5 Popular Museums of Kerala (2021)
God’s Own Country Kerala is a melting pot of culture, art, and history. With its lush greenery and unique geography, Kerala has witnessed the rule of many rulers and dynasties. With years of history, it is no wonder that Kerala is home to some of the most fascinating collections of museums and galleries. Each museum is a treasure trove of antiquities and art. From art to science, culture to biodiversity, you can find it all in Kerala.
5 Popular Museums of Kerala
Here are some of the most popular museums in Kerala.
1. Hill Palace in Kochi
One of the biggest archaeological museums in Kerala is the Hill Palace in Kochi. Built-in 1865, the Hill Palace used to be the Imperial Administrative offices as well as the official residence of the erstwhile Maharaja of Cochin. As the name of the museum suggests, this magnificent palace is situated on a hill and has a beautiful garden on the premises. The Hill Palace is made up of 49 buildings and constructed in the traditional Kerala architectural style. Spread over 54 acres, the complex houses a heritage museum, an archaeological museum, a pre-historic park, a deer park, and a children’s park.
With its terraced lawns, well-maintained ponds, and numerous fountains, the Hill Palace is also a popular photography spot. This palace has also been used as a backdrop in several movies.
The Hill Palace is one of the only ethnoarchaeological museums in Kerala and the first heritage museum in the state. You can see the magnificent oil paintings, sculptures, murals, swords, coins, crowns, manuscripts, and many other belongings of the royal family of Kochi.
You can also see some unique ceramics from the Far East, hood stones, tombstones, contemporary art, and wooden memorials going all the way back to the Indus Valley and Harada civilization. The main highlight at the museum is the gold crown embedded with many precious stones.
The museum is also home to the Center for Heritage Studies, which is an independent research and training institute, the first of its kind in Kerala.
The museum is divided into 18 different galleries, with the most important ones being:
- Cabinet Gallery that displays the royal throne and chairs.
- Portrait Gallery, which houses oil portraits of the Maharaja and many Thanjavur paintings.
- Jewelry Gallery, where the Royal Gold Crown is stored along with many other precious items.
- Wood Carvings Gallery, where many wood carvings from the 14th century are kept, including several unique items made from ivory and other wooden sculptures.
- Epigraphy Gallery, where copper plates, palm leaf records, and inscriptions are housed.
- Numismatic Gallery
- Folklore and Folk Arts Gallery
- Chariots Gallery
- Weapons Gallery
- Sculpture Gallery, where many stone sculptures hailing from the 10th to the 18th century are housed.
You can reach the Hill palace by taking a bus from the Kaligachira Bus Stand. You can also hire an auto-rickshaw.
2. Teak Museum in Nilambur
The Teak Museum, located in the town of Nilambur of Kerala, is a unique museum dedicated to the teak tree. The museum houses an impressive collection of information related to the scientific, historical, and aesthetic importance of the teak tree. In fact, it is the only museum of such kind in all of India, and this has made it quite a popular tourist destination.
Upon entering the museum, you will find a 55-year-old teak tree system that welcomes you. The museum is constructed on two different levels, where the ground floor is dedicated to an extensive study on the Kannimara teak tree. This variety of wood is known to be the oldest naturally growing variant of teak in India. The museum also contains a detailed analysis of the bark, fruit, and flower of the teak tree. This is not only an educational experience, but you will also have fun learning many unique and interesting tidbits about this fascinating tree.
The museum is also home to a wide variety of butterflies, insects, and moths that are commonly found living in teak plantations.
The museum is truly every botanist’s dream and gives you many intricate details about the nitty-gritties of nature.
Managed by the Kerala Forest Research Institute, the Teak Museum can be reached easily by using local transport like auto-rickshaws. It is located just four kilometers from the center of the Nilambur town.
3. Tata Tea Museum in Munnar
Located in the famous hill station of Munnar in Kerala, the Tata Tea Museum is another unique and one of its kind museum in Kerala. Also known as the KDHP Museum, there is a variety of antiquities on display here, with the most famous piece being the burial urn excavated from the Periakanal Estate. The urn is dated all the way back to the 2nd century AD.
There is a 30-minute documentary you can see here at the museum that takes you through a complete historical tour of the place and the importance of many of the pieces kept here.
After touring the museum, visitors proceed to the tea factory to get an intimate understanding of how tea is manufactured and processed.
4. Parikshith Thampuran Museum in Kochi
Though at first glance it appears to be a traditional Kerala-style mansion, the Parikshith Thampuran Museum is famous for housing some of the oldest coins, oil paintings, sculptures, Mughal paintings, and other royal artifacts belonging to the 18th and 19th century.
You will be stunned to see the beauty of many ancient scriptures made in Plaster of Paris and stone. There are many murals and memorabilia that belonged to the Kochi royal family housed here.
Before it became a museum, the building was used as a venue to receive guests of the Kochi royal family. It was also often used as a place for conducting official meetings and ceremonies.
The durbar hall, or the former guest room of the Kochi Maharajas, is touted to be the most attractive part of this magnificent structure. The museum is named after Rama Varma Parikshith Thampuran, who was the last ruler of Kochi’s royal family.
The Parikshith Thampuran Museum is located on Durbar Hall Road, and you can easily reach it by taking a taxi, auto-rickshaw, or bus.
5. Bay Island Driftwood Museum in Alleppey
Another popular museum in Kerala is the Bay Island Driftwood Museum in Alleppey. The museum was founded by Raji Punnoose and is famous for showcasing the innovative modern art methods used to design many types of root and tree trunk sculptures.
The museum also houses many other sculptures that have been made from driftwood comprising of stumps, roots, and twisted tree trunks. There is a collection in the shape of animals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fishes. This museum is even listed in the Limca Books of Records for its expansive and unique techniques of curation.