The southern tip of God’s Own Country is home to the administrative and cultural hub of the State, Thiruvananthapuram. From a landscape naturally endowed with some of the most picturesque visuals possible along with culturally relevant holy sites that have thrived for more than a thousand years, this area has something for everyone. Young and old alike, all can experience their own slice of Kerala here, tailor-made to their individual preference. Listed below are some of the most prominent places of interest in the State capital.
Kovalam is an internationally renowned beach with three adjacent crescent beaches. It has been a favourite haunt of tourists since the 1930s. A massive rocky promontory on the beach has created a beautiful bay of calm waters ideal for sea bathing.
The leisure options at this beach are plenty and diverse. Sunbathing, swimming, herbal body toning massages, special cultural programmes and catamaran cruising are some of them. The tropical sun acts so fast that one can see the faint blush of coppery tan on the skin in a matter of minutes. Life on the beach begins late in the day and carries on well into the night. The beach complex includes a string of budget cottages, Ayurvedic health resorts, convention facilities, shopping zones, swimming pools, Yoga and Ayurvedic massage centres.
Accommodation facilities for tourists at Kovalam range from five star hotels to budget hotels and the choice of food available at restaurants and cafeterias range from Continental varieties to South Indian delicacies.
Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala, is just 16 km away from Kovalam and getting there is no hassle. But if you are on holiday it is better to stay in Kovalam and visit the city. The city of Thiruvananthapuram has many interesting places to see like the Napier Museum, the Sri Chitra Art Gallery and the Padmanabhaswamy Temple. The SMSM Institute, a State owned handicrafts emporium, is the ideal place to pick up ethnic curios and other articles.
Varkala, a calm and quiet hamlet, lies on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram district. It has several tourist attractions that include a beautiful beach, a 2000-year-old Vishnu Temple and the Ashramam – Sivagiri Mutt a little distance from the beach.
The Papanasam Beach (also called as Varkala Beach), which is ten kilometers away from Varkala, is renowned for a natural spring. Which is considered to have medicinal and curative properties. A dip in the holy waters at this beach is believed to purge the body of impurities and the soul of all sins; hence the name ‘Papanasam Beach’.
A two thousand-year-old shrine the Janardhanaswamy Temple stands on the cliffs overlooking the beach, a short distance away. The Sivagiri Mutt, founded by the great religious reformer and philosopher Sree Narayana Guru (1856 – 1928) is also close by. The Samadhi (the final resting place) of the Guru here attracts thousands of devotees every year during the Sivagiri Pilgrimage days – 30th December to 1st January. Sree Narayana Guru propagated the ideology: “one caste, one religion and one God”, in a society torn by the taboos of caste system.
Varkala offers excellent accommodation facilities for tourists and is fast becoming a popular health resort with many Ayurvedic massage centres.