Trivandrum International Airport, Trivandrum Hotels
Kerala's capital, Thiruvananthapuram, is still widely and more commonly known as Trivandrum. The city is set on seven low hills, only a couple of kilometres inland from the Arabian Sea.
Despite its administrative importance it is an easy-going state capital by Indian standards. As a capital the city has wide roads, multi-storey office blocks and gleaming white colonial buildings. You can see traditional red-tiled gabled houses breaking up the bustle of its modern concrete centre and a swathe of parkland spreading to the north.
Although it has few monuments as such, Thiruvananthapuram holds enough of interests to fill a day away from the sands of nearby Kovalam. The oldest and most interesting part of town is the Fort area in the south, around the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple and Puttan Makika palace, with the traditional Chalai Bazar extending east.
At the opposite side of the city centre, the Sri Chitra Art Gallery and Napier Museum showcase painting, crafts and sculpture in a leafy park. In addition, schools specializing in the martial art Kalarippayattu and the dance/theatre forms of Kathakali and Koodiyattam offer an insight into the Kerala's obsession with physical training and skill.
Connected to most major Indian cities, as well as Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Singapore and the Middle East, Trivandrum international airport lies 6 km southwest of the city. The best way to get to the centre is on the orange a/c low floor bus, which runs from the arrivals concourse to the City bus stand in East Fort and from there on to Kovalam.
Auto-rickshaws can also get you into the centre and there is a handy fixed-rate taxi service. You'll find Kerala Tourism information booth, ATM and Thomas Cook foreign exchange facility just before the exit of the arrivals concourse.
The long distance KSRTC Thampanoor bus stand and railway station face each other across Station Road in the southeast of the city, a short walk east of Overbridge Junction on MG Road. There is handy pre-paid auto-rickshaw stand directly outside the train station's main exit.
Information and Tours
Kerala Tourism maintains information counters at the airport and KSRTC Thamapnoor bus stand. KTDC hosts a visitor reception centre next to the KTDC Chaithram hotel on Station Road, where you can book accommodation in their hotel chain and tickets for various guided tours.
Most of the KTDC tours, including the city tours, are far too rushed. But if you're really pushed for time and want to reach the tip of India, try the Kanyakumari tour which takes in Padmanabhapuram Palace, Suchindram temple, and Kanyakumari, the southernmost spot in India in the state of Tamil Nadu.
The Trivandrum City
Thiruvananthapuram's main sights-the Padmanbhaswamy temple, Puttan Malika Palace and Chalai Bazar-are clustered in the historic quarter of Fort, on the south side of the city. The district is compact enough to get around on foot, but you'll want to jump in an auto-rickshaw to reach the museum complex, on the opposite northern side of the centre.
Connecting south and north M G Road is the city's main thoroughfare lined by big banks, hotels and shopping malls. Traffic moves freely enough along it except the evening rush hour and when one of the frequent, but generally orderly, political demonstration converges on the grand colonial Secretariat building.
Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple
The Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple is Thiruvananthapuram's leading temple, and the city's main shrine to its guardian deity. The temple was built by the Maharaja of Travancore way back in 1733 to house an idol of Vishnu that was supposedly discovered deep in the forest.
Built in the traditional Dravidian style of architecture, the Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple is open only to Hindus and is home to a 6 m long statue of the Lord Vishnu, reclining on Anantha, the thousand headed serpent. Doors have been strategically placed in the walls surrounding the idol, to allow the faithful views of the deity's head, torso and feet.
Puthen Malika Palace
One of Thiruvananthapuram's main attractions, the splendid Puthen Malika Palace is a treat for anyone keen on art and culture. It boasts of some true marvellous architecture and holds an excellent collection of family heirlooms of the Travancore royalty. The palace was first home of the Travancore royal family when it shifted to Thiruvananthapuram.
Part of the Puthen Malika palace is open to the public and visitors can go on a tour of the rooms to view their glossily polished plaster floors and intricately carved wooden screens. The museum section of the palace has, among its many attractions, weapons, murals and large crystal throne originally gifted by the Dutch.
CVN Kalari Sangham
Situated in close proximity to the Shri Padmanabahswamy Temple, the CVN Kalari Sangham is dedicated to the martial art known as Kalarippayattu. It is a traditional Kerala form of self-defence that combines elements of ayurveda with dance, animal movements and more. All of it creates a martial art form that is really an art; so beautifully fluid and vivid that it looks almost choreographed!
The CVN Kalari Sangham was established in 1956 and conducts courses in Kalarippayattu, besides staging performances every evening at the centre's gymnasium, a performance which can be viewd for free.
The Margi School
Thiruvananthapuram has for centuries been a major crucible for Kerala classical arts. The Margi Theatre School, at the western corner of the Fort area, keeps the flame of the region's oldest ritual theatre traditions burning brightly. Kathakali dance drama and the more rarely Performed Koodiyattam theatre form dominate the curriculum.
By prior arrangement visitors can watch students being put through their paces; foreign students are also welcome to attend an introductory course. However, the reason most visitors venture out here is to watch one of the authentic Kathakali or Koodiyattam performances staged in its small theatre.
The Napier Museum
The Napier Museumm, also called the Government Art Museum, is one of Kerala's best msueums and houses a fine collection of artefacts from all across the state.
The building of the Museum is in itself worth a look- it was designed by Robert Chisholm, who seems to have rather let his imagination run wild! The structure is striking combination of traditional Kerala, Indo-Saracenic and colonial architecture with gabled tiled roofs, Islamic arches, tall pillars and bright red brickwork. The interiors are vivid with stained glass, red and white lattice work, wooden ceilings and garish stripes of pink, red, yellow and turquoise.
The collection is more prosaic; it features bronzes, jewellery, carved ivory, ancient musical instruments, costumes, masks, a wooden temple cart with carvings and life-size figurines of Kathakali dancers among other things.
The Zoological Gardens
Considered one of the best zoos, not just in India but also in Asia as such, Thiruvanathapuram's Zoological Gardens are worth a visit for anybody who is keen on wildlife.
Set amidst beautifully landscaped lawns and lakes, the Zoo has a total about 100 species of animal life. There is a Botanical Garden, also part of the zoological Garden, which houses an excellent collection of tropical vegetation.
Sri Chitra Art Gallery
Like many of the other major sights in Trivandrum, the superb Sri Chitra Art Gallery is also housed in a traditional Kerala building, a fine example of authentic Travancore architecture. The galley has an excellent collection of art, including works from as far away as China, Japan, Tibet and Bali, but most prominently from the Rajput, Tanjore, Bengal and Mughal schools of art.
Among the vast array of medieval and modern works on display are portraits of the Travancore royal family and paintings by the Russian artist Nicholas Roerich. The galley has a special section devoted to the art of Raja Ravi Varma. There are some excellent portraits of British residents and local maharajas painted by the famous artist in the galley.
On Sunday evenings, half the resident of Trivandrum City migrates to Shangumugham Beach, 8 km west of the centre, to stroll along the sand and watch the sunset. Fried-food stalls spring up on the roadside and the Indian Coffee House does a roaring trade at its popular seafront branch.
The main attraction, aside from the surf, is a huge sculpture in concrete of a curvaceous mermaid reclining on landscaped ground behind the Indian Coffee House- a work by the renowned Kerala artist Kanai Kunhiraman.
Shangumugham draws the biggest crowds of all during the biannual Arattu festival, when the Padmanabhaswamy deity is brought, amid much pomp, from the temple to be ritually immersed in the sea here.
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Thiruvananthapuram India. Things to see. Museums and art galleries. Beaches and Resorts.
Thiruvananthapuram Travel. Getting there, getting around. Entertainment, festivals and Events.