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Mattancheri Murals

Mattancheri in Cochin has the distinct smell of trade and commerce even today. The passage of the years has only retouched her trading face, large godowns still stand in and around the quayside.

Mattancheri had also been a former capital of the erstwhile rulers of Kochi. When the ‘adventurers from over the seas’ came to Kochi seeking trade, Mattancheri also bustled as a brisk trading port. First the Portuguese and later the Dutch beguiled the rulers with gold and gifts in exchange for spices, especially back pepper.

To please His Highness Veera Kerala Varma Thampuran (1537-61) the Portuguese built a palace, and also gifted him a gold crown. According to Huzur records, the palace was built and presented to the Kochi Raja in 1552 AD. With the coming of the Dutch in 1663 AD, the trade rivalries between them often led to bloody skirmishes. From contemporary literary works such as the poetry of Melpathoor Narayana Bhattathiripad as well as from the accounts of Father Bartolomeo, it is not difficult to get an idea about the Mattancheri court.

The palace originally built by the Portuguese had some extensions done by the Dutch. These were the porticos on the east and the south of the palace, and the decorated ceiling of the Coronation Room. Paradoxically, the name Dutch Palace somehow stuck to it, and still prevails.