Planning a trip to Trivandrum, Kerala? You’re in for a treat! This wonderful city has so much to offer – from gorgeous views and incredible wildlife to amazing culture and delicious food. Here are the top 20 things you must-do while in this exotic destination.
1. Visit Napier Museum
This beautiful museum is decorated with domes and spires and reddish stone, making it quite a sight to behold. Inside, you’ll find the works of Raja Ravi Varma, among other displayed artifacts. You can also browse through a fascinating collection of over 550 artefacts that have historical and archaeological value!
The museum was built by Aayilyam Thirunal, a former king of Travancore. He founded the Museum in its current shape in the year 1855.
The Museum bears Lord Napier’s name, who served as Madras’s governor general at the time. Lord Napier, inspired by the traditional architecture of Kerala, hired Robert Fellowes Chisholm, an architect with the Government of Madras, to design and construct this regal building in 1872 CE.
2. Check Out Padmanabha Swamy Temple
Have you ever heard of a temple with a treasure trove so vast that it rivals that of the richest royals in the world? Welcome to the Padmanabhaswamy temple in Trivandrum, Kerala!
In 2011, a team of experts entered the temple’s secret vaults for the first time in over a century and uncovered a treasure trove worth an estimated $22 billion! Yes, you read that right – billion with a “B”! The treasure included gold idols, antique jewelry, rare coins, and precious stones, among other priceless artifacts.
But here’s the kicker – the temple authorities claim that this is just the tip of the iceberg, with several more vaults yet to be opened. In fact, some even believe that the temple’s true wealth is incalculable!
So, if you’re ever in Trivandrum, make sure to visit the Padmanabhaswamy temple and marvel at the jaw-dropping treasure it holds. Who knows, you might even catch a glimpse of the temple’s legendary “hidden” wealth!
The Padmanabha Swamy temple is located inside the East Fort and is dedicated to Lord Vishnu himself. With multiple seven-tier gopurams as well as some stunning stone carvings, this temple is one of the most iconic landmarks in all of India.
3. Visit the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple
Have you ever heard of a temple where women take the lead? Welcome to the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple in Trivandrum, Kerala!
This temple is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Bhagavathy, who is worshipped here in her fierce form Bhadrakali. But what makes this temple truly unique is the Pongala festival, which takes place every year in February or March.
During the festival, millions of women from all over the world gather at the temple to prepare a special offering called Pongala. They cook rice, jaggery, coconut, and other ingredients in earthen pots on makeshift stoves made of bricks and coconut shells, and offer the dish to the goddess. It’s a beautiful and empowering sight to see so many women come together in devotion and solidarity!
But the festival isn’t just about the Pongala. It’s also a time for music, dance, and cultural events, with performers from all over the state showcasing their talents. And if you’re a foodie, you’re in luck – the festival is a great opportunity to sample some of Kerala’s finest cuisine!
So, if you’re ever in Trivandrum during the Pongala festival, don’t miss the chance to experience the vibrant and empowering atmosphere at the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple. Who knows, you might even get to taste some of that delicious Pongala!
4. Explore Trivandrum’s Backwaters
Are you ready for a relaxing and picturesque adventure? Welcome to the Trivandrum backwaters!
These backwaters are a network of lagoons, canals, and lakes that are connected to the Arabian Sea. They’re surrounded by lush greenery and coconut groves, making for a stunning and serene landscape.
One of the best ways to explore the backwaters is by taking a houseboat tour. You can rent a traditional kettuvallam (houseboat) and sail along the canals, enjoying the scenery and the peaceful atmosphere. You can even stop at small villages along the way and interact with the friendly locals!
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also try your hand at kayaking or canoeing in the backwaters. It’s a great way to get some exercise and soak up the beauty of the surroundings.
And if you’re a nature lover, you’re in for a treat – the backwaters are home to a variety of birds, fish, and other wildlife. Keep an eye out for kingfishers, egrets, and even dolphins!
So, if you’re ever in Trivandrum, don’t miss the chance to experience the tranquility and beauty of the backwaters. It’s the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life!
5. Be Amazed by Vizhinjam Lighthouse
Head over to Vizhinjam lighthouse if you want some stunning views across this picturesque cityscape, along with witnessing its busy port life at the same time! It’s beautiful during both sunrise and sunset, so don’t forget your camera when visiting this spot!
This lighthouse is over a century old and stands tall at 36 meters. It’s located on a rocky cliff overlooking the Arabian Sea, making for some truly spectacular views.
But the climb to the top isn’t for the faint of heart – there are 142 spiral steps to ascend! But trust me, it’s totally worth it once you reach the observation deck at the top. You’ll get a panoramic view of the sea, the surrounding coastline, and even the nearby islands!
And if you’re a history buff, you’ll love the fact that the Vizhinjam lighthouse has stood the test of time and has seen many ships and sailors come and go over the years. It’s a testament to the rich maritime history of Trivandrum and Kerala as a whole.
So, if you’re up for a bit of an adventure and want to see Trivandrum from a unique perspective, head to the Vizhinjam lighthouse. Just remember to bring your camera – you’ll want to capture those amazing views!
6. Catch Sunsets at Kovalam Beach
Kovalam beach is one of the most famous beaches in India, and for good reason. Catch the sun setting into the horizon as you relax in this paradise – an absolute must-do when visiting Trivandrum!
Kovalam Beach is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, thanks to its stunning golden sands and clear blue waters. But what really sets it apart is the magical atmosphere that it exudes in the evening.
As the sun begins to set, the beach comes alive with activity. Locals and tourists alike gather on the shore to watch the sky turn shades of pink, orange, and purple. The light reflecting off the water creates a mesmerizing effect, and you can’t help but feel a sense of peace and tranquility.
But the fun doesn’t stop there! Kovalam Beach has a variety of entertainment options available in the evening. You can take a stroll along the beachside promenade and check out the various street vendors selling souvenirs, snacks, and local handicrafts. You can also try your hand at water sports like parasailing or jet skiing, or simply relax with a cold drink in one of the many beachside cafes.
And if you’re a foodie, you’re in luck – Kovalam Beach has some of the best seafood in Trivandrum! You can enjoy fresh catches of the day at one of the many seafood restaurants that line the beach.
7. Enjoy a Cultural Day at Sri Chitra Art Gallery
The Sri Chitra Art Gallery is a must-visit for anyone interested in Indian art and culture. It’s located in a lovely 19th-century building that was once the residence of the Maharaja of Travancore.
Here you’ll find an eclectic collection of traditional and contemporary works from India and across the globe. It houses some of the finest examples of Indian painting, including 19th century Rajasthani miniatures, Mughal paintings and works from Bengal School artists.
You can see works by some of the most renowned artists in the country, including Raja Ravi Varma, Jamini Roy, Rabindranath Tagore etc.
But what sets Sri Chitra apart is its commitment to featuring Kerala’s unique artistic traditions. You can see gorgeous examples of mural paintings, which are a hallmark of Kerala’s temples and palaces. You can also admire intricate wood carvings, bronze sculptures, and traditional costumes.
You can even go the extra mile and attend a lecture, workshop or seminars at Sri Chitra– great for those looking to further their knowledge in Indian art. Home to over 2000 paintings, sculptures and archaeological pieces, this stunning gallery is sure to impress any art aficionado!
So, if you’re ever in Trivandrum and want to experience the rich artistic heritage of India, head over to the Sri Chitra Art Gallery. You’ll be amazed by the talent and creativity on display!
8. Experience Kalarippayattu
Kalarippayattu is a traditional martial art form originated from Kerala, and it’s definitely worth experiencing while you’re here! Not only is it fascinating to watch, but you can also try your hand at learning simple techniques yourself. Who knows – maybe you can become a master martial artist by the end of your trip!
Here are some places where you can go to experience Kalaripayattu in Trivandrum:
CVN Kalari: This is one of the oldest and most respected Kalaripayattu schools in Trivandrum. They offer both long-term and short-term courses, as well as demonstrations and performances for tourists.
Kerala Kalarippayattu Academy: This academy offers training in Kalaripayattu as well as other traditional art forms, such as Kathakali and Mohiniyattam. They also have regular performances for visitors.
Kalari Kendram Trivandrum: This is another well-known Kalaripayattu school in Trivandrum. They offer classes for beginners as well as advanced students, and also organize cultural programs and performances.
Vedic Village: This is a resort in Trivandrum that offers Kalaripayattu demonstrations and performances as part of their cultural activities. You can also take short courses in the art form if you’re interested in learning more.
Margi Theatre: This is a cultural center in Trivandrum that showcases traditional art forms, including Kalaripayattu. They have regular performances and workshops, and also offer courses for those who want to learn the art form.
9. Spend Time at Shangumugham Beach
Shangumugham beach is a beautiful oasis in the heart of Trivandrum and a must-see for any visitor. Stretched along the Arabian Sea, this serene beach offers stunning views of the shimmering bay and lush green paddy fields. It is particularly stunning during sunrise and sunset when its golden sand glows with an orange hue.
The beach also features many attractions including statues of prominent Indian figures, a sprawling promenade and even an open-air theatre where live music performances are held regularly. You can even rent umbrellas, beach chairs, bicycles and volleyball nets from nearby vendors to make your day at Shangumugham beach even more enjoyable.
For those looking for a peaceful escape from the city life – this is it! Make sure to plan your visit to Shangumugham beach as there’s no better way to enjoy Trivandrum than basking under the warmth of the sun here.
10. Visit The Zoo
Take a stroll down Trivandrum Zoo – it houses over 80 species of animals along with reptile enclosures as well as butterfly gardens too! The Trivandrum Zoo, also known as the Thiruvananthapuram Zoo, is a popular attraction for visitors of all ages. It’s home to a diverse collection of animals, ranging from elephants and tigers to monkeys and birds.
One of the best things about the zoo is its beautiful and spacious layout. The animals are housed in large enclosures that mimic their natural habitats, and there’s plenty of greenery and trees to provide shade and a sense of tranquility.
But that’s not all – the zoo has a variety of activities and experiences to keep you entertained. You can take a guided tour and learn more about the animals and their behaviors. You can also attend the daily animal shows, where you can see some of the animals in action and even interact with them.
You’ll also find an aquarium section that has both fresh and saltwater species – be sure not to miss out on this amazing experience during your stay here!
So, if you’re ever in Trivandrum and want to experience the magic of the animal kingdom, head over to the Trivandrum Zoo. It’s a fun and educational outing for the whole family!
11. Relax at Vellayani Lake
Take a break from the bustling city life and head over to Vellayani Lake for some peace and quiet. It’s a beautiful spot with lotus flowers blooming in its waters – perfect for boating and fishing too! There are also plenty of nearby restaurants if you’re feeling peckish!
Vellayani Lake is a stunning freshwater lake nestled in the heart of Kerala’s lush greenery and coconut groves. It’s a true oasis of calm and serenity, where you can escape the hustle and bustle of city life and get lost in the beauty of nature.
The best ways to enjoy the lake is by taking a leisurely boat ride. You can rent a traditional wooden boat and glide along the tranquil waters, feeling the cool breeze and admiring the stunning scenery. You can even stop at small islands along the way and have a picnic or go for a swim!
But there is more – Vellayani Lake has a variety of activities to keep you entertained. You can take a leisurely walk or rent a bike and bike ride along the lake’s shores. You can also try your hand at fishing, or simply relaxing with a book or a cup of local chaya (chai tea) and a picnic blanket.
For culture buffs, Vellayani Lake is home to the famous Vellayani Devi Temple, which is a must-visit for anyone interested in Kerala’s rich religious traditions. The temple attracts thousands of devotees during the annual Vellayani Devi Temple festival, which is a vibrant and colorful celebration.
12. Take a Dip at Veli Tourist Village
Veli Tourist Village is the ideal place to take a dip and cool off during the hot summer days. With lagoons, picturesque gardens and children’s parks, it’s perfect for families who are looking to have a fun day out! Don’t forget to grab some snacks before leaving – they have some great local eateries around here.
Veli Tourist Village is a popular for its fun-filled activities and breathtaking scenery. It’s located at the confluence of the Veli Lake and the Arabian Sea, and it’s the perfect spot for a day trip with family and friends.
One of the coolest things about Veli Tourist Village is the pedal boat ride. You can rent a pedal boat and navigate through the calm waters, feeling like you’re on a real-life version of Mario Kart! And if you’re feeling competitive, you can challenge your friends to a race and see who’s the fastest paddler.
13. Visit Ponmudi Hill Station
Want to escape the heat and humidity of Trivandrum and embark on a journey to one of the most beautiful hill stations in Kerala? Then buckle up and head to Ponmudi Hill Station!
The gorgeous hill town of Ponmudi, located in the Western Ghats, is well-known for its lush vegetation, magnificent waterfalls, and breathtaking views. It’s the perfect place to go if you want to get away from the chaos of city life and connect with nature.
The journey itself is one of Ponmudi’s coolest features. Hairpin turns and steep inclines are common on the road to Ponmudi, giving the impression that you are riding a rollercoaster. But don’t worry,the view on top are totally worth it.
Once you reach Ponmudi, there are plenty of activities to keep you entertained. You can go on a trekking adventure and explore the hills and valleys. You can also visit the stunning waterfalls and take a refreshing dip in the cool waters. And if you’re a wildlife enthusiast, you’ll love the fact that Ponmudi is home to a variety of rare and exotic animals, including the Nilgiri Tahr and the Indian rock python.
Ponmudi also boasts a rich cultural legacy that is worth studying; that is not all, though. The historic sites and ancient temples that are dispersed over the hills and valleys can be visited. And if you’re a foodie, you’ll adore that Ponmudi offers a selection of regional specialties to sample, like the well-known biryani made in the style of Kerala and fresh seafood meals.
What are you still waiting for? Pack your bags, grab your camera, and head over to Ponmudi Hill Station for an adventure of a lifetime! Who knows, you might even spot a wild elephant or two (just don’t forget to keep a safe distance!).
15. Explore Priyadarshini Planetarium
Are you keen on exploring outer space? Then visiting Priyadarshini Planetarium should be right up your alley! This world-class observatory gives visitors an opportunity to gain insight into the workings of our universe while admiring breathtaking visuals too – don’t miss out on this amazing experience while in Trivandrum!
Step into a world of astronomy and science at Priyadarshini Planetarium! This high-tech wonderland will make you feel like you’re traveling through space and time.
Take your seat in the auditorium and experience thrilling shows with state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment. Get an up-close view of the night sky with its advanced telescopes, and don’t forget to check out the exciting events that take place here, such as craft activities, seminars, quizzes and more. And did we mention that it’s a great spot for star gazing? So why not come to Priyadarshini Planetarium today and get ready to explore the depths of outer space!
16. Try Out Some Local Cuisine
Get ready to tantalize your taste buds and experience the mouth-watering delights of Kerala cuisine. From delicious seafood dishes to cozy vegetarian delicacies, this southern state is sure to have something for everyone.
For those who like their breakfasts hot and spicy, Kerala has a lot to offer. Puttu (steamed rice) served with kadala curry, Appam (rice pancakes) with mutton stew or Idiyappam (string hoppers) with egg curry are some delicious must try dishes that can make any morning in Kerala more enjoyable!
And if you’re looking for something truly special for lunch, then Sadhya (traditional vegetarian feast) is the way to go; a meal consisting of over twenty different dishes served on a banana leaf.
One of the must-try dishes is the famous Kerala-style fish curry, which is made with fresh fish and a variety of spices like turmeric, kokum, ginger, and coriander. It’s the perfect balance of sour, and spicy, and it’s best enjoyed with a bowl of steaming kerala matta rice.
Another must-try dish is the Thalassery-style biryani, which is a flavorful and aromatic rice dish that’s made with a variety of spices and herbs. It’s usually served with raita and papadam, and it’s the perfect dish for lunch.
When it comes to dinner, you can’t beat the flavor combination of Kerala Parotta (flaky flatbread) and Chilly Chicken – it’s a match made in heaven! Trust us – you won’t be disappointed!
17. Visit Halcyon Castle
Halcyon Castle is almost straight out of a fairytale with its ancient architecture that’s bound to leave you mesmerised! Make sure you take some time out of your trip to explore this unique structure – it’s definitely worth a visit just to witness its ancient beauty up close!
The former king of Travancore constructed the stunning palace known as Halcyon Castle around the beginning of the 20th century. It is perched atop a hill, overlooking the magnificent Kovalam beach and providing amazing views of the Arabian Sea. The castle, with its elaborate carvings, opulent rooms, and breathtaking gardens, is a magnificent architectural masterpiece. You might even see a few peacocks wandering about the grounds if you’re lucky!
One of the coolest things about Halcyon castle is the fact that it’s now open to the public. You can take a guided tour of the palace and learn about its fascinating history and architecture. You can also explore the stunning gardens and admire the breathtaking views of the ocean.
And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even dress up like a royal and take some Instagram-worthy pictures in the palace grounds! So, what are you waiting for? Come to Halcyon castle and immerse yourself in the grandeur and elegance of a bygone era!
18. Indulge in some Ayurvedic wellness treatments
Trivandrum is home to some of the best Ayurvedic beach resorts in the world, where you can experience the ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda and its healing benefits. Imagine being surrounded by the crystal clear waters of the Arabian Sea, peaceful palm trees swaying in the breeze and the comforting luxury of your spa-like accommodation.
One of the best examples is the Somatheeram Ayurvedic Beach Resort, which is set on a picturesque cliff overlooking the Arabian Sea. It offers guests a chance to immerse themselves in traditional Ayurvedic treatments like massages, facials, yoga, meditation and ayurvedic diet for an unforgettable experience. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even take a cooking class and learn how to make healthy Ayurvedic meals!
Another great option is the Niraamaya Retreats Surya Samudra, which is a luxurious Ayurvedic beach resort located on a secluded beach. The resort offers a host of wellness programs tailored to your individual needs and preferences, including detox, stress relief, and weight loss. And if you’re looking for something more active, you can try the resort’s fitness and adventure activities, such as beach volleyball, kayaking, and rock climbing.
Best places to stay in Trivandrum
Whether you’re here for a relaxing vacation or a business trip, Trivandrum has got you covered with its range of luxurious and comfortable hotels. Let’s dive into the top three hotels that are worth your money and time.
First up, we have the Hilton Garden Inn Trivandrum, located in the heart of the city. This hotel is perfect for business travelers and families alike, with its spacious rooms and high-speed Wi-Fi. If you’re feeling hungry, head over to their restaurant, Garden Grille, where they serve up some delicious Kerala delicacies. And if you’re feeling lazy, take a dip in their rooftop pool and soak in the stunning views of the city. Just make sure you don’t forget your sunscreen, or you’ll be as red as a ripe tomato.
Next, we have the Vivanta Trivandrum, a luxurious hotel that will make you feel like royalty. From the moment you step into their elegant lobby, you’ll be greeted with warm smiles and a refreshing welcome drink. Their rooms are spacious and come with all the modern amenities you could ever need, from plush beds to flat-screen TVs. And if you’re feeling fancy, try their fine-dining restaurants, Mynt or Wink where they serve up some mouth-watering international cuisine. Just don’t be surprised if you end up spending more time at the spa than at the beach, their massages are out of this world.
Next up, we have the luxurious 5-star Leela Kovalam. It is located on a cliff overlooking the Arabian Sea, offering stunning views of the coastline. The hotel features 183 rooms and suites, each of which is beautifully appointed with modern amenities and elegant decor. Guests can enjoy a range of facilities, including an outdoor pool, a spa, and a fitness center. The hotel also has several dining options, including an Indian restaurant, a seafood restaurant, and a bar.
The Taj Green Cove Resort and Spa is another good option located in the picturesque Kovalam area of Trivandrum, nestled amidst lush greenery and overlooking the backwaters. The hotel features 59 rooms and villas, each of which is designed to offer guests a comfortable and luxurious stay. The resort has several facilities, including an outdoor pool, a spa, a fitness center, and a kids’ play area. Guests can also enjoy a range of dining options, including an all-day dining restaurant, a seafood restaurant, and a bar.