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Trivandrum Travel Guide

Trivandrum Beaches, Beaches in Trivandrum, Trivandrum Tourism

The central bus station is adjacent to the railway station. Buses depart from here to all major districts in the state including to big cities such as Cochin, Bangalore, Kozhikode, Coimbatore and Chennai. The city bus stand is only a kilometer away near the iconic landmark Padmanabha Swamy Temple in East Fort. Traveling around Trivandrum in bus is very convenient as there are ample state-run and private short distance buses connecting the various major urban and suburban centres. In addition to this there are city bus depots at Peroorkada, Vikas Bhawan, Pappanamcode, Kaniyapuram and Vellanad. You can also rent a car to Trivandrum; it is well-connected to cities such as Cochin (230 kilometers/144 miles), Kozhikode (420 kilometers/262 miles), Chennai (780 kilometers/487 miles), Bangalore (791 kilometers/494 miles) and Coimbatore (400 kilometers/250 miles).

Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala is well-connected by rail to all major hubs of the country. The central railway station is located in the heart of the city at Thampanoor, about 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the airport. Also, Trivandrum is the first major city along the second longest train route in the world – Kanyakumari to Jammu.

Trivandrum International Airport is serviced by direct flights from the Middle East, Singapore, Maldives and Sri Lanka including charter flights to Europe. And domestic flights link it to the major Indian cities. Kochi International Airport is about 270 kilometers (169 miles) from Trivandrum. After landing in Kochi, you can further travel to Trivandrum by road/rail, an approx. 5-hour journey.

Sree Chithra Art Gallery
Sree Chithra Art Gallery is located adjacent to the Napier Museum, about 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) from the Trivandrum railway station and 6 kilometers (4 miles) from the international airport. Set up in 1935, this art gallery draws connoisseurs from the world over who come here to view the genius of the Indian painters. Browse the gallery for its motley collection of century-old, original world famous paintings by the likes of Raja Ravi Verma, Jamini Roy, the Russian painter-cum-philosopher Nicholas Roerich, KCS Panicker and Svetlova among others. Of course, the highpoint remains the colorful brush strokes of local artist Raja Ravi Verma, detailed to perfection while capturing the mood of his subject. Born and raised in Kilimanoor Palace of Kerala, his oil paintings detail the faintest of shadows, with a special emphasis on the attire of the subject by finely bringing out its pattern and texture.

Padmanabha Swamy Temple
An iconic landmark in Kerala’s capital city Trivandrum, the ancient Padmanabha Swamy Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu – the preserver according to Hindu mythology – is a fantastic blend of Kerala/Dravidian architecture and folklore. This legendary 17th century temple is located near the bus station at the East Fort in Trivandrum. From the railway station in East Fort, the site is at a walkable distance.

Napier Museum and Zoo
A sprawling 19th century Indo-Saracenic structure with a dash of Chinese and Mughal styles, the Napier Museum is home to a treasure trove of archaeological finds. It is an architectural landmark in Kerala’s capital city and houses a zoological garden and the popular Sree Chithra Art Gallery within its premises. The original structure was erected in 1855 by the Maharaja of Travancore.

Koyikkal Palace
On the way to the Ponmudi hill station and the Courtallam Waterfalls, about 18 kilometers (11.25 miles) from Trivandrum at Nedumangad you will come across a lovely two-storied palace. Koyikkal is a quaint 17th century palace built for Umayamma Rani of the Venad royal family (1677 to 1684) in the traditional Nalukettu style with gabled roofs and a sprawling inner courtyard.

Shankhumugham Beach
About 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the main city and adjacent to the Trivandrum Airport, Shankhumugham Beach is a favorite haunt of sunset lovers. ‘Aarattmandapam’ (aaratt meaning holy bath of the deity) - an iconic stone pavilion on the beach for use by the Padmanabha Swamy Temple – is synonymous with Shankhumugham. The beach starts to get crowded near evening when it is cast in a soft orange glow.

Vettucaud Church
Vettucaud Palli (Malayalam for church) is located about 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) from Trivandrum city centre in a pretty coastal village by the same name. Legend has it that the church was established by St. Francis Xavier, the Jesuit missionary who came to India to spread the gospel. The church receives devotees in thousands during the annual ‘Feast of Christ, the King’ – a ten-day feast celebrated during the third Sunday of November.

Kuthiramalika Palace Museum
Located on the south-eastern side of Padmanabha Swamy Temple, the Kuthiramalika Palace appears rather nondescript from outside. Only once you enter through the narrow gate, past a narrow corridor and step onto its sprawling courtyard garden, do you get an estimate of its scale and architectural detailing. Mostly a wooden palace, Kuthiramalika is a traditional Kerala-style structure built in the 1840s by the king of Travancore Maharaja Swathi Thirunal Balarama Varma.

Thiruvallam Backwaters
Thiruvallam is a green backwater getaway about 6 kilometers (3.75 miles) from Trivandrum, popular for canoe rides. At the confluence of Killi and Karamana rivers, Thiruvallam opens up a vista of sleepy fishing villages thick with exotic flowers fringing the serene backwaters. The place is also popular for its temple dedicated to Lord Parashurama believed to be the creator of Kerala.

Aruvikkara Dam
About 16 kilometers (10 miles) from Trivandrum, on the banks of the serene Karamana River is this lovely picnic destination called Aruvikkara. The place is popular for its verdant surroundings, a beautiful dam, and the Durga temple. Near the temple is a meandering stream replete with fish that quite fearlessly swim close to the shore in schools to have the crumbs thrown in by the visitors.

Kulathupuzha Temple
Shrouded by dense jungles, the Kulathupuzha Temple is nestled in a forest range on the Trivandrum-Shenkotta Road, with the Kulathupuzha River flowing beside it. The temple is thronged by devotees during the Vishnu Mahotsavam celebrated in April/May with great ceremony. The deity worshipped here is Sastha, more commonly known as Lord Ayyappa. Lord Ayyappa is greatly adored by the Keralites.

Akkulam Lake and Tourist Village
The picturesque Akkulam Lake is about 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) from Ulloor junction in Trivandrum city, and about 10 kilometers (6.25 miles) from the central railway station. Set on its banks is the Akkulam Tourist Village with a sprawling children’s park, snack bar and paddle pool. There is also a large swimming pool where you can enjoy a refreshing dip before heading out to the snack bar for a cup of coffee.

Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary
Peppara is about 50 kilometers (31.25 miles) on the north east of Trivandrum city en route to Ponmudi hill station in South Kerala. The sanctuary is spread across 53 sq. kilometers of dense forest and eucalyptus plantation on the Western Ghats. The Peppara Dam built on the serene Karamana River adds to the scenic ambience of the sanctuary. Its rocky terrain dissected in places by crystal-clear streams makes it very popular with trekkers.

Christ Church
Christ Church, Trivandrum is a popular and one of the oldest architectural landmarks in the city. The history of the church goes back to 1817 when divine services for the European residents had begun. During this period services were conducted ones a month by the Military Chaplins of Quilon (Kollam) as per the instructions of the Madras Government. Many years later, in 1837, a Tamil congregation comprising employees of the government printing press and those working in the homes of Europeans living in Trivandrum, was formed under the guidance of Christian David, a clerk in the government press.

Veli Tourist Village
Trivandrum’s most popular picnic destination, Veli Tourist Village is about 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the city centre, very close to the Trivandrum airport. The picturesque Veli Lagoon is separated by a narrow sandbar from the Arabian Sea; this sandbar is the Veli Tourist Village complete with a waterfront park, floating bridge and great water sports facility. Particularly popular with children, the place gets extremely crowded on weekends.

Neyyar Dam and Wildlife Sanctuary
Neyyar Dam and Wildlife Sanctuary is about 30 kilometers (18.75 miles) east of Trivandrum at the foot of the Western Ghats. A charming dam site, the region is a treasure trove of some rare medicinal herbs. The adjacent Neyyar Lake is ideal for a boat ride and opens up glorious panoramic vistas of the dense wilderness and the dark silhouette of the Western Ghats in the backdrop. This dam was built in 1958 on the basins of the three main rivers namely Neyyar, Mullayar and Kallar. Neyyar Wildlife S Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary encompasses the Dam and is an abode of wild animals such as elephants, wild buffaloes, sloth bear, wild boar, porcupines, jungle cats, tigers and snakes among others. Scale up the watchtower offering a grand panoramic view of the jungle, and keep a look-out for the elusive Nilgiri Tahr, gaur and Nilgiri Langur among others.

Chacha Nehru Children's Museum
Chacha Nehru Children’s Museum is located less than a kilometer north of Trivandrum central bus station. Set up in 1980, it is one of the city’s more popular museums and has been named after India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who was very fond of children. Browse the museum for its impressive collection of over 2000 dolls from all over the world. In addition to dolls, there is a rare collection of stamps, masks and paintings.

Kerala State Science and Technology Museum
The Kerala State Science and Technology Museum is located close to the Napier Museum and the Postmaster General’s Office in Trivandrum. A study-cum-recreation centre, the museum displays an array of exhibits on all disciplines of science, technology and electronics. The place gets a lot of students studying science. It serves as a dynamic medium of science communication, with the activities aimed at instilling a scientific temper and awareness among common men.

Attukal Bhagavathy Temple
About 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) from Trivandrum city, Attukal Bhagavathy is an ancient temple dedicated to goddess Attukal worshipped as the Supreme Mother. The Supreme Mother, as the creator of all living beings and the mighty preserver as well as destroyer. Popularly referred to as the ‘Sabarimala for women’, the temple receives tens of thousands of devotees from across the country during the famous ‘Pongala Utsavam’. This beautiful old building is nestled on the banks of the Killi River, and is beautified with carvings of the various manifestations of the goddess as Mahishasuramardini, Kali, Rajeshwari and Parvathi with Lord Paramashiva.

Kanakakunnu Palace
Located about 800 meters north east of the Napier Museum in the heart of Trivandrum city, Kanakakunnu Palace is one of the last architectural vestiges of the colonial era. Built during the reign of Travancore king Sree Moolam Thirunal (1885-1924), the palace served as the main venue for royal banquets. Later Swathi Thirunal, one of Travancore’s popular rulers, refurbished the palace and constructed tennis courts in the premises. He also did use it for a few years as a summer retreat.

Karikkakom Temple
The 500-year-old Karikkakom Temple is tucked away in the tiny hamlet of Karikkakom, about 7 kilometers (4.37 miles) east of Trivandrum city. From a distance you can sight its rajagopuram (a pyramidal tower at the entrance), about 63-foot-tall, covered with intricately crafted sculptures of hundreds of gods, goddesses, demons and maidens on the four lateral sides illustrating episodes from Hindu epics. It took over six years and two crores of rupees to complete this grand five-storey structure.

Trivandrum food festival
Flavor is the national food festival of Trivandrum celebrated usually in the second week of April every year. This seven-day-long affair beckons chefs from all over the country to come up with their stalls and represent their states. Renowned hotels from across Kerala too participate in this weeklong international festival of exotic cuisine.

Kanyakumari Day Excursion
The southernmost tip of the Indian mainland, Kanyakumari is truly unique destination. Sprawled out on the shore of this great ‘Triveni sangam’, the confluence of the Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean, Kanyakumari is known for its beautiful temples, chief among them is the Kumari Amman temple, a colorful beach bazaar and the Vivekananda Rock Memorial standing sentinel over the sea. Just as famous is the Padmanabhapuram Palace, an 16th century monument made entirely of wood.

Panning through an undulating terrain of low coastal hills near the southern edge of the mainland, Trivandrum is an ancient city with trading tradition dating back to 1000 BC. Spacious layout and regulated systems could well be the order of life in this metro, but at its core it is still a traditionalist nurturing a royal legacy. A city where a legend of the appearance of Lord Vishnu reclining on the Anantha Shesha lead to the building of the famous Padmanabha Swamy Temple. It is also the birthplace of eminent artist Raja Ravi Verma, whose photographic paintings detail the faintest of shadows, the texture of clothes to the creases on the forehead of his subject. Trivandrum is also the meeting point of culture vultures from across the country and outside, courtesy the rich classical dance and music tradition passed on by the culturally inclined Thirunal kings of Travancore, particularly Swathi Thirunal.

Trivandrum city is steeped in ancient tradition, folklore and literature. The early past of political and cultural history of South Kerala, Trivandrum in particular, was in a way independent of that of the rest of Kerala state. At the beginning of the 10th century the Ays were the dominant political power. The English East India Company in 1648, during the regency of Umayamma Rani, acquired a sandy piece of land at Anchuthengu on the sea coast about 32 kilometers (20 miles) north of Trivandrum city, to set up a factory and fortify it. And this was the beginning of the extension of English domain to other parts of Travancore.

However, modern history begins with Marthanda Verma regarded as the Father of Modern Travancore (1729 to 1758 AD). During this period Trivandrum became the centre of intellectual and artistic pursuits. The cultural activities, and most importantly, economic prosperity were at its zenith during the reign of Swathi Thirunal (1829 to 1847 AD).

English education began to be imparted in 1834 at the first English school in Trivandrum. This was followed by the building of an observatory and charity hospital in 1836. The reign of Ayilyam Thirunal (1860-1880) led to another big step in fostering art and literature, with a fully equipped arts college coming up along with several English, Malayalam and Tamil schools. The University College was opened in 1873. Ancient language and school of medicine received a philip with the opening of the Sanskrit College and Ayurveda College among Law College and a second grade college for women in Trivandrum during the rule of Sri Moolam Thirunal (1885 to 1924). A significant step taking during Moolam Thirunal’s reign was the inauguration of the Legislative Council in 1888. Interestingly, this was the first legislative chamber instituted in an Indian State. After the Moolam Assembly came into being in 1904, the works of the Indian National Congress reverberated in Trivandrum and other parts of Kerala.

Further on, during the reign of Shri Chithira Thirunal Bala Rama Varma, a promulgation of the Temple Entry Proclamation Act in 1936 was passed that underlined social emancipation. In the following year, a separate University for Travancore was started. This was redesigned as University of Kerala after the formation of Kerala State in 1956.

However, with the accession of Travancore to the Indian Union after independence, many radical changes were implemented to the policy of the state government and the overall political atmosphere. It was on the 24th of March in 1948 that the first popular ministry headed by Sri Pattom A. Thanu Pillai was installed in office. Finally, the state of Kerala came into being on November 1, 1956.

Getting Around
Trivandrum has a decent network of city buses run by government (KSRTC) and private companies. The buses tend to get crowded in peak office hours. It is worth mentioning that the government city buses are painted red with a yellow patch, while the private city buses are blue in color. Though the fast passenger buses run by KSRTC are also blue, and named ‘Ananthapuri Fast'. The city services by KSRTC operate from City depot, Vikas Bhavan, Peroorkada, Pappanamcode, Kaniyapuram and Vellanad. East Fort is the central bus terminal near Padmanabha Swamy Temple. While on a local sightseeing tour of the city, auto-rickshaws are the best option. You can easily get an auto-rickshaw from a bus stand, railway station or special auto-rickshaw stand. They all function with a fare meter, and the fare is calculated by the taximeter affixed to every licensed rickshaw. So, do ensure the driver turns the meter on every time board on. There are pre-paid auto-rickshaw counters as well near the airport and railway station. Taxis are the most convenient way to travel especially if you are a big group. They are not only hired for short distances, but also for a few days in a row. In case you hire a taxi with driver for a few days, a minimum charge is usually paid that covers the hiring charge for the car, the driver’s fee and a definite distance. Do remember, most drivers expect to be paid additionally for their meals during the day. You can also go to a car rental company that offers cars with drivers or self-drive option. Such shops can be found on every prominent street in Trivandrum, though they come a tad expensive. Some of the central sightseeing landmarks are, however, only a brief walk away from each other.

Tourist Traps in the City
It is not very safe for women to take a three-wheeler or taxi late in the evening while traveling in and around the city, especially to the outskirts. If you are very late and need to reach your hotel, it is advisable to request your hotel to send a car to pick you up. You can also take the bus service even if it is very late in the day. The taxis and auto-rickshaws outside the railway station/airport refuse to function as per the meter. If you are taking an auto-rickshaw from here, make sure you negotiate the fare beforehand to avoid any unpleasantness. It is in fact a better idea to go for the pre-paid auto-rickshaws or taxis as they have a fixed tariff authorized by the state government. When shopping for bric-a-brac at the local market, bargaining is the way to go.

Local Custom
The locals are quite conservative, so when moving around the city sightseeing dress up modestly. It is advisable to avoid wearing short or revealing clothes as most sites in Trivandrum are either temples or palaces/museums. South Indians particularly Keralites hold the temples in great reverence, and follow a strict code of conduct. Some temples such as the Padmanabha Swamy Temple only allow Hindus inside, not to mention the temple staff is extremely particular about the rules and regulations. Men need to wrap themselves nicely in a white dhoti (loin cloth) and women in sari or the like – available for use at the entrance counter. You need to take off your shoes here, and deposit your camera and mobile phone (if it has camera functionality!) as well.

Ethnic artifacts are available in a great array in Kerala’s capital city, Trivandrum. When visiting the city, an absolutely must-buy are the lovely objet d’art turned out of metal, an ancient art in this part of Kerala. Look out for the exquisite pieces created of bell metal by ace craftsmen. You will also find pretty – though oddball – kitchenware and brass lamps among others. Don’t miss out the coir products here, the local shops offer a wonderful display of coir or coconut fiber floor coverings, doormats, floor matting and rugs in a plethora of colors and designs. Add to this the coconut shell crafts, a huge favorite among tourists, and you are all set to leave with an extra suitcase.


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