Wednesday, February 18, 2009


The Anglicized ‘Trivandrum’, for the Capital of the South Indian ‘greenhouse’ Kerala seems a respite from the mouthful ‘Thiruvananthapuram’ (its original name), meaning the home of Lord Vishnu’s (preserver of Hindu Trinity) sacred Serpent Anantha. Located at the apex of southwest India lacing the Arabian Sea, Trivandrum is just the place to be if you are looking for some seaside Shangri-la with exotic lagoons, palm-fringed waterways, quite Resorts and endless leisure.

Tale of the City

The ‘city of seven hills’, Thiruvananthapuram had once been the port of call for Romans and Jews, Arabs and Christians. Legends have it that King Solomon’s ships landed here at a port called Ophir. Traders have been coming to these parts as far back as 190 AD for spices, sandalwood, and ivory. Even today it serves as a significant maritime hub.


Kovalam Beach: Undoubtedly the most beautiful of Indian beaches and one of the best across the globe, drive south (16 km) from Trivandrum to find the exotic Kovalam beach. Ayurvedic spas, sea-food stalls, sun-bathers, water-sports, all make it an enticing beach front not to miss.

Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple: Some 260-year-old Dravidian temple with a 100-ft gopuram, inside the East Fort in the heart of the city beckoning travelers to bask in its hallowed serenity. There is however strict dress code to be maintained. Men should be in dhoti, while women in sari and blouse. Besides, only Hindus are allowed.

The Zoological Gardens (Open: Tue-Sat; 9am-5:15pm): The botanical gardens in Trivandrum cradle one of the firsts amongst the Indian zoos famed for its huge trees and a reptile house with an interesting snake collection.

Government Art Museum (Open on all days except Monday and Wednesday; 10am-5pm): Popular as the Napier Museum, after the erstwhile Governor General of Madras, this building is a fine architectural landmark for the center of the city, just near the zoo. Besides the antique ornaments and costumes, musical instruments, intricate ivory carvings, a temple chariot, found there would infatuate any art-lover !

Veli Tourist Village (Open 8am-6pm): At the estuary of the Veli Lake, is a lovely lagoon that can be explored with rented paddle and speedboats. The sculptures that flake the landscape form a children favorite.

Puttan Malika Palace Museum (Open: Tue-Sun; 8:30am-12:30pm & 3:30pm-5:30 pm): The venue of the annual classical music festival between 27th Jan-3rd Feb, this Palace is a classic traditional Travancore style building with exquisite woodcarvings. The art collection and the other palatial exhibits form interesting eye-feasting for art lovers.

Indian School of Martial Arts (ISMA): This one is a must-visit if you want to have a dekko at India's 'crouching tiger hidden dragons' -- martial art experts down south -- that is. This 5,000-year-old martial art form of Kerala is called Kalarippayattu. Besides, ISMA's healing centre, famed for the traditional kalarichikitsa - a branch of medicine endemic to Trivandrum, and ISMA's collection of oltrivandrumnthas or palmleaf manuscripts are must-check outs for historians and the likes.

Festivals: The Great Elephant March (Jan-17-20) of decorated elephants is a real visual feast. The 10-day Attukal Pongala (18-26th Feb), celebrated at the Attukal Bhagavati temple is the most participated festival. Its traditional dessert, Pongala, made of sweet porridge, cooked in jaggery, coconut kernal, and plantain is not to be missed. Another reason to cheer if you are timing your trip in February is the Nishangandhi Dance Festival (21-27 Feb) conducted at Nishagandhi open air auditorium in Kanakakunnu Palace where performers from across the nation congregate. That means right from Bharathanatyam, Kathak, Kathkali, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Mohiniyattom and Oddissi the classical seduction is endless and fatal.


Hunt for carved rosewood, Kathakali masks at MG Road. Visit Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan (opposite the Ayurvedic College, MG Road) if you are looking for those exotic Kasava sarees. Gram Sree, the village crafts centre around that area, is just the place for artefact admirers. Head for the Station Road, famed for its sandalwood and brass products, and the traditional Keralan bell-metal oil lamps. Savor the arresting fragrance of the tea and filter-coffee of Kerala, fresh from the Nilgiris, at Sankar's Tea and Coffee, on MG Road.

And if you happen to be in Thiruvananthapuram around Christmas time, ask anyone about Connemara, for this is the place you will have to head to for your mistletoe and wine!


Malyali cuisine uses coconut and rice in all states and forms. But surprisingly, Trivandrum does not really have a lot of options when it comes to good Restaurants serving their traditional cuisine. Coffee and banana chips are addictive. Good spots to buy the the best chips, fresh and tasty are near the British Library, or at a small shop in Kaithamukku (about 3km/2 miles west of the central train station), where A. Kannan has been frying some of the best banana chips in Kerala for close to 15 years.


Varkala (40km): An enticing beach and an important Hindu center of pilgrimage, the hilltop mineral springs, a 2000-year-old Sree Janardhana Swamy Temple and the Nature Care Center are form the main and the must-visit attractions here.

Neyyar Dam (32km): This popular picnic spot has a high watch tower, deer park, lion safari park, crocodile farm and water sports facilities liek boating that make it one of Kerala Tourism's exotic favorites.

Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary (30km): This plush forest boasts of a reserve of some thousand species of flowers and plants, that includes orchids; endangered primates like the lion-tailed macaque and the Nilgiri langur and other fauna like barking and mouse deer, elephants, sambhar deer, gaur, giant squirrels, and wild boar.

Padmanabhapuram Palace (63km): Find this Travancore palace enroute Kanyakumari, famous for its floral carvings, jet black granite floor and original murals.

Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary and Dam (50km): Spread over some 53 sq. km on the Western Ghats is a nature lover's sheer delight with some of the best concoction of plants and animals amidst plush hills, eucalyptus forests and verdant valleys.

Location :
Southern Kerala, South India

Go there for :
Beaches, Backwaters

Climate :
32°-23.8°C (Sum); 29°-20°C (Win)

When to Go:
September to May

Local Tongue:

Literacy :

STD Code :
+91 - 471

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