Thiruvananthapuram India – 7 Best Tourist Attractions
Thiruvananthapuram is Kerala’s prime artistic, intellectual and industrial centre surrounded by low-lying coastal hills and mercantile passageways, which give it its cosmopolitan character. It is distinguished by British colonial architecture and houses many galleries, temples, palaces and parks which explains why Mahatma Gandhi once called Kerala’s capital “the Evergreen city of India”.
1. Gandhi Park
It is perhaps no wonder that the city has a park named after the man himself. Gandhi Park, located in the city centre, near the East Fort, has recently been refurbished and extends over 5,000 square miles. It is constructed around the Chalai-East Fort and offers great views of its corridor, which gets magnificently lit up at night. If you are in the area this is certainly worth a visit, for it is the perfect place to have a walk around its pristinely manicured lawns, enjoy the park’s fountains, pay respects to the towering statue of Gandhi, or simply take a rest from the noise and bustle of the city.
It is open Monday to Sunday from 10.00 am to 08.30 pm, and is conveniently located close to the bus station. Other nearby worthwhile tourist sights include: the Chalai bazaar, the Putharikandam Maidan, the CVN Kalari Sangham, the Pazhavangadi Ganapathy Temple and the Kuthiramalika Palace.
2. Kanakakkunnu Palace
There are a great many palaces in Thiruvananthapuram, but perhaps the most famous of them all among the city’s visitors is the Kanakakkunnu Palace, located on Sooryakanthi Road, in Nanthancodu, close to the Napier Museum. It is encased by exceptionally well-maintained gardens, and its lush meadows are protected by the Tourism Department. The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has listed it as a heritage monument, which makes it officially one of the must-see tourist attractions in Thiruvananthapuram. The Palace itself has become a cultural hub, hosting a wide range of events, including a Food Festival and the All India Dance Festival (from October to March) which is an annual event. The performances take place each day, showcasing the best of classical Indian dance. They are spectacular as is the Palace itself, with its striking Thirunal period facade, and opulent interior.
We highly recommend you take the time to visit this place, especially during the Festival season. The entry fee is nominal, and the Palace is open daily from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.
3. Napier Museum and the Natural History Museum
Less than half a mile away, northeast of the Palace, is the Napier Museum and the Natural History Museum housed in the same compound. Built in the nineteenth century, the compound is a unique mix of Indian, Chinese, Keralan and Mughal architectural styles, harmoniously combined to form a striking open enclosure. If you have a keen interest in history, architecture and the like this place should definitely be on your top-ten places to visit list. The Museum contains a wide host of artifacts including bronze idols, historic ornaments, a temple chariot, ivory carvings and something which you will not see anywhere else: a Japanese shadow play leather depicting the great Indian epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana.
This place is open from 10.00 am to 16.45 pm, except on Mondays, Wednesday afternoons and some annual holidays. So please do check opening times before visiting.
Sree Chitra Art Gallery, conveniently located towards the northern side of the Museum, houses an exquisite collection of traditional and contemporary paintings, including works by Raja Ravi Varma, Nicholas Roerich, Svetoslav Roerich, Jamini Roy, Rabindranath Tagore, V. S. Valiathan, C. Raja Raja Varma, and K. C. S. Paniker. It is a great place to meander to when in the vicinity.
4. National Zoological Park
Another must-see tourist attraction in the capital is the National Zoological Park, which house two lakes and is set over 55 hectares of sprawling verdant fields and woodlands. Thiruvananthapuram Zoo is one of the oldest in India and is something of a relic from a bygone era which has been modernised as a conservation project rather than a recreational facility. The zoo offers visitors a rare opportunity to spend the day wandering around its picturesque grounds, surrounded by more than a 100 different species of both exotic and indigenous plants. As well as its exquisite setting the zoo boasts more than a 100 different species of animals from all over the country and beyond. Among them are numerous varieties of mammals, reptiles, primates and birds from Australia, Africa, Ethiopia and South America. These include the Lion Tailed Macaque, Nilgiri Langur, the one Horned Great Indian Rhino, the Royal Bengal Tiger, Cape Buffalo Green Anaconda, Scarlet Macaw, African Grey Parrot, Black Swan and the Palm Cockatoo to name but a few.
This place is something of a natural wonder, offering the visitor a chance to see wild animals out in the open. The entrance fee is about INR20 and the opening hours are 10.00 am to 5.00 pm, but be advised to get there early and please note that the zoo is closed on Mondays.
5. Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple
Another tourist attraction unique to Thiruvananthapuram is the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple, which is believed to be one of the richest in India. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the temple dates back to the eighth century, and is a blend of the Keralan and Dravidian architecture. Located inside the East Fort in Thiruvananthapuram, the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple is only accessible to Hindus, but you may explore its surroundings and marvel at this magnificent structure’s exterior at will.
6. Attukal Bhagavathy Temple
A stone’s throw away from Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple is another famous shrine in Thiruvananthapuram, dedicated to Goddess Kannaki (an incarnation of Goddess Parvati). The Attukal Bhagavathy Temple holds the Guinness Book Record for being the single largest pilgrimage site for women devotees. The temple structure is a harmonious conglomeration of both Keralan and Tamil architecture with masterfully carved figures of various deities adorning the exterior of this towering edifice. Please remember that when visiting any religious establishment in India it is customary to take along some offerings as a sign of respect. Some fruit, flowers or incense is sufficient enough and will be greatly appreciated.
7. Veli Lake and Tourist Village
To get a rest from the city, we heartily recommend you head to Veli Lake and Tourist Village, located less than 10 miles away from Thiruvananthapuram, amid the crossover of Veli Lake and the Arabian Sea. The village houses a large garden on the southern banks of the Veli lagoon, with a floating bridge which connects it to the beach. You can either hire a paddle boat or a boat wallah for the whole day and make your way along the lake to find the perfect picnic spot. This particular sightseeing destination caters for the whole family, offering a wide range of attractions such as play areas for children, various boat rides in the lake, horse rides, a swimming pool, shopping stalls, cafeterias, a floating restaurant and a long walkway connecting to Aakulam lake.
You can take a bus, a rickshaw or a taxi to Veli Lake and Village from the city centre. Prices vary, but the cheapest option is the local bus which will set you back around INR40. Boat tariffs start from INR70 per person, but this is one place in Thiruvananthapuram that you should definitely take the time to visit for the whole day, which may just be the most memorable day you spend in this great capital city.