Although now officially in Tamil Nadu, Padmanabhapuram, 50km southeast of Kovalam, was the capital of Travancore between 1550 and 1750, and maintains its historic links with Kerala, from where it is still administered. With its exquisite wooden interiors, coconut-shell floors and antique furniture and murals, the palace represents the apogee of regional building, and fully merits a visit. Just avoid weekends, when the complex gets overrun with bus parties.

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