Thiruvananthapuram, capital of Kerala State, is known for its art gallery, zoo and its beach. Apart from the famous Sri Padmanabha temple, Thiruvananthapuram, is the southernmost district of the State. The Western Ghats, form the eastern boundary, while the 78 km flat coastal strip is in the west. The midland region of the district slopes from east to west comprising of low undulating hills and valleys, traversed by several hills. It is dotted with lovely beaches and beautiful backwater stretches. Besides the natural beauty, the rich history and culture of the district has made it a popular tourist destination.
Thiruvananthapuram city has grown as a tourist and commercial centre, with the Thiruvananthapuram International airport becoming the main gateway into Kerala. Being the state capital, it also throbs with political activity. Thiruvananthapuram's rich cultural heritage and its famous beaches, which include Kovalam, Shanghumugham and Varkala beaches, are one of the top tourist destinations in India.
Thiruvananthapuram, a hub for Ayurvedic treatments and Yoga, is regarded as a major Indian health care and tourism destination. The city is fast emerging as a global destination for medical tourists with major Thiruvananthapuram hospitals such as the Kerala Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) in Thiruvananthapuram including medical tourism in their agenda. Trivandrum Medical College, founded in 1951, is one of the premier Medical colleges of India.
Origin of name
Thiruvananthapuram literally means "City of Lord Anantha" in Malayalam. The name derives from the deity of the Hindu temple at the centre of the city. Anantha is the serpent Shesha on whom Padmanabhan or Vishnu reclines. The temple of Vishnu reclining on Anantha, the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple is the most recognizable iconic landmark of the city. The city was officially referred to as Trivandrum in English until 1991, when the government decided to reinstate the city's original name Thiruvananthapuram in all languages. However, the city is still widely referred to as "Trivandrum".
Thiruvananthapuram is an ancient city with trading traditions dating back to 1000 BC. It is believed that the ships of king Solomon landed in a port called Ophir (now Poovar) in Thiruvananthapuram in 1036 BC. The city was the trading post of spices, sandalwood and ivory. However, the ancient political and cultural history of the city was almost entirely independent from that of the rest of Kerala. The early rulers of the city were the Ays. With their fall in the 10th century, the city was taken over by the rulers of Venad.
The rise of modern Thiruvananthapuram began with accession of Marthanda Varma in 1729 as the founding ruler of the princely state of Travancore (Thiruvithamkoor in the local vernacular). Thiruvananthapuram was made the capital of Travancore in 1745. The city developed into a major intellectual and artistic centre during this period. The golden age in the city's history was during the mid 19th century under the reign of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal and Maharaja Ayilyam Thirunal. This era saw the establishment of the first English school (1834), the Observatory (1837), the General Hospital (1839), the Oriental Research Institute & Manuscripts Library and the University College (1873). The first Lunatic Asylum in the state was also started during the same period. Sanskrit college, Ayurveda college, Law college and a second grade college for women were started by Moolam Thirunal (1885–1924).
The early 19th century was an age of tremendous political and social changes in the city. The Sree Moolam Assembly, established in 1904 was the first democratically elected legislative council in any Indian state. Despite not being under direct control of the British empire at any time, the city however featured prominently in India's freedom struggle. The Indian National Congress had a very active presence in the city. A meeting of the Indian National Congress presided by Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramaiah was held here in 1938.
The period of Chitra Thirunal Bala Rama Varma, who took over in 1931, witnessed many-sided progress. The promulgation of "Temple Entry Proclamation" (1936) was an act that underlined social emancipation. This era also saw the establishment of the University of Travancore in 1937, which later became the Kerala University.
With the end of the British rule in 1947, Travancore chose to join the Indian union. The first popular ministry headed by Pattom Thanu Pillai was installed in office on 24 March 1948. In 1949, Thiruvananthapuram became the capital of Thiru-Kochi, the state formed by the integration of Travancore with its northern neighbour Kochi. The king of Travancore, Chitra Thirunal Bala Rama Varma became the Rajpramukh of the Travancore-Cochin Union from July 1, 1949 until October 31, 1956. When the state of Kerala was formed on November 1, 1956, Thiruvananthapuram became the capital of the new state.
With the establishment of Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) in 1962, Thiruvananthapuram became the cradle of India's ambitious space programme. The first Indian space rocket was developed and launched from the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) located in the outskirts of the city in 1963. Several establishments of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) were later established in Thiruvananthapuram.
A major milestone in the city's recent history was the establishment of Technopark—India's first IT park—in 1995. Technopark has developed into the largest IT Park in India and third largest in Asia and is home to IT giants like Infosys and TCS, employing around 12,500 people in close to 110 companies. This placed Thiruvananthapuram on the IT map of India and it is today one of the most promising in the country in terms of competitiveness and capability.
The large forest reserves favourably affect the climate and induce rain cold weather is experienced in the mountain ranges whereas lower down, the weather is bracing and in the plains, it is generally hot.
Though the mean maximum temperature is only around 90 °F, it is oppressive in the moisture-laden atmosphere of the plains. Humidity is high and rises to about 90 per cent during the south-west monsoon.
The average rainfall is around 150 cm per annum. It is significant that the district gets rainfall both from the south-west and the north-east monsoons. The south-west monsoon starts by the end of May/beginning of June, and fades out by September, while the north-east monsoon commences in October. Dry weather sets in by the end of December. December, January and February are the coolest months of the year, March, April and May are generally hot.
During the months of April and May, the mean daily maximum temperature rises up to 35.2 °C and during December-January, it sometimes goes down to 18 °C.