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A for Arabian sea.

B 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 of why Kerala really is God’s Own Country!

Tree walks in Trivandrum

A 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!

Museum complex in Trivandrum

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

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.

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 a guided tour of this restored Dutch manor, a fabled kitchen, as they now call themselves.

Villa Maya, Trivandrum, Kerala
Villa Maya, Trivandrum, Kerala
Villa Maya, Trivandrum, Kerala

The most surprising section of Villa Maya? Their bathrooms. Think Kerala 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!

Quirky sights while walking around in Trivandrum

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

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 pavements without the fear of being run over by traffic!

  • The graffiti-lined streets of Trivandrum 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.
  • We crossed road junctions with a mosque, temple and church standing next to each other.
  • And the India Coffee House, a spiral, windowless structure like a lighthouse (adjacent to the Trivandrum bus depot ) is like nothing we have visited before!
India Coffee House, Trivandrum, Kerala, India

The famous Padmanabhswamy temple in Trivandrum

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.

Where to stay in Trivandrum

  • Trivandrum was the least hectic capital city we have been to.
  • We stayed at the Fortune South Park hotel on the arterial MG road.
  • Many families in Trivandrum, residing in quiet relaxed neighbourhoods run homestays. We stayed in one called Nandanam homestay in an old residential neighbourhood.
  • Of course, it isn’t like living by the farms in a village. But the relaxed pace of life even in a capital city is endearing.

Kovalam beach near Trivandrum

Roughly 12 km from Trivandrum is the town of Kovalam. The Kovalam beach enjoys 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
Kovalam beach, Kerala, India

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

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 slight 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!

Fisherman’s beach at Kovalam

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, as they change colour from blue to pink to a splash of orange.

Sunset at Kovalam beach, Kerala, India
Sunset at Kovalam beach, Kerala, India

“This is the best sunset we have seen in the last fifteen days”, a French couple told us! “This is your lucky day!”

A lucky day, it certainly was!

Top tips for travelling to Trivandrun and Kovalam beach

  • If you are looking for a planned holiday to Kerala, then ekerala tourism offers excellent options.
  • Trivandrum itself has many stay options, including several homestays.
  • But if you prefer to be walking distance from the beach and don’t mind a slightly more touristy experience, you can stay at Kovalam itself. The Leela is an excellent option for lunch with a view.

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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.

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60 Comments

  1. Thank you author. Keep it up.

  2. Nice post author. Thank you.

  3. Awesom article. I stayed in TVM for more than two years and its the best city I have everbeen.Here is a list of my favourite places in TVM, Museum and Zoo (both are in same compund, visit zoo in the afternoon then spend the evening at the museum premises), Ponmudi (Take a morning bus from the city, The view is breathtaking) .Varkala beach (Unique beach with cliff,less crowded than Kovalam and very clean, I always prefer Varkala over kovalam) . Poovar ( poovar offers you a unique boating experience through mangrove forests and the boat takes you to a pristine beach, Very refreshing). Perumathura beach ( It is one of the underrated beaches in TVM , if you want to see how the sea falling in love with the river visit this beach, visit in the evening, I always prefer traveling in a bike to this place,the journey itself is very rewarding,same goes with ponmudi). I visited padmanbha temple only twice not my favourite place but one should visit this temple if you are in TVM. Finaly if you love wlking then just take an evening walk around the PMG junction which is near to museum. Happy holidays.

  4. Kerala is my favorite place. Beautiful nature in Kerala, Awesome climate and food is delicious. Kovalam beach is really nice and clean beach. Great information you share on this blog. It’s a very helpful.

  5. Vizhinjam lighthouse is not the tallest in kerala…

  6. Sumedha satija

    Super article. Tempted to travel again to kerela. Lot more to see. A good escape to visit trivandrum only

  7. Even I had missed the chance to visit the lighthouse. The sunset views are truly mesmerising though.

  8. Allen Madzen

    Hi,

    I saw your blog post and it was really relaxing to look at at. I saw the beach and the nature which entice me to have my vacation, hopefully in India.
    I want to experience the kerala blackwaters there and visit the Unesco heritage sites there.

  9. Pingback:Beach: for every season, for every reason · SandeepaChetan's Travel Blog

  10. Pingback:When we were forced to explore Kochi like a foreigner

  11. Pingback:My Travel Blog – atriptokerala.com

  12. Nicely written. Captivating Pics!! good work

  13. 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… !!!

  14. 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?

    • sunil, george

      Trivandrum, Cochin, Aleppey, Munnar & Ponmudi in Trivandrum. You have to take an early bus from Trivandrum to Nedumangadu. From there next bus to Ponmudi. Its a hill station and take the 4Pm bus back to city. Its a beautiful view

  15. 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

  16. Very nicely written! And great photos too!

  17. 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

  18. 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.

    • 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.

  19. supperrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

  20. 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.

    • 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.

  21. 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.

  22. Good blog and snaps

  23. 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 :_)

  24. Excellent post and pictures. Especially love the last picture – just wow 🙂

  25. 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.

  26. Good one Sandeepa Chetan. I’m going to bookmark this post for my reference when I visit Trivandrum. 🙂

  27. Wonderful tour of the city. Beautiful pictures.

  28. Beautiful place and beautiful post..Thanks for sharing

  29. Kovalam beach is just amazing. Loved it from my last visit. Love your pics…and your virtual tour of Trivandrum.

  30. its a beautiful place to be in! 🙂 lovely pics!

  31. 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!

  32. so cool to see these pictures 🙂

  33. Awesome photos.

  34. 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!

  35. Beautifully written post about God’s own country..

  36. Feeling so good to see my city of 22 years!!!
    Great memories!

  37. Lovely pics Sandeepa. Kerela is on my travel list for 2016.

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