ORIGIN OF NAME :
The city gets its name from the word, Thiru-anantha-puram, meaning the "Abode of Lord Ananta".The name derives from the deity of the Hindu temple at the centre of the city. Anantha is the serpent Shesha on whom Padmanabhan or Vishnu reclines. The temple of Vishnu reclining on Anantha, the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple remains the iconic landmark of the city. The city was officially referred to as Trivandrum in English until 1991, when the government decided to reinstate the city's original name Thiruvananthapuram in all languages.
The city of Thiruvananthapuram is considered the art capital of the state of Kerala. It is believed that the history of Thiruvananthapuram is largely disassociated from that of the state of Kerala. While most of the Kerala had the hold of the Brahmin Namboodaris, Trivandrum was under the Ays, a clan known for its rich traditional and religious heritage. The rule of Ays date back to the early tenth century and it extended from Nagercoil in the South to Tiruvala in the North.
The Ays rule fell to the Venad rulers in the 12th century. The Venad rulers were known for their efficient administrative systems and the kingdom saw its pinnacle under the Varma King, Udaya Marthanda. The Venad rule brought about development of Kerala into a capital of art and learning. Ravi Varma Kulasekhra was a renowned scholar and musician. He was the mentor the artists, musicians,poets of Thiruvananthapuram craved for. A great writer himself, he has penned the Sanskrit play Pradyumnabhyudayam. The efficient rule of the Venads made Trivandrum, the region then known by the name of Travancore, a bustling trading center.
Though Portuguese were the first Europeans to land on the West coast in the early sixteenth century but the Dutch craftily expanded their domain by signing treaties and pacts with the British to ensure trading centers. The middle of 1600 saw the Dutch firmly entrenched in Travancore, the modern Thiruvananthapuram. The Mysore invasion and iron rule of Marthanda Varma drove the Dutch out from the region. The Varmas continued to rule the region for decades with Rama Varma. The rise of Tipu Sultan and Haider Ali brought misery for Rama Varma but it is believed that his defenses were impenetrable even to the might of Tipu's army.
The British started their great design to oust all the Europeans in the later part of 1600 and by 1680s they were ruling over most of the Kerala including the Travancore. The stiff resistance from the French yielded no results. The story goes that the East India Company grew in Travancore from a sandy strip,bought from Umayamma Rani, just 20 miles north of the modern day Thiruvananthapuram.The place of art and learning soon started on similar voyage with the English and first British school commenced in 1834. A charity hospital run by the English and an observatory came up in 1836. The city of Thiruvananthapuram saw the first Art College during the rule of Ayilyam Thirunal. The wheels of progress had set spinning; schools, colleges, hospitals with in-patient wards, and even lunatic asylums were built. Sri Moolam Thirunal established Ayurveda, Sanskrit and a Law College. The city even today known for the highest female ratio established a Women's College in later part of 1890s. Sri Moolam Thirunal was instrumental in starting the legislative chamber in 1888, the first in the British India.
The state of Travancore was annexed with the Indian Territory after Independence and later divided into the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Thiruvananthapuram with its glorious past became the capital city of the God's Own Country.