Thiruvananthapuram

Called the ‘Evergreen city of India’, Thiruvananthapuram is the capital of the state of Kerala. The city comprises beautiful beaches, long stretches of palm fringed shorelines, windy backwaters and historical structures. Along with its natural and historical significance, the city is also popular for its ancient temples that are renowned for its architecture and which makes Thiruvananthapuram as one of the most visited pilgrim centers of India.

In the late 17th century, the city was the capital of the Travancore kingdom that was ruled by the Varma dynasty. After forming the Travancore kingdom, Maharaja Marthanada Varma dedicated the kingdom to Lord Padmanabha, the presiding deity of Shree Padmanabhaswamy temple and named the city ‘Thiruvananthapuram’.

The word ‘Thiruvananthapuram’ is derived from the Malayalam word thiru- anantha-puram, which means ‘City of Lord Ananta’. Ananta is the serpent Shesha on whom Lord Padmanabha (another form of Lord Vishnu) reclines. During the British era, the name of the city was anglicized to Trivandrum and it was the official name of the city, until in 1991 the government renamed the city to Thiruvananthapuram.

The Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple is one of the prominent attractions of the city. Devotees in large numbers visit the temple every year. It’s popular for its architectural splendour and historical and religious significance.

Thiruvananthapuram is also a paradise for beach lovers. Beaches situated outside the city like the Shankhumugham and Kovalam beaches are world famous.

Thiruvananthapuram has become an IT hub of Kerala. The city is also a major academic hub; it houses several educational and scientific institutions like Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) and the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST).

History

Also known by the name ‘Trivandrum’, the city is one of the oldest cities in India. The city was a famous port during 1050 BC and it had trade relations with many Middle East and Mediterranean countries. From 3 AD to 10 AD, the city was ruled by the Ays. They were succeeded by Venad Kings and under Maharaja Marthanda Varma, the kingdom was expanded to touch the borders of Kochi State. The name of the kingdom was changed to Thiruvithamkoor (anglicized to Travancore) with Thiruvananthapuram as its capital in 1745.

The city saw its golden age under the regime of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal and Maharaja Ayilyam Thirunal in the mid 19th century. During this period several hospitals and colleges were established. In the 20th century, the city witnessed many political and social movements, which brought the city at the centre stage of Indian freedom struggle.

Post Independence, Travancore was merged with union of India and on November 1st, 1956, Thiruvananthapuram was made the capital of state of Kerala.

Fun facts

Famous writer Yann Martel wrote his book ‘Life of Pi’ after studying a disabled lion, Simba at Napier museum and Zoo

Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple, an architectural wonder was nominated from India to the list of Seven Wonders of the World.

Shopping

Connemera market is a popular spot, where one can buy local spices and clothes. MG Road is another ideal shopping spot in the city, where one can buy coffee and fragrant tea leaves. Variety of nuts, handicrafts made out of wood, horn, metal, coir and handloom are popular among the visitors. Other items include gold jewellery, traditional saris, Kathakali masks and banana chips.

Where to stay

There are ample accommodation options in the city. One can find many budget, mid-range and luxury hotels in the city. The hotels are known for their hospitality and services.

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Where to eat

There are several multi-cuisine restaurants that serve local, Tamilian, Chinese and North Indian cuisine. One can also find several fast-food restaurants in the city. The local cuisine is unique and special. It is characterized by use of plenty of coconut and spice. One should also try non veg cuisine like Fish pollichathu (fish served on a banana leaf) and Fish Molee (fish in coconut sauce).

Best time to visit

The best time to visit the city is between the months of August and March.

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