Padmanabhapuram Palace

Top choice in Tamil Nadu

With a forest’s worth of intricately carved rosewood ceilings and polished-teak beams, this labyrinthine palace, 35km northwest of Kanyakumari, near the Kerala border, is considered the finest example of traditional Keralan architecture today. Asia’s largest wooden palace complex, it was once capital of Travancore, an unstable princely state taking in parts of both Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Under successive rulers it expanded into a magnificent conglomeration of corridors, courtyards, gabled roofs and 14 palaces. The oldest sections date to 1550.

Buses run every 20 minutes from Kanyakumari to Thuckalay (₹33, 1½ hours), from where it's an autorickshaw ride or 15-minute walk to the palace. Return taxis from Kanyakumari cost ₹1200.

From Thiruvananthapurum, take any bus towards Kanyakumari (₹80, three hours, four daily) and get off at Thuckalay. The Kerala Tourist Development Corporation runs full-day Kanyakumari tours from Thiruvananthapurum covering Padmanabhapuram (₹990, minimum four people, Tuesday to Sunday).