Nestled away from the bustle of the city, near Vellayambalam Junction on the Kowdiar road, Kerala Raj Bhavan is the official abode of the Governor of Kerala. A sylvan sanctuary for birds, where dignitaries, national as well as international, find a true home away from home, it stands on a green patch of land of about 12 hectares, within handshake distance from near the Kowdiar Palace, where the royal family of erstwhile Travancore still lives; the present Raj Bhavan had been their Guest House.
When the State of Kerala was born in 1956, there were 3 Raj Bhavans – the State Government Guest House at Trivandrum, the Bolghatty Palace at Ernakulam, and the Palace at Devicolam – the summer resort of the Governor. Later on, the Bolghatty Palace and the Devicolam Palace were transferred to the Public Works Department and the Tourism Department respectively
Originally built as the Guest House of Travancore-Cochin State, the oldest building in the Raj Bhavan compound could not accommodate the guests and the various offices of the Kerala Raj Bhavan. So extensions and additions to the mother building were made. Built in the Kerala traditional style, the main building of the Raj Bhavan has certain architectural features such as high ceiled, spacious rooms with large windows and doors, with a tinge of Victorian finish. Constructed atop a breezy hillock, it is surrounded by sprawling meadows, velvety lawns, green houses with many species of Anthurium, Orchid, etc. There is also an enchanting fountain at the centre of the main lawn facing the office room of the Governor.
The Raj Bhavan Gardens have bagged several prizes on many an occasion during annual flower shows. With an area of 3.24 hectares, Raj Bhavan Gardens is the centre of attraction to the visitors. The trimmed grass gives the lawn a look of a green carpet spread out, and the artificial water fall, and the three green houses add to the charm of the gardens. Dendrobium, Aranda, Catlia, Arachnis, Moecara, Vanda and Dove orchid grace it. A good collection of Rose and Bigonia are also there. The beautiful statues brought in from Mayiladi, near Sucheendram, Tamil Nadu and placed at appropriate points contribute to the charm of the Kerala Raj Bhavan Gardens. There are also two impressive Band Stands built in regal style, besides a Children's Park, Tennis Court and a Shuttle Court on the premise.
Held at the Raj Bhavan Gardens the two 'At Homes' hosted by the Governor on the Independence Day and the Republic Day and on various other occasions are events to remember.
The Raj Bhavan has a good library of about six thousand books on a variety of interesting topics. The Public Relations Section is in charge of the Library. The books have been indexed and neatly displayed on shelves.
Also situated in the campus are the 71 Quarters for the Officers and Staff of Kerala Raj Bhavan (the quarters of AsDC are situated in the Raj Bhavan - Kowdiar road), Raj Bhavan Dispensary, Office of the Electrical Wing and the Raj Bhavan Employees Co-operative Society. There is a post office exclusively for Raj Bhavan named “The Kerala Governor’s Camp Post Office”, where there are facilities for sending speed post, telegrams etc.
About half a kilometer from the Raj Bhavan is the Museum Complex, consisting of the Napier Museum, an Indo-Saracenic structure of the 19th century, housing a rare collection of archaeological specimens, Sree Chithra Art Gallery displaying Raja Ravi Varma paintings and exquisite works of the Rajput, Mughal and Tanjore schools of art, and the Zoological park, one of the first and most well-planned in India preserving very rare wild life.
The Kanakakkunnu Palace in between the Raj Bhavan and the Museum complex is often the venue of several cultural festivals, including the flower show, the Nisagandhi Dance Festival, and the State-level Onam Celebrations in August/September.
About a kilometer from the Raj Bhavan is the Science and Technology Museum which exhibits science, technology and electronic devices, and houses the Priyadarshini Planetarium and Biotechnology Museum. Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple at East Fort, the heart of the city, is well-known for its murals and stone-carvings.
The Government Secretariat is situated at Statue, 4 kms from Raj Bhavan and the recently constructed Legislative Complex at Vikas Bhavan, 2 kms from Raj Bhavan.
A few kilometers from the Raj Bhavan are Kovalam, Shanghumukham Beach, Veli Tourist Village and Akkulam Boat Club, the famed picnic spots of Thiruvananthapuram. About 15 kilometres from the Raj Bhavan is the Technopark, the State’s leading centre of software industry and Information Technology.