The Padmanabhapuram Palace, a classic example of the Kerala style of architecture, is managed by the state archaeology department. It is situated 2 km away from Thuckalai town (in nearby Tamil Nadu state) on the Thiruvananthapuram-Kanyakumari road.
The former ruler of the erstwhile Travancore kingdom, Iravi Pillai Iravi Varma Kulasekhara Perumal, started the work of the palace in AD 1601. The structure was renovated by Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma in 1741, after the Battle of Colachel which he won against the Dutch.
The "poomukha malika" or the entrance to the palace, has a triangular arch leading to the portions named "poomukham", "manthrasala", "natakasala" and "manimeda".
The king used to meet his guests at the poomukham. The engraved wooden ceiling of the triangular arch has 90 different flower carvings. The rare exhibits here include a "Kuthirakaran Vilakku" (horseman lamp), a cot made of seven granite pieces and a Chinese chair presented to the King by visitors from China.
The "mantrasala", a room on the first floor of the "poomukham", is where the King took administrative decisions. The ceiling and "thulangal" (beams) of the room has fine carvings. The room has a single gable (mukhapu) and eleven small windows (kilivathil) with stained glasses. The Chinese style seats are embellished with neat engravings.
Manimalika, a clock tower with a fine gable, is situated to the north of the "manthrasala". The weight-driven clock was built by a local blacksmith. It's sound can be heard in a three-km radius.
The oldest structure in the complex is the "darbhakulangra kottaram" or "thaikottaram" built by the Ravi Varma Kulasekhara Perumal who ruled Venad from AD 1592 to AD 1610. The nalukettu-style structure has an "ekantha mandapam" (chamber of solitude). Kannithoonu, a pillar carved out of a single wood, has fine engravings.