Trivandrum’s is officially known as Thiruvananthapuram. It is the capital of Kerala and also the biggest city. Despite all these things it is not a very popular place like Kochi or Alleppey. There are some interesting places to visit in Trivandrum.
Trivandrum is a busy city but despite this, I saw some interesting places here and in it’s surrounding areas. The art and culture are well preserved here. I spent 2 days here on my first trip and the second time I was in Trivandrum for 3 days. In 2 to 3 days you can visit most of the important tourist places in Trivandrum.
These are my favorite places to see in Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram)
The temple is situated near the busiest market area of Trivandrum or more appropriate to say that a big market developed around the temple over the years.
The history of the Padmanabhaswamy temple dates back to 8th Century according to available records. It is believed that there was a temple here much before that, the exact history of the temple is untraceable.
Padmanabhaswamy Temple is a great example of a blend of the Kerala and Dravidian styles of architecture.
There is a tank on the side of the temple and it’s known as Padma Theertham meaning lotus spring.
The temple has corridors with 365 granite-stone pillars with elaborate carvings. There is an 80 feet high shaft in front of the main entry gate inside the temple.
There are two independent shrines inside the temple, these shrines are known as Thekkedom and Thiruvambad.
Lord Vishnu is the principal deity of the temple. The idol is in Shayanam posture (Reclining position) and depicts that Vishnu is in eternal yogic sleep on the Sheshnag serpent and goddess Laxmi & Bhudevi are on his sides. In this temple, Lord Vishnu is called Sree Padmanabhaswamy.
This temple is India’s richest temple with assets worth $20 billion. The most precious finding of the vaults A, C, D, E & F are a three-and-a-half feet tall solid pure golden idol of Mahavishnu, studded with hundreds of diamonds, rubies, and other precious stones. An 18-foot-long pure gold chain, a gold sheaf weighing 500 kg, a golden veil of 36 kg, 1200 ‘Sarappalli’ gold coin-chains that are encrusted with precious stones, a 16-part ceremonial attire of gold for adorning the deity weighing almost 30 kg, gold coconut shells studded with rubies and emeralds, and several 18th-century Napoleonic era coins were found in these vaults. Other than these several sacks filled with golden artifacts, necklaces, diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, gemstones, and objects made of other precious metals are also discovered.
The biggest vault B inside the temple is still not opened and it’s believed that this vault has tonnes of gold and precious stone ornament worth billions.
All these precious items found in the vaults are believed to be surrendered by the Travancore king.
There are four gates to enter the temple but the eastern gate is most popular. The gates are secured with metal detectors, X-ray baggage scanners, bollards, bomb detection, and dispensing equipment. The speed folding doors are installed around the temple. The footage of surveillance cameras around the temple is monitored 24×7 in a control room. The Kerala state police are responsible for the security of the temple and the government spends 55 crores on it every year.
The ceremonial king of the former state of Travancore is the trustee of the temple. Travancore royal family consider Padmanabhaswamy as their protector & guardian. That’s why all the kings add “Padmanabhaswamydasa” before their name, which mean servant of God.
Dress code for visiting Padmanabhaswamy Temple
* There is a strict dress code for the temple. Men need to wear Dhoti (Which in local language called Mundu) and should not wear a shirt or T-shirt (However they can keep a piece of cloth on shoulders).
* Woman need to wear a sari or set sari (Which in local language called set Mundu) or skirt and blouse. Salwar suits are not allowed.
* This dress code was described in the Temple Entry Proclamation issued by Maharaja of Travancore in 1936. In this proclamation, he also abolished the ban on the so-called low caste people (Known as varnas) from entering Hindu temples in his state. This order was regarded as a very progressive move by the 24 years old king in those days.
* There is shop outside the temple from one can rent a dhoti or sari if they don’t have these.
Padmanabhaswamy Temple Timings
Temple opens in the morning at 3:30 am to 4:45 am, 6:30 am to 7 am, 8:20 am to 10 am, 10:30 am to 11:10 am and 11:45 am to 12.00 Noon.
It opens again in the evening from 5.00 pm to 6:15 pm and 6:45 pm to 7:20 pm.
Camera, mobile phone, leather bag or belt are not allowed inside the temple. It is advisable to carry only money and minimum things inside the temple because security is very tight.
Kuthiramalika Palace and Museum
This palace is near the Padmanabhaswamy temple. It is a fine example of the Kerala architecture and mainly made from teakwood, marble, and granite. This museum houses idols and sculptures made from white marble. There are Belgian mirrors and paintings also on the display.
Photography is not allowed inside the temple. In some places, we have to walk bare feet.
The Pazhavangadi Maha Ganapathy
This temple is dedicated to Lord Ganesha and is situated in the East Fort area of Trivandrum.
The main idol of Ganesha is in a seated posture with the right leg in a folded stance. There are 32 different idols of Ganesha in this temple.
The main offering in this temple is coconut. There is a designated place in the temple where hundreds or thousands of coconuts are broken in a day. It is believed that if one offers coconut and break it in one stroke, his or her wishes will fulfill. During my visit, I saw many people breaking the coconuts or giving the priest to break for them.
The original idol of Ganesha was shifted here from Padamnabhapuram Palace by the Nair brigade (Who were King’s personal bodyguards), they were maintaining it there. Now the Indian army takes care of the temple.
Dress code for the temple is the same as for all other temples in Kerala. Men need to wear Dhoti (Mundu) and woman should wear a sari or a long skirt.
Also, check the Temple town of Guruvayur in Kerala
Napier Museum and Sri Chitra Art Gallery
The Napier Museum is one of the most beautiful buildings in Trivandrum. The red and white color main building of the museum stands out in the middle out of manicured gardens. Its unique design has gothic roof and minarets but it is in bright colored. The Napier museum’s building is a fine example of Indo-Saracenic design. It’s not only beautiful from outside but it’s designed boasts a natural air conditioning system.
There are some rare artifacts, bronze idols, ancient ornaments, a temple chariot and some ivory carvings on displayed in a big hall.
In the same compound, there is another hall which is known as Sri Chitra art gallery. This gallery contains works from Raja Ravi Varma and Nicholas Roerich. There are also some good paintings of Mughal and Tanjore art.
A camera is not allowed inside the Napier Museum and Sri Chitra art gallery.
The whole area is very peaceful and green.
The Thiruvananthapuram Zoo is located next to the Napier Museum and Sri Chitra art gallery. This zoo is spread in 55 acres of land with lakes and lawns. There is nothing special about this zoo and you can always skip it. But it’s a good place to visit if you are traveling with kids.
Also check about the Places to visit and fun things to do in Fort Cochin
Veli Tourist Village
This tourist village is an initiative of Kerala tourism. They have developed the area next to the backwaters. The Veli village is enclosed by walls to avoid trespassing, its gardens are well maintained with many varieties of flowers and plants.
It is a good place to relax or picnic or just does boating in a speedboat or eat in the restaurant on the edge of backwaters.
There is a different range of restaurants in Veli village. A formal sit in a restaurant and a small self-service selling food & a fresh fruit juice stall. The quality of food is ok in both places.
I went for a ride on a speedboat, its nothing like Alleppey but still, it was fun. There were some houses on the edge of a backwater and a toddy shop also. The surrounding areas were very quiet and green that for a moment I forgot if I am still in Trivandrum.
The Veli tourist village is slightly outside the city and not many local people know about it. So, use Google map for directions.
Also check the How to economically explore backwaters of Alleppey
This beach is in close proximity of Veli tourist village. The sand of the beach is white in color and the beach is clean in general. Shankumugham beach is like any other beach on the western coast with restaurants, shacks and food stall next to the beach. It’s a good place to watch the sunset and spend some time at the beach if staying in Trivandrum. The fresh seafood is available on the shacks.
There are some hotels in close proximity to the beach and are a good option to stay outside the busy city of Trivandrum.
This beach has religious importance also because on Arattu day of the festival when the images of Lord Padmanabhaswamy, Lord Narasimha, and Lord Krishna are taken to Shanghumugham beach in a ceremonial procession. The titular king of Travancore royal family leads the procession with an open sword. It is a grand procession and people from all over Kerala participate in this.
The beach is in close proximity to the Trivandrum airport.
Places to visit near Trivandrum
Poovar Island from Trivandrum
This small island is 32 km from Trivandrum. Poovar is abundant in coconut and mangroves. Fishing is the main occupation in this coastal village.
The natural beauty and peaceful atmosphere make it a popular tourist spot among the people visiting Trivandrum.
Most of the resorts in this area are big and surrounded by natural greenery, coconut trees, and golden sand beaches. The other positive point of Poovar island is that it is comparatively less crowded in comparison to Kovalam beach.
It is an ideal place for people who like to stay in big resorts and relax in the middle of nature.
The main activity in Poovar is boating in backwaters and most of these boating trips end at Kovalam beach.
Trivandrum to Kovalam Beach
Kovalam is considered to be the finest among the beaches in Kerala. It is clean but the sand is grayish in color at some places.
There are plenty of relaxing and venturesome activities available on the beach. You can even surf on the beach with the help of professional trainers.
It is a good place for people who like to learn yoga, you can enroll in a class and learn it on the beach. There are some Ayurveda massage centers in the Kovalam.
The lighthouse on the beach is a most scenic attraction here. It is one of the most iconic structures and tops the list of places to visit in Kovalam beach.
There is all kind of accommodations available in Kovalam from budget hotels to five-star hotels.
There are some good restaurants on the beach to enjoy a good meal while watching the sea waves and sunset. The restaurants here serve Kerala and continental cuisines. It is one of my favorite places to enjoy the sunset.
At Kovalam beach, you have to deal with the heat and the crowd. Regardless of all these this is the most popular place to visit near Trivandrum.
Sari and Gold Shopping in Trivandrum
Trivandrum is very good for sari shopping as there are many big store and cottage emporiums here, we bought some beautiful saris. The best part about buying from these shops is that they have fixed prices and you don’t need to bargain.
Another precious item you can buy in Trivandrum is gold. The people of Kerala are very fond of gold and there are lots of big gold shops. The gold ornaments here are beautiful in design and workmanship. Most importantly they give the certificate of purity for gold so there is no chance of getting cheated. The craftsmanship here is so unique that they even make ornaments of “ONE” gram of gold.
Best Places to eat in Trivandrum
* Villa Maya heritage is a place to have good food in a great ambiance.
* Zam Zam is a small place to have some local style fast food and ice cream.
* Indian Coffee House is also a good place to enjoy vegetarian food at a reasonable price.
* Mothers Veg Plaza is an economical place, which serves great vegetarian food.
Check out in details about Traditional food of Kerala to try in your next trip
Travel in Trivandrum
* If you are not able to tolerate the hot and humid weather of Trivandrum then hire a cab. The app-based services like Ola and Uber are available here. Or maybe you can hire a cab all day.
* If you like to save some money then opt for auto-rickshaw (Tuk-Tuk). The auto-rickshaws are easily available in Trivandrum and they don’t charge extra money or haggle. In my personal opinion, the Kerala auto-rickshaws are one of the best in India when it comes to fair pricing.
* If you want to go on a super budget then local buses are also available but keep in mind that signage on buses is in the Malayalam language.