GRANDEUR MUST BE RESTORED : Attingal Palace fades into History
A witness to the first organised revolt against the British in 1721, Attingal palace is the maternal home of the Travancore Royal family. The great rulers of the kingdom, including Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma were brought up in this palace situated at Kollampuzha, Attingal. The sprawling complex is crumbling and in need of urgent conservation.
Attingal was historically the residence of women rulers of the royal family of erstwhile Travancore. The son of the senior matriarch of Attingal was crowned the king of Travancore. It had a significant role in the growth of the Travancore dynasty. The first ever united rebellion against the British was kicked off from the Attingal Palace
The 18th-century structure is one of the 30 traditional palaces constructed by the royal family of erstwhile Travancore in the traditional Ettukettu style architecture at Kollampuzha. Murals adorn the walls of the palace. The entrance to the complex through a two-storey Padippura is in ruins. With massive pillars carved out from stone and wood, the Padippura is in bad shape – the wood has decayed and the roof tiles are broken, causing seepage and structural damage. Some of the columns are missing and the handrails will require rebuilding. The complex comprises Nalukettu, Nadapanthal, Kothalam, and Oottupura, none of which fare much better. The historically important palace, built in an ‘Ettukettu’ structure is known for its elegance and austerity. The temples and the palace is currently under the control of the Devaswom Board. One of the entrance gates here, ‘Chavadipura’, was reconstructed recently by the royal family. The grand entrance of the palace, built in wood has decayed enough to collapse at any moment. The ‘Kshethra Kalapeedam’ of the Devaswom Board was functioning in the ‘Oottupura’ in this palace up till two years back. Once this stopped, the entire place fell silent and the palace started crumbling due to lack of upkeep.
The Attingal revolt was triggered by the malpractice of the British traders who camped at Anchuthengu under the captaincy of General Gyford. It was one of the early rebellions against the British colonial rule in the country. The protest triggered over the British traders’ unilateral decision on the pricing of black pepper.
On a night in 1721, a British team which headed to the palace to present the queen with annual gifts, was attacked by the locals led by the local landlords belonging to Ettuveetil Pillai family killing 133 Britishers.
The Anchuthengu Fort came under the control of local people for six months until they were defeated by troops which arrived from Thalassery. However, the queen of Attingal later entered into a peace treaty with the British.
The original structure has undergone many changes. The Nalukettu has been altered on three sides. It has been connected to the Oottupura using iron girder and asbestos sheet.
To the south, reinforced cement concrete roof slabs are also visible. A number of materials such as wood, stone, lime work, different types of tiles, and so on have been used from the basement to the superstructure of the palace complex. Outside, the courtyard is covered with interlocking pavement tiles but the water collected under them is harming the palace structure. Banyan trees grow rampant and thick creepers cover the retaining wall, while the lime plastering of the compound wall is coming apart.
The Travancore Devaswom Board now owns the first portion on the left side spread over close to seven acres. The palace has four temples inside it, including the 700-year old sanctorum that houses the Palliyara Bhagavathy. Travancore royal family’s deity, Thiruvarattukavu Devi, is also seated in a temple inside the palace complex.
Restore the structure to the original form in line with conservation principles.
Immediate conservation was imperative, and the sanction of ₹1.05 crore would help launch the work. Government had earmarked ₹3 crore in the State Budget for the conservation of the palace.
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