Hinduism 65%, Christian 18%, Muslim 15%, others 2%
The Napier Museum in Trivandrum, one of cultural icons of the city
Located near the southern tip of mainland India, Thiruvananthapuram (Malayalam: തിരുവനന്തപുരം Tiruvanantapuraṁ),  (formerly and often still known as Trivandrum) is the capital city of Kerala in Southern India. The city is shares the same name with its district, Thiruvananthapuram, which is one of the 14 districts of Kerala. Referred to by Mahatma Gandhi as the "Evergreen city of India", the city is characterized by its undulating terrain of low coastal hills and busy commercial alleys.
Thiruvananthapuram is built on hills by the sea shore and sandwiched between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, Thiruvananthapuram is ranked first in the number of foreign tourists visiting Kerala and is a fascinating destination for holidaymakers.
Thiruvananthapuram (pop 800,000), with a tradition dating back to 1000BC, lies on a small strip of land with plenty of coconut & palm trees, and its name means "City of Lord Anantha" (the serpent on which Lord Padmanabha/Vishnu reclines) in Sanskrit and Malayalam. It was a trading post for spices, sandalwood and ivory. Thiruvananthapuram is the largest city in Kerala.The city is the state capital and houses many central and state government offices, organizations and companies. Apart from being the political nerve centre of Kerala, it is also a major academic hub and is home to several educational institutions including the University of Kerala, and to many science and technology institutions, the most prominent being the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Technopark, the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST), College of Engineering Trivandrum (CET) and the Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER).
Thiruvananthapuram is one of the oldest cities in India, with periodic references in many Greek and Roman literatures. However the city's position came forefront when the Venad Dynasty came into power in the Southern regions, after the Great Partition of Kerala Empire of Cheras in 14th century. Though Venad rulers had their capital at Kollam (70kms north of Thiruvananthapuram), the town was well considered as a major trading centre. The rise of new Venad King, Maharaja Marthanada Varma and subsequently formation of Travancore Kingdom in late 17th century proved a turning point for the city. The Raja, after formation of the kingdom by annexing many small states and feudal principalites, dedicated the entire kingdom to Lord Padmanabha, the presiding deity of Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple and crowned as Emperor, making the royal family to rule in the name of the lord. This resulted in making Thiruvananthapuram as the capital of the new kingdom and the city started growing around the temple. In the 19th century, the entire administration was brought to Thiruvananthapuram city from the Royal headquarters of Sree Padmanabhapuram Fort (50kms from Thiruvananthapuram city), which marked completion of first phase of Thiruvananthapuram city.
Travancore was one of the most powerful Indian Princely states during British Raj, with the kingdom becoming the 3rd richest state among native states. Thiruvananthapuram city, under the royal patronage, grew into a major academic, cultural hub of India, with many firsts to its credit. The Maharajas always cared to keep their capital, one of the most green cities in India, which resulted in many praises for the capital. As the power and wealth of Travancore Kingdom reached its peak during early 20th century, Thiruvananthapuram became a major prosperous city. With the independence of India, the Travancore chose to ascend into the Indian union. After the formation of Kerala state in 1957, it was decided to retain Thiruvananthapuram as the capital city.
Being a capital and administrative city, it remains to be one of the hottest political centers in Kerala. The 3rd phase of the development came in early 1990s, when the Kerala Government decided to establish Technopark- a large IT Park. The growth of Technopark, as the largest Information Technology park in South Asia, made a major impetus for the growth of city. Today the city is on focus to make it a major IT/Bio-Technology hub.
The arterial road of Thiruvananthapuram is the 'MG Road', or the Mahatma Gandhi Road, which lies in the north-south direction and connects almost all important attractions in the city.
The city has a tropical climate and therefore does not experience distinct seasons. The mean maximum temperature is 34°C and the mean minimum temperature is 21°C. Humidity is high, and rises to about 90% during the monsoon season.
Thiruvananthapuram is the first city along the path of the south-west monsoon and gets its first showers in early June. However, pre-monsoon showers are common in April and May, accounting to about 35 cm on average. Annual rainfall is not very high compared to other districts of Kerala, but it is still a substantial 180 cm. The rainiest months are May, June, July, August, and October, but there are frequent showers in other months too between April and November. For travelers who wish to avoid the rain, the best period to visit is from December to March.
The winter temperature comes down to about 18°C at some places at high altitudes and summer temperatures can sometimes go as high as 35°C.
The best time to visit Trivandrum is between October and February, the perfect time for beach vacations. February to May is summer, which is very hot and humid while June to September is the monsoon season. The second rainy season, the North-East monsoon, is equally strong and occurs during the months of October and November.
The festival of Onam which occurs towards the end of August or early September is a good time to soak up the carnival atmosphere. There are usually many cultural programs during the official Onam celebrations lasting 10 days.
The Monsoon season starts from June every year and is a time of heavy rains in the area. Recently, as a result of the campaigning by State Tourism Board, tourists have started coming in to enjoy the Monsoon.
The native language of Kerala is Malayalam, which is a Dravidian language like Tamil, Kannada or Telugu. Most educated locals are also able to communicate in Hindi and English. The people are generally very helpful and friendly. Tamil is generally understood, though people may not be too fluent in the language.
Trivandrum International Airport (IATA: TRV) with direct flights from the Middle East, Singapore, Maldives, Sri Lanka as well as seasonal charter flights to Europe. It is linked with many major cities in India by domestic flights.
Trivandrum Central railway station, located at Thampanoor, is a major Indian railway station, third largest in South India after Chennai and Shornur jn. The station being a terminus, almost all trains on west coast and bound to Kerala start & end their journey here. It is very well connected and serviced by rail to all major cities in India. Thiruvananthapuram is the first major city along the second longest train route in the india, Kanyakumari to Jammu. Recently several trains have shifted its service point to Kochuveli Railway Station, to avoid congestion at Central Railway station. Kochuveli Railway Station is nearest to International Airport. Check at Railway Enquiry, before you proceed.
The Central station is itself is a heritage complex built by Travancore Maharaja as part of Travancore Railways. The railway station is the only such to be built completely in stone without any concrete or steel structure. The station is highly modernized with all premium facilities. There are several good retiring rooms, a large air-conditioned waiting room, first class lounge, bookstores, shopping arcade and medical center in it.
The long distance bus station is located next door to the railway station. Buses ply to all major towns and villages in the state as well as to big cities like Cochin, Bangalore, Kozhikode,Madurai, Coimbatore,Tirunelveli and Chennai. Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) operates 6 class of services, connecting to southern Tamil-Nadu cities/town as well as all other parts of Kerala. KSRTC operates premium luxury Garuda services to Bangalore and Coimbatore. Karnataka STC also operates two class of premium services; Rajahamsa (non A/c Executive class) and Airavat (A/C Sleeper Class) from Bangalore and Mysore to the city. Likewise Tamil Nadu SETC also operates 3 class of services from numerous Tamil Nadu cities, particularly from Madurai. In addition, private national players like Sharma, Kallada, GTC, Raj National Express also operates premium services to other South Indian cities and Mumbai.
If you are having trouble getting a bus ticket to a destination in Tamil Nadu, it may be worth while travelling to Nagercoil and then taking a bus to your destination from there.
The local bus service system is the cheapest way to get around Thiruvananthapuram. There are city buses run by government(KSRTC) and private companies. Most of these are very crowded especially during peak hours. Route descriptions on the buses are mainly in Malayalam. Route numbers are displayed. Pick pocketing is not very common. Women of foreign origin can some times be the subject of verbal harassment. The government city buses are painted red with an yellow patch , and the private city buses are blue in colour. Fast passenger buses run by KSRTC are also painted blue and is named "Ananthapuri Fast". The city services of KSRTC operate from six depots namely, the City depot, Vikas Bhavan, Peroorkada, Pappanamcode, Kaniyapuram and Vellanad. The central city bus terminal is located at East Fort (Kizhakkekotta), near the Padmanabha Swamy temple. The Central and Inter State bus station is located 1 km away at Thampanoor.KSRTC operates AC Volvo services connecting various important places. If you have a little time to spent you can try the new mode of transportaion. Recently KSRTC has launched AC buses also for local transportation. you can take these buses for a city tour in AC comfort at about Rs 40. minimum fare is Rs 10/-.Buses are painted in an orange colour and has a Jn Nurm logo. Jn Nurm also operates green coloured non AC buses and the minimum fare is Rs 5/-.
Autorickshaws (or simply Autos) are a cheap way of travelling between attractions. It is always possible to get an auto rickshaw from a bus stand, railway station or special auto rickshaw stand. All the legally licensed city auto-rikshaws should possess fare meters, and the fare is calculated by the taximeter. So, make sure that the driver turns on the meter before the start of the journey. Most auto drivers tend to charge more from foreigners, this is illegal. The driver may quote a price first, but just insist that he uses the meter. The minimum charge for the autorickshaw is Rs 12 and the running charge per km is Rs.7. The charge for waiting for over 10 min is Rs 5 for every 15 min, subject to a maximum of Rs 200 per day. There are pre-paid autorickshaw counters available near the airport and the railway station. Complaints related to the autorickshaws in Trivandrum can be made to RTO Trivandrum, ☎+91 471 2469223. Online complaints are also accepted in the traffic police website .
Taxis are convenient and cheap, especially if a travel in groups. Taxis can be hired not only for short distances, but also for a few days at a stretch. Unlike other metros, Thiruvanathapuram still has only Indian Ambassadors as taxi cabs. Being administrative city, almost all public cabs are Ambassadors, which is a heritage car to take a ride. These cars are likely to disappear as they are not produced anymore. If you wish for modern cars, you can get from your hotel on request.
When you hire the taxi with a driver over a few days, a minimum charge is usually paid which covers the hiring charge for the car, the driver's fees and a certain distance. If the car covers more than that distance, additional charges are levied according to the extra distance covered as per kilometre. Most of the drivers expect to be paid for their meals during the day. If staying overnight, this will include the hotel charges as well.
The present taxi charges in the city are as follows : minimum charge – Rs.65; running charge per km – Rs.7.50; and charge for waiting – Rs.25 per hour, subject to a maximum of Rs.300 per day.
There are many car rental companies offering cars with drivers and very few, hard to find "self drive". Many of them are unreasonably expensive by local standards. Ask someone with the local know how before you rent a car.
Kowdiar road is the Rajpath or Royal road in Trivandrum.
You can easily visit Thiruvananthapuram through Car. There are many car rental companies available which Provide good services.
Before 10 years, cycles were a major mode of transportation used by the residents. Now, the use of cycles are relatively very low. The tourists also prefer little cycling because of the hilly shape of the city. Moreover, the absence of cycling lanes and hot weather will make the day exhausting.
However, for hard-hearters cycles are available on rent with some companies.
Vacation India Ph: +91 471 2312028 Fax: +91 471 2314561
Many places of attractions within the city are nearby, so you could walk between them. Crossing roads often involves wading across heavy traffic during peak hours. The zebra lanes are used by the locals for road crossing only in major junctions. Other than the major junctions, do not expect the vehicles to stop for you in the zebra lines. Try your best to move in a predictable straight line, so vehicles can weave around you. (Better yet, latch onto a group of locals and cross in their shadow.)
The recommended walk areas in the city are as follows:
Walk from Over bridge towards East Fort. Visit the Padmanabhaswami Temple premises. End up your walk in the Gandhi Park in East Fort.
Walk from Secratariate towards Palayam. Walk and see the Connemera market and do window shopping.
Walk from Museum Junction towards Vellayambalam. Alternatively, you can also walk inside the Museum compounds.
Walk from Vellayambalam Junction up to Kowdiar palace. This road is called the Royal Road, as it leads to the palace. There are good coffee shops and snack bars in this area.
Hitch-hiking is sometimes used by male school students who need a ride home after school hours. In this case pay is not needed. This form of transport is used rarely outside of school days. Hitch-hiking by women, people who are not students or at times other than after school hours is non-existent.
Thiruvananthapuram is a historic city, dotted with many historical structures, parks, museums, tourist centers and palaces. Its also famous for its distinctive greenery, present all over, a rare site in any bustling Indian city. Visit the official website of Kerala Tourism .
Temple Dos and Don'ts
Sree Padmanabha temple have some strict rules and etiquette.
Only Hindus will be allowed inside the temple. Foreigners and whites, must produce any authorized document showing the identity of religion.
A strict dress code is enforced for the temple. Gents must wear Kerala Mundu only. No upper clothing like Shirt, Vest etc is allowed. Instead they can wear the traditional shawl to cover the body. Ladies are permitted only wearing Saris or Kerala set-mundu etc. Ladies in Churidars or Suits, must wear a mundu over the bottom. Children below 14, can wear trousers.
A cloak room is available at all gates, where dress can be changed and kept in safe custody. Mundu shops are available near cloak rooms, for purchase. Some of them provide on hourly rent basis.
No kind of electronic device is permitted inside the temple. All electronic devices like Mobile, cameras etc must be declared at the Security Office and deposited there. Videography and photography is strictly prohibited inside the temple. It is a punishable offence under law and security officials can arrest such violators. Its better to keep such equipment at your hotel rooms or in cars, than depositing in the office, as the security office charges a whopping Rs 200 Per equipment as security deposit charges.
As part of increased security, any kind of metal equipment is debarred inside temple, other than personal medical equipments. Blades, sharp objects, knives, small firearms etc are prohibited inside the temple
Barring small ladies bag and pocket wallets, any kind of baggage are prohibited inside the temple.
As part of security, x-ray scanners and body scanners are deployed at all gates. Devotees must co-operate with body frisking by the security guards and scan hand bags etc in the equipment.
Entry is permitted only thro' East and South Gates. Exit allowed only through other gates.
Its mandatory to take receipts for all purchases for worship items inside the temple. Devotees are not allowed to bring any worship items from outside, as all has to be purchased inside the temple. For all offerings, it has to be brought from authorized counters only.
Men wearing upper shawl, must take it off and tie around the waist, when they prostrate before Lord Padmanabha. As the presiding lord is considered as Emperor with all regal titles, royal customs must to be adhered with.
Under no circumstances, men and women must not lie down or touch the head on the Main mandap. Its a sole privilege of Royal Family.
The Royal family has exclusive rights for worship and the royal retinue visits the temple daily from 7:30 AM to 9:00 AM. Outsiders will be strictly prohibited inside the inner circle of the temple. However devotees can wait outside, untill the exit.
Sree Anantha Padmanabha Temple is the key icon of the city. One of the most oldest temples of India, its a major Vishnu temple in the country. The temple itself has 1000's of stories to tell with immaculate sculptures and mandaps. The entire Thiruvanathapuram city was built around this temple. Its an architectural wonder and was nominated from India into last round of 7 Wonders of World. The building style is a mixture of Kerala and Tamil architecture. The temple has many structures inside, like musical pillars, golden mandap, 500 pillared corridor famous for its sculptures and large collection of temple mural paintings. The temple has a large clear pond called Padmatheertham, which is also landmark.
The deity is Maha Vishnu in a rare reclining posture, called as "ananthasayanam" or the lord's sleep. The temple has a huge role in history of Kerala, with the presiding deity even being crowned as Emperor of Travancore in 18th century and all the rulers ruling the state in the name of the deity. The royal crown of Travancore, is preserved inside the temple, though getting a glimpse of it is a rare.
This temple belongs to Travancore Royal Family and guarded by Royal Palace Guards of Travancore (RPG) and Kerala Special Branch Police Force along with Sree Padmanabha's Elite Mounted Guards. A unit of Kerala State Commando force protects the temple in its outer ring.
The temple has been in news, after discovery of huge treasures kept in its cellars. A rough estimate makes it to astronomic value of Rs 1.2 Trillion (US$21.72 billion), making it the most richest temple in the world.Due to discovery of this wealth, the temple and its zone, became one of the most protected areas. Armed Police and Commandos have been deployed around the temple. Visitors must pass thro' stringent security screening process. Shadow police force in civilian and temple dress do observe all visitors 24x7.
East Fort, an old fort around Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple. Today most of fortifications have been dismantled, except the Eastern side, thus the fort has got its current name- East Fort. The Fort Gate directly opens before Sree Padmanabha Temple and designed in European style. The illumination of East Fort Gate in evenings, is a major attraction.
Ramanayar Palace museum East entrance of the the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple. - Has a good collection of many antique items from the Travancore era Kings. Thrones, paintings and many belongings kept in a very good condition housed in an erstwhile royal building. During the Navaratri time, the palace attracts lot of people with idols of Saraswati and Durga brought from Sree Padmanabhapuram Palace.
Kuthiramallikka Palace - Also known as Puthen Palace, this was constructed by famous musician King- Swati Thirunal. The palace features several relics and antiques belonging to Maharaja Swati Thirunal. The key feature is its grand facade designed in form of horses, hence the name struck. The Annual Swati Thirunal Music festival is held in the Palace Lawns.
The Kerala Government Secretariat, is the one of the most recognizable icon of the city. Built as Huzur Kacheri (Secretarial Offices in Malayalam) in 1860, to serve as the Royal Durbar Hall of Travancore Kingdom, this building is a super-imposing structure. The building was designed by British Royal Engineers Corps combining Roman-Dutch-English-Kerala architectures, a testimony of Kerala's past influences with Roman, Dutch, English. The old Legislature Assembly Hall inside the complex (Asia's first native legislature assembly)is a good museum with a detailed gallery that depicts the history of Travancore Legislature Assembly. Other areas of this building are not of tourist interest, as they are government offices.
The Napier Museum (note that there is no sign saying 'Napier Museum', just 'Art Gallery' and it's the big building in the park to the north of Museum Road) named after former Madras governor, Lord Napier (Francis Napier, 10th Lord Napier and 1st Baron Ettrick), this museum is a beautiful building in the museum (read: park) compound. This masterpiece was designed by Madras Government architect Robert Chisholm in Indo-Saracenic style . This museum displays rare archaeological and historical artifacts including bronze idols, ceramics, an impressive carved wooden cart, Buddhist statues from various parts of the country and some neighbouring places, ivory carvings, chests, Balinese shadow puppets, various old coins, Hindu puja items, etc. Quite a few of the objects are foreign, and of those quite a∂ few are Chinese. Unfortunately most are lacking labels, have labels only in Malayalam or are very vague. Don't miss looking up at the impressive roof when you enter! Open 10AM - 5PM, closed on Mondays and before noon Wednesday. Photography is prohibited inside the museum. Ticket prices are Rs. 10 per person.
Keralan Museum (opposite of the Napier Museum's garden-complex, on the south of Museum Rd.) Housed in a beautiful old colonial building, this newly developed museum (circa 2008 vintage) presents a periodised history of Kerala. It's the first 'interactive' museum in the country, featuring touchscreen terminals. Unfortunately, like so many museums and historical texts in India, there are no maps at all (what are these people thinking?!?!?!). Regardless, the museum comes across as very pleasant, clean, modern and well presented when compared to others. Displays begin in the stone age and advance through rock art and stone tools to pottery, bronze sculptures, folk art and architecture, with a few latter-day items to boot. A small canteen behind the museum for staff of the adjacent tourist department offers good value fish or vegetable curry. Price for entry is Rs. 200 for foreigners and Rs. 20 for Indians. Extra for camera.
Sree Chithra Art Gallery is an art gallery located in the Museum compound and displays a rare collection of mainly Indian paintings. The main attractions are paintings by world famous Kerala painter Raja Ravi Varma and other famous painters Raja raja Varma and Nicholas Roerich. Also featured are miniature paintings from around the world, Kerala mural paintings and Tanjore miniature paintings.
The Zoological Park Closed Mondays, Tu-Su 10AM - 5PM. This is the first zoo in India opened in 1843, as a concept of Palace for wildlife. Situated in the Museum compound, this area is a rich botanical garden. There is a wide variety of animals, plants and birds. It has a separate reptile park and butterfly garden.
Kerala Legislature Assembly Complex The new Legislature Assembly Complex called as Niyamasabha (Law House in Malayalam), is a super imposing modern structure located in heart of the city. Its famous for its classical Kerala architecture with ornate teak works, a unique Kerala styled dome, exquisitely designed interiors and a vast expanse of greenery around it. A photo shoot before this structure is a favourite activity among tourists.
Legislature Museum adjacent to Legislature assemble, there is a good museum that depicts history of South Asian Legislature assemblies. This building was once the headquarters of Travancore Royal Nair Brigade (Travancore Army). Today its one of the best galleries, that can give you a detailed look into history of South Asian legislature activities and process.
Kanaka Kunnu Palace (Golden Hill Palace in malayalam) is a cultural hotspot of the town. The large palace and its sprawling gardens was once the banquet palace for visiting State guests of Travancore. Today its a famous for its galleries and the grand lawns serve as open air auditoriums for regular concerts and evening dance programs.
Priyadarshini Space Planetarium, is one of the largest planetariums of India rated as one of the best horizontal planetariums of the world, with a good collection of astronomical science objects from ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization). It has 2 major shows regarding various secrets of universe. It has a good Sky Theatre, a large conference hall and venue of regular space related programs.
Kerala Science and Technology Museum, near to Priyadarshini Planetarium, is one of the largest science museum, featuring a timeline of various technologies in area of electronics, technology etc. There are several galleries on Electrical Engineering, Biomedical, Mechanical Engineering, etc. It has a very good collection of many electronic equipments and a good 3D Theatre with regular shows.
Chacha Nehru Children's Museum is a good children's museum with a large collection of dolls, masks, paintings etc. A mini aquarium and water play area is set here. Located in Thycuad, in the heart of city, is a good evening spot for families.
Kowdiar Palace, is a super-imposing structure, located in Kowdiar. This is the current official residence of Travancore Maharajas and royal family and off-the-limits for public. However a friendly guard may let you inside to have a glimpse of this large architectural wonder built in mixture of Saxon-Travancore styles. The public however can enter into Panchavadi, the resting place of Late H.H Maharaja Chitra Thirunal- the last King of Travancore who was very popular king.
Laurie Baker's unique Indian Coffee House spiral building
Indian Coffee House Thampanoor, is a distinctive spiral-shaped brick structure adjacent to the Trivandrum central bus station at Thampanoor and the Central Railway Station. Designed by world famous architect Laurie Baker, now widely considered as the father of sustainable cost-effective architecture, the building, initially meant to be a self-serve cafeteria now operates in a regular restaurant format and has built in tables along a spiraling incline. Another unique feature is the absence of any windows in the entire building. However it is surprisingly well ventilated and cool while at the same time it keeps the scorching and often blinding sunlight out due to the use of "jalis", small openings throughout the building. Most amazingly this building that can house 150 people was constructed on 650 sq feet (1.5 cents) of land at a cost of only 7 lakh INR (11000 USD)! Drop in to sample local snacks such as a masala dosa, cutlets and try out some strong fresh coffee before catching a bus or a train to the next stop on your journey.
Shanghumukham Beach This city beach is 8 km outside the city, adjacent to the airport. Local people flock there to watch the sunset. Its a good well maintained safe beach. There is an indoor recreation club nearby. Matsyakanyaka a gigantic sculpture of a mermaid by Kanai Kunjiraman arouses mixed reaction. A small garden and star-fish shaped restaurant operates there, attracts large crowds. There is also a peaceful temple nearby.
Veli Tourist Village. A lake blending into the beach, almost as if it were teasing the sea. Boating, Horse Riding on the beach, a floating bridge, a shallow pond where you can feed the fish, beautifully maintained gardens. Very famous among tourists, especially those interested in water adventure sports.
Kovalam Beach - 17 km from Thiruvananthapuram City, is a world famous beach, noted being one of the finest. There are 2 large beaches and highly safe for swimming. A visit to Kovalam is must for Trivandrum. However the beach becomes too crowded during November-December time, when foreign tourists flock in en masse. Beware of local touts and beach-side restaurants/shops which sells items nearly 3 to 4 times more than its normal price. Haggling is accepted as a form of trading with sellers. Several massage palours located near to the beach are fake and are illicit sex palours.
There are several attractions, located outside the city limits, popular among tourists. Some of them are,
The Padmanabhapuram Palace the old headquarters of Travancore Royal family, is one of the most attractive palaces, which no tourist can't afford to miss. The palace is recorded as World's largest Wooden Palace, by Guinness Books of Records. It is entirely made of teak and rosewood and have an exquisite flooring made of granite and a rare ayurvedic mixture with secret extracts to keep the floor cool in summer season and warm during rainy season. It has a grand Dubar Hall made out of rosewood and glass. The Palace houses a numerous rare antiques, including 600 year old spice bed, a rare bed made out of a special wood treated in various spices, to rejuvenate the kings as well as sandal pillars. The clock tower is one of the oldest in South Asia, that is still working. It is 65 km from Trivandrum City and is in the Kanniyakumari district of Tamil Nadu. However the palace and fort is still maintained by Kerala Government. The royal sword of Travancore Maharajas is preserved here, which is taken to Trivandrum as a grand procession during Arattu Festivals of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple.
Attingal Palace the erstwhile head-quarters of Travancore Queens who ruled a small province of Attingal within Travancore. The large palace, also houses one of the family temples of Travancore Royal Family. Much of the palace is off-limits to public, however its durbar hall and public areas are open to public.
Kerala Art College is affiliated with Kerala University and easy to find, being directly opposite the unmissable Chandrasekharan Nair (Football) Stadium. Housed in the grounds of an old colonial building with sprawling grounds behind, there are occasional art shows (eg: after graduation, circa early June) held upstairs, and the downstairs offers a large library with world art books. The grounds have many impressive sculptures from the students, who are friendly and may be keen to show you around the workshops.
See Trivandrum on foot. Get public transport to Kanaka Kunnu Palace. See this public building on top of a hill, used for cultural programs. Walk down to Napier Museum and Zoo. See the building, walk around the park and visit the zoo if you are interested. Also pay a visit to the Sree Chitra Art Gallery, Natural History museum and the Reptile House. Then walk towards Palayam along the MG road absorbing the roadside buzz of activities and shopping at the roadside shops.
Usually there are cultural programs at VJT Hall which may be open to the public. Continue along MG road towards the Secretariat. The area around the secretariat is known locally as Statue, due to a few neglected statues of important figures. There are sometimes political protests or demonstrations along this place. Sample the food from some of the local restaurants. SMS Institute on a side road near Secretariat sells authentic Kerala handicrafts and gift items. Prices start from Rs.25 to a few thousands. Continue along the MG road. There are many local book shops including Paico, Modern Book House and Prabhat book store. The Ayurveda college , which teaches the traditional ayurvedic medicine will be on the right side. Opposite this, there is another handicraft store.Walk along the MG road and you will reach the junction with traffic signals known as the Over bridge locally. There are a few movie theatres nearby.
The railway station and Bus station are towards the left, about half a mile. If you continue straight, you will eventually reach Pazhavangadi. You will see the remains of a fort (well hidden) on the right side (known as Kottakakam/East fort). The famous Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple is nearby, complete with a temple lake (Padmatheertham). The architecture of the temple is more in line with Tamil temples as compared to other Kerala temples. On the left is Chaalai Bazaar. This is a busy congested road teeming with all kinds of shops.
Stroll around the town during the dusk time when the city comes to life.It is advised not to venture out alone late into the night
Find local bargains and shop for souvenirs.
Watch the magical sunset from the Shankumukham or Veli beach
Get pampered with a traditional Ayurvedic massage
Visit the local museum and art gallery.
Visit a martial arts centre (Kalaripayattu)
Watch traditional performers perform a Kathakali dance.
Watch a temple procession at the end of a local festival when the deity is taken out on the top of an elephant.
Watch a Malayalam / Bollywood movie (no subtitles) in a local cinema.
Check the newspapers for daily events, especially theatre/film/dance performances. Try to find out if anything is on at the Tagore theatre when you're there, especially during the film festivals which screen art house classics from around the world.
Take a rain walk - if you're there during the monsoons, buy an umbrella and walk from place to place in the magical monsoon.
Laze around on any of the pristine beaches.
Visit the public library for its stunning architecture and colonial charm.
If you're there during the Onam season, be sure to pass by the secretariat building and the kanakakunnu palace for the brilliant illuminations. If it's Christmastime, walk down a little further to the L.M.S compound to see the awesome collection of Christmas stars.
A long breezy stroll on Veli beach with its kilometres of the orange beach is precious. Take note, as you move past the 'Tourist Village' zone you'll come into areas where the locals live by the beach, they may question you. They're trying to be friendly to the 'new face', so feel free to chat up or move on giving them a friendly wave! Here you can witness the fishermen sail back in the evening and mend their nets. Perhaps join the local kids in a game of beach ball or cricket. There is a strip on the left of the boating club where you can find sea eagles circling in the air, it is a majestic sight to see them swoop in for their prey, and then devour it mid-flight.
Opportunities for foreigners to work in Kerala used to be very limited. The dramatic advances in the information technology sector have probably changed this. But the companies still prefer to use the locally available and hence more economically viable manpower.
To work in India, you need employment visa. The prospective employer has to send a letter providing information about your qualification to the home ministry in India.
Haggling is quite acceptable and very much needed if you buy anything from the vendors who will pester you during your stay at any of the nearby be
Pothys,A huge department store located at M.G road.Mainly known for textiles but there is also other things like electronics,clothes,toys,home decorations etc.It also has a super market at the the lower ground floor and a food court.
Big Bazaar East Fort & Perrorkada & Kesavadasapuram
Narmada Shopping Complex Kowdiar
Arcade Shopping Complex Killipalam
Karimpanal Arcade East Fort
De Options Nanthencode
Anna's Arcade Spencer Junction
Attukal Shopping Complex East Fort
QRS square mall, pulimoodu,mg road. Has shops like nilgirs (a super market),max (lifestyle store),QRS (electronics store)and KFC (kentucky fried chicken).Ther is also a small bakery and a boiled corn shop.edit
Prabhus Books Vanchiyoor, Trivandrum 2min walk from Over Bridge, West of M.G Road. +91 471 2479586
Modern Book Centre , Gandhari Amman Kovil Road , Near: M.G Road , Trivandrum. Ph +91 471 2478826. Good selection of books on religion and sprituality, random imports (novels, histories, etc.), a linguistics section, a 'Kerala Corner' with books all about local history and culture, plus some other sections. Very well organised, and some impressive stuff! Not huge, but definitely big enough to find something you'll like. Highly recommended.
Handicrafts, trendy and traditional can be bought from SARWAA, Sanker Road, Sasthamangalam. They have a very good collection of handcrafted gifts and stationaries, paper crafts, home decor, Jewellery and cotton hand block printed, vegetable dyed clothing.
Handicrafts and gift items from “SMSM Institute” (4 to 5 times costly than the Khadi shops of the Govt. Meant only to clean a foreigner's pocket)near secretariat in the heart of Trivandrum city or other genuine craft shops (Natesan’s opposite the Ayurvedic college). Do not buy them from the roadside shops at tourist places like Kovalam as you will be ripped off.
Try in the Khadhi handicraft shop like Kairali in Statue, Eastfort, Ayurveda College Junction. White cidar/white wood/sandal/rosewood statues are available at reasonable prices.
When you come to cities like this in India, do not pack too many clothes. You can buy them cheap at the local shops. There are many shops around the east fort and over-bridge areas.
Karalkada in the Fort area is the most famous for traditional clothes.
JayaLakshmi , Pothys ,etc who are among the leading garment chains in south India have also opened their outlets in MG Road, Trivandrum.
Parthas on the Powerhouse road is a major retailer. The collection of Indian traditional wear for women is excellent. The western style collection leaves much to be desired. When it comes to men’s wear, you will find all you need in this shop.
This guide uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
There are plenty of restaurants in Thiruvananthapuram serving South Indian food. There are also quite a few eating places serving other cuisines, such as North Indian, Chinese and American food. Please note that the word 'hotel' is used for restaurants.
Lajij chaat cornerIn pothys food court.Has different types of chaat like smosa chaat,pani puri,dahi puri,sev puri,masala puri bhel puri,pav bhaji.Also has momos,parathas like aloo paratha and gobi paratha
Ariya nivasnear railway station.Good food.Lodging facilities also available.
Balan's Tattukada Kaithamukku[Budget]
Buhari Hotel Atakulangara, Near East Fort. Try the puttu and mutton curry. Not for the faint hearted as the food is spicy.[Budget]
Kaithal Restaurant Chalai. Try the pepper chicken.[Budget]
Mubarak restaurant Ruby nagar, Chalai[Budget]
Ariya Bhavan (Opp: Bus Stand, Thampanoor)[Budget]
Green sign restaurant Forgotten it's real name, but it's about 50m up from the bus station on the same side. Good cheap food, and very clean![Budget]
Maveli Cafe a branch of Indian Coffee House near the KSRTC bus stand in a unique spiral tower. There are other branches of Indian Coffee House in the city which also serve cheap traditional food. [Budget]
Indian Coffee House The distinctive curved red building near the bus station and main train station is cool to walk inside of on it's own. Very popular and open when many other restaurants are closed. They do Indian food, but their specialties are western dishes like 'Bombay Toast' (French Toast). Rs 30-60[Budget]
Casa Bianca - a Pizzeria and Restaurant at Vazhuthacaud - owned and run by a lovely expatriate. Serves great, fresh tasting pastas, pizzas and all things Italian in a casual intimate setting. Definitely worth the trip from Kovalam if you're missing a good quality thin crust pizza. [Mid Range]
Hotel arunaopposite to connemara market,palayam[Budget]
MRAnear state library,palayam[Mid Range]
Zam Zam near the MLA hostel, famous for Arabian dishes. Order Shawarma (shredded chicken), Shawaiya (Chicken roast), Al Faham (Chicken Roast) and Kubuz (special Arabian roti). This is a must-visit for chicken-lovers.[Mid Range]
Dakhni Deg Serves Hydrabad delicacies including Dum biryani, Tandoori stuff and great desserts. It has three branches in the city. Technopark and Kuravakonam. A must try.[Mid Range]
Mani Mess (Third Puthen Street) Special for Meals & Vada[Budget]
Hotel Venkateshwara, Airport road, Fort. A small hotel which offers food favoured by tamil brahmins & famous for its kara vadai[Budget]
'Alacarta' - A multi cuisine restaurant that serves a variety of freshly cooked Indian, Chinese, Arabic, Mexican and continental dishes. Ask for the deep fried ice cream to sweeten your tongue after the delicious food. Home delivery and catering to parties available. Paruthippara, near MG College. +91 471 4066650, +91 95 4406 6650[Mid Range]
Hotel Geeth - at Statue, good Kerala food. Lunch Buffet at Rs. 190 [Mid Range]
Indraprastha, near bakery junction[Mid Range]
Ruby Arena[Mid Range]
Park Field[Mid Range]
Kalavara - at Kowdiar, behind the Trivandrum Tennis Club, and near Pulimoodu junction.[Mid Range]
KFC - Kentuky Fried Chicken at Palayam. "Finger Licking soo good".[Mid Range]
KTDC floating restaurant - at Veli. Amazing scenery across the lake.[Mid Range]
Maurya rajadhani, Statue road. Rs.150-200 for buffet lunch[Mid Range]
The Seven Hills - a new multi cuisine restaurant featuring mouth watering dishes from across to globe including authentic Kerala meals.The Seven Hills[Mid Range]
Sindhoor - near the Cotton Hill Girls High School, Vazhuthacaud. Serves Chinese and Indian cuisine. The interior is designed to mimic a cave and results in a dark environment. Not very cosy or stylish. Tasty food, and good value for money.[Mid Range]
Swagat - at Statue, good Vegetarian food. Very good lunch thalis for Rs 60. Serves Sadhya (Traditional Kerala food on Sundays) [Mid Range]
Take Home - a popular roadside take-away joint in Kowdiar.[Mid Range]
Zinc n Rock - a multicuisine restaurant that serves burgers, sandwiches, omelettes, variety mocktail smoothies, their own recepie of crispy and crunchy Fricassee Fried Chicken, Indian, Chinese & Italian dishes. Located at Vanross Junction, Behind Secreteriate, Statue.[Mid Range]
Traditional drinks include Karikku (tender coconut water) and Sambharam (buttermilk with salt, ginger and green chilly). Karikku can be bought mostly from the streetside vendors while Sambharam can be bought from the ubiquitous Milma outlets. The Bakery Junction area has several fresh juice vendors, serving inspirted mocktails like Sharjah and Tsunami. "Sharjah" is very popular and available in various juice shops all over trivandrum.
Hotel-attached restaurant/bar on a street running north, slightly east of the train station
Hotel Safari rooftop restaurant/bar above Purple Lounge on the western side of MG Rd, slightly north of the intersection with the road running west from the station. This place is a fire trap; the little lift cannot empty the place at speed...
Take-home alcoholic drinks are more difficult to obtain. Government-run beverage corporation shops are there as the one near overbridge. A pub is there near overbridge junction opposite to the SMV school. Hotels/restaurants with "bar attached" signs sell alcoholic beverages. Public consumption of these drinks including beer is not socially accepted. The local "toddy shops" and "arrack shops" sell strong local spirit.
Unless you are in Trivandrum on a business trip, it may be better to base yourself in Kovalam and go to the city as a day trip. The accommodation in Kovalam tends to be more expensive, but many of the budget options can be found off Tivandrum-Bakery-Palayam Rd, near the station.
Paradise Inn, (Opposite Best Western Classic Avenue). Spotlessly clean rooms with well plumbed attached bathrooms for this budget. A/C often full but a little more. Quiet. Best value of three hotels I tried. No mosquitoes. A good bet.336 inc tax for single with fan. edit*
KAILAS INN, www.kailasinn.com KAILAS INN is a new Budget Type Hotel very close to Sri Padmanbaha SwamiTtemple (5 minutes walk from the Hotel). It has 18 rooms . Air Conditioned as well as Non AC Rooms. Dormitory facility also available. Kailas Inn is located at Perunthanni, West Fort, Trivandrum. near to Railways Station and close to Domestic as well as International Air Port.
Hotel Regency, is 1 star hotel close to the railway station and the bus stand. The hotel has good aircon restaurant and rooftop restaurant which is open only in the evenings. In that same area - Manjalikulam Road - are plenty of other hotels offering similar standards.
Hotel Navaratna YMCA Road
Hotel Sukhvas Near Rly Station in Manjalikulam Road
Jas Hotel Thycaud
Hotel Highland is a good but old hotel with reasonably clean rooms and very basic decor. Upto 4 bedded rooms are available and the parking space is also good. They can take bookings even on phone without any payments.
Hotel Highland Park is a sister hotel of Hotel Highland and is located just across the street. It is a newer hotel and the rooms are also good. Price is a little more than that of Hotel Highland. You can easily get disoriented in the zigzagging corridor which would lead to the room from the lift. Has an attached restaurant, 'City Green' - A/C Multi Cuisine Veg Restaurant. The food and ambiance is good.
hotel b-six, kazhakootam & white dammer, papanamcode.
Prathiba Heritage, (Dharmalayam Rd. near MG Road), ☎ 0471 2336442, 0471 2337341, . checkin: 2.12.12; checkout: 4.12.12. , basic but clean. Rs660 for a 3-bed fan room. edit
Lal tourist home, Thanpanoor, thiruvananthapuram-14 (Go up Tivandrum-Bakery-Palayam Rd, take your first right, and it's 50m down on the left), ☎ 2328477, 2328751, 2328305, 2329996 (Deepaklal@yahoo.com). checkin: 24hours; checkout: Stay is per 24 hours. Big rooms, also basic but clean. Rs 400 for a double. edit
Best Western Classic Avenue,  near the station, provides 4 star accommodations for your stay. Clean linen! Hot showers! Bath! Private rooftop pool! Breakfast buffet! (Seems to be cheaper if booked through booking.com, 2800INR for single) Address: T.C 25/1744 (1), Manjalikulam Road, Thampanoor, Trivandrum, India 695001. Phone: +91 471 233555.
Bon Ami Service Villa,  Six beautifully furnished rooms ( AC and non AC options ) located close to the city. Great Service and free pickup from the airport. Phone: +91 94 47059499.
Hotel Geeth at Pulimoodu Junction, Statue.One of the oldest hotels in trivandrum, very recently renovated and classed up. Phone: +91 471 2471987, +91 471 3012301 
Hotel Chaitram,  is also owned by KTDC and is very close to the railway station and bus stand. Claims 2 star deluxe facilities. AC Rooms start at 2000 Rs + tax. Non-AC rooms are not available.
Hotel Saj Lucia is situated in East Fort near Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple.
The Residency Tower,  is a 4 star hotel near the south gate of the secretariat.
Hotel Horizon is a 3 star hotel located on Aristo road with a roof top restaurant.
Ruby Arena Hotel, . 3 star Business Hotel. Hotel Ruby Arena has ample parking facility and provides luxurious accommodation. Elegantly appointed rooms provide a relaxing atmosphere and are set up to international standards.edit
Hotel Pankaj is a 3 star hotel located in a convenient location in Statue, near the secretariat.
Hostel Lailja Pappanamcode, near Regional Research Laboratory(CSIR)
Hotel Venus International On the Ayyappan Kovil Road (near BTC Tower). Fairly good. A single AC room costs around Rs. 1300 + taxes. AC rooms only.
Second Home, . If you plan to stay at Trivandrum for a considerably longer time, this would be your best option as it is very homely and cost effective at the same time.
Sankars Homestay Trivandrum, Diamond House, ☎ +91 471 2444444, +91 471 2448888, +91 94 4710 0000, . Your home away from home. Kerala government, Department of Tourism Grade A approved homestay.edit
Paradise Gardens Beach Resort & Ayurveda Centre, . Karikatikuzhi Beach - The most beautiful beach. - South of Kovalam.
Serviced Apartment(My Travel Home), . For short and long duration stay at Trivandrum at a fully furnished serviced apartment accommodation. Ideal for a group or individuals. Cost effective than a similar A/C hotel room at the same time. Very good for atemporary stay or even for a month
Muthoot Plaza, . A 5 star hotel in Trivandrum at the centre of the city.
South Park, . A 4 star hotel located on the MG road,near the secretariat, 3 km from the Railway station.
Mascot Hotel, . A KTDC  owned 5 star hotel in the heart of the Trivandrum city.
The Leela Kovalam is a 5 star hotel in Kovalam, overlooking the Arabian sea, about 15 km away from the city.
Taj Green Cove Resort is a 5 star hotel in Kovalam, overlooking the Arabian sea.
Vivanta by Taj, . A 5 star hotel in the heart of the Trivandrum city.
Hotel RockNBeach, Eves Beach, Kovalam Trivandrum, Kerala India (on the way to hawa beach), ☎ 0914712486677, . checkin: any time; checkout: 12noon. Located just 100 meters from Hawa Beach a family ambient hotel with friendly and multi lingual staff. 15 sea view airconditioned rooms with balcony and seven budget rooms without balcony. Room service availanle.INR 1500 to 4500. edit
Be careful when crossing the roads especially at busy hours.
Female tourists should be wary of hooligans, especially in New Year parties.
Only eat hot food and drink only boiled or good bottled water. Take water purification tablets with you. Water from corporation supplied lines are generally safe, but to be on the safer side go for purified forms.
If you are visiting during the summers (April-May) temperarures might be higher and you might want to take some preparations against it. Evenings are best time to stroll. City sleeps early so you can roam about until maximum 10PM inside the city (really the limit). Most shops close by that time. If you are staying somewhere outside the centre transport options get harder to find and more expensive later at night.
If you need injections or blood tests, try to provide your own needle, bringing a few with your first aid kit. Private hospitals generally provide good service.
The dialling code for Trivandrm is 471. When calling from overseas, dial +91 471 XXXX XXX. If you have a non-working phone number with only 6 digits try to add a "2" in front of it.
If you don’t have an Indian phone number then get a pre-paid calling card if you planning on using your phone frequently. By government regulation you need a photocopy of your passport (visa and the main photo ID-page) and a color photo to be able to buy a pre-paid card. Pre-paid cards are sold in most shops that sell mobile telephones.
'Telephone booths' or public telephones are widely available usually painted with the letters PCO (Public Call office, local calls), STD (Subscriber Trunk Dialing) and ISD (International Subscriber Dialing). All booths have electronic metering and you pay what's displayed on the meter.
There is a tourist information booth open on Thiruvananthapuram station. Helping with train times and local attractions mainly, the guy who works there is usually happy to answer anything else. It is a physical booth on the platform near the middle and the entrance closest to the booking office. It's marked with a green sign, but easily missed.
Trivandrum has world class medical facilities with very competitive rates. This attracts "health tourists" from other states and even other countries. If you are in need of medical care, try to go to one of the reputed private hospitals listed below.
If booking train tickets out from Thiruvananthapuram, the reservation office is upstairs in the main railway station, and follows an odd ticketing system. Tickets are available from a small machine with a red button just near the first counter on your right after you walk in. Although it is usually covered by people. There is unfortunately no tourist window at this station, however tourist class can always still be booked!
There is another Train reservation counter in the ground floor of the big LIC(Life Insurance Corporation) building at Pattom. Crowds are thinner here.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!