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New role for Kalikota Palace

K.PradeepK. PRADEEP

Reprints of nine paintings of Cochin maharajas and some rare photographs of Cochin royalty will be unveiled at the Kalikota Palace this Sunday



ROYAL LINEAGE Rekindling interest in the past Photo: MAHESH HARILAL

It was somewhere in the mid-70s that the Kalikota Palace in Tripunithura was opened to the public. Till then it had served as a school for the female members of the Cochin Royal Family and then as a Palace office. This definitive Dutch structure, with its huge, long windows, prominent arches and doors with stained glass work housed invaluable treasures. Most of it were shifted to nearby museums, sold or auctioned off. Pulled down from their appointed places on the walls of this palace and carted off were majestic oil paintings of the maharajahs.

Years after all this the present members of the Valiyamma Thampuran Kovilakam (VTK) Trust, that now owns and maintains the common properties of the family, have decided to give the Kalikota Palace a facelift. And as the first phase of an ambitious project, nine photo reprints of the original maharajah paintings and some rare photographs will be unveiled here on September 10.

"We have plans to set up an exclusive museum on the Cochin Royal Family in Tripunithura soon. The building near the clock tower is what we have identified. Though we have not set a deadline for this we hope we will be able to complete this soon. It will be manned by our members and maintained by the Trust. This will help in ending all distorted information about the family," informs S. Anujan, secretary of the Trust.

Reprints

The nine reprints are of the maharajahs that ruled the State from 1864 to 1950. "We had to restrict it to nine for a couple of reasons. One, we did not have pictures of many of the earlier maharajahs. Then, we thought we would include those who have made an indelible mark on the development of the State, Tripunithura in particular. So we have the paintings of Rama Varma (1864-1888), also known as Midhunamasathil Theepeta Thampuram, in whose time the Puthen Bungalow and the clock tower were constructed, that of Chowarayil Theepeta Thampuran who was responsible for the completion of the Cochin harbour and during whose time the High Court was built, Rajarshi who constructed the Cochin-Shoranur railway, Ikya Keralam Thampuran who mooted the idea of a unified Kerala state, Parikshit Thampuran and others. All the reprints are of uniform 4x3 feet and Suresh Kalloor took the pictures. We are really thankful to the Director General, Archaeological Survey of India, the ASI, Thrissur Circle and the Kerala Archaeological Department, for allowing us to take prints of the originals," says Mr. Anujan.

The vintage photographs that are ready to be mounted are those of Athachamayam, rare ones of the now dilapidated Puthen Bungalow and that of the Kalikota Palace. "To begin with we thought of focussing on the two buildings and Athachamayam for specific reasons. Many a time the historic Athachamayam procession began from the Kalikota Palace. This place was built during the reign of Shaktan Thampuran, whose 200th death anniversary year is being celebrated this year. We will have a portrait of Shaktan Thampuram also installed separately soon. Then with talks of preserving and restoring the Puthen Bungalow we thought we would put on show pictures of this magnificent structure."

With remnants of the Cochin Royalty fast disappearing from the town of Tripunithura, this project will hopefully help in rekindling interest in the evaluation of monarchy, history, traditions, practices and celebrations of the Royal State.

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