Thiruvananthapuram (try saying that at 5:30am at the airport check-in desk) is the largest city and gateway to the state of Kerala. We just stayed a few days, but found it to be a pretty clean and laid back city – a nice, easy introduction to the South of India.
To get into the centre from the airport you can book a pre-paid taxi at the counter after arrivals, there’s also an exchange booth to change some money (terrible rates but you can’t get rupees from outside India, so you’ll need some for the taxi). We were a little unsure if they’d be open when we arrived at 4am but surprisingly they were.
The contrast to other northern cities like Delhi and Varanasi is amazing – Thiruvananthapuram is so clean and green in parts. We were reminded of the incredibly warm and welcoming nature of the Indian people on our first day when our rickshaw driver was insistent on taking us to his mother’s house for dinner, but unfortunately we had plans.
There are a couple of sights worth seeing if you have a few days in the city. Sree Anantha Padmanabha Temple, one of the oldest in India and the Napier Museum of art and natural history. We love a good market so walking around the Connemara Market on the MG Road was a definite highlight.
Fly in, spend a few days, then head off to explore the real magic of Kerala.