arches bear testimony of European influence artfully married to the existing architectural style typical of Kerala.
How to Reach
Cochin International airport is the best airport to reach Cochi by air. It is well connected to major domestic and international destinations. Ernakulam railway station is the nearest railway transportation to the palace. Ernakulam is 20km away from the Mattanchery palace. The palace is also well connected by the road network and frequent bus services are available to reach the destination. There is also ferry service available and the boats start from the main Boat Jetty at Ernakulam town. Once you land in Cochin, hiring a cab, rickshaw or ferry to the palace is the easiest option to reach the Mattanchery palace. One can also rent a bicycle to take a tour of this elegant palace.
With its royal flavor and wonderfully preserved art merged with the colonial influence, Mattanchery palace calls for a charming gate-away not to be missed.