Trivandrum (Kerala)

Things to do - general


Thiruvananthapuram, known in English as Trivandrum is the capital of the Indian state of Kerala and the headquarters of the Thiruvananthapuram District. It is located on the west coast of India near the extreme south of the mainland. Referred to by Mahatma Gandhi as the "Evergreen city of India",the city is characterized by its undulating terrain of low coastal hills and busy commercial alleys. With more than 750,000 inhabitants in the city proper, and a population around 1.68 million when including the wider urban agglomeration, Thiruvananthapuram is the largest and most populous city in Kerala.It is an IT hub of the state with over 80% of the state's software exports.

The city houses several central and state government offices and organizations. Apart from being the political nerve centre of Kerala, it is also a major academic hub and is home to several educational institutions including the University of Kerala, and to many science and technology

Thiruvananthapuram is the knowledge capital of the Kerala, boasting of premier R&D institutions of national and international stature such as Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (Space Launch Vehicle Design and Development activity), integral arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation, employing over 7000 high tech professionals; the Regional Research Laboratory which is home to scientists working in cutting edge research areas of agro processing, chemical technologies, biotechnology, waste water technology, material sciences and mineral processing; the Electronics Research and Development Centre India ER & DCI, which has established itself as one of India’s premier electronics design and development centers and training centres for IBM mainframes; the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, Kerala’s apex research center for Biotechnology; the Tropical and Botanical Research Institute under the Dept. of Biotechnology, Govt. of India; the Centre for Development Studies, a premier Social Science research institution engaged in interdisciplinary research in the development problems in India; the Centre for Earth Science Studies, a centre for excellence in Earth Sciences. Technopark is located adjunct to the main campus of the Kerala University at Karyavattom that has graduate, postgraduate, and doctoral programs in 41 different departments. The Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management, Kerala (IIITM-K) is located in the Technopark campus and offers postgraduate programs in IT.

WHERE TO STAY

Accommodation is not a problem in Trivandrum. As the city is always bustling with tourists, many hotels catering (provide link) to different income groups have opened up. The city has a very good number of resorts specializing in nature therapy.

Arranging accomodation of a more permanent kind is also not a problem in Trivandrum. As a city that is continuously expanding to accommodate its increasing population, accommodation is easily available in the arterial roads proximal to the National Highway on the way to Technopark. Rent structures are reasonable, generally varying between the Rs. 3000 – 8000, depending on the size of the house / flat and its location.

HOW TO REACH

Being the capital of Kerala state, Trivandrum is well connected to other major cities of India and the neighboring countries. There are direct flights to Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, and Delhi through domestic airlines such as Indian Airlines and Jet Airways. Cities in the neighboring countries such as Colombo, Mal, Singapore, and cities of Arabian Gulf are connected by the international airlines.

The city is connected to other important cities of India and Kerala by trains. Regular trains are available for the states of Karnataka and Tamilnadu. For the tourists heading towards North India and Delhi, Himsagar Express is the perfect choice.

Regular buses are available for the other important cities of Kerala and neighboring states such as Kollam (1 hours), Alappuzha (3 hours), Ernakulam (5 hours), Trichur (6 hours), Chennai (17 hours), Madurai (10 hours), and Pondicherry (16 hours). The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation bus terminus is situated opposite the railway station.

The best way to enjoy Kerala is through its backwaters. Most of the important cities in Kerala backwaters are connected to Trivandrum through boats. Some of boats that launch you into the backwaters are luxurious and as costly as a standard hotel accommodation.

HISTORY

The city, according to the legends, boasts of being associated with King Solomon whose ships landed at a port called Ophir. Traders have been coming to these parts as far back as 190 A.D for spices, sandalwood, and ivory.

The city derives its name from the deity at the Sree Anantha Padmanabhaswami Temple, one of the major landmarks of the place. The name of the city is derived from the words Thiru-Anantha-Puram, meaning the town of Anantha. Although no records of the antiquity of the temple really exists, the temple nevertheless is believed to be several thousands years old.

Thiruvananthapuram shot into prominence in the 18th century when the capital was shifted here form Padmanabhapuram, a little down south. The erstwhile kings of the then Travancore State, taking on the title of Padmanabhadas (servant of Lord), had dedicated themselves completely to the service of the Lord residing in the temple here. By the terms of this dedication, the deity owns the kingdom while the king is the mere executor of the trust. After independence, the city was designated as the capital of Kerala.

PLACES TO VISIT

A must on every tourist itinerary, the Padmanabhaswami temple with its gopuram (tower) soaring majestically upwards, is believed to be one of the 108 shrines sacred to the Vaishnavites in India. Within its hallowed precincts, the main pavilion impresses with its 400 beautifully carved pillars of granite. The 100-feet-high gopuram comprises seven stories with each center. The stone basement of the tower is covered with elaborate sculptures and the masonry above is replete with ornamental works of figures from the Puranas and other ancient scriptures. Tapering towards the top, it bears the statue of Garuda, the vehicle of Lord Vishnu. Inside the temple, the main shrine is well guarded with a number of massive doors, and darshan (audience) can be had through the three-door openings into the sanctum sanctorum.

Besides this magnificent temple, Thiruvananthapuram offers a great deal more. There is the Observatory to start with, established over a hundred years ago. Several kings have also built their palaces in and around the city, each more impressive than the other. Despite a few attempts at modernity, the city retains its discreet, old-world charm.

One can visit the Museum with its profusion of gables and turrets. A repository of fine works of art, the chief attraction here is the 250-year-old temple car made for Lord Vishnu, artistically designed and ornamented. Besides this, objects carved out of wood, models of temple, antique jewelry, etc., make the museum worth a visit.

Lying within the museum compound, Sri Chitra Art Gallery proves to be an ideal place for art lovers. The piece de resistance is the large section devoted to the paintings of Raja Ravi Varma, an Indian painter of distinction in the history of the country’s modern art. Besides him, the Indian section also contains works of Rabindranath Tagore, Jamimi Roy, K. K. Hebar, miniatures from the Rajput and Mughal schools of painting and the famous Tanjore paintings encrusted with semi-precious stones. The gallery’s collection also includes paintings from Indonesia, China, and Japan.

Then, of course, a trip to Thiruvananthapuram is incomplete without a boat-ride on its enchanting backwaters. These waterways teem with life. It is not surprising, since there are more miles of waterways in the state—approximately 1,900 km to the 1,000 km of rail. The landscape is dotted with picturesque palms and thatched huts. One can be seduced by the panorama of beautiful landscapes, beaches and waterways, coconut palms and, of course, beautiful, friendly people.

SITES NEARBY

Two nearby places worth visiting while in Trivandrum are Veli and Shankhumuggam; the former has been converted into a superb tourist village while the latter boasts of lovely temples and a huge statue of a mermaid presently being worked upon by a famous sculptor.

An absolute must is Kovalam that lies barely 18 km away. The beach is considered one of the finest in the world and provides ingredients for an ideal holiday. Besides swimming, there are opportunities for surfing and water skiing—even an exhilarating catamaran ride into the sea.

FAIRS AND FESTIVALS

Onam is the main festival of Kerala, which is celebrated in the month of August or September. This is the harvest festival of Kerala and signifies association of the people with agriculture. Christmas is the other festival of this part of the country and the city wears a colorful look during this time of the year. Classical Music Festival is celebrated from January 27 to February 3 every year and is a great time to enjoy for the lovers of pure classical music forms such as Carnatic and Hindustani music.

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