Kerala’s capital, Thiruvananthapuram (still widely known as Trivandrum), is set on seven low hills just a couple of kilometres inland from the Arabian Sea. Despite its administrative importance – demonstrated by wide roads, multistorey office blocks and gleaming white colonial buildings – it’s an easy-going state capital by Indian standards, with enclaves of traditional red-tiled gabled houses breaking up the bustle of its modern concrete core, and a swathe of parkland spreading north of the centre. Although its principal sight, the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple, is closed to non-Hindus the city holds enough of interest to fill a day. Foremost among its attractions is the splendid Puttan Malika Palace, one of the state’s best museums, and a typically Keralan market, Chalai bazaar.

Both the palace and bazaar are in the oldest and most interesting part of the city, the Fort area in the south. At the opposite, northern side of the centre, the Sri Chitra Art Gallery and Napier Museum showcase painting, crafts and sculpture in a leafy park. In addition, schools specializing in the martial art kalarippayat and the dance/theatre forms of kathakali and kudiyattam offer an insight into the Keralan obsession with physical training and skill.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

India features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

That ever-growing travel wish list might be putting some pressure on your pocket – but there are plenty of destinations where you'll get more bang for your b…

11 Oct 2017 • Emma Gibbs camera_alt Gallery
19 places to get utterly lost

19 places to get utterly lost

One of the great joys of travelling is stumbling across unexpected places, wandering without a single destination in mind and embracing the journey. These place…

12 Sep 2017 • Keith Drew camera_alt Gallery
The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

There's nothing like an amazing view to inspire you to book your next trip, whether you're drawn by rolling countryside, isolated islands or soaring mountain …

30 Aug 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook