The metropolitan capital of Kerala with beaches and backwaters

The evergreen city of Trivandrum (also known by its traditional name Thiruvananthapuram) is the capital of God’s own country Kerala. Bordered by the Arabian Sea on the west, the city is built on seven hills and growing into a trendy metropolis whilst retaining its deeply rooted heritage and scenic charm. The whole place buzzes with the feel of a modern city, from the palm-fringed beaches and serene backwaters to revered temples and fascinating museums.

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Top things to do in Trivandrum

Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple is Trivandrum’s crowning glory. One of the oldest temples in India, the entire city was built around this landmark, which just missed out on being named one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

It is an architectural sensation with a golden mandap, 500-pillared corridor, extraordinary sculptures and large collection of mural paintings. Known for being one of the 108 abodes of Lord Vishnu, Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple is also considered incredibly sacred and famous for having the deity in the eternal sleep posture.

The gilded living continues at Kuthiramallikka Palace, constructed by the musician King, Swati Thirunal with a grand facade designed in the form of horses. There is also the super imposing Kowdiar Palace, the current official residence of the Maharajah; it is officially off-limits but charm one of the friendly guards and you might just get a glimpse. An hour out of the city (but well worth the journey) is the exquisite Padmanabhapuram Palace, the world’s largest wooden palace made of teak and rosewood with incredible antique gems such as a 600-year-old spice bed (a bed made out of wood, treated with various spices).

Trivandrum’s cluster of Victorian museums is also second to none – and intriguing rather than stuffy. Choose from bronze articles and ivory carvings at Napier Museum; the Museum of History and Heritage, which gives a great rundown of Kerala throughout the centuries; and Puthe Maliga Palace, the 200-year-old palace of the Travancore maharajas. There is a great art gallery too, Sri Chitra Art Gallery which boasts a rare collection of Indian miniatures. Then there’s the Priyadarshini Space Planetarium and Trivandrum Zoo which should not be missed – author Yann Martel famously based the animals in his novel Life of Pi on those he observed here.

The city is also a great springboard for visiting all the surrounding sublime beaches – the most famous being Kovalam, only a hop away from the city, with swaying palms, pristine waters and a lighthouse on the shore. Picnic, sunbathe and snorkel before admiring the incredible sunsets. Further idyll can be found on the silvery white sandy stretch of Shanghumukham beach, the cliff-clad Varkala beach and Chowara beach, dotted with fishing boats.

One of Kerala’s busiest street markets, Chalai bazaar is the go-to place for shopping – take home an Aranmula metal mirror, which is produced by mixing certain herbs with molten metal to give it a highly reflective surface. Carved rosewood, teak furniture and masks depicting various characters of Indian mythology also make fantastic mementos. But, whatever you do, make sure to pick up some of the local legendary spices to cook curries with back home.

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