11 Historical Places & Monuments in Kerala to Explore Its Rich Heritage
Kerala is one of the most popular tourist destination in India. It is famous for its culture and nature. The architecture in Kerala is unique and offers one of the few remaining examples of vernacular style that has been influenced over time by both the Aryan and Dravidian cultures. The earliest monuments are believed to have been constructed between the 3000 BC and 300 BC. However, as your move from one monument to another, you will be able to notice an interesting evolution in designs. As a medium of expression and art, the architecture in this southern Indian state has been influenced by its peculiar climate is importance as a seat of cultural and trade exchange between countries like Europe, Arab and China.
If you are traveling around Kerala and have an interest in its unique architectural history, here are 11 historical places and monuments of Kerala that you shouldn’t miss to visit during your Kerala holiday tour.
List of Historical Places and Monuments of Kerala:
#1 – Bekal Fort in Kasargod:
Spread across 40 acres of untouched land near Pallikkara Village in Kasargod, the Bekal Fort is famous as one of the largest and best preserved forts from the mid-17th century. The humongous structure was built by the Shivappa Nayaks and served as the center for control for the rulers. Subsequently captured by Hyder Ali in 1763 and subsequently by the army of Tipu Sultan, the fort was an important military station.
Several excavations inside and around the fort has revealed precious and interesting artifacts. The tall observation tower served as a look out for enemy movements but today is an exciting platform for experiencing the breathtaking view of the mountains and ocean around. Flanked by a virgin landscape today, this is an exotic destination that serves the interests of all kinds of tourists and travelers.
#2 – Mattancherry Palace in Ernakulum (Dutch Palace):
Commonly referred to as the “Dutch Palace”, the Mattancherry Palace is yet another historical structure that was built by the Portuguese around 1555. The palace was later gifted to the King of Cochin for establishing trade relations and as a compensation for the destruction of a Hindu Temple in the region. The palace was taken over by the Dutch in 1663 and several renovations and improvisations were done, including some exotic murals on the walls that depict scenes from the Mahabharata, Ramayana and other Hindu legends.
The Dutch Palace is a favorite among visitors. However, the most significant part of it lies with the intricately carved wooden ceiling. Other things to see include life sized portraits of Kings, war costumes, palanquins, weaponry, furniture and more.
#3 – Francis Church in Fort Kochi:
The oldest of European churches in India, the St. Francis Church was built in 1503 and stood a spectator to the colonial uprising in India. The ancient architecture will certainly grab your attention with its stained glass window work, stepped pinnacle and gorgeous porticoes. This is also the church that was the first resting place for the crew of Vasco Da Gama. Even today, the church hosts prayers and services on Sundays and public holidays.
#4 – Siva Temple in Palghat:
Reminiscent of Dravidian Culture, there are several Shiva temples across the length and breadth of Kerala. However, one that attracts the maximum attention is the Ongallur Taliyil Siva Temple in Pattambi, Palghat. The structure presents some of the most intricate laterite sculpture you would see in India. The temple complex is completely bounded and the central structure is representative of a palatial structure that you can’t miss.
#5 – Jewish Synagogue in Kochi (Paradesi Synagogue):
Jewish Synagogue is also known as the Mattancherry Synagogue, this structure was built by Paradesi Jews back in 1568 and is the only remaining functional synagogue from the era. The structure attracts a lot of visitors for its splendid interiors, exquisite architecture, vintage décor and hand painted Chinese willow tiles from the 18th century. A treasure trove, the synagogue is a testament to the harmonious relation locals shared with the Jews.
#6 – Tellicherry Fort in Kannur:
Also called the Thalaserry Fort, it’s an imposing structure that is complimented by massive walls, grandiose doors, elaborate carvings and strong bastions. The structure is a real testament to the architectural and engineering genius of the era. The fort includes several secret tunnels and chambers used by the British. Today, you might as well enjoy the panoramic view of the Malabar coastline from the fort.
#7 – Anchuthengu Fort in Thiruvananthapuram:
The first permanent outpost of the British Empire in India, the Anchuthengu Fort was built in 1699 and became central storage for military ammunition and equipment. This is the fort where the Attingal Rebellion of 1721 started, marking the fort as an important seat for the freedom revolution. Today, the history of the fort is complimented by a breathtaking view of the surrounding sea and its makes one of the most popular historical attractions in Kerala.
#8 – Rock Cut Cave in Vizhinjam:
Located close to Thiruvananthapuram, the rock cut cave in Vizhinjam is a quaint shrine carved out from a single granite rock. It contains the rock cut sculptures of the 18th century at Vizhinjam, Kerala. The charm of the place lies in the half completed relics of Lord Shiva and other unfinished work that will leave you wondering. This is a much for any history buff.
#9 – Peruvanam Mahadeva Temple in Thrissur:
Located in the Peruvanam District of Kerala, this temple is unique for its square shrines (not seen anywhere else in India) and also the advent of Lord Persurama. The temple is erected in the middle of 7 acres of sprawling greenery and showcase exquisite carvings and laterite designs. The temple architecture integrates a range of Hindu symbols that would be a treat to watch for any history buff.
#10 – Jain Temple in Wayanad:
Among the most important seats of Jainism in Kerala, the Bathery Jain Temple in Wayanad District of Kerala is a 13th century structure and portrays architectural style of the Vijayanagar Dynasty. A unique feature of the temple is the disputed history of the structure, believed to have been a Hindu shrine in the past and also the ammunition store for Tipu Sultan’s army.
#11 – Ariyannur Umbrellas in Thrissur
A unique prehistoric megalith burial site, the Ariyannur Umbrellas is a set of six mushroom shaped stones that supposedly offer protection to the grounds. Only four of these unique umbrella stones remain in their original shape today but they would be an interesting sight for anyone. Locally, these structures are called the Kudaikkallu and are culturally significant in the local culture and folklore.
While planning for Kerala holidays tour, these are just a few of the important historically and architecturally significant sites across Kerala, the state offers several other wonders that are worth checking out. Each of them truly represents the rightfully earned name of Kerala – “God’s Own Country”.