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Trivandrum - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

Facts About Trivandrum

Capital of kerala

How to get there:
Air: The Trivandrum International Airport services flights of Air India, Indian Airlines, Air Lanka, East-West Airlines and private charters like Goa Way. Flights are operated to Cochin, Mumbi, Chennai, Coimbatore, Goa Delhi and Bangalore. There are also international flights to Colombo in Sri Lanka, Male in the Maldives and destinations of the Gulf countries in the Middle East.

Rail: Trivandrum Central Railway Station is connected to most important Indian cities and towns, including the southernmost tip of the subcontinent, Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin).

Road: Motorable roads link Trivandrum ti several important tourist and business centres in India. Bus services of various classes are operated by the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) as well as corporations belonging to the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu. Though these are the major operators, there are also private bus and other feeder services to destinations within and outside the state.

Local Transport: Taxis (ordinary yellow-top cabs superior 'tourist taxis' and chauffeur-driven cards on heir from carinates), buses and autorickshaws. For the adventurous, cycles are also easily available on hire. Tourist coaches can be hires from the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC). For further information, contact : Trivandrum District Truism Promotion Council Tel : 435397. TheKSRTC operates bus services to pointed within the city and its suburbs.

Laid- back The capital

The former name for Kerala's capital city, Trivandrum, may be more easily pronounceable but the present official name, Thiruvanathapuram, is closer to its mythological, origins. The word 'Thri Ananthapuram', means the city of Anatha or the abode of the sacred thousand-headed serpent Anantha, who forms the couch on which reclines Lord vishnu, the preserver in the Trinity of Hindu gods.

The name also reflects the city's best-known temple and a famous landmark, Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple, dedicated to Padmanabha or Lord Vishnu and - so goes legend- built in stages to house an idol discovered in a forest by a devotee. The historical importance of the city and this temple can be gauged from the fact that in 1750 when it was the capital of the Venad chieftains of the erstwhile state of Travancore, its renowned ruler Maharajah Marthanda Varma dedicated the entire state to the deity of the temple. It was only as servants of the deity that the King and his successors held possessions as well as the right to rule. Built on seven hills, and liberally covered with the green of low-lying paddy fields and coconut palms, Trivandrum has not lost this holy glory, having accepted diverse and religious traditions in its warm and hospitable embrace.

The city has recently grown as a tourist and commercial centre, with the Trivandrum International Airport becoming the main gateway into Kerala for a substantial number of visitors and tourists.

Nonetheless, it still retains a leisurely and laid-back ambience, helped along by the great diversity of quaint colonial and traditional Kerala buildings.

The visitor who allows himself to slowly amble through the various by -lanes that snake off the main M.G. Road can discover the city's visages- from shops, restaurants and hotels to bus-stops, banks and post offices.

Being the state capital, Trivandrum throbs with political activity. This, fortunately, is not at the cost of the city's long tradition of being a generous host to culture and the arts. That is why travellers are always advised not to miss the Government Art Museum, formerly called the Napier Museum, the Sri Chitra Art Gallery and the CVN Kalari (a centre for traditional martial arts) among the other cultural institutions, universities and libraries located in Trivandrum.

Trivandrum is also the ideal stop-over en route to nearby destinations like the famed Kovalam beach, a half-hour 16 km, drive away, the Neyyar Dam and minor wildlife sanctuary (32 km), the Ponmudi hill resort (61 km), Varkala mineral springs (55 km) and popular local tourist sports like the Veli Tourist Village and the Aukulam Lakeside complex.

Located in a beautifully landscaped 80-acre plot, the Government Art Museum forms part of a park-like complex in the heart of the city which also houses the Sri Chitra Art Gallery and the Zoologcal Gardens. The building is an architectural delight, combining styles of traditional Kerala architecture with Chinese and Mughal touches. Its 19th Century British architect, Chisholm, is said to have stirred in a dash of Brighton as well. The intriguing blend of colours- pink and blue, banana yellow and cherry red- merge with red and white lattice work and mock friezes to create a unique spectacle, best viewed on weekends when the entire building is majestically spotlit. Inside the museum are varied period collections of bronze statues, treasures, costumes, masks, ancient jewellery, musical instruments and models, including one of the Nair joint-family residence, the 'tharavad'.

The Sri Chitra Art Gallery, also in a traditional building, houses a rich collection of paintings of the erstwhile Travancore ruling family, including portraits of maharajas and British residents by Raja RaviVarma. Also included are representative pieces of medieval and modern art of the Rajput, Mughal, Tanjore and Bengal schools and selection of the work of the Russian painter Svetosku Roerich.

The Zoological Garden, called ''one of the best laid-out zoos in Asia'', is set in pleasant surroundings, amidst lawns and lakes. Its animals and birds and the snake collection in the nearby Reptile House attract scores of delighted visitors.

Located on a hill opposite the Kanakakunnu Palace, another attraction worth a visit, is the Government Observatory which offers a lovely view from its roof terrace.

SITE SEEING TRIPS
Kerala Tourism Development Corporation Ltd. conduct coach tours from Trivandrum. Four Details and Reservation contact : Tourist Receptions Centre, KTDC Thampanoor Trivandrum -1 Ph : 330031

Adjacent to the airport, the Shanghumugham Beach is popular with local people and features an indoor recreation club, a roller skating rink, a children's traffic training park, a starfish-shaped restaurant and an aquarium.

About 11 km from the city is the Veli Tourist village, a well developed tourist spot where the lake merges with the sea. Its gardens have been landscaped by Kerala's famous sculptor Kanai Kunhiraman whose exuberant sculptures dot the greenery. They combine to offer an ideal setting for picnics and day trips. There is a pontoon bridge to the beach, a wading pool for kids, pony rides, a floating restaurant and facilities for minor aqua sports from 10 am to 5 pm. Limited accommodation, mainly of the dormitory type, is available at the Veli Youth Hostel (Tel : 47 1364). The Office / KTDC restaurant can be contacted at telephone number : 475385

The Akkulam Lakeside Boat Club is another popular local destination for city dwellers who wish to get away from it all. About 13 km from the city, it has a large children's park, a small snack bar and facilities for boating between 10 am and 5 pm . The Boat Club telephone numbers is 443043.

Located at PMG Junction, near the Mascot Hotel, Science and Technology Museum is an interactive educative experience for students and youth as well as as other inquisitive minds. Closed on Mondays, on other days it is open from 10 am to 5 pm and the entrance fee is Rs. 1

Situated at Thycaud in the city, the Chacha Nehru Children's Museum displays dolls, maks and paintings and is open 10 am to 5 pm.

The SMSM Institute is the handicrafts emporium of the Handicrafts Development Corporation of Kerala, situated behind the government secretariat and near the British Library. It sells a wide variety of handicrafts, carvings and curios. Open 9 am to 8 pm with no lunch break.

Kovalam, the world - renowned beach endowed with a sheltered bay safe for swimming, during the off-monsoon months is about 16 km away. It takes about half an hour to reach Kovalam from Trivandrum. Apart from the five-star Ashok Radission Hotel, there are several hotels of various standards to suit every budget. Seaside restaurant stalls serve a variety of cuisine.

A pilgrim centre and picnic spot 16 km from Trivandrum is Aruvikkara. Another favourite local destination is Neyyar Dam, a dam site with the lake providing a picnic spot as well as opportunities for boating and hiking. The famed Sivanada Yoga Vedanta Ashram is located here.

The samadhi of the saint Sri Narayana Guru, is at Varkala, 55 km from Trivandrum. It is also the site of the Janardanasaway (Vishnu) Temple. The other attrition is the mineral springs believed to be able to restore health.

The ancient seat of the Travancore rulers, the 16th century Padmanabhapuram Palace of elaborate woodwork is 55 km from Trivandrum in the state of Tamil Nadu en route to Kanyakumari. It contains historical relics including ancient swords and pistols, original rosewood furnishings and wall-paintings. The floors are made of a mixture of eggshell, coconut shell and charcoal and beneath can be found underground hiding spots and narrow escape tunnels used buy ancient kings to flee from enemies. The palace is closed on Mondays.

Ponmudi is a small little hill resort (altitude: 325 metres) within easy driving distance (61 km) from Trivandrum. Mountains and tea plantations provide the setting for some beautiful hiking trails. Accommodation is available in a guest house with 24 rooms and ten stone cottages perched on the hillside. Bookings can be made at KTDC, Trivandrum. Close to Kanyakumari (74 km from Trivandrum), the Suchindram Temple has an impressive gopuram and a statue of Hanuman, apart from beautiful carvings and sculptures.

 

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