Thiruvananthapuram is built on hills by the sea shore and is located at 8°30N 76°54E / 8.5°N 76.9°E / 8.5; 76.9 on the west coast, near the southern tip of mainland India. The city and the suburbs covers an area of about 250 square kilometers, sandwiched between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea. The average elevation is 16 ft from the sea level. The area can be divided into two geographical regions, the midlands and the lowlands. The midland region comprises low hills and valleys adjoining the Ghats. The lowland is a narrow stretch comprising shorelines, rivers and deltas, dotted with coconut palms. Vellayani lake, biggest fresh water lake in the district is in the suburbs of the city. The major rivers that flow through the city are the Karamana river, and the Killi river. There are highlands, which form the eastern suburbs of the city. The highest point in the district is the Agasthyarkoodam which rises 1890 m above sea level. Ponmudi and Mukkunimala are hill-resorts near the city.
The city has a tropical climate and therefore 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 coldest months while March, April and May are the hottest. The winter temperature comes down to about 18°C and summer temperatures can sometimes go as high as 38°C.
The economy of Thiruvananthapuram city was earlier based on the tertiary sector with about 60% of the workforce being employed as government servants. Large scale industrial establishments are low compared to other south Indian state capitals like Chennai and Bangalore. At present the economy is growing with the contributions from more professionals in the fields of IT, and Medical/Bio-Technology. The city contributes 80% of software exports from the state. The opening of many private Television channels in the state made Thiruvananthapuram the home of several studios and related industries. India's first and only animation park is situated here.
Since the establishment of Technopark in 1995, Thiruvananthapuram has steadily grown into a competitive IT centre. The city was rated as the best 2nd tier metro with IT/ITES infrastructure, and second in terms of availability of human talent. Technopark houses global majors like NeST Software, Infosys, TCS, McKinsey & Co., Ernst & Young, Allianz Cornhill, Tata Elxsi, UST Global, etc. The park has around 110 companies employing over 19,500 professionals. With the expansion plans to be completed in 2008–09, this figure is to rise to about 40,000. With the completion of the 600,000 ft2 Thejaswini, Technopark has become the largest IT Park in India. Work on the 460,000 ft2 Leela IT building, Infosys Campus, IBS Campus, NEST Campus and Tata Elxsi R&D Centre has commenced while that on the UST-Global Campus is due to commence shortly. Work on the mammoth Technocity project is also due to commence shortly.
Tourism has also contributed heavily to the economy of Thiruvananthapuram. Foreign tourists generally use Thiruvananthapuram as a hub to explore the highly promoted tourism industry of the state of Kerala. Thiruvananthapuram is ranked first in the number of foreign tourists visiting Kerala. It is also a major destination for chartered flights to India for Medical tourism, as there are more than fifty recognised Ayurveda centres in and around the city. This is primarily due to Ayurveda's immense popularity in the West. Medical tourism is further promoted by the recuperation facilities available at the beach resorts and hill stations nearby. There are around 20 government owned and 60 privately owned medium and large scale industrial units in Thiruvanathapuram. The major employers are the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC), Milma, Keltron, Travancore Titanium and Hindustan Latex, all government owned. There are also about 30,000 small scale industrial units employing around 115,000 people. Traditional industries include handloom and coir.
Commercial activity is quite low mainly due to the under-development of ports. However, this is expected to change with the construction of the proposed mega Deep Water Container Transshipment Port at Vizhinjam. Situated close to the city, Vizhinjam is very close to international shipping routes and the East-West shipping axis and hardly require maintenance dredging. Other major organizations of economic interest are the Chithranjali Film Complex, Kinfra Apparel Park, Kinfra Film and Video Park, Kerala High-tech Industries (KELTECH), Kerala Automobiles Limited and the English Indian Clays Ltd.
The District Administration is headed by the District Collector, an officer of the elite Indian Administrative Service. The city is administered by the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation headed by the Mayor. The city council is democratically elected and comprises 84 members representing the different city wards. Several agencies work under or in partnership with the Corporation including the Trivandrum Development Authority (TRIDA) and Trivandrum Road Development Corporation.
The city comes under the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency. The city contributes to four legislative assembly seats namely Kazhakuttam, Thiruvananthapuram, Nemom and Kovalam. The city police is headed by a Police Commissioner, an officer of Deputy Inspector General rank in the Indian Police Service. The city is divided into three police sub-divisions headed by Assistant Commissioners. There are also two traffic sub-divisions. A women's cell and a narcotics control cell also operate in the city. The other units of Thiruvananthapuram city police include Crime Detachment, City Special Branch, Dog Squad, Mounted Police, District Crime Records Bureau, Foreigners Registration Office (FRO), Tourist Police and District Armed Reserve. There are two state Armed Police Battalions and a unit of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) based in Thiruvananthapuram. The CRPF has a Group Head Quarters (GHQ) located at Pallipuram. There is also a large army cantonment in Pangode where some regiments of the Indian Army are based. Thiruvananthapuram is the capital of Kerala and hence the state legislative assembly and Secretariat are located here. The city is also the headquarters of the Thiruvananthapuram district. The only foreign mission in the city is the Consulate of Maldives
The city is fully electrified by Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB). The district is divided into three circles: Transmission circle, Thiruvananthapuram city and Kattakkada. Domestic consumers account for 43% of the total power consumption, or 90 million units per month. Thiruvananthapuram district has one 220 kV, nine 110 kV and six 66 kV electrical substations. A 400 kV substation has just been commissioned by the Power Grid Corporation and will ensure high-quality power supply to the city. The water supply schemes cover 100% within the city limits. It is 84% of the urban and 69% of the rural population, when the district is considered. Peppara and Aruvikkara dams are the main sources of water for distribution in the capital city. The new project plan for improving the water supply with Japan aid covers Thiruvananthapuram city and six suburban panchayats having urban characteristics. The sewerage system in the city was implemented at the time of the Travancore Kingdom, and modernised in 1938. This scheme for the disposal of sullage and sewage is an underground system. The whole system is controlled by Kerala Water Authority now. The city area is divided into seven blocks for the execution of the sewerage system, two commissioned in the 1990s and two after 2000. The sewerage is pumped to a stilling chamber at the Sewerage Treatment Plant (STP) located at Valiyathura, and is disposed through sewage farming. The Dairy Development Department maintains this sewage farm, and fodder cultivation is done here. There is no revenue generation from this scheme, and the sewerage system in the city is a service provided to the residents.
Within the city, city buses, taxis and autorickshaws provide means of transportation. Scooters, motorcycles and regular bicycles are the favoured means of personal transportation. The intra-city public transport is dominated by the state-owned KSRTC (Kerala State Road Transport Corporation). There are also private bus services, but are limited in number. The city services of KSRTC operate from six depots namely, the City depot, Vikas Bhavan, Peroorkada, Pappanamcode, Kaniyapuram and Vellanad. These services were revamped in 2005 with the introduction of modern buses and electronic ticketing mechanisms. The central city bus terminal is located at East Fort(Kizhakkekotta), near the Padmanabha Swamy temple. The Central and Inter State bus station is located 1 km away at Thampanoor, opposite Thiruvananthapuram Central (Railway)Station. Buses from it go to all major towns and villages in the State as well as big South Indian cities such as Bangalore and Chennai.The Central railway station is also located at Thampanoor in the heart of the city, 8 km from the airport. It is a very important terminus which handles over 50 trains daily. The city is well connected by rail to almost all major cities in India. Thiruvananthapuram is the first major South Indian city on the second longest train route in the world, Kanyakumari to Jammu. A second satellite station was opened in 2005 at Kochuveli, near the International Airport.
Thiruvananthapuram's International Airport, with direct flights from the Middle East, Singapore, Maldives and Sri Lanka is the gateway to the tourism-rich state of Kerala. There are also two military airports, one near the civilian airport and the other at the Southern Air Command headquarters of the Indian Air Force at Akkulam. Apart from regular scheduled flights, many chartered flights from Europe like First Choice Airways from London Gatwick and Monarch, operating with big jets, land here during the peak tourist season (around December) with Kerala fast becoming a prime tourist destination in India. Thiruvanthapuram airport's importance is also due to the fact that it is the southernmost airport in India and also the closest to (and thus cheapest option for) neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka and Maldives.
The construction of the mega Deep Water Container Trans-shipment Port at Vizhinjam was expected to begin in 2007. But a dispute over the tenders has stalled the project for the time being. It is to be built in three phases, and expected to be a key competitor in the ports business (especially for container transshipments), with the international shipping lanes between Europe and the Far East very close to the port, and also with major ports like Colombo, Kochi and Tuticorin in close proximity. The exponential growth of the services and IT-based sectors coupled with its prominence as the state capital and tourist centre has caused considerable strain on the transport infrastructure of the city. To ease the strain, several multi-million dollar construction projects are now underway including the construction of several new underpasses and flyovers, scheduled to be completed by early 2007. In the first phase, 42 km of six-lane and four-lane dual carriage ways are being built.
The city has a population of 744,739 according to the 2001 census ( nearly 1.1 million in Nov 2006). Within the city, the density of population is about 5,284 people per square kilometer. The district has a literacy rate of 89.36%. With the sex ratio of 1,037 females to every 1,000 males, there are more women in Thiruvananthapuram than men. The wider urban agglomeration registered a population of about one million in 2001.
Hindus comprise of 65% of the population, Christians are about 18% and Muslims about 15%. The major language spoken is Malayalam. English, Tamil and Hindi are also widely understood. There is also a prominent minority of Tamil speakers and a few Tulu and Konkani speakers. Unemployment is a serious issue in Thiruvananthapuram, as it is in the whole of Kerala. The increase in the unemployment rate was from 8.8% in 1998 to 34.3% in 2003, thus registering a 25.5% absolute and a 289.7% relative increase in five years. Thiruvananthapuram taluk ranks third in Kerala with 36.3% of its population unemployed. The in-migration of the unemployed from other districts also boosts this high unemployment rate. Thiruvananthapuram has a high suicide rate, which went up from 17.2 per lakh in 1995 to 38.5 per lakh in 2002. In 2004, the rate came down slightly to 36.6 per lakh. This apparent paradox—high human development and low economic development—is visible in the entire state of Kerala, and is often dubbed as the Kerala phenomenon or the Kerala model of development.
The citizens of Thiruvananthapuram are sometimes referred to as "Trivandrumites" by some tourism sites and blogging community, though the term is not in common use. Thiruvananthapuram has a rich cultural background thanks to the rulers of erstwhile Travancore, who took an active interest in the development of arts and culture. Thiruvananthapuram has produced several great artists, the most famous ones being Maharaja Swathi Thirunal, Irayimman Thampi and Raja Ravi Varma. Maharaja Swathi Thirunal was a great composer and played a vital role in the development of Carnatic music. There is a music college in his name in the city - Swathi Thirunal College of Music. Raja Ravi Varma was an illustrious painter of international renown. His contributions to Indian art are substantial. Most of his famous paintings are preserved at the Sree Chithra Art Gallery in the city. The Padmanabha Swamy Temple and the fort surrounding it, the Napier Museum and Zoo, the VJT hall, Palayam Mosque and Church are among the prominent heritage buildings in the city. The Veli lake and Shankumugham beach are home to various sculptures of the noted sculptor Kanayi Kunhiraman.
Thiruvananthapuram easily disguises itself as a laid back quiet city to a casual observer. However, beneath it there is a hum of cultural activities. The city comes to life during the festival season of Onam in August/September, and during the tourist season later in the year. The state government organises the tourism week celebrations every year during the Onam with cultural events conducted at various centres in the city. The other major events include the annual flower show, the Attukal Pongala, the Aaraat of Padmanabha Swamy Temple, the Beemapally Uroos, Vettucaud Perunaal etc. The CVN Kalari at East Fort is world renowned centre for training in Kerala's own martial art -- the Kalaripayattu. The Margi centre offers training in many of Kerala's traditional arts including Kathakali. The general cuisine of the people is Keralite cuisine, which is characterised by an abundance of coconut and spices. Other South Indian cuisines, as well as Chinese and North Indian cuisines are popular. Fast food culture is also very prominent in the city. Thiruvananthapuram has numerous libraries, the prominent ones being the State Central Library (Trivandrum Public library, Est. 1829), the University Library, Thiruvananthapuram Children's Library, Manuscripts Library and the Centre for Development Studies Library. The British Library (Est. 1964) was located very near to the Government Secretariat adjacent to the YMCA Hostel.
Thiruvananthapuram is a major academic hub. The University of Kerala is located here. There are many professional education colleges including fifteen engineering colleges, three medical colleges, three Ayurveda colleges, two Homeopathy colleges, six other medical related colleges, and two law colleges in the city and its suburbs. Trivandrum Medical College, the premier health institute of the state is also one of the finest in the country. It is being upgraded to the status of an All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). The College of Engineering, Trivandrum is one of the prominent engineering/technical institutions in the country. The Asian School of Business and IIITM-K are two of the management study institutions in the city, both situated inside Technopark. The Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, the unique and first of its kind in India, is situated here. Centre for Development Studies, one of the foremost development economics research centers in the country, and Centre for Development of Imaging Technology (C-DIT) which does research, development and training in imaging technology are located here.
The schools in the city are classified as Aided, Unaided and Government schools. The government schools are run directly by the state government and follow the syllabus prescribed by the state government. The aided schools also follow the state syllabus. In addition to this, there are four Kendriya Vidyalayas run directly by the Central government, which follow the CBSE syllabus, and private schools run by educational trusts or boards which follow CBSE and/or ICSE syllabus and/or state syllabus. The first International school in Kerala, The Trivandrum International School, was started in the outskirts of the city in August 2003. The literacy rate in Thiruvananthapuram, according to the 2001 census, is 89.36 percent; 92.68 percent among males and 86.26 percent among females.
Science and Technology
Thiruvananthapuram is a Research and Development hub in the fields of space science, information technology, bio-technology, medicine and so on. It is home to a cluster of research centres, which include the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research , Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre(LPSC), Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station(TERLS), Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST), Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, RGCB, Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute, ER&DC – CDAC, CSIR – National Institute of Interdisciplinary Science and Technology, Free Software Foundation (FSF), Regional Cancer Centre(RCC), Sree Chitra Thirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS), Central Tuber Crops Research Institute (CTCRI), Priyadarsini Planetarium, The Oriental Research Institute & Manuscripts Library, Kerala Highway Research Institute, Kerala Fisheries Research Institute, etc.
Daily newspapers are available in English and Malayalam. The English newspapers with editions from Thiruvananthapuram are The New Indian Express and The Hindu. The major Malayalam newspapers are Mathrubhumi, Malayala Manorama, Kerala Kaumudi, Deshabhimani and Madhyamam.
Most Malayalam TV channels are based in Thiruvananthapuram. The government owned Doordarshan began broadcasting from here in 1981. Asianet, the first private Malayalam channel, began its telecasts in 1991. The other channels now based in Thiruvananthapuram are Surya TV, Amrita TV, Kairali TV, Kiran TV (Youth channel of Surya TV) Asianet Plus (Youth channel of Asianet) and People (News and current affairs channel of Kairali TV). The local cable services are provided by Asianet Satellite Communications Limited, Trivandrum Cable Network Pvt Ltd and Siti Cable and they provide a bouquet of local channels in addition to all the Indian channels. DTH services are available through Doordarshan Direct Plus, Tata Sky and Dish TV.
All India Radio has an AM (1161 MHz) and an FM (Ananthapuri FM; 101.9 MHz) station for the city. FM radio channels broadcast from Thiruvananthapuram are Ananthapuri FM(AIR) 101.9 MHz, Big FM 92.7 MHz, Club FM 94.3 MHz , Radio Mirchi 98.3 MHz, S FM 93.5 MHz and Radio DC(Low power CRS) 90.4 MHz.
There are over 18 cinema halls which screen films in Malayalam, Tamil, English and Hindi. There are also two film studios in the city--Chithranjali and Merryland. The Kinfra Film and Video Park, located near the Technopark, is one of the most advanced film and animation production centres in India. Leading firms like Prasad Labs have set up their facilities here. The International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) is held in November/December every year and is acknowledged as one of the leading events of its kind in India.
The basic telephone services are provided by BSNL, Reliance and Tata Indicom. The cellular networks operating in the city are BSNL CellOne, Airtel, Aircel, Idea Cellular, Vodafone (all GSM) and also Reliance and Tata Indicom (both CDMA). The number of mobile phone connections has increased exponentially since the late 90s. Major broadband internet services are provided by BSNL DataOne, Asianet Dataline and Siti Cable. Private providers like Reliance, VSNL, Airtel and Satyam also have their presence in the city. The major dial-up internet providers are BSNL NetOne, Kerala Online and KelNet among others. Thiruvananthapuram also holds the distinction of having been the first 100% Digital SSA(Secondary Switching Area) in India.
The most popular games are Football and Cricket. Basketball, Badminton and Volleyball are also popular, mostly in schools. The Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) is headquartered in Thiruvananthapuram. The HQ complex of KCA, has advance facilities including two practice turfs with nets, bowling machines, gymnasium with multi-gym and equipment for aerobic training, lecture hall and library, an astro-turf indoor coaching facility, fully furnished accommodation for coaches and players, a physiotherapy clinic, functional office facilities and guest rooms. The Chandrasekharan Nair Stadium, in the heart of the city, is a prominent football stadium and has hosted both national and international level matches. The University Stadium has hosted two international cricket matches. This stadium is under the University of Kerala and is equipped with synthetic tracks for athletics games. The Central Stadium, which has facilities for athletics, football, basketball, volleyball and cricket practice nets, is situated on the eastern side of the Government Secretariat. The Jimmy George Sports Complex, the GV Raja Sports School and Lakshmi Bhai National College for Physical Education (LNCPE) are the other major sports establishments in the city. The city also has a Golf Club, one of the oldest in India, and a Tennis Club (Trivandrum Tennis Club/TTC) both located at Kawdiar. The city fields two football clubs--SBT-Thiruvananthapuram and Titanium-- in the second division of the National Football League. The city also has a fully equipped modern swimming pool located near the Jimmy George Sports Complex at Vellayambalam. Many state level and national level swimming competitions are held in this complex. It also holds coaching camps for those who are interested in learning swimming.
Apart from being the capital of India’s most literate and socially developed state, Thiruvananthapuram is a strategically important city in Southern India. Being the largest city in India’s deep south, it is important for both military logistics and civil aviation in the southern part of the country. It is the headquarters of the Southern Air Command(SAC) of the Indian Air Force. The city is very close to the international shipping route and East-West shipping axis. Also, it falls under the international air route. Due to the strategic importance of the city, the Indian Air Force authorities have planned to establish an aerospace command in SAC. The plan for setting up a new "Tri-Service Command", which will integrate all the three forces under a single command, is also in the pipeline. Being the Indian city with the closest air link to the small island-country of Maldives and also Sri Lanka, the city’s medical and health infrastructure caters to the needs of the patients from both countries, especially Maldives. Exports of perishables and medicines from Trivandrum International Airport run to full capacity on the daily flights to Maldives and Sri Lanka. Thiruvananthapuram also provides a key link in the movement of goods and passengers to and from southern parts of Tamilnadu into Kerala, the state border being just 30 km away. The city is also important for people around the world seeking help through Ayurveda medicine and therapy. Ayurveda resorts are coming up at a rapid pace along the International Beach of Kovalam and Varkala coast.