Also known as God’s own Country, Kerala is one of the most picturesque states of India.
Amidst its pristine natural beauty and spiritualistic ambience, hiding is some of the most beautiful and majestic architectural wonders.
In fact, Kerala has architectural marvels in abundance, including heritage sites, religious monuments, and palaces thanks to local Dravidian dynasties and foreign colonial powers.
These age-old structures signify Kerala’s charming past and are a must-see during your next Kerala trip. Visiting all the historical site is not possible, we list five ancient buildings and monuments you can’t afford to miss.
Ancient Wonders in Kerala
1. Padhmanabhaswamy Temple
Padhmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram is the hallmark of ancient Dravidian culture. The 16th-century gopuram, eclectic sculptures, single stone platform, mural paintings, and fascinating artwork symbolise this Vishnu temple. The temple has several ancient stories associated with it stretching far back to the DwaparaYug (the time of Mahabharata). Witness the idol portraying Lord Vishnu resting in a reclining position in the main shrine.
2. St. Francis Church
Built in 1503, St. Francis Church is one of the oldest European churches in India. Located in Fort Kochi, the Church is a must-see place near Kochi, owing to the ancient architecture. Adding to its essence is the collection of antique hand-operated fans. The church is the burial ground of Vasco da Gama who was buried here in 1524. His mortal remains, however, were sent back to Portugal 14 years later. The church is open to visitors throughout the year except for Sundays and public holidays.
3. Jewish Synagogue
The Jewish Synagogue, located in Mattancherry, Kochi, is one of the oldest synagogues in India. The prominent feature of the synagogue is its architecture, which showcases the Jewish traditions from the mid-1950s. Check out the Belgian glass chandeliers, gold crowns, brass railed pulpit, and 10th-century copper plates, along with unique Chinese hand painted floor tiles.
4. Cheraman Juma Masjid
Cheraman Juma Masjid at Kodungalloor, Thrissur was built in 629 AD, which makes it the first mosque in India and among the oldest in the world. Unlike other religious monuments, the Cheraman Juma Masjid doesn’t feature minarets or complex geometric patterns, instead, there’s a profound Kerala architectural style influence with a touch of the Arabic architectural style. An always burning thousand years old oil lamp inside the mosque is a must-see.
5. Rock-Cut Temples
Rock cut temples are among the earliest ancient heritages of Kerala. There are several rock-cut temples across the states, but the most popular one is the Kottukal Cave Temple in Kollam district, which was built between 6th and 8th century. It features two different sized chambers that were carved out from a huge rock, which enshrines Shivlinga along with idols of Lord Ganapathy, Hanuman, and Nandi Bull.
When looked from a distance the temple gives an illusion of a sleeping elephant. Other significant rock-cut temples to visit are Thrikkakkudi Rock-Cut Temple built during the Pallava reign around 8th century AD and Vizhinjam Cave Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, which enshrines a sculpture of Vinandhara Dakshinamurthy.
These historical buildings and monuments perfectly demonstrate the architectural excellence of the bygone times. Visit these sites to learn about the rich cultural history of Kerala and appreciate the architecture and beauty of these places.