(Kerala Tourism) The capital city housing the political administration, famous for its beaches, historical monuments and parks, the city is also famous for its temples, educational institutions, and research centres. One of the oldest cities in India, with periodic references in many Greek and Roman literature, However, the city’s position came when the Venad Dynasty came into power in the Southern regions, after the Great Partition of Kerala Empire of Cheras in the 14th century. Though Venad rulers had their capital at Kollam (70 kilometre’s north of City Thiruvananthapuram), the town was well considered as a major trading centre. The rise of new Venad King, Maharaja Marthanada Varma and subsequently formation of Travancore Kingdom in late 17th century proved a turning point for the city. The Raja, after formation of the kingdom by annexing many small states and feudal principalities, dedicated the entire kingdom to Lord Padmanabha, the presiding deity of Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple and crowned as Emperor, making the royal family rule in the name of the lord. This resulted in making Thiruvananthapuram as the capital of the new kingdom and the city started growing around the temple. In the 19th century, the entire administration was brought to Thiruvananthapuram city from the Royal headquarters of Sree Padmanabhapuram Fort, which marked the completion of the first phase of Thiruvananthapuram city. Travancore was one of the most powerful Indian Princely states during British Raj, with the kingdom becoming the 3rd richest state among native states. Thiruvananthapuram city, under the royal patronage, grew into a major academic, cultural hub of India, with many firsts to its credit. The Maharajas always cared to keep their capital, one of the greenest cities in India, which resulted in many praises for the capital. As the power and wealth of Travancore Kingdom reached its peak during early 20th century, Thiruvananthapuram became a major prosperous city. With the independence of India, the Travancore chose to ascend into the Indian union. After the formation of Kerala state in 1957, it was decided to retain Thiruvananthapuram as the capital city. Being a capital and administrative city, it remains to be one of the hottest political centres in Kerala. The 3rd phase of the development came in the early 1990s, when the Kerala Government decided to establish Technopark a large IT Park. The growth of Technopark, as the largest Information Technology park in South Asia, made a major impetus for the growth of the city. Today the city is in focus to make it a major IT/Bio-Technology hub.

Sree Anantha Padmanabha Temple is one of the oldest temples of India. The temple itself has 1000’s of stories to tell with immaculate sculptures and mandapas. The entire Thiruvananthapuram city was built around this temple. It’s an architectural wonder and was nominated from India into 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 corridors famous for its sculptures and a large collection of temple mural paintings. The temple has a large clear pond called Padma Theertham, which is also the landmark.

East Fort, an old fort around Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple. Today most of the 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.

Kerala Tourism

Ramanayar Palace Museum East entrance of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple. Has a good collection of many antique items from the Travancore era Kings. Thrones, paintings and many belongings kept in a very good condition housed in an erstwhile royal building. During the Navaratri time, the palace attracts a lot of people with idols of Saraswati and Durga brought from Sree Padmanabhapuram Palace.

Kuthiramallikka Palace Also known as Puthen Palace, this was constructed by famous musician King Swati Thirunal. The palace features several relics and antiques belonging to Maharaja Swati Thirunal. The key feature is its grand facade designed in form of horses, hence the name struck. The Annual Swati Thirunal Music festival is held in the Palace Lawns.

The Napier Museum (note that 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) named after former Madras governor, Lord Napier (Francis Napier, 10th Lord Napier and 1st Baron Ettrick), this museum is a beautiful building in the museum (read: park) compound. This masterpiece was designed by Madras Government architect Robert Chisholm in Indo-Saracenic style. This museum displays rare archaeological and historical artefacts including bronze idols, ceramics, an impressive carved wooden cart, Buddhist statues from various parts of the country and some neighbouring places, ivory carvings, chests, Balinese shadow puppets, various old coins, Hindu puja items, etc. Quite a few of the 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. Don’t miss looking up at the impressive roof when you enter!

Keralan Museum Housed in a beautiful old colonial building, this newly developed museum (circa 2008 vintage) presents a parodied history of Kerala. It’s the first ‘interactive’ museum in the country, featuring touch screen terminals. Unfortunately, like so many museums and historical texts in India, there are no maps at all. Regardless, the museum comes across as 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 the staff of the adjacent tourist department offers good value fish or vegetable curry.

Sree Chithra Art Gallery is an art gallery located in the Museum compound and displays a rare collection of mainly Indian paintings. The main attractions are paintings by world famous Kerala painter Raja Ravi Varma and other famous painters Raja Varma and Nicholas Roerich. Also featured are miniature paintings from around the world, Kerala mural paintings and Tanjore miniature paintings.

The Zoological Park This is the first zoo in India opened in 1843, as a concept of Palace for wildlife. Situated in the Museum compound, this area is a rich botanical garden. There is a wide variety of animals, plants and birds. It has a separate reptile park and butterfly garden.

Kerala Legislature Assembly Complex The new Legislature Assembly Complex called as Niyamasabha (Law House in Malayalam), is a superimposing modern structure located in heart of the city. It’s famous for its classical Kerala architecture with ornate teak works, a unique Kerala styled dome, exquisitely designed interiors and a vast expanse of greenery around it. Photos shoot before this structure is a favourite activity among tourists. Adjacent to Legislature assemble, there is a good museum that depicts the history of South Asian Legislature assemblies. This building was once the headquarters of Travancore Royal Nair Brigade (Travancore Army). Today it’s one of the best galleries that can give you a detailed look into the history of South Asian legislature activities and process.

Kanaka Kunnu Palace (Golden Hill Palace in Malayalam) is a cultural hotspot of the town. The large palace and its sprawling gardens were once the banquet palace for visiting State guests of Travancore. Today it’s a famous for its galleries and the grand lawns serve as open-air auditoriums for regular concerts and evening dance programs.

Priyadarshini Space Planetarium is one of the largest planetariums of India rated as one of the best horizontal planetariums of the world, with a good collection of astronomical science objects from ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization). It has 2 major shows regarding various secrets of the universe. It has a good Sky Theatre, a large conference hall and venue of regular space related programs. Kerala Science and Technology Museum, near to Priyadarshini Planetarium, is one of the largest science museums, featuring a timeline of various technologies in the area of electronics, technology etc. There are several galleries on Electrical Engineering, Biomedical, Mechanical Engineering, etc. It has a very good collection of many electronic types of equipment and a good 3D Theatre with regular shows.

Chacha Nehru Children’s Museum is a good children’s museum with a large collection of dolls, masks, paintings etc. A mini aquarium and water play area is set here. Located in Thycuad, in the heart of the city, is a good evening spot for families.

Kowdiar Palace is a super-imposing structure, located in Kowdiar. This is the current official residence of Travancore Maharajas and royal family and off-the-limits for 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 King of Travancore who was very popular king.

Kowdiar Palace is a super-imposing structure, located in Kowdiar. This is the current official residence of Travancore Maharajas and royal family and off-the-limits for 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 King of Travancore who was very popular king.

Shanghumukham Beach This city beach is 8 km outside the city, adjacent to the airport. Local people flock there to watch the sunset. It’s a good well maintained the 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 sell items nearly 3 to 4 times more than its normal price. Haggling is accepted as a form of trading with sellers.

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. It is entirely made of teak and rosewood and has exquisite flooring made of granite and a rare Ayurvedic mixture with secret extracts to keep the floor cool in 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 600-year-old spice bed, a rare bed made out of a special wood treated in various spices, to rejuvenate the kings as well as sandal pillars. 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. However, the palace and fort are still maintained by Kerala Government. The royal sword of Travancore Maharajas is preserved here, which is taken to Trivandrum as a grand procession during Arattu Festivals of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple.

Attingal Palace the erstwhile headquarters of Travancore Queens who ruled a small province of Attingal within Travancore, The large palace also houses one of the family temples of Travancore Royal Family. Much of the palace is off-limits to the public; however, its durbar hall and public areas are open to the public.

The Koyikkal Palace situated far of away from the city, was actually built for Umayamma Rani of the Venad Royal Family who ruled the land between 1677 and 1684. The palace is a double storeyed traditional nalukettu with slanting gabled roofs and an inner courtyard. There are some experiences related to the past in which we completely forget our associations with the present times. When we enter the Folklore and Numismatics museum at Koyikkal Palace, Nedumangad, such an experience awaits us. It is a real treasure house of quaint musical instruments, occupational implements, household utensils, models of folk arts etc. This museum was set up in 1992 and the exhibits here draw attention to the rich cultural background of the state. Many rare articles like Chandravalayam, Nanduni (musical instruments), Kettuvilakku (a ceremonial lamp) and many golds as well as the silver coins of the yesteryears, can be seen here. Located in a lush green area, the palace is sure to enthral you if you have a love for the past. So, do not miss it if you are in the capital city, Thiruvananthapuram.

Aruvikkara Dam located on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram city is a picturesque picnic spot located on the banks of the Karamana River. Near the Durga Temple here is a stream full of fish that fearlessly come close to the shore to be fed by the visitors. Boating facilities are available at the reservoir.

Kerala Tourism

The Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary of which the dam is a part is the habitat of over a hundred species of fauna including Asian Elephant, Tiger, Leopard, Slender Loris and reptiles like King Cobra, Travancore Tortoise, etc. A crocodile breeding centre and a lion safari park are also located on the dam site. A repository of some of the rarest medicinal herbs, the Neyyar Dam located about 32 km from Thiruvananthapuram, is a popular picnic spot with a lake and a picturesque dam site. The lake formed by the dam across the Neyyar River is the bluest of blue, making boating irresistible for tourists.

kerala-tourism

Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary Lying on the outskirts of the capital city is spread over an area of 53 square kilometres. on the Western Ghats and was established in 1938. The place is fascinating for its dam site, thick forest areas, crystal clear streams and rocky terrains ideal for adventure expeditions. The sanctuary has a rich population of mammalian fauna and is emerging as a big attraction to wildlife enthusiasts and ornithologists. Asian elephant, sambar, leopard, lion-tailed macaque, can be seen here. Birdlife includes the endemics like Malabar Grey Hornbill, White-bellied Treepie, Small Sunbird, etc. Recently, a joint effort has been made by Kerala Tourism with the State Forest Department and the Kerala Water Authority to beautify the dam site and provide more entertainment/leisure facilities here.

Ponmudi Located within a short driving distance of Thiruvananthapuram, Ponmudi is an enchanting hill resort with narrow winding pathways and cool, green environs. Along with a beautiful array of mountain flowers, exotic butterflies and small rivulets, Ponmudi offers excellent opportunities for trekking. With its tea estates and mist covered valleys, Ponmudi is a fast developing hill resort with cottages and dormitory accommodation facilities.

Ponmudi Located within a short driving distance of Thiruvananthapuram, Ponmudi is an enchanting hill resort with narrow winding pathways and cool, green environs. Along with a beautiful array of mountain flowers, exotic butterflies and small rivulets, Ponmudi offers excellent opportunities for trekking. With its tea estates and mist covered valleys, Ponmudi is a fast developing hill resort with cottages and dormitory accommodation facilities.