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Thiruvananthapuram (Tiruvaṉantapuram, IPA: [t̪iruʋənən̪t̪əpurəm] ( listen)), formerly known as Trivandrum, is the capital and the largest city of the Indian state of Kerala. It is located on the west coast of India near the extreme south of the mainland. Referred to by Mahatma Gandhi as the "evergreen city of India",[5][6] it is classified as a Tier-II city by the Government of India.

Thiruvananthapuram was an trading post for spices, sandalwood and ivory. The city was ruled by the Ays and was captured by the rulers of Venad in tenth century A.D. In 1729, Marthanda Varma founded the princely state of Thiruvithamkoor and made Thiruvananthapuram the capital in 1745. It remained as a princely state ruled by Travancore under the loose governance of the British before joining the Indian Union in 1948.

Thiruvananthapuram contributes nearly 80% of the state's software exports and is a major IT hub. It was ranked as the best city in Kerala to live in a 2012 survey by Times of India.[7] The city was also ranked as the best city in India for Housing and Transport by a survey conducted by India Today.

Etymology

The city gets its name from Malayalam language word thiru-anantha-puram IPA: [t̪iruʋənən̪t̪əpurəm] ( listen), meaning the "City of Lord Ananta."[10] The name derives from the deity of the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple located in the city. Thiruvananthapuram is also known in literature and popular reference as Ananthapuri derived from Sanskrit and as Syanandurapuri, meaning "city of bliss" in Carnatic kirtanas composed by Swathi Thirunal, a Maharaja of Travancore.[11] The city was officially referred to as Trivandrum until 1991, when the government decided to reinstate the city's original name Thiruvananthapuram.

History

Painting by Raja Ravi Varma depicting Richard Grenville being greeted by Visakham Thirunal, with Ayilyam Thirunal of Travancore at Thiruvananthapuram in early 1880s
Thiruvananthapuram is an ancient region with trading traditions dating back to 1000 BCE.[12] The city was a trading post for spices, sandalwood and ivory.[13] The early rulers of the city were the Ays and after their fall in the 10th century, the city was captured by the rulers of Venad.

In 1729, Marthanda Varma founded the princely state of Thiruvithamkoor and Thiruvananthapuram was made the capital in 1745 after shifting the capital from Padmanabhapuram in Tamil Nadu.[15] In the mid-19th century, the city was under the reign of Swathi Thirunal and Ayilyam Thirunal. An observatory was established in 1837 with the Oriental Research Institute & Manuscripts Library and the University College established in 1873. Several colleges were established by Moolam Thirunal (1885–1924).[14] Sree Moolam Assembly, established in 1904, was the first democratically elected legislative council in any Indian state.[16] Though the city was never under direct control of the British Empire, it featured in the Indian independence movement with a meeting of the Indian National Congress presided by Pattabhi Sitaramaiah held here in 1938.

After Indian Independence in 1947, Travancore chose to join the Indian union and the first ministry headed by Pattom Thanu Pillai was installed in office on 24 March 1948. In 1949, Thiruvananthapuram became the capital of Travancore-Cochin, the state formed by the integration of Travancore with the Kingdom of Cochin.[17] The king of Travancore, Chitra Thirunal Bala Rama Varma, became the Rajpramukh of the Travancore-Cochin Union from 1 July 1949 until 31 October 1956. When the state of Kerala was formed on 1 November 1956, Thiruvananthapuram became its capital.

The city has a population of 752,490 according to the 2011 census,[3] and 1,687,406 in the Urban Agglomeration.[4] The sex ratio is 1,032 females for every 1,000 males.[3] In October 2010, the number of wards was increased from 86 to 100 post expansion of city limits by adding Sreekaryam, Vattiyoorkavu, Kudappanakunnu, Vizhinjam and Kazhakuttam panchayats.

Hindus comprise 68.5% of the population, Christians about 16.7% and Muslims form 13.7%. The major languages spoken are English, Malayalam and Tamil. The city is home to a prominent minority of Tamil speakers, owing to their migration from the adjoining district of Kanyakumari. The city also has a few Tulu, Konkani, Dhivehi, Hindi, Telugu, and Urdu speakers. As per 2001 census, the population below the poverty line in the city was 11,667 with majority living in slums and coastal fishing areas.

Economy

The economy of the city is mainly based on the tertiary sector. Thiruvananthapuram was listed as one of the top 10 cites in India on Vibrancy and Consumption Index by a study conducted by global financial services firm Morgan Stanley.[23] The city is a major exporter of software with over 250 companies employing more than 40,000 professionals.[24][25] It contributes nearly 80% of the state's software exports.[26][27][28] Tourism also contributes to the economy of Thiruvananthapuram.[29][30][31] There are around 20 government owned and 60 privately owned medium and large-scale industrial units in Thiruvananthapuram. There are also about 30,000 small scale industrial units employing around 115,000 people. Traditional industries include handloom and coir.

Administration

The state legislative assembly and Secretariat are located in Thiruvananthapuram. The city also serves as the headquarters of the Thiruvananthapuram district. The Thiruvananthapuram municipality was established in 1920 and was declared as a Corporation on 30 October 1940, during the rule of Chitra Thirunal Bala Rama Varma.[33] The city is administered by the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation which headed by a mayor and is responsible for the overall supervision and control of the administrative functions. The city elects its member of Parliament for the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency. It contributes four members to the legislative assembly from Kazhakuttam, Vattiyoorkavu, Thiruvananthapuram and Nemom.

Geography and climate

Thiruvananthapuram is built on seven hills and is located at 8.5°N 76.9°E on the west coast, near the southern tip of mainland India.[35] The city is bounded by Laccadive Sea to its west and the Western Ghats to its east. The city covers an area of 214.86 km2 (82.96 sq mi) and the average elevation is 16 ft (4.9 m) above sea level.[36][37] The Geological Survey of India has classified Thiruvananthapuram as a moderately earthquake-prone urban centre and categorised it in the Seismic III Zone.[38] Karamana and Killi rivers, Vellayani and Akkulam lakes are the main water bodies in the city.

The city has a climate that borders between a tropical savanna climate and a tropical monsoon climate. The humidity is high and is the highest during the monsoon season.[40] Thiruvananthapuram gets majority of the rain from the south-west monsoons and gets its first showers in early June. It also gets rain from the receding north-east monsoons in October. The lowest temperature in the city core recorded during winter was 16.4 °C on, and the highest temperature recorded in summer is 38.0 °C

Tourism

Thiruvananthapuram is a popular destination for tourists. Kovalam is a popular beach town located 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) from the city. The Padmanabhaswamy Temple circled by the East Fort is amongst the richest temples in India.[46] Other places of interest include Sanghumukham Beach, Napier museum and Zoo, Agasthyarkoodam peak, Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary and Neyyar Dam, Kuthira Malika palace, Ponmudi, Poovar, Varkala Cliffs and Edava lake.

Transport

The NH 544 connects the city with Salem and Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu. The Main Central Road is an arterial road in the city and is designated as State Highway 1. Thiruvananthapuram Central is the major railway station serving the city. It falls under the Southern Railway zone of the Indian Railways and the Kollam-Thiruvananthapuram trunk line connects the city with the rail network. There are five railway stations in the city namely, the Thiruvananthapuram central, Thiruvananthapuram Pettah, Kochuveli, Veli and Nemom.

Thiruvananthapuram is served by the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport. It has direct connectivity to the Middle East, Singapore, Maldives and Sri Lanka being one of the gateways to the state. The airport is qualified for all-weather and night operations.[48] The airport is 3.7 kilometres (2.3 mi) from the central business district.[49] It is the headquarters of the Southern Air Command (SAC) of the Indian Air Force.

Culture

The rulers of erstwhile Travancore took an active interest in the development of arts. Thiruvananthapuram has produced artists like Maharaja Swathi Thirunal, Irayimman Thampi and Raja Ravi Varma.

Education

Thiruvananthapuram is an educational hub. There are about 15 engineering colleges, three medical colleges, three Ayurveda colleges, two homoeopathy colleges, six other medicine related colleges, 1 agricultural college, two of the management institutions and two law colleges in the city and its suburbs.[52] Major institutions include the University of Kerala, Indira Gandhi National Open University, College of Engineering, Government Engineering College, Sree Chitra Thirunal College of Engineering, Trivandrum medical college and Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology. Centre for Development Studies and Centre for Development of Imaging Technology are research institutions located in the city.

Sports

Popular games include Football and Cricket.[53] Basketball, Badminton and Volleyball are played in schools. Kerala Cricket Association is headquartered in Thiruvananthapuram. The city has a multi-functional stadium at Kazhakkoottam and a shooting range at Vattiyoorkkavu.

Visiting Places in Trivandrum

Agastyakoodam
Situated on the eastern side of the district[1] at about 1,869 metres (6,132 ft) above sea level, Agasthyarkoodam is one of the highest peaks in the Western Ghats and is the second highest peak in Kerala after Anamudi which is the highest peak in the Western Ghats. Tradition says that the great sage Agasthya lived on this peak. Noted for its abundant ayurvedic herbs, the cone shaped mountain is a centre of pilgrimage for Hindus because of Agastya, who was a confirmed bachelor. Hence, the aborigines dislike the presence of women on the hill and they are forbidden from ascending the peak.[citation needed] . Agasthyavanam Biological Park offers trekking opportunities.

Agasthyarkoodam is 70 kilometres (43 mi) from Thiruvananthapuram and is home to the Neelakurinji, a flower which blooms only once every twelve years. A forest pass has to be obtained from the Wildlife Warden at the Forestry Department for trekking. Vehicles reach only till Bonacaud which is around 50 km from Thiruvananthapuram. The trek to the peak is 28 km long from Bonacaud and requires 2 days. The first part of the trek can be started from the base station Bonacaud in the early morning and is 20 km through the forest to the camp. Elephants and wild bulls are in abundance in this part especially in the evenings. The final part i.e. the 8 km long trek can be done from the camp to the top of Agathyakoodam mountain on the second day.

Situated 60 km away from Thiruvananthapuram and 4 km from Bonacaud, Bona falls in the district is accessible only by trekking and with a permission from Department of Forests and Wildlife (Kerala).

Anchuthengu

Situated 40 km north of Thiruvananthapuram city, along the sea coast, Anchuthengu is a place of historic importance. It was here that the first settlement of the English East India Company was established in 1864 AD. Historically, the limits of area where five coconut palms stood (Anchuthengu, corrupted as Anjengo) was given on lease to the Company by the King of Travancore for trade purposes. The remains of the old English Fort, which had withstood many a siege, can be seen here even today. There is an ancient Christian church in Mampally in the name of Holy Spirit and it was built in the 15th century by St. Francis Xavier. The airforce station is located here, as well. From here one can sail across the river to Veli by boat. A local boat club providing vessels is a popular tourist attraction.

Arippa

Ecotourism destination under the government. Arippa forests and Kambakom located 60 km from Thiruvananthapuram is an excellent trekking destination. Bird watching, cottages and camping facilities are also provided.

Aruvikkara

Sixteen km north of Thiruvananthapuram city, gifted with lavish scenic beauty is Aruvikkara. Thiruvananthapuram city gets its water supply from the Aruvikkara reservoir. There is an ancient temple dedicated to Durga, on the banks of the river.

Aruvippuram

The place is about seven km from Neyyattiankara.A Siva temple founded by Sree Narayana Guru attracts a large number of worshippers during the Sivarathri festival.

Balaramapuram

Balaramapuram is famous for its hand-spun cloth. Weaving is a cottage industry here with cooperative activity. It is 13 km south of the city towards Kanyakumari on National Highway 47.

Meenmutti and Kombaikani waterfalls

These are two magnificent waterfalls on the upper reaches of the Neyyar reservoir. A trek of two kilometers, through dense forests, would take one to Meenmutty Falls, Thiruvananthapuram and a further two km, to the Kombaikani waterfalls. The waterfalls and forests around them are worth experiencing.

Kalakkayam, Kurisadi and Braemore estate waterfalls

Kalakkayam/Mankayam/Idinjar waterfalls is situated 45 km away from Thiruvananthapuram near Palode. Kurisadi waterfalls which is nearby has a smaller pool compared to Kalakkayam and is a designated eco-tourism destination. Braemore estate falls is a further 3 km from Kalakkayam waterfalls and is situated on private grounds accessible with a fees.

Vazhvanthol waterfalls

Vazhvanthol waterfalls is located near Vithura, around 46 km from Thiruvananthapuram and is not so well known.

Bona falls

Situated 60 km away from Thiruvananthapuram and 4 km from Bonacaud ,this waterfalls in the district is accessible only by trekking and with a permission from Department of Forests and Wildlife (Kerala).

Neyyar Dam

Neyyar Dam is located across the Neyyar river flowing south of Thiruvananthapuram. Lying amidst the southern low hills of the Western Ghats, 29 km from the city, the catchment area offers facilities for boating and mountaineering. A three-hour climb over the hills across the reservoir affords the thrill of hiking. There are two beautiful waterfalls on the way. A Lion Safari Park and a Crocodile Rearing Centre have also been set up in the reservoir. Also on the lake is the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram.

Neyyattinkara

Neyyattinkara is an ancient town, situated about 20 km south-east of Thiruvananthapuram city. The Sree Krishna Swami temple, founded by King Marthanda Varma (1729–1758), is of historical importance. The temple is situated beside the bank of Neyyar River. In the premises of the temple, there is a historic jack tree, known as Ammachi Plavu, in the hollow of which Marthanda Varma is believed to have hid himself and escaped death at the hands of his enemies.

Peppara

Peppara/Peypara is 50 km from the city on the way to Ponmudi. The sanctuary there, with its rich mammalian fauna and avis is emerging as a big attraction to wild life enthusiasts and ornithologists. It was established in 1938 over an area of 53 km2. on the Western Ghats. Elephants, sambars, leopards, lion-tailed macaques and cormorants are commonly seen here.

Ponmudi

A pleasant resort with an elevation of 912 m above sea level, Ponmudi is reached by road 60 km from Thiruvananthapuram. There are several tea and rubber estates around the hills. A hill tribe called Kani live in the surrounding areas. Ponmudi is fast developing as a hill resort with room and dormitory accommodation facilities, hill-trails for hiking, a collection of flowering trees and a deer park. Ponmudi is 61 km from Thiruvananthapuram city.

Poovar

Poovar is 29 km from the city. It was a trading centre in early days and one of the ancient ports of the district. It is said that the Jesuit Missionary, St.Francis Xavier, visited the place in the 16th century. It is a really beautiful place to visit nature blessed with backwaters, beaches and island. Together these make a fantastic scenery - a memorable experience for visitors.

Sarkara

Sarkara is 35 km north of Thiruvananthapuram and six km west of Attingal. There is a famous temple which is dedicated to Goddess Bhagavathi. A grand festival, Sarkara Bharani, is conducted in this temple during March–April.

Sarkaradevi Temple is one of the most important temples in South India. It is situated South of the Chirayinkil Taluk (in the North-West of Thiruvananthapuram district.) Tradition accords a remote antiquity to this temple. Its main deity is Bhadrakali. The sarkaradevi Temple assumed a significant status many reasons and rose to historical importance mainly with the introduction of the famous Kaliyoot festival by Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma, the Travancore sovereign, in 1748.

Varkala

Varkala is a pilgrim centre and a tourist attraction that lies forty one km north of Thiruvananthapuram city by rail and 51 km by road. The Samadhi of Sree Narayana Guru, the great social reformer and philosopher, attracts devotees in thousands. The cliffs and mineral water springs at the Papanasam beach are tourist attractions. The inland waterways system connecting Kollam in the north with Thiruvananthapuram in the south, passes through two tunnels in the hills. The Janardana Swami Temple here attracts many devotees.

Vizhinjam

About two km south of Kovalam, Vizhinjam is believed to have been an ancient port. Now, Vizhinjam is a fishing harbour, with a light house. The Portuguese and the Dutch had commercial establishments here. The Portuguese have built a church in Vizhinjam near to the sea shore, which is still functional and is referred as the Old Vizhinjam Church. It is located in the vizhinjam fishing harbour area. This place is being developed into an international deep water container transshipment terminal because of its proximity to international shipping lanes and its natural depth