A day in Trivandrum and Kovalam beach, Kerala

A is for Arabian sea. B is for beach. When these two come together in Kerala, you understand why Kerala is for God’s Own Country. Our debut visit to Kerala was a short one. And as cliched as it sounds, it gave us a complete understanding why Kerala really is God’s Own Country!

Tree walks in Trivandrum

Free walking tour is the first activity we look out for in any new city. Here in Trivandrum, we were told of an active movement called the “tree walk“. We grab any opportunity of meeting and interacting with the locals. A tree walk sounded like a perfect way to do that!

Entrance of the botanical garden or the museum complex in Trivandrum or Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India

During the walk, we met Anitha, who started this movement with other like minded tree lovers of Trivandrum. Every Sunday, they meet in a locality, select a species for the day and observe those trees. They have now undertaken a more serious task of conducting a census of the trees and creating a database.

Trees in the botanical garden of the museum complex in Trivandrum, Kerala, India

Trees in the botanical garden of the museum complex in Trivandrum, Kerala, India

Thanks to Anitha and her colleagues, we saw the original version of the rubber tree. Original, Anitha told us, was “like it would grow in the wild, without being modified for maximum rubber production”. The only time we had seen it earlier was in the Amazon. Surprisingly, the rubber conflict was a topic discussed in our tour of the Amazon, as well as during the tree walk in Trivandrum! Some issues are indeed of a global nature!

Trivandrum and museums

M is for many. M is for museums. M is also for Monday. The many museums in Trivandrum are closed on Mondays. Unfortunately, that was the only day we had to explore Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala. That didn’t stop us from exploring the “museum complex”, as the area is called.

A tapestry pattern, reminiscent of saree borders welcomed us at the gates. Once inside, we realised this was the characteristic identity of every structure inside the museum complex.

Gates of the museum complex that houses the museum, art galleries and botanical garden in Trivandrum, Kerala, India

The Napier museum and, built in Indo-Saracenic style is the stand out structure inside. Its architecture provides natural air conditioning. We will appreciate this air conditioning the next time we visit. For now, we spent our time admiring the external facades of the Napier museum.

The Napier museum built in Indo Saracenic architectural style in Trivandrum, Kerala, India

The Napier museum built in Indo Sarcenic architectural style in Trivandrum, Kerala, India

The Chitra art gallery, in the same museum complex, was also highly recommended. It is supposed to have some of the finest art collections in Trivandrum, including original works by Raja Ravi Verma.

The museum complex and its botanical garden felt like the lungs of Trivandrum. A quiet green space in the heart of the city. A place, the locals of Trivandrum throng to for their morning exercises or their evening walks.

Villa Maya, the best place to eat well in Trivandrum

Villa Maya, Trivandrum, Kerala

When you are told, “this 18th-century Dutch manor is its modern avatar”, you know it is a special place. From back to the times of the royalty of Travancore.

Villa Maya, Trivandrum, Kerala

We had a lazy Sunday lunch here at Villa Maya. From fried fish to fettuccine, everything was a delight to the palette. The service was exemplary.

Villa Maya, Trivandrum, Kerala

At Villa Maya, you have to explore the place as much as you should devour the food. They even give you guided tour of this restored Dutch manor, a fabled kitchen, as they now call themselves.

Villa Maya, Trivandrum, Kerala

The most surprising section of Villa Maya? Their bathrooms. Think backwaters, think understated style. Yes, you have to see it to know how exactly it all comes together! We won’t spoil the surprise for you!

Walking around in Trivandrum

Warning: Don’t do it during the day. It IS very hot!

Trivandrum was the least hectic capital city we have been to. We stayed at the Fortune South Park hotel on the arterial MG road. As well as a homestay in an old residential neighbourhood. The quiet relaxed pace, of the people and the traffic, was endearing.

Of course, it wasn’t like living by the farms in a village. Trivandrum had the feel of a modern city, yet the sense of urgency was conspicuously absent. Everything was a 10-minute drive from everything else! Or a 30-minute walk – yes, you could walk on the footpaths without the fear of being run over by traffic!

The graffiti-lined streets took us by surprise.

Graffiti lined MG road in Trivandrum, Kerala, India

Graffiti lined MG road in Trivandrum, Kerala, India

There were book stores lined under a banyan tree, road junctions with a mosque, temple and church standing next to each other. And the light house like, spiral, window-less India Coffee House, adjacent to the Trivandrum bus depot.

India Coffee House, Trivandrum, Kerala, India

Of course, while in Trivandrum, we had to go check out what the Padmanabhswamy Temple was all about. Even in the scorching heat, there was no dearth of devotees waiting patiently for the darshan of the renowned deity. We were expecting more security personnel though, given the extent to which the temple has been in the news.

Padmanabhaswamy temple, Trivandrum, Kerala, India

The limited visiting hours and a long list of rules and procedures dissuaded us from getting into the temple. Instead, we decided to the must visit tourist attraction of Trivandrum, the Kovalam beach.

Kovalam beach near Trivandrum

Roughly 12 km from Trivandrum is the town of Kovalam. The Kovalam beach enjoys a legendary status in the Kerala tourism scenario. It offers something for everyone with a wide range of budget.

Sunset at Kovalam beach, Kerala, India

The sea, the sand and the sunsets are of course for free!

Our first impression of the Kovalam beach was, “just another crowded beach” along the Arabian Sea. Lots of people lazing on the sand, or playing in the water. The water sports guys asking if you want a ride, even before we had stepped on the sand.

Relaxing at the Kovalam beach, Kerala, India

Despite the crowds, the blueness of the water could not be missed.

Kovalam beach, Kerala, India

We ignored all of this, and kept walking ahead. We crossed a small stretch of rocks and came to another part of the Kovalam beach. The scene here was completely different than the previous beach. Although this too was crowded, there were hardly any Indians here! Which of course meant English speaking vendors. Asking us if we wanted to rent a bed “to lie down, relax and enjoy the sunset”.

Kovalam beach, Kerala, India

Vizhinjam Lighthouse at Kovalam beach

This section of the Kovalam beach is known as the lighthouse beach. This was our main interest on the Kovalam beach – the lighthouse, officially known as the Vizhinjam lighthouse. At 30 meters, it is the tallest lighthouse in Kerala.

Light House beach, Kovalam, India

Vizhinjam Light House and Kovalam beach, Kerala, India

However, the Monday phenomenon caught up with us here as well. The lighthouse is closed on Mondays. On all other days, it is open from 10 AM to 5 PM. Well, we couldn’t break into the lighthouse! Which meant we couldn’t do anything about this.

Spending more time at the beach was the only option left (talk of having no choices!) The sun was still high up, so we decided to walk around town before returning to the beach for the sunset.

The tiny lanes around the beach were a typical tourist haven. Hotels, guesthouses and resorts. Shops selling all kinds of things perceived as “Indian”. Ayurvedic massage parlours and spas. It was a slightly uphill climb to the road, at the end of which, was a gate – to the lighthouse complex. It wasn’t locked or anything, we assumed it was okay to go in. Agreed, we couldn’t get to the top of the lighthouse. The least we could treat ourselves was a view from its base.

Vizhinjam Light House at Kovalam beach, Kerala, India

The view from here was breathtaking! As if you had the entire sea to yourself! All we could see stretched below us were the unhindered blue waters of the Arabian sea, all the way to the horizon.

On the other side, we could see the Lighthouse Kovalam beach stretch far out.

Light House beach as seen from the Vizhinjam lighthouse, Kovalam, Kerala, India

We explored the entire lighthouse complex, seeing the sea from every angle possible. Through a small clearing in the trees, we saw another beach. Much smaller than both the stretches of the Kovalam beach we had just seen. The best part of it was, there were hardly any people there!

Smaller secluded stretch at Kovalam beach, Kerala, India

We got out of the lighthouse complex and decided to view the sun setting from this secluded stretch of the Kovalam beach. It didn’t have a well-marked approach to it, making it less obvious that there was a beach nearby.

This was more of a fisherman’s beach. We could see their boats parked at one end. In the diminishing light of the setting sun, they were packing their nets and ropes. Some local boys, who came from the hillock at the back were busy playing a game of football. Clearly, this wasn’t meant to be a place for tourists to hang out.

Fishermen at Kovalam beach, Kerala, India

It felt odd to be on a beach in India and not be surrounded by the crowds. No cankering of the vendors. Just us sitting quietly on the sand. Listening to the sound of the waves.

Sunset at Kovalam beach, Kerala, India

As they change colour from blue to pink to a splash of orange. “This is the best sunset we have seen in the last fifteen days”, a French couple told us! “This is your lucky day!”

Sunset at Kovalam beach, Kerala, India

A lucky day, it certainly was!

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Sandeepa and Chetan. Married. Indians. Exploring Travel as Lifestyle. Featured by National Geographic, Yahoo. We hope that through our travel stories we inspire others to make their dream into a reality.

48 thoughts on “A day in Trivandrum and Kovalam beach, Kerala

  1. jinu

    We went as a couple and stayed Water sprite Alleppey houseboat for one night. We loved the interior and the location of the Kerala traditional houseboat. It was an awesome and romantic experience, the view from the room was eventually which permitted us to see entire backwater. The houseboat is pleasantly orchestrated and the staffs are exceptionally in charge of their customer needs. They give the conventional Kerala food package with bunches of varieties. As far as I can recommend water sprite tours without a doubt, for an astonishing backwater voyage. Much obliged to you the group watersprite tours… !!!

  2. Neha Sharma

    What a beautiful place Kerala….I have heard about the beautiful beaches of Kerala. I am planning 5 day trip to Kerala. What places i should cover?

  3. Rahul sable

    Sandeepa & chetan my name is Rahul I love to travel I love to read your blogs I am travelling to kerala next month with family any special tips which you would like to give about sight seeing

  4. Sandeep

    I am a trivandrite and saw many blogs and pictures about kovalam and museum.Those two places are like playground for me,like visited N number of times still never saw such a great scenary or picture like that THE LAST PIC …Great photography and offcourse you are lucky <3

  5. Jigs

    Very detailed blog post on various places around Trivendrum. I have been there for 3 days last year but mostly I was at Kovalam beach. After reading your article, it seems I missed few places in the city like museum and that restaurant. Hopefully will plan for it next time. It seems you could not find time for Poovar island; it is worth a visit.

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      We too missed the insides of the museum since we were in Trivandrum on a Monday and it’s closed that day. The restaurant was a rather quirky experience. And yes, we were told about Poovar, but there was only so much we could in a day. We stuck to just roaming around a bit in Trivandrum and then spending some time at Kovalam. We too need to spend a lot more time, not just in Trivandrum and Kovalam, but the whole of Kerala also.

  6. Amrinder Singh

    Awesome Blog. I really like this. Just want to ask, how you guys find places in any unknown place? Do you plan something or already having a list of everything.

    1. sandeepachetan

      If its travel season in the place you are visiting then better check online availability at the kind of accommodations you generally prefer. We usually stay at budget accommodations. Booking online sometimes more expensive than doing it on the spot. Also you can ask fellow travellers and they give you latest information on stay arrangements they have made.

  7. Antonina

    Felt like pinning every single photo from this post – they are well worth it! Thanks for the beautiful post – Kerala is one of my dream destinations.

  8. Vinay Nagaraju

    Oh this is a beautiful post, the whole place breathes of scenic beauty and it seems like such a lovely place to walk around and soak the richness of the place. Thanks for the photographs, absolutely beautiful :_)

  9. My Alwar

    Awesome blog post with marvelous images. Kerala is seriously a beautiful place to visit and I also want to explore this place someday. Nice captures… specially the last one of sunset.

  10. Sims

    Good one Sandeepa Chetan. I’m going to bookmark this post for my reference when I visit Trivandrum. πŸ™‚

  11. Priyanka

    The pictures and the commentary, both are wonderful. Enjoyed reading. And yea, I hate being surrounded by vendors on beaches. Just the salty sea breeze, sand between toes, and no one else around – wouldn’t want anything more!

  12. Arun

    A is also for Awesome and that’s what the pics are! Esp the last one.
    Good you found out this secluded part of the beach, it must have been great to watch the sunset in silence!

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      It sure was, Arun! That’s the best thing about travel, right? You never know what surprise is waiting for you! It worked perfectly for us in Kovalam beach!

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      22 years, really?? That sure must have been a lovely life! We want to go back to Trivandrum to stay for longer and travel through Kerala at leisure.