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    Dutch Royals visits Mattancherry palace

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    Kochi: Netherlands King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima on Thursday visited the ancient Dutch palace at Mattancherry here, marking the commencement of their two-day visit to the State.

    The couple who arrived in New Delhi on Monday are visiting India at the invitation of President Ram Nath Kovind.

    Kerala is the third leg of their five-day visit to India, and it is their first state visit to the country.

    On their arrival at the international airport here from Mumbai by a special flight at 1 pm, the Dutch Royals were received by Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, his wife Reshma Arif and state Education Minister C Raveendranath, a government release said here.

    Later they proceeded to Mattancherry to visit the Dutch palace.

    Minister for Ports, Museums, Archaeology Ramachandran Kadannappalli and Kochi Mayor Soumini Jain received the couple at the palace, one of the finest examples of the Kerala style of architecture interspersed with colonial influences.

    Visiting the palace, King Willem-Alexander said cooperation between India and The Netherlands will continue smoothly, the release said.

    As part of the cooperation, the Netherlands National Archives and the Kerala Archives Department signed an MoU enabling the two sides to share the digital version of the ancient documents.

    They royals were enthralled by the beauty of the construction and the architecture of the palace built by the Portuguese as a gift to King Veera Kerala Verma of Kochi dynasty around 1545.

    The Mattancherry palace came to be known as the Dutch Palace as it underwent major repairs at the hands of the Dutch.

    According to the Kerala Tourism Department, the palace is famous for its long and spacious halls along with its central courtyard.

    The palace is also home to the deity of the Cochin royal family, Pazhayannur Bhagavathy (the deity of Pazhayannur).

    The royals also visited Dutch company Ned Spice where they held a round-table with state government officials, inlcuding Agriculture Minister V S Sunil Kumar and Education Minister C Raveendranath.

    According to official sources, they are scheduled to meet Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and prominent personalities later in the evening.

    The chief minister will host a dinner for the royal couple.

    On Friday, the couple will take a boat ride at Alappuzha, the release said.

    Vijayan had visited the Netherlands in May this year on the Dutch government's invitation to explore possibilities of cooperation in various sectors, including water management, flood prevention and agriculture.

    It is the Dutch king's first state visit to India, following his ascension to the throne in 2013.

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