The Lost Waterscapes of Hill Palace, Kerala

Hill Palace, the erstwhile abode of the Kochi Royal Family in Thrippunithura, Kerala, is most famous for its appearance as the haunted mansion in the movie Manichitrathaazhu (1998). The traditional gabled palace built around 1865 alongside its neoclassical twentieth-century addition lends themselves well to the medium of cinema for many Malayalam movies are picturized in and around the buildings of Hill Palace. Perched on top of a hill (from where the palace derives its name), the palatial mansion is surrounded by terraced gardens, reminiscent of neoclassical country houses of Europe, set upon a terraced 'naturally-landscaped' garden.

 Looking at the main palace complex from the lowest point of the compound.

Looking at the main palace complex from the lowest point of the compound.

On my last visit there, I spent a few hours walking around the lovely terraces now planted with brightly colored bougainvillea under the shadows of almond and mango trees. Every few feet you can pick up an almond fruit in its raw pink-ish shell or a half-pecked mango, possibly a cuckoo's afternoon meal. Except for the iron lamp posts, the old gnarly trees, and the tiered steps, most of the original landscape of the palace is defunct or has disappeared. But if you look closely, you can notice some of the most beautiful waterscapes that once used to dot the Hill Palace gardens.