Veli Lake, TrivandrumReferred to as the ? Evergreen city of India? by Mahatma Gandhi, this capital city of India?s most literate state Kerala, sits on an undulating terrain of low hills near the southernmost tip of India and shares a close cultural relationship with its neighbouring sate, Tamil Nadu. It was the seat of power of the erstwhile royal family of Travancore. It derives its name from the Padmanabha temple whose deity Vishnu reclines on Anantha. Thiruvananthapuram literally means ? City of Anantha?.

The district of Thiruvananthapuram has a rich variety of plants ranging from orchids to spices. Spices such as pepper and ginger are cultivated on a large scale. The forests abound in a variety of animals and birds such as elephants, bisons, monkeys, Nilgiri langur, lion-tailed macaque, Nilgiri brown mongoose, Malabar civet and a variety of snakes.

A great backwater destination, its 78 kilometres of coastline also affords stretches of secluded, sandy beaches.

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Thiruvallam, located at the confluence of two rivers Killi and Karamana, and just 10 kms away from Thiruvananthapuram, is a popular tourist spot, particularly for its canoe rides. Close by is the Veli lagoon and tourist village, where there is a range of water sport facilities.

Being the capital city of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram has plenty of shopping places, the main being MG Road, Chalai, Power House Road, Attukal Shopping Complex, Narmada Shopping Complex, Saphalaya and Kedaram. Most of the handicraft and gift shops can be found in MG Road.? Metal work, an ancient art of Kerala, is employed to make decorative items and kitchenware.? Miniature elephants and snake boats ? typical symbols of Kerala ? are worth taking home.

Thiruvananthapuram is well connected to other major cities of the country by air, rail as well as roadways. Within Thiruvananthapuram, one can hire a car, take a taxi or, a three-wheeled mode of transport called the auto-rickshaw.

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The mean maximum temperature in summer is 35C and minimum mean, 20C and in winter, the mean maximum temperature is 35C and mean minimum, 18C. April and May are the hottest months. The months between June ? September experience heavy monsoons.

Better accommodation options are available in and around Kovalam beach, however, some options in Thiruvananthapuram are Saj Lucia, The South Park, The Muthoot Plaza and The Ruby Arena,

Padmanabhan Temple
This ancient temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu is located inside the east fort, about 7 kms away from the Thiruvananthapuram Central Railway Station, and is one of the grandest temples of Kerala.

It is one of the grandest temples of Kerala and exhibits a blend of Kerala and Dravidan styles of architecture. The sanctum of the temple is made in Keralan temple style whereas the walls and towers are fashioned in Dravidan style. It has innumerable pillars, intricate carvings and murals.

The presiding deity here is Lord Vishnu reclining on Anantha, the holy serpent. It is said that in 1733AD, Raja Marthananda Varma, the erstwhile Travancore ruler, laid down his scepter and crown at the feet of the deity and vowed to rule the kingdom as Padmanabha Dasa, or servant of Lord Padmanabha. All rulers of Travancore were thereafter known as ?Padmanabha Dasa?.

This temple is still under the control of the Travancore royal family and is one of the best-maintained temples in India. Strict worship protocol is observed here. Non-Hindus are restricted from entering the temple and a respectable dress code necessarily followed.

Sree Chitra art gallery and museum
Established in 1935, this museum showcases hundreds of paintings by Raja Ravi Varma, previously owned by the erstwhile Travancore royalty. Considered to be one of the greatest painters in the history of Indian art, Raja Ravi Varma is a pioneer who fused Indian traditions with the techniques of European academic art. He is also known for his numerous exquisite paintings of elegant and shapely sari-clad women. It also houses an exquisite display of works of medieval and contemporary painters of the Mughals, Rajputs, Tanjore and the Bengal School of Art. Apart from this, famous Roerich paintings, ancient miniature paintings of Tanjore and around the world, manuscripts of great archival value, and mural paintings unique to Kerala, make this gallery one worth visiting.

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Shankhumugham Beach
Located between Thiruvananthapuram aiport and Veli Tourist Village, and 6 kms out of Thiruvananthapuram, this beach is a great tourist destination. A quiet and secluded beach, plenty of recreational facilities, a Traffic Training Park and a beautiful restaurant shaped like a starfish, that serves great food, make this beach a perfect weekend getaway for locals as well. Catch fishermen go about their daily routine or simply enjoy the sunset

Located 10 kms away at the confluence of Killi and Karama rivers, Thiruvallam is a popular backwater destination. Plenty of tourists and devotees also come here to visit the Parasurama Temple, a 2,000-year old temple, the only one in the state to be dedicated to Sree Parasurama, the mythological creator of Kerala. This temple is also the venue for ancestor worship. The tranquil backwater stretch is also famous for its canoe rides. Float away the fast pace of humanity on this serene waterways and get lost in time.

Parasurama Temple
Situated on the banks of the river Karamana, this 2,000-year old temple is the only one in the state to be dedicated to Sree Parasurama, the mythological creator of Kerala. This temple is also the venue for ancestor worship.

Neyyar Dam & Lion Safari Park
Located about 32 kms away from Thiruvanthapuram, it is a popular picnic spot with a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains and lake. Among the attractions in this park are the Lion Safari, boating facilities, crocodile farm, mountaineering, trekking, a miniature wildlife sanctuary and swimming Neyyar Dam is an extension of the Kallikad Tiger Reseve and Mudanthura Wildlife Sanctuary in the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu.? The Neyyar Sanctuary is spread over the southeast area of the Western Ghats and covers a total area of 128 sq kms. Elephants, gaur, Sloth Bear, Nilgiri Tahr, Jungle Cat, Wild Boar and Nilgiri Langur are among the wildlife found here.

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