On entering the palace complex, the pillared hallway lined with artefacts is what the eyes are drawn to straight away. The palace of Uthukuli Zamin is an 800-year-old relic refurbished and preserved by the 37th generation of the Kalingarayar family. The magnificent piece of architecture was built even before the Mughals started their rule in the Indian subcontinent. The palace is a reflection of the life led by the Zamindars of Uthukuli. “Kalingarayars have a rich history and are still revered by the people of Uthukuli. The palace is a marvellous example of a perfect marriage between different architectural styles”- says Rajesh Govindraj, a Coimbatore-based Historian.

The Uthukuli Palace, Tamil Nadu-Sheet1
Uthukuli Aranmanai Palace_©www.architecturaldigest.com

History of Uthukuli Zamindar

The village of Zamin Uthukuli is located in the quaint town Pollachi, of the textile city Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu The spectacular palace located at Uthukuli belongs to the erstwhile Zamindar family of Kalingarayars. Believed to have established a base here several hundred years ago, the Kalingarayars were revered as the ancient potentates who ruled the western region of Tamil Nadu. The rulers of Kalingarayars extended their help by participating in wars on behalf of the Wodeyars of Mysore and Nayaks of Madurai.

“Our ancestors ruled the Vellode part of the Kongu country and around the year 1282, they dedicated the Kalingarayar canal to the people of Western Tamil Nadu by creating a union between the rivers Bhavani, Amaravathi and Noyyal – the three tributaries of river Cauvery. We created our strain of paddy which came to be known as the Kalingan paddy. The ruler of Vijayanagar bestowed the title ‘Rayar’ on us for perpetuity in recognition of our services and our family moved over to Uthukuli near Pollachi in order to ensure that the benefits of the Kalingarayar canal were completely given to the farmers of the region. Ours was the first family to come and settle in this region,” states Siddharth, who is the current generation of the Kalingarayars clan.

The upkeep of the palace is entrusted in the hands of Shri. Arun Kumar Kalingarayar and his son Siddharth Kalingarayar. Even after the course of restoration, the originality of the place stays intact. The place is inhabited by family members and is now being turned into a tourist attraction.

Features of Uthukuli Palace

The sprawling complex of Uthukuli Palace is spread across four acres of land. As the approach to the palace gets closer, the lineup of the bullock cart gives the onlooker a glimpse of the inside.

The Uthukuli Palace, Tamil Nadu-Sheet2
Uthukuli Palace_©https://thepapyrus.in/index.php/uthukuli-palace/

The front porch purveys a warm welcome with an intricately designed door and Athangudi tiles on the flooring. The pillared hallway is embraced with an array of eye-catching belongings of the family from the past which includes huge brass vessels, hand-chiselled stone weights, etc. The moment one enters into the main room, the visuals will take them back to the era where one gets to see the amazing craftsmanship of yesteryear. The room is crammed with artefacts, sepia-toned photos, and weapons. The palace is a trove of vintage objects like peacock statues with inlay work in four colours, animal trophies, old coins, candlelight lamps, Elephant tusk tables, and furniture made out of rose and teak wood.

On moving further, there are rooms on both sides with stairs leading to a pleasing view of the ‘Nandavanam’, a garden area complimented with a lily pond. There are several rooms in the palace with a library, antique cupboards with gleaming real gold zari sarees, and brocade menswear standing as testimonials of richness. The curved balcony on the first floor gives an uninterrupted view of the sky and the sloped roofs of the houses in the village. 

One particular portion of the palace which is 350 – years old still reflects the age-old tradition even after restoration. The windows and doors remain undisturbed from the original structure. The teak wood staircase was replaced with Jaisalmer yellow stone which opens out into a daybed placed in a large niche. The palace also has a granary to store paddy and a Kutchery where Zamindars had court in the past.

The Uthukuli Palace, Tamil Nadu-Sheet3
Uthukuli Palace_©https://thepapyrus.in/index.php/uthukuli-palace/

Architectural Styles of Uthukuli Palace

Since the palace complex consists of structures built during different eras, one could discover the varied styles of architecture resonating in the building. The construction took place in four phases. The city of Pollachi is located near the Palakkad region of Kerala, thereupon the design and characteristic features show close affinity to the Kerala style of architecture. The roofs are low and pitched for the water flow since it receives rainfall for five months a year. Kottarams and the use of natural woods are also the influences of north Kerala. This was the first phase of construction and the shell remained intact even after so many years.

The decorated arches, round pillars, and other ornamental works on the structure are the features inspired by the Mughal style of architecture, in the second phase of construction, nearly 350 years ago. The Indo-Saracenic architecture is also evident in the use of Mangalore tiles, crown finishing, and the prominent Madras terrace roofing in most of the spaces. The use of clay and mosaic tiles in the flooring and spaces opening into balconies show close parallelism with the Imperial Bungalow style of buildings. Venturing further into spaces is more like walking across different styles of architecture.

The Uthukuli Palace, Tamil Nadu-Sheet4
Uthukuli Palace_©https://thepapyrus.in/index.php/uthukuli-palace/

The Uthukuli Palace is not only a legacy passed on to generations but also a reflection of the celebration of life. Every artefact in the palace tells the story of the great people who nourished history with their wisdom and valour. One can notice the level of attention to detail in every move inside the palace. The life led by the Kalingarayars of Uthukuli is still revered by the people of the village and the originality of the palace remains untouched by time.          

References:

  • https://thepapyrus.in/index.php/uthukuli-palace/
  • https://www.architecturaldigest.in/content/coimbatore-uthukuli-palace-800-years-old/
  • https://www.ritzmagazine.in/the-zamindars-of-uthukuli-siddharth-amr-kalingarayar/
Author

Sandhya is a dynamic and passionate architect who is also interested in art, music, and movies. As a designer, she endeavors to transform spaces into enduring experience and the same goes with writing. She believes architecture is a perception of life that has the potential to shape one’s mind and thinking. Through the process of writing, she wants to express her impression of architecture in the form of words.