Museum of photographs of Travancore History

Nov 01, 2017 | Vol 09 | Issue 05
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‘Sree Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma  Chithralayam’, established by Sree Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma (1922-2013) in 2012 at Rangavilasaom Palace in Thiruvananthapuram, is a trip down the lanes of history through photographs and paintings.

The erstwhile Kingdom of Travancore, a part of present Kerala state, was a prominent Kingdom till the independence of India in 1947. The last ruling monarch of the Kingdom of Travancore was Maharajah Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma.

‘Sree Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma Chithralayam’ is a gallery of photographs established by Sree Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma (1922-2013) in 2012 at Rangavilasom Palace in Thiruvananthapuram.  Sree Uthradom Thirunal , a connoisseur of photography was the titular Maharaja of Travancore and the younger brother of Maharajah Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma. His interest in photography started when he got his first camera ‘Rolleiflex’ in 1934, from his brother.

Chithralayam is a trip down the lanes of history through photographs and paintings. The gallery exhibits enlarged copies of the rare photographs taken by Sree Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma and other accredited photographers like William D’Cruiz, N P Hariharan, S Rajan and B Jayachandran. About 200 images selected from a collection of over 8000 photographs, on the criteria of appeal, authenticity and artistic merit are on display here.

The pictures on display include a rare aerial view of Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple, taken by Uthradam Thirunal from an aircraft in 1939, the royal family on the Kovalam beach taken in 1940, and many more. The museum collection includes the negatives of the respective images, the valuable articles possessed by the royalty, Kathakali costumes, portraits of the rulers etc.

Chithralayam gallery functions at Rangavilasom Palace, situated in East Fort. Rangavilasom Palace was the traditional, permanent art and picture gallery of the Travancore royal family. Constructed in 1839, by Maharaja Swathi Thirunal, this palace is marked by imposing facades and several intricately carved gables. The pillars in wood, beautified with carvings, aesthetically and strategically kept beams, ornate ceilings and clusters of gables make Rangavilasom Palace an architect’s wonder.

The palace is a splendid structure with ornate roofs that are unique to Kerala’s architecture, wood carved gables and magnificent façade. Its wooden doors frilled with carvings, giant pillars, awesome beams, ceilings adorned with friezes between the architraves and cornices and masterful clusters of gables make Rangavilasom palace an enchanting edifice. The ground floor of Rangavilasom Palace is used for the art and painting exhibitions.

Visitors to the museum can also see the other heritage buildings Krishna Vilasom Palace, the royal venue mainly for religious rituals, Levee Hall, the venue for official interactions, Road Malika, a palatial Bungalow and Kuthira Malika, a museum and  venue well known for its naturally echo-proof acoustic systems.

The gallery is owned and managed by Sree Padmabhanabha Swamy Temple Trust. According to the museum authorities, the museum not only generates a renewed interest in the history of Travancore but also provide a rare insight into the uniqueness of the Royalty of the state.

Timing:  9am-1pm & 2.30pm-5pm (Monday holiday)            

Entry fee: Rs.20/person; foreigners Rs.50/-
For info/visit: Chitralayam Rangavilasaom Art Gallery
Opp. Transport Bhavan, East Fort, Thiruvananthapuram
Ph-0471-2475445

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