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Thiruvananthapuram, or Trivandrum, is South India’s dominant icon, with the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple and Kovalam beach flanking it on its left side. The city’s culture is rich in classical art forms from India, along with crafts and temples. The Travancore royalty and the palaces and artworks left behind by them form the heritage of this beautiful city. It is also a prime Ayurvedic destination, where thousands come every year for Ayurvedic treatments. From the golden sands of Kovalam to the golden idol of Lord Vishnu, Trivandrum is a city that is rich in culture and heritage.
Nearest Airport: Thiruvananthampuram International Airport
How to reach: by air/road/train
Famous for: Sri Padmanabhaswami Temple, Ramanayar Palace Museum, Ayurveda resorts and treatment centres, beaches of Kovalam & Varkala, Poovar Backwaters
Best time to visit: October to March
WHAT TO SEE
Sri Padmanabhaswami Temple, Ramanayar Palace Museum, Kuthiramalika Palace,
Kannakakkunu Palace, Napier Museum, Shri Chitra Art Gallery,
Indian Coffee House, Beaches of Kovalam & Varkala, Poovar Backwaters
Thiruvananthapuram is a city built in 1000 BC. It came to prominence under the rule of Raja Martanda Varma, who made the city the Travancore Kingdom’s capital in 1745. During British rule, the city came to be known as Trivandrum, a contraction of its ancient name of Thiruvananthapuram, which was later re-adopted in the 21st century.
Culture and architecture:
With a culture that revolves around the arts, crafts, and temples, Trivandrum, India, exudes a calm atmosphere. The city was once the center of Laurie Baker’s architectural wonders. Dubbed the ‘Evergreen City of India’ by Mahatma Gandhi, Thiruvananthapuram is filled with the legacy left behind by the Travancore royalty in the form of arts, crafts, and buildings.
Ayurveda destination for wellness: Thiruvananthapuram is one of the most renowned Ayurvedic destinations in Kerala. Thousands of tourists from all over the world come here for Ayurvedic treatments for wellness. The city is home to several Ayurvedic hospitals, like Mitra Hermitage, which offers a village ambiance with lush greenery. Some hospitals have a resort ambiance, like Somatheeram. Alternatively, there are resorts like Niraamya that offer ayurvedic treatments to their guests.
Places of interest:
Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple: Surrounded by a pool of water, Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple is one of the most iconic temples in southern India. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, this Thiruvananthapuram temple is considered one of the seven wonders of India. The temple was built in the 16th century. It is an excellent piece of Dravidian architecture, showing a high standard of craftsmanship. With the recent discovery of a treasure worth US$21.72 billion, Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple is the richest temple in the world. This magnificent temple is a must-visit on your trip to Trivandrum.
Ramanayar Palace Museum: Situated near the iconic Thiruvananthapuram temple is the Ramanayar Palace Museum, featuring an extensive collection of Kerala and ancient oriental art. The museum exhibits over 1,000 exceptional pieces of art that include sculptures and paintings, among others. With its well-preserved exhibits, the Ramanayar Palace Museum is perfect for those interested in Trivandrum’s culture.
Kuthiramalika Palace: Kuthiramalika Palace is the most iconic example of Keralan architecture. It is made of teak wood, rosewood, marble, and granite. The palace reflects the genius and creativity of its commissioner, Swathi Tirunal Rama Varma.
Napier Museum: The Napier Museum, with its Indo-Saracenic architecture that features a gothic roof, minarets, and a natural conditioning system, is a hidden jewel of the city. It is home to the works of Russian philosopher Nicholas Roerich and the art collection of Raja Ravi Varma. The museum also has an impressive collection of bronze idols, ancient artifacts, and temple chariots.
Shri Chitra Art Gallery: Shri Chitra Art Gallery is home to stunning paintings by the royals. Among the featured painters here are Raja Ravi Varma, Rabindranath Tagore, and Jamini Roy, among others. The gallery features an extensive collection that includes both classical and modern paintings.
Indian Coffee House: The Indian Coffee House, situated in the city center, is one of the iconic places in Trivandrum, India. The building was designed by the renowned British architect Laurie Baker to resemble a continuous spiral ramp. The red-brick cylindrical building is the best setting for lunches and brunches.
Sri Padmanabhapuram Palace: Occupying a whole day, a visit to Sir Padmanabhapuram Palace is rewarding, with a river on one side and hills on the other. Holding the record of being the biggest wooden palace in the world in the Guinness Book of Records, the palace attracts hordes of visitors. One thing you should not miss here is the oldest clock in South Asia, the palace’s clock tower.
Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary: Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary, with its enchanting forest area and mammalian population, is a paradise for nature lovers. The biodiverse sanctuary is home to fauna like the Nilgiri Thar, leopards, tigers, bears, and lions. A trek through the wildlife sanctuary will reveal the beauty of the Bona and Kalarkad waterfalls.
Beaches of Kovalam and Varkala: Kovalam is a set of three beaches situated adjacently: Lighthouse, Hawah, and Samudra. Out of the three, Lighthouse is the show-stealer with its rocky waves and aquamarine water, whereas Hawah and Samudra offer serenity and calm. You can partake in several water sports, like canoeing and kayaking, at the Kovalam beaches. Varkala Beach, located at the northern border of Trivandrum, India, is considered by the Discovery Channel to be one of the most fascinating beaches in the world. With stunning landscapes and brown sand, the sunset on this beach is striking and picturesque.
Poovar Backwaters: The Island of Poovar is an eco-tourism spot in India that remains unspoiled. The spectacular coastal village is home to clean and golden beaches. However, the Poovar backwaters that enfold the island are the biggest attraction here. Several tourists come here every year to sail on the calm and serene backwaters. As you sail through the backwaters, you will see several species of flora and fauna adorning the island.
Where to stay:
You have plenty of options for accommodation in Trivandrum, India. Situated on the shores of the beautiful Kovalam Beach, Niramaya Resort is an Ayurveda retreat where you will be surrounded by comfortable luxury. Enjoy the stunning views of Golden Sand Beach as you balance your mind, body, and spirit here. Raviz Kovalam is yet another great option for a stay with its location on the shores of the pristine Kovalam. With its palace-turned-hotel and rooms with modern aesthetics, Raviz offers a perfect blend of royalty and modernity.