Welcome to Kerala - contd.
Beaches in Kerala
By the virtue of having most of India’s finest beaches, Kerala offers surf and sand like no other place. The beaches have a character unique to them due to the wide acres of sumptuous palm groves bordering them. Facilities at the beach include boating, sunbath, swimming, water sports and Yoga.
Along the 600 kilometre length of the Kerala coast, there are many sandy beaches, rocky promontories and coconut palms. The fishing village of Kovalam lies 10 kilometres south of Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala. Kovalam is the only beach resort of Kerala, and is very popular with the Indian as well as international tourists. Industry is relatively small scale in this area and the prices low. The beach is just a few minutes walk from the village.
Kovalam consists of three successive small crescent beaches; the southern most known as Lighthouse Beach, is where most of the visitors spend their time. The beach is bordered with low cost lodging houses, and restaurants which offer adequate facilities, at affordable tariffs - ideal for a long stay. The light house on the promontory at the southern end of the beach, offers a spectacular view across to the Vizhinjam mosque. Photography is prohibited here.
The middle beach, overlooked from a rocky headland by the five star Ashok Radisson resort, functions each morning as a base for local fishers. North of Ashok, is the third beach which is very little affected by the changing times. It is dotted with a few rudimentary wooden fishing vessels.
Swimming on the beaches is not always safe, as the undertow can be very strong, therefore it is essential to follow the warnings of the safety flags. However, days can be spent here just lolling around on the sands or retreating under the awnings of the beach cafes.
There are numerous craft and carpet shops (usually of Tibetan, Kashmiri and Rajasthani origin), clothing stores and general stores, yoga schools, travel agents and massage parlours lining the beach.
When to visit
November to February is the best time to visit.
How to reach there
There is direct and regular daily bus service from Thiruvananthapuram. There are direct bus links to Ernakulam and Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin), which is two hours away. There is also a bus to Periyar Wildlife sanctuary in Thekaddy.
Thiruvananthapuram, is linked by air from Colombo, Male and the Indian cities of Mumbai, Kochi, Delhi and Madras. There are bus links from all the major cities of Kerala, and also from Madras, Bangalore, Kochi, Madurai, Pondicherry, Nagercoil and Erode to Thiruvananthapuram. It is also well connected to all the major cities of the country by train.
Where to stay
There is plenty of accommodation in this area. The prices of hotels vary, depending on their proximity to the beach and the season. At the top end is the five star hotel Ashok Radisson Beach Resort (Tel: +91-4723-480101, Fax: 481522) superbly located north of the second cove.
Budget hotels include the state - run Hotel Samudra (Tel: +91-4723-480242/481412), Kadaloram Beach Resort (Tel: 481115, Fax: 62762), and Hotel Sea Rock.
Tourist offices are located at the airport (Tel: +91-4723-71085) and the railway station (Tel: 67224).
Papanasam Beach (Varkala)
This is a holy beach, known as ‘Papanashini’ meaning, that which destroys sins. A narrow winding road leads away from Varkala town, flanked by thousands of palm trees and fertile paddy fields. High cliffs border the excellent beach. Mineral water springs gushing out from these cliffs are well known for their medicinal property.There is a nature cure centre adjacent to the beach. Ancient Janardhana Swamy (Vishnu) temple is near. Visitors can pay homage to Kerala’s saint and social reformer, Sree Narayana Guru.
This is a long sandy spectacular beach with dense palm groves, that are so characteristic of Kerala’s landscape, at one end. One can cut across the sea waves lashing the shore in passionate fury, or indulge in the luxury of sitting on a sand dune and paddling your feet in the waters. A towering lighthouse overlooks the beach as a symbol of the past.
This is the historic beach where Vasco da Gama landed on 27 May, 1498 with 170 men in three vessels - a site which witnessed an event that changed the course of Indian history.16 km away from Kozhikode (Calicut), the pleasant, calm beach, locally known as Kappakadavu, is studded with rocks and caressed by friendly waves.
Bekal The old-fashioned little town of Kasargode, 153km north of Kozhikode,near the Karnataka border, is principally a fishing community. Flanked on two sides by long, ravishingly beautiful palm fringed beaches, the Bekal Fort stands proud on a promontory. This is one of the largest forts in Kerala and has been under the control of various powers including Vijayanagar, Tipu Sultan and the British. The fort’s commanding position, with views across the bays to the north and the south are breath-taking.
This is a popular city beach lying near to the airport. An indoor recreation club, children's traffic training park and a star shaped restaurant are some of the facilities at the beach.
Waterfalls in Kerala
Athirappally & Vazhachal
77 Kms north of Cochin (Kochi), these waterfalls present an enchanting sight. The waterfalls are situated near the entrance of the Sholayar ranges and are of great scenic beauty.
There are frequent buses to Athirappally from Chalakudy (one hour journey) which is 40 kms away from Cochin on the Thrissur route. There are buses from Chalakudy to Athirappally.
Situated 74 Kms away from Cochin, the waterfall is a marvel to watch and is situated in a land of great scenic beauty. There are buses from Thodupuzha, which is 18 kms away from Thommankuth. Hotels and restaurants are available at Thodupuzha.
75 Kms away from Kollam on the Kollam-Shenkottai road near Aryankavu, is the Palaruvi waterfalls. There are frequent buses from Kollam to Aryankavu.