Trivandrum - Experience the royal grandeur of the capital city
Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), the capital of Kerala makes an ideal tourist place for both a weekend ramble and longer holiday. Well connected by air, rail and road, Trivandrum is famous for many tourist attractions. Set out in a Trivandrum city tour to explore some of the best landmarks and attractions of this city. Sree Padmanabha Swami Temple, one of the richest temples in the world, the Kanakakkunnu Palace and the Kowdiar Palace are some of the last remaining royal insignia of this city, which will remind you of the erstwhile kingdom of Travancore.
Some of the other stopovers in the city include the Observatory, the Science and Technology Museum, Trivandrum Zoo and museum, the Government Secretariat and the Tagore Centenary theatre, where live shops and entertainments take place regularly. Sree Chitra Art Gallery is famous for its impressive collection of exquisite paintings, with separate sections for Ravi Varma paintings, murals, water and oil painting.
There are three popular sports stadiums in the city including University Stadium, Chandrasekharan Nair Stadium and the Central Stadium, which have played hosts to many national and regional sports events. The velodrome at Kariavattom and the Jimmy George Indoor Stadium at Vellayambalam would surely catch the fancy of the sports buffs. No trip to the capital city can be complete without a trip to the Shanghumugham beach, where you can unwind and soak up the fun of the sunset against the silhouettes of the small country boats returning home after the catch.
Trivandrum tours will take you to some of the popular tourist attractions in and around the city. The most popular in the list is undeniably the iconic beach resort of Kovalam. Highly rated by foreign tourists, Kovalam is one of the finest beaches in India. The rocky promontory extending into the sea has created a beautiful bay of calm waters for bathing and swimming. Kovalam has a range of convenient accommodation options, cottages and resorts for every budget.
Check out the Trivandrum packages that comprise of the important tourist attractions in Trivandrum to ensure the best value for your money. Ponmudi, a pleasant resort located at an elevation of 912 m above sea level is another popular tourist attraction worth exploring. Famous for its plantations, tribal hamlets and adventure tourism options like hiking, Ponmudi is 61 Km from Trivandrum city and can be reached by road.
The Trivandrum city tours include a trip to Akkulam on the banks of Akulam Lake. There are boating facilities in the tourist village and a houseboat is available for overnight stay. The state of the art swimming pool in Akkulam has glider and other facilities for the swimmers. The musical fountain, children’s park and the international convention centre, which will be the biggest in the state when completed, are the other attractions.
Steeped in history and culture, the sea side tourist spot of Anchuthengu is another must see attraction in Trivandrum tours. Anchuthengu became the first settlement of the English East India Company in 1864 AD. You can still see the remnants of the old English Fort, which had withstood many a siege. There is a 15th century church built by St. Francis Xavier. A local boat club offers boating trip across the river to Veli, which is quite popular among tourists.
Kovalam – the ultimate beach holiday destination, finds a place on the global tourism map amongst the most breathtaking exotic beaches of the world. The three crescent-shaped naturally sheltered beaches of Kovalam videlicet – Hawa, Lighthouse and Ashoka are equally awe-inspiring. But the most preferred and the famous of the three is the southernmost one –Lighthouse beach, because of its safe shallow waters – ideal for swimming and water sports. In the near vicinity of the beaches there are hotels, beach-side shacks, shopping area, yoga centre etc – managed by the State Tourism Department and other private players. For those who crave for beachside fun and adventure Kovalam offers opportunities to indulge in a variety of beach sports and activities.
The Sri Padmanabha Swamy Temple
Sri Padmanabha Swamy Temple, which combines the fine elements of Dravidian and traditional Kerala temple architectural styles, stands in awe-inspiring grandeur right in the heart of the city. The sprawling temple complex, built by the erstwhile Maharaja of Travancore, has numerous murals, stone carvings and a seven storied tapering entrance-tower or gopuram adorned with an array of idols - gods, goddesses, demons, celestial beings, heavenly maidens etc. The idol of Lord Vishnu, the main deity, is 18 feet long and depicted in a reclining posture on the sacred seven-headed serpent god Anantha. Recent restorations on the idol revealed parts of it to be covered in gold sheets and studded with rare jewels that were blackened under centuries of smoke from camphor and lamps. Non-Hindus are not permitted inside the temple.
The Padmanabhapuram Palace
A marvel in wood, this spectacular palace was the abode of the erstwhile rulers of Travancore before it was shifted to Thiruvananthapuram in the 18th century. The palace, built by Maharaja Iravi Varma in 1601 AD, is a fine example of Kerala’s architectural grandeur. The dreamy location with scenic river Valli flowing gently near by and the verdant Veli Hills in the backdrop, further accentuates the aesthetic opulence of the palace. The palace complex is quite remarkable with its exquisite-woodcarvings and elaborate-ornamentation work. The king’s bedchamber – ‘Mantrasala’, is built with perfection which keeps heat and dust out while maintaining the chamber cool. The chamber also houses a luxurious, ornamental bedstead which is made of 64 kinds of herbal and medicinal woods. The palace is located at a distance of 64 km from Thiruvananthapuram en route to Kanyakumari.
The Koyikkal Palace
This palace, built in the 15th century in the traditional Kerala ‘Nalukettu’ style of architecture, was once the abode of the Venad chieftains. The palace in its heyday served as a seat of power for the great queen Umayamma Rani who ruled the kingdom from 1677 AD to 1684 AD. Koyikkal Palace, maintained by the Department of Archeology, now houses a folklore and numismatic museum. It is located in Nedumangadu - at a distance of 18 km from Thiruvananthapuram.
This quite beach is an ideal spot to enjoy and unwind without the interference of any crowd. This spectacular beach lying near the International Airport is popular among tourists for its cleanliness and peaceful surroundings. On the beach is the huge sculpture of a mermaid or ‘Jalakanyaka’ made by the prominent sculptor Kanayi Kunhiraman.
The Zoological Park
Thiruvananthapuram zoo is one of the best kept zoos of India. Established in 1857, the zoo is spread across 50 acres of lush green foliage right in the heart of the city. The zoo houses around 75 different species of animals, collected from different parts of the world. The collection includes lion-tailed macaques, Nilgiri tahrs, Manipuri deer, Indian rhinos, Asiatic lions, royal Bengal tigers, giraffes, hippos, zebras etc. The zoo also boasts of an extensive collection of reptiles housed in a separate section.
The Napier Museum
The museum, one of the oldest in the country, was built in 1855 by the then Maharaja of Travancore. Reflecting the Indo-Saracenic architectural style, the present museum complex was completed in 1880 AD and houses an exhaustive array of artifacts collected through the years since its establishment. The collection comprises of bronze and stone sculptures, ornaments, idols, carved figures in wood and ivory etc., dating between the 11th and the 18th century. The bronze images of Shiva, Vishnu, Parvathy and Lakshmy are some of the rare treasures showcased in the museum. Kuftgiri works, traditional musical instruments of the olden days and a numismatic collection are also on display. An ancient temple chariot is another attraction of the museum.
Sree Chitra Art Gallery
This art gallery is housed inside the same walls of the museum and zoo complex. The gallery has on display original works of a number of artists like Raja Ravi Varma, Svetlova, Nicholas Roerich etc; along with a number of works of art in the traditional Rajput, Mughal and Tanjore styles. The museum also showcases a vast collection of works done by contemporary artists from India and abroad.
Ponmudi, a scenic hill station located at a distance of 62 km from the city, is favored for its salubrious climate. The round-the-year mild and cool weather and the verdant mountains encapsulating the region make it a preferred choice for a countryside escapade. The hill slopes are covered with vast stretches of tea and rubber plantations. Ponmudi is also an ornithologist’s paradise; many rare varieties of birds including the Malabar Hornbill, Paradise Flycatcher etc. are spotted in the region. For the adventure and fun lovers Ponmudi offers numerous trekking trails. The Agastyakoodam peak, one of the highest in the Western Ghats is located here. The mountain, which once served as an abode of Saint Agastya, is also famous for its medicinal herbs and plants. On the way to Ponmudi is the famous Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary.
Varkala finds a place in the world tourism map for its gorgeous beach – ‘Papanasam’. Set against rocky cliffs, charming surroundings, gentle waters lapping against golden sand, and whispering coconut palms, this beach is definitely a must-see beach destination of Kerala. To add to that, the waters and mineral-springs on the beach are considered to have healing properties. Varkala is also a famous Hindu pilgrimage centre - the ancient Janardana Swamy Temple and the famous Sivagiri Mutt are located here. Varkala also houses the Samadhi or tomb of Sree Narayana Guru - the reputed social reformer and philosopher of Kerala.
• Want to experience the beauty and charms of Thiruvanathapuram sans traffic congestions and crowd? Hire a Kettuvallom or Houseboat - your ticket for enjoying the tranquil backwaters. These boats come in a variety of sizes and shapes, equipped with all the necessary facilities - furniture, bathrooms, kitchenette, a personal cook and a captain. Veli, Kadinamkulam and Edava Nadayara canals are some of the scenic backwaters in the region.
• The city has many recognized Ayurveda centres offering best quality, value for money services. The close proximity of the district to the mountain ranges with plenty of medicinal herbs, together with its favorable climate makes Thiruvananthapuram the best choice for Ayurvedic treatments. One session of Ayurvedic therapy is bound to leave you rejuvenated and refreshed in body and spirit.
• Take a boat ride in the picturesque Akkulam Lake. The boat club here gives you an assortment of options to choose from. The lake, located close to the city, is one of the places to just laze around, relax and unwind. The route from Akkulam to Veli tourist village is abounding in scenic charms.
• Take a walk through the busy Palayam road, one of the busiest streets, to get a feel of the real pulse of the city.
• The Meenmutty Falls located in the Neyyar Reservoir area is an enchanting spot. This secluded paradise is only accessible by a 2 km long trek through the jungle. A further 2 km long trek will take you to the Kombaikani falls - another scenic spot.
• Do make it a point to watch the hallmark dance-drama performance of Kerala - Kathakali. For the benefit of tourists these all-night-long performances are condensed and shortened, most of the time. However, if you are really interested, treat yourself by watching a complete performance. Watch ancient mythological stories and legends come alive in the most vibrant colors. Elaborate make-ups and gaudy costumes are characteristic of this classical temple dance drama. To add zing to your Kathakali experience watch the hours-long make up as the artist is transformed into the character.
The Arattu Festival
The ten-day long Arattu (holy bath) Festival of the Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple culminates with a procession of elaborately caparisoned tuskers accompanied by traditional music through the city. The procession, led by the king of Travancore, proceeds to Shankumugham Beach where the idol will be given a ritual bathe in the sea. Scores of devotees throng the streets as the procession passes. A spectacular display of fireworks marks the end of festivities.
Onam - Tourism Week
A grand tourism week is held as part of the Onam celebrations. Snake boat races, various traditional dance and music performances will be organized as part of the week long celebrations. A street parade organized by the state government has many colorful floats and folk-music performances.
Carnatic Music Festival
Carnatic Music Festival is organized as part of the nine day long Navarathri celebrations. This gala event is attended by singers and musicians from all over the country. Classical music lovers flock to Thiruvananthapuram to attend this musical-extravaganza.
Handicrafts are the best buys here be it for gift or souvenir. The SMS Institute near the Secretariat and Gram Sri Village Crafts Centre are some of the places where you can buy good quality traditional handcrafted items. Other popular items that top the chart include - artifacts made of rosewood, ivory, coir, cane, bamboo, coconut and straw; available in most of the shopping arenas in the city. It is advisable to have a local person accompany you while shopping to ensure that you are not charged exorbitant rates.
Frequent buses connect all parts of the city, but the flip-side is they would be usually packed. Auto-rickshaws can be hired to traverse short distances comfortably. If you want to travel a bit more comfortably, hire a taxi or a private car.
While in Thiruvananthapuram, do make it a point to try out some of the spicy local fish preparations. Savor a mouthwatering array of Karimeen (pearl spot fish) delicacies - Karimeen Pollichathu (marinated in exotic spices & herbs and grilled on a palm leaf) Karimeen Curry (cooked in an earthen pot in a variety of ways) and Karimeen Varuthathu (marinated in spices and deep fried in oil) from any of the local restaurants. There is also an array of vegetarian restaurants serving authentic Kerala vegetarian delicacies at reasonable prices. If you like experimenting, we recommend Porotta (a kind of bread) and fried chicken from one of the ‘Thattukadas’ (roadside eateries).
• The floor of the Padmanabhapuram Palace is polished to match mirror-like perfection by using a mix of burnt coconut shell and egg white.
• The 300 year old clock in the clock tower of Padmanabhapuram palace keeps time even today.
Thiruvananthapuram international air terminal is situated at a distance of 6 km from the city.
The state owned bus station is situated near to the railway station. Frequent buses connect Thiruvananthapuram with other towns in Kerala and other neighboring states.
The Thiruvananthapuram Central Railway station at Thampanoor is one of the major railroad stations of Kerala.