In India: Trivandrum, Friday 2012 January 20

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January 20th 2012
Published: November 5th 2012
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Puthe Maliga Palace MuseumPuthe Maliga Palace MuseumPuthe Maliga Palace Museum

The Maharajas who used to live here had eclectic collecting tastes - marvellous!
Our tour took us back to Trivandrum to see the sights.

Near the former British defensive wall, was the Puthe Maliga Palace Museum, immediately beside the Padmanabhaswamy temple. Pilgrims dressed all in black walked in crowds towards the entry of the temple, up a large staircase, but as non-Hindus we were not allowed to enter. (Can’t understand why the gold statue of Vishnu reclining on a python is so sacred we cannot see it, but the statue is on so many billboards and used for other advertising purposes. Interesting cultural sensitivities.)

We nevertheless enjoyed the Museum, both for its vast collection of decorative items from around the world, and for the cheery school tour groups. They chimed “Hi! Hello! What’s your name?” and we chimed back, asking their names too. For me the most marvelous part of the museum was the seemingly endless carved wood features in mainly dark red wood. The verandas in the courtyard were carved intricately with horses (supporting the eaves) and rosettes as decoration for the roof and the pillars.

After a bit more bus ride, we walked through the park area of the botanical garden and the zoo, to the Sri Chitra Art Gallery, which was
Puthe Maliga Palace MuseumPuthe Maliga Palace MuseumPuthe Maliga Palace Museum

The courtyard is a peaceful place from which to view the beautifully carved verandas.
housed in the former guesthouse of the British era. Elegance was, I think, much less than we expect nowadays, because the layout and courtyards were pleasant but not large. The current art collection holds many portraits of the Indian raj and the senior colonial administrators. Most were beautifully painted by (apparently) famous European painters. The guide was particularly proud that they were “three dimensional” (his term), i.e., the eyes and toe of the dominant foot followed the viewer as we walked by. Of particular surprise were evocative paintings by a modern Russian (Nicholas Roerich 1874 – 1947) – we were told this is one of the major collections of his work. I really admired a large, highly coloured, silhouetted representation of two people (mother and daughter) struggling into the wind, the action enhanced by a single palm tree bent by the storm. A number of other paintings illustrated scenes from the Mahabharata, one I have seen frequently reproduced: a young woman and a swan.

Another short bus ride brought us to the Napier Museum, a building that looks rather like a Swiss chalet, although I haven’t actually seen one of those. The exterior is red and cream tile, with carved dark wood features around windows
School GirlsSchool GirlsSchool Girls

The children on school tours were full of fun and delighted to greet us, "Hi! What's your name?"
and doors. These last did indeed look like medieval elements I saw a few years ago in central Europe. We were all hot and rather tired, so I had to work hard at appreciating the marvelous collection of statues of gods and many historical artifacts. Better to live in Trivandrum and come frequently for shorter visits. Outside, the heat was stunning, shining up from the deep gold sand around the flowerbeds near the building itself. In the centre of this hot sand was a large gazebo in the same fantastical style as the museum itself. Quite a few young people were hanging out in the relative cool shade inside the gazebo.

At the resort for the afternoon, I thought sea bathing would be good – not just pool swimming. An electric cart driver took me down the hill, through a cultivated park, and along the sea front to the hotel’s second restaurant/bar and sea bathing beach. Other people were sun-tanning, but it was too hot for me. I walked up the beach a ways, turned around about where the hotel’s property line was, strolled back and walked slowly into the surf and waves. The flag was yellow and red;
Vishnu reclining on PythonVishnu reclining on PythonVishnu reclining on Python

We were not allowed to see the sacred statue in the Padmanabhaswamy temple, but it was lots of ads!
I found the waves strong, difficult to stand against them. After a complete dunking (intentional), I gave up and returned to the hotel on the cart. Rather than going back to my room, I tried the hotel’s very large pool: slightly kidney-bean shaped, infinity design (can’t see the far edge), and décor for the restaurant. I swam up and down a bit and chatted to the one other woman in the pool; she is here with her husband who is here for a conference of young entrepreneurial leaders. He is American but participants are from all over the world. She and her husband travelled for two weeks on their own, starting in Delhi, and found the culture shock difficult.

Finally back to my private swimming pool for a few more dips.

Additional photos below
Photos: 9, Displayed: 9


Trivandrum Botanical GardenTrivandrum Botanical Garden
Trivandrum Botanical Garden

This display of decorative planting is a great way of greeting visitors.
Sri Chitra Art GallerySri Chitra Art Gallery
Sri Chitra Art Gallery

Once a colonial consulate, I realized how our definition of luxury is now much more luxurious than in past centuries.
Napier MuseumNapier Museum
Napier Museum

Inside this incredible building is a vast collection of Hindu statues and artifacts.
Napier Museum fountainNapier Museum fountain
Napier Museum fountain

Love the colours!
Kovalam beachKovalam beach
Kovalam beach

The views were tranquil but the undertow was strong!

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