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Thiruvananthapuram is the capital city of Kerala in Southern India. The city is shares the same name with its district, Thiruvananthapuram, which is one of the 14 districts of Kerala.
Thiruvananthapuram is built on hills by the sea shore and sandwiched between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, Thiruvananthapuram is ranked first in the number of foreign tourists visiting Kerala and is a fascinating destination for holidaymakers.
When to go
The best time to visit Trivandrum is between October and February, the perfect time for beach vacations. February to May is summer, which 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.
The festival of Onam which occurs towards the end of August or early September is a good time to soak up the carnival atmosphere. There are usually many cultural programs during the official Onam celebrations lasting 10 days.
The Monsoon season starts from June every year and is a time of heavy rains in the area. Recently, as a result of the campaigning by State Tourism Board, tourists have started coming in to enjoy the Monsoon.
The native language of Kerala is Malayalam, which is a Dravidian language like Tamil, Kannada or Telugu. Most educated locals are also able to communicate in Hindi and English. The people are generally very helpful and friendly. Tamil is generally understood, though people may not be too fluent in the language.
Trivandrum International Airport (TRV) with direct flights from the Middle East, Singapore, Maldives, Sri Lanka as well as seasonal charter flights to Europe. It is linked with many major cities in India by domestic flights.
Trivandrum Central railway station, located at Thampanoor, is a major Indian railway station, third largest in South India after Chennai and Shornur jn. The station being a terminus, almost all trains on west coast and bound to Kerala start & end their journey here.
The Central station is itself is a heritage complex built by Travancore Maharaja as part of Travancore Railways. The railway station is the only such to be built completely in stone without any concrete or steel structure. The station is highly modernized with all premium facilities.
The long distance bus station is located next door to the railway station. Buses ply to all major towns and villages in the state as well as to big cities like Cochin, Bangalore, Kozhikode,Madurai, Coimbatore,Tirunelveli and Chennai. Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) operates 6 class of services, connecting to southern Tamil-Nadu cities/town as well as all other parts of Kerala.
By auto rickshaw
Autorickshaws are a cheap way of travelling between attractions. It is always possible to get an auto rickshaw from a bus stand, railway station or special auto rickshaw stand. All the legally licensed city auto-rikshaws should possess fare meters, and the fare is calculated by the taximeter. So, make sure that the driver turns on the meter before the start of the journey.
Many places of attractions within the city are nearby, so you could walk between them. Crossing roads often involves wading across heavy traffic during peak hours. The zebra lanes are used by the locals for road crossing only in major junctions. Other than the major junctions, do not expect the vehicles to stop for you in the zebra lines. Try your best to move in a predictable straight line, so vehicles can weave around you. (Better yet, latch onto a group of locals and cross in their shadow.) The recommended walk areas in the city are as follows:
Walk from Over bridge towards East Fort. Visit the Padmanabhaswami Temple premises. End up your walk in the Gandhi Park in East Fort.
Walk from Secratariate towards Palayam. Walk and see the Connemera market and do window shopping.
Walk from Museum Junction towards Vellayambalam. Alternatively, you can also walk inside the Museum compounds.
Walk from Vellayambalam Junction up to Kowdiar palace. This road is called the Royal Road, as it leads to the palace. There are good coffee shops and snack bars in this area.
What to see
Thiruvananthapuram is a historic city, dotted with many historical structures, parks, museums, tourist centers and palaces. Its also famous for its distinctive greenery, present all over, a rare site in any bustling Indian city. Visit the official website of Kerala Tourism.
Monuments and Museums
Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple
Sree Anantha Padmanabha Temple is the key icon of the city. One of the most oldest temples of India, its a major Vishnu temple in the country. The temple itself has 1000's of stories to tell with immaculate sculptures and mandaps. The entire Thiruvanathapuram city was built around this temple. Its an architectural wonder and was nominated from India into last round of 7 Wonders of World.
The deity is Maha Vishnu in a rare reclining posture, called as "ananthasayanam" or the lord's sleep. The temple has a huge role in history of Kerala, with the presiding deity even being crowned as Emperor of Travancore in 18th century and all the rulers ruling the state in the name of the deity. The royal crown of Travancore, is preserved inside the temple, though getting a glimpse of it is a rare.
This temple belongs to Travancore Royal Family and guarded by Royal Palace Guards of Travancore (RPG) and Kerala Special Branch Police Force along with Sree Padmanabha's Elite Mounted Guards. A unit of Kerala State Commando force protects the temple in its outer ring.
The temple has been in news, after discovery of huge treasures kept in its cellars. A rough estimate makes it to astronomic value of Rs 1.2 Trillion (US$21.72 billion), making it the most richest temple in the world.Due to discovery of this wealth, the temple and its zone, became one of the most protected areas. Armed Police and Commandos have been deployed around the temple. Visitors must pass thro' stringent security screening process. Shadow police force in civilian and temple dress do observe all visitors 24x7.
East Fort, an old fort around Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple. Today most of fortifications have been dismantled, except the Eastern side, thus the fort has got its current name- East Fort. The Fort Gate directly opens before Sree Padmanabha Temple and designed in European style. The illumination of East Fort Gate in evenings, is a major attraction.
Beaches and Nature
Shanghumukham Beach This city beach is 8 km outside the city, adjacent to the airport. Local people flock there to watch the sunset. Its a good well maintained safe beach. There is an indoor recreation club nearby. Matsyakanyaka a gigantic sculpture of a mermaid by Kanai Kunjiraman arouses mixed reaction. A small garden and star-fish shaped restaurant operates there, attracts large crowds. There is also a peaceful temple nearby.
Veli Tourist Village. A lake blending into the beach, almost as if it were teasing the sea. Boating, Horse Riding on the beach, a floating bridge, a shallow pond where you can feed the fish, beautifully maintained gardens. Very famous among tourists, especially those interested in water adventure sports.
Kovalam Beach - 17 km from Thiruvananthapuram City, is a world famous beach, noted being one of the finest. 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. Beware of local touts and beach-side restaurants/shops which sells items nearly 3 to 4 times more than its normal price. Haggling is accepted as a form of trading with sellers. Several massage palours located near to the beach are fake and are illicit sex palours.
There are several attractions, located outside the city limits, popular among tourists. Some of them are,
The Padmanabhapuram Palace the old headquarters of Travancore Royal family, is one of the most attractive palaces, which no tourist can't afford to miss. The palace is recorded as World's largest Wooden Palace, by Guinness Books of Records.
Attingal Palace the erstwhile head-quarters of Travancore Queens who ruled a small province of Attingal within Travancore.
What to do
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
Find local bargains and shop for souvenirs.
Watch the magical sunset from the Shankumukham or Veli beach
Get pampered with a traditional Ayurvedic massage
Visit the local museum and art gallery.
Visit a martial arts centre (Kalaripayattu)
Watch traditional performers perform a Kathakali dance.
Watch a temple procession at the end of a local festival when the deity is taken out on the top of an elephant.