The city was the capital of the Travancore state before the independence. Consequent to the recommendations of the state Reorganization Commission, the Vilavancode taluk from Thiruvananthapuram was merged with Tamil Nadu along with three other southern taluks of Thovala, Agastheewaram and Kalkulam from Travancore and the state of Kerala came into being on 1 November 1956.The district have the same name of its headquarter city, Thiruvananthapuram. The city gets its name from the word, Thiru-anantha-puram, meaning the "Abode of Lord Ananta".
The first recorded history of Kerala appears in the inscriptions of the Mauryan Emperor, Ashoka (269-232 b.c.).In these inscriptions, Ashoka refers to four independent kingdoms that lay to the south of his empire. These were the kingdoms of the Cholas, the Pandyas, the Keralaputras and the Satiyaputras.Among them, the Keralaputras or the Cheras, as they were called, reigned over Malabar, Cochin and North Travancore – all part of present-day Kerala.Travancore or Venad occupied centre stage in the political arena of Kerala around 18th century, thanks to the deeds of its two illustrious rulers, Marthanda Varma (1729-58) and Rama Varma, popularly known as Dharma Raja (1758-98). In his lifetime, Marthanda Varma successfully annexed the territories under the Dutch. Known as the Maker of Modern Travancore, Marthanda’s tenure is a remarkable period in the history of Kerala. Rama Varma ascended the throne and ably carried out the task of administration. Two distinguished ministers, Ayyappan Marthanda Pillai and Raja Kesava Das assisted him in administering the kingdom. Rama Varma had to bear the brunt of Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan’s invasion. But Rama Varma’s defence system withstood even the might of Tipu’s forces.Travancore was fortunate enough to be governed by many enlightened administrators like Velu Thampi, Rani Gouri Lakshmi Bai (1810-15), Gouri Parvati Bai (1815-29), Swati Tirunal (1829-47), Ayilyam Tirunal (1860-80), Sri Mulam Tirunal (1885-1924) who did much to see science, art and culture flourish in Travancore.