Incredible India: Trip-4: Kerala: Thiruvananthapuram/Trivandrum

Background: Since early 2020, International travel has been in limbo due to the !@#! COVID-19. With each country reacting differently to COVID-19, it has been difficult to do International trips. While waiting out COVID-19, I thought why not explore the regions of India I have not been to 🙂 As of Apr, 2021, I had already been to 19 major towns/cities (as an adult), which is nothing considering the size and diversity of the country.

State: Kerala

Towns/Cities: Thiruvananthapuram (erstwhile “Trivandrum”)

 

Introduction to Kerala

  • Kerala’s biggest claim to fame is that George Attokaran hails from this state 😉
  • The state has a literacy rate of 96%+ and ranks high in HDI (Human Development Index) and also has the lowest population growth rate in India.
  • One of the smaller states in India.
  • “Malayalam” is the official language. (The number of languages and dialects in India is just amazing!)
  • Thiruvananthapuram (formerly, Trivandrum) is the capital city of the state.
  • The main tourist regions of the state are: Alapuzha (Backwaters), Kasaragod (Backwaters), Wayanad (Forests & Hills), Munnar (Hills), Thekkady (Forests), Kovalam (Beach) Etc.
  • Probably due to the relatively smaller size of the state, the state has very few multi-lane highways, which makes long drives quite tiring, unlike in the neighboring states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

 

My experiences

This was a short family trip, during the Easter 2022 long weekend. I was surprised by humid Thiruvananthapuram was and I hail from Chennai! (Does the closer proximity to the Equator has anything to do with it?). The last time I was in Thiruvananthapuram was in 1993 (29 years back!). The Domestic Terminal makes it very clear that Thiruvananthapuram, though the capital of Kerala, is not its biggest city by any means (that honor goes to Kochi).

Though pretty much all the cab drivers are enrolled onto the Ola or Uber platform, they rarely stick to those platforms’ protocols. Negotiating (further) the prices (even though the App does confirm the price before the ride), acting as if they do not understand the App, insisting on non-Digital payment (I.e. Cash) and all similar tricks are abound.

Kovalam Beach

Easily one of the best beaches I have seen in India. It gives a very Goa, Hawaii Etc. kind of vibe. Also, maybe due to it being the peak summer, it was not as crowded as I had expected.

Kovalam at dusk … As I say above, it was not as crowded as I had expected.

 

The walkway spans the Kovalam beach. It is a relaxing experience to have a walk, passing the small hotels, restaurants and shops. Unlike a lot of other such places, the shopkeepers did not pester the tourists much. There were also some beach soccer games going on.

 

A nice view of the Kovalam beach, with Vizhinjam lighthouse in the background. Kovalam is quite clean, devoid of trash (almost!).

 

 

We had an early dinner at Kingfisher Restaurant, which is right on the beach, after noticing that it had pretty decent online reviews. Beer and seafood! It was wonderful.

Crab!

 

Miscellaneous

Palayam Church, Palayam, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. Official name is “St. Joseph’s Metropolitan Cathedral”. Easter 2022 preparations were going on. It was a short walk from the hotel and we had a nice stroll around central Thiruvananthapuram.

 

State Central Library, Thiruvananthapuram. There were quite a few cops around and I took permission for the snap, just in case (Please refer my Blog on Lucknow 🙂 )

 

College of Fine Arts. A very nice tree-filled campus.

 

Napier Museum & Keralam Museum

Keralam Museum is very small and is hardly worth it, in my opinion. I wish a little more planning and efforts had gone into it.

But Napier Museum more than makes up for it 🙂 Both the museums are very near to each other, with the difference being that Napier Museum is within the Trivandrum Zoo complex and Keralam Museum is just outside it. The ticket price, as with most sights in India, is very nominal.

Napier Museum, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. A small museum, but very well maintained and definitely worth a visit. As you can see, it was a boiling hot day.

 

The beautiful ceiling of Napier Museum. There were huge fans kept in various corners and we found ourselves regularly cooling off near them 🙂

 

Another shot of the Napier Museum ceiling.

 

Napier Museum displays pottery …

 

… Coins (Silver, in this case) …
… Exquisite statues and artwork …

 

 

For lunch, we went to a nearby eatery … The fish (Tuna) curry was pure fire! I can handle spice as well as the next guy, but it did test my limits 🙂 The Shrimp Fry went well with the rice and sides.

 

Padmanabhapuram Palace

Technically, this palace is in Tamil Nadu (in Kanyakumari district), but is roughly 60km from Thiruvananthapuram. Though it is only 60km, thanks to the single-lane roads and traffic, it takes a good 2hr to reach the palace. The palace is apparently under the control of Government of Kerala. The palace is from the Kingdom of Travancore era (around 1600 CE/AD), which makes it around 420 years old. The palace, overall, spells “Kerala” in CAPITALs. No one can miss the Kerala influence in the architecture.

One of the several entrances into the palace … It was amazingly crowded (the Saturday before Easter 2022). Also, you cannot wander anywhere you like within the palace grounds. There are clearly-marked boundaries and the palace staff/volunteers to keep the tourists in check.

 

The “Mantrasala”, where the King met his council.

 

The ornate ceiling …

 

There were countless such corridors and walkways …

 

 

The staff told us that this particular bed was made of wood from 40+ medicinal trees!

 

 

A portrait of Dharma Raja Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma, who was the ruler of Tranvancore during 1758-1798 (40 years!)

 

One interesting fact about this palace is that the iconic Malayalam movie “Manichitrathazhu” (Mohanlal & Shobhana), which was later remade as Bhool Bhulaiyaa in Hindi (Akshay Kumar & Vidya Balan) and Chandramukhi in Tamil (Rajnikant & Jyothika) Etc., was extensively shot here. If you see the movie again, after visiting the palace, you will be able to recognize many of the shooting locations.

Recognize this location? 🙂 It features prominently towards the climax of the movie.

 

Adios!

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