cheena kottaram(china palace)at quilon station,is a rest house made for king sri moolam thirunal in 1904


The Cheena Kottaram is, in fact, a rest house that was built for Sri Mulam Tirunal Rama Varma, the then king of Travancore.
REGAL TOUCH: Cheena Kottaram.
Near the Kollam railway station is a sombre red-brick building that looks like a miniature palace. Local people call it the `Cheena Kottaram,' because it has a fleeting resemblance to pictures of traditional Chinese buildings.
The Cheena Kottaram is, in fact, a rest house that was built for Sri Mulam Tirunal Rama Varma, the then king of Travancore, when he wanted to travel to Madras by the Kollam/Punalur metre gauge line, which was constructed in 1904.
Although the rest house looks like a one-storied structure, it has only a ground floor, which is probably why it is described in the Railways souvenir `Milestones and Memories,' as resembling a houseboat.
Eugene Pandalam, award-winning architect, says that the architecture is Indo-Saracenic, which is a blend of Moorish (N.W. Africa), Islamic, European, and Indian architecture.
The layout
The rest house has seven rooms, with verandas in the front and to the rear of the building. The porch, which is on the southern side, - long since sealed off, faces the Kollam traffic overbridge.
On the northern side, now the sole entrance and exit, was a little platform, which can still be seen, from which the Maharaja would board his saloon car, which would be linked to the passenger train.
The central edifice has elegant Gothic arches, with stained glass panes in leaden frames, on all sides. Beautiful glass murals, Venetian floor tiles, wood carving that is vintage Kerala, and unique dragon-like wooden supports for the roofs, are the arresting features of the building. The emblem of Travancore, the conch, in granite, figures on the walls on all sides.
Architecture
The original architecture of the rest house was vastly altered when the king stopped visiting the building, and it later served as the Madura sub-division control office, and the Divisional Stores Department, Southern Railway.
Earlier, the central room didn't have an intermediate wooden ceiling, so one could see the top roof, and sunlight filtering downwards through the stained glass of the Gothic arches above, which was a glorious sight, according to a senior citizen.
The original `fish-scale' or palace tiles have been replaced by `straight tiles', which appear out of character with the architectural style.
The verandas, which had lattice and beautiful wooden supports, are now storerooms.
This antique structure, which is one of the landmarks of Kollam city, is yet to be declared a national heritage monument. The Southern Railway realizes the need to preserve the resthouse, and has included it in its list of heritage buildings.