Sreepadam's 'naalukettu' to be restored
By Aparna Unni | Published: 09th September 2013 10:48 AM |
If all goes according to plan, what could perhaps be one of the oldest structures in the city will get a new lease of life. The traditional ‘naalukettu’ part of the Sreepadam Palace in the fort will be restored to its original glory as work to reinvent the Palace as a district museum begins in another two months.
Sreepadam Palace was one of the five heritage buildings in the state selected to be converted to district museums - for show-casing the history of the district - earlier this year. (The others are Bastion Bungalow in Fort Kochi, Kollamkode Palace in Thrissur, Velu Thampi Dalava Memorial museum in Pathanamthitta and Pazhassi’s Tomb in Wayanad.) The project was approved and memorandum of understanding was signed recently, said S Raimon, executive director of Keralam Museum of History and Heritage, which prepared the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the district heritage museums.
While the long-promised numismatics museum at Sreepadam is also expected to finally see the light, when the work begins, it will be with the restoration of the ‘naalukettu’ and ritual pond which are part of the palace. They are hidden from view from the road by the newer colonial-style structure built much later and which presently houses the office of the State Archaeology Department.
“Not many people may know of the old traditional structure and the ritual pond behind the front building,” said Raimon. “In the initial phase, it is this structure which is presently closed off that will be restored. We will not be keeping any objects there, it will mainly be for showing the public what a typical naalukettu of the olden times looked like.”
The ritual pond, also part of the palace, will also be cleaned and rejuvenated, he added.
Once a residence of the royal ladies, the Sreepadam Palace is located in the south-west corner of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple. The ‘naalukettu’ structure is believed to date back to the pre-Marthanda Varma period, that is, to sometime in the 17th century, according to historian M G Sasibhoosan.
“Rather than a ‘naalukettu’, it was more of an ‘ettukettu’,” said Sasibhoosan. ‘’It is said to have belonged to Aswathi Thirunal Umayamma Rani, who was Regent of Venad in the late 1600s.’’ Sreepadam Palace was taken over by the state from the Travancore royal family spending Rs 1.7 crore around six years ago.