Arakkal Kettu

Arakkal Kettu

Arakkal Kettu was the palace of the erstwhile Arakkal Ali Rajas, the only Muslim royal family of Kerala. The palace is situated opposite the Ayikkara Moplah Bay, about three kilometers from Kannur town.

The Arakkal Rajas were prominent rulers of Kannur and the adjoining areas. They once ruled Malabar and the Lakshadweep islands as well. One remarkable thing about them was that when it came to ruling and administration, they showed no gender bias. They followed a matriarchal system of descent and permitted both male and female members to take over as the head of the family and of the state. While the male rulers were called Ali Rajas, the female rulers were known as Arakkal Beevis.

The Arakkal family and their kingdom maintained good relationships with Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan of Mysore. They also had a good rapport with the Dutch and the Sultan of Bijapur. But when the British conquered the Mysore kingdom during the last decade of the 18th century, the Arakkal family too had to surrender their land to the British.

The palace of the Arakkal Rajas which used to be their administrative headquarters later became the office of the Collector of Malabar. Today, it is under the Departments of Archaeology and Tourism.

The palace complex of Arakkal kettu comprises many independent units within a large open courtyard. It includes mosques and a building which was once used as an administrative office.

Arakkal kettu is built of laterite blocks and wood, with striking and intricate woodwork on most of the houses in the palace complex. The palace, which has long verandas in the front, has a distinctive look that speaks of a combination of local architecture and a colonial style. 
The main palace building is two-storeyed and the upper floor has large halls with wooden floors. The double shuttered windows of the palace have coloured glass panes that look lovely when they catch the light. 

One of the blocks is considered sacred and a lamp is always kept lit there. Such lamps, also used by the Hindu community of Kerala are called Kedavilakku.

A main building of the palace complex has been converted into a museum that exhibits artefacts and heirlooms of the royal family.  These include the family seal, the pathayam (the wooden box in which grain was stored), document box and so on. The royal copies of the Holy Koran, an old-fashioned telephone, swords and daggers used by the rulers, and a telescope are also on display. 

Apart from these, there are exhibits that are a testimony to the Arakkal rulers' relationship with the European colonial powers, their maritime activities and monopoly on the spice trade.