Thiruvananthapuram city and several other places in the district loom
large in ancient tradition, folklore and literature. South Kerala, particularly
the Thiruvananthapuram district, had in the early past a political and
cultural history which was in some respect independent of that of the
rest of Kerala. The Ays were the leading political power till the beginning
of the 10th century A.D. The disappearance of the Ays as a major political
power, synchronised with the emergence of the rulers of Venad.
In 1684, during the regency of Umayamma Rani, the English East India Company
obtained a sandy spit of land at Anchuthengu (Anjengo) on the sea coast
about 32 kms north of Thiruvananthapuram city, with a view to erecting
a factory and fortifying it. The place had earlier been frequented by
the Portuguese and later by the Dutch. It was from here that the English
gradually extended their domain to other parts of Thiruvithamcore (Travancore).
Modern history begins with Marthanda Varma, who is generally regarded
as the Father of modern Travancore (1729-1758 AD). Thiruvananthapuram
was known as a great centre of intellectual and artistic activities in
those days. The accession of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal (1829-1847 AD) ushered
in an epoch of cultural progress and economic prosperity.
The beginning of English education was made in 1834 by opening an English
school at Thiruvananthapuram. In 1836, an observatory and a charity hospital
were established at Thiruvananthapuram. During the reign of Ayilyam Thirunal
(1860-1880), a fully equipped Arts College was started besides the several
English, Malayalam and Tamil schools. A large hospital with a lying-in-hospital
and a lunatic asylum was also established. In 1873, the University College
was opened. It was during the reign of Sri Moolam Thirunal (1885-1924),
that the Sanskrit College, Ayurveda College, Law College and a second
grade College for Women were started at Thiruvananthapuram. A department
for the preservation and publication of oriental manuscripts was also
established. One of the significant measures associated with Shri Moolam
Thirunal’s reign was the inauguration of the Legislative Council in 1888.
This was the first legislative chamber, instituted in an Indian State.
In 1904, the Shri Moolam Assembly came into being. The activities of the
Indian National Congress echoed in Thiruvananthapuram and other parts
of Kerala during the reign of Shri Moolam Thirunal. In 1938, a political
conference of the Congress was held in the city under the presidency of
Dr. Pattabi Sitaramaiah.
The period of Maharaja Shri Chithira Thirunal Bala Rama Varma who took
the reigns of administration in 1931, witnessed many-sided progress. The
promulgation of the Temple Entry Proclamation (1936) was an act that underlined
social emancipation. In 1937, a separate University for Travancore was
started. This was later redesigned as University of Kerala, following
the formation of Kerala State in 1956.
With the accession of Travancore to the Indian Union after Independence,
the policy of the State Government as well as the political atmosphere
underwent radical changes. The first popular ministry headed by Sri.Pattom
A.Thanu Pillai was installed in office on 24th March, 1948. Consequent
on the recommendations of the State Reorganisation Commission, the four
southern taluks of Thovala, Agasheeswaram, Kalkulam and Vilavancode were
merged with Tamil Nadu. The State of Kerala came into being on November
Thiruvananthapuram, the southern most district of Kerala State is
situated between north latitudes 8° 17' and 8° 54' and east longitudes
76° 41' and 77° 17'. The southern most extremity, Parasala, is only 56
kms away from Kanyakumari, the "land’s end of India". The district stretches
along the shores of the Arabian sea for a distance of 78 kms. Kollam district
is on the north and Thirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts of Tamil Nadu
are on the east and the south respectively.
The district can be divided into three geographical regions-highlands,
midlands and lowlands. Chirayinkeezhu and Thiruvananthapuram taluks lie
in midland and low land regions, while Nedumangad taluk lies in midland
and highland regions and Neyyattinkara taluk stretch over all the three
regions. The highland region comprises mainly of mountains. Bounded on
the east and northeast by the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats, this
area is ideal for major cash crop plantations like rubber, tea, cardamom
and other spices. Timber trees like teak, rose wood, etc. are grown in
this region. The midland region, lying between the Western Ghats and the
lowlands, is made up of small and tiny hills and valleys. This is an area
of intense agricultural activity. This region is rich in produces like
paddy, tapioca, spices and cashew. The low land is comparatively narrow
and comprises of rivers, deltas and seashore and is densely covered with
coconut palms. The Ghats maintain an average elevation of 814 meters rising
to peaks of 1219 to 1829 meters in certain places. The Agastyarkoodam,
the southern most peak in the Ghats, is 1869 meters above sea level and
figures in the popular mythology connected with Agastyamuni, the sage.
Mukkunnimala near Thiruvananthapuram (1074 meters) is an important health
resort in the district.
The large forest reserves favourably affect the climate and induce more
rain in the district. In the mountain ranges, chilling cold is experienced,
whereas lower down the climate is bracing and in the plains, it is generally
hot. Though the mean maximum temperature is only around 90 F, it is oppressive
in the moisture-laden atmosphere of the plains. Humidity is high and rises
to about 90 per cent during the southwest monsoon. The average rainfall
is around 150 cms per annum. It is significant that the district gets
rainfall both from the southwest and the northeast monsoons. The southwest
monsoon starts by the end of May or from the beginning of June and fades
out by September, while the northeast monsoon commences in October. Dry
weather sets in by the end of December. December, January and February
are the coolest months of the year. March, April and May are generally
very hot. During the months of April and May, the mean daily maximum temperature
rises upto 35 degree Celsius and in the days of December-January, it may
go down to 20 degree Celsius.
FLORA AND FAUNA
Thiruvananthapuram district is noted for its unique variety of flora and
fauna. The district has a rich variety of plants ranging from rare orchids,
medicinal plants and spices to hedge plants, tuber crops, plants yielding
edible fruits and fibre yielding plants. Aromatic plants and spices such
as pepper and ginger are cultivated on a large scale on the hilly tracts.
The Nedumangadu taluk of the district is one of the biggest centres of
cultivation and trade of pepper and other hill produces. A major portion
of the district comes under the middle plain and the region is under the
cultivation of coconut, paddy, tapioca, tuber crops, plantains and vegetables
crops. The forests of the district abound in a variety of animals and
birds and its adjacent areas are conducive to the growth of wild life.
Elephants, bison, monkeys and rare species of reptiles have the place
of distinction in them. The Neyyar reservoir and nearby areas abound in
wild life. Nestled in the lap of Western Ghats, a wild life sanctuary
is fastly growing over an area of nearly 777 sq. kms. around this reservoir.
It preserves the scenic beauty of the area and provides a healthy holiday
resort to the tourists. The forest under the Kulathupuzha range is the
habitat of rare species of snakes and lizards. Mammals are well represented
in the district. Nilgiri Langur (Kasi fohnii) the lion tailed Macaque
(Macaca silenus), the Nilgiri brown mangoose (Herpestes fuscus) and the
Malabar civet (Moschothere civettina) are characteristic to this region.
The monkeys include macaques and langurs. Carnivores include tiger, jungle
cat, toddy cat and leopard, though the tiger population has become considerably
scarce. Jackal, wild dog, sloth bear, gaur (Kattupothu), a few species
of deer, elephants etc. are also seen. The reptiles include the lizards,
snakes, crocodiles and tortoises. There are about 75-80 species of snakes
in this area. Some of them are very poisonous.
More than 50 per cent of the total population depends on agriculture for
their livelihood. Agricultural labourers constitute 42 per cent of the
total labour class. Large scale industries are not established in the
district. Most of the people are engaged in low remunerative pursuits
which require very little capital. Political and social consciousness,
coupled with the efforts of the social, religious and cultural leaders,
have helped considerably pull down the age-old feudal order. Economic
changes have also affected the social life and attitude of the people
The headquarters of the district administration is at Vanchiyoor, Thiruvananthapuram,
just 1.5 kms away from the Government Secretariat and the Central Railway
Station. The district administration is headed by the District Collector.
He is assisted by six Deputy Collectors holding charges of general matters,
land acquisition, revenue recovery, land reforms, housing and election.
The District Collector also holds the charge of the District Magistrate
and is assisted by the Additional District Magistrate (Deputy Collector,
General) and the Revenue Divisional Officer. The district has only one
revenue division, Thiruvananthapuram, headed by the Revenue Divisional
Officer (RDO) and the office is located at East Fort, Thiruvananthapuram.
He is also the Sub-divisional Magistrate. There are four taluks, namely,
Neyyattinkara, Thiruvananthapuram, Nedumangad and Chirayinkeezhu (H.Q.
at Attingal), each headed by a Tahsildar.
As per the 73rd Amendment of the Constitution of India, the new Panchayat
Raj-Nagarapalika Act came into force. In pursuance of related legislation
in the State Legislative Assembly, the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act came into
effect on 23rd April, 1994. The State Election Commission held elections
to grama panchayats, block panchayats, district panchayats, municipalities
and corporations in September, 1995. The elected representatives took
over charge on the Gandhi Jayanthi day of 1995. Thiruvananthapuram district
includes 84 grama panchayats,12 block panchayats, one district panchayat,
four municipalities and one corporation.