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    Thiruvananthapuram Tourist Places

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    There is no setting better than Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala, for a date with royalty and romance. As the seat of the Travancore kings who ruled the Venad kingdom for three centuries, the city and surrounding areas are dotted with historic relics and monuments, redolent of its regal past.

    Today the landmark that tourists from all over the world make a beeline for is the Padmanabha Swamy temple, the rich treasures of which were recently revealed to the world, making it one of the richest temples in the world. The family deity of the rich Travancore rulers, Vishnu in the avatar of Anantha Padmanabha reclines 18 feet long on the five-hooded serpent Anantha in in this temple which is one among the 108 premier Vishnu shrines in the country, and sports some magnificent murals and intricate stone carvings. The nearby East Fort is a veritable treasure house of heritage buildings.

    The Puthenmalika Palace, near the Padmnabha Swamy Temple, a study in the traditional Travancore style of architecture and brilliant wood carvings, was built by the Maharaja Swathi Tirunal Balarama Varma, the poet and musician king of Travancore and houses a museum that displays exquisite paintings and a rich collection of royal artefacts. But in terms of richness and conservation, the Museum Complex walks away with the honours. It houses a zoological park, one of the first in the country, the Napier Museum and the Sree Chitra Art Gallery that exhibits the largest collection of Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings apart from those belonging to the Rajput, Mughal, Tanjore and European styles. A few hours away at the Veli and Akkulam tourist villages, plenty of boating fun awaits all kinds of holidayers, while the nearby Shanmugham beach at sunset can put an artist’s palate to shame. Just a two-hour drive away is Ponmudi – a lush hill station with its breathtaking view of tea and rubber plantations, pebbled natural streams, mist-veiled valleys and excellent trekking trails, still protected from tourism onslaught.

    The Peppara game sanctuary, spread over 53 sq. km of the Western Ghats, with scenic views and rich flora and fauna, is a delightful destination for wildlife and nature buffs. Close by, at a height of 1890 metres above sea level, is Agastyarkoodam, so called because of the belief that sage Agasthya attained Samadhi here,  the second highest peak in Kerala, which offers a breath-taking view if you can brave an arduous 27 km trek through the Biosphere Reserve. The locals swear that on a clear day, the Palk Strait can be sighted from here. A small temple on the peak dedicated to sage Agastya adds a spiritual high to the climb.  With tourist spots like Kovalam, Varkala and Poovar located at a stone’s throw away from the capital city, Thiruvananthapuram is unmatched in its riches as a tourist destination.

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