Located on the country’s very southern tip, Thiruvananthapuram is one of India’s oldest cities. It gained its fame as a trading post for spices, sandalwood and ivory, with both Greek and Roman texts hailing the city’s importance in the world of ancient commerce. Today, Thiruvananthapuram is known for its proximity to golden sand beaches and warm tropical waters only eight miles from downtown. It is due to this rich mixture of history and beachfront comfort that developed Thiruvananthapuram into a popular tourist spot, earning it the nickname, India’s Evergreen City.
Visitors will find themselves in a bustling city, passing along streets lined with markets and restaurants. One of the most prominent fixtures in the city’s skyline is Padmanabhaswamy temple, an early medieval Dravidian style centre of worship dedicated to Vishnu. Another major religious site is the impressive Bheema mosque, located just south of the city limits. Grand buildings erected by the Maharajas add further flavour to the cityscape, with The Kerala Government Secretariat rounding things off with a classic, Victorian feel.
The best time for a beach holiday is between the months of October and February, which is also the coolest time of the year. Nevertheless, midday temperatures range from 96F to 100F, so be sure to bring sun screen. Also, be aware that October and November sees the city gripped by the northeast monsoon during a period dubbed the ‘second rainy reason’. The hottest and most humid time of the year is the period between February and May, while June to September is the major monsoon season.
If you do arrive during the monsoon, be sure to attend the festival of Onam at end of August/early September. Not only are there a range of cultural programs on offer, but visitors will have an opportunity to explore the unique Indian carnival atmosphere. The festival lasts for ten days, so be sure to plan ahead.
The city is worth exploring on foot in order to get a real feel for the place. Alternatively, buses are the cheapest form of public transport. The government-run KSRTC vehicles are painted red and yellow, with the company’s fast buses painted blue. The city’s central bus station is located at East Fort, near the Padmanabha Swamy Temple. Autorickshaws, or autos, are another cost-effective mode of transport, and offer an interesting tourist experience. Be sure to ride in legally licensed autorickshaws, characterised by on-board fare meters. Finally, there is the option of a taxi, which can be rented by the trip or by the day.