Pazhassi Raja Museum and Art Gallery
|The Pazhassi Raja Museum, situated at East Hill, about five kilometres from Kozhikode, is a simple but elegant structure built in the Kerala style of architecture. The neatly manicured lawns and the sprawling compound make for a tranquil atmosphere.
History of the building
The museum and art gallery is named after King Pazhassi Raja, known as the ‘Lion of Kerala’. Pazhassi Raja Kerala Varma, who belonged to the Padinjare Kovilakam of the Kottayam royal family, resisted British colonisation by resorting to guerrilla warfare in the hilly areas of Wayanad. The museum honours the memory of this great freedom fighter who was killed in the beginning of the 19th century.
The building that harbours the museum was constructed in 1812 and was then known as East Hill Bungalow. It was used as the residence of the British collectors of Kozhikode. It also served as the houses of Malabar Collector William Logan, author of the Malabar Manual and H. V. Connolly, the district magistrate who was killed in this very building by four leaders of the Moplah Revolt.
Even after Independence, the bungalow was used as the office of the district collector till 1976, when it was converted into an archaeological museum. The first few exhibits here were brought from the Thrissur archaeological museum. Later, it began to display various relics unearthed from different parts of Malabar. In 1980, the bungalow was renamed as the Pazhassi Raja Museum. The museum, presently managed by the State Archaeology Department, underwent major renovation in the ’90s.
There are a variety of antique and rare objects on display at the museum which include ancient murals, earthenware excavated from various parts of Kerala, models of temples and so on. The old coins exhibited here represent different kingdoms and different periods. They include the coins in use during the period of the Roman empire, during the reign of the Arakkal Raja, the coins used in the kingdom of Mysore during the reign of Tipu Sultan as well as the coins of old Kochi and the kingdom of Travancore. Part of Megalithic monuments like umbrella stones and rock-cut caves are also on display.
An art gallery adjacent to the museum displays paintings by master painter Raja Ravi Varma and his uncle Raja Raja Varma. Both painters are known for their amazingly life-like portraits of men and women.
The judicious use of colours and meticulous detailing of the features of human figures are hallmarks of Ravi Varma paintings. The exhibits stand as testimony to the outstanding talent and the dedication of this genius.