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The Capital City of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram also called Trivandrum, is the southern most district of Kerala, sharing a close cultural relationship with the adjoining State of Tamilnadu. Besides its administrative significance, the district was the former seat of the erstwhile royal family of Travancore, who ruled the province with the grace of Lord Padmanabha, the presiding deity at the Sri Padmanabha Swamy Temple. The present day Thiruvananthapuram has a mélange of socio-cultural setup and is known to travelers for its enchanting beaches, picnic spots and sites of historic significance.

Tourist Attractions in Thiruvananthapuram

Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple: An ancient temple devoted to Lord Vishnu, Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple has much to do with Thiruvananthapuram, so much so that even the name of the city is derived from Anatha Padmanabha, the prime deity of the temple (Lord Vishnu as seen reclining on Anantha, the serpent deity). It is regarded as one of the 108 sacred Vishnu temples of India. A blend of Kerala and Dravidian architecture styles, the structure of the temple is a real feast to one’s eyes. A magnificent 100 feet high Gopuram (temple tower) is a prime attraction of the temple.

The Zoological Park: One of the first zoos in India, it was established as early as 1859. A reptile house with different species of snakes and a vulture house are also located within the premises. Plastic is banned inside the park. Sree Chithra Enclave Opened in 1993, this museum depicts the history of the Travancore Royal Family and displays their personal belongings and artefacts. Old newspaper footage and deeds describing events are also exhibited.

Priyadarshini Planetarium: Opened in 1994 to the public, this is one of the most versatile planetariums in the country. The main GM-11 star field projector here can project almost all the constituents of the visible universe. It can also simulate the star-studded night sky over any location on the earth, on any day up to 12,500 years back or 12,500 years into the future.

Chacha Nehru Children’s Museum: Children of all ages will enjoy the vast collection of nearly 2000 dolls, stamps and masks displayed here.

Shankhumugham Beach (8 km from Thiruvananthapuram): This place is a favourite haunt of sunset watchers. An indoor recreation club, the matsya kanyaka (a gigantic, 35 m long sculpture of a mermaid) and a restaurant shaped like a starfish are some of the attractions here. The Chacha Nehru Traffic Training Park here gives children the opportunity to learn the traffic rules.

Akkulam Tourist Village (10 km from Thiruvananthapuram): A picnic spot with boating facilities, Akkulam is a place children flock to. It has a well-equipped children’s park, a paddle pool and a swimming pool for adults as well.

Veli Tourist Village (12 km from Thiruvananthapuram): This picnic spot, where the Veli Lake meets the Arabian Sea, offers boating facilities. Pedalboats and paddleboats can be hired to explore the charms of the lagoon in a leisurely manner. For a quick ride over the waters, speed boats are available for hire. Children can also enjoy climbing over the huge sculptures which dot the landscape.

Aruvikkara Dam (16 km - 1/2 hour): This picturesque picnic spot is on the banks of the Karamana River. Near the Durga Temple here is a stream full of fish that fearlessly come close to the shore to be fed by the visitors.

Neyyar Dam (32 km - 1 hour): A popular picnic spot, Neyyar Dam has a watch tower, crocodile farm, lion safari park and deer park. Boating facilities are available at the reservoir.

Meshan Mani: On the eastern side of Padmanabha Swamy Temple, installed in 1833 during the reign of Swathi Thirunal, is the Meshan Mani (clock). It has on its dial, a man’s face with two goats on either side. Crafted from mahogany by an artisan called Kulathooran, every time the clock completes an hour, the man opens his mouth and the goats hit his cheeks.

Sree Chithra Art Gallery: Located near the Napier Museum, this art gallery opened in 1935 by the then Maharaja of Travancore, Sree Chithira Thirunal, displays original paintings of Raja Ravi Varma, Svetlova and Nicholas Roerich; exquisite works from the Rajput, Mughal and Tanjore schools of art in India as well as paintings from China, Japan, Tibet and Bali. The collection also includes unique copies of Indian mural paintings from pre-historic times down to the 18th century.

KCS Panicker Gallery: Nominated as one of the nine eminent artists of India, Kerala’s renowned painter Panicker, was born in 1911. He was instrumental in setting up the Progressive Painters Association in Madras from 1944 to 1953. An artist who set a new trend, the gallery traces his works over a period.

Natural History Museum: This modern building houses some excellent galleries like the skeletal, bird, animal and taxidermy gallery as well as a museum.

Science and Technology Museum Complex: The museum houses galleries on electricity, electronics, power & motion, mechanics, popular science, mathematics, solar energy as well as automobile, computer and biomedical engineering.

St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Palayam: This church that is 125 years old which is very popular among the Catholic followers is an important landmark of the city.

Kerala Legislature Complex: Located at Palayam, the building where the Legislative Assembly of Kerala meets is a beautiful blend of classical and modern splendour. Situated behind the stately legislative assembly complex, the Legislature Museum throws light into the political history of the State.

The Folklore Museum: Set up in 1992, the museum is a treasure trove of quaint musical instruments, occupational implements, household utensils, models of folk art etc. Displayed in the Koyikkal Palace, they focus attention on the cultural background of the State.

The Numismatics Museum: The coins here belong to different parts of the world as well as to different eras. The rare and historically valuable collection of coins give an insight into the trade relations of the State. Among the exhibits is the most valuable Indian coin - the 2500-year-old Karsha and Rasi, as also the world’s smallest coins.

Sree Mahadeva Temple: Situated in Kazhakuttom, this ancient temple is believed to date back to the 14th century. Another old temple in the district is the Mitranandapuram Temple on the outskirts of the city.

Kallar (46 km from Thiruvananthapuram): This river is a charming stopover en route to the Ponmudi Hill Station. A kilometre up is the Golden Valley, where a tributary of the Kallar joins the main river. The nearby Meenmutty Waterfall offers excellent trekking opportunity. Contact the Chief Conservator of Forests in Thiruvananthapuram for trekking permission.

Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary (50 km from Thiruvananthapuram): This sanctuary spread over 53 sq. km on the Western Ghats is accessible from Vithurai. With its rich flora and fauna, Peppara, dotted with hillocks, forests and eucalyptus plantations, is a great attraction for wildlife enthusiasts.

Ponmudi (61 km - 2 1/2 hours): PonmudiAn idyllic hill resort with narrow, winding pathways and cool, green, wooded environs, Ponmudi is located 915 metres above sea level. Along with a variety of beautiful mountain flowers, exotic butterflies, small rivulets, springs and the deer park nearby, this hill station also has excellent trekking trails.

Other attractions: Trekking, tree house view tower and bathing in the river at Kallar. Trekking to the waterfall at Meenmutty.

Agasthyakoodam AgasthyakoodamPart of the Sahyadri range of mountains, Agasthyakoodam is the second highest peak in Kerala, at a height of 1890 metres above sea level. Teeming with wildlife, the forests of Agasthyakoodam abound in rare medicinal herbs and plants and brilliantly hued orchids. A bird watcher's paradise, this legendary mountain is accessible by foot from Kotoor, near Neyyar Dam, as also from Bonacaud. The season from December to April is advocated for trekking, for which a forest pass has to be obtained from the Wildlife Warden, Forest Department, PTP Nagar, Thiruvananthapuram.

Kappil Boat Club: Confluence of the sea, river and the backwater, this secluded, picturesque spot is worth visiting. The DTPC Boat Club here offers boating facilities.

Attukal: It is a temple which is famous for its Pongala festival, the largest annual gathering of the women for a religious purpose that has found place in the Guinness Book of World Records. Attukal Bhagavathy temple is a major center of pilgrimage in the state, especially unique for a large number of female devotees visiting the temple every day. The Bhagavathy (Goddess), the main deity of the temple, is believed to be the incarnation of Kannaki, a character in the Tamil epic Chilappadikaram. The temple, on the shores of river Killi, is believed to be very old. The annual Pongala (a sweet porridge offering made to the deity) is held here every year in the months of February- March.

Beemapalli Dargah Shareef: Beemapalli, a famous pilgrim centre in Thiruvananthapuram, is dedicated to Bee Umma, a pious Muslim woman who is believed to possess divine powers. This seaside centre of worship is remarkable with its calm, soothing, spiritual environment. Devotees, irrespective of caste or religion, reach here every day. The annual Uroos festival held here is a grand event. This ten-day long festival is held in memory of Syedunnisa Beemabeevi and her son Syedushuhadamaheen Abubacker. The most important ritual associated with the festival is Chandanakkudam as part of which devotees make an offering of coins in earthern pots (kudam) which are smeared in sandal paste (chandanam).

Sivagiri Mutt: The Sivagiri Mutt, founded by the great reformer and philosopher Sree Narayana Guru (1856 - 1928) is located at Varkala in Thiruvananthapuram district. Also situated here is the Samadhi or final resting place of the Guru. Built in 1904, the Mutt is situated on top of a hill. It is the headquarters of Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Sangham (SNDP), a social organisation founded by the Guru to propagate his ideas. The annual Sivagiri pilgrimage is carried out from 30th December to 1st January. Colourful processions, debates and seminars, public meetings, cultural shows, community feasts, group weddings and rituals mark the celebrations. Thousands throng here on this occasion.

Vettukad Church Vettukad: Madre-de-Deus Church is a famous centre of pilgrimage in Thiruvananthapuram. Located on the shores of the Arabian Sea, the church attracts thousands of devotees irrespective of caste and religion. The church is believed to have been established by St. Francis Xavier, the missionary who came to India to spread the gospel. The annual festival here is called the 'Feast of Christ, the King'. The feast is celebrated across 10 days culminating in the last Sunday of the liturgical year. Various religious rites are carried out during the festival days. On the last Saturday of the feast, the image of Christ is taken out in a large colourful procession. A solemn high mass, sermons, Eucharistic processions and benediction mark the final day.

How to Reach Thiruvananthapuram

Telephone access code: +91 471

Air: Thiruvananthapuram International Airport (6 km from the city).

Rail: Thiruvananthapuram Railway Station