Go exploring around, and soon you realize that the city is indeed a mystifying blend of diversities. Despite being the state capital, there is no maddening rush of a usual metropolis. No wonder, the green, clean and safe city with its moderate climate lures quite many tourists from across the globe all the year round.
Here is a list of must-see spots in and around Thiruvananthapuram:
1. Kovalam Beach
Image by Mehul Antani via Flickr
Of course, the captivating beauty of the setting sunset is the highlight here. But the absolutely beautiful Kovalam beach lures tourists for more reasons than one. The stunning lighthouse, the undisturbed coastline and the palm-fringed shallow beach, all together make Kovalam a must-see destination. The enchanting sky hues reflecting against the hurried waves beneath is a treat in itself. The artificial off-shore coral reef, the first of its kind in the country, attracts both elders and kids alike.
Many leisure options too await you here. Go sunbathing and you end up getting an awesome coppery tan in a few minutes. Herbal massaging, swimming, catamaran cruising are a few other options available on the beach. With quite many authentic ayurvedic parlors around, medical tourism also flourishes here.
2. Padmanabhaswamy Temple
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The city owes its name to the famous Padmanabhaswamy Temple, situated right in the heart of Thiruvananthapuram. The main deity is that of Lord Vishnu in eternal sleep posture on Anantha, the hooded serpent. The eighteen feet idol has to be viewed through three separate doors.
The temple is known for its architectural marvel in stone and bronze as well. Brilliant mural sketches adorn the interiors. While moving around the temple, do not miss the famous corridor supported by three hundred sixty-five and a quarter pillars, all made of granite. You need to see it to believe the architectural splendor and craftsmanship that has gone into its making.
Kuthiramalika Palace, situated close to Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple is also worth visiting. The interiors are decorated with wooden carvings and mural paintings. The other exhibits at the palace include armory, idols, sculptures, jewellery etc used by the Kings of Travancore.
Image Hans A. Rosbach by via Wikimedia
If a quiet holiday on a pristine beach is what you are looking for, no better place than Poovar. A rare meeting point of lake, river and sea, this serene village is situated to the south of River Neyyar. Poovar beach separates the river from the Arabian Sea and hence its geographical importance. Poovar is relatively unexplored and thereby beach activities are minimal. The boat trip through the lagoon, enjoying the lush greenery on both sides, is an added attraction.
The Vizhinjam Marine Aquarium, well-known for its unique Image Pearl production technique is located near Poovar. A visit to Vizhinjam, where the construction of the proposed International Deepwater Multipurpose Seaport is underway is also worth considering. To get a real glimpse of coastal life of Kerala, peep into Vizhinjam fish market area, just a few kilometers away from the tourist beach. Ardent lovers of seafood should not give it a miss.
As the name ‘Ponmudi’ indicates, this hill resort is indeed a golden crown in Kerala’s tourism map. The site of the lush green environs as you drive up the hairpin bends is indeed refreshing. Streams, tea bushes, mountain flowers and big wild butterflies add beauty to the misty trekking trail. Ponmudi is a quickly developing spot for adventure tourism, with quite many cottages fast mushrooming in near vicinity.
5. Shanghumukham Beach
A secluded beach, far away from the hassles of the city is what Shanghumukham has to offer. It is an ideal getaway destination with silvery white sand and calm sea. The gigantic statue of mermaid popularly called as ‘Jalakanyaka’ is the landmark of Shanghumugham beach.
6. Varkala Beach
A highly favoured destination of beach lovers, you simply cannot wind up your trip to the capital city without visiting the exotic Varkala beach. The beautiful beach set against the backdrop of the red laterite cliffs lures backpackers from far and wide. One should not miss the hot mineral springs and rocky cliffs in the suburbs that are considered to have geological significance. The blue lagoon at Kappil near Varkala is also an ideal place to chill out. The enchanting boat cruise along the estuary between Edava and Kappil is an added attraction. Varkala – the ‘New Goa’ – is now a highly sought-after destination.
There is divinity in air as well. The 2000-year old Sree Janardhanaswami temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Sivagiri Mutt, the samadhi place of Saint Sree Narayana Guru, situated here makes Varkala a top pilgrimage centre.
7. Neyyar Dam
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Located about thirty kilometers to the south of the city, Neyyar dam too is a very popular picnic spot. The blue lake and the gravity dam are the major attractions here. It is hard to resist the boat cruise through the calm blue waters.
The adjacent Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary is home to many wild animals. The crocodile breeding centre and the lion safari park are the other major tourist spots in the dam suburbs.
8. Napier Museum and Zoo
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You will not expect such sprawling greenery right in the middle of the city. The extensive complex that houses both the zoological park and Napier museum showcases Kerala’s rich cultural heritage. Built during the colonial era, the museum has an extensive collection of rare artifacts, idols, ivory carvings and ornaments. The building is a blend of various native and foreign architectural styles.
The well-maintained zoo houses quite many animals including a few rare species. The snake park in the zoo premises called the Anaconda House is also worth visiting. Kids are sure to have fun here.
If on a cloudy spring day, the many peacocks caged here are sure to treat you with an unforgettable spectacle.
9. Meenmutty/ Kombaikani Falls
Image by Gokul Karipath via Flickr
Meenmutty falls is a picturesque spot located near the Neyyar Reservoir area. Ideal for trekkers, one needs to climb up about two kilometres through the dense Agasthyakoodam forests to reach the falls. Backpackers can trek further ahead to see the beautiful Kombaikani Falls that lie still upstream of the Meenmutty Falls. Nature is at its unspoiled best with minimal human intervention.
Just go ahead unveiling Thiruvananthapuram and the city will not disappoint you. Lots of fun and thrill is in store for sure.