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Dutch Palace - Mattancherry

Dutch Palace, Mattancherry

As one may surmise from the name, the Dutch were not the original builders of the Mattancherry Palace. It was built by the Portuguese in 1557 as a gift to the Raja of Cochin, Veera Kerala Varma, partly as a compensation for a temple they'd destroyed and partly as a bribe to gain favors from the ruler. It was only in 1663, when the Dutch won over from the Portuguese, that they renovated the palace and thus, it is known as the 'Dutch palace' too.

The exteriors of the Mattancherry Palace are barren with stark white walls and sloping brown roofs. A two-storied quadrangular building with a small temple dedicated to the deity Palayannur Bhagwati in the central courtyard, the interiors of the Palace are in sharp contrast with their beautiful ceilings and painted walls. The Central Hall on the upper storey, once used for the coronation ceremony of Cochin's Rajas, has a beautifully carved wooden ceiling. The Dining Hall's ceiling is ornamented with a series of brass cups but the ceiling of the Assembly Hall is perhaps the best of all. A series of beautifully executed and well-preserved murals decorate the walls of the rooms depicting scenes from Hindu mythology such as those from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and the Puranic legends. The murals are extensive and among the best in India. They cover approximately 300 sq ft of wall. Among the more erotic paintings is a mural in the Ladies' Bedchamber that depicts Krishna making love to all of eight gopis simultaneously! The museum housed in the Palace exhibits a rich collection of regal memorabilia including costumes, palanquins, turbans and weaponry from the days of the Cochin rajas.

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