Thiruvananthapuram, literally the ‘Holy City of Anantha’_the thousand-headed mythological serpent on whom Lord Vishnu reclines. The clean and beautiful capital city of Kerala sprawls elegantly over seven low coastal hills. Its tree-lined avenues, massive buildings, ancestral homes, ancient temples, long sea coast and acres of palm trees and parks have a charm of their own. This ancient city was the spiritual center of Travancore kings since the 11th century and became their capital in 1750 when the Raja of Travancore shifted here from Padmanabhapuram (in Tamil Nadu). Today, it is a fine blend of traditions and modernity- an important seat of Ayurveda’, an ancient healing system as well as the ‘Space Research’, the final frontier of mankind.
Sri Ananthapadmanabha Swamy Temple:
The 16th-century shrine of Lord Vishnu as Sri Padmanabhaswamy or the ‘lotus navel’ is considered to be one of the most sacred 108 Vaishnavite shrines. It enshrines an 18ft. long image of lord Vishnu reclining on the coil of Sri Anantha, the sacred snake. A lotus grows from the navel of Lord Vishnu, upon which resides Lord Brahma. Its seven storeyed gopuram and fine pavilions lined with splendid stone carvings and Lnural are noteworthy. The sacred Padma Theertham tank nearby was rebuilt by Raja Marthanda Varma in 1733. The temple is open only to Hindus and strict dress code is enforced. The “Vetta” and “Arattu” processions are taken out twice a year from the here.
Kuthiramalika Palace Museum (Puthen Malika):
It is housed in a palace built by Maharaja Swathi Thimnal Balarama Varma in traditional Travancore style. Rare and priceless collections of the Travancore royalty are displayed here.
CVN Kalari Sangham:
This premier institute is engaged in the preservation of Kalarippayattu, an ancient martial tradition of Kerala. The spectacular training sessions are worth seeing. It also provides Kerala’s famous ayurvedic treatments.
Govt. Art or Napier Museum:
It is located on a large lush ground sprawling over an area of 80 acres in the heart of the city. The impressive museum building is built in traditional Kerala architecture with influences of Chinese and Mughal styles. It exhibits a fine collection of bronzes, ornaments, costumes, masks, ivory carvings, and musical instruments, etc. Sri Chitra Art Gallery and Zoological Park are located nearby.
The zoo set in a forest-like the landscape is one of the oldest and best ZOOS in India. It is a part of an impressive Botanical Garden.
It is set atop the highest point of the city and is one of the oldest observatories in the country. Panoramic view of the surroundings can be enjoyed from here.
The rain fringed beach adjacent to the airport is about 8 kms. From the city center. There is also a recreation club, the Matsya Kanyaka (a 35m. long sculpture of a mermaid), children traffic training park and a restaurant.
Veli Tourist Village:
This ideal picnic spot on the outskirts of the city is set along a sheltered lagoon, near the airport. It has an excellent waterfront park.
Other attractions: Science & Technology Museum & Priyadarshini Planetarium. Chacha Nehru Children’s’ Museum, Akkulam Lake & Boat Club, Indian School of Martial Arts, Vettukad or ‘Madre De Deus’ Church and Beema Palli, etc.
Anjengo (10 kms.): This small historical town is set amidst Lakshadweep Sea and Anjengo Kayal. The British East India Company established a factory here in 1673 and also built a fort with the permission of Queen ofAttingal in 1695. The beach, relics of the fort and flagstaff. tombs of dutch and British are some places of interest.
Aruvikara (16 kms.): It is famous for the ancient Bhagavathi temple. The stream in front of the temple has large fishes, which are fed by the devotees.
Kovalam (12 kms.): The sheltered natural bay of Kovalam, flanked by two natural headlands is regarded as one of the finest beach resorts of the world. Its four famous beaches- Samudra, Ashok, Eve’s or Hawa and Lighthouse of Kovalam are located nearby and attract a large number of tourists from all over the world. The beautiful beaches are considered to be ideal for surfing and water-skiing. Kovalam is also a famous health and yoga center.
Neyyar Dam & Sanctuary (32 kms.): The dam-site enroute to Ponmudi is noted for its scenic beauty. The Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary covers an area of 128 sq. Kms. In the Western Ghats. There is also a Lion Safari Park and a Crocodile Protection Centre.
Ponmudi (61 kms.): Ponmudi, an idyllic hill resort is known for its bracing climate, tea plantations, and scenic splendor. The deep forest trails are ideal for hiking and trekking.
Varkala (06 kms.): The charming seaside resort and pilgrim center is popularly referred to as ‘Southern Varanasi’. There are several sacred shrines and beautiful beaches at Varkala. It is also an important nature care center. Sree Janardhana Swami Temple The ancient shrine believed to be over 2, 000 y.ars old is one of the holiest temples of Lord Vishnu.
Alluring Alappuzha, the “Venice of the East” is endowed with exceptional natural beauty and has emerged as a major tourist destination of the State. The serene Vembanad lake covering an area of 204 sq. kms. stretches from Alappuzha to Kochi and the Kayamkulam lake with an area of 59.57 sq. km. extends to the districts of Alappuzha and Kollam. These lakes are widely used for the inland water transport of Cargo and passengers in the region and provide a perfect introduction to the amazing backwaters of the State.
Nehru Trophy Boat Race:
It is held annually on the second Saturday of August at the Vembanad Lake and is the most important tourist event of Alappuzha. Boat sponsored by different villages competes fiercely in the competition. The highlights of this prestigious vent are “Chundun Vallam”, the 30feet long snake boats, with over 100 rowers, 4 helmsman and 25 cheerleaders decorated with colorful silk umbrellas. Tickets for the race are available on the day from numerous ticket stands on the way to the lake where race is held. the Punnamada Kayal is the starting point for the race.
The beautiful beach with a distinct colonial ambiance has an old light outhouse and 1,000 ft. the long pier which was built in 1862, by Captain Hugh Crawford.
Mullakkal Rajarajeswari Temple:
This shrine of Goddess Rajarajeswari is set in the heart of Alappuzha town. The important festivals celebrated here are nine-days ‘Navratri’ and ‘Thaipooyakavadi’.
Ambalapuzha (14 kms.): Sri Krishna Temple built in traditional Kerala architecture is one of the most important shrines of Kerala. It is also known for ‘Palpayasam’ a sweet milk porridge prepared every day as an offering to the deity and the ritual of Pallipana performed by Valans (sorcerers) once in every twelve years.
???Aranmula (20 kms.): This picturesque Hindu pilgrim center on the banks of river Pamba is famous for its rich culture and her?itage. It was declared ?as ?a ‘Heritage Village of India’? ?by the Indian? ?National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage (INTACH). The main attractions are Parthasarathy Temple and Aranmula Vallomkalli, the famous Snake Boat Race held every year in the month of? Cchingam (Aug.-Sept.).
Mannarsala (32 kms.)?:? The ?charming? site near Haripad on the Alappuzha-? ?Kollam route is famous for the ancient temple of Sree Nagaraja, the King of Serpents.? ?Nagaraja, the presiding deity is said to be endowed with the form of Hari (Lord Vishnu) and spirit of Lord Shiva.??
??This charming hill station perched at an altitude of 1600 m. ?a?midst lush undulating hills of Anamalai ranges is one of the most popular tourist destinations of Kerala. Munnar ? ?(literally? ?meaning three rivers) is set at the confluence of three mountain streams- ? ?Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni, and Kundala. It was once the summer capital of the British in South India and still? retains an aura of old-world elegance. The beautiful landscape is ?dotted with lakes?, r?reservoirs?, lush forests, and sprawling ? tea estates.? ?Pepper?, rubber and cardamom plantations ?lend a? distinct aroma to the cool and bracing climate of ?the hill resort. ?Anamudi(2695 m.), the highest peak in ?South India is located nearby and is an ideal spot for? ?trekking. The main attractions? ?of Munnar are Christ? ?Church and Tea Gardens.
?Devikulam (7 kms.)?:? ?Devikulam or the? ?’?Pond of Goddess’? ?is famous for its lovely lake, plantations and scenic beau. It is believed that Sita, the consort of Lord Rama, once bathed at the lake here. The lake is also ideal for trout fishing.
Top Station (32 kms.)?:? It is the highest point. on the Munnar-Kodai?kkanal road at the border of Tamil Nadu. ?Panoramic views of the scenic surroundings can be enjoyed ?from here. The area is also well? known for? Kurinji? flowers, which blooms once in twelve years.
Thattekad Bird Sanctuary (80 kms.): Thattekad or Dr. Salim Ali Bird sanctuary covers an area of 25 sq.? kms?.? ?between the tributaries of river Periyar. It has over 270 varieties of birds and is indeed a paradise for bird watchers. Malabar grey hornbills,?? crimson throated barbets, rose-billed rollers, sunbirds Malayan night herons, rusty-tailed flycatchers are some of the important bird species seen here. There is also a rich variety of butterflies at the sanctuary. Leopards and bears can also be sighted here. The sanctuary is 13 kms.? fro?m Kothamangalam.
Captivating Kochi, the commercial capital and the most cosmopolitan city of Kerala is an excellent blend of traditions and modernity. Kochi, the “Queen of the Arabian Sea” is full of history, legends, and natural beauty. Since time immemorial, Arabs, Chinese, Dutch, British and Portuguese had trade relations with Kochi. The beautiful town considered to be one of the most attractive destinations in the world is also a shopper’s paradise. The shopping list comprises of antiques, wood carvings, wooden jewelry boxes, oil lamps, coir products, textiles, spices, and other handicraft items.
Chinese Fishing Nets:
These huge cantilevered fishing nets are the landmark of Malabar coast. The nets were introduced between 1350 and 1450 A.D., by traders from the court of Kublai Khan in China. They are set up on teak wood and bamboo poles and are mainly used during the high tide. The Vasco da Gama Square affords the best view of these nets, especially during the sun-set time.
Fort Kochi Beach:
The beautiful beach extends from Kamalakada to the entrance of Kochi harbor. Along the beach are many colonial bungalow’s.
It was built in 1503, by Portuguese Franciscan friars and is believed to be the first church built by the Europeans in India. Vasco da Gama, the discoverer of the sea route to India, died in Cochin in 1524 and was initially buried here.
This 16th-century building is one of the earliest residences built in Fort Cochin and is said to be the house of Vasco da Gama.
It is set amidst mainland Ernakulam and the old town Mattancherry and was named after Lord Willingdon, one of the British Viceroys. Some of the finest hotels and trading centers of the city are located here.
Jewish Synagogue & Jew Town (Mattancherry):
It synagogue built-in 1568, is the oldest in the country. The township around the synagogue is known for spice trade and curio shops dealing in antiques as well as rare glass and beads.
Dutch Palace (Mattancherry):
It was built by the Portuguese and presented to the Raja of Kochi, Veera Kerala Varma in 1555, but was later taken over by the Dutch. The palace has fine murals depicting scenes from Ramayana, Mahabharta and other mythological figures. Royal costumes, palanquins, and other royal memorabilia are also exhibited here.
The scenic island located, in the Kochi Bay is known for the Bolghatty Palace built by a hotel run by the KTDC. The lush green landscape with great views of the backwaters makes it an attractive picnic spot. There is also a small golf course.
Vypin Island & Light House:
It is one of the most densely populated islands of the country. The lighthouse at Ochanthuruth affords an awe-inspiring view of the Kochi City and Aluva town. The Pallippuram Foll on the northern end of the Vypeen Island was built by the Portuguese in 1503. It is said to be the first fort built in India by the Europeans. Another attraction is the charming Cherai Beach.
The gateway to Kochi’is regarded as the commercial capital of Kerala’. Ther e are beautiful parks, children playgrounds, and beachside pavements. The Naval base and the Cochin Shipyard are also located here. The places of interest of Emakulam are Mangalavanam small bird sanctuary, Marine Drive-Park Avenue-Fine Arts Avenue, St. Francis Assisi Church (Naduvileppalli) and Siva Temple, one of the largest temples of the State.
Indira Gandhi Boat Race:
The famous snake boat race is held during Onam celebrations. It can be enjoyed by the Marine Drive promenade.
Aluva (Alwaye) (25 kms.): The important pilgrim center and summer resort lie on the left bank of Periyar river. It is famous for the Mannapuram Shiva Temple and St. Dominic Syrian Church.
Kaladi (45 kms.): The beautiful pilgrim site on the banks of river Periyar is the birthplace of Adi Sankaracharya, the great Advaitha philosopher and Bhakti saint of 8th century. There are two main shrines one is dedicated to Adi Sankaracharya, as Dakshina Moorthi, while the other is of goddess Sharada, the patron deity of Sringeri Mutt.
Kodungallor (Crangnore) (32 kms.): The small historic port town was an ancient center of trade and commerce and had relations with the Jews, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and the Arabs. It was earlier known as Muziris to the Greeks and Romans. Pliny, the great traveler described it as the ‘first emporium in India’. St. Thomas, the Apostle is believed to have first landed at Muziris port in 52 AD. The first mosque in India was also built here. The unique mosque faces east unlike others which face Mecca in the west. Kodungallor has also known for the Kurumba Bhagavathi temple and its Bharani Festival in Mar.-Apr.
Tripunittura (9 kms.): This important cultural center, enroute to Kottayam was the seat of erstwhile Cochin Rajas. The main attractions here are-Sri Poomathreyesa Temple and Hill Palace Museum.
Edappally (10 kms. From Ernakulam):
Museum of Kerala History & Its Makers: It exhibits the rich historical legacy of Kerala. An image of the legendary sage Parasuram is set outside the museum.
M. N. F Gallery of Paintings & Sculptures: It is located next to the Museum of Kerala History and has a rich collection of original paintings of eminent Indian painters.