Thiruvananthapuram is the southernmost district of Kerala. It is also the state capital. A historic place, Thiruvanthapuram attracts tourists from all over the world. The city has famous temples, monuments, lovely beaches and emerald lakes.
While it is true that Thiruvananthapuram is the capital of Kerala, it is not too crowded or too busy. Needless to say, the city is clean, green and safe. Better still, it has a moderate climate. Temperatures hover in the 20 – 33 degree Celsius range throughout the year.
Here are the most popular tourist destinations in Thiruvananthapuram.
A trip to Thiruvananthapuram is incomplete without paying a visit to Kovalam. The sunset seen from here is simply mesmerizing. There are many more reasons to visit Kovalam. The palm-fringed shallow beach and the undisturbed coastline are the major highlights of Kovalam. The lighthouse looks stunning from the beach. Another attraction is the off-shore coral reef.
Popular tourist activities here include sunbathing, catamaran cruising and swimming. Kovalam is close to the equator so you should be able to get a nice coppery tan in less than 30 minutes.
Looking to rejuvenate your body and mind? Try herbal massaging. There are plenty of authentic Ayurvedic parlors in Kovalam. In fact, medical tourism is flourishing here. Kovalam beach is about 16 kilometers from the city.
Located in the East Fort of the city, Padmanabhaswamy Temple is unarguably the most famous landmark in Thiruvananthapurm. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It has an idol of Vishnu reclining on the hooded serpent Anantha. The name Thiruvananthapuram literally means the land of Anantha Padmanabhaswamy. The idol is 18 feet long and can only be seen through 3 doors.
Padmanabhaswamy Temple is famous for its brilliant architecture. Mural paintings adorn the interior walls of the temple. It has a corridor supported by three hundred sixty-five and a quarter granite pillars. The temple is believed to have been built in the 8th century. There are references to it in the works of Tamil Azhvars who were great devotees of Lord Vishnu. A trillion dollar treasure was recently found in one of the chambers of this temple.
Another place worth visiting near the temple is the Kuthiramalika Palace. Its interiors have mural sketches and wooden paintings. The palace also has a nice collection of sculptures and weapons and jewellery used by the kings of Travancore.
Poovar is perfect for enjoying a quiet holiday with family on a serene beach. Poovar is actually a village to the south of Neyyar River. The river, the sea and the lake meet here. Unlike Kovalam, Poovar is a relatively unexplored place. Take a boat ride through the lagoon and get enchanted by the pristine greenery on either side. The Vizhinjam Marine Aquarium is only a short distance from Poovar.
An international deepwater multipurpose seaport is being built at Vizhinjam. The Vizhinjam beach is touristy and attracts quite a few visitors. A few kilometers away from the beach is the fish market area. It is a place worth visiting if you want to get a glimpse into the lives of the fishing community. And if you love seafood, that is yet another reason to visit Vizhinjam.
Ponmudi which literally means golden crown is a hill station. Lush greenery awaits anyone driving up the hairpin bends to Ponmudi. Ponmudi is fast becoming an adventure hotspot and to cash in on this opportunity, numerous cottages have already come up in its vicinity.
Shanghumukham is a secluded beach away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The sandy white beach is the main attraction here. The beach has a gigantic statue of a mermaid (Jalakanyaka).
Varkala Papanasam Beach set against the backdrop red laterite cliffs is one of the most famous beaches in Kerala. There are several hot mineral springs here. Varkala is becoming the New Goa and attracts hordes of tourists from all over the world. Kappil is a place near Varkala famous for its blue lagoon. Take a boat ride along the estuary between Edava and Kappil.
Varkala is also a pilgrim center. The Sree Janardhanaswami Temple at Varkala is thought to be 2000 years old. Sivagiri Mutt, the place where Sree Narayana Guru attained Samadhi, is here.
Neyyar Dam is about 30 kilometers to the south of the city. The gravity dam and the blue lake are the major attractions here. A boat cruise on the blue lake is an experience you will cherish for a long time.
The Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary is not far from the dam. It is home to several species of birds and animals. The sanctuary also houses a crocodile breeding center and a lion safari park.
Napier Museum and Zoo
It is hard to imagine that a busy city like Thiruvananthapuram can house such a sprawling zoo. The zoo and Napier Museum are a must visit. The museum was built during the British era and has a huge collection of idols, ivory carvings, and rare artifacts. The zoo is well maintained and houses many exotic species of animals. There is a snake park called Anaconda House inside the zoo.
Meenmutty/ Kombaikani Falls
Meenmutty falls is near the Neyyar Reservoir area. In order to reach the falls, you have to trek through the Agasthyakoodam forests for about two kilometers. And if you are adventurous you can trek further upwards to see the enchanting Kombaikani Falls. The nature is at its unspoiled best here.