At southwestern tip of India is Thiruvananthapuram, Capital of Kerala, bound by Arabian Sea in west and Tamil Nadu in east and named after Anantha Padmanabha or Lord Vishnu also home to many ancient temples, all importantly Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple around which the city is built on seven low hills. The wood highlands of Western Ghats at east and northeast borders awards enchanting picnic spots. A shoreline of world renowned beaches, historic monuments, backwater stretches and rich cultural heritage make the district an enthralling tourist destination. Clean and green, Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala, is amongst beautiful cities of the country.
By road: Long distance buses operate from the Central Bus Station at Thampanoor, opposite the Railway Station Thampanoor KSRTC Bus Terminal Ph: 2323886. Short distance buses operate from the City Bus Station, East Fort Ph: 2575495
By rail: There are direct trains from Thiruvananthapuram to all the main towns in Kerala as well as the major cities in India. Railway enquiry Ph: 132
By air: Trivandrum International Airport (6 km from the city) has over 30 air links with convenient connections to Colombo, Maldives, Singapore and the Middle East.
Akkulam, a picnic spot on banks of Akulam Lake, an extension of Veli Lake, is calm, serene and naturally beautiful with a Boat Club, which started functioning in 1989, offering speed, safari, pedal and row boats from Akkulam to Veli Tourist Village. Traditional style Kettuvallam (house boat) is also available for overnight stay. The swimming pool at Akkulam is equipped with glider and other playing facilities. The Children’s Park is a unique amusement spot with several rides and the musical fountain an added attraction.
The international convention centre, which will be the largest in Kerala is under construction in Akkulam.
Azhimala, a quiet beach around 20 km from Thiruvananthapuram city is known for its Ayurvedic Resorts and a temple named Azhimala, with deity being Lord Siva. Since the beach can be viewed from hill top, the name came to be Azhimala, Azhi means 'the sea' and Mala 'the hill'. The view of setting sun from this calm shore is an enchanting spectacle.
Chowara near Kovalam is picturesque. The Ayyappa Temple atop the hill that overlooks the Chowara beach offers amazing view of the beach. There is also an ancient Amalothbhava Matha Church.
Located near Kovalam, 20 km from the city.
The world renowned beach town, 12 km south of Thiruvananthapuram city possess some of the finest beaches in India, having three of them namely Lighthouse beach, Hawah beach and Samudra beach, each separated from the other by rocky outcroppings in a superb 17 km coastline, forming the famous crescent of Kovalam beach. A high cliff stretching into sea creates a serene bay of calm waters ideal for sea bathing. Indian Tourism Development Corporation have developed Kovalam with an integrated seaside resort having a series of cottages, a shopping area, swimming pools, yoga centre, facilities for medicinal oil bath and massage and the Rajiv Gandhi Convention Centre with 1000 delegate capacity. The resort has 198 rooms with the four presidential suits in the Halcyon Castle, formerly the Summer Retreat of Maharajas. The property now taken over by a private firm Leela Group besides have numerous hotels managed by private agencies.
The Museum building, an architectural splendor by itself, The Napier Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Reptile House and the Sree Chitra Art Gallery all within the Zoo complex interspersed in a well laid-out garden with a lake and a boat club jointly operated by the Department of Museums and Zoos and the District Tourism Promotion Council provides infotainment to the maximum. Housing 75 varied species of animals and birds from India and abroad alike namely Lion-tailed Macaque, Nilgiri Langur, Nilgiri Tahr, Manipur deer, Indian Rhino, Asiatic Lion and the Royal Bengal Tiger being prominent among the indigenous endangered fauna, while giraffe, hippo, zebra and cape buffalo to name a few the Zoo offers thrilling encounters with animals out in open air landscapes.
Kowdiar Place and Kuthira Malika palace are two of most famous palaces in the city. Koyikkal Palace 18 km from the city near Nedumangad, Padmanabhapuram Palace 55 km from the city in the state of Tamil Nadu the centre of the old state of Travancore, Kilimanoor Palace, Thevally Palace in Kollam city are the other famous palaces near the city.
Puthenthope about 19 km from city centre with two man made hills is not as renowned as other beaches of the city but is quiet and secluded and fast becoming popular.
Shanghumugham Beach, near to International Airport is accessible from Kovalam Beach, Veli Tourist Village and Akkulam Tourist Village etc. Shanghumugham beach is clean with vast stretch of white sand and serene atmosphere, providing the exact ingredients for relaxation and spending an ideal evening. A “Star Fish Restaurant” with eating kiosks and open-air theatre with car parking facilities, a sculpture of Jalakanyaka or Mermaid by Kanayi Kunhiraman further compliments the beach.
Religious centers, some of which over 500 years old namely Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Pazhavangadi Ganapathy Temple and Attukal Temple, Pathiyanadu Sree Bhadrakalii Temple, Palayam church, Mateer Memorial Church within the city and Madre de deus Church Vettukad without the city are certainly worth a visit for their architectural and antique quality.
Thirumala, Thiruvananthapuram is a suburb of the city 6 km away from city centre is more of a residential area than a tourist destination but it includes Parakovil, one of the highest peaks nearby and an old temple.
Thiruvallam, six km south of the city, on Kovalam road have an ancient temple on the banks of Karamana River dedicated to Trimurthis of Hindu pantheon. A shrine of Parasurama, built entirely of granite is found in this temple. Thiruvallam is also known for its natural backwaters.
On outskirts of city, aside placid waters of Veli Lake, a Tourist Village and Boat Club attracts a lot of tourists by providing facilities for pedal-boating, row boating, swimming, etc. and is just right place for exciting outing. The Youth Hostel at Veli hardly three km, from international airport, provides inexpensive dormitory type accommodation.
Situated 10 km from city centre, Vellayani is suburb and on banks of Vellayani Lake is Vellayani Devi Temple considered 700 years old.
Two km south of Kovalam, Vizhinjam, an ancient port, Now a day only a fishing harbor, with a light house and a rock cut Temple, is being developed into an International Deep Water Container cum Trans -shipmentTerminal and Vizhinjam International Seaport mainly because of its proximity to International Shipping channel and its natural depth. In olden days Portuguese and Dutch had commercial establishments here and Portuguese have built a church near to sea shore, referred to as Old Vizhinjam Church.
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