Located in the Southernmost tip of India, also called as Trivandrum, Thiruvananthapuram is the capital of Kerala. It is also its largest city.
It is built on hills by the sea shore and sandwiched between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea. Being a capital and administrative city, it remains to be one of the hottest political centers in Kerala.
Thiruvananthapuram Travel Guide
Since it is the state capital, the lingua franca here is Malayalam. However, most locals can understand and speak English and Hindi. Apart from being the political nerve centre of Kerala, it is also a major academic hub
Thiruvananthapuram is one of the oldest cities in India, with periodic references in many Greek and Roman literature. Thiruvananthapuram is the first city along the path of the south-west monsoon and gets its first showers in early June making it a rainy city.
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This museum displays rare archaeological and historical artifacts including bronze idols, ceramics, an impressive carved wooden cart, Buddhist statues from various parts of the country, ivory carvings, chests, Balinese shadow puppets, various old coins, etc
Close to the Napier Museum, the Kanakakunnu Palace was built under the rule of Travancore King. Today, the palace is host to a plethora of cultural programs that are held on its premises.
This Palace was built in the 1840s by the great Maharaja Swathi Thirunal. ‘Kuthira Malika’ literally translates to ‘Mansion of horses’, and it has been named so because of the 122 horses that adorn the many pillars that support the southern roof of this majestic structure.
The main idea behind building this palace was to preserve and promote the many traditional art forms of India, mainly the south.
Housed in a beautiful old colonial building, this newly developed museum (circa 2008 vintage) presents a periodized history of Kerala. It’s the first ‘interactive’ museum in the country, featuring touchscreen terminals.
Unfortunately, like so many museums and historical texts in India, there are no maps in here.
Situated on a hill at an elevation of about 60 metres above sea level built in 1837, this astronomical observatory offers exquisite views of the surroundings and the city as a whole. Beautiful roses can be found in the garden in front. It is part of the Department of Physics, University of Kerala today.
It is a part of an old fort around Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple. Today most of the fortifications no longer exist, except the Eastern side, thus being called East Fort. The Fort Gate directly opens before Sree Padmanabha Temple and designed in European style.
The illumination of East Fort Gate in the evenings is a major attraction.
Sri Chitra Art Gallery
A perfect place for art lovers, Sri Chitra Art Gallery houses some of the famous work of Raja Ravi Verma. His western form and style of paintings depicting Indian lives are an attraction here. Other art objects belonging to the Mughals, Rajputs and Tanjore art schools can also be seen.
As Kerala experiences monsoon for almost half a year, the place is lush with greenery
Neyyar Dam and Wildlife Sanctuary
Famous for its Lion and Deer Safari, Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary is a treat for nature enthusiasts. Also present are a crocodile farm and elephant rehabilitation centre. Ask for a guided tour of the sanctuary which is quite informative.
17 km from Thiruvananthapuram City, is a world-famous beach, being one of the finest in the country. There are 2 large beaches and highly safe for swimming. A visit to Kovalam is must for Trivandrum.
However, the beach becomes too crowded during November-December time when foreign tourists flock in en masse.
One of the most popular beaches, Shanghumukham Beach is known for its pristine waters and soulful sunsets. It runs next to the Trivandrum airport and a must visit for those seeking tranquility.
Known for its pristine charm, the island is flocked by peace-lovers. It is also called the fishing village, this tranquil island lies between the Arabian Sea and the Neyyar River. The point where the sea, river and the land meets is a rare find in Kerala and a natural wonder.
Avoid summer visits as the heat and humidity can be very high.
The Poovar Island Resort
This happens to be perched at an altitude of 1,868 meters within the Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary. The peak features a life-sized statue of Lord Agastya – a Hindu Sage. Trekking is the best way to scale the heights, and the end result is absolutely exhilarating.
Claimed as the oldest zoo in India, this The Zoological Park is famous for its various bird species brought from Ethiopia & Australia. Visitors can also take a boat ride in the lake while exploring the nature and animals kept in the zoo.
Coir Products and Metal Work is famous for Tourists Shopping in Thiruvananthapuram.T he miniature Kathakali masks are also beautiful souvenirs.
The prime shopping district in Thiruvananthapuram is MG Road, where there are a number of shopping complexes and shopping stores selling everything from local spices to handicrafts made out of wood, horn, metal, coir, and handloom.
It is also famed for its intricately-carved wooden objects, bronze items, Kathakali masks, traditional fabrics and other handicrafts. Some of the best buys are the exquisite sculpture in rosewood and sandalwood, ivory figures which carry on a centuries-old artistic tradition, traditional boxes and furniture, brass and bell-metal lamps.
Some of the top markets are-
- Connemara Market
- Chalai Market
- Attukal Shopping Complex
- Balaramapuram Kaithari
Street shopping in Trivandrum
Experiences to have
- Walk – Stroll around the town during the dusk time when the city comes to life. It is advised not to venture out alone late into the night
- Ayurvedic Massage – Rejuvenate yourself with this traditional massage available in many places in the city
- Bargain – When here you need to go street shopping, buy the local souvenir and sharpen your bargaining skills!
- Festivities – If you’re there during the Onam season, be sure to pass by the secretariat building and the kanakakunnu palace for the brilliant illuminations. If it’s Christmastime, walk down a little further to the L.M.S compound to see the awesome collection of Christmas stars.
- Theatre/Art – Check the newspapers for daily events, especially theatre/film/dance performances. Try to find out if anything is on at the Tagore theatre when you’re there, especially during the film festivals which screen art house classics from around the world.
- Library – Visit the public library for its stunning architecture and colonial charm.
- Beach stroll – A long breezy stroll on Veli beach with its kilometers of the orange beach is precious. As you move past the ‘Tourist Village’ zone you’ll come into areas where the locals live by the beach. They try to be friendly to the ‘new face’, so feel free to chat up or move on giving them a friendly wave!
- You can witness the fishermen sail back in the evening and mend their nets. Perhaps join the local kids in a game of beach ball or cricket. There is a strip on the left of the boating club where you can find sea eagles circling in the air, it is a majestic sight to see them swoop in for their prey, and then devour it mid-flight.
Sunset, fishermen and the beach!
Temples and Churches
India has no shortage of temples anywhere you go and Bengaluru is no exception. There are several large and old temples within the city and nearby. Below are few of the most popular ones.
Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple
This divine temple is one of the very few temples in India where entry is only granted to people that practice the Hindu faith. The mystery and grandeur of the temple fill the air and leaves you awestruck by its magnanimous beauty.
The premises of the temple echo tranquillity and every breath you take under the roof of this holy structure feels like a soul cleansing experience.
Karikkakom Chamundi Devi Temple
This ancient temple is actually set in dense green environs with the tall lush palms enveloping it from all sides. It adds to the historical significance and cultural diversity of the little yet vibrant city of Karikkakom which is over 600 years old for goddess Chamundi.
Popularly known as the ‘Sabarimala of Women’, this temple draws a massive throng of women each year during the famous Attukal Pongala festival. Rich in cultural heritage and adorned by impeccable Tamil architecture, this temple holds an extremely critical place in the hearts of the natives and the devotees of Goddess Bhagavathy.
Women throng the temple
Pazhavangadi Ganapathi Temple
It is one of the most popular Ganesh temples of the south.The devotees who visit this temple are overcome with the tranquil calm and relentless peace of the magically pious atmosphere.
They say that Lord Ganesh fulfills the deepest wishes and fixes the stubbornest problems of his devotees who visit him at the Pazhavangadi Ganapathy Temple.
This Temple in Kazhivoor has been attracting a throng of ardent Shiva devotees as well as fascinated tourists for decades now. ‘Aazhi’ translates to Sea and ‘Mala’ means Hill- and the temple has been named so because it rests right on the golden shore of the Arabian sea on a slightly elevated platform.
Note: Since Tuesday is considered to be an auspicious day by Shiva’s devotees, every Tuesday, hoards of the Lord’s disciples come to seek his blessings at this temple.
CSI Christ Church
The CSI Christ Church is a beautiful gothic church that adorns the vibrant town of Palayam. Enveloped in the canopy of lush, dense trees, it is the oldest church in the city and was consecrated in the early days of 1859.
If you are a history buff or a lover of architecture, it is a must visit. This architectural marvel was built over 150 years ago, but its charm has not worn off, if anything, its majesty has glorified even more with time.
The beautiful stained glass in the interior of the church
The Kowdiar avenue and its branching roads are by far the most popular jogging spots. The Trivandrum museum compound and the nearby kanakkakunnu ground is also popular not only for jogging but also as a great place for outdoor activities. Both of these places are open to the public from 4 am.
The airport road is popular as a cycling spot in the early morning. There are also several gyms and yoga centers.
Apart from this since its a sea city you can indulge in water sports. Visit the Happy Land Water Theme Park, for some adventure rides and various water rides. Catch a cricket match at the Greenfield international stadium if there are any matches scheduled during your visit.
The greenfield international stadium during a match
Nightlife Hot Spots
Some of the happening places in the city are
- Street Cafe
- V Bar
- Purple Lounge
Best Time to Visit Thiruvananthapuram
The best time to visit Trivandrum is between October and February, the perfect time for beach vacations. February to May is summer, is very hot and humid while June to September is the monsoon season.
The second rainy season, the North-East monsoon, is equally strong and occurs during the months of October and November.
Or you can try making it for the festival of Onam which occurs towards the end of August or early September and soak up the carnival atmosphere. There are usually many cultural programs during the official Onam celebrations lasting 10 days.
Women dancing during Onam celebrations
There are plenty of restaurants in Thiruvananthapuram serving South Indian food. There are also quite a few eating places serving other cuisines, such as North Indian, Chinese and American food.
In the recent years, restaurants serving international food have sprung up throughout the city. The local famous breakfast item is Puttu which is steamed rice decorated with coconut shavings. Appam is also a favorite. Try their local dosa with their sambhar for a different taste. Idiyappam (flour, salt and water) is also worth trying with egg curry.
For non-vegetarian Varutha Kozhi is their delicious chicken dish with vinegar, onions and coriander. Thier Prawn curry also forms for a simple yet tasty dish.
Kalumakaya Ullarithiyath also called as Mussel Stir fry is a tasty seafood which should be on your list. Malabar Parotta is their version of flat bread which can be had with either the vegetarian or non-vegetarian curries.
The mussel stir fry
There is an international airport to land in the city. From there Using cabs is the convenient way to get around the city. You can download a smartphone app like Ola or Uber that will allow you to book and pay for cabs.
The local bus service system is the cheapest way to get around Thiruvananthapuram. There are city buses run by the government(KSRTC) and private companies. Most of these are very crowded, especially during peak hours.
Trivandrum has two railway stations, Trivandrum central and Kochuveli. There are more trains starting from Trivandrum central than Kochuveli.
Scooters and motorcycles are the favored means of personal transport on the roads. Renting or buying the motorcycle is not for the faint-hearted. There are companies arranging tours on Enfield Bullet motorcycles out of Thiruvananthapuram.
Where to stay
The capital city never runs out of places to stay. It has places to suit all budgets, from 5-star hotels to budget hostels. Airbnb also is a good option in the city. If you want to make it to most of the tourist places it is now ideal to look for a place near one of the metro stations. It will save you a lot of time and money spent on travel.
How Safe is Thiruvananthapuram
It is generally a safe city. There is a tourist information booth open on Thiruvananthapuram station. They help with train times and local attractions mainly, but they usually are happy to answer anything else.
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July 5, 2018 3:39 am