This city, also still known by its colonial name of Trivandrum, makes a great introduction to life in Southern India. Although many view it as an arrival point for beach resorts such as Varkala, Thiruvananthapuram has an energetic and friendly atmosphere, colonial architecture and fascinating museums housed in Victorian palaces meaning that it more than rewards as a destination in its own right. The name Thiruvananthapuram means "The City of Lord Anantha", a city that has a heritage going back over 1,000 years making it one of the oldest settlements in India. Now it hosts a range of high-tech industry like the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, but it started life as a trading post for ivory, spices and sandalwood.
Things to Do
Temples dominate Thiruvananthapuram's skyline, while, unusual for India, there are also plenty of green spaces that provide a welcome break from the sun. Plan your itinerary to take in historic palaces and museums or simply stroll around and soak up the atmosphere.
An ancient heritage
Surrounded by evergreen gardens is the ancient Karikkakom Devi Temple. Over 600 years old, it houses a Panchaloha idol of Goddess Karikakathamma made from a traditional alloy of five metals. There are also colourful shrines to several other gods and goddesses.
A flavour of Keralan culture
Get a better understanding of Kerala's rich heritage at the Napier Museum. The building itself is a blend of Keralan, Mughal, Italian and Chinese architecture and is cleverly designed to have a natural air-conditioning system. Collections range from archaeology to temple chariots, jewellery and bronze idols.
Souvenir hunting in the bazaar
Shopping in bazaars like Chalai Bazaar is always a good way to mingle with locals, and with its infectious energy it is the perfect place to shop for souvenirs. Most stalls are on Chalai Market Road but if you're feeling more adventurous step into the winding side streets and explore.
Calendar of Events
Thiruvananthapuram's annual festivals and events bring extra colour and life to an already vibrant city. The main festival is Onam held in late Summer, while other annual dates cover events that range from religion, food, film, flowers and folklore.
Thiruvananthapuram Flower Show. This ten-day long flower show takes place every March at the Kanakakunnu Palace. The lush colours and blooms of tropical plants and fruit trees can be enjoyed along with a cattle show, parade of vintage cars and a wealth of food stalls.
Pongala Festival. Spring also sees the Pongala Festival at the Karikkakom Sri Chamundi Devi Temple. This temple is the most important in the town and the celebrations pay reverence to the Goddess Chamundi Devi. The "Pongala" divine fire is lit inside the inner sanctum and then passed from hearth to hearth throughout the day.
The Festival of Onam: The end of August is when carnival arrives in the city, bringing extravagant costumes and parades, street food and entertainment along with a packed cultural programme that lasts for ten days.