Thiruvananthapuram, located on the southwest tip of India, has served as a cultural and intellectual center for India for thousands of years. Hinduism has remained strongest in southern India, having more successfully resisted invading Islamic and Mongol armies, and protected by the northern dynasties from the Greek invasion before Christ. Although Thiruvananthapuram has resisted invaders, the region has been remarkably open to sea trade from Persia, Rome, and Southeast Asia as well as from Christian missionaries. Southern India's impact on Southeast Asia has been particularly powerful through international trade.
More recently, Thiruvananthapuram has been the center of the state of Kerala's cultural activities since 1745, or before the period of British rule began in India. The city has emerged as a leader in literature, art and, more recently, filmmaking. Contributions to painting began with murals in the Kerala tradition found in a small cave-shrine at Thirunandikkara, part of Tamil Nadu. That displays Hindu folklore with Buddhist influences painted in the ninth century C.E. The Hindu gods Shiva, Parvathi, and Ganapathi have been portrayed. The theme of Hinduism, infusing Buddhism and international influences, characterizes the painting and sculpture.
The centuries of renaissance in painting, literature, poetry, philosophy, and scholarship have born fruit most recently in film. Film culture pervades the city, expressed in film production companies like Toonz India Ltd, Tata Elxsi Ltd, the Kinfra Film and Video Park located near Kerala Technopark. The International Film Festival of Kerala has gained national and international recognition and acclaim.
Thiruvananthapuram hosts cultural festivals yearly, including the wildly popular Onam in August and September. The government sponsored festival holds events throughout the city. A 75-day cultural festival hosted by not-for-profits, Soorya Festival, combines every art form in the longest running cultural festival in India and possibly the world. Other events include the Swathi Music Festival, Navaratri Music fete, Nishagandhi Dance and Music show, the Nishagandhi Musical nights, and the International Film Festival of Kerala.