Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

Don't just pass through Thiruvananthapuram on your way to the beach. This Indian city is full of history and fascinating sites to explore on your own. One site that's bound to enthrall visitors is the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple. Its sacred interior is accessible only to Hindus, but your real focus is on the exterior elements. The building has gold plating that's visible for miles around.

While you're appreciating the local architecture, consider a look at the Kanakakunnu Palace. Its bold, red hue invites you to learn all about the kings of the past. In fact, there are many structures within Thiruvananthapuram that are unique to the region and history. Take a walk around to see the Victorian museums that show off their European influences. India has seen many visitors over the years, and they leave their marks in artistic ways.

For flora-and-fauna fans, take a trip to the Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary. You'll find an elephant rehabilitation center at this specialty zoo, and it's a thrill to see these magnificent animals up close. Deer, lions and even crocodiles can be found at this retreat too. India is home to so many amazing animals that this sanctuary is a testament to nature.

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