Thiruvananthapuram (Malayalam: തിരുവനന്തപുരം, tiruvaṉantapuraṁ ?, IPA: [t̪iruʋənɨn̪t̪əpurəm]( listen)), formerly known as Trivandrum, is the capital of the Indian state of Kerala and the headquarters of the Thiruvananthapuram District. It is located on the west coast of India near the extreme south of the mainland. Referred to by Mahatma Gandhi as the "Evergreen city of India", the city is characterized by its undulating terrain of low coastal hills and busy commercial alleys. With almost 745,000 inhabitants per the 2001 census, it is the largest and most populous city in Kerala; the wider urban agglomeration has a population of more than one million. Apart from being the IT hub of the state with over 80% of the state's software exports, Thiruvananthapuram ranks first in the number of international tourists in Kerala.
The city houses many central and state government offices and organizations. Apart from being the political nerve centre of Kerala, it is also a major academic hub and is home to several educational institutions including the University of Kerala, and to many science and technology institutions, the most prominent being the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Technopark, the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST), the Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management, Kerala and the Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER). It is also considered as one among the 10 greenest cities in India.
Thiruvananthapuram is an ancient city with trading traditions dating back to 1000 BCE. It is believed that the ships of King Solomon landed in a port called Ophir (now Poovar) in Thiruvananthapuram in 1036 BCE. The city was the trading post of spices, sandalwood and ivory. However, the ancient political and cultural history of the city was almost entirely independent from that of the rest of Kerala. The early rulers of the city were the Ays. With their fall in the 10th century, the city was taken over by the rulers of Venad.
The rise of modern Thiruvananthapuram began with accession of Marthanda Varma in 1729 as the founding ruler of the princely state of Travancore (Thiruvithamkoor in the local vernacular). Thiruvananthapuram was made the capital of Travancore in 1745 after shifting the capital from Padmanabhapuram in Kanyakumari district. The city developed into a major intellectual and artistic centre during this period. The golden age in the city's history was during the mid 19th century under the reign of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal and Maharaja Ayilyam Thirunal. This era saw the establishment of the first English school (1834), the Observatory (1837), the General Hospital (1839), the Oriental Research Institute & Manuscripts Library and the University College (1873). The first mental hospital in the state was also started during the same period. Sanskrit College, Ayurveda College, Law College and a second grade college for women were started by Moolam Thirunal (1885–1924).
The early 20th century was an age of tremendous political and social changes in the city. The Sree Moolam Assembly, established in 1904 was the first democratically elected legislative council in any Indian state.Despite not being under direct control of the British Empire at any time, the city however featured prominently in India's freedom struggle. The Indian National Congress had a very active presence in the city. A meeting of the Indian National Congress presided by Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramaiah was held here in 1938.
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