Day Six: Iridescent Dawn and Palace Complex
Kanyakumari, Southernmost Tip of Indian Peninsula, Tamil Nadu
Kanyakumari (Old Cape Comorin) is a popular tourist destination. Hundreds of thousands of tourists come here to watch sunrise from its smooth-rocky beach. When we arrived it was dark. The sky was overcast with heavy black clouds. We waited patiently. Then iridescent orange shimmered from behind the clouds at the horizon. The moments of shimmering gold still resonate in my memory.
Slowly, distant landscape emerged: a 95 feet high statue of Thiruvalluvar standing atop a 38 feet pedestal. Its 133 feet represent 133 chapters in the Tamil scripture, Thirukkural. Next to the statue stood the Swami Vivekananda’s Memorial on a rock. He is believed to have meditated on the rock and attained enlightenment.
Padmanabhapuram Palace, Tamil Nadu
In the afternoon we drove to, Padmanabhapuram Palace located at the foot of Veli Hills, Western Ghats. Enclosed by a granite wall the palace complex is dedicated to Padmanabha, a form of Lord Vishnu. Constructed around 1601 AD, King Anizham Thirunal rebuilt it in 1750 and renamed it Padmanabhapuram, (The City of Lord Padmanabha). The sprawling palace is one of the best examples of traditional Kerala architecture.
Central mansion is the four-storied building located at the centre of the palace complex. The first floor housed the royal treasury, the second the King’s bedrooms, the third housed his leisure and study rooms and the top floor served as the worship chamber of the royal household.
King’s council chamber has latticework windows and walls made out of mica. They keep heat and dust away, and the interior cool and dark. The floor is made with a mixture (made with secret ingredients) including burnt coconut shells and egg white that has a smooth and shiny finish.
Performance Hall is a relatively new building, constructed at the behest of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal a connoisseur of arts, especially music and dance. The hall of performance has granite pillars and the gleaming floor made of the same mixture as the council chamber.