Thiruvananthapuram Travel Guide

Thiruvananthapuram is the capital of the beautiful Indian state, Kerala. It is certainly an ideal travel destination to visit in the state for many reasons. Your trip to God’s Own Country will not be completed without visiting this historical city. As you know, Kerala is famous for its stimulating landscape and one can experience a heavenly feeling by visiting this magnificent capital city of Thiruvananthapuram.

A little history

Before the formation of Kerala state, the two main princely states were Travancore and Kochi. Malabar belonged to the Madras Province. These 3 territories were put together in 1956 and formed the state of Kerala. Since then, Thiruvananthapuram became the capital of the state. The marvellous city got its name from Anantha, the serpant king as per the Hindu mythology. Each visitor to this city can enjoy a heavenly experience because of its great historical attractions, palaces, temples and beaches.

An enchanting picnic spot

Surrounded by the majestic the Arabian Sea in the West, you will love to explore the beautiful city of Thiruvananthapuram. The South and East side of this city border the Kanyakumari of Tamilnadu. Kollam is in the north side of this historical place. The wooded highlands of the Western Ghats are in the east and north-east areas. You can find some of the most splendid picnic spots in Thiruvananthapuram. It has also a long shoreline with a few internationally known beaches. Besides, it has beautiful backwater stretches and grand historic places. The rich cultural heritage also makes it a much sought after vacation destination in Kerala.

Beautiful nature

There are 3 gorgeous rivers flowing through this district such as Karamana, Neyyar and Vamanapuram. The destination is also rich with scintillating backwaters of Anchuthengu, Kadinamkulam, Veli and Edava Nadayara canals. It is a favourite spot for many historians and vacationers because of its monuments and traditional buildings. In fact, they stand as the true examples of the rich culture and awesome splendour of this magnificent city.

Tourist Attractions

Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple

It is a famous Vaishnava temple locates inside the East Fort. A lot of devotees from different parts of the country visit this temple to seek blessings and enjoy its unique architecture. However, entry to the temple allowed only for Hindus. Padmanabha Swamy Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu who sleeping on the Serpant King, Anantha. Visiting this temple can be a unique experience because of its elegant architecture. Its architecture is the true blend of Kerala and Dravidian style. The temple also attracts visitors with its beautiful stone carvings and mural paintings. It is easy to find hawkers of handicrafts and other attractive things on the southern pathway in front of the temple.

There is a vast pond named Theerthakulam in this temple where devotees can take bathe before they enter into the temple. The famous Swati College of Music and the Theerthapada Mandapam overlook the temple. Just choose the Theerthapada Mandapam if you would like to participate in any classical art show. You need to follow a dress code in order to enter the temple. Men can enter the temple by wearing a Dhoti without any upper clothing. Women can enter in saree and blouse. The temple timings: 0415 – 0515 hrs, 0645 – 0715 hrs, 0830 – 1115 hrs, 1145 – 1200 hrs, 1700 – 1815 hrs, 1845 – 1930 hrs. Ph: 2450233.

Kovalam

Experience the most beautiful moments of your life by visiting the beach paradise, Kovalam. People love to visit this beach destination which is dreamy and idyllic. Even though a busy fishing centre, this seashore village was deserted and tranquil once. But today, you can see the dreamy and idyllic transformation here. Kovalam holds an important position in the world tourism scenario. This beach has been printed with golden ink in the world map of tourism. Thousands of tourists visit this beautiful tourist spot every year from different parts of the world. There are two beaches in Kovalam such as Hawah Beach and Lighthouse Beach separated into north and south by majestic rocky headlands.

Rock Cut Cave

Plan a trip to the cave temple at Vizhinjam in order to watch eye catching rock-cut sculptures of the 18th century. A sculpture of Vinandhara Dakshinamurthi is worth to see in this one-celled granite cave shrine. You can see the half complete remnants of the Hindu God Shiva and Goddess Parvathi on the outer wall of the cave. This tourist spot is around 17 kilometres from Thiruvananthapuram.

Poovar

It locates almost 18 kilometres away from Kovalam. A spectacular beach near to the Neyyar River Estuary is the main attraction of this destination. This important picnic spot in Thiruvananthapuram was once a famous trading port.

Flanked by the magnificent towering Ghats to the east and the Arabian Sea on the west, Poovar is an isolated but spectacular beach enveloped in tranquil backwaters. Situated close to the Neyyar River estuary, Poovar is a tropical heaven located at the southern tip of Trivandrum. A trading port in the past, Poovar is one of the fastest growing tourist centres of South India.

Vizhinjam

This famous fishing village is only 1 kilometre from Kovalam and nearly 17 kilometres away from Thiruvananthapuram city. There is a mosque on the northern part of this artificial harbour. A church is also there on the southern side Vizhinjam village. People visit the prayer halls of this church in the early hours to offer prayers.

Vizhinjam is an ancient port adjacent to the south of Kovalam by about 1 kms. The Dutch and Portuguese had commercial establishments here during their rule. It is being developed as a modern fishing harbour and is being developed as an Shipment Container Terminal.

Ponmudi

Situated at a height of around 915 meters above sea level, the scenic hill resort attracts so many people. Everybody loves the cool and green wooded environment of this hilly picnic spot. Besides, it has small winding pathways and exciting trekking trails. The place is also famous for eye catching mountain flowers, gorgeous rivulets and springs, exotic butterflies and a deer park. You need to travel around 61 kilometres from Thiruvanathapuram to reach Ponmudi and well connected by road.

Veli Tourist Village

Located by the seaside, visiting the Veli tourist village can be a beautiful experience. It is an enchanting picnic spot hardly 9 kilometres away from the city. The charming wading pools and the lovely gardens at this village truly fascinate travellers. Besides, visitors love to enjoy boating and different water sports in the lake at the village. Different types of boats available at Veli such as motorized boats, row boats and pedal boats. Children love to climb up the large sculptures at the tourist village. Visitors can enjoy boating from 10 am to 5.30 pm. Ph: 2500785. Dial 2501230 for Veli Youth Hostel.

Kanakakunnu Palace
It is another palace turned museum in the capital city. You can see the glorious past and rich tradition of Kerala by visiting the Kanakakkunnu Palace. Many cultural programmes and meets conduct in the palace and its premises. Ph-2314615. This palace is one of the most magnificent buildings of Thiruvananthapuram. Now the palace and its sprawling grounds are taken care by the State Government and is the venue of many cultural meets and programmes.

Neyyar Dam

Neyyar Dam is a famous picnic spot in Thiruvananthapuram where you can watch so many attractions. It is around 32 kilometres away from the city. The main tourist attractions at this region include a crocodile farm, deer park, lion safari park and a watch tower. Visitors also love to enjoy boating at the reservoir. The Neyyar dam is situated in the Agasthyamalai hills in the Neyyatinkara Taluka of Thiruvananthapuram district. It was established in 1958.

Chowara

It is a fishing hamlet nestled almost 8 kilometres south of Kovalam. You can find many panoramic spots at this region. An Ayyappa Temple set on a hill overlooking the Kovalam beach is a prime attraction of this destination. Visitors can enjoy beautiful views of the beach from this temple. Chowara is also the home to the well known Amalothbhava Matha Church.

Natural History Museum

This large museum in Thiruvananthapuram set in a 2 storied building. It locates at the eastern side of the Museum and Zoo complex at an elevated ground in the city. Visitors can watch rich and varied collections in Natural History at this great destination. In fact, it will be a rewarding experience for travellers to visit this museum and watch amazing collections. The museum started in 1885 with the personal collections of books and minerals by General Cullen. Later it has developed in 1964 and houses many ethnographic items. You can enjoy a wonderful collection of stuffed animals and birds at this museum. Different galleries are there in it to exhibit birds, mammals, invertebrates and vertebrates. Besides, it has separate rooms for skeleton, Ethnology, index collections and laboratory. One can watch Fossil Tree Trunks as an outdoor show near the museum entrance.

Peppara Dam & Wildlife Sanctuary

Enjoy amazingly attractive flora and fauna by visiting the Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary which is almost 50 kilometres from Thiruvananthapuram. Spread across more than 53 kilometres, this picnic spot is on the way to Ponmudi. It is a favourite spot for nature lovers because this area is dotted with picturesque hillocks. The place is also famous for eucalyptus plantations. Never forget to visit this wildlife Sanctuary durinng your trip to Thiruvananthapuram especially if you are a wildlife enthusiast.

Peppara Dam and Wildlife Sanctuary is situated near the Ponmudi Hills and is 50 kms from Thiruvananthapuram. The catchment area of Peppara dam across the river Karamana was declared as a sanctuary in 1983 to protect the rich ecology and the wild life dependent on it.

Aruvi Waterfalls / Vaiyanthol
A 4 feet cascade is the prime attraction of this unspoiled picnic spot. It is around 60 kilometres from Thiruvananthapuram. One can reach this tourist spot only through trekking. The activity can be a heavenly experience for travellers because they can travel through rich forests. Remember to take prior permission from the forest department for trekking in order to enjoy the waterfall.  Just 60 kms away from Thiruvananthapuram is another magnificent waterfall called the Aruvi waterfalls and it is just 7 kms away from Bonecaud estate which lies in the Peppara forest range.

Kuthiramalika (Puthenmalika) Palace Museum : 

This is also a palace turned museum in Thiruvananthapuram. It built by Maharaja Swathi Thirunal Balarama Varma who was a genius and a great poet of classical lyrics. He developed several classical art forms from his death bed. This king was also a multi-linguist who composed many kritis in Sanskit, Tamil, Hindustani, Telugu and Malayalam. A lot of musicians, artists and commoners visit this place during Swati music festival which held annually. Besides, you can enjoy unique specimen of artistry at this museum. In addition to its traditional Travancore architecture, each traveller should appreciate its beautiful wood carvings. Guests can enjoy many priceless collections belong to the royal family and several rich paintings at the palace museum.

The museum is closed on Mondays. It is very near to the famous Sree Padmanabha Temple. Fee for entrance: Adults – Rs.10, Children – Rs.3, Foreigners – Rs.20, Camera permit – Rs.15, Video Rs. 500. (Open: 0830 – 1300 hrs and 1500 – 1730 hrs). Ph-2473952.

Tamil sculptors from Thanchavore were brought to build this palace. The beauty of this palace is enhanced by the beautiful pillars carved from a single stone. The roofs of this palace are exquisite. A striking monument of 122 horses is attached to this palace thereby giving it the name of Kuthiramalika (kuthira means horse and malika means mansion in Malayalam).

Napier Museum and Art Gallery

Visiting Napier Museum can be a wonderful experience because it houses several artefacts. There is a lot to explore in this 19th century museum such as historical ornaments, bronze idols, temple chariots, ivory carvings and unique archaeological treasures. The Indo-Saracenic architecture is truly an attraction of this museum. The museum is closed on Mondays and Wednesday afternoons. It is open from 10 am to 4.45 pm. Ph: Ph-2318294.

A visit to the Napier Museum complex is another such marvelous example of fine architecture. This Museum is named after the former Madras Governor General, John Napier and is also called the Government Art Museum.

Shankumugham Beach
This beautiful beach is only 8 kilometres from the city and adjacent to the airport. It is amazing to visiting this beach in the evening in order to watch the spectacular sunset. A 35-meter long huge sculpture of mermaid by the celebrated sculptor, Kanayi Kunhiraman named the matsyakanyaka is truly a great attraction of this beach. You also love to visit the star-fish shaped restaurant during your trip to this picnic spot. The indoor recreation club is also worth to visit. Children can learn traffic rules from the nearby Chacha Nehru Traffic Training Park.

Just 8 km from Trivandrum city, Shankumugham Beach is a clean beach with long sandy stretches. It is a perfect place for perfect sunsets to be enjoyed in the company of dear and near ones.

Sree Chithra Art Gallery
Remember to visit Sree Chithra Art Gallery during your visit to the nearby Napier Museum. It houses paintings of many well known artists. Here, one can see the original paintings of Raja Ravi Varma, the Picasso of Kerala. Besides, visitors can enjoy some real treasures like the works of Nicholas Roerich and Svetlova. This art gallery is also houses the copies of Mughals, Rajput and Tanjore School of Arts. Paintings of Ajanta Caves are another attraction of this picnic spot. A good collection of eastern paintings are also interesting to watch. You will also love to see the paintings from China, Bali, Tibet and Japan during your visit to the Sree Chithra Art Gallery. Entry fee for Adults: Rs.5/- Children: Rs.3/-

Located quite close to the Napier Museum, this art gallery displays select paintings of great stalwarts like Raja Ravi Varma, Svetlova and Nicholas Roerich and also is host to a great many exquisite works from the Rajput, Mughal and Tanjore schools of art in India. The collection also includes paintings from China, Japan, Tibet, Java and Bali. It is a treat for connoisseurs of Art.

Priyadarshini Planetarium
People love to visit the Priyadarshini Planetarium during their trip to Thiruvananthapuram. It offers 4 shows at 10.30, 12.00, 15.00 and 17.00. Entry fee for adults is Rs.15 while children between 3 and 10 need to pay Rs.10 to enter this planetarium. Priyadarshini Planetarium is one of the most sophisticated and versatile planetarium in India. This fabulous planetarium complex has all facilities and amenities like a centrally air conditioned Sky theatre, conference hall, sound studio etc.

Thiruvallam

Thiruvallam is a serene backwater stretch with beautiful coconut trees surrounding the water, enroute to Kovalam.  A temple dedicated to Saint Parasurama is the main attraction of Thiruvallam. This famous pilgrim centre for Hindus is only 10 kilometres away from the city. Chithranjali, the Kerala Film Development Corporation’s studio also locates here. With sapphire like backwaters stretched its way to Kovalam, many people visit this place in order to enjoy canoe rides.

Aruvikkara Dam
The Aruvikkara Dam is built across the river Karamana and is just 16 kms away from Thiruvananthapuram. Associated with the social reformer, Sree Narayana Guru, Aruvikkara is a great picnic spot almost 16 kilometres from Thiruvananthapuram. The place is famous for a panoramic dam and a devi temple. This picturesque tourist spot is on the banks of the Karamana River. There is a stream near the Durga Temple in Aruvikkara with full of fish. Visitors come close to them fearlessly to feed.

Pazhavangadi Sree Maha Ganapathy Temple

Sree Maha Ganapathy Temple Pazhavangadi is a very well known Ganapathy temple situated at East Fort in the heart of Thiruvananthapuram City. The main Deity of the temple is Sri Mahaganapathy. The main idol is installed in a seated posture with the right leg in a folded stance.

Thiruvananthapuram Zoo

This is one of the first Zoos in India. It is located in the center of the city with a well-planned botanical garden.  Everybody loves to visit the Thiruvananthapuram Zoo which is among the oldest zoos in the country. It was established by the erstwhile Maharaja of Travancore in 1857 as an extension of the museum. In fact, this zoo set up initially just for recreational purposes. Later, the purpose of zoo became to conserve animals because of the continuous loss of wildlife and forest. People cleared forests for development and put the wildlife in danger. Now most of the zoos of today act as a resort for the endangered wildlife and birds. Thiruvananthapuram Zoo located in the heart of the city in more than 55 acres of land. In addition to exciting animal species, visitors can watch panoramic surroundings in this zoo. It has around 75 species of animals from different parts of the world.

University Observatory
The Observatory is situated at one of the highest points in the city near the Museum complex, directly opposite to the Kanakakunnu Palace. Situated almost 60 meters above sea level, one can enjoy the view of the city from a bird’s eye view. Visitors can enter the Observatory from 10 am to 6.30 pm. Phone : 2322732.

Secretariat

The Kerala Government Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram is the seat of administration of the Government of Kerala, housing important ministries and bureaucratic offices. The Roman architectural style is the main attraction of the Secretariat. It is the centre of administration of the Government of Kerala.

Vyloppilly Sanskriti Bhavan

It is a cultural centre opened for the memory of Vyloppilly Sreedharamenon, a great Malayalam poet. Opened in 2001, this building has a padipura and a Koothambalam. The interior of the building also attracts travellers with beautiful lamps and wooden flooring.

K.C.S. Panicker’s 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 KCS Panicker Gallery traces his works over a period.  This is a gallery established in 1979 dedicated to an eminent artist in the country named K.C.S Panicker. Here you can see the contemporary paintings and arts by him.

Kerala State Science and Technology Museum

People who are interested in science and technology should visit this museum. Established in the year 1984, it houses more than 350 attractions. In 1997, a science park for children also added in this museum. It has separate galleries for electronics, mechanics, electricity, solar energy and biomedical items. Ph: 0471 2306024.

Chacha Nehru Children’s Museum

It is another great museum in the capital city which established in 1980. This museum named after the first prime minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who was fond of children. Visitors can enjoy a good collection of stamps from different parts of the world here. Besides, it houses many beautiful dolls. It is open from 10.30 am to 5 pm on every day except Mondays. Ph-2324939

Parasurama Temple
Thiruvallam Sree Parasurama Swami Temple is one of the most ancient temples of South India. It is situated on the banks of Karamana River near Thiruvallam, Thiruvananthapuram. It is the only temple in Kerala dedicated to Lord Parasurama. It is the temple of Lord Parasurama who is believed to have created Kerala according to Hindu Mythology.

C V N Kalari
CVN Kalari at Fort, Trivandrum, India established in 1958 by Sri C.V. Govindan Kutty Nair Gurukkal. It runs a year round training program in Northern Style Kalarippayat and conducts international performances and workshops of Kalarippayat and also runs a traditional Ayurvedic ‘Kalarichikitsa’ clinic.

Koyikkal Palace

This traditional Nalukettu style palace is on the way to Ponmudi Hill station. It is almost 18 kilometres away from Thiruvanathapuram. The lovely Courtallam Waterfalls is also near to this palace. People can enjoy the beauty of the ancient Kerala architecture style by visiting this picnic spot. You will love the traditional double storied Nalukettu style of this 15th century ancient palace. Besides, it has an inner courtyard and gabled slanting roofs.

The Department of Archeology set up numismatics and museums of folklore at this palace for the visitors. People love to visit this museum which established in 1992. It houses several occupational tools, models of different folk arts, household utensils and musical instruments. One can get an idea about the rich culture of the state by visiting this palace at Thiruvananthapuram. The Numismatics Museum is certainly a great attraction of the palace where you can watch many valuable and rare coins. In fact, these coins show the excellent trade relation of the state in the past.

Attukal Bhagvathy Temple
Attukal Bhagvathy temple is also very famously known as the Sabarimala of women. This temple allows entry only to women during the Pongala (ritual cooking of rice) festival. This is among the ancient temples in South India which is known as the Sabarimala of Women. The Goddess in Attukal Sree Bhagavathy Temple worshipped as Supreme Mother. Worshippers consider her as the creator and preserver of all living beings and the destroyer of them as well.

Sree Chithra Enclave

Get an idea about the evolution and socio-cultural-geographical details of Travancore State by visiting the Sree Chithra Enclave. Since they use audio-visual presentations, one can easily get many details about the Travancore State by visiting this tourist attraction. It opened in 1993 as a memory of the last Maharaja of Travancore royal family, Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma. Visitors interestingly watch the artefacts and belongings of the royal family at Sree Chithra Enclave.

Kowdiyar Palace

Kowdiyar Palace is a great attraction of Thiruvananthapuram. However, this palace not allows the entry of visitors. It was the residence of the late Maharaja Sree Chithira Thirunal Bala Rama Varma. That great king lived here with his family.

Sarkara Temple

This temple of is just 35 kms North of Thiruvananthapuram and 6 kms west of Attingal.  A grand festival, Sarkara Bharani, is conducted in this temple during March – April every year.

Nearby Attractions

Varkala

Varkala is a grand beach destination in Kerala. It is also a tourist, spiritual, pilgrim and religious place. Being a seaside resort and spa, many people choose this spot for rejuvenating their body and mind. Sivagiri is another great attraction of Varkala. The famous social reformer Sree Narayana Guru laid to his eternal Samadhi at this hilltop. The mineral springs of high cliffs that majestically rise from the beautiful coastline is also a must-visit attraction of Varkala. Many Hindus love to visit the Papanasam Beach in order to take holy dip to wash away all their sins. The place is associated with Hindu mythology. Never forget to visit the ancient Sree Janardhana Swamy temple. It is a heavenly experience to visiting this 2000 year old temple. A Nature cure centre and a century old tunnel are also good to visit.

Sivagiri Mutt

It is a great ashram near Varkala founded by the famous social reformer, Sree Narayana Guru. He breathed his last in this place in the year 1928 AD. Thousands of people visit Sivagiri Mutt and the Sarada Temple every year. Both these tourist centres set in the panoramic hills of Sivagiri. Pilgrimage to Sivagiri conducted every year between December 30 and January 1.

Ponmudi

Situated at a height of around 915 meters above sea level, the scenic hill resort attracts so many people. Everybody loves the cool and green wooded environment of this hilly picnic spot. Besides, it has small winding pathways and exciting trekking trails. The place is also famous for eye catching mountain flowers, gorgeous rivulets and springs, exotic butterflies and a deer park. You need to travel around 61 kilometres from Thiruvanathapuram to reach Ponmudi.

Agasthyakoodam

It is a beautiful mountain area and travellers can reach here even by foot from Kottor. Agasthyakoodam is near Neyyar Dam. With a height of around 1900 meters above sea level, this is the second highest peak in the state. This region is blessed with an exotic wildlife. The forests of this tourist destination have many rare herbs and medicinal plants. Besides, it houses several beautiful and colourful orchids. The best time to visit this region is from December to April. You can enjoy unforgettable trekking experience during your trip to Agasthyakoodam. However, one needs to take prior permission from the Wildlife Warden, Forest Department, PTP Nagar, Thiruvananthapuram to enjoy trekking in the forests of this region.

Santhigiri Ashram

Never forget to visit the famous Santhigiri Ashram during your visit to Thiruvananthapuram. It is a place where one can feel inner peace. The place is certainly a mountain of peace which is the meaning of the word ‘santhigiri’. One can visit this ashram irrespective of caste, creed, community, country, colour and culture. Santhigiri Ashram preaches and practices Dharma and Karma and become a place where people can feel love. You can learn the real meaning of human life here. Besides, they teach people how to lead life without compromising truth, mercy, kindness, virtues and righteousness.

Transport and Communication

Air – Trivandrum international airport is the nearest airport which is only 6 kilometres from the city. Many International and domestic flights of major companies operate to various cities and countries from this airport. Airport International Ph: 2500140, Domestic – 2702311.

Rail – The railway station located at Thampanoor. There are many direct trains from central railway station to all the main towns in Kerala and major Indian cities. Railway station, Thampanoor – Ph: 2321568. Railway enquiry – Ph: 139, 1397.

Road – This city is well connected by road with several tourist centres and cities in India. You can also catch long distance buses from the Central Bus Station, Thampanoor – Ph : 2323886.

Local Transport – There are many Buses, Taxis and Autorikshaws are available for local transportation. From the City Bus Station, East Fort many short distances buses operate- Ph: 2463029.

Tourist Information Offices – Tourist Facilitation Centre, Department of Tourism, Park View – Ph: 2321132, 2326812. Tourist information centre, domestic airport – 2501085. Tourist Facilitation Centre, Kovalam – 2480085. Tourist Reception Centre (KTDC), Thampanoor – 2330031. District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC), Vellayambalam- Ph: 2315397.

Basic Information about the city:

Area of Thiruvananthpuram: 2192 sq kms

Population (2001): 32, 34,707

Altitude: Sea level

Clothing: Tropical

Best time to visit: September to May

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