Trivandrum India
A Guide to Kerala's Capital of Trivandrum

Quick Facts - Trivandrum India

Population - 744,739 (2001 census)
Area - 250 square kms
State and Distrct - Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram
Airport - Trivandrum Internationl Airport [TRV]
Climate - Tropical monsoon / tropical savanna climate
Average temperatures (low-high) - 22.2-32.6 degrees
Annual rainfall - 1700mm per year (high)
Language - Malayalam, English
Sister towns - Barcelona (Spain), Galveston (USA)
Phone code - +91 (0)471

Origin of the Name

Trivandrum is an Anglicised version of the Malayalam word Thiruvananthapuram and means 'Abode of Lord Ananta.' The name refers to the deity of the city's Hindu temple, the serpent Anantha on whom Vishnu reclines.

The Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple where this deity
is worshipped is an important landmark of Trivandrum.

A Brief History

Trivandrum is an ancient city with a history of trade that dates back to 1000BC. Ivory, sandalwood and spices were all traded from the city and it is believed that King Solomon's ships landed here in 1036BC.

Early rulers of the city were the Ays, kings that ruled the area independently from the rest of Kerala. After they fell in the 10th Century AD, and their successors, The Venads also later fell, Trivandrum became capital of the princely state of Travancore in 1729.

The city was never under direct control of the British Empire, yet was important in India's fight for independence. When Kerala became a state on the 1st November, 1956, Trivandrum was made the capital.

Tourist Info for Trivandrum India

Trivandrum is considered the gateway to the South, and many tourists pass through here on their way to the beach resorts of Varkala and Kovalam or as they make their way to the backwaters of Kerala.

The city can be stressful and busy, mainly due to the volumes of traffic that zoom along its main arterial road, MG (Mahatma Gandhi) Road. Once away from this street however there are some very appealing areas of the city, and interesting things to see. If you are staying at the Kovalam beach resort, a short bus ride can give you a pleasant day looking around.

Tourist Info and Contacts for Trivandrum India

Tourist Facilitation Centre
Museum Road, tel. 2321132

Tourist Reception Centre
KTDC Hotel Chaithram,
Central Station Road, tel. 2330031

Main Post Office
MG Road, tel. 2473071
Internet cafes, money changers and ATMs are widely available all along MG Road.

Airport Links: Trivandrum India

Trivandrum's main airport is the Trivandrum International Airport [TVR] tel. 0471 2501424. It
is a hub for Indian carrier Air-India. (More Indian airlines are listed on our domestic flights page.) From/to TVR flights go daily (or more) between Kochi, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore.

If you want to find cheap flights to India it can pay to book to a major city i.e. Delhi/Mumbai and then buy a connecting flight to a further destination such as Trivandrum India. International flights come direct from Dubai and Bahrain among other destinations.

TVR is approximately 6kms west of Trivandrum, and 16 kms from Kovalam beach. Terminal 1 serves domestic flights and terminal 2 international. A new terminal 3 is due to open on April 2010.

Bookings for flights can be made online, or at travel agents in Trivandrum and nearby Kovalam beach resort.

Train Links

Trivandrum's Central Train Station (tel. 0471-2321568) is in the heart of the city close to the south side of MG Road. Most routes are handled from here. The city is very well connected to other Indian cities by train. It is even possible to travel to Jammu from here (India's far north) without getting off the train!

Tickets often sell out on longer journeys from Trivandrum India so it is worth dropping into the station's reservation office (8am - 8 pm Mon-Sat, until 2pm on Sun) or travel agents a few days before travel or booking ahead online. More details about train travel in India can be found on our getting around guide.

Frequent trains to closer destinations can be booked on the day up to two hours before departure. The rush to board can be crazy! You can sit in the sleeper section on a shorter daytime trip and pay the guard extra when he arrives. Useful shorter trips include Varkala (1 hr), Kollam (1 hr), Ernakulam (for Kochi, 4.5 hrs), Alleppey (3 hrs), Kottayam (3.5hrs) and Kanyakumari (2.5hrs).

Bus Links

Buses travel frequently to Varkala from the KSRTC bus stand opposite the train station. Other destinations from here include Alleppey, Kochi, Kollam, Thrissur, Kumily, Ooty and more. Check at the bus stand for more routes or ask at the tourist info centres (details above). Public buses are exceptionally cheap though not always comfortable.

Tip: The 30 minute service to Kovalam (R.10) goes from the East Fort Bus Stand (south side) on MG Road about every 20 minutes during the day, and stops outside The Leela Hotel on Hawah Beach.

Transport Within Trivandrum

Rickshaws within the city are cheap ways to get around. Use the meter and you should only pay R.10/15 per km. Buses also go up and down MG Road.

If you have to drive through Trivandrum India traffic is manic here since MG Road (or NH47) is effectively a national highway. Try to get through early and avoid (some of) it or bypass the city altogether on the Trivandrum Bypass Road which goes between the city and the coast.

Highlights of Trivandrum India

Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple. Fort Area, south-west end of MG Road. Spread out over 2400m sq this 260 year old temple is home to the deity Padmanabha (Vishnu) who reclines on the serpent, Anantha. The inner temple unfortunately is not open to non-Hindus, but the impressive gopuram (gateway tower), 100 feet high, is definitely worth a look.

Zoo and Museums. Clustered to the north-east of MG Road near Museum Road this collection of a zoo, two museums and a gallery is worth a visit. Entrance is cheap and the Napier Museum building is an attaction in itself, built in traditional Keralan style in 1880. Needed improvements to the zoo were underway when we were there.

Places To Stay

Many travellers in this area will be staying in the nearby Kovalam or Varkala, which are easily accessible from here (and by the sea!). If you are staying in the city however, it is worth getting off the MG Road.

For budget accommodation try searching along Manjalikulam Road running parallel (east-side) to MG Road between Central Station Rd and YMCA Road. The YMCA (tel.2330059) on YMCA Road is very good value and quiet. If you want to stay near the train station, Greenland Lodge (tel.23288114) on Thampanoor Junction (end of Central Stn Rd) is worth a try. Kukie's Holiday Inn (tel. 2478530) is another option. It at the end of a small lane just south-east of the Main Post Office off MG Road.

For other hotels in Thiruvananthapuram try the Wild Palms Home Stay (tel. 2471175) or KTDC Hotel Mascot (tel. 2318990, north end of MG Road).

Places To Eat

All along MG Road and down the side streets cafes/restaurants (often signposted, misleadingly but commonly in India, 'Hotel') serve Indian food including dosa, thali and curry dishes. Ananda Bhavan opposite the Secretariat Building on MG Road is good for Keralan thali.

In need of a coffee? (You may well be after wondering the busy sreets.) Try Indian Coffee House on Central Station Road which is set in a four-story spiral tower!

Things To Be Aware Of

Temperatures in Trivandrum India can exceed 35 degrees from February onwards until May since Trivandrum is in India's far south. It can also feel very humid, so take it easy on days like this or explore in the morning/evening when it is cooler!

If you feel like escaping from the heat of Trivandrum India, consider a visit to one of southern India's hill stations, which are scattered throughout the Western Ghats mountain range.

More useful advice and guides for travel to Kerala.


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