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Located near Peermade in the Idukki district of Kerala is a small summer retreat of the wife of the erstwhile Maharaja of Travancore. Popularly known as ‘Ammachi Kottaram’, the palace was built upon the ghat at Glenrock Estate and was opened by J D Munro. The term ‘Ammachi’ literally means Mother.
However in this case, the title ‘Ammachi’ was held by the morganatic consorts of the ruling Maharajah of Travancore as well as other title holding male members of the Travancore Royal Family. This is because as per the formerly existent matriarchal system in Travancore, the Maharaja’s sister was the Maharani, and not his wife. Thus the wife, a non-royal, took the title of ‘Ammachi’.
One cannot help but notice even among the ruins, the grandeur of the small yet magnificently built palace. The entire complex consists of 3 rooms, 2 halls, one visiting room, Dining hall, Kitchen, store room and 2 secret passages. One secret passageway is for movement within the palace and the other secret passageway will take one to the Sree Krishna Temple in Peermade. But that passage is closed for security reasons.
The first room is the visiting room which is a fairly small one with a chimney in it. This room leads to a hall which was used as an assembly room by the king. At the end of the room there is a semi circled portion which adds to the beauty of the room. Two French windows accompany this room bringing in ample sunlight to the room. As you move on from this room, you step into the ‘Nadumuttam’ which is an open courtyard like are that is enclosed by walls on the 4 sides. One of these sides houses three rooms. The first one was used by the Raja, the second by the Ammachi and the third by the maids of the Ammachi. A secret passage runs through the rooms to allow access for the maids.
One of these rooms is used by the palace guide today and the other rooms are used for storing the furniture. An entertainment hall is also part of the palace. This was presumably used for the entertainment of the royal entourage. A large dining hall with majestic washbasins made of immaculate ceramic is present here. There is a kitchen adjacent to this dining hall that can accommodate a large retinue of servants at a time.
It would be fair to say that the wheels of time have taken their toll on the beauty and grandeur of the place. One can only imagine how it must have been in its prime and glory days. This palace is a definite ‘must visit’ if you are in Idukki.