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Trivandrum Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple Complex | © Ashcoounter / WikiCommons
Trivandrum Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple Complex | © Ashcoounter / WikiCommons
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How to Spend 48 Hours in Thiruvananthapuram, India

Picture of Charishma Thankappan
Updated: 25 January 2018
Thiruvananthapuram is the capital and the largest city of Kerala with a metropolitan population of 1.68 million, making it the most populous city in the state as well. It is home to the Southern Air Command headquarters of the Indian Air Force. The city’s most famous landmark is the Padmanabhaswamy Temple, which is arguably the richest religious establishment in the world. Thiruvananthapuram gets its name from the main deity of the temple, Anantha – thiru-anantha-puram meaning ‘The Abode of Lord Anantha’.

Day One

Start your day with the famous filter coffee from Indian Coffee House, located in a unique spiral building made out of red bricks. The place opens as early as 7 am, and an early start is essential to make the most of the two days you have.

Morning

Your first stop for the day is the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, which shot to international fame with the discovery of six ancient vaults stacked with jewellery and gold coins. The temple architecture is an elaborate fusion of both the Kerala style and Tamil style (kovil) and features high walls and a 16th-century gopuram. The principal deity is Lord Vishnu enshrined in the ‘Anantha Shayanam’ – the eternal yogic asleep on the serpent Adishesha – pose.

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The temple gopuram as seen from near the temple pond | © Shishirdasika / WikiCommons

Afternoon

A walk through the Agraharam­ – land granted by a king or noble, particularly to Brahmins to maintain temples and sustain their families – will give you an idea about the dwellings that existed 100 years back. There are many eateries outside the temple area where tasty Tamil- and Kerala-style lunch meals are available.

Evening

The next stop is Kuthiramalika (Mansion of Horses) Palace Museum, built by Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma in the traditional Kerala architecture. The palace is a monument to Kerala’s prowess in wood carvings.

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The palace got its name from the 122 horse figures carved on its southern wall | © Hans A. Rosbach / WikiCommons

The Swathi Music Festival, aka Swathi Sangeetholsavam, an annual event, is conducted in the front courtyard. The five-day festival features the stalwarts of Carnatic and Hindustani branches of music. The palace complex also houses the Sri Swathi Thirunal Museum and HH Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma Chithralayam, exhibiting photos and paintings depicting the life of the Travancore Royal family.

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Portrait of the famous Sri Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma, Maharajah of Travancore | © Unknown / WikiCommons

Night

Your last stop for the day is Shankumugham Beach, which is one of the best places to catch the sunset in Kerala. Families and friends head to the beach to enjoy the wind and the waves. While there, visit the sculpture of Sagarakanyaka, which means ‘mermaid’ in the local language. Another attraction here is the Aarattu Mandapam on the shores of the beach.

Close the night with a long relaxing dinner at Village Maya Heritage Restaurant.

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Matsya Kanyaka aka Saagara Kanyaka is a major attraction at the beach | © Navaneeth Krishnan S / WikiCommons

Day Two

Day two is for exploring the northwestern part of Thiruvananthapuram town. Like the previous day, begin with a traditional Kerala breakfast from Mothers Veg Plaza.

Morning

You can start today’s trip with a visit to the Napier Museum, a landmark with unique ornamentation, a gothic roof, and minarets. The structure, built in the 19th century by Robert Chisholm in the Indo-Saracenic architectural style, now houses a rare collection of artefacts, including a temple chariot.

Afternoon

Have lunch at Zam Zam Restaurant, renowned for their Middle Eastern cuisine.

The next stop is the Kerala State Science & Technology (KST) Museum & Priyadarshini Planetarium. It is an autonomous organisation serving the purpose of communicating science and technology to the public in a recreational manner. The museum is a must-visit for children and adults so that they can enhance their knowledge about the advancements in science and technology across the world. Catch the various informational shows offered by the planetarium and 3D theatre.

Book your tickets online at KST Museum, Vikasbhavan, Thiruvananthapuram, +91 4712 306 024 / 25.

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Kerala State Science & Technology (KST) Museum & Priyadarshini Planetarium | © Akhilan / WikiCommons

Evening

Head to the Kanakakkunnu Palace, which is one of the last architectural examples of the colonial era. Today, the palace and its sprawling grounds host many cultural meetings and programmes. If time permits, you can also visit the Thiruvananthapuram Zoo, which has its own Rhino Enclosure.

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The Kanakakkunnu Palace was built by Sree Moolam Thirunal to entertain the royal family’s guests | © Ranjithsiji / WikiCommons

Night

Complete the day with dinner at Kings Restaurant, famous for their large variety of food, great quality, and ambience.