Thiruvananthapuram is the southernmost district of the coastal state of Kerala. The district was created in 1957, with its headquarters in the city of Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), which is also Kerala’s capital.
The district is divided into six taluks: Thiruvananthapuram, Chirayinkeezhu, Neyyattinkara, Nedumangadu, Varkala, and Kattakada.
The district has three major rivers, several freshwater lakes and over 300 pounds. Its eastern region is forested, northern regions are mostly under rubber cultivation and the remaining areas grow mixed dry-land crops of coconut, plantain, and tapioca, among others. Built-up areas and rice fields complete the land use pattern.
Thiruvananthapuram city features prominently in ancient tradition, folklore and literature, as do several other locations in the district.
In 1684, during the regency of Umayamma Rani, the English East India Company acquired a sandy spit of land at Anchuthengu, near Varkala on the sea coast about 32 kilometres north of Thiruvananthapuram city, with a view to erecting a factory and fortifying it. The location had earlier been frequented by the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch. It was from here that the English gradually extended their domain to other parts of Travancore.
Modern history begins with Marthanda Varma (1729 CE–1758 CE), generally regarded as the Father of modern Travancore. Thiruvananthapuram was known as a great center of intellectual and artistic activity at this time. The city was the capital of the Travancore state before India’s independence. Consequent to the recommendations of the State Reorganization Commission, The state of Kerala came into being on 1 November 1956.
Tourism in Thiruvananthapuram promotes the area’s hill stations, back waters, beaches, lagoons, and wildlife sanctuaries. The area is a tourism destination and receives chartered flights for medical tourism, as there are more than hundred recognised Ayurveda centres in and around the city. This is primarily due to Ayurveda’s popularity in foreign countries. Medical tourism is further promoted by modern medicine hospitals in the city. Recuperation facilities are available at five star beach resorts and hill stations nearby.
Tourist Places In Thiruvananthapuram
Tourism is a major sector of Thiruvananthapuram’s economy. A full range of tourist options is available in the district, including hill stations, the Kerala backwaters, beaches, lagoons, and wildlife sanctuaries. Kovalam and its internationally known beaches are in Thiruvananthapuram district.
Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple. The icon of the city: the world’s richest temple. The temple came to prominence after the details of the temple’s massive wealth were released by an order from the supreme court of India. The temple itself has thousands of stories to tell with immaculate sculptures and mandaps. The entire Thiruvananthapuram city was built around this temple. It was nominated into the last round of 7 Wonders of World. The building style is a mixture of Kerala and Tamil architecture. The temple has many structures inside, like musical pillars, golden mandap, 500 pillared corridor famous for its sculptures and large collection of temple mural paintings. The temple has a large clear pond called Padmatheertham, which is also a landmark. 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 seeing it is rare. The temple does not use any lighting generated by an electrical source and has no light bulbs or tube-lights. The only lighting is either natural or from oil lamps, which is quite minimal. The use of electronic items is prohibited in the temple. This temple is open only for Hindus, and even the Hindus admitted inside have to follow rigorous dress code and customs. Dress code for men is just Kerala Mundu (White Dhoti) with the body uncovered waist-up. Dhotis are available for one-time rental or for sale from nearby shops. Women are required to wear an Indian Sari or Kerala Mundu (The idea is that your legs must not be visible separately). Entrants would also be asked to store their bags, umbrellas, etc., at a nearby counter. This temple belongs to the Travancore Royal Family and is guarded by the Palace Guards of Travancore. Beware of the presence of a large number of professional touts at the entrance of the temple, who attempt to forcibly sell puja plates with flowers, incense, oil lamps to first timers and tourists. Likewise at exit gates, touts try to hard sell pictures, lamps, and shells by claiming it is holy and sacred. Do not be carried away by claims and politely avoid them. Inside the main arena of the temple, you can view the deity in 3 stages – Hand, Navel (with the Lotus carrying Brahma) and Feet.
Chacha Nehru Children’s Museum. A good children’s museum with a large collection of dolls, masks, and paintings. A mini aquarium and water play area is set here. Located in Thycaud, in the heart of city, it is a good evening spot for families.
East Fort. An old fort around Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple. Today most of the fortifications have been dismantled, except the Eastern side. The fort will sometimes be referred to as the East Fort because of this. The Fort Gate opens directly before Sree Padmanabha Temple and is designed in a European style. The illumination of the East Fort Gate in the evenings is a major attraction.
Kanakakunnu Palace. (Golden Hill Palace in Malayalam). The cultural hotspot of ancient Thiruvananthapuram. The large palace and its sprawling gardens was once the banquet palace for visiting State guests of Travancore. Today, it has engaging galleries and the grand lawns serve as open-air auditoriums for regular concerts and evening dance programs.
Kerala Government Secretariat. Built as Huzur Kacheri (Secretarial Offices in Malayalam) in 1860 to serve as the Royal Durbar Hall of Travancore Kingdom, this building has an imposing structure. The building was designed by the British Royal Engineers Corps combining international architectural styles and is a testimony to past influences from Roman, Dutch and English styles on Kerala. The old Legislature Assembly Hall inside the complex (Asia’s first native legislative assembly) has a good museum with a detailed gallery that depicts the history of the Travancore Legislative Assembly. Other areas in this building are not of tourist interest as they are government offices.
Kerala Legislature Assembly Complex. (Niyamasabha Mandiram). The new legislature assembly complex, called Niyamasabha (Law House in Malayalam), is a modern structure located in the heart of the city. It’s famous for the classical Kerala architecture with ornate teak works, a unique Kerala styled dome, exquisitely designed interiors and a vast expanse of greenery around it. A photo shoot before this structure is an excellent addition to your travelogue.
Kerala Science and Technology Museum. (near Priyadarshini Planetarium). This large science museum features a timeline of various technologies. On display are galleries on Electrical Engineering, Biomedical, and Mechanical Engineering. It has a collection of electronic equipment and a 3D theatre with regular shows.
Keralan Museum. (Opposite of Napier Museum’s garden-complex, south of Museum Rd). Housed in a beautiful colonial building, this newly developed museum (circa 2008 vintage) presents a periodised history of Kerala. It’s the first ‘interactive’ museum in the country, featuring touch screen terminals. Like so many museums and historical texts in India, there are no maps inside to provide visual aid to the topics. Regardless, the museum is very pleasant, clean, modern and well presented when compared to others. Displays begin in the stone age and advance through rock art and stone tools to pottery, bronze sculptures, folk art and architecture, with a few latter-day items to boot. A small canteen behind the museum for staff of the adjacent tourist department offers good value fish or vegetable curry.
Kowdiar Palace. In Kowdiar, this is the current, official residence of the Travancore Maharajas and royal family. It is off-the-limits for the public. However a friendly guard may let you inside to have a glimpse of this large architectural wonder built in a mixture of Saxon-Travancore styles. The public however can enter into Panchavadi, the resting place of Late H.H Maharaja Chitra Thirunal, the last and popular King of Travancore.
Kuthiramalika Palace. A unique palace designed by Maharaja Swathi Thirunal (a famous musical genius Maharaja of Travancore), this palace is famous for its horse shaped windows and decor. The palace, near Padmanabhaswamy temple, has collections of antiques related to Maharaja Swati Thirunal’s times. This palace is the location of the Swathi Thirunal Music Festival and other musical concerts patronized by the Royal family.
Legislature Museum. (Adjacent to Legislature assemble). This museum depicts the history of South Asian Legislature assemblies. The building was once the headquarters of Travancore Royal Nair Brigade (Travancore Army). Today its galleries can give a detailed look into the history of South Asian legislature activities and process.
Napier Museum Named after former Madras governor, Lord Napier this museum is a beautiful building in the museum compound. This masterpiece was designed by Madras Government architect Robert Chisholm in Indo-Saracenic style. The museum displays rare archaeological and historical artifacts including bronze idols, ceramics, an impressive carved wooden cart, Buddhist statues from various parts of the country and neighbouring places, ivory carvings, chests, Balinese shadow puppets, various old coins, Hindu puja items, and more. Quite a few objects are foreign, and of those quite a few are Chinese. Unfortunately most are lacking labels, have labels only in Malayalam, or are very vague. Look up at the impressive roof when you enter! No photography allowed. There is no sign saying ‘Napier Museum’, just ‘Art Gallery’ and it’s the big building in the park to the north of Museum Road.
Palayam Pally. (Masjid-i Jahān-Numā). The principal mosque of Thiruvananthapuram. It is a Juma Masjid (Friday Mosque). The Mosque is one of the largest in Kerala and famous for its regular sermons. The mosque was established with patronage of Travancore Kings.
Priyadarshini Space Planetarium. One of the largest planetariums in India and rated as one of the best horizontal planetariums of the world. It has a collection of astronomical science objects from ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization). 2 major shows regarding various secrets of the universe are done daily. It has a good Sky Theatre, a large conference hall and is the location of regular space related programs.
Sree Chithra Art Gallery in the Museum compound and displays a rare collection of mainly Indian paintings. The main attractions are paintings by Kerala painter Raja Ravi Varma and other famous painters Raja raja Varma and Nicholas Roerich. Also featured are miniature paintings from around the world, Kerala mural paintings, and Tanjore miniature paintings.
Thiruvananthapuram Zoological Park Is Closed On Mondays, From Tuesday To Sunday Open From 10:00 AM To 05:00 PM. This is the first zoo India opened in 1843, as a concept of Palace for wildlife. Situated in the Museum compound, this area has a rich botanical garden. There are a wide variety of animals, plants and birds. It has a separate reptile park and butterfly garden.
St Anne’s Church, Pettah. This is the first Christian church of Trivandrum set up in 1796 during the reign of King Rama Varma, commonly called “Dharma Raja”. It was built on the orders of the King for the benefit of Thachil Mathoo Tharakan, one of his ministers, who was also the first ever native Christian to be appointed as a minister in a Princely State in India. The old church was renovated several times. It is situated on the road leading to the airport.
Kovalam Beach. 17 km from Thiruvananthapuram City, the locals believe this to be one of the finest beaches in India. There are 2 large beaches and they are highly safe for swimming. A visit to Kovalam is a must for Trivandrum. The beach becomes crowded during November And December, when foreign tourists flock in mass. Beware of locals on the beach-side restaurants And shops selling items nearly 3 to 4 times more than its normal price. Haggling is accepted with sellers. Several massage palours located near to the beach are fake and are illicit sex palours.
Shanghumukham Beach. (Shangumugham Beach). This city beach is 8 km outside the city, adjacent to the airport. Local people flock here to watch the sunset. It’s a well maintained, safe beach. There is an indoor recreation club nearby. Matsyakanyaka, a gigantic sculpture of a mermaid by sculptor Kanai Kunjiraman draws a fair crowd. A small garden and star-fish shaped restaurant operates here and attracts large crowds. There is also a temple nearby.
The Veli Tourist Village which lies where the Veli Lake meets the Arabian Sea provides for unique boating and picnicking opportunities. Visitors can hire pedal boats or paddle boats as per their convenience. One can also roam the gardens and have a nice picnic or choose to employ the boats for the entire duration of the trip. The view and feel of the place is extremely unique, considering it is merely 12 kms from the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram. Children are known to have a lot of fun climbing the sculptures here and the speedboat ride across the waters. A separate Children’s Park and Floating Cafe run by Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) are added incentives to visit this unique village.
Kerala Art College. Affiliated with Kerala University and easy to find, it is directly opposite the unmissable Chandrasekharan Nair (Football) Stadium. It is housed in an old colonial building with sprawling grounds behind. There are occasional art shows held upstairs, and the downstairs offers a large library with world art books. The grounds have many impressive sculptures from students who are friendly and may be keen to show you around the workshops.
The Koyikkal Palace was built for Umayamma Rani of the Venad Royal Family between 1677 and 1684. Today, however, it is famous as a Folklore Museum and a Numismatics Museum. Its unique antique collection provides one with a valuable insight into the past of Kerala and it attracts people from across the State on a regular basis. The palace itself is a double storied structure famous for its distinct gabled roofs. The Folklore Museum was setup in 1992 and boasts of musical instruments, household utensils and models of folk arts among others. This is the only place in the State where one can see a Charavalayam. This small percussion instrument is played while reciting the ballad Ramakathappattu (the story of Lord Rama). It also contains old manuscripts along with ornaments and decor items used by the erstwhile Royal family. Visiting Hours: 09:00- 17:00 hrs. on all days, except Mondays.
Neyyar dam is a gravity dam on the Neyyar River in Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala, South India, located on the foot of the Western Ghats about 30 km from Thiruvananthapuram. It was established in 1958 and is a popular picnic spot. Lying against the southern low hills of the Western Ghats, Neyyar Dam has a scenic lake. A surprising scenic local, the Neyyar Dam is an excellent picnic spot. There is also a yoga center and several temples near this dam, if you are interested in making a day-trip of it.
The Padmanabhapuram Palace. The old headquarters of Travancore Royal family The palace is recorded as the World’s largest Wooden Palace, by the Guinness Books of Records. It is entirely made of teak and rosewood and has flooring made of granite and a rare ayurvedic mixture with secret extracts to keep the floor cool in the summer season and warm during the rainy season. It has a grand Durbar Hall made out of rosewood and glass. The Palace houses numerous rare antiques, including a 600-year-old spice bed made out of a special wood treated in various spices to rejuvenate the kings. The clock tower is one of the oldest in South Asia that is still working. It is 65 km from Trivandrum City and is in the Kanniyakumari district of Tamil Nadu. The royal sword of Travancore Maharajas is preserved here and is taken to Trivandrum in a grand procession during Arattu Festivals of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple.
Ponmudi. A hill station in the district nestled within a tropical forest. It offers hiking and trekking opportunities. Some notable tourist attractions located in Ponmudi are Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary, Echo Point and various trekking spots. Mist-laden valleys, especially Golden Valley near Kallar River, also draw tourists. Travelers can find a deer park and wood and stone cottages coloured in bright hues. Located about 1.5 km from the hill station, is the Ponmudi Falls. Around 3 km from the Ponmudi Resort, is the Deer Park. The Meenmutty Falls, another tourist attraction of the region, is about 3 km from the Kallar Main Road.
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