Monday, September 10, 2012

Tiruvananthapuram - God's own country's Ananthapuri

Anathapadmanabha Swami temple
My plan was to reach Tiruvananthapuram from Kanyakumari end. First stop on this journey was Nagercoil - famous Nagaraja and Shuchindram temples are near to this city. From here I got another bus to Padmanabhapuram Palace; eventhough palace is in Kanyakumari district of Tamilnadu, its under the administration of Kerala government.

Padmanabhapuram Palace

Palace from the front
Close to one in the after noon, I reached the palace. After buying tickets, I went inside (sandals are not allowed inside). Located in Padmanabhapuram Fort, this place was constructed by Iravi Varma Kulasekhara Perumal in 1550 AD. Anizham Thirunal Marthandavarma rebuilt the palace in 1750s. In those days this place was the capital of Travancore. Most of the palace portions are made of wood - mainly Teak and Jackfruit Tree. Floor was constructed using a mixture of egg white, burnt coconut shells etc which gives a unique colour combination.

Through a carved wooden ladder, I reached Mantrasala (Council chamber) in the first floor. In the hey days king's durbars were conducted in this area. One guide standing there explained that king used to take decisions in the presence of Gajalakshmi (scupltre, carved in the ceiling).

Dubar Hall
Next destination was a big hall which served food for 1000 guests at a time. Next in line was Thai (Mother) Palace (aka Darbhakulangara Kottaram). This is the oldest part in the palace complex, built using Jackfruit tree during the reign of Ravi Varma Kulasekhara Perumal. Kalamezhutthu and other ritual ceremonies were held here. An old tunnel route (now closed) connecting Thaikottaram with Charottukottaram starts from the side of this building.

After moving through various areas like - armoury, watch tower, royal bedroom, halls decorated with various paintings describing the history of Travancore, places were king and queen watched charriot races, royal treasury etc we reached Tekke Kottaram (Southern palace). One pond, temple, granary, kitchen, rani's room etc are in this bulding. Following arrow marks and descriptions throughout the way, I finally reached reached one mandapa made of stone. Dances and other cultural activities were conduced here.

This palace complex contains one museum as well.

Udayagiri Fort

This fort is located around 1-2 km from Palace complex. Here lies De Lannoy - The former Admiral of Dutch East India Company and later commandar of Travancore forces. De Lannoy's cemetry is made in Dutch style. Apart from this cemetry and forts walls this area looks like a tired forest.


From the entrace of the palace I got a local bus to Tukaley. This town falls on Nagercoil - Tiruvanantapuram route. Don't forget to have some snacks here - its cheap and tasty. Another journey from here took me to Tampanoor - Tiruvanantapuram. City was very much alive and I started walking through the main road without any particular destination. After some time I reached in front of government ayurvedic medical college; standing there for some time I moved on. Finally I went to one of my friend's room located close to Trivandrum Medical College, and spent rest of the night there.

Padmanabha Swami temple

Raj Bhavan
On Moday morning, my first destination was Padmanabha Swami temple. It is easy to reach here, just get in to any bus going to Kizhakekotta (South Tower) and get down at last stop.

The word Tiruvanantapuram means 'Sacred Abode of Lord Anantha Padmanabha' - Vishnu. For reading the history of the temple select the links -
1. Padmanabhaswamy Temple - Wikipedia

Almost all items are prohibited in the temple. Pant, shirt, T-Shirt, banyan, lungi, mobile, camera, electronic equipments, sandals etc. Two clock rooms were located close to the temple, where you have to pay for keeping the valuables. I went inside, first temple is for Narasimhamoorthi. Taking right from here you can reach the main shrine. There are three doors for the Sanctom; in front of it there is a Mandapa known as 'Ottakkal-mandapam'. In between mandapa and sancotom there are a number of steps, in both sides. Devotees can assent through the steps on left side, have the darshan, and get down using the steps on other side.

Kanakakunnu Palace
Here deity - 'Sri Padmanabha' (Vishnu) lies in Anantha Shayana posture on Adi Sesha. It is believed that the deity is made of 12000 saligramams collected from the banks of sacred river Gandaki in Nepal and covered with 'Katusarkara yogam'. You can see the face of Lord Padmanabhaswami and Shiva Linga under the hand through the first door. Sridevi, Divakara Muni, Brahma seated on lotus originating from  Lord's navel, gold abhisheka moorthies of Lord Padmanabha, Sridevi and Bhudevi, silver utsava moorthi of Padmanabha through the second door. Through third door, you can see the feet of lord Vishnu, Bhudevi and Kaundinya Muni.

You can exit through a door in the right side. I came back to YogaNarasimha Temple and walked around the main shrine. There are a lot of mural paintings and carving on the outer walls - describing stories and other actions. You can see similiar paitings in many other temples in Kerala. There are many other teples located inside the complex, after going through all of them I came out through weatern gate and went to the clock room to collect the belongings.

Kutiramalika (Putthanmalika) stands close to the temple, now its converted in to a museum (Moday - holiday).

After the riches of the temple discovered in 2011, there is a heavy deployment of Police inside and outside the temple. You can see police personnals carrying Motorola wireless equipmets and Glock guns everywhere. It is to be noted here that, till 'Temple Entry Proclamation - 1936' people from lower caste were not allowed inside temples in Travancore.

Kerala Government Secretariat

From Western Fort gate of Padmanabha Swami temple, I went to see 'Kerala Government Secretariat'. After getting down at statue bus stop (Statue of T Madhava Rao - Diwan of Travancore from 1857 to 1872 - stands here). This building, immortalized through many malayalam hit movies, housed the Legislative Assembly as well from 1936 to 1999. Police personal standing infront of the gate told me that, visitor's pass would issue from 3pm in the afternoon only. From my opposite side, a group of people were coming for sit-in infront of the complex. This place is famous all type of protests, sit-ins, strikes etc.

As it was monday, museums were closed. There was not much time left to to go to Kovalam, Shankumukham and other beaches. So I thought of spending rest of the time in the city itself. After having a late breakfast, took a bus to Kanakakunnu Palace. State Election Commission, CSI Church, Trivandrum Corporation, Napier museum... and finally the palace.

On that day (SIDCO - Small Industries Development Corp - Kerala) booked the palace grounds for exhibition. After buying tickets from them I walked towards the palace and then to SIDCO stalls. Its indeed a good idea to provide a platform for showcasing the products and exchanging ideas. Business people can come here, look in to stall, if they are interested they can talk and know each other. I saw many new products from many unknown companies. May be that is the intention of this program - giving a stage for small scale industy.

There was an old Sea- Hawk plane near to the Palace.

Pointless walk

I continue walking, after crossing Institute of Engineers, C-DAC, Kerala Water Authority, Kerala State Electronics Cop reached Vellayambalam junction. Continued walking through Shastamangalam Road and reached Indira Bhavan - Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee's Office.

From here I took a U turn, and after crossing Bishop's home walked towards Raj Bhavan (Thiruvanantpuram - Tenmala Road). CBI office - Malabar House - stands opposite to Raj Bhavan. Needless to say, it was a pointless walk; there were neither much people in the road and nor much stores. So, when I reached Mammohan Banglow, took a U turn and went back to Velyambalam junction, boarded a bus to Western Fort Gate.  (By the way, if you continue through Thiruvanantpuram - Tenmala Road you can reach Kowdiar Royal palace).

On the road side stands the buildings and Stadiums of MG University, Chandrashekharan Nair Stadium, Palayam Mosque, AG's Office, Kerala Scecrateriet etc.. and a remote view of Current Legislative Assembly.

Return Journey

Kochu Veli Railway Station
Finally it was the time to go back. My train would start from Kochu Veli Railway station at 5pm. There was not much buses to Kochuveli railway station. After waiting for a long time, I got a bus. Trivandrum Airport, Brahmos Aerospace, Travancore Titanium... and finally Kochu Veli Railway Station . It looked like a deserted area, neither much people nor stores. Because of tiredness I slept in a chair in the waiting room itself.

Thre were so many places I missed; Vizhinjam Beach and Lighthouse, Kovalam Sanghumukham Beaches, Napier museum and Zoo
Varkala Cliffs and Beaches, The Oriental Research Institute & Manuscripts Library, Sree Chithra Art Gallery and Kerala Legislature Complex. May be next time.


Queen and other lady members of the royal family watches horse races from here

Entrance of underground tunnel

Coins of a bygone era

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