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Places to visit in Thiruvananthapuram

Discussion in 'Kerala' started by Mindu, Mar 16, 2017.

  1. Mindu

    Mindu New Member

    I am going to Thiruvananthapuram to visit the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple. We will be driving 3-4 hours to reach Thiruvananthapuram, and it would be a long day after visiting the temple, so I would like to know if there are any other places to visit there, so we can make arrangements to stay there for more than a day or two, else it would be returning home.


  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello, @Mindu, welcome to the forum!

    (Images from Peter, Xeno, T3rmin4tor, Binoyjsdk and Rameezma)


    Thiruvananthapuram is the capital city of the state of Kerala. It is mostly famed for being the home of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, the richest temple in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records. But even beyond this temple, Thiruvananthapuram has tons of attractions to keep one busy. It is amazingly green, located by the coastal side and still remains quite progressive. These are the unique features of Thiruvananthapuram which makes it a must visit destination in the south. But for the first-time traveller, planning your itinerary can be a bit daunting, especially with the assortment of places to visit in the city. This guide would help you plan your trip more easily, providing for the best places that one can visit in Thiruvananthapuram.

    Best Places to Visit in Thiruvananthapuram

    • Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple - The Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple is considered as the richest temple, not just in India, but in the whole world. It is not known who exactly built the temple but references to it has been made in various important religious texts as early as the fourth century. The temple's vast richness is usually attributed though to the Travancore Royal Family, who not only managed the temple, but also contributed to this wealth. Along with that, many dynasties over the years have also given donations to the temple, which have surmounted to the over $18 billion estimated value of the treasures hidden in the secret chambers of the temple. More about the temple, it has a typical Keralan architectural style, with a richly carved gopuram that gleams whether in day light or night time. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, who is designated as Sree Padmanabha here, on a reclining position in Ananta. The treasures of the temple remain hidden from the public though but reports have been made that gold coins from the past era, a gold-gilded idol of Maha Vishnu, a golden throne studded with precious gems and more were found in the opened vaults of the temple. If you're planning to visit the temple, there are strict clothing requirements that you need to adhere to and only Hindus are allowed inside the premises. Further, you might need to allot a whole day for the temple as a huge number of devotees flock to it, especially on weekends and special festivals.
    Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple (Image from Ashcoounter)
    • Pazhavangadi Ganapathy Temple - The Pazhavangadi Ganapathy Temple is just a three-minute walk from the previous temple. In contrast, this temple is dedicated to Lord Ganesha and is often overshadowed by the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple. The temple is also simpler, with just a black and gold gilded gopuram with a few carvings. The main sanctum of course holds an idol of Lord Ganesha in a sitting position. Interestingly, the temple has a unique tradition wherein devotees break coconuts in order to fulfil their wishes by the deity. As with most temples of the state, devotees need to wear proper clothing to enter the main sanctum premises.
    • Attukal Bhagavathy Temple - Just a short distance from the Killi River is the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple. Yet another Guinness Book of World Records holder for the largest gathering of women, around 2.5 million, during the Attukal Pongala, which is held here annually. The Attukal Bhagavathy Temple is dedicated to Goddess Kanaki, a form of Goddess Mahakali. Both the entrance and gopuram of the temple are very colourful and bright. The latter even has carvings depicted from the various stories about the life of the deity. The main sanctum houses two idols of Goddess Kanaki, with one being more elaborate and intricately designed. If you can time your visit during February or March, then you can witness the most revered festival of the temple which has put it on the map of must-visit places in the city.
    • Aazhimala Shiva Temple - The Aazhimala Shiva Temple is a picturesque temple located by the beach side. It is however hidden under the radar of most tourists who go to Thiruvananthapuram. The temple is located amidst a cliff overlooking the Arabian sea. It is dedicated to the Lord Shiva and is comparatively smaller as compared to the previous temples. With a very ornate gopuram filled with carvings of Hindu deities and richly carved main temple as well, the temple exudes a sense of vibrancy amidst the serenity of the beach. After paying your respects to the Lord Shiva, you can admire the crashing of the waves amidst the rocky shores from the cliffside.
    • Padmanabhapuram Palace - The Padmanabhapuram Palace is located about 58 kilometres to the south of Thiruvananthapuram. Though the palace is actually in Tamil Nadu, it is still being managed and maintained by the Government of Kerala. Padmanabhapuram was the former capital of the Travancore Royal Family and this palace was their former residence. The palace was built over the years around the 16th to 17th centuries. The palace is replete of fine examples of the traditional Keralan architectural style. It is a complex comprised of various structures mostly made of teak and rose wood. The intricate carvings done on wood deserves special mention but more so, the architectural prowess during that time. For example, the gleam of the floor can be attributed to the unique concoction of egg white, jaggery, lime, charcoal and granite. The wood used helps in making the interiors of the palace cooler as compared to what the real temperature is outside. The huge dining hall can accommodate around 1,000 individuals all at the same time. While from the outside, the palace might seem simple, the interiors are definitely more interesting though not as opulent as the usual palaces we know of in other states.
    • Puthen Malika - The Puthen Malika is just a kilometre away from the Chalai Bazaar, just to the east of the famed richest temple of the city. It is yet another example of the traditional Keralan style of architecture, replete with wooden elements and some granite accents. The palace was built during the 19th century under the patronage of Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma, a ruler from the Travancore Royal Family. On the southern roof of the palace, there are around 122 horse carvings in the wooden support brackets, which earned it its other name, the Kuthira Malika or the Mansion of Horses. The palace has over a hundred rooms but only a few of these rooms are opened to the public. That's already enough though to have that glimpse of the royal past, where you can marvel at the certain features. For example, magnificent lattice-like wall openings which allows for little sunlight to come in and for cooling as well as air circulates from these holes. Other examples are the wooden ceilings with intricate carvings crafted from a single wood, the music hall which uses inverted clay pots on the ceilings for sound effects and the intricately carved porches.
    Puthen Malika (Image from Hans)
    • Kanakakunnu Palace - The Kanakakunnu Palace is a short three-minute walk from the Children's Park of Thiruvananthapuram. This palace is smaller as compared to the previous palaces. It has the same traditional Keralan style of architecture, with sloping roofs and bright red facade. It is surrounded by lush green lawns making it a nice getaway from the city pollution. The palace was built by Sree Moolam Thirunal during the 19th century. Initially though, the palace was just a venue for special cultural events of the city. It was only when it was renovated by Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma that it has been converted into a palace proper. Nowadays, the palace grounds is a venue for special events or festivals that the city celebrates.
    • Methan Mani - The Methan Mani (Clock Tower) stands adjacent to the Padmatheertha Pond. You might be wondering why a simple clock tower was included in this guide. Well, the Methan Mani is more than just a clock tower, it also symbolises the victory of the Travancore Royal Family over the invasion of Mysorean ruler, Tipu Sultan. Although it is kind of comical how the victory was depicted, in the form of a bearded man who gets hit in the cheeks once the clock ticks every hour. This clock was built around 19th century by the same ruler, Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma, who have influences in the other heritage sites of Thiruvananthapuram.
    • Napier Museum - The Napier Museum is just a walking distance from the Thiruvananthapuram Zoo. This museum was built around the 19th century during the British era rule. It has a unique facade, a mixture of Keralan, Hindu and Gothic architectural styles, evident from its varying design elements. The sloping roofs are typically Keralan, the arched gateways are typically Hindu and the lancet openings are typically Gothic. The museum houses an interesting collection of Hindu deities collected from around the country and from other countries. Aside from that, it has several statues of the Lord Buddha worth exploring as well. For art lovers, there are paintings displayed in the art gallery here with some works created by Raja Ravi Varma. Personal artefacts from the royalty of Travancore can also be seen on display in another section. Do keep in mind that the museum is in the form of a complex so you need to walk a bit to reach one point to another.
    Napier Museum (Image from Adam)
    • Kerala Science and Technology Museum - The Kerala Science and Technology Museum is located off the PMG Road, around three kilometres away from the centre of the city. This is a complex comprised of various exhibits tackling different fields in science or technology. For example, scientific concepts such as echoing sounds, floating, bubbles formation and more are explained through interactive exhibits. For the technology side, you have older computers on display, you also have engine displays and interesting puzzles for the Mathematics section. That's not all, the museum has an outdoor section teeming with greenery like the Butterfly Park, Horticultural Therapy Garden and Cactus Park. The Priyadarshini Planetarium is a recent addition in the complex, a huge theatre with a dome screening where you can enjoy daily shows about the universe and cosmic bodies. Other attractions in the museum are a 3D Theatre, Thrillarium and Musical Fountain.
    • Kovalam Beach - The Kovalam Beach is around 18 kilometres to the south of Thiruvananthapuram. This beach has a long coastline of about 17 kilometres which is divided unto several sections. These sections are the following: Lighthouse Beach, Eve's Beach and Samudra Beach. Kovalam Beach is one of the most popular beach destinations in the state so don't be surprised to find throngs of tourists or even locals here. Of the three sections, the latter third is probably the most serene, as it still has the undeveloped vibe, being a fishing beach mainly. But if you want to have that panoramic view of the Arabian sea, then do visit the first beach, climb the lighthouse and enjoy the scenic vistas.
    • Poovar Island - Poovar Island is located further to the south of Kovalam Beach and is accessible via boat ride only. Poovar Island is a unique beach destination in that it offers a scenic view of the confluence of the Arabian sea with the Neyyar River. The beach itself has golden sands which look quite beautiful on daylight. From the Poovar Jetty Point, you can ride a boat, usually rented out by group, to reach the island. The island is quite serene, far from the chaos that is of Kovalam Beach. But since it has been gaining popularity for the last few years, it's not completely devoid of tourists.
    Poovar 2.jpg
    Poovar Beach (Image from Pranav)
    • Shanghumukham Beach - Just a 10-minute drive from the Trivandrum International Airport is the Shanghumukham Beach. It is a vast stretch of golden sands and blue water all along the horizon. The beach is not as crowded and has a few eating areas where you can dine while admiring the view. The downside is that this beach has very rough waves making it not suitable for swimming. Do exercise caution when you are with children as they can be in danger when in close distance to the sea. For couples though, the sandy shores are the perfect venue for strolling and getting closer together. Do take some photo opportunities with the giant mermaid sculpture here named Matsyakanyaka.
    • Puthenthoppu Beach - Next we have the Puthenthoppu Beach, which is around 16 kilometres to the north of the city. Lined with palm trees on one end, this beach is your best option for a solace getaway. No maddening crowds, no hawkers and best of all, vast stretches of golden sands to fulfil your beach bumming desires. This beach isn't really developed, it's more of a fishing beach where you can find boats around the shores. You can also find small red crabs sure to keep you company on lone trips.
    Wildlife & Nature
    • Thiruvananthapuram Zoo - As mentioned above, the Thiruvananthapuram Zoo is located just beside the Napier Museum. The zoo was established in 1859 and is considered as the oldest zoo in India. The zoo is spread around 55 acres of land, with various enclosures for different species of animals. It can be tiring to cover the whole zoo by foot though it is possible. But for those with kids or seniors, you can opt to hire battery-operated vehicles instead for a more comfortable way of touring the premises. You can spot animals such as lions, leopards, one-horned rhinos, sambars, Himalayan black bears, jaguars and various species of monkeys in the zoo. Over 50 species of birds also reside in the zoo which you can easily spot since they are on an enclosed area. There's also a separate section for reptiles, which houses around four anacondas. Entry fees for the zoo are very nominal so you can enjoy a visit here even on a budget.
    Leopard in Thiruvananthapuram Zoo (Image from Dethanp)
    • Elephant Rehabilitation Centre - The Elephant Rehabilitation Centre is located just outside the Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary, about an hour of driving from Thiruvananthapuram. This centre cares for elephants who were abused in the past. Their new home here is comprised of lush greenery and even a small water reservoir where they are bathed in. For tourists, they can pay a nominal entry fee to watch the bathing process or even the feeding process. Activities such as elephant riding and bathing can be enjoyed at additional charges.
    • Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary - The Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1958 and is about an hour of driving to the east of Thiruvananthapuram. With its dense forests and the Neyyar River flowing within it, the sanctuary is a haven for both wildlife and nature lovers. The sanctuary is different in that it has some sections where spotting certain animals can be quite easier. For instance, the Lion Safari and Deer Park can be accessed by riding a boat and then taking another bus. Here, you would be able to spot lions and some deers without any difficulties. The on-site Crocodile Park has huge numbers of crocodiles amidst the marshy grounds that you can also spot. You can also visit the nearby Neyyar Dam for boating activities. For adventure seekers, do try the thrilling trek to the Agastya Mala, one of the highest peaks in the state.
    • Vazhvanthol Waterfalls - The Vazhvanthol Waterfalls is located in Vithura, about two hours of driving to the east of Thiruvananthapuram. The waterfalls can only be reached by trekking from the entrance. The entry fee is quite high at Rs. 1,000 for a group of 1 to 10 members, so make sure you have as many members in the group as possible to divide the fee upon one another. The trek is around two kilometres long, fairly moderate in difficulty, perhaps the most challenging aspect is crossing through the slippery streams. The waterfalls cascades into three levels, the largest one being the last level, the other two cascading from smaller rocky edifices. You can climb the smaller waterfall levels safely and enjoy the clear flowing water.

    So there you have it, a complete guide on the best places to visit in Thiruvananthapuram. Beyond the most famous attraction of the city, the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, there are many more places worth visiting here. Religious sites are so plenty that you would need a few days to cover them all but for the most popular ones, they were highlighted above. Heritage sites of the city give one a glimpse of the former royal empire of Thiruvananthapuram, the Travancore Royal Family. Educational attractions in the form of museums can be wonderful additions to the itinerary if you have children with you. And finally, beaches and nature getaways are also plenty, though they are further from the city centre.

    I hope this helps you!:)
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2017