Thiruvananthapuram is the state capital of Kerala which is often referred to as the ‘God’s own country’. Located on the west coast of Kerala, off the Arabian Sea, Thiruvananthapuram is the political nerve centre of Kerala, housing also several central and state government offices, the state legislative assembly and the Secretariat.
Thiruvananthapuram, formerly known as Trivandrum, literally means the ‘Abode of Sree Anantha’. The name is derived from the deity of the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple located in the heart of the city. Anantha is the serpent Shesha on whom Padmanabha or Vishnu reclines. This temple of Vishnu reclining on Anantha remains the iconic landmark of Thiruvananthapuram. The temple was recently in news when the value of the monumental items and assets of the temple were partially revealed and found they were close to Rs. 100,000 Crore, making it one of the richest temples in the world.
The temple has a lake called Padmatheertham nearby. The architecture of the temple is more of a Tamil temple as compared to other traditional Kerala temples.One of the prominent rulers of Thiruvananthapuram, then called as Travancore, was during the mid 19th century under the reign of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal and Maharaja Ayilyam Thirunal. These rulers gave a lot of importance to education, especially for women. These rulers established the first English school in 1834, the Observatory in 1837, the General Hospital in 1839, the Oriental Research Institute and Manuscripts Library and the University College in 1873. Maharaja Swathi Thirunal was also a great composer and played a vital role in the development of Carnatic music.
Raja Ravi Varma, a famous painter known internationally, was born in Thiruvananthapuram. His contributions to Indian art are substantial. Most of his famous paintings are preserved at the Sree Chithra Art Gallery in Thiruvananthapuram.There are many tourist destinations in Thiruvananthapuram. Having a coastline, the main beaches in Thiruvananthapuram are Veli, Kovalam Beach, Sanghumukham Beach and Varkala Beach. Other destinations include heritage monuments like Attingal Palace, Koyyikkal Palace, Kuthira Malika and Kanakakunnu kottaram, Napier museum and Zoo, natural destinations like Agasthyarkoodam peak, Neyyar Wild life sanctuary and Neyyar Dam, Ponmudi, Poovar, Varkala Cliffs, and Meenmutty waterfalls, among others.
Kanyakumari, Thiruvattar, Sucheendram Temple, Padmanabhapuram Palace and Tirpparappu waterfalls, are also near the city, in the adjoining Kanyakumari District in the state of Tamil Nadu and can be visited from Thiruvananthapuram as a day trip.Thiruvananthapuram is well connected by road, rail, air and sea. The nearest airport is the Trivandrum International Airport. The nearest railway station is the Trivandrum Central Railway Station. State owned buses from Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu ply to Thiruvananthapuram, connecting the town to all the major neighbouring cities.