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The Elephanta Caves

The Elephanta Caves , located on Elephanta Island, or Gharapuri, about 11 Km off the coast of the Gateway of India, Mumbai, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A visit to these caves, excavated probably in the 6 th century CE, is awe-inspiring, and also thought-provoking. Over the years, I have visited the caves a number of times, and also attended a number of talks by experts in the fields of art, history and archaeology on the caves. Together, they help me understand these caves, their art, and the people they were created for, just a little bit better. Every new visit, every new talk, every new article I read about the caves, fleshes out the image of what the island and the caves would have been like, at their peak. I last wrote about the caves on this blog, in 2011, almost exactly 11 years ago. Since then, my understanding of the caves has, I would like to think, marginally improved. Hence this attempt to write a new and updated post, trying to bring to life, the caves of Elephan

Fort Kochi - Part 6 : Mattanchery Palace

The Mattancherry Jetty was busy, crowded, and lined with shops. A horde of tourists had just arrived, and amidst all the chaos, we couldn’t figure out where was the palace. It was our auto driver who pointed out the arched doorway, urging us out, obviously in a hurry to be paid and find his next customer. Walking inside, the first thing we saw was the temple of Pazhayannur Bhagavathy, and we wondered once again, if we were indeed at the right place. Thankfully, an ASI board pointed us to the staircase, which led us up to the first floor, where a wearied looking caretaker sold us tickets to visit the palace, which is now a museum.

The Mattancherry Palace was built by the Portuguese in 1545 AD, for Veera Kerala Varma, the then King of Kochi, as compensation for plundering a temple in the vicinity. They even built a shrine to the goddess Bhagavathy, his family deity. This was the shrine we had seen on arrival, though it was closed, and we couldn’t enter. There is also a Krishna and a Shiva temple in the complex, but we didn’t visit them either. Coming back to the palace, though it was built by the Portuguese, it was renovated by the Dutch, and thus, is more popularly known as the ‘Dutch Palace’!

The most striking feature of the Palace are the murals that cover almost every wall, from floor to ceiling. Overall, according to the ASI website, the palace has mural paintings covering an area of around 300 sq.m !! Surely that has to be a record of sorts!! The paintings depict scenes from the Ramayana, as well as Puranic stories related to Shiva, Vishnu, Krishna and Devi. Besides, there are also local folk tales! I can only tell you what an impressive sight they are, even after all these years, because photography is prohibited inside. If you want a glimpse of the paintings though, visit this link to see some...

Besides the paintings, the palace museum has family portraits of the Kochi royal family, and some of their personal effects, and more interestingly, historical, geographical and political timelines of the region, which was what we spent a lot of time perusing!

While we admired the intricate details of the murals and discussed the history of Kochi, Samhith found other things to interest him. Sitting on the window seats, like the children of the royal family would once have, he gazed out at the wide open spaces around, and, spotting a snake by a pond, spent the rest of the time trying to get others to look at it too!

Walking away from the palace, we thought of the other palace we had been to, on this trip, and remarked on how murals were a common thread, though it was miles away. At the NalknadPalace too, we had seen mural paintings, though in a bad shape. Here was a glimpse of how majestic and impressive they could be!

  • Location: The Mattancherry Palace is located right opposite the Mattancherry Jetty at Fort Kochi.

  • Timings: The Palace is open from 10 AM to 5 PM, and is closed on Fridays.


  1. Great building. It looks old school. Great photos and great architecture! Have a nice day!

  2. Anuradha, Kochi is a wonderful city though I must say the city is losing its traditional gaiety. I loved your blog and the pictures you have shared. Hope to read some more interesting blogs about Kerala. I am planning a trip to God’s own country next week.


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