For travellers, Kerala is home to some of India’s most serene locations. From a glorious coastline stretching across almost 600km, to pristine beaches, sparkling backwaters and lush green tea plantations; setting foot in God’s own country feels like entering a state of perpetual bliss.
Amidst this backdrop of peace lies Kerala’s coastal capital of Thiruvananthapuram, still referred to by its colonial name Trivandrum. The small, yet energetic city, is unlike most of the other capital cities of India – life moves at its own languid pace, but also has a very urban touch to it. From beach resorts to museums replete with colonial history, and from its culinary extravaganza to the warmth of its hospitality, Trivandrum has much to offer to the visitor willing to embrace all its sights, smells, and sounds.
What to eat
Start your day with a hot cuppa at the historic Indian Coffee House, an erstwhile hub of social interactions and brewing revolutions. With its waiters dressed in ethnic uniforms, a lighthouse-like structure, and a fairly-priced menu, this place witnesses a fair amount of travellers reveling in the joy of conversations. For a taste of some authentic Malayali cuisine, head to Azad Restaurant, a busy family favourite serving delectable seafood dishes and sumptuous biryanis. Cap it with a visit to Ambrosia, a bakery that serves desserts that are even fit for the Gods themselves.
Where to stay
There is no dearth of budget-and- high-end hotels in Trivandrum. Take your pick from a plethora of Ayurvedic beach resorts in Kovalam and Varkala, or choose to stay in budget hotels in the main city. For a taste of the true-blue Malayali culture, opt for a homestay experience in different parts of the city and witness the grandeur of Kerala’s hospitality.
What to do
If there’s one thing more in abundance than churches in Trivandrum, it has to be the number of sightseeing options that this beautiful city offers. From its zoo to the cluster of Victorian museums, and from beaches to historic temples; there are a plethora of options to choose from. Visit the Kovalam beach and marvel at its most distinctive structure – a 45-year-old working lighthouse that provides awe-inspiring views of green backwaters on one side, and endless blue ocean on the other. For a beach experience, minus the overwhelming crowd, pick Varkala with its beautiful promenade, backwater boat rides, a stunning view of the sunset and opportunities to click postcard-perfect pictures.
For those looking for a cultural immersion, head to the famed Padmanabhaswamy temple, to witness the fusion of culture and religion and also marvel at its spectacular architecture. With its intricate stonework and breathtaking backdrop, this temple attracts a huge number of tourists every day. For wildlife enthusiasts, Trivandrum has its own Neyyar wildlife sanctuary that is home to various endangered species.
How to reach
The city has its own international airport which is well-connected with different cities across the globe. Trivandrum’s bus station is situated right next to the railway station. There are regular buses to nearby cities like Cochin, Bangalore, Madurai, Coimbatore and Chennai. The Trivandrum Central railway station is also situated within the city and is well-linked with major Indian cities of New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Guwahati, Indore and Bangalore.
Trivandrum is a world away from the frenzy of regular cities. So, wander through unexplored alleys, while away your time in cozy beachside cafes, slow down, and take in the surreal beauty that this charming little place has to offer.