The contribution of Kerala to the cultural heritage of India stands unique in every sense. Recent findings in various parts of Kerala have provided enough proof of its greater antiquity in the geological features and pre-historic cultures. The prehistoric evidences obtained from Kerala constitute various cultures beginning from Palaeolithic to Megalithic period.
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Monuments in Kerela
Padmanabhapuram Palace is a magnificent wooden palace of the 16th century, located in Thuckalay, 64 km from Thiruvananthapuram. It is the old palace of the Rajas of the erstwhile Travancore (1550 to 1750 AD) and an excellent example of the indigenous architectural style of Kerala. The palace has antique interiors replete with intricate rosewood carvings and sculptured dâ€šcor adorned with 17th and 18th-century murals.
Nedumangad Palace also known as Koikkal Kottaram is an18th century palace situated about fourteen kilometers from Thiruvananthapuram at Nedumangad. It is on the way to the Ponmudi hill station and the Courtalam waterfalls.
The palace today houses a folklore museum and a numismatic museum as well. Originally built for Umayamma Rani of the Venad royal family, the palace is a double storied traditional Nalukettu with slanting gabled roofs and an inner courtyard.
Aranmula Temple Located at a distance of 16 km from Tiruvalla, and is dedicated to Lord Krishna. The temple is believed to be built during the Mahabharata era. The annual snake boat race conducted here is not just a competition; rather it is an attempt to recapture the cultural glory of the past.
St. Angelos Fort
St. Angelos Fort also known as the Kannur Fort is one of the important forts of Kerala. The fort serves as a prominent tourist attraction and is located just 3km west from the town of Kannur. It was constructed by the first Portuguese Viceroy, Don Francesco de Almeida in 1505.
The fort provides a fascinating view of Moppila Bay and Dharmadom Island, which are situated near it. St. Angelos Fort faces the Arabian Sea and thus provides a mesmerizing view of the sunrise and sunset. The protected monument is replete with a big moat that runs around the fort. St. Angelos fort is an example of Portuguese architecture.
Pallipuram Fort is one of the famous and oldest remaining forts in Kerala. It is located in Kochi district and is popularly known as Ayikkotta. It is the oldest existing European fort in India. In 1503 the Portuguese built the Pallipuram Fort. The Pallipuram Fort is an exquisite example of its architectural beauty.
The fort is of a hexagonal structure. The hexagonal structure of the fort was very fruitful for the inhabitants, as it enabled them to keep an eye on enemies or invader from the six walls of the monument.
Amongst the best preserved forts in Kerala, the Bekal Fort claims to be 300 year old. The fort was supposedly constructed in 1650s by Sivappa Naik of the Ikkeri dynasty. Later on, the fort also passed into the hands of Hyder Ali, Tipu Sultan and Britishers. The fort was primarily built as a defensive structure and therefore has no palace inside. There is an old mosque near the fort which is believed to have been constructed by the Mysore forces.
Sabarimala Temple The uniqueness of Sabarimala temple Kerala lies in the fact that people of almost all religion and faith can pay a visit to it without any discrimination, however, women are not allowed in. Also, it is open for darshan for only specific period of time in the year. However, strict rules have to be followed in order to visit this temple which is located amidst wilderness atop a 950 m hill. The temple is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, son of Lord Shiva and Vishnu (in form of Mohini).
This Shiva temple boasts of being built by none other than the creator of Kerala state itself, Parsurama. Another feather in the cap of this temple is that it is one of the largest temples in the state, spreading across in an area of 10 acres. The renovation work on the original structure was done by Shakhthan Thampuran, a faithful devotee of Lord Shiva.
There are images of Ayyappa and Lord Rama along with Shiva here. Adi Shankracharya is believed to have spent his last days in this temple. A unique feature of this temple is that the Mahalingam of Shiva is never visible since it is covered in huge mound of ghee which is as high as 11 feet. A portion of mound is considered around 1000 years old, still there is no stench emitting from it. This is despite Kerala’s warm climate.
Cheraman Juma Masjid
The Masjid is located in the Kodungallor and claims to be the oldest one in the country and second oldest one in the world. It was built in 628 AD, in Al Hijra 7, which means that the construction was done just seven years after Prophet Mohammed migrated to Medina. The architectural style of the mosque is typical Hindu style.
This is so because at that point of time, there was no other architectural style in prevalence. The name of the mosque derives from the name of the king who converted to Islam after marrying the sister of Jeddah King. Before he died, he gave his brother in law the possession of a number of letters he had written to the kings of Kerala seeking their help to spread Islam in the state.
The Jeddah king arrived in Kerala and with the assistance of the king of Kodungallor built this mosque. A recently conducted naval exercise revealed a startling discovery. The prayer room inside the mosque was the highest place in Kodungallor!
St. Sebastian Church
This church is located 22 km north of Alappuzha and is highly revered by the Christian population of the state. It was established by the Portuguese missionaries and is quiet well known for its 11 day festival of St Sebastian in the second week of January.
Quiet a few peculiar practices mark this festival, for example, the devotees crawl on the knees from the church to the beach (Urulu nercha) to show their respect for the saint. Also the offering made include gold and silver replicas of human limbs, bows and arrows. Moreover, the pilgrims of Sabarimala consider a holy dip in the tank of the church extremely auspicious. A perfect example of religious unanimity.
This 16th century structure was supposedly the residence of the Portuguese sailor, Vasco da gama. It is located inside the Fort Kochi in Ernakulam. Highlight of the house include European glass paned windows and Balcony cum Verandas.