One of the most important places to visit in Thiruvananthapuram is the Kowdiar palace built in 1915. This was constructed by the then king, Moolam Thirunal and gifted to the junior princess Parvathi Bayi. This three storied palace has typical Kerala style architecture and consists of over a hundred and fifty rooms, wooden lift and six steeples. The last ruling monarch Chithirai Thirunal Balarama Varma was buried in the beautiful gardens of this palace.
The Kowdiar palace is the official residence of the Travancore royal family. Due to this, entry is restricted to the general public.
In 1750, the then King, Marthandavarma made the highest sacrifice of offering the state with all its being and his successors to Lord Padmanabhasamy. This is known as “Thripaddidanam”. The King vowed to rule the state on behalf of the Lord in a just and rightful manner. Every successor of king Marthandavarma came to be known as “Padmanabha Dasa” or the servant of the Lord. The current head of the Travancore Royal Family is Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma.
A brief history of the princess Sethu Parvathi Bayi for whom the Kowdiar palace was built goes as follow: Princess Parvathi Bayi was distantly related to the Travancore royal family in its direct female line. She was adopted by her great aunt, Maharani Lakshmi Bayi in addition to her cousin Sethu Lakshmi Bayi in the year 1900 as the then Travancore family lacked an apparent heir to the throne. In spite of various objections from the other members of the royal family she was picked to be the junior princess on the insistence of the Maharani. Parvathi Bayi became Amma Maharani at the tender age of fifteen when she gave birth to Sree Chithirai Thirunal. Sethu Parvathi Bayi chose Sri Pooram Nal Ravi Varma Thampuran of the Kilimanoor royal house as her consort owing to his high educational qualities. Their wedding happened in the year of 1907 and Sree Chithirai Thirunal was born in 1912. Eventually, Sethu Lakshmi Bayi and Sethu Parvathi Bayi developed animosity amongst each other and their property were divided equally. Thus the Kowdiar palace belongs to Sethu Parvathi Bayi and all her descendents. The Travancore Royal family follow Marumakkathyam or matrilineal system of inheritance where the succession and inheritance of the property is through the sister’s children in the female line. Chithirai Thirunal Balaram Varma had a brother, Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma and a sister Karthika Thirunal Lakshmi Bayi. Her son Sree Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma born in 1949 is the current titular Maharaja of Travancore. Currently, it is the descendents of Sethu Parvathi Bayi that is keeping the traditions and rituals of the Travancore royal family alive. They are also in charge of the Padmanabhaswamy temple.
Thiruvananthapuram is well connected by roadways, railways and airways. The Kowdiar palace is fourteen kilometres from the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport and six kilometres from the Thiruvanthapuram railway station. The palace can be viewed from the entrance only, however, the public can enter into the Panchavadi where the late Chithirai Thirunal Varma has been buried. Get set to view one of the grandest palaces of Kerala.