Renovation at Tripunithura Hill Palace
The Hill Palace complex in Tripunithura, around 12kms from Kochi, which was the official residence and administrative office of the Maharajas of Kochi, is going through a massive restoration process costing Rs 7.5 crore.
A team of specialised masons and other restoration workers have been working incessantly for the past one year under the guidance of experts from the Department of Archaeology, Government of Kerala. The work is executed by the Kerala Industrial and Technical Consultancy Organisation Ltd (KITCO).
Consisting of about 45 buildings that are spread across 52.65 acres, the Hill Palace complex that dates back to the second half of the 19th C, now houses an archaeological museum (the largest one in Kerala), a heritage museum, a deer park, a pre-historic park and a children’s park, with a terrace garden that sprawls over some 45 acres.
The extensive renovation and beautification process had started on December 20, 2009, according to P K Gopi, registrar, Centre for Heritage Studies, an autonomous research and training institute founded by the Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala, that functions from the Hill Palace complex.
He added that it was the first time that such an extensive renovation process was taking place since the historical building came under the custody of the State Department of Archaeology in 1981.
Most of the walls have been replastered, while the damaged floor and roof tiles were replaced as part of the restoration processes. The four ponds within the premises were also desilted and the retaining walls were strengthened. The terrace garden is also being beautified.
However, the natural vegetation of the palace compound along with the huge trees will be left untouched.
The entire museum had to be shut down during most of the work. However, following public demand, nine out of the 17 galleries were opened before the work was complete.
The oldest building in the complex is a single-storeyed ‘Ettukettu’ in traditional Kerala style, built around the 1850s, complete with an ‘attached’ pond, temple and ‘uralppura’ (building for pounding paddy) that served as the residential building.
Other buildings are built in a combined architectural style containing elements of both the traditional as well as the then Western style. The northern block of the main Palace complex was designed by European architects.
The central block, including the Cabinet Hall and the adjacent block, were completed during the reign of Rama Varma, the abdicated king (1895–1914). During his time, a lift imported from England was installed.