Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Long drive to Delhi - 10 : Reached Trivandrum

Pysem Day: We reached Trivandrum via NH 47 on Onam festival day & almost all establishments were closed though city streets were decorated. On the entrance of Kerala Tourism hotel, they were selling Pysem which is rice cooked in milk & sugar or jaggary. We had one kg pack & that turned out to be our lunch & dinner for the day!

Trivandrum or Thiruvananthapuram or City of Lord Anantha is capital of Kerala state. It's elevation is less than 10 meters and average temperature ranges from 23 to 33 C. Rainfall is heavy 1700 mm annually(Delhi 700 mm) & hence surroundings are lush green. It must be one of the top green cities of India. It is well connected by roads, rail & air with rest of India.

History of Thiruvnanthpurm as a trading centre of spices, ivory, sandalwood etc goes back a thousand years BCE. During 1729 it was made capital of Travancore State by Marthand Varma. It became capital of Kerala state in Nov 1956.

Population of the city is less than 10 lacs. As in the case of other old cities of India there are high rise buildings as well as small old houses with tiled roofs. Old portion has become congested & chaotic due to cars & bikes in commercial alleys. Newer portion or Capital part of the town is cleaner but with dull looking government buildings.

Main attraction of the town is richest temple of the world - Sree Padamnabhaswamy Temple right in the middle of the town constructed in Dravidian style. Temple is devoted to Padamnabha or Lord Vishnu who reclines over Anantha or Sheshnag.

Estimated assets of the Temple are US$ 19 billion. If antique value is factored in, assets could be many times more. Out of six vaults, Vault B is yet to be opened. Estimate of this vault done by Royal family in 1931 was Rs.12000 crores! Mind boggling figures there. Lots of legends, stories, rituals & court cases add to the awe & endless debates on what to do with assets.

I prayed there for a few moments for a tiny percentage only of yellow metal! Some photos:

NH 47 Kanyakumari to Trivandrum. Satellite map shows more greenery on left side(Kerala) of Western Ghats. Tamilnadu is on right side of the map but wrong side of Ghats!
Welcome to Trivandrum - Onam Festival decoration
Highways in Kerala are like this - narrow, congested, without divider & foot path. Average speed comes down. Shops, houses & trees all have claims over the roads.  
Kerala Tourism Hotel in middle of the city. 
Masque on the left & Church on the right

View of Police HQ

Welcome on Onam
Onam special - Pysem on sale
On the streets

On the green streets

On the left is tall Gopuram of Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple, world's richest temple. On the right is king's palace in rust coloured tiles, most of which is used for temple related functions now
For entering in to Temple everybody needs to wear a lungi. You can have it in the above store for Rs 60.
Shoes, mobiles,cameras, trousers & even shirt is not permitted inside. I had to take off the shirt also before entering the Temple

Entrance to the Temple
Che Guvera seems to be a popular figure here. As the taxi driver said - people here are - Hindus, Christians, Muslims or Communists!

World's richest Temple has a pond Padma Teertham. And on the other side of the pond interestingly, is a memorial of Comrades EMS Nampoothiripad / AK Gopalan 

Bus Terminal - neat & clean
Waiting for the bus. Gold jewellery is essential part of ladies get-up. Almost 60% of the street hoardings are related to jewellery. Lungis & chappals are popular. People generally looked better off & are friendly

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