The rural-looking city of Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) is an ideal capital for the green land of Kerala. How did this city get such tongue-twister of a name (that was understandably shortened to Trivandrum by erstwhile British rulers)?
The story goes that the hills (seven of them) on which the city now sprawls, were covered with a thick forest where the serpent god Anantha dwelt. The city that came up in this forest was named Thiru (holy) Anantha Puram (dwelling of Anantha), or Thiruvananthapuram. The presiding deity of the city is Lord Vishnu, shown as reclining on Anantha, his serpent bed, at the Anantha Padmanabha Swamy temple (pic right).
Even now, the city is full of trees, and indeed gives the impression of having arisen out of a forest. And the hilly nature of the terrain is also only too evident as you move around the city. You would be moving along a chaotic system of winding roads that are always climbing up or down. The crowds and chaotic traffic add to an overall impression of chaos or charm depending on your taste.
In addition to the Anantha Padmanabha temple, Thiruvananthapuram has several other landmarks. As capital city and seat of the Kerala government, the new legislature building is an appropriate landmark, and a fine one. Another symbol of government is the secretariat, a structure along Roman architectural lines.
The City railway station is another landmark. Just in front of the railway station is the central bus station of the State Transport Corporation. Several hotels, fairly decent ones and cheap joints, are within easy reach.
Then there is the Indian Coffee House (pic right), in a building designed by the eco-architect Laurie Baker. The coffee house is owned and run by a cooperative of restaurant workers. The red brick structure of the building is typical of several other landmarks, e.g., the Museum and University complex.
The Kowdiar palace is where the erstwhile rulers of Travancore (one of the regions absorbed into Kerala, the others being Kochi and Malabar) reside now. Visitors, except VIPs, are not allowed into the palace.
The CVN Kalari Sanghom (a center for Kerala's martial art form of kalaripayattu), the Shankhumukhom beach near the airport and Vettukad Church and Beema Palli (mosque) are among other landmarks.
The Indian Space Research Organization has a rocket launching center and research facilities in the suburbs of Trivandrum. Also in the suburbs are the Technopark for software development and IT services.
There is a lake and boat club at Akkulam, a tourist village at Veli, a Planetarium attached to the Science & Technology Museum and an observatory at the highest point in the city.
Among all the modernity, you could find the odd temple bull, jaywalkers, chaotic traffic, crowds, temples, political posters, agitators for numerous causes public and private and much else, creating a strange mix.
And the Kovalam beach renowned among tourists lie a few kilometers south of Trivandrum.
Then there are colleges for medicine, engineering, arts & sciences, Ayurveda and Homeopathy.
This ancient trading port city reportedly dating back to 1000BC has indeed come a long way.
All the photographs and content of this Web site are Copyright © T. Gopinathan.