A century-old building near Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, where iconic artist Raja Ravi Varma gave life to some of his celebrated paintings, is in dire need of conservation.
Moodath Madam, owned by Kilimanoor royals,the ancestral family of Varma, has been in a dilapidated condition for long and has been reduced to a waste dumping yard now. The ramshackle building does not have a roof and its remaining walls are covered with overgrown weeds and plants.
According to historians, Varma came to erstwhile Travancore at age 14 to learn water painting from the palace painter. He stayed at the Moodath Madam, located at the west side of Padmanabha Swamy Temple, during the period.
Varma continued to stay in the Madam after his studies and created many of his master works here. Though the Archaeology department had plans to take over the structure years ago, the move has not yet materialised due to legal hurdles.
“Moodath Madam was owned by Kilimanoor royals.When any member of Kilimanoor Palace came to Travancore, they stayed in the Madam,” historian Malayinkeezhu Gopalakrishnan said.
“According to records, Varma drew several of his paintings during his stay at the Madam. It is also mentioned as Moovedath Madam in old records,” he said. When contacted, Archaeology director J Rejikumar said steps would be initiated for the conservation of the heritage building soon.
“I have already sought details from officials and steps will be taken soon for its conservation,” he said.
Raja Ravi Varma was born at Kilimanoor palace in the erstwhile princely state of Travancore April 29, 1848.
His major works include Shakuntala, Arjuna and Subhadra, Jadayu wars with Ravana, The Maharashtrian Lady, among others. Last month, his untitled portrait of Damayanti sold for a whopping Rs 11.09 (approx) crore at Sotheby’s New York Sale of Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art.
Follow @htlifeandstyle for more.