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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM (TRIVANDRUM)

     At the southern end of the state, Thiruvananthapuram is a district surrounded by the Arabian sea and the Western Ghats. The district headquarters, also of the same name, is the Capital of the state. During the British period and till a few years ago, it was known as Trivandrum, a name that suited the English to pronounce. A quiet, neat and clean city, it has a rich cultural heritage too.

Padmanabhaswamy temple:The most impressive landmark in the town, the temple's presiding deity is Vishnu reclining on serpent Anantha. It has a seven-story tower, umpteen number of pillars, intricate carvings and mural paintings. Only Hindus are allowed in. There are other entry regulations too. The temple is located in East Fort.

Museum complex: Art and natural history museums, art gallery and zoological and botanical gardens are located in a plot in the heart of the city. Kuthiramalika (Puthenmalika) palace museum: Located near Padmanabhaswamy temple, the palace was built by Maharaja Swathi Thirunal Balarama Varma. The king was a great poet, musician, social reformer and statesman. The museum contains paintings and other collections of the royal family.

Kanakakkunnu Palace:Today it is a venue for cultural and other public functions.

Science & Technology museum:Located near Mascot hotel, it is a valuable site for students and researchers.

Sanghumugham beach:A favourite haunt of sunset watchers. A gigantic 35 m sculpture of a mermaid, called Matsya Kanyaka, is a major attraction here. There is facility for recreational activities. The place is near the airport and the Veli tourist village.

Veli tourist village:An ideal picnic spot where the lake joins the sea. Boating facility is available in the lake. A popular retreat, it has a children's park and other attractions.

Padmanabhapuram palace: This is a magnificent edifice, all built of impeccable wood from nearby forests. Architecturally it can be described as a great marvel in wood, monumental in concept, design and execution. The whole palace is a massive work of art - the immense, intricate carvings all over the building- on roof, pillars, walls, doors and so on - leave the visitors spell-bound. It is a unique example of an art form - carvings in wood - in which Kerala excels. The construction of the Padmanabhapuram palace was started in the latter half of the 16th century by Trippappur Muppan whose descendants came to be associated with Trippappur Swarupam, the royal lineage, later came to be known as Travancore kings. Marthanda Verma, the warrior king who knitted together the state of Travancore later in the 18th century, expanded it. Dharma Raja, who succeeded Marthanda Verma, shifted the Capital of Travancore around 1795 from Padmanabhapuram to Trivandrum which he thought was more befitting a location for a Capital.

EXCURSIONS

Neyyar dam:(32 km) A popular picnic spot, it has a watchtower, crocodile farm, lion safari park and a deer park. Boating facility is available at the reservoir.

Aruvikkara dam:(16 km) A picturesque picnic spot on the banks of Karamana river.

Varkala: (40 km to the north on NH 47) A coastal town and pilgrim centre, Varkala has high cliffs with springs which yield mineral water said to possess medicinal property. The 2000-year old Sree Janardhana Swamy temple and a nature cure centre are two main attractions.

Ponmudi:(61 km) It is a hill station at an altitude of 1000 mts. Climate is cool. It has good trekking trails. Government accommodation available.

Kollam (Quilon):(71 km towards north on NH 47) The town is on the Ashtamudi lake. The picturesque promontories, the beaches at Thirumullavaram and Kochupilamoodu and the Thangassery lighthouse are the attractions. Boat rides and backwater cruises are available. In Ochira, 34 km north of Kollam, there is the Parabrahma temple dedicated to universal consciousness. The temple has no idol or deity. Half an hour's drive from Kollam to the north takes one to Vallikkavu or Amritapuri, the birth place and ashram headquarters of the world famous Indian godwoman, Mata Amritananda Mayi. Mayyanad, 10 km south of Kollam, has several temples. The shrine at the Subramanya temple at Umayanallur is said to have been consecrated by the greatest of Indian saint-philosophers, Adi Sankaracharya.

Kovalam:(See Next Page)

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