Thiruvananthapuram is the capital of the state of Kerala. It is often known by its colonial name Trivandrum. It is located on a low undulating hill noted for its greenery. It receives a large number of tourists including foreign tourists who travel to the other famous tourist spots of the state from here. There are a number of Hindu temples in the city making it a popular pilgrim destination as well.
Location : State/District
Thiruvananthapuram is the capital of the state of Kerala in south India. It is located in the district of the same name. The latitude of Thiruvananthapuram is 8° 30' 24" N and its longitude is 76° 57' 24" E.
The city attracts many different types of tourists. The old and revered temple attracts pilgrims in large numbers while the surrounding scenic beauty and novel attractions like ayurvedic treatments and massage attract people from all over the country and even abroad. It is also a bustling commercial center. The Ayurvedic treatment has made it a destination of medical tourism in the country.
Families as well as individuals visit this city. It receives the highest number of foreign visitors.
The city enjoys a tropical type of climate and the different seasons cannot be distinguished very clearly. The temperature remains moderate to high throughout the year. The city receives monsoon and pre monsoon showers between the months of April and November. Rainfall is quite heavy. The period from December to March is somewhat cooler and free of rainfall. This is the best time to visit the city. However, the Onam festival also attracts tourists from all over the country. It is held at the end of August or early September and lasts for ten days.
Indians do not require any special documents to travel to Thiruvananthapuram. Foreign nationals must carry a valid passport with visa. If you are a foreigner or a white and have converted to Hinduism, you need to carry authentic documentary proof of the conversion in order to enter the main temple of the city – the Anantha Padmanabha temple.
Places to Visit
There are a number of important places to visit in Thiruvananthapuram. The Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple is regarded as the spiritual heart of the city. It is about 260 years old and is a fine example of Kerala and Tamil architecture. There are a number of structures inside the temple including a pond, large murals, golden mandap and the corridor of 500 pillars decorated with beautiful art. The temple is presided over by Lord Vishnu in a treclining position on the great serpent. Reportedly, this idol was constructed from 10000 salagrammam which were brought from Nepal on the backs of elephants. According to recent discovery of its treasury, it is now the richest temple in the world with a value of Rs 1.2 trillion in its hidden treasury.
The East Fort is the remnant of an ancient fort. It was designed in the European style. The ruins are decorated with illumination which has become a popular sight with the tourists. It also houses the Pazhavangadi Ganapathi Temple which is one of the most important Ganesha temples in the state.
The Attukal temple is dedicated to goddess Parvathy. It attracts large number of visitors during the Pongal festival. Another important temple is the Vellayani devi temple which is dedicated to the goddess Durga.
Thiruvananthapuram was the traditional capital of the rulers of Travancore. The Puthe Maliga palace museum is the palace of this royal family. It is a nicely detailed museum with marble statues, carved wooden ceilings, ornate thrones and many other artifacts.
The Napier museum has an impressive collection of archeological and historical items ranging from ivory carvings, Buddhist statues, coins, wooden carvings and many more. However, the labeling is rather vague.
The zoological garden of the city is the oldest in India and one of the most impressive. It is set amidst plenty of greenery where shaded paths allow you to explore at leisure. A number of animals are housed in huge open enclosures which imitate their natural surroundings. The reptile house is especially impressive with its variety of inmates.
The Museum of history and heritage beautifully narrates the history of Kerala. A variety of exhibits and interactive audio visual presentation allow you to truly understand the culture of Kerala.
The Kanaka Kunnu palace is the cultural hub of the city. You can wander around its grand lawns where musical and other cultural performances are often held.
The Priyadarshini space planetarium is one of the best of its kind in the world. It has several exhibits related to space and its shows and space related programs are highly popular.
There are a number of activities that you can try out at Thiruvananthapuram. Ayurvedic massages are the most popular of such activities. You can visit the Ayushmaanbhava ayurvedic clinic where a variety of massages are offered. In addition, there are many other spas and clinics which specialize in Ayurvedic massage.
Kalaripayattu is the local martial arts. A display of this discipline can be quite fascinating. The CVN Kalari Sangham also offers long term courses in this discipline.
Performances of classical music and dance including Kathakali are frequently held in the different theatres and auditoriums of the city. Attending such concerts will give you a very nice idea of the culture of Kerala.
Shopping is an indispensible activity in Thiruvananthapuram. Textile and jewelry are especially important. You can pick up numerous traditional and modern handicraft items as well.
There are several important tourist destinations near Thiruvananthapuram. The Shanghumukham Beach located 8 kms from the city is a highly popular excursion spot. You can obtain a breathtaking view of the sunset here. It has a gigantic sculpture of a mermaid called Matsyakanyaka. The famous beach of Kovalam lies 17 kms from the city. The tranquil waters offer opportunities of sea bathing and attract tourists from all over the world.
The Veli Tourist village is a popular destination where you can enjoy water sports in a natural setting.
The temple town of Kanyakumari in the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu lies only 100 kms from Thiruvananthapuram. This is the southernmost point of India and is noted for the famous Kanyakumari temple. The view of the three water bodies – Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal from here is truly mesmerizing.
The backwater resorts of Aleppy (144 kms) and Kumarakonam (177 kms) are two of the most famous tourist destinations of Kerala. Secluded and beautiful, they are ideal for honeymooners and nature lovers. Wildlife can be seen around the area. ayurvedic massages are popular here.
Food and Accommodation
Thiruvananthapuram has a cosmopolitan character. Hence, both vegetarian and non vegetarian foods of various cuisines are easily found in the city though there is a predominance of south Indian food items. Azad, Buhari, Dakhni Deg, Kaithal, Mubarak Zam Zam etc offer good quality non vegetarian foods at reasonable rates. Vegetarians can check out Anand Bhawan, Arulakam etc. The most expensive options include Lila Kempinsky, Taj Residency, Muthoot Plaza etc.
Hotels catering to every budget are available in the city of Thiruvananthapuram. The budget hotels include Regency, Paradise Inn, Kailas Inn, Navaratna, Jas etc. The mid level hotels include Geeth, Chaitram, Lailja, Pankaj etc. The most expensive and luxurious hotels in the city are Mascot, Vivanta by Taj, Mascot etc.
Safety and Security
Security is very tight around the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple, especially after the discovery of the huge treasure there. The general level of safety and security is quite high in the city, though it is not advisable to roam around the city alone in evening. You should follow all the rules and restrictions around the temple area and show proper respect.