Thiruvananthapuram, also 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 "Evergreen city of India", the city is characterized by its undulating terrain of low coastal hills and busy commercial alleys. The city has a population of 752,490 inhabitants and a population of around 1.68 million in the urban agglomeration and is the most populous city corporation and the fifth largest urban agglomeration in Kerala . Thiruvananthapuram contributes 80% of the state's software exports and is the major IT hub of the state.
The city is home to 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 Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), College of Engineering Trivandrum (CET), Sree Chitra Thirunal College of Engineering (SCT), Technopark, the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST), the Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management, Kerala, Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER), the Centre for Development Studies, the Regional Research Laboratory, the Centre for Earth Science Studies, Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology and the Sree Chitira Thirunal Institute for Medical Science and Technology. It is also considered as one of the 10 greenest cities in India. Thiruvananthapuram was ranked as the best city in Kerala to live in by a recent Times of India survey. The city is also ranked as the best city in India for Housing and Transport by a survey conducted by India Today.
Thiruvananthapuram is an ancient region 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 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 featured prominently in India's freedom struggle. The Indian National Congress had a very active presence in Thiruvananthapuram. A meeting of the Indian National Congress presided by Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramaiah was held here in 1938.
The Thiruvananthapuram Municipality came into existence in 1920. The municipality was converted into a Corporation on 30 October 1940, during the period of Chitra Thirunal Bala Rama Varma, who took over in 1931. The city witnessed many-sided progress during his period. The promulgation of "Temple Entry Proclamation" (1936) was an act that underlined social emancipation. This era also saw the establishment of the University of Travancore in 1937, which later became Kerala University.
With the end of the British rule in 1947, Travancore chose to join the Indian union. The first popular ministry headed by Pattom Thanu Pillai was installed in office on 24 March 1948. In 1949, Thiruvananthapuram became the capital of Thiru-Kochi, the state formed by the integration of Travancore with its northern neighbour Kochi. The king of Travancore, Chitra Thirunal Bala Rama Varma, became the Rajpramukh of the Travancore-Cochin Union from 1 July 1949 until 31 October 1956. When the state of Kerala was formed on 1 November 1956, Thiruvananthapuram became its capital.
With the establishment of Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) in 1962, Thiruvananthapuram became the cradle of India's ambitious space programme. The first Indian space rocket was developed and launched from the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in the outskirts of the city in 1963. Several establishments of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) were later established in Thiruvananthapuram.
A major milestone in the city's recent history was the establishment of Technopark—India's first IT park—in 1995. Technopark has developed into the largest IT park in India in geographical area, employing around 40,000 people in 300 companies. This placed Thiruvananthapuram on the IT map of India.