Known for its beauty, Trivandrum (or Thiruvananthapuram) is the capital district of Kerala and is one of the most sought-after destinations around the world for its natural and cultural specialties. Sandwiched between the Arabian Sea in the west and the Western Ghats in the east, the location of this serene district in South India itself tells much about its diversity. But don’t take our word for it.
Many famous personalities like the professional poker player Sandra Naujoks who travel around the world for tournaments have often admired the natural and cultural beauty of Trivandrum. Though this small district as a whole is worth visiting, here, we discuss the top seven must-visit places in this unique destination.
First and foremost is the internationally-renowned Kovalam Beach. The leisure options in this natural junction of beach and rocky promontory includes sunbathing, cruising and a variety of cultural programs. But the highlight is the massage services and Ayurvedic treatments available here. Kovalam provides an excellent range of accommodation facilities from budget hotels to premium, five-star hotels. You’ll never forget the range of hot and spicy seafood served here. Image – Source: Wikimedia
The second one on the list is the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, which is situated inside the East Fort in the heart of Trivandrum. This temple, arguably the richest one in the world, is a unique combination of Kerala and Dravidian styles of architecture. Awe-inspiring paintings, some of which are life-size, and murals embellish the cool temple interiors. It also has many interesting structural features with beautiful carvings and other attractions. During the ten-day annual festival, one can even witness a Kathakali performance at the nataka sala (which roughly translates to drama hall).
The third is the Varkala Papanasam Beach. Though it’s a little way from Trivandrum city, it is one of the best places to relax. The beaches, despite attracting many tourists, are cleaner and quieter. Varkala is also well-known for a natural spring believed to have medicinal and curative properties. The Janardhana Swamy Temple and the Sivagiri Mutt are the other famous tourist attractions here. Also noteworthy, Varkala provides excellent accommodation facilities and a variety of seafood.
The fourth one is the Ponmudi Hill Station. Upon following the narrow, winding pathways up to the top, tourists can enjoy much cooler temperatures and green hills, which makes one forget that they are in South India. Along with enjoying small rivulets, exotic butterflies and other species, tea estates and mist-covered valleys, Ponmudi provides an ideal setting for trekking.
The fifth one on the list is the Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary and the Neyyar Dam. This natural habitat hosts a wide variety of flora and fauna including Asian elephants, tigers and king cobras. This dam site around the “tempting blue” Neyyar River houses a crocodile-breeding center and a lion safari park as well.
Next in line is the Agasthyakoodam. This bird watcher’s paradise, sitting 1,890 meters above sea level in the Sahyadri ranges (Western Ghats) houses a diverse variety of wildlife and highly endemic medicinal herbs and plants. Since the air over here is considered to have healing properties, trekking to Agasthyakoodam is considered good for your health, which is likely why it’s gaining in popularity every day.
And finally, there is the Napier Museum and the zoological park. The Indo-Saracenic museum structure built in the 19th century exhibits many historic and archaeological artifacts including idols and ornaments as well as artwork and other unique items. The building itself is a unique blend of Kerala, Mughal, Chinese and Italian architectural styles. Close to this museum is the zoological park, which was established in 1859, and a reptile house, both of which shouldn’t be missed.