Welcome to Kovalam, the jewel among the beaches of Kerala. Grey-green and forbidding in the monsoons, pale pink in the dawn, crimson in the late evenings, serene and silver in the moonlight - at Kovalam, you can just lie back and watch the sea and the sky change color. Kovalam was once a tiny, sleepy, fishing village, whose existence was unknown to those outside Thiruvananthapuram.
Today, tourism is a multi-million dollar industry here, the area of the beach is like a town by itself-you can find eateries, entertainment, shopping, Kathakali, Yoga and Ayurveda all under the same umbrella. Kovalam has three crescent shaped beaches lying adjacent to each other- the Hawa, the Lighthouse and the Samudra. The sands here are partly grayish black in color, due to the presence of the minerals ilmenite and thorazite.
Places of Interest:
The Light house beach:
The tall red and white striped light house is more or less the landmark of the beach. The light house, which is more than 30 meters high, is open from 2 pm to 4 pm. The view of the beach from the top of the light house is quite worth the long climb. Handicraft shops, eateries and other booths dot the shore; the evenings here exude a carnival ambience with the restaurants playing music. The waters are shallow for quite a distance and are thus safe for swimming. If you feel like getting away from the crowds, you can take a walk along the fishing villages which lie further across the beach side.
The Hawwa and Samudra beaches:
The Hawwa beach is used more by the local fishermen than tourists. The Samudra beach is the northern-most beach and the least crowded of the three. A 15-minute walk separates the beach from the lighthouse beach. The Samudra is the quietest of the three; there are also few tourist activities here.
Vizhinjam Rock Cut Cave:
The granite cave here encloses a one celled shrine with a loose sculpture of Vinadhara Dakshinamurthi. The outer wall of the cave depicts half completed reliefs of the Hindu God Shiva with his wife and dancepartner Goddess Parvathi.
Thiruvallam is just 6 kms from Kovalam. This place, en route to Thiruvananthapuram, is famous for backwater rides.
Pozhikkara Beach, Pachalloor:
A serene and spectacular beach, where the backwater meets the sea, Pozhikkara is ideal for birdwatchers.
Thiruvananthapuram or Trivandrum abounds with temples, age old palaces, museums and much more. The most famous among them would be the Padmanabha Swamy temple and the Padmanabhapuram palace. The Napier museum and the Sree Chitra Art Gallery attached to it are also well worth a visit. The city also has a zoo which houses a wide variety of rare species of animals and birds. There are quite a few spots of great scenic beauty around Thiruvananthapuram - Ponmudy, Meenmutty etc. The district also has a network of backwaters along which houseboat cruises can be arranged.
Things to Do
Swimming and sunbathing:
Swimming is allowed in the beaches, however only at certain restricted points. The waters can be unpredictable and rough, there can be dangerous undertow at certain points. So it is better to stick to those points indicated by the signboards. The climate of Kerala, of course is ideal for that perfect tan.
According to Ayurveda exponents, the monsoons are the best time for rejuvenation, when the pores of the skin are fully open and receptive to the oils and baths. Ayurveda, the age old system of medicine, literally means the science of life. The basic premise of the system is in treating the mental, social and spiritual aspects of the human body, not just the physical. There are a number of Ayurveda spas in Kovalam; some can be found right on the beachside. There are those which offer just an oil massage, while some offer a full 21 day treatment involving a special diet and daily massage. There is also a ten day package. Before stepping for sun bathing you need to consult an expert if you have recently received an Ayurvedic oil massage.
Yoga and Meditation:
The best thing about learning Yoga and meditation here in Kovalam is that you have the perfect setting to practice it; there couldnt be anything more blissful than meditating on the quiet sands of the beach in the early morning. The yoga centers are usually attached to the resorts scattered across Kovalam. The instructors here would be professionally qualified and you can combine your holiday with a spiritual journey.
The very sight of the artist with his elaborate makeup, costume and facial expressions is spectacular by itself; when watched against the backdrop of the sunset or the night sky by the beach, well, it has to be experienced to be believed. Kathakali, the only dance drama of Kerala and is an art form which requires long years of training and fitness to be perfected.
Beach-volley, water skiing, parasailing, kayaking, skiing, windsurfing etc. are some of the sports in which you can indulge in. Of course, the availability depends on the season in which you are visiting. Also, it is better to seek the instructions of the lifeguard before going into the sea. Surf boards are available for hire here. Snorkeling on the waters near the coast can provide you with magnificent views of the coral reefs on the sea bed.
Two kinds of boats are available for cruising, the rice boats and the kettuvalloms. The rice boats are long, narrow affairs, with a flat bottom, more of a ferry or a water taxi, punted by an oarsman. As you pass by, you will be able to see typical Kerala villages on either side; rows of small houses with the children playing outside, the women engaged in beating coconut husk etc. On the other side, you can catch glimpses of the sea and the surf. At the end of the ride, you reach an island which is used solely for making coir. The experience is bound to remain in your heart forever.
Kovalam is just 16 km to the south of Thiruvananthapuram city.
Kovalam is characterized by hot, nearly equatorial climate. Monsoon, which starts in the beginning of June, lasts till August beginning, followed by the second turn of monsoon which begins by the end of October.
Best Time to Visit:
The best time to visit Kovalam would be between the months of October and February. However, the monsoons, the months between June and August are the best time for an Ayurvedic treatment. The Kerala Village Fair takes place during the month of January. The great elephant march also takes place during mid-January. Onam and all its related festivities take place during August-September. The flavor food festival is held during the month of April.
SEA BEE RESTAURANT
Lighthouse Beach, Kovalam, India
Lighthouse Beach, Kovalam, India
Lighthouse Beach, Kovalam, India
MOLLY'S RETREAT RESTAURANT
Molly's Retreat B +B, Kovalam, India
If you are for real shopping, you might have to go to Thiruvananthapuram. It is better to avoid the hawkers who pursue you and try to make you buy their wares. There are rows of shops lining the beach which can provide you with all the knick-knacks you need; carved wood and metal crafts, handicraft items made of sea shells, paintings etc. The Khadi Gramudyog situated near Pazhavangadi has handloom cloth; silk as well as cotton, which can be used for stitching clothes of your choice.
How to Reach Kovalam?
Thiruvananthapuram international airport is just 10 km from Kovalam. Flights operate to all major cities and towns in India from here.
Thiruvananthapuram railway station is situated around 16 km.
There are excellent roads connecting Thiruvananthapuram and Kovalam. Kovalam lies close to the NH 47 by-pass. From Kovalam junction, you have to turn right to reach the beaches.