The Krishnapuram Palace is a palace and museum located in Kayamkulam near Allepey in Alappuzha district, Kerala in southwestern India. It was built in the 18th century by Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma (1729–1758 AD), the Travancore kingdom. It is built in the architectural style of Kerala with gabled roof, narrow corridor and dormer windows, near the Krishnaswamy Temple at Krishnapuram.
The palace is maintained by the Archaeological Department of Kerala and contains exhibits that belonged to the Palace and its former occupant, the Travancore Maharaja Marthanda Varma. It is also famous for a large pond within the palace complex. It is also said that an underground escape route runs from the bottom of the pond as a possible escape route from enemies.
Among the many Kerala-style paintings seen in the palace, a distinctly placed mural painting is titled "Gajendra Moksham" of 154 square feet (14.3 m2) size, which is said to be the largest such find in Kerala. It is placed on the western end of the ground floor of the palace. The double edged Kayamkulam Vaal (sword) is also on display here. The palace houses, in its courtyard, one of the four statues of Buddha found in Alappuzha District.
The king of erstwhile Travancore state built this place in the 18th century after demolishing an original palace that had been built (date of building not traced), the Kayakulam Raja (Oodanadu Raja Vamsham's Veera Ravi Varma the then king of Kayamkulam between 1700 and 1775 AD) Initially, a small palace of a single story, known locally as Ettukettu, was built in the traditional style with an adjacent pond, temple and urappura under the management of Kamyyan Dalava, which was later enlarged by Ayyappan Mathsnada Pillai.
The palace was built during the reign of Anizham Thirunal Martanda Varma (1729–1758 ) who had annexed Kayyakulam to the Travancore state in the 1746 battle. The palace complex has many other buildings, which are a combination of traditional and western architecture. The present building, a three storied structure within the complex, was renovated in the 1950s by the Archaeological Department of Kerala in modern style conforming to the scientific techniques prescribed for the protection of heritage buildings. As a protected monument, it houses the Archaeological Museum and its offices.
The palace complex, which now functions as an archaeological museum, is a treasure house of ancient paintings and inscriptions, coins, megalithic remains, artefacts made of wood, brass and stone sculptures. Some of the prominent displays in the complex are: The mural of Gajendra Moksham, Kayamkulam Val (sword), Buddha’s statue of the 10th century and ceremonial utensils and many other artefacts.
Within the palace is the archaeological museum which has the most fascinating exhibit of the Gajendra Moksham a 3 metres (9.8 ft) high mural, which is the largest single piece of mural painting so far discovered in Kerala. The literal meaning of 'Gajendra Moksham' is the "salvation or Moksha of the elephant king Gajendra." The theme of the mural is mythological and depicts an elephant saluting Lord Vishnu in devotion while the other minor gods, goddesses and saints look on. Lord Vishnu was the family deity of the Kayamkulam Kings. This mural, in a fusion of colours and expressions, was placed prominently at the entrance to the palace from the pond to enable the kings to worship the deity after their daily ablutions.
Kayamkulam Val (Sword):
The Kayamkulam Val ('Val' means "sword") is an important exhibit in the museum. The significance of the sword is that its both sides are sharpened and thus it is more dangerous than any other martial weapon. It is said to have been used by the Kayamkulam Rajas in the 18th century and hence was of special attraction to the king.
Buddha mandapam (hall):
Buddha mandapam (hall) is where an attractive statue of one of the four antique Buddhas of the 10th century, which were recovered in recent times in ponds and fields in Alappapuhza district is displayed. The Buddha Mandapam (Buddha statue installed here predates the building of the palace) is located in the finely landscaped and tended garden with profusion of flower plants (endemic to Kerala) that surrounds the palace complex.
The museum in the Krishnapuram Palace also has a copy of the Bible in Sanskrit printed in Calcutta (Kolkata) in 1886. Ceremonial utensils are also on display in a display case, which consists of oil lamps, fine miniature figures, and small stone columns carved with serpent deities (collected from various local houses). Some of these are arranged in an arc form known as prabhu and placed behind a temple deity to provide a "hallow of light". Fine miniature Panchaloha (five metals of bronze alloy with gold also as an ingredient) figures on display are of the Varuna (water god), many Vishnus and a minuscule devotee in worship mode.