Kerala’s Historic Kavalapara Palace being reduced to rubble

The historic Kavalapara Palace, among the oldest architectural marvels in the State, is getting reduced to rubble and ruins in the absence of any conservation initiatives. A major portion of Malikachuvadu, one among the remaining structures in the eight-acre complex, collapsed during one of the heavy spells of summer rain which lashed Shornur last week.

No effort at conservation is possible as the ownership of the structures forming part of the palace is under dispute in different civil courts of Palakkad district. The receiver appointed by the court to look after the property housing the complex has no power or resources to carry out repair and restoration works.

Having a long and chequered history of over 400 years, the abandoned palace complex is now a near-impregnable thicket of unruly greenery infested by breeds of reptiles. Other than Malikachuvadu and another building known as Agrasala, all other structures in the complex have already been razed.

In the absence of any governmental or civil society intervention, over 10,000 rare records of the ancient Mooppil Nair family, the legendary landlords who owned the palace and ruled swathes of land that came under Valluvanad and erstwhile Cochin state, are also facing destruction. The records at the Kavalappara Swaroopam are now feasted on by moths.

Historians say the family ruled over 31.079 sq.km area located in and around the present Shornur, which was given to them by the legendary King Cheraman Perumal.

The palace’s descent into the present state began in the sixties when litigations involving the descendants of the Mooppil Nair family began, leading to the area being placed under the receiver’s care.

“Cheraman Perumal gave the land to the Kavalapara Mooppil Nair family, who administered the area with his managers or karyasthans. But in 1964, shortly after the death of the head of the family, Karakkat Kumaran Raman Kochunni Mooppil Nair, disputes among the successors of the family began. Court cases since 1967 led to the Kavalapara estate in Shornur and some other properties of the palace in Palakkad district being placed under the receiver administration,” recalls O.P. Balakrishnan, who wrote a book on the rich legacy of the family that once threatened even the power of the Zamorins in Malabar.

There were demands in the past to protect the palace and its valuable records. Despite promises from the State government, no proper initiative has been taken to protect the heritage and the historical documents.

“It is high time the Archaeological Department intervened to convince the courts about the need to protect the palace. Any lapse will destroy a vast pool of resources throwing light on the medieval history of Kerala,” said Prasad K. Shornur, a local social worker.

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