Thiruvananthapuram is the capital city of the state of Kerala. It is situated at the extreme south of the
state and is only 70 km away from the southernmost tip of the peninsula, Kanyakumari. The city is marked by
undulating terrain and busy commercial alleys. The city contains the offices of the Government located in the
imposing and historic Secretariat building. The city is also the cultural and educational hub of Kerala, being
the home to several colleges and the Kerala University. It is also the home to many prestigious institutions
like the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, the Indian Institute of Space Technology, the Sri Chitra Tirunal
Institute of Medical Sciences, to name a few.
Thiruvananthapuram is named after the mythical serpent Anantha of the thousand heads on whom Lord Vishnu or Sree
Padmanabha reclines. The legend of Sree Padmanabha was crystallized by the action of Sree Marthanda Varma, the first
of the modern rulers of Thiruvananthapuram, when he consecrated the ‘thrippadhidanam’ in which ceremony the Lord was
crowned as the Emperor and the King became his servant or ‘Dasan’. This was probably the only instance in Indian history
where the presiding deity becomes the ruler of the state.
The subsequent Maharajahs were benign rulers who did much to enhance the cultural reputation of the city.
The reign of the Mahrajahs ended in 1956 when the Government abolished the Privy Purse and Thiruvananthapuram
became the capital city of the then state of Travancore.
The Travancore Maharajahs were well known for promotion of the arts through the ages. Famous musicians like
Swati Tirunal were responsible for the development of Carnatic music. Raja Ravi Varma is a much sought after
painter. Even in modern times, in literature, cinema and the arts, Kerala stands at the forefront of cultural
development in all the spheres. And today, the Malayala Manorama is the largest read regional daily in India
and there are more new readers in Kerala than any other state.
The most stunning statistics from Kerala are regarding its health indices. All health indices are almost
the same as western values and health care is available in the state at a fraction of the cost in developed
countries. There have been a large number of studies as to how this happened even when there has not been an
equivalent increase in the GDP or in the per capita income. The likely reasons for this are egalitarianism
and female literacy