Trivandrum is a city that radiates an old-world charm. Although there are numerous high-rises in this capital city, it is the collection of heritage structures that makes the city different. Brilliant architecture of ancient temples, and the magnificence of its palaces makes Trivandrum the ideal place for a heritage walk. Being located along the Arabian Sea coast, Trivandrum has fabulous beaches too. This Trivandrum Tour Guide will help you plan a fulfilling trip to the land of beaches and temples.
A Brief History
Trivandrum or Thiruvananthapuram is the capital city of Kerala. It was also the capital of erstwhile kingdom of Travancore. The city of Thiruvananthapuram attained its present day glory under the rule of King Marthanda Varma of Travancore dynasty. He expanded the kingdom and declared Thiruvananthapuram as its capital. Under the able guidance of several rulers of Travancore dynasty, Thiruvananthapuram became a centre for cultural and artistic excellence. The city keeps up the tradition even to this day by hosting cultural events.
How to reach
Being the capital city of Kerala, Trivandrum has a well-connected road and rail network. Air travel connectivity is also good, although Kochi fares better than Trivandrum in this respect.
By air: Trivandrum airport has separate terminals for international and domestic travels. Terminal 1 is for domestic flights and Terminal 2 is for international flights. Most domestic operators like Air India, Indigo and Spicejet operate from this city. International players such as Etihad Airways and Emirates also operate here.
By rail: Rail connectivity from Trivandrum to the rest of the country is excellent. The city is connected with most other cities by major trains such as Rajdhani Express, Swarnajayanti Express and Kerala Express.
By road: KSRTC operates inter-state bus services to cities such as Bangalore, Pondicherry and Coimbatore. There are several luxury, sleeper and semi-sleeper buses operated by private transporters as well.
Places to Visit in Trivandrum in One Day
If you are on a short trip to Trivandrum, and have only a day to spare, you would not want to miss out on the must-visit places. These are the regular haunts of all tourists, but we will also tell you why they are the must-visits. Trivandrum tour guide has a list of the best attractions in the city.
Start with Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple
What better way to start a day than paying a visit to the most revered deity of millions? Padmanabhaswamy Temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is not just a spiritual abode, but an architectural wonder also. The eighteen feet idol of the Lord is in a reclining posture, and can be viewed fully, only if seen from three separate doors. The temple that predates history, is a must-visit in Trivandrum. Walk along the long corridors of the temple, and absorb the spiritual vibrations. There are some dress codes to be followed here.
Sree Padamanabhaswamy Temple was in news recently for bagging the title of the richest temple in the world. When the temple authorities opened some of the secret vaults of the temple, they discovered a huge collection of gold, diamond and other valuables worth millions of dollars. And there is still one more secret vault waiting to be opened! But do not visit the temple hoping to catch a glimpse of these treasures, as they are not open for public viewing. Temple timings are from 3:30 AM to 12 PM, and from 5 PM – 8:30 PM.
Kuthiramalika Palace Museum
After the temple sojourn, you can visit the Kuthiramalika Palace, which is located next to it. This was the residence of Travancore kings. The specialty of the ancient palaces of Kerala is that they don’t sparkle with the show of gold or wealth. Traditionally carved wooden doors and windows, dark corridors and attics, and a smell of the old greets you inside the palace. It also houses a museum that displays the thrones, furniture, and other collections of the royal family. The splendid architecture of the palace will charm every visitor. Visiting hours: 9 AM – 1 PM, 2 PM – 5 PM (on weekdays) 9 AM – 1 PM (on Saturdays and Sundays) Closed for public on Mondays
Nature walk in Trivandrum Zoo
A zoo is a zoo anywhere in the world, you might think. But Trivandrum Zoo is a patch of green heaven in the midst of the city. Spread over 55 acres of land, with grandfather trees, lakes, and lawns, the zoo resembles a real jungle. A walk inside the zoo is not just about seeing the rare assortment of animals, it is also an ideal nature walk. For those with walking difficulties, electric cars are available. Spend a few hours in the zoo, under the shady trees and in the company of jungle residents.
Timings: 9 AM – 5:35 PM (on all days except Monday)
Closed for public on Mondays
Napier Museum in Trivandrum, is one of the best art and history museums in India. This is located close to the zoo. After the zoo visit, you can move ahead for an encounter with the past and art. Built in the Gothic style of architecture, and surrounded by well-manicured lawns, the building itself is a feast for eyes. When we say that the museum was opened for public viewing in 1880, you will understand the antique value of the building and the items displayed there. Walls made with burnt red bricks impart an elegant look to the building.
You can learn everything about the rich culture and heritage of Kerala from the artefacts displayed here. The museum has a collection of rarest bronze images, wood carvings, ivory carvings, stone sculptures, and a lot more. The museum will give you a glimpse of the golden past of Kerala. It also houses a South East Asian Gallery which displays collections from several Asian countries. A paradise for history buffs, and an object of awe for others.
The museum will be open to public from 10 AM to 4:45 PM on all days except Mondays. On Wednesdays, the opening hours are from 1 PM to 4:45 PM. It is closed for public on Mondays, January 26, August 15, Thiruvonam, and Mahanavami. This is one of the must-visit attractions in Trivandrum.
You have finished hopping across the city, catching up with all these attractions, and you want a perfect end to the day. Head to Kovalam beach, and spend the evening enjoying the sea, waves, and winds. Kovalam has three beautiful beaches, which together form a crescent shape. There is a lighthouse, which will give you endless panoramic views from all sides. Coconut trees are lined up on the shore, imparting a movie-like look to the place. Relax on the shores sipping a tender coconut, and reminisce about your activities of the day. They are going to be etched in your memories for a long time.
More Places to Visit – Trivandrum Tour Guide
We gave you a list of the must-visit places in Trivandrum, if you are visiting only for a day. There are many more places in and around Trivandrum which are worth a visit. Here are some of them.
Located around 30 kilometres from Trivandrum city is this idyllic place, Neyyar Dam. It is located at the foothills of Western Ghats. Reservoir of the dam looks splendid with green-covered hills on all sides. It is a place where you can spend a relaxed evening without much to do. Well, if you wish to indulge in some activities, you get options for that as well. There is a lion safari park, deer park, Crocodile Park, boating facilities and a lot more at Neyyar Dam.
Neyyar Dam is also home to the famous Shivananda Yoga Vedanta Ashram. This renowned Yoga centre is picturesquely located on the banks of River Neyyar. Here they conduct several yoga courses for adults and kids. Visitors are allowed at the ashram, so you can pay a visit and explore a healthy way of living.
Ponmudi is a splendid hill station close to Trivandrum. It is a paradise for nature lovers. Ponmudi is at a distance of almost 60 kilometres from the city, and is a weekend hideout for many city dwellers. What you can expect here is pristine nature. Misty mountains and winding paths offer enough scope for trekkers. Ponmudi has tea gardens too, which impart a green-carpeted aura to the hills. But there are limited stay options in Ponumdi. KTDC operates a resort at Ponmudi, which comes under the budget category. Nevertheless, you can plan a day trip to Ponmudi as it takes just a short drive from the city.
Attukal Devi Temple
Attukal Devi Temple in Trivandrum is dedicated to Goddess Bhadrakali. This temple made its way to the Guinness Book of World Records owing to its unique festival. Attukal Pongala, the major festival of the temple, sees a huge gathering of women from far and wide. It is a festival meant only for women, and secured a Guinness Record for being the single largest gathering of women for a religious activity. Women who participate in the Pongala Festival prepare an offering with rice for the Goddess, which is called ‘pongala’. The entire city becomes an ocean of women during this festival. It is celebrated in the month of February or March. If your visit is around this time, you can witness this event. But there will be traffic restrictions in the city on the day of the festival, so you cannot plan for more attractions.
Should you wish to spend a few laidback days in the coastal city of Trivandrum, Poovar Island is one of the best choices according to our Trivandrum tour guide. Poovar is a coastal island village not far from Trivandrum city. It is located at the confluence of the Neyyar River and the Arabian Sea. Charming beaches and backwaters are the major attractions of Poovar. A boat ride in Poovar will take you through the calm waters surrounded by mangroves. As Poovar Island is the hub for tourism in Trivandrum, you will find several small and big resorts here.
Are you planning a family trip with kids? If so, Magic Planet is a must-visit for you. This is the world’s first magic theme park. Famous magician Gopinath Muthukad is the brain behind this ambitious venture. Magic Planet is a different world in itself. You will see street magic, illusionary magic, comedy magic, mirror magic, and a lot more. They have circus magic and magical drama too. Right from the first show to the closing parade, everything is a visual treat. Currently the working hours of the park are from 4 PM to 9 PM. Mondays are holidays.
What should you buy when in Trivandrum?
Buying souvenirs are the quintessential parts of our trips. Trivandrum has numerous shopping centres for tourists. If you look for artefacts from the touristy areas such as Kovalam, you may end up paying double the price. Instead, you can head to the local shopping areas such as the Chalai Bazar where you get stuff at decent prices. In this Trivandrum tour guide, we will list out some of the items that you can look out for while in Trivandrum.
- Kerala Kasavu Sarees (sarees with unique golden work)
- Nilavilakku (metal lamp unique to Kerala)
- Coir products
- Coconut shell handicrafts
- Kathakali models
- Aranmula Kannadi (metal mirror)
Where should you stay in Trivandrum?
There is no dearth of accommodations in Trivandrum. Whether you are a budget traveller or a luxury seeker, Trivandrum won’t disappoint you. Our Trivandrum tour guide has a list of a few of them.
Luxury hotels and resorts in Trivandrum:
- Taj Green Cove Resort & Spa Kovalam
- The Raviz Kovalam
- Vivanta Trivandrum
- Mascot Hotel (KTDC)
- Hycinth Hotels
Other hotels in Trivandrum:
Useful Tips for Tourists
Kerala, God’s Own Country, welcomes tourists with open arms. Knowing a few things about the city will help you in a comfortable stay.
- Knowledge of the local language Malayalam is an advantage, but not a must. You can converse in English with most people. In fact, most will be happy to guide you in English.
- You can hop on to KSRTC buses for travelling around the city. If you wish more comfort, hire a cab. It is better to fix the rates in advance. There are cab service providers such as Ola and Uber as well.
- Winter months are the best for travelling to Trivandrum. Temperature does not drop drastically, so you will have a comfortable stay. Summers are hot and humid, while monsoons are unpredictable.
- If you are planning a visit to Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, be prepared to follow their dress code. This means that men will have to wear a Mundu or dhoti with no shirts or t-shirts. Of course, you can wrap another dhoti around your upper body. There is no need to carry these, as you will get the required dresses on rent near the temple premises. Women should wear sarees or similar dresses. No pants, churidhars, or trousers are allowed.
Hope you found this Trivandrum tour guide useful. We have more destination guides and restaurant guides coming up.