Also known as Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala boasts a maharaja’s palace, museums and an art gallery.
Top things to see and do
- Step back in time: a visit to Puthenmalika Palace takes you back 200 years, to the time of the Travancore maharajas. Also known as Kuthiramalika Palace, the place may not look particularly impressive from the outside, but inside you’ll find thrones made from ivory and Bohemian crystals.
- Take a coffee break: one of the most unusual places you’ll probably ever have a coffee is the Maveli Coffee House. Designed by British architect Laurie Baker, who died here in his adoptive home in 2007, it’s a sloping red-brick building with a spiralling interior. It’s a favourite meeting place for the locals.
- Visit the zoo: the Zoological Gardens are one of the oldest in India, and its animals were the inspiration for author Yann Martel’s book ‘Life of Pi’. Along with an assortment of creatures large and small, there’s a children’s play area and a restaurant. You’re also in the right place to pop into the Napier Museum for historical artefacts as well as the Sree Chithra Art Gallery, a real joy for fans of the 19th-century Indian painter Raja Ravi Varma.
- Discover a new snack: you simply can’t visit this place without trying the local street food – banana chips, or ‘upperi’. Look out for the mobile carts selling these hot and salty wonders and be prepared to get addicted.
- Picnic at the local lake: around 10 kilometres out of town is Veli Lake. It’s a pretty spot where you can take boats out on the water, admire the sculptures and enjoy a picnic. An added bonus is that it’s close to Kovalam Beach.
Tips for travellers
You can get back to nature at Idinjar Falls in Palode, around 45 kilometres away. It’s a scenic area with a river running through the evergreen trees and a couple of waterfalls to admire.