Thiruvananthapuram

Kowdier Palace,ThiruvananthapuramThe name ‘Thiruvananthapuram’means the ‘abode of Anantha’ – referring to the sacred snake god on whom Lord Vishnu reclines. The British found the name too much of a mouthful and anglicized it to ‘Trivandrum‘.The capital of Kerala, this unpretentious city is clean, green and has leisurely feel to it. The Padmanabha Swamy Temple that holds the deity of the royal family of Travancore is an important landmark. 

This city was built on seven low hills, a similarity it famously shares with Rome. It has an interesting mix of commercial street, tree – lined avenues, historical and modern buildings, ancestral homes and along coastline washed by the Arabian Sea. There are no large industries, but Thiruvananthapuram does have its share of professionals and businessmen, and with the advent of the IT industry, a rising population of ‘techies’.Howeever,the Secretariat and the government offices still form the backbone of the town and Kerala tourism. Vellayani Lake is a freshwater lake and a popular picnic spot located in Thiruvananthapuram district.

For details of Thiruvananthapuram District , see the web page http://halokerala.com/picnic-spots/Thiruvananhtapuram/

Sights 

Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple 

Sree Padmanabha Swamy TempleLocated in the old walled fort area in the heart of the city, the Padmanabha Swamy Temple is a grand edifice that devotes believe has protected the town from the ills.Architectually the east - facing structure is a mix of Chola, Pandya and indigenous Kerala styles. Access to the sanctum is through the distinctive ottuakkal mandapam (single stone).The idol is made of a unique composition known as katu – sarkarayogam,lined inside with 12,008 salagrams (sacred stones). 

This temple qualifies as a mahakshetram (great temple) as it satisfies 10 essential conditions, some of which are antiquity, historical importance, forest origin, closeness to the sea, elevated location, and royal connection. The navaratri mandapam, located to the east of the temple, is the venue for the annual ten day Navaratri celebrations. Sreepadam Palace located close to the northern entrance of the Sree Padmanabha Swami Temple.

Note: Entry is restricted to Hindus. 

The Zoo and Museum Complex 

The complex situated in the heart of the city houses the zoo, the Napier Museum, Natural History Museum, Sree Chithra Art Garllery, Sree Chithra Enclave and the KCS Panicker Gallery. Surrounded by beautiful green garden and parks, the complex is intensive with a bandstand, park benches and a charming arched gate. The mandapam appears Southeast Asian in term of its architecture. The curved top rafters and the granite base are reminiscent of a Hindu temple. 

The Zoo 

Established in 1859, when the Maharaja made a gift of the palace menagerie, this zoo is said to be the finest in India. Covering a vast expanse of landscaped gardens, with shaded pathways and a placid lake, most of the animals are housed in charming old buildings. Some are kept in open enclosures surrounded by a moat or ditch. 

Almost all the animals you had seen as children in the picture books were there. Perhaps,every zoo has such collections of rare and exotic animals and birds, but the layout of the Thiruvananthapuram zoo deserves mention – a beautiful lake,gaint trees many of which were brought from far off countries, well kept walkways, bamboo woods, reptile houses including seven Anacondas being brought over from the Dehiwala zoo in Sri Lanka,art gallery, children’s play area and the beautiful museum garden close by.

Sree Chithra Art Gallery 

The gallery opened in 1935 and located inside two typical brick – and - tile bungalows built in the traditional Kerala style and sporting French windows and cool verandas. 

Napier Museum 

Napier MuseumBetter known as the Thiruvananthapuram Museum, this was set up in 1855,making it the oldest in Kerala.In 1880,under Lord Chales Napier, the Governor of Madras,a spacious new structure was built in its place and duly christened the ‘Napier Museum’. 

Sree Chithra Enclave

Dedicated to the memory of Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma,the last Maharaja of the Travancore royal family, the Sree Chithra Enclave was opened in 1993.An audio visual presentation explain the evolution of the Travancore State and its geographical and socio – cultural history. 

Kerala State Science and Technology Museum 

First established in 1984, it opened to the public 10 years later, and today, houses more than 300 exhibits on science and technology. 

Priyadarshini Planetarium 

The GM II star field projector in the planetarium can project most of the constituents of the visible universe. 

Puthen Malika 

Puthen Malika or Kuthiramalika Palace, located in the East Fort,this charming two storied palace with its 80 rooms and open verandas was build in the Kerala style by Maharaja Swathi Thirunal in 1844.Now converted into a museum, the Puthen Malika houses paintings belonging to the Travancore kings. 

Aakulam Tourist Complex 

Situated on the banks of the backwaters at Aakulam,10 km away from the city,this tourist complex offers a range of exciting activities – boating facilities. 

Veli Tourist Village 

A popular picnic spot, this village complex is located 12 km away from the city. The Thiruvallam backwaters is located near Velli Toruist Village.Thiruvallam is also a serene,sapphire like backwater stretched on the way to Kovalam and famous for its canoe rides.

Shankhumugham Beach 

People converge at this beach in the evening to watch fiery sunsets. 

Ponmudi 

Situated close to Thiruvananthapuram, this hill station is a quite haven ideal for walks and treks.Winding,wooded paths and spice and tea plantations give it a lovely green cover. Wild orchids grow profusely on hillsides. 

Agasthyakoodam Mountians  

This spectacular peak near Ponmudi raises toa majestic 1,890 m to form a sharp cone. Ideal for trekking from December to February.

Aattukal Pongala

Aattukal PongalaKerala is land of colorful festivals. Among them, Aattukal Pongala hold a distinct place as far as its rituals are concerned.Aattukal Pongala is ten days festival held at Aattukal Devi Temple, Thirivananthapuram.It starts on the pooram day of Makaram Kumbham every year. The temple’s deity Aattukal Devi is worshipped in the form of Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi.She is also considered as the incarnation of Kannagi, the central character of Tamil apic Silappathikaram. Written in the second century.Aattikal is one of the places where Kannagi took rest on her journey from Madurai to Kodungallur.

Devotees start arriving in the city of Thiruvananthapuram one day before the Pongala festival, in order to occupy vantage places on the street. The major spots where devotees assemble include Aattukal, East Fort,Thampanoor,Pulimoodu etc.

Aattugal PongalaOn the Pongala day,Pandara aduppu is made by using bricks and preparation begin around 11 AM.Rice is boiled in mud pots and after it is mixed with coconut and jiggery,it is offered as a special nivedhyam to Aattukal Devi.

The ceremony is exclusively confined to the womenfolk. The enormous crowd, which gathers in Thiruvananthapuram on this auspicious day, is similar to that of the Kumbhamela Festival of North India. The Pongala festival is about women and their strengths. The festival gives the message that women should be worshipped and they should be treated equal to a man in all walks of life.Aattukal Pongala aims to create awareness in the society about the importance of giving a women respect.

The festival is also associated with many folklore. The most notable one is the killing of a Pandyan king by Kannagi.

Thalapoli and Kuthiyottam are the special attraction during the festival. Unmarried girls participate in Thalapoli in the belief that they will get good husbands and thus be able to lead a happy married life. Celebrating Aattukal Pongala is believed to be as sanctified as making a pilgrimage to SabarimalaThe Guinness Book of World Records has rated this unique festival as the world’s largest annual gathering of women at a specific place, on a single day, irrespective of caste, creed or religion.

Chala Market

It will be an unforgettable experience to the local market in Chala.The bustling market with its riot colors coming from vegetables and fruits. Shopping includes jack fruits, meen chatty – the earthen ware for cooking fish curry, varieties of pickles, fresh banana and jackfruit chips and rice halwa. For a experience of a lifetime.

Raj Bhavan

Raj Bhavan is the official residence of the Governor of Kerala. It is located in the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. Built in 1829 as Palace Guest house of Travancore Government Guest.

Koyikkal Palace

The Koyikkal Palace, situated far of away from the city, was actually built for Umayamma Rani of the Venad Royal Family who ruled the land between 1677 and 1684. The palace is a double stroreyed traditional nalukettu with slanting gabled roofs and an inner courtyard.

Getting There

By Air : The nearest is Thiruvananthapuram Internatonal Airport ,6 km

By Rail : The Thiruvananthapuram railway station is connected to all major metros in India.

By Road : The KSRTC and city bus stands connects to most towns in Kerala.Long distance buses also operate from here.

Where to stay

For details of hotels and resorts in Thiruvananthapuram,see accommodation listing on http://halokerala.com/hotels/thiruvananthapuram/

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Published on 11/11/2014

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