Text: Anisha Rudrani
Pictures: Biju Karakonam
Come monsoon, a long walk along the sandy beaches between short spells of rain cools not just your heels but the mind too. A visit to Kovalam, the famed natural beach in Kerala, is a compulsive sight when the monsoonscomes calling. The characteristic salty tinge of the sea air suddenly paves way for that fresh earthy smell. One is for sure enchanted by the pleasant petrichor. The hustle and bustle of the peak tourist season might be missing during the rainy season and that’s something to look forward to.If you are not a beach beau under the monsoon’s soaking wetness, Kovalam is a pristine haven for other times also.There are buildings built on the rock promontory whose footsteps are constantly lapped by the rolling waves. Looking at the blue waters and heavy currents battering the coastline, from a sea-view balcony fills you with a heavenly charm. Sit back on your easy chair with a hot cup of coffee and feel the tingling of the dancing drops wafted by the westerly wind. Watching the Cumulonimbus clouds roll in and settle for a thunderous rain is breath-taking.
The three main beaches in Kovalam—the Ashok or Grove beach, Hawah or Eve’s beach, and the southernmost Lighthouse beach—are separated by rocks and these rocky slopes go gently into the Arabian Sea. The clean and safe beach with its 17-kilometer coastline is an ideal place to come for a relaxing holiday. If you want a quiet communion with Nature here is the spot of all spots.
In the local language, Malayalam, Kovalam translates to ‘grove of coconut trees’. Just like the name suggests, the beaches are dotted with lines of tall coconut trees and the green coastline which contrasts with the blue crystal sea water. The shallow coast is ideal for swimming and water skiing and even catamaran sailing. However in the peak of monsoon, it is better to stay away from venturing too deep into the sea. With an increase in the number of surfing enthusiasts, the place which now has many surfing clubs offering surfing lessons. The Kovalam Surf Club sells and rents out surfing gears.
A touch of God’s own Ayurveda
Monsoon is the season for rejuvenation because the body is considered receptive to the Ayurveda treatments. Kovalam has plenty of Ayurvedic resorts and spas that offer therapies for your soul and body.Overseas visitors are always fascinated by the idea of yoga and Ayurveda. The many yoga and Ayurveda centres in Kovalam offers health packages and cost can be a trifle high during monsoon since the time is ideal for it, and places are packed with people going for it.
If you have burnt enough calories, you could step into one of the many bistros and restos along the beach. Seafood like lobsters, calamari or king prawns are sure to tickle your taste buds. Continental food is also served at many restaurants and the Indian traditional food is tempered to suit foreign palates. All the three beaches house some of the best names in the food industry, so you are spoilt for choice here. Take your tongue for a tasty ride in one of the many local restaurants which are known for serving hygienic local food. Do not miss kappa, puttu and appam, some of the local foods Kerala is famous for. Crabs and lobsters are at a beach vacation, so we save our words.
The shopaholics in you can dance with joy for getting a chance of affordable shopping experience. The shops lined up along the beaches offer an array of exclusive goodies like jewellery made of seashells and intricate handicrafts that you can take home as souvenirs of the place, a token of a beautiful memory. From local spices, silk clothes and sarongs to decorative items made of seashells, teakwood and rosewood, you name it, and the place has it. The prices are reasonable if not cheap, and with fewer tourists, monsoon is the best time of the year to bag a bargain.
Kovalam is also called the Paradise of South. When visiting the place, don’t just beach around and finish off your visit. There are many nearby places that are worth visiting. Visit Vizhinjam Mosque and Ganapathi Temple for a divine experience. There is Vizhinjam Marine Aquarium, with its variety of marine life including Rock Lobsters and Piranhas. Head to the 8th-century Vizhinjam Cave Temple.It is believed to be one of the earliest rock-cut cave temples in Kerala.
A bit of history
The history states that the Maharani Regent PooradomThirunal Sethu Laxmi Bai, in 1920, built a beach palace Halcyon Castle in this once-a-fishermen’s village. Later her nephew, Maharaja of Travancore Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma , entranced by the beauty of the place, started visiting the place and invited his European guests there, thus taking the tranquilty of the place wide and far. In no time, it was developed into a favoured beach destination in the 1930. The British started promoting it as a major tourist destination in Kerala. But the real boost came in 1970s with the arrival of the hippies. Soon this tiny, idyllic fishing village of Kovalam emerged as a popular holiday destination and the beach resort of the country. The village has evolved into a small town now.
If you time your visit rightly, you can witness the launch of a rocket! How geeky that sounds? Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre at Thumba is just a 40-min drive away from Kovalam beach and launching of wounding rockets that happen on every third Wednesday is open to the public.
How to get there
Kovalam is 16 km/35 minutes south of Trivandrum Central, where the main train station is located. The International Airport 13 kms from the beach and the the airport is connected to all major airports in India and major cities around the world via a good number of domestic and international flights. It is 212 km/5.5 hours south of Kochi, via Trivandru