Trivandrum: help with unusual holiday - clothes shopping, museums, gardens, good food

#1 Sep 8th, 2009, 04:14
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#1
Hoping someone can help - I'm new to these forums, and have been spending several hours reading though the excellent advice, and getting ideas for our holiday.

We are flying to Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram) later this month, for a 1 week holiday that looks a bit unusual on these forums ! As per the title, the kinds of things we want to do are :
  • buy clothes - linen shirts/trousers, blouses/dresses (off the shelf, not custom made) and cloth - cotton & linen, plain/printed
  • visit public parks & gardens
  • visit museums, art galleries, temples/mosques/churches
  • enjoy tasty, traditional S.Indian foods
  • experience Indian massage
  • 2 day trips by train - to beach and to countryside
  • visit to any large shopping malls, cinema, coffee/tea/bakery shops
It is our 1st trip to India, although we have been to Sri Lanka & Maldives several times. We are looking for mid-range accommodation, in convenient & central location, best placed to explore our wishlist as above. We prefer to walk to places whenever possible, or failing that, will take public transport (buses & trains) rather than taxis.

I am having difficulties finding a suitable hotel, and wonder if anyone can recommend some where ? I am thinking it will be:
  • small to medium sized place, clean, friendly, efficient.
  • less than $50 per double room per night, including breakfasts.
  • preferably locally owned, and not a huge international chain.
  • building to have traditional design elements, and not be an internationally 'bland' box !
  • homestay or B&B preferable to anonymous chain hotel.
So is this kind of thing available in Trivandrum ? And will our wishlist of shopping & requirements be easily satisfied in the city ?

NOTE that we are not wanting to explore the backwaters, or spend any time on the beach !

Thanks in advance for any help.
Last edited by theyyamdancer; Sep 8th, 2009 at 16:00.. Reason: Edited in order to reformat - usually on this site no colours in posts.
#2 Sep 8th, 2009, 12:24
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Welcome to IndiaMike, I don't know Trivandrum, but hopefully my reply bumping this to the top will bring it to someone's attention.

I'm curious though, if you're not interested in beaches or backwaters, why choose a hard to get to place like Trivandrum? Delhi, for instance has fantastic shopping, public gardens, great restaurants, temples and museums, in fact everything you're looking for and would presumably be easier and cheaper for you to access, being an international flight hub. Oh, and Delhi does not have a beach!
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#3 Sep 8th, 2009, 15:21
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Trivandrum is not the end of the world!

Its well served by international airlines, and of course IR.

I cant recall any malls there, however there are good bookshops.

The palace is interesting, but the temple is only open to Hindus, you cant even get in the temple gate, if you are non Hindu.

I would class it as a small town, but well known for Ayurveda
Nill illigitimi carborundum
#4 Sep 8th, 2009, 15:41
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Check http://www.sankarshomestay.com/ and http://www.secondhome4u.com/ for homestays.

For shopping chck Saphalyam Shopping Complex, Arcade Shopping Complex

For traditional South Indian food check Swagat, Arul Jyothi
#5 Sep 8th, 2009, 16:11
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#5
Parthas for fashion clothes off the peg in Trivandrum. I bought my first salwar kameez there a few years ago and I am still enjoying wearing it!

For a day's outing, visit Padmanabhapuram Palace, to admire the traditional Keralan architecture.

Perhaps take the train up to Cochin. Plenty to see there, including one of the oldest surviving synagogues. Also look out for performances of Kathakali.

If you want to venture further afield, go to Northern Kerala and witness Theyyam dancing in the area around Kannur.
#6 Sep 8th, 2009, 16:24
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@ theyyamdancer.

You learn something new every day, how you got your ID.

Second the palace its a marvellous place, tho last time we were there the Durbar hall was not open, also Suchindram temple is a gem, not so far away.
#7 Sep 8th, 2009, 16:28
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fsg, is Suchindram the temple where you can hear 'musical pillars'? If so, I second your recommendation!

(I have yet to travel to Kannur; but it had been on my itinerary until it was side-tracked, as happens so often in India - don't we all know it? - and we went instead to the Andamans. Just have to go back to Kerala some day. )
#8 Sep 8th, 2009, 16:36
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#8
Yes Suchindram is one of the temples where there is a musical pillar. It also has one of the biggest statue of Hanuman.

So OP if you are planning to visit the Palace and Suchindram, hire a car and do a day trip to Kanyakumari.
#9 Sep 8th, 2009, 16:46
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#9
Yes it is!

It has a lovely tank[ very calm] where the bramins live, and you can get into the inner sanctum. As I recall its closed from noon to 4ish.

India is too big to see everything in one lifetime, so much to see so little time.

Just checked my notes
@ OP dont stay at Wild Palms, nice location,it was OK, but portion control, and they served Nescafe at breakfast. Unforgiveable in the land of coffee. S Indian coffee is
flavoursome, and aromatic.
I dont really drink coffee anywhere else. I had a frappe in Samos this May and had a sore head for the rest of the day, but the Greeks like it strong.
#10 Sep 8th, 2009, 17:03
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#10
You'll get a huge variety of good quality clothes and fabrics at Parthas.

There's a museum, zoo and park, all located together.

For moving around in the city you can take autos and buses, no need for taxis.

If you decide to go to Suchindram and maybe further down to Kanyakumari, visit Padmanabapuram Palace on the way.

For a beach day you can do a day trip by train to Varkala (1 hour distance) or simply take a bus to Kovalam from East Fort (30 min).

The train trip to Ernakulam/Cochin (4 hours) is a great way to discover Kerala. It's a very scenic trip.
#11 Sep 8th, 2009, 17:27
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#11
Thanks for your replies, everyone

The reason we chose TVR as a destination is that we are living and working in Maldives (on local salaries), and there are cheapish direct flights ($240). We only have a week, so don't want to travel much - we want to experience Indian town/city life, rather than doing anything "touristy".

We love Indian food, and want to explore the historical & cultural sides too, as well a do some "every day" type of shopping (shops are limited here, and very expensive).

So thanks for your suggestions so far ! One thing I forgot to add is that we love the local MARKETS too - anything to watch out for ?

And any specific recommendations for central accommodation ?
#12 Sep 8th, 2009, 20:10
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#12
That's why you are not interested in beach life

You can stroll around East Fort/Chalai Bazaar area for tiny shops and market atmosphere. There's also a cinema. (more cinemas in the centre.) The main area of Trivandrum is from East Fort along MG Road to Palayam. Her you can get shops, restaurants, hotels, almost everything in walking distance.

If you're still missing the sea, I'd suggest the train trip to Varkala in your case, as it has a cliff with a great view, something you don't get in the Maledives.
#13 Sep 8th, 2009, 22:51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fsg View Post It has a lovely tank[ very calm] where the bramins live
Brahmin fish?

Trivandrum is a very nice, very laid-back city. It is so laid back you can hardly believe it is a city, let alone an Indian city!

I like it, very much!

The Wooden Palace at Padmanabhapuram (did I get that right?) is well worth a day trip. It is a beautiful building.

What it sounds like you won't be doing is the out-and-out westerner-style bikini-clad day at the beach, but if you do feel the need for that, Kovalam is twenty minutes away.

Ahh... I see you are living in the Maldives! I doubt that Kovalam would attract you.
#14 Sep 9th, 2009, 00:47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by driver8 View Post The reason we chose TVR as a destination is that we are living and working in Maldives (on local salaries), and there are cheapish direct flights.
That explains the mystery. I have no doubt that Trivandrum is a lovely place to visit, but I was curious about why a non beach / backwater seeker would have chosen to travel somewhere that usually needs a connecting flight. Thanks for explaining, and I'm glad you've had more replies.

Your "ususual" holiday is pretty much the shape of all my holidays; I'm not a lying on the beach person, as I get bored after about ten minutes. However, as you are interested in Indian life, it would be a shame to go all that way and not see anything of the Keralan backwaters, so do at least consider it.

We found it a fascinating place and a good way of seeing how people live. For instance we were woken early one morning by a HUGE flock of ducklings, and I mean thousands, being herded by guys in wooden canoes who were taking them to the feeding grounds for the day. Things like that fascinate me.
#15 Sep 9th, 2009, 10:46
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#15
The Museum, Zoo and the Art Gallery are together. Please try to see Raja Ravi Varma's paintings in the Art Gallery. HE was a pioneer in Indo-European Fusion paintings. Website for the Zoo and Museum are http://www.keralamuseumandzoo.org/ and the Gallery is at http://www.keralamuseumandzoo.org/Artgallery.html. Some samples at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raja_Ravi_Varma.

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