Kerala's capital, the coastal city of THIRUVANANTHAPURAM (still widely and more commonly known as Trivandrum), is set on seven low hills, 87km from the southern tip of India. Despite its administrative importance – demonstrated by wide roads, multistorey office blocks and gleaming white colonial buildings – it's a decidedly easy-going place, with a mix of narrow backstreets and traditional red-tiled gabled houses, and palm trees and parks breaking up the bustle of its modern concrete centre.
Although it has few monuments as such, Thiruvananthapuram holds enough of interest to fill a day or two. The centre can be explored easily on foot, though you might be glad of a rickshaw ride back from the museums and parks, close to the top end of MG Road. The historical and spiritual heart of town is the Fort area, at the southern end of MG Road, around the Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple and Puttan Malika Palace, while the Sri Chitra Art Gallery and Napier Museum, showcases for painting, crafts and sculpture, stand together in a park in the north. In addition, schools specializing in the martial art kalarippayattu and the dance/theatre forms of kathakali and kutiyattam offer visitors an insight into the Keralan obsession with physical training and skill.