Nalknad, a Coorg palace that was a hideout for kings

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Nalknad Aramane (palace) located at Yavakapadi in Kakkabe is one of the biggest historical attractions in the picturesque Coorg (Kodagu) region of Karnataka state. The palace is 30 km from the district headquarters Madikeri on the Virajpet-Thalacauvery road. Take a 2.5-km detour from the main road at Kakkabe and the 225-year-old palace built with stone and wood can be reached.

Tastefully decorated with stone and wood artwork and several colourful wall and roof paintings, the palace was once used as a hideout by the emperor belonging to the Haleri dynasty.

As per records, Nalknad Aramane was constructed by the Haleri ruler Dodda Veerarajendra in 1792 after he escaped from the clutches of Tipu Sultan's army. Veerarajendra also built an underground tunnel from the palace to Madikeri as an escape route. Later, the Haleri ruler married Mahadevammaji at Nalknad in 1796.

There are several local legends related to the palace. One states that the last emperor of the Haleri dynasty Chikkavera Rajendra also sought refuge at Nalknad after the British gained control over Kodagu.

A large gate leads visitors to the palace and a stage where weddings were conducted can be seen. The palace also has a durbar hall where the king convened meetings and entertainment events were staged. Moreover, there are two dark rooms in the basement which served as the hideout of the king.

At present owned by the Directorate of Archaeology and Museum under the Government of Karnataka, the palace is a popular tourist attraction. The authorities have already spent Rs 22.9 lakh for the renovation of Nalknad and there are plans to convert it into a museum exhibiting the handicrafts of Coorg region.

Another place of interest near Nalknad is Thadiyandamol, the tallest peak in Coorg district where several adventure activities are available for visitors.

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