Pazhassi Raja Museum and Art Gallery

Pazhassi Raja Museum and Art Gallery

The Pazhassi Raja Museum, situated at East Hill, about five kilometers from Kozhikode, is a simple but elegant structure built according to 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 colonization by resorting to guerilla 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 was constructed in 1812 and was then known as East Hill Bungalow. It was used as the residence for the British Collectors of Kozhikode. Malabar Collector William Logan, author of the Malabar Manual and H. V. Conolly, the District Magistrate who was killed inside the building by four leaders of the Moplah Revolt, also lived here.

Even after Independence, the bungalow was used as the office of the District Collector till 1976, after which 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 1990s. 


A variety of antiques and rare objects displayed at the museum 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 periods, like those used in the Roman empire, during the reign of Arakkal Raja, during the reign of Tipu Sultan in the kingdom of Mysore, 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.

Art Gallery

An art gallery adjacent to the museum displays works by master painter Raja Ravi Varma and his uncle Raja Raja Varma. Both artists are known for their amazingly life-like portraits of men and women.

The judicious use of colours and the meticulous detailing of features are the hallmarks of Ravi Varma paintings. The exhibits stand as testimony to the outstanding talent and dedication of this genius.