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Shubhyatra >> Kerala Yatra >> Thiruvananthapuram


District : Thiruvananthapuram
Location : Coastal region of India
Known As : God's Own Country
Best Time To Visit : September to May

Thiruvananthapuram - The City That Reclines on The Serpent God

Padmanabha Swamy Temple
Padmanabha Swamy Temple

To See : Kovalam Beach, Padmanabha Swamy Temple, Kuthiramalika Palace Museum, The Napier Museum, Sree Chitbra Art Gallery.
Famous Festivals : Attukal Pongala, Vetta and Arattu, Nishagandhi Dance Festival, The Great elephant Race.
Most Famous For : Kovalam Beach, Padmanabha Swamy Temple.
Don't Miss : Kalarippayattu - the Martial Art Tradition of Kerala
Must Experience : The most famous Ayur Clinic, Ayur Heath Centre and Ayurveda College. These Centres provide succour to your Body.
Getting Around : Thiruvallam - 10 kms, Kovalam - 13 km, Nedumangad - 20 km, Aruvikkara Dam - 16 kms, Kanyakumari - Cape Comorin.
To Shop : East Fort Compound – Mundus, Gold Jewellery, Brass Lamps, Kairali Handicrafts near Statue Junction – Straw Bags, Mats.
Getting There : Air - Trivendrum Airport linked by Flights to Delhi, Mumbai, Cochin, Madras.
Rail - Trivandrum Central Railway Station. Kerala Express connects daily to Delhi. Netravati Express goes to Mumbai.
Road - NH - 47 to Thiruvananthapuram via Alleppey and Kollam. Trivendrum. 55 km north of the former capital of Travancore, 87 km short of the southern extremity of the Indian mainland.
Inside Tip : Learn the Martial Art form Kalarippayattu and savour the flavour of Keralite Cuisine on Banana Leaf.
Important Distances : 218 km south of Kochi, Palakkad - 356 km, Thrissur - 289 km, Alleppey - 147 km, Kollam - 63 km.
Where to Eat : Kalavara – Kerala Thali, Chinene and North Indian Dishes, Azad Restaurant – Malabari Biryani, Amritha Hotel – typical Keralite dishes.
Staying Options : Mascot Hotel, The South Park, The Muthoot Plaza, Saj Luciya.

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Irrefutably, if you are planning to visit the southern coast of India, you should leave your footprints on the land that portraits a modest ambiance and shies away from the lolling monicker that visitors often struggle to pronounce. More popularly known as Trivandrum, the gateway to Kerala stretches along the pristine banks of Arabian Sea with its shimmering backwaters reaching deep into the verdant countryside - a spacious layout where the old and modern are surrounded by gently swaying coconut palms and majestic, gabled, pagoda-roofed traditional buildings. Camouflaged in a small town cloak, Thiruvananthapuram has no skyscrapers aiming for the clouds or tourist wows - save the mediocre spires on temple heads - no fast cars racing down glitzy lanes, no night clubs where you can bang your head to rock. Yet this undulating terrain of seven low coastal hills has a distinctive scent of power sprayed in its clean streets. It is here you can see how political influence speeds up the wheels of time, chucking the old frame into hands of modernity. Nevertheless, the palaces of the Travancore rulers, gracious 'tharavads' and bunglows that dot the capital, lend distinction to the city, for they haven't resigned to the onslaught of progress. Today, Thiruvananthapuram shines as a radiant jewel, nature's favoured child and God's own domain.

Days of Raj

Thiru-v-anantha-puram is a three sylable onyma means the abode of the snake god Shri Anantha, the thousand-headed, divine serpent on which Lord Vishnu reclines. The city was once a part of the erstwhile kingdom of Travancore under the reign of Raja Marthanda Varma, who had his capital at Padmanabhapuram (now in Tamil nadu) in 1729. After Marthanda Varma, it remained the capital of Travancore and after independence, became the capital of State of Travancore-Cochin. Later in 1956, when Kerala state was formed, Thiruvananthapuram with its narrow winding lanes and busy commercial alleys, once again became the capital of Kerala.

Hunt The Exclusive Charms of Thiruvananthapuram

Allure In The Divinity of The Padmanabha Swamy Temple
If you wonder why such a tongue twister had the pleasure of being the name of the capital of God's own country, you will find the answer lies in a linguistic evolution tempered with history, logic and, sometimes, simply gratitude. And this is how, Syaanandoori changed to Syaanandoorapuram and Ananthakaatu to Ananthapuram, before finally glad to get a easy name as Thiruvananthapuram. All these names are a tribute to the presiding deity 'Padmanabha Swamy', whose temple has shone like a 'gem of purest ray' in the heart of this old city. Wander around the 324 pillared corridor and you will be overwhelmed to see how this seven storeyed work of architecture impeccably blends both Kerala and the Dravidian styles of art. Throw a glance at the innumerable stone carvings, ancient inscriptions and colourful murals embellishing the walls of this grand structure. For a visitor, the question is usually how to capture the beauty of the idol in one single glance. Mind it, it is not an easy task to behold the details from three separate doors. From one you can see the Lord's feet, from another the lotus, and from the third, the face. Buy an 'archana' (a plate with flowers, sweets and incense sticks) to get on the platform in front and have a close look of the golden idol. You can also, if you don't mind the bats, climb up into the 'gopuram' for a bird's eye view of the city.

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Beach at Poovar Island Resort Thiruvananthapuram
Beach at Poovar Island Resort Thiruvananthapuram

The Sprawled Secrets In The Capital
The Methan Mani clock atop the Old Fort Palace, at a stone's throw from the temple, operated by a complex system of pulleys is a must see for every visitor. Spend a romantic evening watching the sunset, sitting on the small granite 'mandapa' nestling on the banks of the Karamana river. Trivandrum is famous for its rigour in training children. The city is peppered with signs and boards of hundreds of tuition centres swelling all over the terrain: Our Tutorial, Your Tutorial, Victory Tutorial. But amidst these pads of learning, opposite the Secretariat, you can see a huge black man in a turban, resting on a pedestal, lost in thought. This is the famous statue of Diwan Madhav Rao, an exceptionally talented administrator of yore. If you are lost in Trivandrum, tell the ubiquitous auto-rickshaw driver "The Statue" and he will put you right back on the map.

Spare some time to visit the etherally beautiful Napier Museum, a paradise for antique lovers. Built in the 19th century, the museum displays a wide array of archaeological and historic artifacts, plastic casts, bronze idols, ancient ornaments, a temple chariot and ivory carvings. Look at the tall, slender towers, gabled roofs and stained glass windows, which somehow give the impresson that the entire structure is gossamer light and might be carried away by a gush of wind at any moment. There is a fairy tale quality embossed in its walls - a mystique that the martinet years hae failed to unravel - and has to be seen to understand.

If you happen to be in Thiruvananthapuram on weekends, spend your evening at the Shanghumugham Beach, said to be the best place to catch the play of light and shade. Only two things make hundreds of inland and foreign tourists respond to its virgin appeal; its proximity to the town and its mindblowing scene of the sun slowly bleeding in intricate colours to death. And the stars come out one by one over the sea, as if someone is switching on the lamps from the far reaches of the infinite darkness.

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Ayurveda - Hands That Heal

With so much for the soul, the city also provides solace to the body. Follow the course that can put you on the road to healthy living. Banish aches and pains. Burn off excess fat. And rejuvenate you to to take long strides for many decades to come. And all these for just 60-90 minutes of herbal oil massage followed by a herbal steam bath. Yes, it is the magic of ayurveda, the old Indian way of healing. Thiruvananthapuram's situation and climate has provided ayurveda an appropriate locale. The capital also affords a large reservoir of trained and efficient doctors and clinics. Treatments in many of the centres here are the last word in authenticity and, without the markup for tourists, very affordable. So visit Thiruvananthapuram, and surrender yourself in the magical hands of the trained masseurs. Visit any of these centres to breath life through a more confident and healthy personality - Ayur Health Centre at Padmatheerthakara, Ayurveda College, Ayur Health Centre on Vasudeva Vilasam Road are safe bets.

Kalari - Self Defence Art
Kalari - Self Defence Art

Kalari - Intricate Art of Defence

After you think that you are quite fit after a massage, visit the schools that teach and practise traditional martial art of Kerala, Kalarippayattu. No doubt you will be amazed to see their agility and perfection with which they move and attack. If you are lucky, you can even get to know the 18 hands of Buddha, an archaic art that led to the origination of today's kung-fu. One can visit the CVN Kalari, located near the Padmanabha Swamy Temple, near East Fort. Remember, tourists are only entertained on Wednesdays and that too from 6.30-8.30 am in the morning.

Enjoy The City In Its Myriad Festive Moods

Plan a post-monsoon (August-September) trip to Thiruvananthapuram and catch the nail-biting action of the unmatched watersport staged on the world famous back-waters of Kerala - the world famous Snake Boat Races. The event traditionally commemorates the carrying of idols to their abodes in the state's magnificent temples. The 50 m long wooden boats, each powered by over 100 oarsmen, attract the star attention as they slice through the waters - revived by songs and war cries - cheered by thousands of spectators lining the banks. A spectacular event to be seen to believe. While these are much-publicised event, there are other festivals where boats are used. Visit Aranmula, 128 km from Thiruvananthapuram, in the second week of September and behold one such great event at the Parthasarathy Temple festival. After the pultritudinous snake boats, if something captures the mind of travellers, then it has to be the massive pachyderms, Kerala is famous for. Handsomely caparisoned elephants are an integrate part of most of the temple festivals. Visit Thiruvananthapuram, in November to behold the grand procession during the 'Arattu' Festival at the Padmanabha Temple.

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Take Home The Numero Uno of Kerala - Go Shopping

One cannot imagine returning without picking up some of the delicate artifacts from the bustling markets of Thiruvananthapuram. Wander along the slender lanes of East Fort, lined with colourful shops offering a wide range of mundus, gold jewellery and brass lamps. Get a traditional Travancore saree from Karalkada in Kaithamukku Junction. It will look good on you. If you want to get a few items made from carved rosewood or other decorative items including masks worn by Kathakali performers, visit the SMSM Handicraft Emporium behind the Secretariat on YMCA road. One can also shop for hand-knitted and exquisitely designed coir handicrafts including table and floor mats, bell-metal vessels, table lamps, jewel boxes and other wonderful objects.

Take Your Spirits Around on Excursion Trips

Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) operates a number of sight-seeing tours in and around the city. Don't hesitate to cross the border to Tamil Nadu and visit the Padmanabhapuram Palace, situated about 55 km NE of Thiruvananthapuram. A placard of vintage Kerala architecture, this unique marvel in wood is without doubt, the last word in grace, simplicity and tasteful elegance. Considered to be the largest wooden palace in India, the sloping roofs, carved ceilings with their exquisite murals and gleaming floors of this magnificent palace - all polished with a special solution of crushed coconut shells, egg white and plant juices - are enough to take your breath away. If you want to relax in the lap of nature, plan a trip to the tourist village at Aakulam, located at 10 km from the central bus stand. Nestling on the banks of banks of Veli lagoon, this rustic canvas of Malayali culture provides facilities for water sports with speed, safari, row and pedal boats. Spend a memorable afternoon on a traditional houseboat (Kettuvallam) and let your kids chill in the swimming pool or children's park.

Choose Your Way

All the action in the city is concentrated around the 4-km long MG Road. Within the city, city buses and autorickshaws provide means of transportation. But if you want to have a close encounter with the intricate passageways of the city, two-wheelers, especially scooters and motorcycles would be the best options to choose for personal commutation. Thiruvananthapuram is an important interbational gateway to South India, with 30 regular and direct flights from West Asia, Sri Lanka and Maldives. You can take a taxi or an auto-rickshaw to travel 8 km to reach the downtown. The intra-city public transport is dominated by the state-owned KSRTC (Kerala State Road Transport Corporation). Moreover, in 2005 with the introduction of modern buses and electronic ticketing mechanisms, transportation took a swift turn in the positive turn.

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Highlights of Thiruvananthapuram

Thiruvananthapuram Backwaters

The Gateway To The South
Plan a holiday tour to the capital of God's own country, Thiruvananthapuram - a radiant jewel in the pendant of Kerala. Once the capital of the erstwhile kingdom of Travancore, the city now boasts of colossal buidings and palaces, wide, open avenues, lush green gardens and undulating countryside.

Visit The Temple of The Sacred Serpent
Visit the Padmanabha Swamy Temple, located in the heart of this old city - an impeccable blend of Kerala and the Dravidian styles of art. Wander around the 324 pillared corridor and you can't resist to be amazed to see exquisitely carved pillars and soaring gopuram of this elegant seven storeyed work of architecture.

Let The Sea Aroma Refresh You
Enjoy your holiday vacation in the serene patch of paradise amid the gentle lapping of the ocean and the warm sands of golden beaches and get fanned by a gentle breeze at

Kathakali - Dancing To The Rhythms of Religion
Experience the mesmerising ambiance of a Kathakali dance concert, a centuries-old classical art form, usually staged at night in the temple premises. Brightly coloured costumes and petrifying facial make-up give the artistes a superhuman appearance, and the beholder a memory to relish throughout the lifetime.

Experience The Magic of Ayurveda
Get the flavour of ayurveda, the ancient system of healing. Refresh yourself with medicated baths, rejuvenate yourself with herbal diets, revitalise yourself with meditation at the numerous ayurvedic resorts in Thiruvananthapuram.

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