|Though the Dutch Palace has been named so, it was the Portuguese who built it. What the Dutch did was merely cosmetic renovation and repair.
During the early decades of the 16th entury, the Portuguese had plundered many temples in Kochi. In 1555, they built the palace and presented it to King Veera Kerala Varma with the hope of establishing trading relations with the kingdom. When the Dutch arrived in Kochi much later, they renovated the building.
However, neither the Portuguese or the Dutch have used the palace. The palace was used by the rulers of Kochi as their Royal House and important ceremonies related to the coronation were conducted there.
The palace is a two-storeyed structure, built in traditional Kerala naalukettu (quadrangular) model with four separate wings opening into a central courtyard. While the central courtyard houses a temple of the royal deity Pazhayannur Bhagavathi, the two other temples situated on either side of the palace are dedicated to Lord Krishna and Lord Shiva.
Outside, the palace looks simple, but elegant with the white walls on the front and the sloping roof. Long and spacious halls, arches etc are another characteristics of the palace. The ground floor harbours the ladies room with a staircase to the kanithalam room. The square shaped Coronation hall, royal bed chamber, dining hall, assembly hall and the staircase room are situated on the upstairs.
The ceilings of various halls are decorated with wood carved floral designs including the design of an inverted lotus. Even brass cups are used to embellish the ceiling of the dining hall.
The unique flooring, done with a mixture of burnt coconut shells, lime, plant juices and egg-whites., is fascinating. It could easily be mistaken for a piece of black marble.
What the palace has in store for you
The Dutch palace has a fascinating collection of mural paintings and anitque royal regalia including furniture and weapons.
The walls of the palace interiors will please the aesthetic sense of a visitor with their intricate mythological mural paintings in rich warm colours. The breathtakingly beautiful mural paintings in the Royal Bed Chamber depict the entire story of Ramayana. The painting covers about 100 square meter and it is believed to be done between the 17th and 18th century.
The murals that adorn the staircase walls are of Hindu gods and goddesses while the Royal Ladies room on the ground floor has paintings depicting the story of Kumarasambhavam by the great writer Kalidasa. There are five other panels in the room depicting Krishna Leela and Shiv Leela.
Other things on display
The coronation hall houses life-size statues of the Kochi kings, in their coronation robes, who ruled from the year 1864. These portraits were made by local artists. Some of the robes and headgear shown in the portraits have been kept on display.
Apart from these, there are exhibits of Dutch maps of old Kochi, royal palanquins with floral designs, silver sequined gowns, royal umbrellas make of silk and brass, the ceremonial royal sword and other royal paraphernalia on display in different rooms of the palace. The weapons displayed include sheathed swords, daggers, spears and so on.