Thiruvananthapuram Travel Guide

By: Vinay Choubey

The city is a blend of modern and traditional architecture. Named after the fabled Serpent God 'Anantha' on whom Sri Anantha Padmanabhan (Lord Vishnu) reclines, the city is built on seven hills. Caressed by the Arabian Sea at the west, Thiruvananthapuram is a popular transit destination for Indians and foreigners alike who like to visit south India.

Places to see in Thiruvananthapuram:

•?Sree Padmanabha Swamy TempleThe imposing seven storied tower makes it the most impressive landmark in the city. The temple is an excellent example of the dravidian style of architecture. There are innumerable pillars, intricate carvings, and mural paintings.

•?KovalamKovalam is 12kms to the south of Thiruvananthapuram and is one of the finest beaches in India. It has been developed into an integrated seaside resort. The beach complex has many hotels, cottages, yoga centres etc.

•?Sree Chithra Art GallaryHas a rich collection of paintings of Raja Ravi Varma and Roerich It also has copies of paintings of the Ajanta, Rajput, Mughal and Tanjore Schools besides some works from China, Japa, Tibet and bali.

•?Ponmudi A pleasant resort at an elevation of 912m above sea level. It is 61 kms from Thiruvananthapuram and connected by road. There are many tree and rubber estates around the hills.

•?Kowdiar PalaceThe home of the late maharaja Sree Chithira Thirunal Bala Rama varma and his family is off limits to visitors but you can have a glimpse from the main gate. If a friendly guard is on duty, he will let you walk a bit inside the grounds where you can get a view of the grand old building at the end of its long drive.

•?The Kanakakunnu Palace This palace in the heart of Trivandrum city is one of the most beautiful buildings. The palace and its sprawling grounds are today the venue for many cultural meets. The Museum The museum building is an architectural splendour. The napier museum, the natural history museum, the reptile house and the Shri Chitra Art Gallery are in the same complex amidst a well laid out garden and park.

•?Kuthira MalikaPuthen Malika is also known as Kuthira Malika. This palace was built during the time of H.H Maharaja Swathi Thirunal the king of Travncore who was also a great poet and musician. This palace has wood carvings in the traditional Travancore style. The museum presently displays various painting collections of the royal family.?

•?Varkala A pilgrim centre for the devotees of Sree Narayana Guru, one of the patron saints of Kerala, whose motto was "One God, One Religion, One Caste". It is only 51kms from Trivandrum by road and also boasts of one of the best beaches in the State.

Fairs and Festivals in Thiruvananthapuram:

The Great Elephant RaceThough strictly not a local festival, the conclusion of it is in Thiruvananthapuram. It is a four daylong extravaganza arranged by the tourism department of Kerala. 101 caparisoned elephants march from Thrissur on the 17th of every January reaching Thiruvananthapuram on the fourth day with stop overs at Kochi and Alappuzha. Boat races and folk art performances are arranged during this period where tourists can have glimpses of Kerala culture. The festival is concluded on the fourth day at Kovalam Beach with cultural programs and seaside barbecue.

Nishagandhi Dance FestivalThe Tourism Development Corporation organises the dance festival. Leading artists of Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattam, Kathak, Odissi, Modern ballet and other folk form will perform at the open-air theatre of Nishagandhi in the Kanakakunnu Palace compound. Admission is free and the festival usually is accompanied with music.

Vetta and ArattuThis festival is celebrated twice in a year, once in Oct.-Nov and other in March-April. Vetta represents Lord Vishnu hunting down the demon of evil in the forest. The next day afternoon the Arattu procession begins. Images of Lord Padmanabha, Lord Krishna and Lord Narasimha are carried to the Arabian Sea at Sangumugham beach escorted by the members of the Royal Family. At sunset the images are ritually bathed in the sea. Returning the images in a procession back to the Padmanabhaswamy temple concludes the event. Several cultural programs including all-night Kathakali are performed during the festival.

How to get there:?By Air Thiruvananthapuram International Airport (6 kms. from the city) has air links with convenient connections to Maldives, Sri Lanka and many countries to the West of Arabian Sea and other important ports. Indian Airlines and Jet Airways operate domestic flights to different parts of the country.?By Rail Thiruvananthapuram is an important railway terminus on the southwestern coast with train services from all parts of the country, including the southernmost tip of the subcontinent, Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin).

By Road Motorable roads link Thiruvananthapuram to several important tourist and business centers in India. The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation operates bus services of various classes.

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