The Century Old Living Rubber Tree in Thiruvananthapuram!

Natural Rubber tree or Para Rubber (Hevea brasiliensis – Family Euphorbeaceae) is originally a native to Amazon and Orinoco river basins in Brazil and Bolivia in South America. But since it tends to be attacked by a fungal disease in South America, rubber is not produced in significant amounts there. It was Sir Henry Vickham successfully introduced the Natural Rubber tree or Para rubber from the Amazon forests of Brazil to South East Asia. The Commercial cultivation of natural rubber in India started in the Southern State of Kerala in 1902.

But the first ever living rubber tree came to the capital city of Kerala – Thiruvananthapuram in 1880 as a gift from the Britishers to the then Raja of Travancore, His Highness Visakham Thirunal Ilaya Raja. The photograph below shows the century old (approximately 137 year old) rubber tree growing luxuriously in the premises of Thiruvananthapuram Museum.

Photograph by Chetan KarkhanisImage Courtesy: Sandeepa Chetan’s Travel Blog

About 90 percent of the world’s rubber is produced in south and southeast Asia, where its commercial cultivation began a century ago. The Periyar Syndicate, a European venture, began the first rubber plantation near Aluva in Kerala in 1902 with seeds brought from Brazil. India is the sixth largest producer after Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Malaysia. In India, Kerala alone accounts for 80 percent of the country’s rubber, followed by Tripura and other states.

Article Courtesy:

  1. Shri. Nazeer M.A, Retd. Joint Director, Rubber Research Institute of India
  2. First Post Media



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Kerala State Central Library in Thiruvananthapuram to be blind-friendly

The 188-year-old Kerala State Central Library in Thiruvananthapuram, one of the oldest book houses in the country will soon have a separate wing for visually challenged bibliophiles. An exclusive ‘Braille wing’ will be opened soon adjacent to the main library building, located in the heart of Thiruvananthapuram city, as part of the authorities’ plans to make the 19th century institution differently-abled friendly. Popularly known as ‘Trivandrum Public Library,’ the heritage structure, housing one of the finest collections of rare titles starting from 16th century, was established in the year 1829.


According to authorities, steps are already on to convert a room of the three-storey new building, being set up in front of the heritage Gothic style main structure, into the Braille wing. The Braille wing is envisaged to provide all modern amenities to help make visually impaired visitors comfortable. State librarian P K Sobhana said they would join hands with various outfits and organisations including Dehradun-based National Institute for the Visually Handicapped and Kerala Blind Association for the initiative.

“Our new building is getting ready. One of the major features of it will be the Braille section. We are planning to open it in a room in the ground floor of the building,” she told PTI. Besides books in Braille format, the new wing would also have an impressive collection of talking and audio books in various languages including English and Hindi besides Malayalam. “We think, the audio books will be more useful for the visually challenged people. Not only that, it will also be a solution for the space constraints issues. Usually Braille books will consume more space which we cannot afford,” she said.

The official said she would soon visit institutions including the National Association for the Blind in New Delhi which offer advanced facilities before giving a final shape to the plan. “In future, we also have plans to prepare audio books in Malayalam with the support of outfits in this regard,” Sobhana added. An integral part of the state’s cultural landscape, the Central Library has over five lakh titles and subscribe 300 periodicals. The book house had amazed several people including world renowned English writer William Somerset Maugham.

Astonished by seeing the wide collection of world classics and continental literature, including his own works there, the writer, during his visit to the princely state of Tranvacore in 1938 had scribbled in the visitors’ book that he was ‘pleased and flattered.’ Historians say, the library was ordered to be set up in 1829 by the Travancore royal Swathi Thirunal and renamed as State Central Library in 1958. Interestingly, the visionary ruler took the initiative to build one of the first public libraries in India, before even the famed Imperial Library of Calcutta was established.

The task of organising the library was assigned to Col Edward Cadogan, the then British Resident and the grand son of Sir Hans Sloan, the founder of British Museum. The library was shifted to the present building in 1900 under the reign of Sri Moolam Thirunal, who built a structure of architectural beauty in the Gothic style in commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. While the Public Library was handed over to University of Travancore in 1938, it was taken over by the government in 1948 after a resolution was passed by State Legislature.

The library, in the year 1988, was granted the status of a minor department under the administrative control of Higher Education Department with the State Librarian as its head.

News Courtesy: The New Indian Express

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A.R Rahman Visited Thiruvananthapuram Silently!

When Thiruvananthapuram city was engrossed in the visit of Sultan Bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi, the Emir of Sharjah, another Sultan, but this time of music, quietly made a quick trip to Thiruvananthapuram city last Monday. Yes, it was none other than A.R Rahman, the Mozart of Madras. A.R Rahman made his way to MANDERLAY, a stately house at Poojappura, when he came visiting his close friend and former bandmate John Anthony of Karnatriix.

28tvmrahmanImage Courtesy: Karnatriix John Anthony Facebook Profile

All is hush on what the visit was about but music must have been on their mind when they tuned in after a long time as John says in his Facebook post: ‘cAtchIng uP afTer quiTe sOmeTime & hAd loTsss tO cAtch Up ……..😜 ‘. The ace guitarist also put up a photo on his wall of the two men in black exchanging notes in his garden.

Sivamani, A.R. Rahman, the late Jo Joo and John had formed a band, Roots, which had rocked Chennai when it was formed in the Eighties. They jammed with all kinds of musicians, including Carnatic musicians like T.V. Gopalakrishnan and Kadri Gopalnath. But once A.R Rahman, then Dileep, got his first movie, the band moved on to a new groove.

As always, it is learnt that A.R Rahman prayed at Beemapally mosque before leaving Thiruvananthapuram city on the same day. Some photographs that found their way to Facebook are the only signs of the maestro’s visit to Thiruvananthapuram city!

News Courtesy: “The Hindu”

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Onam Special Trains to/from Thiruvananthapuram/Kochuveli

To clear the extra rush of passengers during the Onam festival season, railways will operate special trains from various parts of the country to  Thiruvananthapuram/Kochuveli.


  1. Train No. 82607 Chennai Egmore – Kochuveli Suvidha special train via Nagercoil will leave Chennai Egmore at 08:20pm o­n August 24 and 31 and reach Kochuveli at 12.25pm the next day.
  2. Train No. 06068 Kochuveli – Chennai Egmore special fare special train via Nagercoil will leave Kochuveli at 03:30pm o­n August 23 and 30 and reach Chennai Egmore at 05.45am the next day.
  3. Train No. 04426 Hazrat Nizamuddin – Kochuveli special fare special train via Palakkad will leave Hazrat Nizamuddin at 05:55 am on September 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 and on October 7, 14, 21 and 28. The train will reach Kochuveli Terminal in Thiruvananthapuram at 11:00 am on Mondays.
  4. Train No. 04425 Kochuveli – Hazrat Nizamuddin special fare special train via Palakkad will leave Kochuveli at 11:00pm on September 4, 11, 18, and 25 and on October 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30. The train will reach Hazrat Nizamuddin at 03:00 am on Thursdays.
  5. Train No. 06014 Thiruvananthapuram – Chennai Central special fare special train via Palakkad will leave Thiruvananthapuram at 07:00pm on Wednesdays and will reach Chennai central at 11:30am the next day.
  6. Train No. 06013 Chennai Central – Thiruvananthapuram via Palakkad will leave Chennai Central at 03:15pm on Thursday and will reach Thiruvananthapuram Central at 07:45am the next day.
  7. Train No. 06011 Thirunelveli –  Mangalore Jn special fare special train will leave Thirunelveli at 05:55pm on Thursday and reach Mangalore Jn at 01:00pm the next day.
  8. Train No. 06012 Mangalore Jn – Thirunelveli will leave Mangalore Jn at 03:40pm on Friday and reach Thirunelveli at 08:35am the next day.
  9. Train No.07120 Kochuveli – Secunderabad special fare special train via Palakkad will leave Kochuveli at 08:30pm o­n September 6 and reach Secunderabad at 03.00am September 8.


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Cabinet Approves Construction of Doubling of Railway Line with Electrification Between Thiruvananthapuram & Kanyakumari


The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi, has approved the construction of double line with electrification between Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala and Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, on Wednesday.

The total length of the line will be 86.56 kilometers. The estimated cost of the Project will be ₹.1431.90 crore and completion cost of ₹.1552.94 crore with 5% escalation per annum.

The project is estimated to be by 2020-21. The project will generate direct employment during construction for 20.77 lakh man days.

The project would not only speed up the operation of goods and coaching trains, but also provide additional capacity for meeting the increase in traffic in future.

The section is heavily passenger oriented which also serve the goods traffic from nearby ports. Operations from Vizhinjam port is likely to start by 2019 and 30% of its gateway traffic, is likely to be handled by the Railways.

Present line capacity of Thiruvananthapuram-Nagarcoil section of this route has already saturated which is causing heavy detention to trains moving towards Kanyakumari and Chennai.

Line capacity of this route needs to be enhanced to meet the demands for additional trains and smooth movement of trains through the route.

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Attingal Bypass: NHAI is Planning to Construct !

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is planning to construct a 13 kilometre stretch to bypass the congested Attingal town in Thiruvananthapuram district in its revised alignment to develop Cherthala – Kazhakoottam corridor of NH 66. “It will start from Kaduva Palli, near Kallambalam and rejoin the existing stretch at Mamom just after Attingal. This way we will be able to avoid the congested Attingal town altogether,” said R Venkata Krishnan, project director, NHAI-PIU Thiruvananthapuram.


The stretch though Attingal is one of the most hazardous on NH 66 and a major bottleneck in the yet to be widened Cherthala-Kazhakootam corridor. Steps are underway for issuing the 3A notification for the stretch and it is expected to be complete by September. There is yet no decision on the placing of a toll booth in the stretch as it depends on the completion of the Alappuzha and Kollam bypasses, both being carried out by the Public Works Department (PWD).

“Once the bypasses are complete, the PWD will erect toll booths. Only then will we able to come to a decision on our toll booths. It is not feasible to go for separate toll booths exclusively for NHAI in the stretch as it will put a double burden on commuters,” Mr Venkata Krishnan said. As per NHAI norms, toll booths are to be placed 60 km apart. The 173 km Chertala-Kazhakootam stretch is expected to have two toll booths, one each in Alappuzha and in Kollam.

Source: “Deccan Chronicle”

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Architect Jayakrishnan: All in the Line of Work

A.R. Jayakrishnan’s lines bring alive cityscapes from around the world

Architect A.R. Jayakrishnan draws inspiration from cityscapes. So much so that his wife, architect Chitra Nair, cribs that her husband never clicks a snap of hers. “He is an extremely good photographer but he focusses on buildings and landscapes, it is never people. In fact, if there is a person somewhere in the snap, it has probably been added to give a sense of dimension or proportion to the snap,” says Chitra, all smiles while her husband sheepishly pleads guilty. But over the last few years, JK, as he is known as, exchanged his camera for a pen and paper. And the lines are evident on the walls of their office space in Belhaven in Thiruvananthapuram.


Sketches of many landmarks in the city have been framed and put up on the walls alongside several awards for architecture won by the couple. “I always had a good hand and enjoyed sketching but as it happens with many people, once I left college, sketching took a backseat and I became a passionate photographer. I used to sketch but sporadically,” recalls JK.

JK2A chance meeting with South African architect Peter Rich changed his perspective and before he knew it, he was accompanying Rich on his sketching expeditions in different parts of India.

“I consider him as my guru. He had come to Thiruvananthapuram to see Laurie Baker’s buildings and we hit it off. Peter insists that sketching is the best way to understand a building and he is the reason why I took up my pen again to begin sketching seriously,” says JK. Chitra adds: “Photography, Peter feels, does not demand that kind of observation. Many a time, we click a photo and then forget about it. But he says when one draws the lines with your hand, there is a brain-hand connection that imprints the images in the brain. and now, JK disappears with Peter to different parts of India to sketch. Last month they went to Badami and Hampi and in August they are off to Mandu in Madhya Pradesh,” says Chitra.

Peter also encouraged JK to begin sketching walks in the city and on many Saturdays JK would set off with a group of students to sketch and walk. In the meantime, JK happened to meet US-based architect DK Ching, who was visiting Chennai and he introduced JK to Urban Sketcher, a world-wide community of sketchers.

“It is a community of sketchers trying to see the world through sketches. An annual conference is held on July 23 in different parts of the world. This year, we will be meeting in Chicago. Prior to that we met in Singapore and that is when we drew up the blueprint for a sketchers’ group for Asia. Till then, it was Western in spirit but the meet showed clearly the distinctive features of Asian sketches and that is how Asianlink Sketchers came into being,” says JK.

Participants of the first Asianlink Sketchwalk in Singapore had to present a 10-minute presentation on their region and it turned out to be a moment of epiphany for JK. While reminding the participants that since India was too vast and diverse to be covered in a 10-minute presentation, he would draw their attention to the art of Kerala.

“I discovered that Kerala has always had a long and strong tradition of line drawings. Kalamezhuthu, Theyyam, murals… all involve lines and colours are inlaid in between the lines. Even the make-up of Kathakali and Theyyam artistes is about filling in colour in between demarcated areas. Look at the works of Artist Namboothiri, Devan, C.N. Karunakaran and so on… All of them have a strong affinity with lines. I feel it is in our blood,” says JK.

This year, the meet will be in Kuching in Malayasia and JK’s excitement is obvious as he gears up for the trip in October.

A compulsive traveller, JK travels for work and, most importantly, to sketch. He also arranges tours with an accent on architecture. The first such tour was to Sri Lanka and the focus of interest was Geoffrey Bawa. “So we stayed in hotels that were built by Bawa, we visited houses that were built by him, his gardens…. it was a memorable trip,” recalls Chitra.

A few years ago, he set up a company, World Architecture Travels, to arrange trips that were focussed on architecture. Since then, JK has arranged such tours for those interested in architectural marvels and landmarks around the world. Later, this year, they plan to travel to Mexico and also present a paper in the University of Mexico on curating modern architecture in Kerala.

And, of course, JK would be busy capturing Mexico on paper.

“Sketching is meditative. Anyone can sketch. It is only a question of how you observe. Once that is learnt, then it is all about transferring that on paper,” observes JK.

JK’s favourite places

So is there a favourite place in Thiruvananthapuram that he enjoys sketching the most? He admits that if there is one place that keeps drawing him back again and again, it is the Fort area and agraharams. The globetrotter adds that Paris is another place that inspires the sketcher in him, especially the Notre Dame du Haut, a chapel built by Le Corbusier in Ronchamp.

Inputs from “The Hindu”

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