Feb 17, 2016

Coastal India Series- Destination Kovalam, in the state of Kerala

Kovalam is a beach town by the Arabian Sea in the city of Thiruvananthapuram. Kovalam literally means a grove of coconut trees, which is reflective of this town from every possible angle.

Kovalam, Beach, Kerala, Fishing Boats, Vacation

Fishing boats parked at the Kovalam Beach in the backdrop of the famous Kovalam Coconut Groves

Originally a quaint fishing village, it was discovered by the Regent Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bayi of Travancore in the 1920's. She constructed her beach resort Halcyon Castle in this quaint coconut grove village which eventually became a popular tourist destination; owing to the Hippy movement that was headed to Ceylon in the early 1970's. Kovalam has ever since become a popular International Beach destination and fairly known in the travel circuits.

Every morning and evening the fishermen come to the beach, build their canoe and sail out to sea for their prized catch. They also take tourists for snorkelling trips on a clear weather.

Fishermen construct their canoe for their evening fishing schedule.

Kovalam beach, Juma Mazjid, Leela Palace Kovalam

Fishing in progress at the Kovalam Beach with a partial view of the Juma Mazjid

While at Kovalam being a beach bum is absolutely necessary, hence one can find exotic luxury resorts to beautiful homestays near the beach quite easily. There are 3 distinct beaches at the 17 kms Kovalam beach stretch- Lighthouse Beach, Hawa Beach and Samudra Beach.

Apart from the beaches, Kovalam is also popular for its Kerala Ayurvedic Massages and it is a must have on your itinerary. Many of the stay options come with exotic massage packages and if you don't already have one included definitely try out one from a recommended source.

Sensuous2Spiritual Recommends:

  1. 'PIZHICHIL' massage at the Leela Kovalam Spa, a 60 minutes relaxation technique where pieces of cloth dipped in warm medicated oil are squeezed by hand continually and uniformly over the body from a defined height as skillful hands simultaneously massage the oil into the skin. This treatment increases blood circulation, nourishing muscles and nerve tissues to provide a rejuvenating effect.
  2. Snorkel along the Kovalam reef with the Kerala Adventure Tourism Promotion Society. These trips begin from the lighthouse beach and is a great way to experience the aquatic life which includes Scuba Diving trips.
  3. Hire a fisherman canoe at the beach and experience the fisherman's life at sea. You will find them early mornings and again closer to sunset. Just walk up to them and ask for the ride of your life. :) 
  4. Walk/cycle along the village roads and experience the local life of the Kovalam habitat along the fishing net clad homes, a distinct coastal Kerala feature.
  5. 'Deepam Deepam', a traditional ritual of Kerala homes when they light the 'Nilavilakku' ~ tall lamp every morning & evening irrespective of the religion they follow. It is believed that lighting this lamp at both these times brings in knowledge and wealth. The ritual followed in the evening is a sight to behold. A local friend would be of great help for experienvcing one of these! :)      
    This lamp is lit twice a day, once early in the morning and again early evening. It is believed that lighting this lamp bring knowledge and wealth to their homes.

    Nilavilakku, a tall lamp that is lit twice in all traditional Malyali Homes

    Important Tip:

    Being a tourist hot-spot, the prices of almost everything is increased by ~150%. Do keep your negotiation skills handy. Helps many times! :)

    Things to do keeping Kovalam as the stay destination:

    There are many day excursions that can be planned if you are staying at Kovalam. Infact exploring Thiruvananthapuram while staying at Kovalam is a good plan. You can also take trips to the following places while at Kovalam:

    • Thiruvallam- Parasurama Temple, 2000-year-old temple on the banks of the River Karamana. 
    • Vizhinjam- 2kms from Kovalam, explore the Fishing Village, Rock-cut Cave Temple, Marine Aquarium
    • Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary has a picturesque dam site serving as its gateway and is a popular picnic spot, which comes with a watch-tower, crocodile farm, lion safari park and deer park. Boating facilities are available at the reservoir along with an elephant rehabilitation centre at Kottoor situated nearby ~ 45 km
    • Ponmudi, an idyllic hill station ~ 75 km
    • Varkala, a calm and quiet hamlet, lies on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram district ~ 65 km
    • Kanyakumari at the southernmost tip of India, where the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal meet. Kanyakumari is famous for watching spectacular sunrises and sunsets, especially on full moon days  ~ 90 km 

    Elephant Rehabilitation Center at Kottoor brings you up-close to the elephants of Kerala 

    Crocodile Farm, Lion Safari Park, Deer Park, Boating is a 45km drive from Kovalam and is a great picnic spot.

    Neyyar Dam that has the Crocodile Farm, Lion Safari and Deer Park. It is also popular for its boating facility.

    Poovar- the stunning estuary is our next destination

    Next up is a quick tour of Poovar, an estuary on the outskirts of Kovalam. A must do in case you stay at Kovalam or plan a few days stay at Poovar as it is the perfect backwater experience closest to Kovalam.

    Stay tuned for more and until then...


    Incase you want to know more about Kerala:

    Kerala is the southernmost state of India, also known as 'Gods own country' because of its mythological relevance (believed to have taken form due to the axe felled by the Hindu Deity Parshuram- a reincarnation of Vishnu) and thereafter to the homogenous mix of religious cultures (Hindu's, Muslims & Christians call this home for decades, very secular in its habitat). But furthermore, it is the landscape that merges the lush green Sahyadri Range into numerous water bodies eventually mixing into the Arabian Sea. Kerala also boasts tremendous historic relevance and is a melting pot of numerous cultures, which almost large part of India is! All this adds to the mysticism of this land and when coupled with its rustic hospitality & charm it becomes the ultimate tourist destination of the country.


    1. Nice! I hope to travel to these lesser known places in India one day!

      1. Yes Hannah!
        I am happy that you found this post informative. Reach out in case you want some Kovalam planning tips!

    2. Interesting post! Id love to visit the Elephant Rehabilitation Center one day ☺

      1. Thanks Johna.

        In fact the elephants are employed by the Kerala Devasom Board who nurture them and look after these mamals. The elephatnts are a very important feature of all religious celebrations in Kerala where they are adorned in beautiful fineries and also worshiped. These elephants also help lug logs from the dense jungles which are further traded in the open markets.

        The elephants get a monthly salary and get pension on retirement for their contribution through their services. :)

        I am sure this bit of the factual revelation will get you a bit more intrigued in wanting to visit the Rehab Center.

    3. Kovalam looks absolutely stunning! I would love to see the Deepam Deepam, it must be magical!

      1. Yes Tamar. It actually is!

        The houses in Kerala are fairly opulent and ornate. The warm light from the oil lamp which is placed at the center of the courtyard looks quiet dramatic during the early evening hours! It is definitely one of the things you need to experience when in Kerala. Continues to be popular feature in the villages.

        Kovalam is stunning. It is one of the bluest waters I have seen on the Indian shores. Highly recommended...

    4. Great post, beautiful pictures! Makes me want to go!

    5. Must visit the Parshuram Temple, one of the avatars of Vishnu in the Hindu Mythology during whose time- Treta Yuga, the 1st theft happened, in fact Parshuram built Kerala, hence called as God's Own Country

      1. Thanks for the mention MittiSpeaks.
        It was totally mesmerising watching the events unfold at the Parshuram Temple. Our cultures are so deep and vast. Amazing!

    6. I haven't been to Sri Lanka and regret it now seeing this!! :( That elephant is just the cutest little thing!! :)

      1. Hi Tess. Kerala is very similar to Sri Lanka in many ways. I haven't been to Sri Lanka either but have heard many friends share a similar sentiment. One distinct culture shift is that of Budhism which is fairly popular in Sri Lanka.

    7. Prices are increased by 150%!? Wow, crazy!! The massage sounds so nice... I want to go now!

      1. Hi Crystal.
        More like a 'quick tip' since I know this is a sore point for many tourists it is best to be mentally prepared! :)
        Do visit Kovalam. It is highly recommended.

    8. Loved reading this and learning about a destination I've never heard of. Thanks for enlightening me :). The PIZHICHIL' massage sounds heavenly!

      1. Thank you for stopping by Colby!

        Really glad to know that you found this destination intriguing. Massages in Kerala are the next best thing to the destination. Just like the popular Thai massages, you will find many such parlours spread across Kerala. Ayurveda is an age old medicinal therapy that is practiced in many households.

        Kovalam is a quaint little habitat away from the otherwise congested tourist destinations.

        Feel free to reach out for more tips if you planning on visiting here soon. :) happy to help!

    9. The Kottoor elephant rehabilitation centre looks like such a great place to visit!

      1. It is very enticing indeed.
        Watching them being taken care of, given a good coconut shell scrub bath by the caretakers and seeing the lush green habitat where they live, it is an experience one should opt for while visiting Kerala.

    10. i can't wait to go to Kerala. I've never heard of Kovalan but it sounds great. India is my favourite country!

      1. Thanks for stopping by Christine. I am confident that you will love Kovalam if you like India. In fact, do read up on Poovar which is 75 Kms off Kovalam. It is an estuary and frankly I've not seen anything like this before. Highly recommended. :)

    11. Looks great. That elephant is sooo cute haha! And ya ofcourse everything is way more expensive on touristic areas but hey, I always expect that haha :) Have a great day :)