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A window to the past

By A. Harikumar



The Krishnapuram Palace Museum at Kayamkulam. Photo: Johney Thomas

KAYAMKULAM, APRIL 4. The Krishnapuram Palace Museum of the State Archaeological Department at Kayamkulam, which has some of the rare antiques excavated and collected from various parts the country, is a window to the past.

Some of the prized possessions of the museum include antiques excavated from Mohenjodaro, relics of megalithic culture that existed in the State, and a large number of antiques which shed light into the history of the erstwhile Kayamkulam kingdom. The palace also possesses the largest mural work in the State.

The antiques from Mohenjodara exhibited here are head of a human statue, a toy and small vessels, probably used for religious rites. Also on show are two burial urns belonging to the megalithic age. Called `Nannangadis,' one of the urns was excavated from an ancient house named `Arthali Madhom,' near the museum.

The mural, which depicts the `Gajendra Moksham' story in the Bhagavata Purana, is on the wall of the palace. Only natural colours were used for the painting. The palace has two more murals portraying Krishna and Lakshmi.

The museum has a large number of antiques, which were used by the kings who ruled the erstwhile Kayamkulam State. The most important among them is the Kayamkulam sword. Unlike the common sword, this one has both its edges sharp. The swords used by the army of Marthanda Varma who conquered Kayamkulam are also exhibited here.

The cannon balls used by the army of Kayamkulam and the weight and measures prevalent during the period are also showcased.

The museum displays the shield used by Raja Kesava Das, the dewan of erstwhile Travancore.

It also possess a large number of idols of gods in stone made during the period 800-900 AD. Some of the idols were used by the Kayamkulam king for worship. The king worshiped Vishnu and Krishna mainly.

Several other idols, which include those of Shiva, Nagas and various locally worshipped gods, excavated from various parts of the State are displayed here.

The existing palace was not the one used by the Kayamkulam kings. Marthanda Varma's army destroyed the original palace, which was situated near the present one, after he conquered Kayamkulam.

The palace, which houses the museum, was built by Ayyappan Marthanda Pillai, an official of the erstwhile Travancore, in 1745. It was used by the Travancore kings as a guesthouse when they visited Kayamkulam.

The palace is a `Pathinaru Kettu' built in the Kerala style. It was taken over by the Archaeological Department in 1960 and was made a museum in 2002.

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