Formerly a trade hub for spices, sandalwood and ivory, Trivandrum which was called the ‘evergreen city of India’ by Mahatma Gandhi is now an immense IT nest contributing to nearly 80% of the state’s software exports. Ranked as one of the best cities in Kerala to live in, it is mainly used by tourists as a springboard to visit nearby Kovalam and Varkala. Rookie mistake. Given a chance, this city will astound you on what all it has to offer. A zoo which houses a lion called Simba, who inspired Yann Martel’s ‘Life of Pi’, Shri Chitra Art Gallery showcasing the infamous paintings of Raja Ravi Varma, Napier Museum with its blend of Mughal artifacts with traditional Kerala architecture, and sunset cruises along pristine backwaters hugging rustic villages.
The one that takes the cake though is the ginormous Padmanabhaswamy Temple acclaimed to be the richest Hindu temple in the world worth at least 20 billion dollars. Yes. You read that right. This city of huge historical significance is also a gloriously beautiful testament to the heritage of Kerala and why it is called ‘God’s own country’. In addition to getting your mind blown away, here you learn why Kerala remains, to this day, stoically true to its roots. Because those roots are just too amazing to be forgotten.
un[travel]’s Top Picks in Trivandrum
Blend into the throng of devotees pouring their hearts out to the Lord as you sidle along the stone pathway surrounding the garlanded sanctum sanctorum. Fall into the rhythm of the resounding bhajans while you stare awestruck at the artwork lining the glittering walls of the temple.
Napier Museum with Ravi Varma’s art gallery
What better way to meet the sheer genius behind the incredible bronze sculptures, ornaments, and the like than in a museum of the amalgamated architecture of Mughal and Malabar influence than that of Raja Ravi Varma? Admire masterpieces by a man who literally crafted our imagination; it was his art that inspired appearances of characters in the infamous Amar Chitra Katha.
This 55-acre woodland is the oldest zoo in Asia and home to 82 species from around the world, including a snake farm to boot. What is most impressive though is its recognition of the changing times and the commendable transformation from a predominantly recreational hang to a conservative one of immense importance.
Sunset at Poovar Island
Sunset cruise at Poovar Island
An island of mangroves and stunning beaches, Poovar is a 30km drive from Trivandrum city. Bob across serene waters, parting clumps of hyacinths on the way while you lap up the beauty in simplicity here as huts and people turn into silhouettes with the setting sun.
Dinner at Villa Maya
Dinner rarely comes fancier than a feast King-style at this 300 years old Dutch Manor. Enjoy the exquisite cuisine up on offer here at this colonial-style wonder. It is truly another world with its colonial-style architecture blending seamlessly with the unique traditional Kerala background.
When to un[travel] Trivandrum
For clearer skies, opt for a slot between early September to the end of March. The beaches look their best from early November through to March as well, so look out for some spectacular sunsets. Mid-October and November do see a fair amount of rain with the North-West monsoons. Sultry summers set in by April to the end of May with fairly high outdoor temperatures. Monsoons arrive by the first week of June right through to the end of August. Cool temperatures with overcast skies and green all around make this a visit like none other.
un[pack] That Bag
• Light clothing and sandals • An umbrella if you’re here in the monsoons • Mosquito repellent and sunscreen • Chargers and prescription medication.
un[travel]’s Top 5 Places to Stay
• Niramaya Retreat, Kovalam • UdayaSamudra, Kovalam • Tapovan Heritage Home, Kovalam • Estuary Island, Poovar • Over The Hill, Poovar