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Thiruvananthapuram - A tete a tete with the city

Also known as : Trivandrum

Location : Southern India, Kerala

Founded in : Proof of existence since 1000 BC

Best time to visit : September to May

Local Transport : Auto rickshaws, buses

Places to see : Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Vettukad Church, Kovalam Beach and many more places.

Souvenirs : Handicrafts, wood carved articles, sandalwood articles

Thiruvananthapuram - The Tale of the city

  Thiruvanthapuram is a city which is very ancient and has been having trading relations from 1000 BC. King Solomon came with his ships here and landed in the Ophir port. This is today known as the Poovar in Thiruvananthapuram. This happened in 1036 BC. The earliest rulers of this city were the Ays. Their rule deteriorated in the 10th century and Thiruvananthapuram was taken over by the rulers of Venad. In the 17th century Marthanda Varma, the founding ruler of Travancore made Thiruvananthapuram his capital in 1745. In the 19th century, Maharaja Swathi Thirunal and Maharaja Ayilyam Thirunal established and put the city on the path to progress. In1834 the first English school was established. In 1837, the Observatory was established. In 1838, the General Hospital was found and in 1873, the Oriental Research Institute & Manuscripts Library and the University College was found. Around the same time, the first mental hospital was found. The Sanskrit College, Ayurveda College, Law College and a second grade college for women were started by Moolam Thirunal in the 19th century. The first democratically elected legislative council was established in the 20th century. It was merged with the State of Kerala when the Kerala state was formed in 1956.

Thiruvananthapuram - Down the Ages

Thiruvananthapuram is a land of culture, tradition and history. Down the ages, the city has progressed to be one of the most successful ones in India. The Thiruvananthapuram municipality was born in 1920. After ten years in 1940 it got converted to a Corporation when Thirunal Bala Rama Varma took over the city. In 1936, there was an act of social emancipation and it was called the “Temple Entry Proclamation”. The University of Travancore was established in 1937. This later became the Kerala University. When India became independent, Travancore joined the Indian Union. Thiruvananthapuram became the capital of Thiru-Kochi which was the state that formed by merging Travancore and Kochi. In 1949, Chitra Thirunal Bala Rama Varma became the main head or the RAjpramukh of the Travancore Cochin Union. Thiruvananthapuram became the capital of Kerala when the state was formed in 1956. Down the ages, Thiruvananthapuram has the Thumb Equatorial Rocket Launching Station and is also housing the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre. In 1995, India’s first IT Park and the third largest in Asia, was established. Thus Thiruvananthapuram down the ages has progressed to a great extent and is today one of the more respected cities of India.

Thiruvananthapuram - A Rendezvous

Thiruvananthapuram, Trivandrum is considered as the gateway to the State of Kerala. The name Thiruvananthapuram means the abode of the sacred serpent Anantha on which Lord Vishnu, rests. Lord Vishnu is the Indian God who is considered as the preserver. Built on seven hills, Thiruvananthapuram is a city par excellence. The backwaters of this place stretch along the coastal area of the country and the experience is enthralling. Thiruvananthapuram, the city of the thousand headed Anantha, is a city with an undulating stretch of plains and the clean green city is a living example of exotic beauty and grandeur coupled with a historical past. The vast spaces here and the green expanse make a tourist gasp for more and it is a Paradise on Earth.

Thiruvananthapuram - Travel kitty

Thiruvananthapuram, the jewel in the emerald necklace of the state of Kerala, has the legend that Sage Parasurama threw his divine axe from Kanyakumari to Gokarnam in West Kerala.  Besides this, the story of Mahabali the just ruler of Kerala is also told. There are many travelers and explorers like Columbus, Vasco Da Gama, Marco Polo , Fa Hien etc who have visited this place and made use of its culture and tradition. Thus the travel kitty for a tourist visiting this place is only the nostalgia surrounding it, the history behind this city and the atmosphere of traditional values that ekes out of every corner of this city.

Thiruvananthapuram - Joie de vivre in the city

Thiruvananthapuram has beautiful environments and magnificently constructed temples. Its scenic beauty has been the favored place for saints, hermits and the people who are religious minded. The beautiful mix of the topography of the place with its rivers, oceans and lush green forests make it the perfect setting for the art of Yoga to develop. The hills and the fertility of the plains, is used in the manufacture of medicines and thus the science of Ayurveda has grown from Thiruvananthapuram, and the joie de vivre here is in breathing in the natural beauty and feeling the air of posterity around. One could see the following places here:

Temples :

Sri Ananthapadmanabhaswamy Temple : The ancient Temple is the main feature of Thiruvananthapuram. It overlooks the Padma Theertam Tank. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The main feature  is to see the idol of Lord Vishnu reclining on Sri Anantha. Sri Anantha the hooded snake is from where Thiruvananthapuram gets its name. It has a 100 feet high dome built in Dravidian style. This is the city’s landmark; the main structure of the building is built in Kerala and Dravidian style. The temple is famous for its mural paintings and stone carvings and is one of the 108 temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Raja Marthanda Varma renovated the temple in 1733 AD. Temple is allowed access only to Hindus and there is a certain dress code to be followed.

Kanyakumari : This lies in the State of Tamil Nadu and is 87 kms from Thiruvananthapuram. This is the place where there is a confluence of the three major Indian water bodies- The Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal. The beautiful scene of the sun rising from the Bay of Bengal and the sun setting in the Arabian Sea is worth watching. The Kanyakumari temple is considered holy so Kanyakumari is a holy place for the Hindus. The Vivekananda Rock Memorial and the Gandhi Smarak Mandir are tourist attractions here.

Sucheendram : This is located around 74 kms from Thiruvananthapuram. It lies in the state of Tamil Nadu. With its exquisite carvings and beautiful sculptures this place is a worth see. A huge statue of Hanuman and the navagrahas which are carved on the ceilings give the place its beauty and the grandeur and splendor of the temple is remarkable.

Aranmula Parthasarthy Temple : This is dedicated to Lord Krishna or Parthasarthi and is believed to be dating back to the Mahabharata days. Chengannur is the place where the temple is located en route Thiruvananthapuram - Kottayam. Snake boats are very common here as a form of water sports and the snake boat race held in August is a famous event here. The Aranmula mirrors are very famous here and they are called the “Aranmula Kannadi”.

Kulathupuzha Temple : This is situated en route Thiruvananthapuram - Shenkottah Road. This place is famous for its temple built in dedication of Lord Ayyappa. There is an annual festival held here in the months of April-May.

Sivagiri Mutt : Founded by the great Hindu reformed Sree Narayana Guru, this is a famous ashram and is a much frequented place by the Hindus. The pilgrimage to this place is called the Sivagiri pilgrimage. It is the headquarters of the Sree Narayana Dharma Sangham which is a religious organization founded by the Guru who wanted to spread the word of “One Caste, One Religion, One God.’ Besides this, we also have the Sarada temple and the Sivagiri Mutt.

Churches :

Vettukad Church : This is around 7 kms from Thiruvananthapuram: This is also called the “Madre De Deus” and is known as the Vettukad Church. It attracts thousands of devotees from all religions. The “Feast of Christ, The King” is celebrated here.

Beaches :

Sankhumugham Beach : This vast expanse of land with its golden sand is a favourite spot for sunset lovers. Next to the Thiruvananthapuram airport the beach has a huge 35 m long sculpture of a mermaid along the beach. It is a popular beach and is frequented by the tourists who come to enjoy the rides and the ambience.

Kovalam Beach : Situated on the Malabar coast, this is a world famous beach resort. With its magnificent greenery dotted with vast expanses of coconut trees, the ravishing beauty Kovalam is a sight to behold. The bays decorated with palm trees and the limitless expanse of the blue Arabian sea, the white beach sands is a traveller’s dream come true. Aquatic sports, swimming, sea food coupled with the crescent shaped beach is divided into the southern beach, middle beach and the northern beach. The southern beach has the Lighthouse beach and is called by that name. One can have a look at the Vizhinzam mosque here. The middle beach or the Hawah beach is the fisherman’s base. The northern beach or the Samdudra has just a few wooden fishing vessels. Kovalambeach has facilities for an ayurvedic health massage.

Varkala Beach : This is a famous sea side beach resort and is also a very important Hindu pilgrim centre. It is popular for its rich springs of mineral water that rise from the coastline. There is a Janardana Swami temple and a Nature Centre here that are the main attractions here. High cliffs are a regular and normal feature in the ebach and Hindus take a dip here as it is believed that the beach waters has the capacity to purge the body and the soul of all the sins. There is a ritual here called the Vavu Bali where in the ancestors are believed to rest in peace.

Others Tourist Spots :

Veli Tourist Village : This is a large centre for recreation and relaxation. It is situated near the Thiruvananthapuram airport and lies along a lagoon which is sheltered. This is a popular picnic spot and is also liked for its water sport facilities.

Aruvikkara : This is around 16 km from the main city. It has a picnic spot, a pilgrim centre and a waterfall nearby. This is situated on the banks of the River Karamana and has a temple, a rock cut shrine which is dedicated to Goddess Bhagwati, and an attractive stream. A waterfall near this place is an attraction for all the tourists. Besides, there is a mini dam which supplies water to the entire city.

Beema Palli : This is an important pilgrim centre for the Muslims. This lies around 5 kms to the south of Thiruvananthapuram. It has been dedicated to BeemBeevi a pious Muslim lady who had divine powers of all faiths in the mosque.

Vizhinjam : This is a fishing port near Kovalam. This is important as a project to generate electricity and power from wave energy is being installed here.

Public Park : This is an expanse of greenery which has many important institutions, like the Zoo and the Botanical Gardens. There is an observatory hill which is located in the Public Park.

Fort and Palaces :

Anchuthengu Fort : This is located around 36kms from Thiruvanthapuram. There are only the remains of the fort now. It was built by the British East India Company in the 17th century. There is a cemetery adjoining the relics and it is the first trading station of the British in the Malabar coast.

Padmanabha Puram Palace : This is around 54 kms from Thiruvananthapuram. There is a lot of woodwork here which is very extravagant and extraordinary. This was where the rulers of Travancore had their capital. It has many relics all of historical and artistic value. It was built in the 16th century by the rulers of Travancore. This is a good place for any lover of art and architecture and has the most exquisite interiors with rosewood carving and sculptured décor. The splendor and the grandeur of the palace overwhelm the tourist. The palace was the home of the Royal family of Travancore but is in Tamil Nadu now in the process of separating the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The woodwork, the floral carvings and the glossy floor made of granite make this palace a beautiful piece of history.

Koyikal Palace : This is situated around 18 km from Thiruvananthapuram and is en route to Ponmudi. It is famous as the official residence of Perakom Thavazhi of Ummayamma Rani of the Venad Royal Family. They ruled this place in the 16th century. The palace has two storeys and has slanting roofs which are famous for “Nalukettu” which is the traditional style of architecture. A folklore museum and a numismatics museum is located here. The Folklore Museum which was set up in 1992 is a treasure house of antique musical instruments, household utensils, folk models etc. Articles like Chandravalayam (a small percussion used as an accompaniment), “Ramakathappattu, (story of Lord Sree Rama) “Nanthuni” a sweet sounding musical instrument made of wood and string. This is an instrument used during the singing of the “Onnappatu “and the “Nanthunippattu” which are two songs sung during Onam. Onam is the harvest Festival of Kerala. The old manuscript or the “thaliyola’ , the Chilambu – a sort of anklet which was used by Umayamma Rani and the Maravuri which is a dress material made out of the bark of trees are preserved in this museum.

The Numismatics Museum is the only kind of museum in Kerala. The coins displayed here are those belonging to different parts of the world. The venetian coin “ amaida”, the Indian coin “Karsha’, the Roman gold coins depicting the Roman gods Venus, Hercules, Mars, Ceres, etc. and the world’s smallest coins besides the coins used by the Gwalior Royal family, the Nizam of Hyderabad, Tipu Sultan are available here.

Hill Station :

Ponmudi : Situated at a distance of 61 kms from Thiruvananthapuram, the beautiful surroundings enchant the tourist with their verdant expanse, the facilities of trekking and the waters of the streams. The hill ranges, the tea estates and the valley with mist hanging over them, the cottages with their lovely painted pink, white, violet roofs all lend beauty to the pristine place.

Museums :

Napier Museum : This museum in Kerala is a combination of the Chinese and Mughal influences in India. The architecture here is exquisite and the English architect Chisholm who designed this building is a storehouse of archaeological and historic artifacts.  With the museum originating in the 18th century, the bronze articles, temples carts, ivory carvings and Kathakali dance figurines, the interiors of the museum have an Indo Sarcenic kind of architecture. The striped pink and blue alternating with the yellow and cherry red coupled with a scalloped banana yellow arch, elaborate balconies, and the white lattice work, and mock freizes make this place a building worth seeing. The Natural History Museum started in 1857 is here and has a stupendous collection of ethnographic pieces, animal skeletons and stuffed animals and birds.

Kuthiramalika Palace Museum : This is a marvelous specimen of Kerala architecture. With its excellent work on carvings and architectural designs, this is a piece of heritage no tourist should ever miss. It contains articles belonging to the erstwhile State of Travancore. Built by His Highness Maharaja Swathi Thirunal Balarama Varma, the palace has exquisitely carved paintings with great collections of the earlier Royal family here. The walls are whitewashed, with granite and marble cables supporting the wooden gables and slatted windows below the red tiled windows which are typical of Kerala architecture. It is said that around 5000 workers worked for four years to complete this palatial museum. Life size Kathakali figurines, ivory cots, thrones of kings, a musical tree producing eight swaras are some souvenirs to be seen in this museum.

Science And Technology Museum : This is situated in Thiruvananthapuram and was mainly found to involve the public with activities regarding the disciplines of Science and Technology. All the exhibits here are related to science and technology and deal with the working of science. There is an observatory in the highest point opposite the Kanakkakunnu Palace. This gives a bird’s eye view of the entire city.

Thus with all this culture and tradition, Thiruvananthapuram, the city of Lord Vishnu has folklores and literatures of the past all which express the glory and grandeur of the city.

As we leave the place we think “Glory be to Lord Vishnu.”

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