The Puttan Malika Palace immediately southeast of the temple, became the seat of the Travancore rajas after they left Padmanabhapuram at the end of the nineteenth century. The cool chambers, with highly polished plaster floors and delicately carved wooden screens, house a crop of dusty royal heirlooms, including a solid crystal throne gifted by the Dutch. The real highlight, however, is the elegant Keralan architecture itself. Beneath sloping red-tiled roofs, hundreds of wooden pillars, carved into the forms of rampant horses (puttan malika translates as “horse palace”), prop up the eaves, and airy verandas project onto the surrounding lawns.
The royal family have always been keen patrons of the arts, and the open-air Swathi Sangeetotsavam festival, held in the grounds during the festival of Navaratri (Oct/Nov), continues the tradition. Performers sit on the palace’s raised porch, flanked by the main facade, with the spectators seated on the lawn. For details, ask at the KTDC tourist office.