Trivandrum or Thiruvananthapuram is the capital of Kerala and is the Southernmost district of the state. A seat of power since ancient times, it is also a center for heritage and culture. It boasts some of the finest healthcare institutions, educational institutions, and historical places and monuments in Kerala. An international airport, two railway stations, and a highly developed road infrastructure make getting to and around Trivandrum a breeze. There is plenty for the visitor to see and do in this historic city, so let us look at the best tourist places in Trivandrum:
- Attukal Bhagavathy temple
- Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple
- Padmanabhapuram palace
- Puthenmalika palace
- Kovalam beach
- Neyyar dam and wildlife sanctuary
- Agastya mala
- Napier museum
- Shanghumukham beach
- Veli tourist village
- Kanakakunnu palace
- Chalai bazaar
- Vikram Sarabhai Space Center
- Anchuthengu fort
- Thiruvallam backwaters
- Koyikkal palace
- Peppara dam and sanctuary
Around one and a half million women gather at this temple dedicated to the goddess every year to celebrate the Pongala festival. They cook rice along with ghee and coconut in earthen pots over a fire till the rice boils over. If it does, it is believed that the worshipper’s wish is granted. This humongous gathering of women finds a mention in the Guinness book of world records. It is performed on Kartik day of the Kumbha month (Feb-march) and is a sight to behold. The temple features a combination of Kerala and Tamil architectural styles, and is beautifully maintained.
One of the famous and built thousands of years ago, Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, depicted as reclining on his special bed –Adi sesha the serpent. There are several interesting anecdotes related to its origin, and it’s worth visiting just to hear them all. Recently, the temple’s vaults were opened and massive amounts of gold and precious stones were discovered, establishing the temple as one of the richest in the country. The intricate carvings in stone, magnificent doors, wooden pillars, and the 100-feet golden gopuram are a feast for the eyes. The only Hindus are permitted inside, and men are required to wear dhotis, no pants. Women are expected to dress modestly in saree, long skirts, or salwar-kameez. The Attukal Bhagavathy temple is quite close to this temple, so these are places to visit in Trivandrum in one day.
This magnificent 16th-century palace, with its traditional Kerala style architecture – sloping tiled roof, intricate carvings and sculptures and a profusion of wood in the structure, houses artistic treasures like murals, colored mica windows, carved royal chairs, painted ceilings and a huge musical bow made of mahogany. A definite must-visit for history buffs and architecture lovers. It is 52 km from Trivandrum airport; visiting hours are from 9 am to 5 pm on all days, with Mondays off.
Also called the ‘ Kuthiramalika ’, or palace of horses, this mid-19th-century palace houses 122 wooden horses, carved from teak and rosewood. It was constructed in typical Kerala style, and has a lot of wood paneling everywhere; granite and marble have also been used extensively. You will marvel at the crystal clear Belgian mirrors, and myriad idols and figurines of marble and metal, paintings, and sculptures. Visiting hours: 8.30 am – 1.00 pm and 3 pm to 5.30 pm on all days except Mondays.
This is the most famous among the beaches in Trivandrum and one of the most visited tourist places in Kerala. In fact, the beach itself is divided into three because of rocks – Hawa beach, Lighthouse beach, and Samudra beach. The Vizhinjam lighthouse lends its name to the most popular beach frequented by visitors. Samudra beach is the least crowded, and the Hawa beach, also known as Eve's beach, is pretty bustling in the morning's thanks to the fishermen. There are several snack bars and eateries, and quaint little shops selling curios dotting this 17 km coastline.
Located 29 km away from the city, the Neyyar wildlife sanctuary is spread across 128 sq km, nestled in the foot of the western ghats. The dam is built over the river Neyyar, situated inside the sanctuary. The forest is a treasure trove of rare flora, many of the medicinal plants. Wild boar, pachyderms, deer and monkeys roam about – and if you’re lucky you may catch a glimpse of a big cat. You can also go boating in the reservoir if the weather permits.
60 km from Trivandrum is this tranquil hill station; it is famed for its rich biodiversity and profusion of medicinal plants. You can start the trek from the Neyyar sanctuary or Bonacaud estate. You can see numerous waterfalls and small rivulets as you trek to the peak through virgin forests. The idol of the Hindu sage Agastya can be found at the top; from here you also have spell-binding views of the surrounding landscape. Agastya mala has been declared as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO. Though entry is free you need to obtain a permit from the forest department; passes are issued only for the months of January-February, so apply a few weeks prior.
Located in the city, within the premises of the zoo, it is also called the Government art museum, this is one of the oldest museums in India; it was established by the ruling Maharaja of Travancore in 1855. The museum houses rare collections of archaeological artifacts, bronze statues, ornaments, ivory sculptures, etc. The architecture of the museum is an eclectic combination of Indian, Chinese, Italian and Mughal styles. Paintings by Roerich and Raja Ravi Varma can be found in the Sri Chitra art gallery; you can also see beautiful artwork from the Rajput, Thanjavur and Mughal styles of painting.
Close to the Trivandrum airport, this is a pristine beach of white sand, and less crowded, and is a great spot to spend some tranquil time with your loved ones. A giant sculpture of a mermaid is a popular attraction of the beach, and there are ample snack bars and eateries in the vicinity. The beach also boasts an open-air theatre and has plenty of space for car parking. A skating school and indoor sports complex add to the popularity of this beach.
This is one of the best tourist places in Trivandrum. The Veli lake merges with the Arabian sea in this village, creating a unique picnic spot. You can paddle around in boats, have a picnic in the gardens, and enjoy the sculptures; for a thrilling experience, ride a speedboat and step onto the floating café for a meal or snacks. Children can spend their day playing in the children’s park. It is open to visitors from 9 am to 6 pm on all days, and everyone over the age of 14 needs to purchase a ticket of Rs 5.
Situated close to the Napier museum is today a popular venue for several cultural events. It was built on a hillock as a royal guest house in the 19th century. Nestled in the midst of lush green meadows, this palace is a beautiful place to spend a couple of hours soaking in the history of Kerala. Its red façade and traditional Kerala architecture, antique displays and stunning views make this palace a much sought after attractions in Trivandrum.
This is a typical Indian market and stretches over 2 km. It’s an energetic and quaint market, and you can get a real feel of India in its busy lanes. From imported dates to local fruit, from cheap footwear to exquisite gold jewelry, fabrics, and cloth of all kinds, household products, and kitchen appliances – you can find it all in this bustling market.
If you’re interested in knowing all about India’s space odyssey, this is the place to go. You need to apply online for permission, and then collect your pass from the pr office. You can then visit the museum which showcases Indian space programs and their successes. You can also watch films about the missions, and see models of the major satellites sent into space by India. The museum can be visited between 10 am and 4 pm on all working days.
A three-hour drive up winding roads will bring you to this misty hill station, still pretty less crowded in comparison to other tourist places. Wild orchids, vibrant butterflies and exotic flowers are part of the abundant flora and fauna present here. Along the drive, you can stop for spectacular views of the valley and the Kallar river and the Meenmutty waterfalls. For the thrill seekers, trekking and camping activities are available.
Built by the British in 1695, on land gifted by the then queen of Attingal, the Anjengo or Anchuthengu fort was a signaling station for British ships from London. It has withstood several attempts by the French and Portuguese to conquer it. In 1721, the local populace revolted against the British at this very spot. Its location close to the beach and its well-maintained grounds and picturesque landscape make it popular with picnickers who enjoy the tranquillity and the confluence of the sea and backwaters.
En route to Kovalam, tourists come across a serene stretch of backwaters in Kerala which with its beauty takes their mind away. Cruising on Kettuvallams or traditional Kerala houseboats, kayaking and canoeing are popular activities here. You can simply lie back in your deck chair and admire the scenic beauty unfolding in front of you. Palm-fringed backwaters, lagoons, temples, coir manufacturing units and laid-back rural life are some of the things you can experience here.
Though today it serves as a museum of folklore and numismatics, it was once the proud residence of the queen Umayamma of the Venad royal family, built in the late 17th century. It houses numerous rare and precious antiques like musical instruments, folk art models, household utensils, ancient manuscripts, ornaments, and coins – some of them belonging to the Roman empire.
The Neyyar river merges with the Arabian Sea, creating another incredible spot for backwater tourism in Kerala. Stunning views of the emerald green backwaters can be enjoyed with a serene cruise on a houseboat. Mangroves, golden sandy beaches, and floating restaurants add to the charm of this hidden treasure. A statue of the Blessed Virgin Mother Mary carrying Jesus can be seen at the mouth of the confluence.
About 39 km from the city, this sanctuary is spread over 53 square km, with the dam constructed across the Karamana river. Wildlife enthusiasts will be excited to know that elephants, gaur, sambhar, lion-tailed macaques, tigers, and wild boar roam these forests. If you have a keen eye you can also spot the many species of birds that home here. Rubber plantations dot the way to the sanctuary, and the lush greenery all around is a sight to behold indeed. The Aruvi waterfalls are located in this forest; the frothy white falls are a magnificent spectacle.
From Kovalam, is the ancient seaport of Vizhinjam; in fact, it is believed that trade was carried out through this port as early as the 7th century. The marine aquarium houses a plethora of rare species of marine life like squirrelfish, giant turtles, piranhas, moon wrasse and more. An 18th-century rock-cut temple dedicated to Vinadhara Dakshinamurti is another added attraction, with its exquisitely carved sculptures. On one side of the fishing harbor, you can see a mosque in white and orange, watching over the fisherfolk going out to sea.