A spiritual odyssey through South India (Part 1: Thiruvananthpuram – The Abode of Lord Ananta)
The city of Thiruvananthpuram is the capital of Kerala state; the city’s history 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 gets its name from the word, Thiru-anantha-puram, meaning the “Abode of Lord Ananta“.The name derives from the deity of the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple at the centre of the city. It is the most famous landmark and also the centre of the city around which the whole city has been planned.
It is in this city, we started our journey of South India and what an amazing start it was. We had one full day to spend in this city and here’s how we utilized our 24 hours: -
The temple is currently run by a trust headed by the royal family of Travancore. The temple is one of 108 Divya Desams (Holy Abodes of Vishnu) – principal centres of worship of the deity in Vaishnavism. The temple, constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture, is glorified in the Divya Prabandha, the early medieval Tamil literature canon of the Tamil Alvar saints (6th–9th centuries CE), with structural additions to it made throughout the 16th century CE, when its ornate Gopuram was constructed.
Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple gave its name to Kerala’s state capital Thiruvananthapuram. Based on the temple’s name, the city is also known as Anandapuram (City of Bliss) and Syananduram (Where Bliss is not far off). Ananda refers to Shree Padmanabha Himself. Hindu scriptures refer to the Supreme Being as ‘Sachidananda’ (Absolute Truth, Absolute Consciousness aAnantha is the serpent Shesha on whom Padmanabhan or Vishnu reclines. This temple of Vishnu reclining on Anantha remains the iconic landmark of the city.
It is estimated that the value of the monumental items and assets of the temple partially revealed are close to 100,000 crore (US$22 billion), making it the richest temple in the world.
It was a long queue even in early morning at the temple, and took us almost 1 hour to see the deity. However, it was all worth the wait. The statue of the lord looked resplendent and we felt a divine grace upon us in the lord’s presence.
Indian Coffee House is an iconic restaurant chain in India and in this city, it’s got a quirky building too!!
After our morning darshan , it was time for some food and we headed straight to the ICF housed in red spiral building. It is an experience eating out here, for one thing, the tables are numbered and wind up as one walks up the spial walkway. The waiters in their colonial uniforms complete with turbans are sight to watch!!
Padmanabhapuram Palace and Kuthiramalika Palace Museum
Both the Palace and museum are located adjacent to each other, which are in turn located adjacent to Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple. The Kuthiramalika Palace Museum is famous for the horse face shaped beams with which it has been constructed and the Padmanabhapuram Palace is known for its indigenous Keralite construction of wood.
The Napier Museum built during the colonial India by the Travancore Kings is housing rare bronze and ivory artifacts. The Sree Chitra Art Gallery, Museum of natural History and Trivandrum Zoo are located in the premises of the Napier Museum. So, one can spend a lot of time at this museum.
It is one of the most famous beaches in kerala and truely so. One feels a sense of calm watching the waves and feeling wind on the skin. Walking by the beach and watching the sun set, we felt that there could not have a better end to the day!!!
After this heady start, we were ready for the next stop – Kanyakumari!!