Trivandrum diaries: Napier Museum

Thiruvananthapuram has a host of architecturally, historically, religiously and aesthetically beautiful places in and around. It may not be possible for you to cover all of it in a day. But, the Napier Museum, zoo and the nearby Kanakakkunnu palace are ideal for a one-day tour. This edition of Trivandrum Diaries is taking you to the very famous and one of the major happening places in Trivandrum, the Napier Museum…


The museum, named after Lord Napier, the Governor of Madras from 1866-1872, was established in 1855 and was demolished and rebuilt in 1874. The architectural masterpiece was designed by Robert Chisholm, the consulting Architect of the Madras Government, and the construction was completed in 1880. The museum houses a rare collection of archaeological and historic artefacts, bronze idols, ancient ornaments, a temple chariot and ivory carvings. It also contains the Sree Chitra Art Gallery, which contains works from Raja Ravi Varma and Nicholas Roerich, as well as examples of Mughal and Tanjore art.

Also known as Government Art Museum, the architectural style of museum is a mix of Indian, Chinese, Kerala and Mughal Schools of Architecture. The gothic roof and the minarets are sure to blow your mind away. The Indo-Saracenic structure also boasts a natural air conditioning system.

What to expect

The Napier Museum offers an array of display of artistic, cultural and antique objects comprising of sculptures in bronze and stone, carving of wood and ivory, lamps, textiles, Kathakali models, handicraft items, Koftgari works and traditional musical instruments. The Bronze display includes fascinating images of Siva, Vishnu, Parvathi and Lakshmi in ‘Silpa sastras’. The metal images kept in the museum illustrate the features of South Indian sculpture style between 8th and 18th century. The Vishnu image of 8th century collected from Ambalapuzha temple in Alappuzha is the oldest metal image in the state. The stone sculptures you see here belong to a period from 1st to 18th century. Shiva with Sati is a unique and rarest exhibit found in the museum. The sword of Velu Thampi Dhalawa, one of the first martyr of Indian freedom struggle, is also presently displayed in this museum. Japanese shadow-play leather that is used to depict the epics of the Mahabharata and Ramayana can also be found at the museum.

Another main attraction is the wood carvings in this gallery. There are beautifully crafted temple cars, royal dressing table, a multi chambered jewelry boxes etc. The Napier Museum also has rich collection of ancient, medieval and modern south Indian coins, of which Satavahana coins (100 BC-249 AD), Chera coins, Chola Coins, Vijayanaghara coins and Sivaganga coins are the most important ones. Apart form the Indian coins there is a representative collection of foreign coinage which include Roman, Dutch, Persian, Chinese and Turkey coins.

It takes some two hours to complete the Napier Museum visit. It is better to visit the museum in the evenings during summer season. Since there is lot of walking involved, it is better to wear comfortable walking shoes. Also, it is to note that no type of photography or videography is allowed inside the museum. The Napier museum also has a zoological garden, which is an ideal place to sit and relax as the place is very shaded and cool because of the tall trees and bushes around. The area outside the museum also has cement benches for you to relax. There are also a couple of small eateries inside the compound. But, however, for proper meals, the nearest restaurant is the Indian Coffee House, opposite to the Museum ground. Mascot hotel by KTDC is also at a walkable distance.

The museum compound also has a jogging track, which will be very active in early mornings and evenings. There’s a dedicated, small play area for children near the eateries. The museum compound houses a natural history museum and a zoo.

If you are planning for a day to spend with family and children, it is advisable to first visit the zoo inside the museum compound and post lunch spend a couple of hours inside the Napier Museum. Once you are done with the museum visit, you can sit and relax at the zoological garden, which will be a very good experience for the children. If you wish for a quieter place, then you can head to the adjacent Kanakakkunnu Palace.

Museum Timings:
Open 10:00 – 17:00 hrs, Wednesday 13:00 – 16:45 hrs.
Closed on Mondays
You can take tickets from the entrance point till 16.30 hrs.

Admission Fee

Person above 12 years – Rs 10.00/-
Person below 12 years & above 5 years – Rs 05.00/-
Family tickets (father, mother & two children) – Rs 25.00/-
Group (35 students & two teachers) – Rs 100.00/-
Car Parking – Rs 150.00/-

For further Details:
+91 471 2316275 | 2318294