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South Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram

Located at the southwestern tip of India, Thiruvananthapuram district is bounded by the Arabian Sea on the west and Tamil Nadu on the east. The word ' Thiru Ananthapuram' means the city of Anantha or the abode of the sacred thousand headed serpent Anantha, who forms the couch on which reclines Lord Vishnu, the preserver in the Hindu trinity. The city has grown as a tourist and commercial centre, with the International airport becoming the main gateway into Kerala. A long shoreline, with internationally renowned beaches, historic monuments, backwater stretches and a rich cultural heritage make this district a much sought after tourist destination. Being the state capital, it also throbs with political activity. Thiruvananthapuram earlier known as Trivandrum is well connected with rest of India by train, road and air.

Thiruvananthapuram at a glance :

Thiruvananthapuram at a glance :
Area 2192 sq. km
Population 32,34,707(2001 census)
Altitude Sea level
Climate Warm tropical
Temperature Summer Max 36.2 C
Temperature Summer Min 18.0 C
Rainfall (May to November) 170cm
Best time to visit September to may

Places of Interest


Beaches
Shankhumugham Beach
Kovalam Beach
Varkala

Picnic Spots
Akkulam Tourist Village
Veli Tourist Village
Neyyar reservoir

Hills
Ponmudi
Agasthyarkoodam

Wild Life
Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary
Pandipathu

Museums
Kuthiramalika (Puthenmalika) Palace Museum
Sree Chithra Art Gallery
Napier Museum & Art Gallery

Forts
East Fort

Historical
Anjengo

Monuments
Vizhinjam Rock Cut Cave
Koyikkal Palace
Padmanabhapuram Palace

Pilgrim centers
Padmanabha Swamy Temple
Varkala
Parasurama Temple

Others
Secretariat
Kerala Legislature Complex
Thiruvananthapuram - Aquatourism
Thiruvallam
Aruvikkara Dam
Sree Mahadeva Temple
C V N Kalari
ISMA
Margi
Kallar

Beaches

Shankhumugham Beach

Just 8 km from the city, this is a favourite haunt of sunset watchers. The beach is adjacent to the Thiruvananthapuram Airport and Veli Tourist Village. An indoor recreation club, the matsya kanyaka (a gigantic, 35 m long sculpture of a mermaid) and a restaurant shaped like a starfish are some of the attractions here. Chacha Nehru Traffic Training Park here provides opportunity for children to learn the traffic rules.

Kovalam Beach

Kovalam is an internationally renowned beach with three adjacent crescent beaches. It has been a favourite haunt of tourists ,especially Europeans since the 1930s. A massive rocky promontory on the beach has created a beautiful bay of calm waters ideal for sea bathing. The leisure options at this beach are plenty and diverse-sunbathing, swimming, herbal body toning massages, special cultural programmes, Catamaran cruising etc. The tropical sun acts so fast that one can see the faint blush of coppery tan on the skin in a matter of minutes. Life on the beach begins late in the day and carries on well into the night.The beach complex includes a string of budget cottages, Ayurvedic health resorts, convention facilities, shopping zones, swimming pools, Yoga and Ayurvedic massage centres etc. Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala, is just 16 km away from Kovalam. September to March is an ideal time to visit, though it is an all year destination. Thiruvananthapuram International Airport is 10 km away from Kovalam

Varkala

Verkala lies 51 km north of Thiruvananthapuram city and 37 km south of Kollam It has several places of tourist interests like a beautiful beach, a 2000 year old Vishnu temple and the ashramam- 'Sivagiri Mutt' a little distance from the beach. At the serene Varkala beach is a quiet sea resort rich in mineral water springs. A dip in the holy waters at this beach is believed to purge the body of impurities and the soul of all sins. Hence the name 'Papanasam beach'. A two thousand year old shrine the Janardhanaswamy Temple, stands on the cliffs overlooking the beach, a short distance away. The Sivagiri Mutt, founded by the great Hindu reformer and Philosopher Sree Narayana Guru (1856 - 1928) is also close by. The Samadhi (the final resting place) of the Guru here attracts thousands of devotees every year during the Sivagiri Pilgrimage days - 30th December to 1st January. Varkala offers excellent accommodation facilities for the tourist and is fast becoming a popular health resort with many Ayurvedic massage centres. Thiruvananthapuram international airport is around 57 km away.

Picnic Spots

Akkulam Tourist Village

Located around 10 m away from Thiruvananthapuram city, Akkulam is a place of great scenic beauty with a picturesque lake. There is a boat club with over dozens of boats, available for joy riders. It is a place children flock to. It has a well equipped children's park and a paddle pool. There is a swimming pool for adults too. It is open from 10 am to 7 pm. Thiruvananthapuram international airport is about 7 km away from the tourist village.

Veli Tourist Village

The Veli tourist village with the beautiful placid lagoon displays the grandeur and splendour of nature at its Zenith. It is a place where the Veli Lake meets the Arabian Sea. Veli has a wide range of aqua sports facilities including a hovercraft. Pedalboats and paddleboats can be hired to explore the charms of the lagoon in a leisurely manner. For a quick ride over the waters, speedboats are available for hire. Children enjoy climbing over the huge sculptures which dot the landscape. Thiruvananthapuram central is about 8 km and Thiruvananthapuram International Airport is about 3 km away from this place. It is open from 8 am to 6 pm.

Neyyar reservoir

A repository of some of the rarest medicinal herbs, the Neyyar Dam is a popular picnic spot with a lake and a picturesque dam site. The lake formed by the dam across the Neyyar river is the bluest of blue, making boating irresistible for tourists. The Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary of which the dam is a part is the habitat of over a hundred rare species of fauna including elephants, wild buffaloes, wild boar, porcupines, tigers and a variety of snakes. A crocodile breeding centre and a lion safari park are also located in the dam site. It is about 32 km from Thiruvananthapuram and 38 km from Thiruvananthapuram International Airport. There is motorable road to the dam site which is well connected by regular bus services from Thiruvananthapuram city.

Aruvikkara Dam

This picturesque picnic spot is on the banks of the Karamana river. Near the Durga Temple here is a stream full of fish that fearlessly come close to the shore to be fed by the visitors. Boating facilities are available at the reservoir. It is 16 m from Thiruvananthapuram.

Hills

Ponmudi

Ponmudi is an enchanting hill resort with narrow winding pathways and cool, green environment around 915m above sea level. Along with a beautiful array of mountain flowers, exotic butterflies and small rivulets, Ponmudi offers excellent opportunities for trekking. With its tea estates and mist covered valleys Ponmudi is a fast developing hill resort with cottages and dormitory accommodation facilities. It is about 61 km from Thiruvananthapuram city and 67 Km from Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.

Agasthyarkoodam

The Agasthya forest believed to have been the abode of sage Agasthya, a character from mythology. The aborigins here believe that sage Agasthya, a mythological character who lived here was a confirmed bachelor, hence they dislike the presence of strange women. So, Women are not allowed up the peak. Agasthyarkoodam, the spectacular peak in the Western Ghats rises to a majestic 1890 m in the form of a sharp cone. A heaven of rare herbs and medicinal plants, its slopes are a breathtaking sight when they transform into colourful glades of the 'Neelakurinji', a flower which blooms only once in twelve years. The season from December 2'nd week to February is advocated for trekking for which a forest pass has to be obtained from the Wildlife Warden, Forest Dept., P.T.P.Nagar, Thiruvananthapuram. Bonocaud is about 61 km from Thiruvananthapuram central and 69 km from Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.

Wild Life

Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary

Lying on the outskirts of the capital city, the Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over an area of 53 sq. km. on the Western Ghats and was established in 1938. The place is fascinating for its damsite, thick forest areas, eucalyptus plantations, crystal clear streams and rocky terrains ideal for adventure expeditions. The sanctuary has a rich population of mammalian fauna and is emerging as a big attraction to wildlife enthusiasts and ornithologists. Elephants, sambar, leopard, lion-tailed macaque and cormorant are commonly seen here. Recently, a joint effort has been made by Kerala Tourism with the State Forest Department and the Kerala Water Authority to beautify the damsite and provide more entertainment/leisure facilities here.

Pandipathu

Situated on the Kerala-Tamilnadu border in the district of Thiruvananthapuram is Pandipathu. Pandipathu comes under the Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary, and is accessible from Bonacaud, which was once famous for its tea plantations, and is also one of the entry points to Agasthya peak. Pandipathu has a physical setting that comprises plains, hills and valleys, offering a variety of visual treat to the visitor. It is place where one can see Indian Wild Buffalo or the 'Gaur' on the rolling grasslands grazing throughout the day. It is about 68 km from Thiruvananthapuram city and 75 Km from Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.

For more information Contact :
The Assistant Wildlife Warden
Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary
Thiruvananthapuram
Ph. +91-471- 2892344

The Wildlife Warden
Wildlife Division
Forest Complex
P.T.P. Nagar, Vattiyoorkavu,
Thiruvananthapuram- 695 013
Ph. +91-471- 2360762

Museums

Kuthiramalika (Puthenmalika) Palace Museum

Lying adjacent to Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple at East Fort in Thiruvananthapuram, the palace museum displays paintings and various priceless collections of the royal family. The palace was built by Maharaja Swathi Thirunal Balarama Varma - the King of Travancore, who was a great poet, musician, social reformer and statesman. The museum is open for visitor from 8.30 am to 12.30 pm and 3.30 pm to 5.30 pm and closed on Mondays. Ph: 2473952 Entrance fee: Adults: Rs. 10 Children: Rs. 3 Foreigners: Rs. 20 Camera permit: Rs. 15. It is about 1 km from Thiruvananthapuram city and 6 Km from Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.

Sree Chithra Art Gallery

Located near the Napier Museum, this art gallery displays selected paintings of Raja Ravi Varma, Svetlova and Nicholas Roerich and exquisite works from the Rajput, Mughal and Tanjore schools of art in India. The collection also includes paintings from China, Japan, Tibet and Bali. It is open for visitor from 10 am to 4.45 pm and closed on Mondays and Wednesdays. Entrance fee (Museum and Art Gallery): Adults: Rs. 5 Children: Rs. 3

The Zoological Park

(Open 0900 - 1815hrs. Closed on Mondays) One of the first zoos in India, it is located in a well-planned botanical garden. With huge trees like frangipani and jacaranda dotting the sprawling lawns and wild fowl swimming in the lake, it is like a small jungle in the heart of the city. A reptile house with different species of snakes is also located in the premises. It is open for visitor from 9 am to 6.15 pm and closed on Mondays. Entrance fee: Adults: Rs. 5 Children: Rs. 3 Camera permit: Rs. 15

The Kanakakunnu Palace

The palace and its sprawling grounds are today the venue for many cultural meets and programmes.

Science and Technology Museum Complex

(Open 1000 - 1700 hrs. Closed on Mondays) The exhibits here are related to science, technology and electronics. It is open for visitor from 10 am to 5 pm and closed on Mondays. Ph: 2306976 Entrance fee: Adults: Rs. 10 Children: Rs. 5

Biotechnology Museum Entrance fee: Adults: Rs.10 Children: Rs. 5

Priyadarshini Planetarium Daily show time is 10.30 am, 12 pm, 3 pm and 5 pm. Entrance fee: Adults: Rs. 15 Children between 3 to 10 years: Rs. 10

Chacha Nehru Children's Museum

Children of all age groups will enjoy the vast collection of nearly 2000 dolls, stamps and masks displayed here. It is open for visitor from 10.30 am to 5 pm and closed on Mondays. Ph: 2324939

University Observatory

Located at the highest point in the city, near the Museum complex 60 metres above sea level, one can have a bird's eye view of the city from here. Ph: 2322732

Napier Museum & Art Gallery

Both Museum and Art Gallery are situated in the Napier Museum compound, right in the heart of the city, near the zoological park. Built in the 19th century, this Indo - Saracenic structure boasts a natural air conditioning system and houses a rare collection of archaeological and historic artefacts, bronze idols, ancient ornaments, a temple chariot and ivory carvings. The Museum building is a combination of the Kerala, Mughal, Chinese and Italian architectural styles. A visit to the Napier Museum complex reveals a glimpse of Kerala's rich cultural heritage. An exceptional piece of architecture, the Museum is named after the former Madras Governor General John Napier. The Napier Museum is also called the Government Art Museum. The use of plastic is banned in the museum premises. It is open for visitor from 10 am to 4.45 pm and closed on Monday and Wednesday forenoons, Jaunary 26th, August 15th, Thiruvonam and Mahanavami.

Forts

East Fort

The Fort area in the Capital City of Thiruvananthapuram bears a lot of historic significance. The Fort houses several magnificent palaces, palatial houses, and agraharams (Brahmin houses). The entire Fort area has been declared by the State Government as a heritage site. The Fort has stood witness to many events in the annals of erstwhile Travancore Kingdom, and also in the development of the Capital City of Thiruvananthapuram. For a visitor, the imposing gateway of the East Fort, painted in white and located on the eastern side, facing the famous Chalai bazaar is the usual way to get inside the Fort. Built in AD 1747 by King Marthanda Varma, the East Fort is the most prominent of the forts, and the structure displays a touch of French architecture with guardrooms on its sides. One can also find two mandapams (platform with a roof supported by pillars) on the top, which were once used to announce royal proclamations.

A bit towards south of East Fort is the red fort called Vettimurichakotta with rooms for guards on either side. The construction of this fort, which has an interesting story behind it, was initiated by King Vishakam Thirunal. Located near this fort is C.V.N. Kalari the famous center for Kalaripayattu, the traditional martial art form of Kerala.

As one enters through the East Fort, straight in line with entrance is the Padmanabha Swamy Temple. Built in traditional Kerala and Dravidian style, the architecture of this seven-storeyed temple tower itself is a sight to behold. The deity of the temple is Lord Padmanabha, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the preserver of life according to Hindu belief. Here, the 18 feet long deity is seen as lying on a serpent called Anantha. The Kings of Travancore ruled the land as the servants of Lord Padmanabha. Inside the temple, a mandapam (platform with pillars) carved out of a single piece of rock displays eye-catching sculptures.

Padmatheertham, the temple pond is located in front of the temple. On the way to the temple, one would also find a piece of engineering marvel called Meshan Mani. This is a clock and on its dial is depicted a man's face with two goats on either side. Every time the clock strikes an hour, the man opens his mouth and the goats would hit on his cheeks.

Built in 1818 is the Padinjarekotta or the fort situated on the southern side. This fort was built following the closure of another fort called Nariadachankotta, which is situated close to it. Just like the East Fort, the Padinjarekotta also has a touch of French architecture. The annual Aaraatt procession from the Padmanabha Swamy Temple pass through this fort.

Other notable forts include the Azheekotta located quarter of a kilometer from Padinjarekotta and the Aashupathrikotta situated near the Government Hospital.

Inside the fort area, one can find several small and big palaces, and palatial buildings built in traditional as well as western style of architecture. These are buildings, which were once used by the members of the Travancore royal family. Except for few, most of them now function as various offices.

Among the prominent palaces in the Fort area, the Ananthavilasam Palace is considered the most beautiful of all. Built by King Vishakam Thirunal in 1880, the palace is located to the south of the temple. The palace follows the Barouque and Rocco styles of architecture.

Close to Ananthavilasam Palace and built by King Sree Moolam Thirunal in 1885 is the Krishnavilasom Palace, which integrates the traditional and western style of architecture.

Another notable one among the palaces is the Sree Padam Kottaram, which is one of the oldest palaces inside the fort. Situated to the north of the temple, the palace has played host to kings and queens who arrived to participate in the temple rituals.

Other palaces of prominence are the Saraswathivilasam and the Sundaravilasam palaces. The Saraswathivilasam Palace built in Kerala as well as western architectural style has high walls and roof, long verandahs, arched gates and circular pillars as its hallmarks. It was built towards the end of the 19th century, and was once residence of Kerala Varma Valia Koyi Thampuran.

Located close to the Saraswathivilasam Palace is the Sundaravilasam Palace, built during 1886-87 by King Sree Moolam Thirunal. Displaying both traditional and western styles of architecture, the palace is also the venue for Pallivetta a ritual as part of the annual Aaraatt festival at the Padmanabha Swamy Temple.

A visit to the Fort will not be complete without the Kuthiramalika and the Navarathri Mandapam.

Kuthiramalika or the Horse Palace is on the left side of the road leading to the Padmanabha Swamy Temple. It is also knows as the Puthenmalika and was built in 1844 by King Swathi Thirunal. The palace takes the name of Horse Palace due to the wooden carved structures of prancing horses along the entire length of its upper floors. This two-storeyed building is built entirely in Kerala style of architecture. An interesting feature of this palace is a raised alcove built by King Swathi Thirunal to compose songs, to meet musicians from different parts of the world, and also to have a good look of the temple. Kuthiramalika also has a museum housing rare artifacts belonging to Travancore Kings, paintings of Ravi Varma etc.

The Navarathri Mandapam, situated to the east of the Padmanabha Swamy Temple is the venue for the annual ten-day Navarathri celebrations. The annual Navarathri music festival is also held here, which is attended by musicians from across the country.

Near by the Fort, one may also visit some of the palatial houses, locally called as Amma Veedus. These are houses more than 150 years old, specially built for the consorts of Travancore Kings. These houses display a blend of Kerala and European styles of architecture. With beautiful matchless interiors, these houses do not have cement and iron as part of its building materials. The prominent Amma Veedus include the Arumana, Thanjavur, Vedasseri etc.

Historical

Anjengo

Located about 36 Kms north of Thiruvananthapuram, near the famed beach of Varkala, and lying on the seacoast is Anjengo or Anjuthengu, meaning five coconut trees. A place of historic importance as well as beautiful natural setting, The historic significance tagged to Anjengo comes through foreign powers like the Portuguese, the Dutch and finally the English East India Company. In the year 1684, the English East India Company chose Anjengo to establish their first trade settlement in Kerala. Following the English East India Company's presence, the place came to be known as Anjengo, meaning five coconut trees. According to local folk, the name Anjengo owes its genesis to a small area of land with five coconut trees, which was given on lease to the English East India Company by the then Queen of Attingal for trade purposes. At Anjengo, one can find the remnants of the old English Fort, which was targeted several times by other foreign powers, who were at that time fighting each other to get a firm footing in Kerala. The Fort is now under the protection of National Heritage Monuments. There is also a cemetery inside the fort, which most probably would be having the remains of the occupants of the fort, and the oldest among the burial sites dates to 1704. The backwater stretch here at Anjengo, and the avenue of coconut trees that crisscross the water channels are indeed a sight to behold. Another attraction at Anjengo is the serene beach, which is very clean and ideal for picnickers. The fishing village adjoining the beach adds to the overall charm of Anjengo, with the fishermen and their routine activities adding to one's interest. This place is about 42 kms from Thiruvananthapuram Central Railway Station and about 46 kms from Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.

Monuments

Vizhinjam Rock Cut Cave

There are rock cut sculptures of the 18th century in the cave temple at Vizhinjam. The granite cave here encloses a one-celled shrine with a loose sculpture of Vinandhara Dakshinamurthi. The outer wall of the cave depicts half complete reliefs of the Hindu God Shiva with Goddess Parvathi. It is 17 Km away fromThiruvananthapuram. There is also a Marine Aquarium open from 9 am to 8 pm. Fees adult 6/- and children 4/-Ph: 2480224

Koyikkal Palace, Nedumangad

Nedumangad, about 18 km from Thiruvananthapuram city on the way to the Ponmudi hill station and the Courtalam waterfalls. The Koyikkal Palace was actually built for Umayamma Rani of the Venad royal family who ruled the land between 1677 and 1684. The palace is a double stroreyed traditional nalukettu with slanting gabled roofs and an inner courtyard. Today, the palace houses a Folklore Museum and a Numismatics Museum set up by the Department of Archaeology. The Folklore Museum, a treasure house of quaint musical instruments, occupational implements, household utensils, models of folk arts etc, was set up in 1992. The exhibits here draw attention to the rich cultural background of the State. The Numismatics Museum at the Koyikkal Palace is the only one of its kind in the State. Occupying the ground floor of the palace, the coins here belong to different parts of the world as well as to different eras. This rare and historically valuable collection is a vestige of the trade relation of the State in the bygone ages. It is open for visitors from 9 am to 5 pm and closed on Mondays.

Padmanabhapuram Palace

Located in Thuckalay, 64 km from Thiruvananthapuram, a magnificent wooden palace of the 16th century, Padmanabhapuram Palace lies at the land's end of mainland India. Though the palace is situated in Kanyakumari district of Tamilnadu State, it comes under the purview of the Government of Kerala's administration. An enticing piece to any lover of art and architecture this old palace of the Rajas of the erstwhile Travancore (1550 to 1750 AD) is a fine specimen of Kerala's indigenous style of architecture. The antique interiors are replete with intricate rosewood carvings and sculptured decor. The palace also contains 17th and 18th century murals. One can see the musical bow in mahogany, windows with coloured mica, royal chairs with Chinese carvings, 'Thaikkottaram' or the Queen Mother's palace with painted ceilings, rose wood and teak carved ceilings with 90 different floral designs. Durbar Hall with a shiny black floor specially made from a combination of egg white, jaggery lime, burnt coconut, charcoal and river sand, granite tubs to cool curd and buttermilk, secret underground passages, the King's bedroom with a four poster medicinal bed, mural paintings, pictures of Lord Krishna, hanging brass lanterns lit continuously since the 18th century, hanging cage through which eagles tore criminals to death, open air swimming bath, the King's sister's dressing room, granite dance hall, Saraswathi (goddess of knowledge) temple, large earthen urns, room for scribes and accountants, carved figures on columns holding oil lamps, pooja (worship) rooms with jackfruit tree columns, fish carvings on the ceilings, enormous teak beams, Belgian mirrors and an outer cyclopean stone wall fitted together without mortar. The visitor is often overwhelmed by the royal splendour of erstwhile Travancore. It is open for visitors from 9 am to 5 pm and closed on Mondays.

Pilgrim centers

Padmanabha Swamy Temple

The temple is located inside the East Fort. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the temple is a blend of the Kerala and Dravidian styles of architecture. It is known for its mural paintings and stone carvings. One among the 108 sacred Vishnu temples in India, the presiding deity here is Lord Vishnu reclining on Anantha the Serpent. Only Hindus are allowed inside the temple. Dress code: Men - Dhoti; Women - Saree and blouse. It is open from 4.15 am to 5.15 am, 6.45 am to 7.15 am, 8.30 am to 11.15 am, 11.45 am to 12 pm, 5 pm to 6.15 pm, 6.45 pm to 7.30 pm. Ph: 2450233

Varkala

Varkala is a seaside resort and spa. It is also an important Hindu centre of pilgrimage. The final resting place of the great social reformer, Sree Narayana Guru, is near Varkala, atop a hill called Sivagiri. High cliffs with mineral springs rise majestically from the coastline. According to a myth, sage Narada was approached by a group of mendicants who confessed to having sinned. Narada threw his valkkalam (cloth made of the bark of a tree) into the air, and the place where it landed was subsequently named Varkala.The mendicants were directed by Narada to offer their prayers in the newly created place by the seashore. The place where they prayed for redemption, came to be known as the Papanasham Beach ( Papanasham means redemption from sins).The 2000 year old Sree Janardhana Swamy Temple and the Nature Care Centre are the two main attractions here. It is 40 Km from Thiruvananthapuram. And 57 m away from Thiruvananthapuram international airport.

Parasurama Temple

This 2000 year old temple on the bank of river Karamana, is the only one in Kerala dedicated to Sree Parasurama, the mythological creator of Kerala. This temple is a venue for ancestor worship. As part of the Bali ritual, devotees make offerings to the souls of the dear departed, after taking a dip in the holy water. It is located at Thiruvallam.

Sree Mahadeva Temple

Situated in Kazhakuttom, this ancient temple is believed to date back to the 14th century. Another old temple in the district is the Mitramandapuram Temple on the outskirts of the city.

Others

Secretariat

Built in the Roman architectural style, this is the centre of government administration in Kerala and houses the offices of ministers and the bureaucracy.

Kerala Legislature Complex

Located at Palayam, this is the new building where the Legislative Assembly of Kerala meets. With its towering dome, exquisitely carved galleries, ornate teak panelling and ceiling, combined with the most modern acoustic treatment and state-of-the-art sound systems, the hall is a beautiful blend of classical grandeur and modernity.

C V N Kalari

It is located at East Fort, Thiruvananthapuram, at a walkable distance from the central bus station. The Kalari is a practice ring or training centre on the lines of a gymnasium and Payattu is a duel. Hence, Kalarippayattu means martial skills learnt in a ring or training centre. kalarippayattu, considered to be the mother of all the martial art forms in the world, is a priceless asset to Kerala's heritage. An intricate blend of physical prowess, mindset, martial techniques and indigenous medical system, this form of armed, close quarter, hand-to-hand combat is unique to this State. The C V N Kalari Sangham in Thiruvananthapuram was established in 1956 following the lifelong dedicated efforts of C V Narayanan Nair, C V Balan Nair and Kottackal Karunakara Gurukkal, who popularised the art which was on the verge of dying, by staging demonstrations, collecting information and establishing Kalaries all over the State.

ISMA

Location:

The Indian School of Martial Arts (ISMA) was established in 1983 and is recognised by the Government of India and Sports Council as an ideal training centre for the 5000 year old martial art, Kalarippayattu. ISMA is also a place for healing and rejuvenation, since Mr.Balachandran Nair who set up the organisation hails from a family of warrior healers.

The Kalarichikitsa, an exclusive branch of medicine, he says has taken shape from Siddhavaidyam - a parallel science to Ayurveda, Dhanurveda - the mother of Ayurveda and a large collection of Olagranthas - manuscripts on dry palm leaves. This branch of medicine was developed for the students and practitioners of Kalarippayattu. Kalarichiktsa as well as Kalarippayattu are based on the 108 marmas (pressure points) in the human body. Certain marmas are so sensitive that attacking them may cause death or put the victim in a state of coma. Unlike in Ayurveda, modern medical parameters are not used in Kalarichikitsa. Instead intuitions developed from years of meditation help the healer to diagnose and treat the cause of the ailment.

ISMA is housed in a three storyed building. It has a traditional Kalari - the arena for practising the art, built ten feet below ground level. The 600 year old massage table here was carved out of a single tree and was handed down generations. There is also a meditation hall that exudes an air of tranquility and serenity. The roof garden is a treasure house of herbs used for the preparation of medicines. ISMA also offers simple accomodation and food for guests and visitors. But what attracts students of history to this place are the ancient palm leaf manuscripts (Olagranthas). It is located at Vazhuthacaud, in the heart of Thiruvananthapuram city. Thiruvananthapuram central is about 2 km and Thiruvananthapuram International Airport is about 8 km from here.

Margi

Margi is one of the ideal destinations for art lovers.One can watch the performance of some of the major art forms of Kerala like Kootiyattam, Nangyarkoothu, Chakyarkoothu, Paatakom (all temple art forms) and Kathakali in an ethnic atmosphere. Nangyarkoothu,Chakkiarkoothu are female and male (respectively) versions of the satiric solo. Margi has its activities at two places in Thiruvananthapuram, the first at Valiyasala (Margi - Valiyasala) where Kootiyattam, Nangyarkoothu, Chakyarkoothu and Paatakom are performed and aspiring artists trained.The other near East Fort (Margi - Fort) which is devoted exclusively to Kathakali. The institution was founded in 1970 by noted theatre enthusiast of the time the late D.Appukuttan Nair. He was also the architect of the Koothambalam at Kalamandalam at Cheruthuruthy in Kerala and Rukmini Arundale's dance school complex at Adayar in Chennai, the capital of the neigbhouring state of Tamilnadu. It is less than 2 km away from the Thiruvananthapuram railway station. Programmes are usually held on Friday evening.

Kallar

Situated en route to the popular hill station of Ponmudi is Kallar. The place gets its name from the River Kallar, which flows through the region. Kallu means 'stone' and Aru means 'river,' hence the name Kallar. The river is well known for its abundance of attractive, round-shaped boulders and pebbles, especially in the upper reaches and middle portion of its course. Kallar is about 50 kms from the Capital City of Thiruvananthapuram, and is an idyllic location. It is a favourite haunt for picnickers and attracts many with an interest in trekking, angling and bird watching. At Kallar, the main attractions are the nearby Golden Valley, and the Meenmutti waterfalls. Unlike the Meenmutti waterfall, the Golden Valley is easily accessible from the main road. Here one can take a dip in the crystal clear waters to cool off, and also watch the many rapids and small pools that dot a good part of the river in this area. On the way to the waterfall, one could come across ample bird life, and many species of butterflies. The forest here is mostly tropical in nature, and during the rainy season, one has to be on the alert for leeches. One can seek assistance from the Kallar Vana Samrakshana Samithi (Kallar Forest Protection Group) at Kallar for trekking guidance and also for hiring guides. The group is a joint venture by the State Department of Forest and the local community.

Visitors to Kallar can make use of the modern tourist facilitation centre run by the District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC). It offers facilities for recreation and also for organizing parties. A restaurant, toilet, changing rooms, shops to sell forest produce, STD and ISD booths and a car parking area are there at the facilitation centre. It is about 67 m away from Thiruvananthapuram International Airport and 61 Km from Thiruvananthapuram Central.