KERALA’S CAPITAL, known until recently as Trivandrum, was the seat of the former royal family of Travancore from 1750 to 1956. The magnificent Anantha Padmanahhaswamy Temple has given the city its name, Thiruvananthapuram literally the “Holy City of Anantha”, the sacred thousand-headed serpent on whom Vishnu reclines. Built across seven hills, the city’s old quarter clusters around the temple, while along busy Mahatma Gandhi Road are colonial mansions, churches and modern high-rises.
GOVERNMENT ARTS AND CRAFTS (NAPIER) MUSEUM
Located in a well-planned compound is a complex of museums and the city’s zoo.The Government Arts and Crafts Museum, earlier known as the Napier Museum after John Napier, a former governor of Madras, is in a red and black brick Indo-Saracenic structure, designed by Robert Fellows Chisholm in the 19th century. It exhibits a rare collection of bronzes, stone sculptures, xquisite gold ornaments, ivory carvings and a temple chariot, all fashioned in the territories of the former kingdom of Travancore.
To the north of the Museum, is the Shri Chitra Art Gallery, housed in a beautiful building that incorporates the best elements of local architecture. The pride of its collection are the works of Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906) and his uncle Raja Raja Karma , both pioneers of a unique academy style of painting in India. Raja Ravi Karma was considered the finest Indian artist of his time, and his mythological paintings have inspired the popular religious prints found in manyIndian homes. The Natural History Museum, to the east, has a fine replica of a typical Kerala Nair wooden house, naluketu, detailing the principles of its construction.
The Kanakaltunnu Palace, where the Travancore royal family once entertained their guests, is adjacent to the complex, on top of a hill. Pan of it is now rented out for official functions. A short drive down the road from the complex leads to Kowdiar Junction, a roundabout of walls and ornate railings facing the Kowdiar Palace, the former maharaja’s official residence. Mahatma Gandhi Road The city’s main road runs from the Victoria Jubilee Town Hall to the Anantha Impalement.a Abhmaoswnga mthye many impressive buildings that line this road are the Secretariat, headquarters of the state government, the University College and the Public Library, The latter, founded in 1829, has a collection of more than 250,000 books and documentA in Malayalam, Hindi, Tamil and Sanskrit. To the north, beyond the charming Connemara Market, are the Jai Masjid, St Joseph’s Cathedral and the Neo-Gothic building – of Christ Church.
ANANTHA PADMANABHASWAMY TEMPLE
Located within the fort that encircles the old town, this the only temple in the state with a towering sevenstoreyed gopura, commonly seen in Tamil Nadu’s temple architecture. The restrained ornamentation, however, is typical of Kerala. A flagstaff encased in gold stands in the huge courtyard. The main corridor, which runs around four sides of the courtyard, has 324 columns and two rows of granite pillars, each embellished with a woman bearing a lamp The h(depalakshmi).all also has mythological animals, sculpted with rotating stone balls in their jaws. Rich murals adorn the outer walls of the inner shrine, where the 6-m (20-ft) long reclining Vishnu resides, with his head towards the south and feet towards the north.
KUTHIRAMALIKA PALACE MUSEUM
This interesting museum (also known as Puthen Malika) is housed in an 18th-century palace, built by Raja Swathi Thirunal Balarama Karma, a statesman, poet, musician and social reformer. A fine example of Kerala architecture, this wooden palace has polished floors and a sloping tiled roof. The wood carvings are particularly noteworthy, especially the 122 horses lining the eaves of the building. On display are various artifacts from the royal collection, including a solid crystal throne given by the Dutch, and another carved out of the tusks of 50 elephants.
CVN KALARL SANGHAM
This training centre for kalaripayattu was established in 1956 to revive Kerala’s martial arts tradition. Each morning, students collect at the gymnasium (kalari) to perform a series of exercises that will help them develop the necessary combat skills. The centre also has a shrine to the deity of martial arts, Kalari Paradevata, and an Ayurvedic clinic where students are given oil massages.