Hill Palace of Tripunithura, Kochi

Kerala is one of the most stunning holiday destinations of the Indian subcontinent. Covered in pristine coconut palm trees, beautiful hill stations, stunning coffee plantations, sun-kissed golden beaches, and the infinite Arabian Sea, and so much more – Kerala is romantic and charming. One of the popular tourist destinations of Kerala is Hill Palace, Kochi.

Located in the Tripunithura district of Kochi, the Hill Palace is one of the largest archeological museums in the state. Once the imperial residence of Maharaja of Kochi, it is currently being used as an ethno archaeological museum that reflects the culture and heritage of the area. Built in 1865, the palace is located on a charming hilltop and surrounds a garden. Apart from the museum, the complex houses a beautiful deer park that attracts shutterbugs from different corners of the country.

This guide is meant to help the tourists uncover some of the important details of this stunning landmark.

The Hill Palace, Kochi at a Glance

Address: Hill Palace Rd, Irumpanam, Tripunithura, Ernakulam, Kerala – 682301

Opening time: 9:30 am – 12:00 pm, 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm (Monday closed)

Distance from city center: 10 kilometers (6.2mi)

Built on: 1865

Area: 54 acres (22 hectares approximately)

Not to miss attractions: Jewellery Gallery, Cabinet Gallery, Chariots Gallery

Best time to visit: October to March

How to reach: Transport from Kochi available

History of the Hill Palace

Before Tripunithura, Thrissur was the royal capital of Kochi and housed the official residence of the ruler. The royal family followed the matrilineal custom (making the empress the sovereign over the state) and the seat of the queen was regarded as the royal capital. For that reason, when in the late 18th century, the queen decided to shift to Tripunithura, the area became the official capital of the estate. In the subsequent years, the crown prince, Rama Varma, made this area the official capital of the estate (after his coronation).

The Hill Palace in Kochi was built as the royal office of the newly coroneted Rama Varma and later on, quarters were added to the existing structure. After India’s independence, the royal family handed over the palace to the Kerala Government for maintaining and safekeeping. The government converted the palace into the museum and opened the venue for the public in the late 80s of the 20th century.      

Significant Highlights on Architecture

The regal Hill Palace of Kochi is a grand structure encompassing close to 49 rooms. The elaborate structure contains residential quarters for the royal family, court building, offices of royal secretaries, and other venues. Recently the museum was renovated with some minor changes, giving the palace a modern appeal. The illuminated quarters with intricately carved wooden panels give the entire complex an old-school appeal.

Built-in traditional Kerala style, the entire palace is decorated with oil paintings and sculptures. The well-lit garden area, with delicately terraced gardens, enhances the overall look. Thatched roofs, large balconies, and a wide array of columns upheld this three-level building. In interiors are decorated with traditional artifacts that give the structure an intricate look.   

Kerala’s Largest Ethno Archaeological Museum

One of the largest ethno archaeological museums of Kerala, the palace is a treasure trove of information. There are overall 18 galleries that contain stunning artifacts and relics of the past. Among these galleries, the Cabinet Gallery of the Hill Palace, Kochi houses the royal throne of the Kochi Royal Estate. While the portrait royal rulers and the oil paintings of the Portrait Gallery are worth a visit.

Besides these artifacts, visitors can view exhibits like the Royal Crown encrusted with sparkling gems, rare coins from different eras, and weapons. It is futile to say that most of the artifacts of the museum are donated by the Royal Family of Kochi. The institute is also the home to Centre for Heritage Studies (CHS) – a research institute working towards discovering the cultural heritage of Kerala.      

Some Facts about the Hill Palace

1.  Palace is spread in a huge area and has close to 49 rooms, 18 galleries, and more than a thousand exhibits. Some of the interesting display items include the royal throne and crown worn by the king.

2.  Built-in Kerala style architecture, the Hill Palace complex comprises of residential quarters of the royal family, government and secretariat quarters, royal court, entertainment quarters, and so on. Besides that, the complex has a heritage museum, a children’s park, a deer park, and a pond.

3.  The Kochi Hill Palace has been featured in different Malayali movies.

4.  The Centre for Heritage Studies (CHS) – housed inside the museum complex – houses some of the rare manuscripts from the previous centuries. The institute has been designated as the Manuscript Resource Centre (MRC) and Manuscript Conservation Centre (MCC) by the national body.

Things to Do at Hill Palace

•  Exploring the stunning landscape of the museum, and enjoying the diverse flora and fauna of the region
•  Strolling through the exhibits of the museum
•  Heading towards the deer park for watching the stunning Indian deer in its natural habitat  
•  Shopping for knick-knacks at the local shopping center   

Tips for Tourist Visiting the Hill Palace

•  Photography is prohibited inside the museum complex
•  Inside the main museum, complex shoes are not allowed, but visitors can wear footwear everywhere else
•  For a quick snack, local eateries are available inside the Hill Palace complex
•  Wearing comfortable shoes is recommended
•  Head to the garden area for some stunning photography backdrops  
•  Since Kerala is surrounded located in the equatorial region, the weather can get tremendously hot and humid. It is recommended to pack earthy fabrics for a comfortable trip

One of the popular landmarks of Kerala, the Tripunithura Hill Palace is frequently visited by both international and domestic tourists. The palace, once the home to the Royal Family of Kochi, is a treasure trove of information and provides an insight into the state’s cultural heritage. Encompassing the huge complex are stunning galleries, a children park, deer park, and several other popular quarters.      

Other Popular Attractions in Kochi:

Fort Kochi

Marine Drive

Mattancherry Palace

St Francis Church

The Chinese Fishing Nets