travel india with choose india travels.
states maps circuits pilgrimage hillstations beaches historical adventure wildlife
major cities of Kerala

Info | Cities | Beaches | Pilgrimage | Hilstations | Adventure | Wildlife

Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum)

The city gets its name from the word, Thiruvanathapuram, meaning the city of Anantha or the abode of the sacred Serpent Anantha on which Lord Vishnu, the preserver of the Hindu trinity, reclines.

Trivandrum is the sea-side capital of Kerala. It is surrounded by numerous hills and hillocks on which stand buildings and parks. Thiruvananthapuram i.e. Trivandrum literally means the place of sacred snake, Anant. Trivandrum is a city of magnificent buildings of ancient and modern architecture.



The Trichur district, in central Kerala has a rich history and has been prized property for several of the local regents. It was the capital of the ancient state of Cochin, then captured by the Zamorin of Kerala. It was subsequently lost to Tipu Sultan during his incursions into Kerala. Finally, after English devastation of Tipu's Mysore empire, it went into the hands of Raja Rama Varma Thampuram who is considered the architect of Trichur the way it stands today.

Trichur has since been one of the main centres of Malayali culture in the state. The centuries old Vadakkumnathan temple here plays host to a colourful Pooram festival here and the Kerala Sangeetha Natya Academy and the Kerala Sahitya Academy are both situated in Trichur. Cheruthuruthy nearby is also famous for its Kathakali and Mohiniattam dance academies.

Also, at Irinjala kuda, there is a festival where elephants are dressed up and paraded amid major pomp. Trichur is known for its fantastic Pooram festival every summer, which is easily the most extravagant festival in the state. It can be reached by road from Cochin or directly by trains coming in from the north.



Calicut, the most important city of Malabar region of Kerala, was a leading trading centre for spices on the West Coast of India during the medieval period. Ruled by the Zamorin dynasty, Calicut found a place in World History with the discovery of sea route to India in 1498 by the Portuguese navigator Vasco Da Gama.



Kovalam is also perfect for beach activities - swimming, watersports and suntans. It is one of the most important watersports parks in the country. Getting to Kovalam is easiest through Trivandrum. There are several buses hourly, and taxis can also get you there, directly from the airport.

The beaches at Kovalam first started catching serious attention around the 1980s, when tourists were looking for another beach haven like Goa further north.Today, the silver sands just fifteen minutes south of Trivandrum are possibly the hottest movers on the foreign tourist's agenda. The long shoreline is beautifully coated with thousands of tall palm trees, and the waters are crystal clean. With tourist attention being directed towards Kovalam, the economy of the beach city has grown with leaps and bounds.

The handful of small hotels and cottages has now boomed into one five-star hotel, several swanky hotels and cottage complexes. But what is most striking is that despite the entry of major tourism commerce, Kovalam has still retained its pristine beauty. There are several ayurvedic massage and therapy options available at Kovalam, and one of the main reasons people come here is to enjoy the fantastic therapeutic massage.

Kovalam is also perfect for beach activities - swimming, watersports and suntans. It is one of the most important watersports parks in the country. Getting to Kovalam is easiest through Trivandrum. There are several buses hourly, and taxis can also get you there, directly from the airport.



The palm lined backwaters of Kottayam are growing in popularity as tourist vistas. Best described as a small commercial town, Kottayam upon first sight seems an ideal place to live in, with the sprawling bungalows touching the clean tree-lined backwaters. Situated about an hour and a half from Cochin, Kottayam has long been associated with Syrian Christians who were said to have landed here in the first century AD. Till date, Kottayam's economy is dominated by the Comumaram Jacobs and the estate-owning Syrian Christians.

There are also a few interesting temples like the Thirunakkara Shiva temple with its exquisite dancing hall, and murals and the old churches of Valiapally and Cheriapally which list among the oldest in the country. Only 12 km from Kottayam is the Vembanad Lake, on the banks of which is the Kumarakom bird sanctuary. This, besides being a great place to see some rare species, is also an ideal spot for backwater cruises, fast competing with Alleppey for supremacy in backwater cruising. Kottayam is best accessed through Cochin by air, or directly by train, though there are more trains going to Cochin, so you may want to travel to Cochin and then proceed by road.



This is the highest hill station in South India, and one of the best in the entire country. It is pristine, and has some of the freshest, most aromatic wake-up calls in the country, its unpolluted tea-flavoured air. It is the only major hill resort in Kerala, and is quite popular among the Malayalis (Malayalam speaking natives of Kerala) who have been considerate enough to keep it in perfect uncommercialised shape. There are plenty of pleasant little places to stay in the vicinity, especially the well kept bungalows of the estate owners. If you know a 'mi casa su casa' benefactor, nothing like it. The nearby Annamudi peak, at 2695 metres, is the highest point in South India.



Cochin is the commercial capital of Kerala. It has a natural harbour and is a very busy port. It is said that as far as 2000 years ago, Cochin was being used as a major trade centre by foreigners who used to buy spices from here. Cochin has its own share of architectural history. Unlike North India, the structures here are derivatives of western art.

There are Jewish, Portuguese, Dutch, Syrian and English influences in the works here. Christianity came to India 1900 years ago through Kerala. It is also believed that the Chinese came to Kerala, a fact documented through the existence of Chinese fishing nets in Cochin. Today, Cochin is one of the largest ports in India and is a booming business centre.

Though it has its share of big city poverty, the levels are surprisingly lower than in other Indian cities. Cochin is also the most convenient base for backwater cruises. Even though it has one of the most important ports in the country, it hasn't lost its laid-back small-town flavour.

There is a general sense of purpose about the people here (who are very friendly and accommodating) but there still isn't much that could stop them from an afternoon siesta. It is also worth knowing that this is the state with the highest literacy rate in the country.



Ernakulam is more like a twin city of Cochin. It is just an extension of the Cochin, the mainland connected via bridges to the islands that constitute part of the city In fact, one would hardly differentiate between the two anymore.

Ernakulam has all the trappings of an about-to-boom metropolis, and in great likelihood, with the speeding development of South Indian states, it seems that in a decade, it would have an economy equivalent to that of Hyderabad or Pune.

Ernakulam has been the centre of educational reform in the country and it has one of the highest adult literacy rates in the country. It also has a sizable Non-Resident Indian population, sending in foreign exchange from the Gulf and the USA.

It has been known to produce much of the educated elite of the country, and one of the reasons that Ernakulam and Cochin are likely to find themselves placed in the world map soon is its constant contribution to the technological fields. Some of the best nuclear physicists, electronics engineers, computer programmers and even social thinkers in the country have been products of these parts.

The town is most closely associated with the art of Kathakali, one of the country's most spectacular dance forms. Most performances deal with excerpts from the Ramayana or the Mahabharata, the two Indian epics. Kathakali is easiest recognised by the incredible and ornate get-ups of its performers, the colourful masks and facial make-up, and the huge costumes.

Alwaye, near Ernakulam, is a sleepy town, with little else than its military establishments. It is nevertheless green and beautiful, and the quaint army bungalows make it all the more pleasant. It is known for its famous Shiva Lingam, which is the centre of activity during the annual Shivaratri festival.



Quilon, or Kollam, as it is now known, is an old coastal town which has been a major trading post for several centuries. Besides its trading in medieval days with the Phoenicians, Greeks, Arabs and Romans, it is also known in more recent history as one of the biggest trade outpost for the European colonists.

Today it is at one end of the most popular backwater route, the Alleppey-Quilon wade. There are a few interesting churches here and a famous lighthouse at Thangassery. Quilon is known for its cashew nuts, which are exported in huge quantities.


There is a beautiful beach at Kochipilamoodu, which thanks to its remoteness is frequented only by locals, practically undiscovered by tourists yet. Interestingly, the Malayalam (Kerala) calendar is calculated from the day that the city of Quilon was established.

It is about 65 km to the north of Trivandrum and can be driven to easily in just over an hour. It is also a major railhead in the southern railway.

back to states
states maps circuits pilgrimage hillstations beaches historical adventure wildlife back to home page