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Kovalam Travel Guide

Kovalam Beaches, Beaches in Kovalam, Kovalam Tourism


Surface
Kovalam is a lovely 16 kilometer (10 miles) drive from Trivandrum. You can get a private taxi to Kovalam; they charge something around INR 400 to 500. What is most important is to get your taxi driver to drop you at an appropriate point so that you can easily get to your hotel. Make sure you tell him Hawah Beach, Leela Beach/main beach or Lighthouse Beach. You can also enter Kovalam in an auto-rickshaw for a sum close to INR 300. It is to be remembered that these autos do not have a functional fare meter, and might ask you for more. But do not settle for anything over 300 rupees. You also have the option of taking a state bus from East Fort in Trivandrum to Kovalam beach. All you pay is INR 8 for a half hour ride. And buses to Trivandrum depart from Kovalam Junction in Kovalam. If you are taking a bus from this junction at night, be careful while walking around as the street lighting is pretty bleak and the intersection busy. To move around in Kovalam, taxis and auto-rickshaws can be hailed from most places.

Train
The closest railhead to Kovalam is Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala. It is well-connected by rail to all major hubs of the country. The central railway station is located in the heart of the city at Thampanoor, about 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the airport. Also, Trivandrum is the first major city along the second longest train route in the world – Kanyakumari to Jammu.

Air
The nearest airport to Kovalam is Trivandrum International Airport serviced by direct flights from the Middle East, Singapore, Maldives and Sri Lanka including charter flights to Europe. And domestic flights link it to the major Indian cities. Kochi International Airport is about 270 kilometers (169 miles) from Trivandrum.

Vizhinjam Village
Just 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) south of touristy Kovalam is a lesser-known fishing harbor, Vizhinjam. Vizhinjam is a natural port busy with fishing boats and fishermen jostling for space to venture into the sea. This fishing village is earthy and rustic, very different from the atmospheric, plush resort-speckled Kovalam. To be fair, Vizhinjam is quite a find within the circumference of Kovalam, and offers some fascinating historical treasures.

Vellayani Lake
This 750-hectare freshwater lake is one of the two in Kerala, and about 7 kilometers (4.37 miles) from Kovalam via Poonkulam junction. The other being Sasthamkotta lake in Kollam district. Vellayani is a picturesque village on the outskirts of Trivandrum city. Blessedly, modern day constructions in and around Trivandrum have not touched the serenity of this lake. The area surrounding it still remains largely unspoilt.

Shri Dharmasastha Temple
The Dharmasastha Temple close to the Kovalam Beach is a popular pilgrimage centre in Kerala. Devotees throng the temple during the annual festival celebrated with great ceremony in January. The shrine is however open on Fridays and on the Aayilyam days of Malayalam calendar.

Kovalam Beach
An erstwhile fishing village known for its fresh fish, fruits and toddy (coconut beer), Kovalam in Kerala is often referred to as the ‘Paradise of the South’. Idyllic and flamboyant, the crescent-shaped beaches of Kovalam have a character of their own. Kovalam opens up a vista of soft sands, crystal-clear turquoise waters and a rocky promontory crowded by coconut groves. The beach gets gentle waves making swimming refreshing and exhilarating.

Chowara
Another fishing village, Chowara is a long stretch of virgin sand, about 8 kilometers (5 miles) south of the main Kovalam beach and Vizhinjam. It is a secluded stretch ideal for long walks and soaking up the local sights and sounds. On an amble down the coastline, eagles and kites soaring in circles above the sea near the beach, is a common sight. Chowara is famous for its Ayyappa temple nestled atop a hillock overlooking the beach.

Valliathura Pier
Something very like the famed cliff divers of Acapulco in Mexico, the local fishermen of Kovalam plunge into a swollen sea during monsoon to swim and latch on to their unmanned catamarans drifting on the sea. Queer as it sounds, at Valliathura pier, about 10 kilometers (6.25 miles) from Kovalam, during monsoon when the sea turns tumultuous making it difficult for fishermen to launch their boats from the beach, they carry their catamarans to the edge of the pier and hurl them into the sea.

Ayyanappilla Asan
Close to the Lighthouse beach is a memorial dedicated to the two ancient Kovalam poets Ayyanappilla Asan and Ayyippilla Asan. They were the authors of the great regional epics Janakeeya Maha Kaviangal, Ramakatha Pattu and Bharathampattu, who spent their lives in Kovalam near the Lighthouse beach, Avaduthura in 1400 AD. Today the monument is under the Kerala Government Archaeological Department. The memorials get a lot of visitors.

Anchuthengu Fort
About 36 kilometers (22.5 miles) from Trivandrum city and 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from Varkala, Anchuthengu is a place of historical relevance amid gorgeous coastal scenery. Crowning the bluff is the 17th century Anchuthengu Fort standing testimony to the architectural elegance of the British. This fort on the outskirts of Kovalam is believed to be one of the oldest trading posts set up during the colonial era in India.

Pozhikkara Beach
A world away from the high profile holiday culture of Kovalam are the white sands of Pozhikkara tucked away in a little fishing hamlet, Pachalloor, about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) north of Samudra beach. On a drive from Kovalam, you will pass through a string of quaint fishing villages before arriving at Pozhikkara where the backwater merges with the Arabian Sea to form a salt-water lagoon.

Kaudiar Palace
A majestic white Kerala-style structure sprawled out over lush lawns, Kaudiar Palace has caught the imagination of visitors to Kovalam. This grand old white-washed building with gabled brick roofs is the home of late Maharaja of Travancore Sree Chithra Thirunal Bala Rama Varma and his family. Travelers to the city take this route simply to pass this mansion.

Beema Palli
Some 5 kilometers (3.12 miles) south of Trivandrum city on the coast is this holy site ‘Beema Palli’ famous for its mosque by the same name. This Muslim pilgrimage site is dedicated to Beema Beevi, a pious Muslim lady believed to have possessed divine powers. True to Kerala’s secular nature, the mosque receives more non-Muslim devotees than Muslims.

Gramam: The Kerala Village Fair
Find out everything you wanted to know about Kerala’s rich culture and heritage at Gramam – the great Kerala village fair. This 10-day-long fair is celebrated from 14 to 23rd January every year on Kovalam Beach and the Marine Drive in Ernakulam. An initiative by the state tourism department, Gramam (meaning a traditional village in Malayalam) aims at recreating an entire village to include the Nalukettu - a quadrangular homestead of the upper class, Chayakada or the village teashop and Kamalagra

An erstwhile fishing village known for its fresh fish, fruits and toddy (coconut beer), Kovalam in Kerala is often referred to as the ‘Paradise of the South’. Idyllic and flamboyant, the crescent-shaped beaches of Kovalam have a character of their own. Kovalam opens up a vista of soft sands, crystal-clear turquoise waters and a rocky promontory crowded by coconut groves with a lighthouse in the centre. The beach gets gentle waves making swimming refreshing and exhilarating. You can even wade into the sea for about 100 meters without losing ground! Look-out for some brilliant patches of coral reefs. Kayaking, surfing and skiing are other popular water activities in Kovalam. An erstwhile fishing village known for its fresh fish, fruits and toddy (coconut beer), Kovalam in Kerala is often referred to as the ‘Paradise of the South’. Idyllic and flamboyant, the crescent-shaped beaches of Kovalam have a character of their own. Kovalam opens up a vista of soft sands, crystal-clear turquoise waters and a rocky promontory crowded by coconut groves with a lighthouse in the centre. The beach gets gentle waves making swimming refreshing and exhilarating. You can even wade into the sea for about 100 meters without losing ground! Look-out for some brilliant patches of coral reefs. Kayaking, surfing and skiing are other popular water activities in Kovalam. An erstwhile fishing village known for its fresh fish, fruits and toddy (coconut beer), Kovalam in Kerala is often referred to as the ‘Paradise of the South’. Idyllic and flamboyant, the crescent-shaped beaches of Kovalam have a character of their own. Kovalam opens up a vista of soft sands, crystal-clear turquoise waters and a rocky promontory crowded by coconut groves with a lighthouse in the centre. The beach gets gentle waves making swimming refreshing and exhilarating. You can even wade into the sea for about 100 meters without losing ground! Look-out for some brilliant patches of coral reefs. Kayaking, surfing and skiing are other popular water activities in Kovalam.


History
This beach town on the Arabian Sea is about 13 kilometers (8.12 miles) from downtown Trivandrum. In the 1930s the European guests of the Maharaja of Travancore saw in a different light the beauty of the beach and the dramatic scenery it affords. But its true potential as a beach destination was realized only in the early seventies with the arrival of hoards of hippies.

In the early times when Kovalam was a mere picturesque fishing village, the Maharaja of Travancore took a fancy to its pristine stretch of sand curving into the turquoise sea. And he started spending a lot of his leisure time here, and even recommended it to his European guests. The European’s quite fell in love with this place and began thronging in groups by the third decade of the 20th century. Not to mention, Kovalam - particularly its string of three crescent-shaped beaches - received the greatest philip with the arrival of the flower children in the 1970s. Enamored by its serenity the Hippy community started pouring in in droves and stayed on for a longish period. And in the process made Kovalam a highly sought after beach getaway on the tourism map.

Today, numerous national and international travel houses arrange regular packaged tours of Kovalam from different parts of the world.

Getting Around
The most convenient way of traveling around attractions is by a tourist taxi, especially if you are traveling in a group. You can get them at most airports and railway stations. An adventurous way of exploring around Kovalam is to get a bike on hire. The highway is broad and lined on one side with swaying palm trees, making biking about a pleasurable experience. Once you have hit the highway, drive north for the plains and south for the hills. You can also try out the old highway, locally known as MC road. It takes you deep into the hills. It is better to avoid driving through Trivandrum city, as it is mostly congested. Here two-wheelers are not required to pay the highway toll; they can keep riding through the side lane.

Tourist Traps in the City
When souvenir shopping in Kovalam, do strike a hard bargain for the prices more often than not are steep. In addition to this, the vendors on the beach hawking everything from sarongs, peanuts to fruits tend to get a tad too pushy. If you are not keen on buying anything from him, say a firm no right in the beginning before he begins persuading you. Ayurvedic massages are popular in Kerala, and Kovalam too has its share of rejuvenation centres lining the beach and close to hotels and restaurants. Not all of them are genuine - some simply fleece tourists by giving them a warm scrub. So if an Ayurvedic rejuvenation therapy is on your mind go to a shop that has a license from the tourism department. You could also come across hawkers on the beach selling coconut oil; they try hard to convince you that on applying it you will catch a nice tan. Steer clear of them!

Local Custom
In some places, particularly the Lighthouse beach area, liquor is served in teapots to be poured into cups. This is so because drinking alcohol in public is not considered proper; hence not consumed in public places. This could go to the extent of imposing dry days during festivals. At restaurants serving liquor, a bottle of beer is commonly wrapped in newspaper as it is served to you. Only hand counted hotels in Kovalam offer liquor.

Shopping
Kovalam is an unlikely shopping destination. Handcrafted souvenirs galore here. You can find an array of local deity statues in teak and rosewood, carpets, batik sarongs, ethnic ensemble and exotic spices. In addition to this there are shops selling Rajasthani, Kashmiri and Tibetan handicraft; this includes junk jewelry from Bhutan to the puppets of Rajasthan. The brightly colored silk sarongs and glittered sandals deserve to find a place in your shopping list. They come in a wide array and are popularly bought by tourists to Kovalam. Attractive jewelry made of seashells and beachwear can be bought from the shops lining the Kovalam stretch. Some shops sell wonderful handcrafted boxes made of wood – most of which are puzzle boxes.

 

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