This crescent shaped beach is the main beach at Kovalam. It attracts the most tourists and therefore has the most facilities. It didn't feel too crowded when I visited and still seemed to have a local atmosphere. As well as shops there are many places here to have a meal.
Where the beaches of Hawa and Lighthouse meet there is a rocky outcrop. Standing on the rocks you get magnificent full length views of both beaches. The rocks are also a popular place for people to gather and watch the sun setting.
Before returning there was chance to visit the beach at Poovar. This stretch of golden sand is sandwiched between the estuary and sea. I enjoyed spending time there as the sun was setting. Once it became dark the boat returned to its moorings and I was driven back to the hotel.
After cruising the backwaters we entered the estuary, the place where the lake, river and sea meet. Here we went up close to a holiday resort and a statue erected by locals. I also had chance to buy a coconut from a local in a boat.
From my hotel at Kovalam I went on a sunset cruise around the backwaters near Poovar. The drive to Poovar took about 30 minutes. I then embarked on a 2 hour cruise. The backwaters were just so serene, there was hardly any noise, except for the boats engine.
The cruise took me around the river and lake, giving me a close up view of the vegetation. There were chances to spot many different birds and take in up close the areas lush green plants and trees. I particularly loved the reflection of the palm trees in the still water. Every so often you would see locals going about their daily lives, such as washing or fishing.
The beach is said to derive its name from the topless women who used to sunbathe there. It's reputed to be India's first topless beach, this practice is now banned.
The beach is easy to get to as there is a parking area where taxis and auto-rickshaws can drop you off and pick you up. It's not as built up as the nearby Lighthouse Beach, but there are a few shops and bars. The beach was an enjoyable place to relax, it did get quite busy at certain times though.
From 3-5 pm all days of the week, the red and white lighthouse on Lighthouse Beach is open for visitors all the way to the top. The 360 vista comprising of the ocean in front and the beaches/trees at the back coupled with the amazing winds make it a memorable experience. Be sure to enquire with the friendly operator there about how the lighthouse works. 10 bucks/head for Indians, 25 for foreigners.
This working lighthouse is 35m high and is situated on a hillock at the southern tip of the beach. It's open for 2 hours between 3pm and 5pm. the admission is Rs 25 with an extra charge if you have a camera.
Shoes are left at the entrance, you then ascend the stone steps to the top. The final bit to the top involves climbing a metal ladder. It's well worth the climb as there are spectacular views of the beach and nearby coastline.
The most popular beach in Kovalam, Lighthouse beach is where the tourists assemble in large chunks to get that dose of UV and locals gather for merriment. One of the three main beaches of Kovalam, Lighthouse beach is also the largest stretch and is marked by the presence of a 30 meter high light house. The captivating sight of the waves crashing at the shores is further enhanced with the swaying sounds of the woods of coconut trees long accompanying the beach. Apart from its natural exuberance the beach is also a famous spot for trying out water sports such as swimming, kayaking, para gliding etc. It was a smooth ride from Trivandrum bus station to this beach and it was my first experience with water sports. Surprisingly it turned out to be all fun and I have positive memories of the experience now:)
Outlined by the Arabian Sea, Kovalam is the famed beach town of Kerala, a state in India. An erstwhile hippy idyll Kovalam is blessed with breath taking sea fronts. We were travelling whole of Kerala for ayurvedic massages and found complete solace by the very first look at the beaches here. Walking on the shores we witnessed tranquilizing sight of the coconut trees lined all over the crescent shaped beach of Kovalam. The ayurveda effect of Kovalam beaches is simply incredible. The beaches here offer variety of ayurvedic arrangements for all. Ranging from simple oil massages to a full fledged Ayurveda treatment including daily massage and special diet programs. I had one of these massages done with natural oils and herbs. Highly recommended!
The Backwaters at sunset is a magical time!
A small group of us set off mid afternoon, in a punt.
The local guide told us stories about the area where he grew up, as we floated along.
We cruised along the waterways, spotting wildlife, and locals going about their daily lives.
Stopping off to look around a temple, we were then given refreshing coconut drinks.
As sunset approached, we were near to a beach, and viewed the sight through the coconut groves.
It was quite atmospheric, very quiet and still, as the punt floated along darkening waterways.
Cruising The Backwaters, something all visitors to Kovalam should experience. There are many ways to experience their delights. Either independently or through an organised tour, whether as a day /evening or night trip or spending a few days/nights on a rented rice boat.
This network of canals, rivers, lakes and islands offers not just a relaxing time drifting through stunning scenery, but also a chance to see village life as the local inhabitants go about their daily lives on and around the waterways.
Also see my Kerala page for more views of The Backwaters...tho still in progress
Ayu (life) Veda (knowledge). The Science of Life! Ayurveda has been practised in India for centuries, and is considered to be a rich complex body of knowledge in which disease can be understood, diagnosed and treated.
Although becoming increasingly popular in Western countries, Ayurveda was forced to "go underground" during British Colonisation, with it's education and practice being banned! Nowadays, this practice has regained its importance as a preventative and treatment model.
To gain true benefit, a course of prescribed treatments would be recommended, with care taken to chose a suitably qualified practitioner.
However, as a 'one off' relaxing experience, and the chance to try something different, I 'd recommend it!
There are many establishments to chose from in Kovalam.
I went to the Hotel Neptune. There is a "menu" of treatments I chose a rejuevenation massage (oil massage) which lasted about an hour , followed by Dhara, (about 45 mins) Herb infused oil is trickled onto your forehead from an overhead pot, in a gentle rhythm.
Both treatments were extremally relaxing. Though it took me quite a while to shampoo the oil out of my hair, and the massage probably had the bonus of exfoliating my skin, as even though I'd showered carefully, there were still some grains of sand stuck to my skin!
Care must also be taken in the sun afterwards, as you fry with the oil thats left on your body...I was only in the sun for about 5 mins, and I burnt.
Would try these treatments again, and some others.
Something I'd wanted to experience since I first heard of this art form. Although due to see this in Cochin I couldn't wait.
Kathakali (Story Play) originated centuries ago, with the present form dating from 17th century, and are based on the Hindu epics of The Ramayana and The Mahabharata.
Performers undergo many years of training, requiring fitness and discipline.
The drama is narrated by the dancers, by intricate, precise movement/gestures and facial expression. Musicians and/or singers vocalise the story.
Preparation for each performance is lengthy, with costume and make up taking upwards of 2 hours. You are allowed to watch this process, I found it fascinating..each character having their own individual look.
The performance lasts about an hour, sheets explaining the gestures are handed out, and they were also demonstrated prior to the drama. The performance I saw was accompanied by taped music, and despite a few powercuts which halted the performance, it was an enjoyable experience.
Although performances are now shorter, and are performed in halls,/hotels instead of the temple grounds, tourism is helping to prevent the decline of this fascinating traditional art.
Mon. & Thurs 1700 make up 1900 performance. Think I paid about 250 rupees but not sure.
Sponsored by Kalarangam Cultural Centre
Please also visit my Kochi and Kerala pages for more info/pics
One of my favourite sights in Kovalam was watching the fishermen hauling in the nets.
On Lighthouse Beach, at around 11am, lines of men form, to pull the nets out of the sea. While they do this they chant and sing.
It's quite a colourful sight, with the blue sky, blue sea, yellow sand and the multi colours of the fishermens lunghis (sarong style clothing) and headwear.
The nets are taken out to sea in boats, then cast across the water, between the vessels. As the nets are pulled in they scoop up the fish. This can take quite a while due to the strong currents. As the nets are dragged up the beach, crowds gather to see the catch.
You may even be invited to join in, helping to pull in the catch!
Soon, a group of women arrive, with bowls and trays balanced on their heads, ready to buy the fish, then sell to the nearby restaurants. By their expressions, they looked to be hard bargainers!
At night, lines of fishing boats can be seen in the distance, by their twinkling lights.
My first night in Kovalam, I was quite disorientated by this sight, thinking it was another town!
Apparently the waiters enjoy telling tourists that its the bridge to Sri Lanka!