Thiruvananthapuram holds most number of schools and colleges in the state often called as the educational hub of Kerala. It is an academic and research focal point in the country with an array of premier institutions such as Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre, Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, Central Tuber Crops Research Institute, St Thomas schools, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, National Institute For Interdisciplinary Science and Technology, Centre for Development Studies, Kerala Technical University, Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Regional Cancer Centre, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute, and the National Centre for Earth Science Studies. The city is home to venerable media institutions like Toonz India Ltd and Tata Elxsi Ltd. Thiruvananthapuram is also home to Chitranjali Film Studio, one of the first film studios in Malayalam Cinema and Kinfra Film and Video Park, which is one of the most advanced film and animation production facilities in India.
Being India's largest city in the deep south, it is strategically prominent and hosts the Southern Air Command headquarters of the Indian Air Force, the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station and the upcoming Vizhinjam International Deepwater Motherport. Thiruvananthapuram is a major tourist centre, known for the Padmanabhaswamy Temple, the beaches of Kovalam and Varkala, the backwaters of Poovar and Anchuthengu and its Western Ghats tracts of Ponmudi and the Agastyamala. The city is ranked among the best cities to live in India. The City is also ranked as the best governed city in India.
The city gets its name from the Malayalam/Tamil word thiru-anantha-puram [t̪iruʋənən̪t̪əpurəm], meaning "The City of Lord Ananta", referring to the deity of the Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple located in the city. Thiruvananthapuram is also known in literature and popular reference as Ananthapuri derived from the Sanskrit word Syanandurapuram, meaning "The City of Bliss" in Carnatic kirtanas composed by Swathi Thirunal, erstwhile Maharaja of Travancore. The city was officially referred to as Trivandrum until 1991, when the government decided to reinstate the city's original name Thiruvananthapuram.
Thiruvananthapuram is an ancient region with trading traditions dating back to 1000 BCE. It is believed that the ships of King Solomon landed in a port called Ophir (now Poovar) in Thiruvananthapuram in 1036 BCE. The city was the trading post of spices, sandalwood and ivory. However, the ancient political and cultural history of the city was almost entirely independent from that of the rest of Kerala. The early rulers of the city were the Ays. With their fall in the 10th century, the city was taken over by the rulers of Venad.
In 1729, Marthanda Varma founded the princely state of Thiruvithamkoor and Thiruvananthapuram was made the capital in 1745 after shifting the capital from Padmanabhapuram in Kanyakumari district. The city developed into a major intellectual and artistic centre during this period. The golden age in the city's history was during the mid 19th century under the reign of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal and Maharaja Ayilyam Thirunal. This era saw the establishment of the first English school (1834), the Observatory (1837), the General Hospital (1839), the Oriental Research Institute & Manuscripts Library and the University College (1873). The first mental hospital in the state was started during the same period. Sanskrit College, Ayurveda College, Law College and a second grade college for women were started by Moolam Thirunal (1885–1924).
The early 20th century was an age of tremendous political and social changes in the city. The Sree Moolam Assembly, established in 1904, was the first democratically elected legislative council in any Indian state. Despite not being under direct control of the British Empire at any time, the city featured prominently in India's freedom struggle. The Indian National Congress had a very active presence in Thiruvananthapuram. A meeting of the Indian National Congress presided by Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramaiah was held here in 1938.
The Thiruvananthapuram Municipality came into existence in 1920. The municipality was converted into a Corporation on 30 October 1940, during the period of Chitra Thirunal Bala Rama Varma, who took over in 1931. The city witnessed many-sided progress during his period. The promulgation of "Temple Entry Proclamation" (1936) was an act that underlined social emancipation. This era also saw the establishment of the University of Travancore in 1937, which later became Kerala University.
With the end of the British rule in 1947, Travancore chose to join the Indian union. The first popular ministry headed by Pattom Thanu Pillai was installed in office on 24 March 1948. In 1949, Thiruvananthapuram became the capital of Thiru-Kochi, the state formed by the integration of Travancore with its northern neighbour Kochi. The king of Travancore, Chitra Thirunal Bala Rama Varma, became the Rajpramukh of the Travancore-Cochin Union from 1 July 1949 until 31 October 1956. When the state of Kerala was formed on 1 November 1956, Thiruvananthapuram became its capital.
With the establishment of Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) in 1962, Thiruvananthapuram became the cradle of India's ambitious space programme. The first Indian space rocket was developed and launched from the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in the outskirts of the city in 1963. Several establishments of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) were later established in Thiruvananthapuram.
A major milestone in the city's recent history was the establishment of Technopark—India's first IT park—in 1995. Technopark has developed into the largest IT park in India in geographical area, employing around 40,000 people in 300 companies.
Thiruvananthapuram is built on seven hills by the sea shore and is located at 8°30′N 76°54′E / 8.5°N 76.9°E / 8.5; 76.9 on the west coast, near the southern tip of mainland India. The city situated on the west coast of India, and is bounded by Laccadive Sea to its west and the Western Ghats to its east. The average elevation of the city is 16 ft (4.9 m) above sea level. The Geological Survey of India has identified Thiruvananthapuram as a moderately earthquake-prone urban centre and categorised the city in the Seismic III Zone. Thiruvananthapuram lies on the shores of Karamana and Killi rivers. Vellayani, Thiruvallam and Aakulam backwaters lies in the city. The Soil type in the middle part of the city is dark brown loamy laterite soil high in phosphates. Laterisation is a result of the heavy rainfall and humid conditions. On western coastal regions of the city, sandy loam soil is found and on eastern hilly parts of the district, rich dark brown loam of granite origin is found.
The Thiruvananthapuram Corporation is spread over 214.86 km2 (82.96 sq mi). The wider Thiruvananthapuram metropolitan area comprises Thiruvananthapuram corporation, 3 municipalities and 27 panchayats, as of 2011. Being the largest city in India's southern tip region, it is important for both military logistics and civil aviation in the southern part of the country. Thiruvananthapuram is the headquarters of the Southern Air Command (SAC) of the Indian Air Force.
The city has a climate that borders between a tropical savanna climate and a tropical monsoon climate. As a result, it does not experience distinct seasons. The mean maximum temperature 34 °C and the mean minimum temperature is 21 °C. The humidity is high and rises to about 90% during the monsoon season. Thiruvananthapuram is the first city along the path of the south-west monsoons and gets its first showers in early June. The city gets heavy rainfall of around 1700 mm per year. The city also gets rain from the receding north-east monsoons which hit the city by October. The dry season sets in by December. December, January and February are the coolest months while March, April and May are the hottest. The lowest temperature in the city core recorded during winter was 16.4 °C on, and the highest temperature recorded in summer is 38.0 °C.
The city has a population of 957,730 according to the 2011 census, and 1,687,406 in the Urban Agglomeration. The sex ratio is 1,040 females for every 1,000 males, which is higher than the national average. In October 2010, the number of wards was increased from 86 to 100 post expansion of city limits by adding Sreekaryam, Vattiyoorkavu, Kudappanakunnu, Vizhinjam and Kazhakuttam panchayats.
Hindus comprise 68.5% of the population, Christians about 16.7% and Muslims form 13.7%. Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism and Buddhism, with smaller followings, are also practised in Thiruvananthapuram. The major languages spoken are Malayalam and English. In Palayam in the city centre, there is a mosque, a temple and a Christian church next to each other as neighbours, establishing the communal harmony of Keralites. The city is home to a prominent minority of Tamil speakers, owing to their migration from the adjoining districts of Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli, Madurai, Tuticorin, Ramanathapuram, and Virudhunagar. The city also has a few Tulu, Kannada, Konkani, Dhivehi, Hindi, Telugu, and Urdu speakers. As per 2001 census, the population below the poverty line in the city was 11,667.
In recent years, Thiruvananthapuram has witnessed massive migrations of workers from the North of India, mainly West Bengal, Bihar, Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, etc. and from the neighbouring countries like Srilanka, Maldives, Nepal and Bangladesh.
The city has historically been a cultural hub in South India due to the active interest of the rulers of erstwhile Travancore in the development of arts, architecture and liberal customs. As a testimony to this, renowned artists like Maharaja Swathi Thirunal, Irayimman Thampi and Raja Ravi Varma hail from the city.
Apart from the famous Padmanabhaswamy Temple, the city's architecture is championed by the Thiruvananthapuram Museum and Thiruvananthapuram Zoo, one of the oldest zoo's in India. Other architecture landmarks include Attukal temple, Beemapally Mosque, Connemara Market, Kowdiar Palace and the Palayam CSI Church. Thiruvananthapuram was the main centre of Laurie Baker's architecture.
The city hosts the Guinness Record holding Attukal Pongala drawing 5+ million women devotees across India and abroad. Beemapally Uroos, Vettukaad Church Festival, Padmanabhaswamy Temple Aaraattu are the other prominent religious festivals in the city attracting huge numbers of followers across the country.
The International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK), which is held every year on December is one of the most anticipated events for movie buffs in India and is also Asia’s largest film festival in terms of viewer participation. Another big draw to the culturally rich city is the 75-day annual Soorya Festival, one of the longest running cultural festival in the world and reflects the sound of music, dance and traditional art forms of India. Other major cultural extravaganzas in Thiruvananthapuram include the Swathi Sangeethotsavam, Nishagandhi Festival and the Kovalam Literary festival. Thiruvananthapuram city holds the maximum number of theatres in Kerala. There are 19 A-Class theatres, with areisplex sl cinema audi -1 with a seating capacity more than 1300 being the largest silver screen and the only theatre in South India to have double 4K projection facility. All the halls are within a radius of 2 km which makes the city an ideal place to hold Film Festivals.
Thiruvananthapuram offers the best scope for international multicultural activity mix with Germany's Goethe Zentrum, France's Alliance Francaise and Russia's Gorky Bhavan centres in the city hosting a wide range of programmes and events throughout the year.
The general cuisine of the people is Keralite cuisine, which is generally characterised by an abundance of coconut and spices. Other South Indian cuisines, as well as Chinese and North Indian cuisines are popular. Arabian, Thai and branded fast food joints are also patronised.
Thiruvananthapuram is a major educational hub. There are about 15 engineering colleges, three medical colleges, three Ayurveda colleges, two homoeopathy colleges, six other medicine related colleges, an agricultural college, two management institutions, and two law colleges in the city and its suburbs. Major institutions include the University of Kerala, Trivandrum Medical College, Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Thiruvananthapuram, A P J Abdul Kalam Technological University, Indira Gandhi National Open University, College of Engineering, Government Engineering College, Sree Chitra Thirunal College of Engineering, College of Architecture Trivandrum, Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, Centre for Development Studies and Centre for Development of Imaging Technology are research institutions located in the city.
The economy of the city is mainly based on the tertiary sector. Thiruvananthapuram was listed as one of the top 10 cities in India on Vibrancy and Consumption Index by a study conducted by global financial services firm Morgan Stanley. The city is a major exporter of software with over 250 companies employing more than 40,000 professionals.
It contributes nearly 80% of the state's software exports. Tourism also contributes to the economy of Thiruvananthapuram. There are around 20 government owned and 60 privately owned medium and large-scale industrial units such as Infosys, UST Global, TCS, Oracle, SunTec in Thiruvananthapuram. There are also about 30,000 small scale industrial units employing around 115,000 people. Traditional industries include handloom and coir.
The state legislative assembly and Secretariat are located in Thiruvananthapuram. The city also serves as the headquarters of the Thiruvananthapuram district. The Thiruvananthapuram municipality was established in 1920 and was declared as a Corporation on 30 October 1940, during the rule of Chitra Thirunal Bala Rama Varma. The city is administered by the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation which headed by a mayor and is responsible for the overall supervision and control of the administrative functions. The city elects its member of Parliament for the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency. It contributes five members to the legislative assembly from Kazhakuttam, Vattiyoorkavu, Thiruvananthapuram Kovalam and Nemom.
Electricity services are provided by Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB). Peppara and Aruvikkara dams are the main sources of water for the city and a new project plan for improving the water supply with Japanese aid was launched in 2011. The sewage is disposed at the Muttathara Sewage Treatment Plant, which handles 32 million liters per day. The city area is divided into seven blocks for the execution of the sewage system, two commissioned in the 1990s and two after 2000. The sewerage was pumped to a stilling chamber at the Sewerage Treatment Plant (STP) at Valiyathura and is disposed through sewage farms.
Malayalam newspapers available are Mathrubhumi, Malayala Manorama, Kerala Kaumudi, Deshabhimani, Madhyamam, Janmabhumi, Chandrika, Thejas, Siraj, Deepika and Rashtra Deepika. The English newspapers with editions from Thiruvananthapuram are The New Indian Express, The Hindu, The Deccan Chronicle and The Times of India
Most of the media houses in Kerala are based out of Thiruvananthapuram. The government-owned Doordarshan began broadcasting in 1981. Asianet, the first private channel in Malayalam, began its telecasts in 1993. The other channels based in the city include News18 Kerala, Amrita TV, Kairali TV, Kairali We, Mathrubhumi News, Kaumudy TV, JaiHind TV, Asianet News, Asianet Movies and People TV
Thiruvananthapuram was the main venue of the National Games 2015. Thiruvananthapuram also hosted the 2015 SAFF Cup Championship and in the final match the stadium recorded an all-time highest number of attendance in SAFF Cup Championship history. The city caters to a variety of sports with facilities as listed below:
Thiruvananthapuram also has a 9-hole golf course named the Trivandrum Golf Club. The Kerala Cricket Association is headquartered in the city.
For Adventure sports,
Several companies offer hiking, trekking, and camping in the Western Ghats region of the city. Jimmy George Sports hub includes Astra, the first altitude-simulated training facility in South India, which enables high altitude acclimatisation.
The NH 66 and NH 544 (old NH 47) connects the city with Salem and Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu. The Main Central Road is an arterial road in the city and is designated as State Highway 1.
There are two major railway stations in the city namely, the Thiruvananthapuram Central at the city center and Kochuveli at near to sea cost.Other smaller railway stations in the city are Pettah, Nemom, veli & Kazhakuttom railway stations.
Thiruvananthapuram Central is the major railway station serving the city. It falls under the Southern Railway zone of the Indian Railways and is the headquarter of the Thiruvananthapuram Railway Division.
Thiruvananthapuram is served by the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport. The airport is just 6.7 kilometres (4.2 mi) from the city centre. Being one of the gateways to the state, it has direct connectivity to all the major cities in India as well as Middle East, Malaysia, Singapore, Maldives and Sri Lanka. It also has the headquarters of the Southern Air Command (SAC) of the Indian Air Force.
Thiruvananthapuram is a major tourist hub in South India. Kovalam and Varkala are popular beach towns located near the city. The Padmanabhaswamy Temple circled by the East Fort is believed to be among the richest and grandest temples in the world. Other places of interest include Shanghumukham, Azhimala Beach, Agasthyamala rain forests, Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kallar, Braemore, Ponmudi hills, Poovar and Anchuthengu backwaters, Varkala Cliffs and Kappil, Edava lakes. Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve is enlisted by UNESCO to its World Network of Biosphere Reserves. The city is also known for its unique style of architecture involving Kerala Architecture with British and Dravidian influences in Napier museum, Zoo which is one of the oldest in Asia, Kuthiramalika and Kilimanoor Palaces. Although there are a number of museums, Kerala Science and Technology Museum includes the Priyadarsini Planetarium with the biggest projection screen in south India.
Thiruvananthapuram has been associated with a long list of luminaries from the annals of art, culture, entrepreneurship, education, reform, and sports:
Thiruvananthapuram at present has consulates of the following countries: