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).

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Tamil Nadu attractions

1. Vivekanandapuram

18.77 MILES

Just 1km north of Kanyakumari, this peaceful ashram (offering a variety of yoga retreats) is the headquarters of spiritual organisation Vivekananda Kendra…

2. Ramayana Darshanam

18.77 MILES

This grand building with a golden roof houses an illustrated exhibit on the Ramayana, a room dedicated to Bharat Mata (India itself as the Mother Goddess)…

3. 'Arise! Awake!' Exhibition

18.77 MILES

In calming ashram grounds 1km north of town, this illustrated display takes you through major events in Vivekanada's life. It's included on your ticket to…

5. Viewing Tower

19.18 MILES

A popular sunset-watching lookout point just west of town.

7. Kamaraj Memorial

19.3 MILES

This memorial near the shoreline commemorates K Kamaraj, the 'Gandhi of the South’. One of the most powerful and respected politicians of post…

8. Gandhi Memorial

19.35 MILES

Poignantly placed at the end of the nation that Gandhi fathered, this cream-coloured memorial takes the form of an Orissan (Odishan) temple. The central…