Asia | India – Abode of the Snake God on whom Lord Vishnu reclines

Asia | India – Abode of the Snake God on whom Lord Vishnu reclines

                 The cleanest of all Kerala cities, with one foot in a different era, still shy to embrace the western way of life, but eager and happy to welcome visitors from everywhere, Thiruananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala is a joy to explore !!. General description:-
                When one enquires about this city, inevitably one will hear about Sree Padmanabha Swamy first. The city and Lord Padmanabha, the patron deity are inseparable. The Legend’s tell us the story of Sage Vilvamangalam’s first darshan of Lord Vishnu as Padmanabha who crashed upon his path as a tree before revealing himself as the infinite power! Praised by Anantha, the five headed serpent, the Lord was persuaded by the sage to stay in the city. According to Legends,his massive form reclining on the heads of Anantha, is believed to have extended and exactly covered the area that was to be Thiruvananthapuram. Marthandavarma, the well known Maharaja of Travancore (note that the state of Kerala was formed by the integration of 3 princely states – Travancore, Kochi and Malabar) dedicated his Kingdom to Sree Padmanabhaswami with the capital at Padmanabhapuram in the south. His successor Maharaja Ramavarma in 1795 shifted the capital to the present city of Thiruvanathapuram. In spite of its political importance it is really heartening to see this wonderful city retaining its original charm and continues to hold all it’s rich heritage in tact. The roads and buildings here are grander than the other Kerala Cities This city boasts even of connections with King Soloman, whose ships said to have landed in a port called Ophir. Traders were said to have been coming here as far back as 190 AD for spices, ivory etc. This city has a history of supporting fine art & culture. Some of the rulers here have been accomplished artists themselves including Swathi Thirunal, well known composer and Raja Ravi Varma, the internationally acclaimed painter. The town bustles with activity during Navaratri, when music festivals are held in most temples. It’s still a grand spectacle to watch the present-day Maharaja paying homage to Padmanabha Swami, evoking nostalgia. That is also the beauty and charm of this remarkable city and without doubt, a must see place for anyone visiting God’s Own Country.

Favourite Spots:-
                This city has won the prestigious Pacific Asia Travel Association Gold Award for its Heritage Conservation.The ideal place to start is at the Padmanabha Temple itself. It is located right at the city centre.The 30m ‘Gopuram’above the entrance,is in Dravidian style and the 365 carved granite pillars in its inner corridor are stunning.The earliest structures dates from the 11th century. Sadly,non-hindu’s are not allowed into the inner sanctum but the temple from outside still offers a lot.There are several royal palaces spread around the city offering an insight to the by-gone glory days of this city & includes Kanakakkunnu Palace,Kowdiar Palace,Pattom Palace and BelleHaven,a diminutive,8 sided Mansion opposite Raj Bhavan (official residence of the State Governer).Napier museum,located in the north of the city and named after Lord Charles Napier, the governer of Madras (1866-1872),who famously said about sati,”when men burn women alive,we hang them” offers a lot inside and outside.

What’s really great?
                Continuing about the Napier museum, it was started in the 19th century and houses a good collection of 11th-18th century bronze and stone sculptures. With its multi coloured bricks, the outside of it looks equally interesting. The zoological garden represents the diverse floral wealth of South India. The complex also houses the Sree Chitra Art Gallery, containing a fine collection of paintings by Raja Ravi Varma,his sister Mangalabai Thampuratti (princess), and Svyatoslav Roerich to mention some. Ravi Varma’s painting of Ravana abducting Sita (from the epic Ramayana) is a daring and beautiful masterpiece. Nearby Natural History Museum is also an interesting place.The famed Methan Mani (the clock atop the Old Fort Palace, operated by a complex system of pulleys) near Padmanabha Temple is an amazing sight. This city of Padmanabha Perumal still is a divine paradise which continues to awe and attract mere mortals like flies to a burning fire on a clear night.

Sights:-
                For a visitor aiming to explore a lot in a few days in this city, there are a number of interesting places to vist : a) The Statue Junction and the Secretariat is definitely worth a visit.The Secretariat was the seat of the Government until recently. It is a great white building in Roman Architecture, made by the British in the mid-19th century. Opposite to the Secretariat a huge man in a turban sits on a pedestal. This is the famous statue of Divan Madhav Rao and is the famous statue of the junction. He was an exceptionally talented administrator in the mid 1800’s. b)Take a stroll around Palayam area and enjoy St Joseph’s Cathedral, Charachira Jama Masjid, and the Central Stadium. Palayam market is also worth a visit. C)Shanghumugham Beach: This is an excellent long stretch of beach very close to the city centre. In spite of ever increasing tourism this stretch of sea still retains a virgin appeal and is an ideal spot to watch the sun colorfully disappear into the sea in the evenings.

Accommodation:-
                This city has many options to suit all budgets. The following stands out:- a)Mascot Hotel- (Tel 0471 2318990 and tariff –Rs 2400 to 5000) is housed in a colonial building at the PMG Junction with 60 rooms, ayurvedic centre, swimming pool is run by the KTDC. B)The South Park-(tel 04712333333, tariff-Rs2300 to 4500)located conveniently at the MG road, has a pub,bookshop etc c)The Muthoot Plazza-(tel 0471233733 and tariff-Rs 2400 to 9000)is one of the best with a restaurant and travel desk d) Residency Tower- (tel 04712331661 and tariff-Rs 2100 to 4300) has a Punjabi restaurant, café and a rooftop swimming pool. e) The YWCA International Guesthouse (tel 04712477308 and tariff-Rs250 to 600)near the town hall, MG road is a safe option for women traveling alone.& f) Arya Nivas (tel 04712330789 and tariff Rs 500 to 1000) in Thampanoor is excellent value for money with a super veg restaurant and 32 rooms to choose from. There are a number of other similar hotels around as well

Pubs:-
                Like most other Kerala Cities, there are no pubs available in Thiruvanathapuram in the western meaning of the word. There are a few Hotels with attached bars (they tend to call it a pubs) where alchohol is served. There are several Toddy shops where one can buy and drink the indigenously brewed local drink tapped from the coconut palms. It is always better to have locals (known to you) accompanying you if you are visiting these places. These toddy shops serve deliciously cooked tapioca and serve them with chillie curries which has a wonderful taste. In addition to these toddy shops,every curve of this citiy’s major roads houses chayakada’s (tea stalls) where local people meet for a glass of tea, something to munch, and indulge in in-depth discussions on a wide range of subjects including current affairs, sport and politics. You can also grab your banana chips straight from the frying pan to the packet from the shops at Kaithamukku or the YWCA road, near the British Library.

Clubs:-
                There are no clubs here for the visitor’s entertainment like in the west. I intend to use this space to describe the interesting places where possibly the visitors can do their shopping. The shops inside the east fort compound offers varieties of mundus, gold jewellery and brass lamps. Karalkada in Kaithamukku Junction is a great place to buy traditional Travancore Saris and Mundus. Kairali handicrafts, near statue Junction, and Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan, close to Ayurveda college Junction, sell straw bags and mats. Try and visit Natesan’s Antique Arts on MG Road where one can purchase bronze items or unusual souvenirs such as the traditional old locks. SMSM Handicraft Emporium behind the secretariat on the YMCA road too is an ideal place to pick up attractive handicraft items. If you have time left, it would be worth the while to check out Connemara Market (or Palayam Market) or Chalai Market where you are likely to get goods covering a wide range of interesting items.

Restaurants:-
                Regency in South Park serves an array of Keralite specialties, including meen pollichathu and kappa and meen curry. Arya Nivas is famed for its dosa’s, idlis and idiappams. They also serve a tasty Keralite thali. Saj Luciya has a restaurant called Zodiac which specializes in great kerala breakfast including appam and stew, my all time favorite. Their karimeen varathathu (pearlspot fish fry) and karimeen curry (which is red and cooked in an earthen pot) served with rice are very popular. Amritha hotel has a multi-cuisine restaurant where you can have your share of typical Kerala food. Their naimeen (sear fish) fry is also very popular. Sindhoor in Vazhuthacaud too is a very popular eating place. For Chinese, go to the hotel Oasis roof garden restaurant. There are many other eating places around Thiruvananthapuram including Kalavara on Press Road, Azad Restaurant in Chalai Bazaar (famous for their Malabar Biryani) and a number of India coffee House’s (excellent value for money).

Other recommendations
                Before I conclude this report, I must tell you more about the interesting area’s around this wonderful city. The world famous beach at Kovalam is only 13kms away from here. The one place no one can afford to miss is the old capital of Travancore called Padmanabhapuram. It is situated 55 kms south-east of Thiruvananthapuram and is a unique marvel in wood that is, witout doubt, the last word in grace, simplicity and tasteful elegance. This was the capital city from the 16th to the 18th centuries. Further south there is Kanyakumari where three sea’s meet – Arabian sea, India Ocean and Bay of Bengal and is an lovely point to watch both the sun set and the sun rise one after the other. As I am rapidly running out of space, I am forced to conclude this report on Kerala’s capital city by providing you with the following useful links on Thiruvananthapuram: From ktdc.com and tel no 04712321132 you can get more info on this city. Hope this report proves to be useful to u all. Take care&God Bless.

Category : Asia | India , Uncategorized