Thrissur: Ramanilayam, which was once the towering symbol of erstwhile royal heritage, is all set to regain its lost glory. Time had taken its toll on this elegant building. The roofs were damaged and the walls became faded with cobwebs everywhere. However, the tourism department is giving Ramanilayam an amazing facelift, hoping to turn it into a guest house within just a year.
The glorious gates of Ramanilayam would be opened to those who wish to experience royalty in all its elegance.
The history of Ramanilayam, which is estimated to be at least 120 years old, has often been debated. It, however, is known that the British built it as their military headquarters. The heritage building stood proudly in the center of a 30 cents plot. Now the building remains in a mere 7 cents as the rest of the plot were donated during these years. There have been attempts, in the recent times too, to sell more area from this plot.
The main building was reserved to accommodate only the diwan or the high ranking military officials. Ordinary soldiers were lodged at the building to the left of it. According to some historical documents, there was a magazine or armory here. The royal house of Travancore was ruled by many kings who shared the name Ramavarma. The building was named after one of them, though not sure of the royal’s identity. It is, however, not known whether this name was used when the British had used the building complex as their military base. The elegant and luxurious building is a true instance of the Indian and colonial architectural styles.
The walls of Ramanilayam are built entirely in lime or calcium oxide. Even while renovating, lime is used to repair the walls. Though cement works were done in some parts, it would be removed and replaced with lime. About a hundred pieces of rare furniture built by the Bennett Ware factory in Chennai remain in excellent condition. They would be renovated, and the rest would be purchased from the same company. The fans installed in the building would resemble the old ones to retain the old world charm of it.
Air conditioned rooms would be arranged without losing the traditional elegance of the structure. The stairways are made in wood and it would be repolished. Cots would be made in old designs, and the false ceiling beneath the wooden roof will be taken off to retain its authenticity.
KG Raghuram has been given the task to undertake the restoration works which would cost a whopping Rs 2 crore. It was the same contractor who renovated the Shaktan Palace in an impressive way. The renovation works are overseen by MM Vinodkumar, the owner of DD Architects, who is regarded as an expert in this field. The tourism department and the public works department have enthusiastically joined hands to save Ramanilayam. It is hoped that the magnificent building would be opened to the guests by August next year.
Luxury rooms and hall
The 14,500 sqft structure has 4 luxury rooms. All the rooms have a long verandah in front of it. There are 2 conference halls as well. These rooms and conference halls would be retained. One room, however, would be transformed into a presidential suit, luxurious enough to host VVIPs like the prime minister. The wooden floor of the first storey is one of the highlighting features of this building. Rexin was pasted at some places when the building was partially renovated some time back. These would be removed and the wooden floor would be polished.
Army recruiting center
Ramanilayam also functioned as the office of the military center which recruited soldiers to the British army during the Second World War. This is engraved on a stone which is installed here. It is noted, on that stone plate, that around 1.7 lakh people were recruited from here between 1939 and 1945.