Thiruvananthapuram

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.

Kuthira Mallika Palace

Understand

Thiruvananthapuram, with a tradition dating back to 1000BC, lies on a small strip of land covered with coconut and palm trees. Thiruvananthapuram means "City of Lord Anantha" (the serpent on which Lord Padmanabha/Vishnu reclines) in Sanskrit and Malayalam. Historically, 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. Besides being the political nerve centre of Kerala, it is also a major academic hub and home to several educational institutions, including the University of Kerala, and many science and technology institutions. Some prominent institutions 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) and the Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER).

History

Thiruvananthapuram is one of the oldest cities in India, with periodic references in many Greek and Roman literatures. This city came to the forefront when the Venad Dynasty rose to power in the southern regions, after the Great Partition of the Kerala Empire of Cheras in the 14th century. Though Venad rulers had their capital at Kollam (70 km north of Thiruvananthapuram), Thiruvananthapuram was considered the major trading centre. The formation of Travancore Kingdom in late 17th century proved a turning point for the city. In this time, the Raja dedicated the entire kingdom to Lord Padmanabha, the presiding deity of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, meaning that the royal family was ruling in the name of the lord. The capital was moved to Thiruvananthapuram, and the city expanded around the temple. In the 19th century, the entire administration was brought to Thiruvananthapuram city from the royal headquarters of Sree Padmanabhapuram Fort (50 km from Thiruvananthapuram city), which marked completion of first phase of Thiruvananthapuram city.

Travancore was one of the most powerful Indian princely states during the British Raj, with the kingdom becoming the 3rd-richest state among native states. Thiruvananthapuram city, under the royal patronage, grew into a major academic and cultural hub of India with many firsts to its credit. As the power and wealth of the Travancore Kingdom reached its peak during early 20th century, Thiruvananthapuram became a prosperous city. When India attained independence, the Travancore chose to accede to the India Union. After formation of Kerala state in 1957, Thiruvananthapuram was retained as the capital city.

Being a capital and administrative city, it remains the hottest political centres in Kerala. A third phase of development came in early 1990s, when the Kerala Government established Technopark, a large information-technology park. The success of Technopark as the largest IT park in South Asia has been a major impetus for growth in city. Today the city is focused on maintaining its status as a major IT/Bio-Technology hub.

Climate

The city has a tropical climate and 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 for about 35 cm on average. Annual rainfall is not 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.

When to go

Talk

The native language of Kerala is Malayalam, which is a Dravidian language like Tamil and Kannada. 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.

Get in

By plane

By train

Trivandrum Central Railway station at the heart of the city

Trivandrum Central railway station, located at Thampanoor, is a major Indian railway station. It is the third largest station in South India. Almost all trains on west coast and bound to Kerala start & end their journey here as the station is a terminus. It is connected and serviced to all major cities in India. Recently several trains have shifted their service point to Kochuveli Railway Station, to avoid congestion at Central Railway station. Kochuveli Railway Station is nearest to International Airport. Check at the Railway Enquiry, before you travel by train to ensure a smooth experience.

The Central station is itself is a heritage site 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. Facilities here include several good retiring rooms, a large air-conditioned waiting room, first class lounge, bookstores, shopping arcade and medical center.

By bus

A long distance bus station is located next door to the railway station. Buses ply to all major towns and villages in the state in addition to big cities like Cochin, Bangalore, Kozhikode, Coimbatore,Tirunelveli and Chennai. Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) operates 6 class of services, connecting to southern Tamil-Nadu cities, town and all manner of country side in 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 to the southern side. In addition, private national corporations like Sharma, Kallada, GTC, Raj National Express also operate premium services to other South Indian cities and Mumbai.

If you are having trouble obtaining a bus ticket in Thiruvananthapuram to a destination in Tamil Nadu, it may be worth while travelling to Nagercoil and then taking a bus to your destination from there.

By car

Thiruvananthapuram is well connected to other cities like Kochi (230 km), Kozhikode (420 km), Chennai (780 km), Bangalore(791 km), Coimbatore(400 km) by road. Traffic congestion can be horrific during certain times as you get closer to the city. It is advised to either be or hire a driver who is comfortable navigating Indian traffic.

Get around

By bus

Local bus services are the cheapest way to get around Thiruvananthapuram. There are city buses run by government(KSRTC) and private companies. Most of these are very crowded 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. 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 ₹40. minimum fare is ₹10/-. These buses are orange.

By auto rickshaw

Autorickshaws (or simply Autos) are a cheap way of travelling between attractions. It is always possible to hire an auto rickshaw from a bus stand, railway station, or special auto rickshaw stand. All the legal, licensed auto-rikshaws should possess fare meters, and the fare is calculated by the taximeter. Ensure the driver turns the meter on before the start of the journey. Most auto drivers tend to charge more for foreigners; this is illegal. The driver may quote a price first, but simply insist that he use the meter. The minimum charge for the autorickshaw is ₨.15 and the running charge per km is ₹7. The charge for waiting for over 10 min is ₹5 for every 15 min, subject to a maximum of ₹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 .

By taxi

Taxis are convenient and cheap, especially if you are travelling in a group. Taxis can be hired for short distances and also for a few days at a stretch. Unlike other metropolitan cities, Thiruvanathapuram has only Indian Ambassadors as taxi cabs, which is a heritage car. If you wish for modern cars, you can normally hire them from your hotel by request.

When you hire the taxi with a driver over a few days, a minimum charge is usually paid that 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 – ₹65; running charge per km – ₹7.50; and charge for waiting – ₹25 per hour, subject to a maximum of ₹300 per day.

By car

Kowdiar road is the Rajpath or Royal road in Trivandrum

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. Trivandrum, being the state capital, has very good roads compared to other parts of Kerala, especially Kochi (where roads are more pothole than road). Many roads in Trivandrum are 4- or 6-laned.

Thiruvananthapuram has many car rental companies that offer cars with drivers. There are very few places that sell "self drive" vehicles and these are difficult to find. Those you may find are often unreasonably expensive by local standards. Ask someone with local know-how before you rent a car.

By two wheelers

Scooters and motorcycles are the favoured means of personal transport on the roads. Renting or buying a motorcycle is not for the faint hearted. Traffic in and around the city is a mix of fast and slow, necessitating constant attentiveness to remain safe. Road sense and traffic discipline has improved drastically in the recent years with a strong administration from the Traffic police department, and helmets and seatbelts are becoming a norm. Lane rules are followed better than in other Indian cities, however you need to be more than just careful if you choose to drive a vehicle. Traffic congestion presents another danger and inconvenience; adjust your expected arrival times depending on traffic.

There are companies arranging tours on Enfield Bullet motorcycles out of Thiruvananthapuram.

Bicycle

10 years ago cycles were a major mode of transportation for residents. Now the use of bicycles is relatively very low. Thiruvananthapuram is a hilly city. If you plan on bicycle being your main mode of transport, ensure you are fit and well hydrated. There is an absence of cycling lanes and hot weather often makes the day exhausting.

Cycles are available on rent with some companies.

On foot

Many places of attractions within the city are near each other, so it is possible to 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 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:

See

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.

Monuments and Museums

Gandhi Park in East Fort
Kowdiar Palace, built in 1934 and seat of the Travancore royal family.
The gopuram, a monumantal tower, at the entrance of Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple.

Beaches and Nature

Other attractions

NeyyarDam.jpg
NeyyarDam
Padmanabhapuram Palace

There are several attractions located outside the city limits.

Itinerary

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. You should sample the food from the local restaurants here. SMS Institute on a side road, near the Secretariat, sells authentic Kerala handicrafts and gifts. Prices start from ₹25 to a few thousands. Continue along the MG road and you will find many local book shops including Paico, Modern Book House and Prabhat book store. The Ayurveda college , which teaches traditional ayurvedic medicine, will be on the right side of the street. 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.

Do

Learn

Bhagyodayam Yoga Ashram +91 9446308505 House # 119 - Cheppil Lane, Sree Varaham 1 Km from East Fort with Yogacharya Girija Maa

Work

Opportunities for foreigners to work in Kerala was at one time very limited. The dramatic advances in the information technology sector have changed this, to some extent. Most companies still prefer to use the locally available and more economically viable manpower.

To work in India, you need employment visa. The prospective employer needs to send a letter providing information about your qualification to the home ministry in India.

Buy

Haggling is quite acceptable and very much needed if you buy anything from the vendors.

Shopping Plazas

Books and Music

Handicrafts

Do not buy handicrafts from roadside shops at tourist places, like Kovalam, as you will be ripped off.

Textiles

When you come to cities like Thiruvananthapuram, 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.

For western clothes:

For branded clothes, try the showrooms:

Jewellery

Eat

Eggs and boiled banana are the favorite food items of the Thiruvananthapuram people

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.

Budget

Non vegetarian Kerala cuisine is served in -

Indian Coffee house, Thiruvananthapuram

Vegetarian options include:

Most of the budget restaurants tend to be crowded and noisy as the aim is a rapid turnover and not relaxed dining. It might be better to use the take away facilities and eat at a local park.

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

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.

Bars

Take home

Take home Alcoholic drinks are more difficult to obtain. Government run beverages corporation shops are there as the one near overbridge. A Pub is there near overbridge junction opposite to 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.

Sleep

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under ₹750
Mid-range ₹750-3,000
Splurge Over ₹3,000

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.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Stay safe

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.

Connect

Telephone and mobile

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.

Internet

There are many internet cafes around Trivandrum. They offer cheap, tolerably fast internet access to the public.

Cope

Tourist information

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.

Hospitals

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.

State-run

Private

Dental clinics

ATMs

ATMs are widely available in Trivandrum, mainly along with branches of banks. A number of them are present along the MG road.

Money exchange

Banks

Most of the major Banks in India have a branch in Trivandrum and most of these are around the MG road.

Opticians

Sunshades and prescription glasses in stylish frames are much cheaper in India as compared to the western world.

Photography

Libraries and cultural centers

Go next

Other places in Tamil Nadu state like Kutralam or Courtallam for its Water Falls, Madurai, Palani and Thanjavur

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 article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, January 26, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.