Nalknad Palace: Kodagu's valuable treasure

Nalknad Palace. DH Photo

The Western Ghats never fail to surprise tourists with serene settings and still have a few unexplored and manmade treasures worth visiting. The fact that these age-old monuments are not sumptuous or lavish makes them stand apart from the rest. 

Hidden from the perils of over-tourism and in the middle of the lush greenery lies one such treasure - the Nalknad Palace, Kodagu's gem. The place is quite popular among trekking fraternities. The Palace is nestled deep within the forest, right at the foot of Tadiandomol peak, the highest in Kodagu.  

Upon hearing the word palace, one usually imagines an enormous and magnificent royal residence. That is not the case with the Nalknad palace though. The view of the palace from outside leaves one wondering if it is really a palace?  It is a two-storey building constructed in the typical Kodagu style - beckoning the visitor to take in the minimal architectural simplicity.

Nalknad Palace

The palace was constructed by Doddaveerarajendra after he escaped from the clutches of Tipu Sultan. The king had managed to recapture most of his forts except the one at the capital Madikeri.

The monument was built in the year AD 1792, which makes it 227 years old. Chikkaveerarajendra used the palace as his last refuge, to hide from the British before surrendering himself in AD 1834.

The caretaker at the palace says it is one of the strongest of constructions of the time. It withstood many natural and man-made calamities, and will last a few more centuries without any major renovations. 

The scenic beauty of the palace is mind-soothing, with the mountain range adding a picturesque view in the backdrop. The clouds floating over the mountains and the shapeshifting fog makes it look almost ethereal during winter. 

The palace has a massive entrance built to keep off enemies. On entering the premises one can see a small shrine amidst a beautiful garden. 

Shrine

The palace has a small court hall lined with wooden pillars from where one can get a glimpse of the garden, the shrine and far beyond into the wilderness. It also has cobras carved in many places.

The caretaker explains that the walls of the palace had many gorgeous paintings which were destroyed over time by people scraping and carving their names on the walls. Only a few portions of the paintings survive today and are protected and preserved.

Another interesting feature of the place is the dark room. There are several of these and do not allow any light to pass through. They were probably used for hiding from the enemy back then. They have a small window, a sort of a vantage point from where one could target enemies who broke in through the main entrance.

Window entrance

The monument still appears majestic even after the damages it has suffered through the centuries. It is now a protected structure under the Department of Archaeology and Museum.

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