Fodor's Expert Review Padmanabhapuram Fort and Palace
Believed to be the largest wooden palace in Asia, this magnificent, 17th-century, carved-teak palace, set in nearly 7 acres, and with fantastic murals and carved and painted ceilings, is across the border in neighboring Tamil Nadu, about a 1½-hour (73 km [45 miles]) drive south of Kovalam on National Highway 47 in a very serene location at the foot of the Velli Hills. Padmanabhapuram was once the capital of the Travancore rajas (Travancore was the southernmost state, which was combined with Cochin and Malabar to form Kerala). This palace, their home, gives a taste of the grandeur of those times. Don't miss the brass lanterns that apparently have been lit since the 1700s, or the palace tank (reservoir) that was used for bathing. This huge complex is one of the best-preserved examples of old wooden architecture in India and worth the excursion, especially if you are a royalty or history buff.