Thiruvananthapuram Travel Guide
Don’t let its name intimidate you. Despite being hard to pronounce, Thiruvananthapuram is an excellent place to visit. As the capital of the state of Kerala, this city is a launching point for journeys into its backwaters.
In addition to this, its temples, museums, palaces, and beaches will all make you want to linger longer.
Come check out our Thiruvananthapuram trip guide as we cover the best things to do in Thiruvananthapuram, India.
Start your visit to Thiruvananthapuram by checking out the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple. According to local historians, this house of worship has been around since the Sangam Period. If true, this puts this structure’s age between 1,700 to 2,500 years old.
Composed of a mix of Keralan and Tamil styles, it is an architecturally exciting temple. Unless you’re Hindu, however, you won’t get to see its more beautiful features, as precepts bar non-believers from entering.
Nonetheless, it is still worth seeing for its impressive exterior, and the festivals that occasionally occur outside its walls. Of them, the Alpashy festival (held in October/November) and Panguni (March/April) are the most spectacular.
Scope out some of the best art in the Thiruvananthapuram area by dropping by the Sree Chitra Art Gallery. Built in 1935, it plays host to over 1,000 paintings from a variety of respected Indian artists. Collectively, they represent the Tanjore, Mughal, Rajasthani, Bengal, and Rajput schools of art.
In addition to Indian works of art, you’ll also find paintings from Tibet, China, Japan, and Bali. If you are short on time, ensure you check out this gallery’s Tanjore miniature paintings. Intricate in their composition, these works of art represent the Tamil people that have called this region home for ages.
After getting your art fix, take a short stroll over to the Napier Museum. Named after Sir Charles Napier, a famed British general, this institution is known for its collection of historical objects. These include ancient artifacts sourced from around the Thiruvananthapuram area, bronze idols, and ivory carvings.
The building is something of an attraction itself. Built in the Indo-Saracenic style, its construction keeps the structure cool without a need for air conditioners. Before visiting, note that there is an entry fee of 20 Rupees and the museum closes on Mondays.
Take in one of the most exquisite palaces in Thiruvananthapuram by visiting Kuthiramalika. Translating to ‘Mansion of horses’, it gets its name from horses carved into its wooden roof supports. Built for Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma of the Kingdom of Travancore, he lived in this abode until his death in 1846.
After sitting unoccupied for a century, authorities made it a museum dedicated to the royal family of Travancore. After admiring the Keralan exterior, head inside, where you’ll find paintings, chandeliers, Italian mirrors, and other extravagant furnishings.
If you are visiting Thiruvananthapuram in January, you won’t want to miss a visit to Kuthiramalika. From January 6th to the 12th, the Kuthiramalika Festival goes off. A celebration of Hindustani and Carnatic music, you’ll be transfixed by the artist’s performances.
Want to get your Keralan backwater adventure off to an epic start? Make Poovar Island your put-in point. Before you cruise Kerala’s canals, this destination’s quiet beaches will get you in the right state of mind.
The beaches in town will allow you to watch local fishers as they work. If it’s peace you’re seeking, though, you’ll find solace on the beach across the channel. Note, however, that a vicious undertow exists between June and August.
Kovalam Beach is another excellent option for those looking for a little R&R. Situated 18 kilometres south of Thiruvananthapuram, it is the perfect antidote for the chaos in Kerala’s capital city. Kovalam translates to coconut grove – true to its name, coconut palms can be found everywhere here.
Kovalam became famous in the 1920s when members of the royal court of Travancore built homes here. The British followed on their heels in the 1930s, and then, by backpackers in the 1960s. Today, three beaches attract most of the attention – Lighthouse, Hawah, and Samurda.
As advertised, Lighthouse Beach gets its name from a 118-foot high lighthouse that sits on a promontory above its white sands. This beach is the most popular with tourists – the other two are home to fishing boats, and are quieter as a result.
Are you travelling with your kids? Give them a day off from temple tramping by visiting the Magic Planet Theme Park. Claiming to be the world’s first magic theme park, roving magicians rove its grounds. From sleight-of-hand specialists to mentalists, you’ll be amazed at the tricks these talented performers can pull.
Before leaving the grounds of the Napier Museum, check out the Thiruvananthapuram Zoo next door. Sprawling over 55 acres, this park was a former menagerie for Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma. Established in 1830, British authorities converted it into a public zoo in 1857.
Here, you’ll find tigers, cheetahs, panthers, boar, deer, and other animals common to India. In 1995, their enclosures were modernized to allow for freer movement, so don’t be dissuaded from visiting.