Padmanabhapuram historical town is a Municipal Town in Kalkulam Taluk of Kanyakumari District. Padmanabhapuram is situated about 15km on west of Nagercoil and 50 km on east of Thiruvananthapuram . It lies at 80 “.15” northern latitude and 77”.20” on the eastern latitude. The National Highway No.47. Kanyakumari-Salem which links kanyakumari, Thriuvananthapuram and Salem passes through this town. Eranial Railway station is located at about 3 km from this town towards south.
Historical Background :
During the Sangham Age until around 5th Century AD, Padmanabhapuram and for that matter the entire area of present-day Kerala, was part of Tamilakam and under the rule of the Ay Dynasty. In those days there were three main power centres in the southern end of peninsular India. The central region belonged to the Chera Dynasty, the north was ruled by Ezhimala Nandans and the south was under the Ay Dynasty. The Ay Dynasty ruled over a vast area form Tiruvalla to Nagercoil. Ay Dynasty, which held sway over its vast boundaries till about AD 925 is credited with patronising and encouraging religious, cultural and architectural excellence.
Following the decline of the Ay Dynasty after AD 925, continuous strife between the Chera Dynasty and Chola Dynasty saw unprecedented transformation of the socio-political structure of various kingdoms of South India. Eventually, the Cheras merged the northern portions of the Ay Kingdom into Venad, while the Ay principalities continued for some more time in the south until the Ays themselves merged with a branch of the Venad royal family and rose to prominence as the Kulasekharas in the 10th Century. The void created by the decline of the Kulasekharas in the 11th Century witnessed the breaking up of various principalities into yet smaller autonomous units called Swaroopams. Padmanbhapuram came under one such Swaroopam called Trippapur Swaroopam, ruled by a branch of the Ay family which had settled at Trippapur, 16km north of Thiruvananthapuram. The head of this family, Tripppur Moopan, who controlled the temples of Venad including the famous Sri Padmanbhaswamy temple at Thiruvananthapuram, was also called Koviladhikari, the officiating head of temples.
One of those Trippapur Moopans built a palace with mud-fort at Kalkulam in the traditional Nair Nalukettu style around 14th Century and named the palace Darpakulangara. Successive rulers added additional structures to the palace and periodically renovated the existing ones. After re-building the palace and replacing the mud-fort with a 4km long granite wall over a metre thick at the top and enclosing a total area of 186 acres, Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma (1712 – 1758) renamed the fort, the palace and surrounding areas as Padmanabhapuram. The name still stands.
After presiding over the destiny of his kingdom nurtured with care and expanded by heroic conquests for some time, Marthanda Varma dedicated his kingdom to Lord Padmanabhaswamy in AD 1750. The story of the valorous King Marthanda Varma has been indelibly etched in the annals of history as one of the finest examples of gallantry, romance, heroism and adventure. He was succeeded in 1758 by his nephew Karthika Thirunal Maharaja; popularly known as Dharma Raja. The evil designs of the Dutch and English traders as well as the expansion of the Travancore State itself, necessitated the shifting of the capital from Padmanabhapuram to Thiruvananthapuram in 1790. (Historians also attribute the presence of the refugee princess of Calicut at Thiruvananthapuram as the immediate reason for Dharma Raja to move to Thiruvananthapuram during the last years of his reign). Thus for about two and half centuries from 1500 to 1790 AD., Padmanabhapuram, as capital of Travancore symbolised the seat of royal power and center of trade, commerce, culture, art and literature.
Padmanabhapuram has some historical importance as it was the old capital of erstwhile Travancore- state on the seat of the Royal House until the middle of the 18th century when it was shifted to Thiruvanathapuram . The ancient palace of the former Maharaja of Travancore is also situated here. There are two temples inside the Padmanabhapuram Fort known as Ramaswamy temple and Neelakantasami Temple. The palace tower made by a local black smith about 400 years ago. The fort surrounding the palace is above 186 acres. The administration of the palace was controlled by the king dynasty but in the year 1940 the administration was taken by Kerala Government. At present this palace is maintained by the Department of Archaeology of Kerala state.
There is one another fort called by name Uthayagiri Fort which is located at the eastern fringe of the town towards the north of Nagercoil road is maintained by the Archaeological department of Tamil Nadu. One important Murugan Temple is located at the north east fringe of the town by the name “Kumarakoil”.
Another famous and important mosque is also located at the west of the town along Nagercoil Thiruvananthapuram road within the thick by developed are by the name of Salik peer Mohammed Sahib Darga.
In the above temple and Mosque two important annual festivals are being celebrated. One is Thirukalyanam Festival at Kumaracoil another one is Nerchai festival at the mosque. Large number of pilgrims from neighbouring places and far off places attend these festivals. The headquarters of Revenue Divisional offices are situated in this Town.
Climate and Topography :
The annual rain fall of Kanyakumari District during 1991 was 1707.56mm whereas the annual rain fall of this town is 1410.3mm. The maximum daily temperature of the town is 31.7 degree centigrade and the minimum is 22.1degree centigrade. The Terrain is having up and down with gentle slopes at some places here and there the Soil in District is mostly of the Red looms variety.
Padmanabhapuram became as Third grade Municipality in 1/10/1920. It was again upgraded as second grade municipality on 22.5.1998. The other municipal Town in the District are Nagercoil,Kuzhithurai and Coalchel.
The Padmanabhapuram municipality comprises of part of Thuckalay and part of Kalkulam revenue village in Kalkulam Taluk. The area of the Town is 6.47 square kilometer. The population of the municipality town as per 2011 Census 21191 of which total no. of male 10388 and total no. of female 10803. The Town has divided into 21 electrol wards. There are four town revenue wards.
The industrial developments in the town are very poor. There are 7 food and service , one rubbner industries,two saw mills 5 block smith industries and 5 small industry located in the town.
The N.H Road No.47 from salem to Kanyakumari via Thiruvananthapuram passes through this town. The total length of other important roads are 39.93 km which are maintained by High ways and Rural works department. All these roads are motor able roads and connected by bus route. The municipal roads and streets are narrow. Total length of the road maintained by the municipality is km. The Town is well connected with other towns of the District.
The entire town is provided with street lights and maintained by municipality from 9.6.1989.
No school is maintained by Municipality. Two higher secondary school within this town are maintained by Government. Another Two Higher secondary school maintained by private management. The Government is also maintaining one upper Primary school. There are eight elementary schools within the municipal limit. One of the above schools Amala convent is a private management and the rest are maintained by Government.
No hospital is maintained by municipality. There is one Government Head Quarters Hospital with a bed strength of 96 is functioning within the municipal limit. Besides there are 7 private hospitals and one government Aidel Ayurvedic vaidiasalai are functioning within the municipal limit.
There is one public library available in this town Daily newspapers, weekly and monthly journals are supplied to the library. There are 4505 books available in the library. A park is maintained by municipality. One cinema theatre is also located in this town.
Fair and festivals:-
There are number of Hindu religious institutions in this town. Besides this there are 4 churches and 3 Mosques are in this town.
Two important annual festivals are celebrated within the town. One Thirukalyanam festival at Kumaracoil and the other is the Nerchai festival of Salik Peer Mohamed Sahib Durgha at Thuckalay large number of pilgrims from neightbouring places and for off places attend and festivals.
There is no protected water supply system available in the town. There are 51 Public wells and 65 bore wells maintained by the Municipality. Kuzhithurai river after Aathoor water is supplied through 1756 Tapes by 4 O.H.T.
A length of 6250 M open drains and provided by the municipality on the road and street margin in some part of the town. There is no underground drainage scheme in the Town.
Public and Semi- Public Use:-
Taluk office, sub-Treasury Office, Municipal Office , court and other offices are functioning here. Most of the offices are functioning in Govt. Building Area under this use is 5 .65 Hectares.
The municipality is maintaining four pay and use Toilets, two are in bus stand, one is Kumarakoil and last one is at Padmanabhapuram. There is one weekly market and two daily markets which are maintained by the municipality. There is no lorry stand, car stand, Taxi stand and parking area with in the municipal limit.
Town planning Act is in force in the municipality. There is no Detailed development plan prepared for the town. Unobjectionable encroachment were booked and license issued during the year. A detailed town survey was conducted by the survey department. The survey records were handed over to the municipality.