Historic Places

Hill Palace
The Hill Palace, the official residence of the Kochi royal family, is today the largest archaeological museum in Kerala. Built in 1865, the palace complex consists of 49 buildings in the tr tional architectural style of Kerala, sprawled over 52 acres of beautifully landscaped terraced land which houses a deer park and facilities for horse riding. Numerous species of flora including rare medicinal plants grow here. On display in the full-fledged Ethno-archaeological museum are oil-paintings, murals, sculptures in stone and manuscripts, inscriptions, coins, belongings of the Kochi royal family and royal furniture including the simhasana (throne).

Also exhibited are over 200 antique pieces of pottery and ceramic vases from Japan and China, Kudakkallu (tomb stone), Thoppikkallu (hood stone), menhirs, granite, laterite memorials, rock cut weapons from the stone ages, wooden temple models, plaster cast models of objects from Mohanjodaro and Harappa of the Indus Valley Civilisation. The museum also houses a gallery of contemporary art.
Bekal Fort
History sleeps here among the lonely battlements of the Bekal Fort, by the sea shore. The tall observation towers of this hill-top fort built in 1502 AD by Ekkary Sivappu Nayak of Bednone, provide a panoramic view of the Lakshadweep sea. 

TheBekal Fort feels like one of taken from the pages of grimms fairy tale. It has all the ingredients and the scenic richess of an abandoned fort onlooking the vast ocean. This landscape of ethereal quality, its neverrending grasslands and sea views posses all the potential to be developed into a superb tourist destination. The Bekal fort is located on a vast 35 acre headland that runs into the Arabian Sea.

This imposing structure of laterite rising 130 ft. above sea level has a chequered history or 300 years which adds to its interest as an excavation site. Due to its historic relevence, the fort is controlled by the Archeological Survey of India.The Bekal fort is the largest and the best preserved of its kind in Kerala.

Bekal Fort which is the largest and the best preserved fort in Kerala is on the National Highway. It is more than 300 years old. Belived to be built in the 1650' s by Shivappa Naik of the Ikkeri dynasty, it was transferred to Hyder Ali of Mysore and later to the British. The sea bastions,underground tunnels and the observation tower are impressive. An old mosque is situated very near the fort which is believed to be built by Tipu Sultan. Once huge Cannin emplacements perched on hill top. 
Padmanabhapuram Palace
Padmanabhapuram, the palace complex of the erstwhile Venad Kingdom, the forerunner of Thiruvithamkoor, is 65 kilometres south of Thiruvananthapuram. The walls of its central hall are profusely decorated with mural paintings. The themes of paintings are various episodes and moments drawn from Hindu epics. 
Krishnapuram Palace
This is situated in a serene village named after the age-old Krishna temple. It belongs to the Kayamkulam dynasty. This palace has the largest mural panels of Kerala depicting the scene of Gajendra Moksham picked from Bhagavatham.
Santa Cruz Basilica
This historic church was built by the Portuguese and elevated to a Cathedral by Pope Paul IV in 1558. In 1795 it fell into the hands of the British when they took over Kochi, and was demolished. About a hundred years later Bishop Dom Gomez Ferreira commissioned a new building at the same site in 1887. The church was proclaimed a Basilica in 1984 by Pope John Paul II. 
St. Francis Church
Built in 1503 by Portuguese Franciscan friars, this is India's oldest European church. This was initially built of timber and later reconstructed in stone masonry. It was restored in 1779 by the Protestant Dutch, converted to an Anglican church by the British in 1795 and is at present governed by the Church of South India. Vasco da Gama was buried here in 1524 before his remains were moved to Lisbon, Portugal. The tombstone still remains here. 
Mattancherry Palace (Dutch Palace)
Built by the Portuguese in 1557 and presented to Raja Veera Kerala Varma of Kochi, the palace was renovated in 1663 by the Dutch. On display here are beautiful murals depicting scenes from the epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, and some of the Puranic Hindu legends. The palace also houses Dutch maps of old Kochi, royal palanquins, coronation robes of former maharajas of Kochi as well as period furniture. 

Constructed in 1568, this is the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth. Destroyed in a shelling during the Portuguese raid in 1662, it was rebuilt two years later by the Dutch. Known for mid 18th century hand painted, willow patterned floor tiles from Canton in China, a clock tower, Hebrew inscriptions on stone slabs, great scrolls of the Old Testament, ancient scripts on copper plates etc. 

Padmanabha Swamy Temple
The temple is located inside the East Fort. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the temple is a blend of the Kerala and Dravidian styles of architecture. It is known for its mural paintings and stone carvings. One among the 108 sacred Vishnu temples in India, the presiding deity in here is Lord Vishnu reclining on Anantha the Serpent. Only Hindus are allowed inside the temple.
Cheraman Juma Masjid, Kodungalloor
Located 2 km from Kodungalloor town, this mosque resembles a Hindu temple in appearance. Built in 629 AD, this is the First mosque in India and the second in the world where Juma prayers were started. Other places of interest nearby include Cheramanparambu, the ancient Thiruvanchikulam Temple, the Bhagavathi Temple and the Portuguese fort.
Palakkad Fort
The old granite fort situated in the very heart of Palakkad town is one of the best preserved in Kerala. It was built by Hyder Ali of Mysore in 1766. The fort was taken over and modified by the British in 1790. It is now preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India.
Vadakkumnathan Temple
One of the oldest temples in the State, the Vadakkumnathan temple is a classical example of the Kerala style of architecture and has many decorative murals and pieces of art. This is the venue of the world famous Pooram festival celebrated annually in April-May. The fireworks at the Poaram are a spectacular sight. Non Hindus are not allowed entry into the temple.

Mural Paintings
The fresco paintings of Kerala is classified as "Fresco-secco" characterised by its lime medium and technique in which the prepared walls are painted only when it becomes completely dry. 
As per the 'Shilparatna', the principal text on Indian painting techniques, white, yellow, red, black and terreverte or Syama are the pure colours that are to be used, either alone or mixed to derive a different hue. Ochre-red, Ochre-yellow, white, bluish green and pure green are the predominant colours that are used in Kerala murals, while limited use of golden yellow, brown, yellowish green, greenish blue and sky blue is also can be noticed. 
Lemon Juice or solution of Thurisu (Copper Sulphate) was used to apply on the surface to mellow the alkalinity of lime before painting the surface. 
Colour dyes were prepared from vegetable, mineral pigments and crude chemicals. White is made out of lime, black from carbon soot of lamps, red and yellow from minerals, blue from plants like Neela Amari (Indigo Ferra) and green from a local mineral called Eravikkara. Ancient scriptures also recommend use of yellow arsenic (Realgar) and Vermilion (red lead) for getting yellow and red colours. Lac also was used for obtaining deep red. Mixing of colours were done in wooden utensils and the binding media used were tender coconut water and exudes from Neem trees. 
Painting is followed by an overcoat with a mixture of pine resin and oil for providing it the lustre and fastness to it. 
Mainly three types of Brushes, flat, medium and fine, are used to apply the paint. Flat brushes are made from the hairs found on the ears of calves, medium from the bottom of goat's belly and fine brushes were made by the thin hairs from the tails of muskrats or narrow grass blades. Shilparatna advocates the use of nine brushes in the above three types for applying each colour. 
Once the theme is selected, the outline is sketched with dung crayons and then painted with appropriate colours. 
Five stances are recommended for depicting human figures, Frontal, Half-frontal, Askance, One-and-quarter-eyed and Profile
Shilparatna recommends three types of colouring the human characters as per their virtue. The Hindu scriptures classify human race as Satwa (the noble) Rajas (active after power) and Tamas ( low and mean characters). The Satwik is depicted by shades of green, Rajasik by red or gold and Tamasik in white and the demons and demonesses by black. 
The art of painting on walls in Kerala dates back to prehistoric era. Paintings found in the Anjanad Valley of Idukki District are believed to be the oldest. Archaeologists opine that these belong to different periods from early Paleolithic era to recent past that the history can reach. Rock engravings belonging to Mesolithic era also were unearthed in Edakkal in Wynad and Perumkadavila in Thiruvananthapuram District. 
The source and inspiration of Kerala style mural painting may be the Dravidian temple devotional art of Kalamezhuthu elaborated more elsewhere below. Mural tradition of Kerala influenced by the Pallava art can be traced back to seventh and eighth century AD. The oldest in them is believed to be in the rock-cut cave temple of Thirunandikkara that is now in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu.
Panayannarkkavu Murals
Hindu mythological themes are painted on the entire walls of the Sapta Matha (Seven Goddesses) temple of Panayannakkavu, situated in luxuriant grove near Parumala and girdled by a tributary of Pampa river, two miles from Mannar. 
Ettumanoor Murals
Ettumanoor, near Kottayam, has a centuries old Siva Temple. The walls of the sanctum is painted with scenes from the epics along with an imaginative scene of a music concert by the gods, goddesses and celestials are depicted in this temple. 
Pundareekapuram Murals
Pundareekapuram is a small temple atop a small hill called Midayikunnam near Thalayolapparambu, in Kottayam District dedicated to the Lord Vishnu mounted on his vehicle Garuda. The temple is filled with mural paintings on the frolics of Krishna and other scenes from Hindu epics. 
Mattancherry Murals
Mattancherry, within the City of Kochi, was the select spot where the king and the royal family frequented to worship in the Siva, Vishnu and Bhagavathy temple there. The Portuguese trade adventurers built a Palace for the king in 1552 AD in the Bhagavathy temple compound in acknowledgement of the favours received. The palace has rich mural paintings of scriptural stories by Hindu Artists all over. 
Kottakkal Murals
Venkatta Tevar Siva Temple in Kottakkal, near Kozhikkode, has forty beautiful mural paintings depicting scenes from epics and scriptures.