Monday, September 18, 2006

Another feather in Kerala Tourism's cap

The "Honorouble Mention" award that the renovated Arakkal Palace here has won from the UNESCO in its announcement of its Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for 2006 is seen as a recognition of the efforts by the Department of Archaeology and the Department of Tourism to restore the 400-year-old palace complex (`kettu') from its dilapidated state and to develop it into a museum.

The Arakkal Kettu, a palace complex of the erstwhile Muslim royal Arakkal house, has been turned into a museum after its renovation at an estimated cost of Rs. 90 lakh. The renovation included preservation of the durbar hall building of the `kettu'. The restored palace complex is among the three heritage sites that has bagged the UNESCO's Honourable Mention award, the others being the Liu Ying Lung Study Hall, Hong Kong, and Leh Old Town in Ladakh.

"This honour is a tribute to sustainable tourism, which Kerala has adopted in a big way," said Minister for Tourism and Home, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.

"The outstanding achievement would not have been possible if not for the Kerala Tourism (Conservation and Preservation of Areas) Act 2005 that provides guidelines for preserving the heritage and environment," said Principal Secretary, Tourism, E.K. Bharat Bhushan.

`Arakkal Kettu,' about 3 km from Kannur town, conveys the history of the lone Muslim prinicipality in the State. The Arakkal palace was the seat of the Arakkal royal family, which played an influential role in the history of Kannur and its nearby areas. The restoration has involved efforts to retain the original character of the structure through the use of local materials and display of restored period furniture.

It is the stress on quality and responsible tourism as well as adoption of sustainable methods of development that won Kerala Tourism the UNESCO award, said Director of Tourism B. Suman.


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