Thiruvananthapuram or Trivandrum as it was formerly called is the state capital of Kerala and for obvious reasons. The city is an energetic one with a relaxing atmosphere. The town is mostly just a pit stop on travellers’ itinerary while they head to the more popular beach towns of Kovalam and Varkala, however, the town of Trivandrum itself has a lot of fascinating attractions including zoo, museums, and even the highly famous Shri Padmanabhaswamy temple. Let’s explore them a bit in detail:
Zoological garden and Museums: The zoological gardens here inspired Yann Martel to base the animal characters of Life of Pi on the ones he observed here. Decorated beautifully with strategically placed woodlands and lakes, the gardens house animals such as tigers, macaques, and quite a few species of birds. There is a reptile house where you can see some cobras in action. The gardens are open from 09:00 A.M to 05:15 P.M Tuesday to Saturday. The surrounding park comprises a gallery and two museums. Napier Museum, housed in an 1880 wooden edifice designed by British architect Robert Chisolm, contains an amazing display of Buddhist sculptures, ivory carvings, bronzes, and temple carts. Entry is from 10:00 A.M to 05:00 P.M Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and 01:00 P.M. to 05:00 P.M on Wednesday. Next is the Natural History Museum which exhibits hundreds of stuffed animals and a fine collection of skeletons. Entry is from 09:00 A.M to 04:30 P.M Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and 01:00 P.M. to 04:30 P.M on Wednesday.
Shri Padmanabhaswamy temple: This 260 year old temple is not just the city’s but the state’s most important spiritual attraction. Its main entrance comprises of a 30 metre high, seven-storey gopuram (gateway tower). In the main shrine, the grand statue of Shri Padmanabhaswamy, made out of over 10,000 scared stones from Nepal, reclines on the sacred serpent. The temple entrance if for Hindus only but you can appreciate this true pre-historic architecture from the path around to the right of the gate which offers great views of the gopuram. Entry is from 04:00 A.M to 07:30 P.M.
There are various centres around town which offer yoga classes, therapeutic yoga, as well as prolonged ayurvedic treatments. You can also enrol in dance classes here if you are interesting in learning the two main dance forms of the state – Kathakali and Kalarippayat. The latter combines martial art with dancing.
Kerala Tourism Development corporation or KTDC arranges several city tours departing from the Tourist Reception Centre at the KTDC Hotel Chaithram located on Central Station Road. Check with them for tours and their costs.
Trivandrum airport is well-connected by air with the rest of the country and abroad. There are regular flights from Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, and Delhi. There are also direct flights from Colombo, Male, Dubai, Kuwait, and Bahrain.
Train reservations are highly recommended as the trains are mainly overbooked. The main station is the Trivandrum Central Station which sees most incoming trains from major parts of the country.
There are several buses plying between Trivandrum and the nearby towns such as Kovalam.