Monday, 3 April 2017

Walk into hidden palaces of India

Once called the golden sparrow, India history pages is embellished with an endless list of royalty. The heritage of that regal blood has passed onto descendants, but today these glorious past is only visible in the grand palaces and structures left behind.

Many of these palaces are still called home by those who inherit the honour, and some of them have been converted into monuments that time forgot.

Royalty is often associated with Rajasthan as it is definitely the most well-preserved of the once princely states, but there are many other well-crafted kingly homes, which need more attention. 


But how many you have known or visited to. Make a list and visit to these palaces which are there in history but not in your travel bucket list. 


POTALA PALACE IN LAHSA (LEH)

The magnificent Potala Palace, Lhasa's cardinal landmark, was once the seat of the Tibetan government and the winter home of the Dalai Lama. Mine first sight of this tower is a moment your eyes will remember for years. An architectural wonder even by modern standards, the palace have 13 storeys and contains more than 1000 rooms. The Leh Palace was built by King Sengge Namgyal in the 17th century to match the glory of Potala Palace in Lhasa. After being abandoned by the royal family, Leh Palace was en route to becoming a total ruin. But the Archaeological Survey of India revived not only its structure, but also memories of a grand past. This includes a vast collection of jewellery, rare ornaments, ceremonial dresses, Tibetan thangka and paintings, which are over 450 years old. 


UJJAYANTA PALACE (AGARTALA)
Seven sisters greenery will every time surprise you with its well-kept surprises. To parched eyes longing for green trees and cool shade, Tripura seems like paradise. Like most people outside the Northeast, I knew next to nothing about the state, but having got the chance I was determined to find out. Not many knew that Agartala’s centrepiece is this striking, dome-capped palace, fronted by two large reflecting ponds. Within the superstructure is the wonderfully preserved Tripura Government Museum, which is the only section of the main palace building open to visitors. It contains an imposing collection of regal and cultural memorabilia and artefacts, along with relics from Northeast India's centuries-old artistic heritage. The tree-lined lakeside promenades flanking the building are open to the public throughout the day. The Manikya kings of Tripura ruled from the palace until their accession to the Indian union post-Independence. So, this time if you head north east mark this palace name in red.


PADMANABHAPURAM PALACE (KANYAKUMARI)

Asia’s largest wooden palace complex, it was once capital of Travancore, an unstable princely state taking in parts of both Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Under successive rulers it expanded into a magnificent conglomeration of corridors, courtyards, gabled roofs and 14 palaces. The palace is located at the foot of the Veli Hills, which forms a part of the Western Ghats. The river Valli flows nearby. The oldest sections date to 1550. Kanyakumari is the place where you can witness Arabian sea and bay of bengal merging into Indian ocean and a beautiful sunrise above it. 


BOLGATTY PALACE (KOCHI)

Bolgatty Palace, a former palace, built by the Dutch in India, is located on the island popularly known as Bolghatty Island in Kochi, Kerala. Kerala scenic beauty has always pulled travelers towards it. Now a heritage resort, this quaint mansion was built in 1744 by Dutch traders. It served as the home of the British Governors, being the seat of the British Resident of Cochin during the British Raj. There is in a temple dedicated to Shiva that is the first of its kind in Kerala.  



KANGLA PALACE (MANIPUR)

The meaning of its name ‘Kangla’ is dry land. This expansive, low-walled fort was the on-again, off-again regal capital of Manipur until the Anglo-Manipuri War of 1891 saw the defeat of the Manipuri maharaja and a subsequent British takeover. Entrance is by way of an exceedingly tall gate on Myanmar Rd, past a wide moat. While the entire complex contains several minor sights, the more interesting older buildings are at the rear, guarded by three restored large white kangla sha (dragons). I can sense your face and this is on your list. Imphal is a vibrant mix of cultures and customs. Due to a long history of insurgency, however, heavy militarisation, random shutdowns and curfews have become a way of life, which means there's little to do, especially after dark. 

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