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Kovalam
Kovalam
Location of Kovalam
in Kerala and India
Coordinates 8°18′N 77°12′E / 8.3°N 77.2°E / 8.3; 77.2
Country  India
State Kerala
District(s) Thiruvananthapuram district
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)

Kovalam is a beach town on the Arabian Sea in Kerala, a state in south India. It is located around 13 km from downtown Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum).

Contents

Etymology

Kovalam means a grove of coconut trees. [1]

History

Kovalam was brought to the public eye by the Maharaja of Travancore. [1] The European guests of the then Travancore kingdom discovered the potentiality of Kovalam beach as a tourist destination in the 1930s. However, Kovalam shot into limelight in the early seventies with arrivals of the masses of hippies. That started the transformation of a casual fishing village of Kerala into one of the most important tourist destinations in all India- the Kovalam beach. It is a beautiful place in Kerala. [2]

Kovalam beach, Trivandrum

Geography

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Beaches

Kovalam has three crescent shaped beaches separated by rocky outcroppings. Shallow waters stretching for hundreds of metres are ideal for swimming. The beaches have steep palm covered headlands and are lined with shops that offer all kinds of goods and services.[3]

The larger of the beaches is called Light House Beach for its 35 metre high light house which towers over it atop Kurumkal hillock. The second largest one is Hawah Beach named thus for the topless European women who used to throng there. It was the first topless beach in India. Topfree bathing and parading is banned now except in private coves owned by resorts. Visitors frequent these two beaches. The northern part of the beach is known as Samudra Beach in tourism parlance. A large promontory separates this part from the southern side. Samudra Beach doesn't have tourists thronging there or hectic business. The local fishermen ply their trade on this part. The sands on the beaches in Kovalam are partially black in colour due to the presence of ilmenite and thorazite. The normal tourist season is from September to May. Ashoka beach is also the part of Kovalam beach.

Tourist facilities

There are a large number of beach resorts in and around Kovalam. The sea port of Vizhinjam is about 3 km away and famous for its special varieties of fish, old Hindu temples, big churches and a mosque. The Proposed International Trans shipment Terminal at Vizhinjam is also close to Kovalam.

Kovalam was among the most prominent tourist spots in India during the hippy era. It still has a high status among tourists, who arrive mostly from Europe and Israel. Kovalam is finding a new significance in the light of several Ayurvedic salons, and recuperation and regeneration resorts which provide a wide variety of Ayurvedic treatments for tourists.

Politics

Kovalam assembly constituency is part of Trivandrum (Lok Sabha constituency).[4] The assembly constituency of Kovalam is represented by George Mercier of Congress. He defeated the independent A. Neelalohitadasan Nadar (who represented the constituency four times earlier), in the 2006 Kerala legislative assembly elections. The Left Democratic Front candidate, Rufus Daniel of the Janata Dal (Secular), came third.[5][6]

Gallery

References

  1. ^ a b "Paradise of South India - Kovalam". kovalam.com. http://www.kovalam.com/html/about.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-07.  
  2. ^ "Kovalam". kovalam.hotels.com. http://www.kovalamhotels.com/. Retrieved 2008-01-07.  
  3. ^ Ayub, Akber (ed), Kerala: Maps & More, 2006 edition 2007 reprint, p. 97, Stark World Publishing, Bangalore, ISBN 81-902505-2-3
  4. ^ "Assembly Constituencies - Corresponding Districts and Parliamentary Constituencies". Kerala. Election Commission of India. http://archive.eci.gov.in/se2001/background/S11/KL_Dist_PC_AC.pdf. Retrieved 2008-10-21.  
  5. ^ News The Hindu
  6. ^ Election results Election Commission of India

See also

Kovalam travel guide from Wikitravel


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Kovalam is famous for its beaches, among the most pristine in India. It is about 17 km from Thiruvananthapuram city, the capital of the southern state of Kerala in India. Kovalam was brought to the public eye by the Maharaja of Travancore. [1] The European guests of the then Travancore kingdom discovered the potentiality of Kovalam beach as a tourist destination in the 1930s. However, Kovalam shot into limelight in the early seventies with arrivals of the masses of hippies. That started the transformation of a casual fishing village of Kerala into one of the most important tourist destinations in all India- the Kovalam beach. It is a beautiful place in Kerala

Understand

Kovalam is popular region comprising three beaches situated in the state of Kerala in the south of India.

The southernmost, known as the Lighthouse Beach, is the most popular of the three. Many hotels, restaurants, lodges and shops are located here. It is frequented by outsiders who stay and enjoy Kovalam.

The Northern most crescent,( with the different names Main Beach/ Leela Beach/ Samudra Beach) - is crowded on weekends, is very popular with the locals, day-travelers, and passing-by tourist buses. During the week it's quiet. Hawa Beach inbetween is among one of the beaches in India where top-less sunbathing is tolerated and well appreciated by the locals, who come on the weekends to admire this view free of charge. The tourism department provides a vigilant life guard service on both Lighthouse and Hawa beach. There are strong currents, so it is wise to follow their instructions.

Note that many tourists in Kovalam are between the ages of 40 and 60 years young. Those expecting a replica of Goa will be pleasantly surprised by the more relaxed atmosphere, a bit more laid back, the food a touch softer and lighter.

Get in

Kovalam is about 16 km (20 minutes in a taxi) from Trivandrum. Taxis can charge around 400-500 rupees to get to Kovalam. When asked where you want to go, say Hawa Beach, Leela Beach/Main Beach or Lighthouse Beach in Kovalam.

In an auto-rickshaw 250-300 rupees is a fair price, avoid going above 300 rupees. If in doubt ask to use the meter, but in reality they really don't work at all. Advice being if they are trying to rip you off go to leave for another rickshaw and they will often back down and offer you a fair price, if not, get in a different rickshaw. Even if India is a cheap country, the prices for gasoline are international standard, so don't expect super cheap private transportation. If you go by public bus from Trivandrum-East Fort to Kovalam Beach you only pay 8 Rps. for the half hour trip.

Buses to Trivandrum can also be caught from Kovalum Junction as well as Ambassador taxis and Autos to pretty much anywhere.

Be very careful walking around the junction, especially at night, as there are no traffic lights (what's new?!) and the street lighting is very minimal. The intersection can be busy.

Get around

Tourist taxis are the most convenient way to travel around attractions, especially while travelling in a group. Most airports and railway stations have tourist taxi services that would take you anywhere you would want to go.

A more adventurous option is to get a bike on hire. The highway is a pleasure to drive on, with the cool breeze and coconut palms lined along the way. Once on the highway, drive north for the plains, drive south for the hills. Avoid driving through Thiruvananthapuram city, it's congested. The old highway, also called MC road, is also good to drive on. The MC road can take you deep into the hills. Try out the throaty Enfield 350 CC bikes for a truly vintage experience, check your fuel levels before you leave.

Two wheelers do not have to pay the highway toll, simply ride through the side lane.

Ponmudi - A nice semi-hill station located about 1 1/2 hours from Kovalam. There is a KTDC Hotel located up there with rooms available for around $5 to $8USD a night. There is also a bar. An ambassador taxi can drop you off at the hotel and wait overnight for you and take you back the next day for around $15 to $20USD. They will sleep in their taxi so do not feel obliged to pay for their accommodation.

  • Varkala - Drive north on the highway for about an hour (55 km). It has a superb beach and cliff front and the usual tourist amenities. The quiet sandy beaches and large lakes of Paravur (65 km from Kovalam) are also close to Varkala and are hidden away. Paravur is a shared secret among those seeking a more peaceful getaway.
  • Neyyar Dam ca 1.5 hours by local bus. Only worth to visit if you do not know what else to do. It is a water reservoir. No other curiosities except some crocodiles kept in cages. Better spend the time on the beach
  • Backwater Tours [1] between Kovalam and Trivandrum there are backwater trips (ca. 2-3 hours) available that can be booked at Kovalam Beach itself. Small boats for 4-6 persons. A nice experience.
  • Watch the locals dive headlong into the water going clam fishing
  • Ayurvastra (Organic Dyeing), Kairali Exports (north), 9349969309, [2]. 1. Ayurvastra is a dyeing centre where fabrics are dyed using herbs. Tourist can visit the place and see the demo of dyeing. Please fix an appointment. Very interesting place just 10 km from Kovalam 850.  edit
  • Surfing - Some fine waves from time to time (0.5 - 2 meters). You can hire surf boards and body boards on the beach from $6USD a day. Body boarding can be enjoyed by anyone. Surfing takes a bit more skill. It is wise to follow the life-guards' instructions as there are some strong currents that can suddenly whisk the unwary out to sea.
  • Wooden Boat Ride - At Kovalam's Main Beach/Leela Beach you can go out on the ocean with a traditional Catamaran. These ancient boats are rowed with a bamboo paddle and maneuvered by experienced local fishermen. There are 11 registered boats available. Rides last from about 15 to 120 minutes and cost between Rps. 300 to 600 p.p. .The best time for going snorkeling from the boat is in the early morning. Most romantic are the "sunset cruises". No advance booking necessary. First come - first served.
  • Motor Boat Ride - In 2009 local fishermen/catamaran people added a few motor boats to their fleet, destroying the peace and serenity of the coves. They hope to make some extra money from Indian tourists, but are not aware of the impact on the environment and Western tourism.

Buy

There is a wide range of shops selling good quality souvenirs. Most of the beach front shops are the general Kashmiri stores you see everywhere. Beware of hawkers though. Once you show interest in a certain product, they will pursue you everywhere until you buy it. Try some of the shops behind the beach front stores. You'll get a better price plus some hidden gems.

Kovalam Junction is about a 10 - 15 minute walk up the hill from the main beach. You will pass through it on your initial arrival into Kovalam. Your main reason for coming here will be the ATMs and the post office. There are also a few good cheap eateries located around the area, a decent supermarket, and a few grocery stores where you can save a little money from the beach store prices.

ATMs

Kovalam junction: there are three ATMs here which accept all the major cards. They are open 24 hours a day and protected by security guards.

There is an ATM just inside a hotel driveway just a short distance (10 minute walk) from Hawa Beach toward Kovalam Junction. This ATM only accepts Visa cards but is often out of money as it is closest.

There are money changers on the shore line on Lighthouse Beach but these charge 3% to get money.

Eat

There are many restaurants along the beach front at Lighthouse Beach. The days catch is usually laid in front of them in the evening for those who like fish. Most restaurants have a leisurely approach to life and an hour between ordering and receiving your food is not uncommon. But don't get uptight, just relax and enjoy.

  • The German Bakery - Go for the date shake and the excellent banana pancake. A full range of baked goods are available too. Plus one of the best views in Kovalam! Easily the best and most popular place for breakfast on the main beach.
  • Suprabatham - one of the best vegetarian restaurants in Kovalam. Even non-vegetarians will love the food. Friendly waiters. It is ca 200 m. away from the beach. Accessible via a path between German Bakery and Hotel Orion.
  • Fruit Ladies - You can grab a top fruit salad with all the trimmings for less than $1USD. But, they'll remember you and if you don't buy from them again they will take it very personally.
  • Kovalam Junction - Head up the hill from the beach and sample some of the many local restaurants. The specialty of the area is Chicken Fry. Fried chicken in a red masala paste with freshly cut chillis. Some places are spicier than others. For between $2 & $3USD you will get 2 pieces of chicken fry, vegetable sambal and some parrota (a richer version of roti). Beef fry and fish fry are sometimes available as well. Note: These establishments are very local orientated so do not expect cushy surroundings, its very much eat, pay, leave. Expect great chicken.
  • fusion restaurant, Light House Beach Kovalam, 04 712484153 (). first floor restaurant on the beach front with beautiful ambiance and great food! Unique menu offers food from the East, the West and Fusion of both. Great seafood! Good Service! Super Atmosphere! Comes highly recommended!  edit
  • Don't miss out on fresh coconut from the coconut walla on the corner. It's organic, it's healthy, it helps the local farmers to support their families, it's cheap - only 10 to 20 Rps..
  • There is a beer and wine store 500 m up the road from the beach. You are supposed not to show any purchases from that store near the beach - keep it i.e. in a cloth bag.
  • Usually the restaurants serves "special tea" (beer) if you ask, but they will ask you to have the bottle under the table.

Sleep (in alphabetic order)

Phone numbers: +91 for India - Area code (land line): (0)471 (drop the 0 when dial international calls) Mobile phone numbers starts with 9.

  • Aardvah Hotel is on the beach, has a minibar, and a nice massage parlor. It also has a reef watch glass-bottom boat. Room rates vary from 500Rs a night to about 650Rs.
  • Beach Kiss Resort [3] ph. +91 (0)471 – 2480 235 - is right on Hawa beach (Light House Beach). It has 38 A/C Rooms with all modern amenities inside. It also have beach facing restaurant, swimming pool, Ayurveda & Yoga Centre and cultural programs. In the morning, you can help the fishermen to pull the fishing net on the beach in front. Seasonal discounts are offered.
  • Green Valley Cottages is an excellent budget hotel with rooms from Rs.500 per night. Room service with good vegetarian restaurant right next door. Located next to the remnants of a former rice paddy field just off the beach. E-mail indira_ravi@hotmail.com who is the owner.
  • Hawah Beach Resort [4] ph: +91 (0) 471 2481 951
  • Hotel Samudra [5] is a 3 star deluxe hotel
  • Hotel Sea Breeze phone= 0091 471 2480 024 - [6] email: keralabeachhouses@india.com - Double en-suite rooms (air conditioned) Rs1200 approx. £15 per night (room only). Double en-suite rooms (non - air conditioned) Rs600 approx. £7.50 per night (room only). Ayurveda and yoga available.
  • Hotel SeaRack is right on Hawa beach and is well connected. It also has a restaurant. In the morning, you can jump in and help the fishermen pull in the catch on the beach in front.
  • Hotel Shirleysbeach ph: +91 963 32 00 137 [7] price: Rs 500 onwards Budget hotel run by Shirley & Her son Sambath, great place. Have a look while you are there - very clean and reasonable rates! They have taxi, forex, Ayurveda, yoga everything under their roof! Houseboats also run by sambath in alleppey. The rooms are spotless and well managed feels like a second home.
  • Muringa Vila is a brand new small family run guest house with modern and stylish apartments (some with kitchen), WLAN and The Little Shanti Coffee Shop (in the make), serving local and international foods on their sea- view terrace. Located at Kovalam's Main Beach (or Leela Beach) right behind the Ganesh Temple. email: dvd@steinkunst.com
  • Orion Beach Resort [8] ph: +91 471 2480 999, +91-9447161436 or +91-9895839792 is a friendly and family run hotel right on the beach, calm in the nights.
  • Paradise Gardens Beach Resort & Ayurveda Centre [9] - Karikatikuzhi Beach - The most beautiful beach - South of Kovalam
  • Sea Flowe Beach Resort ph: +91 (0) 471 24 80 554
  • Sea View Beach Resort ph: +919927420034 - Hill & Sea View Ayurvedic Beach Resort at Kovalam and Ideal Sea View Resort.. peace and beauty crystalized for you, each of these rooms offer a private balcony, with spectacular views of either the ocean or the tropical gardens. All the rooms have individually controlled air-conditioning,luxurious baths, satellite television, free in-house movies,International Direct Dialing and a well-stocked mini-bar. Facilities like hair dryer and safe in the rooms, Broadband facilities also available . Our very special type of heritage room with 100% wood even the floor on a storied building from some of the room with a exclusive balcony overlooking to the Arabian Sea.
  • Surya Samudra Private Retreats ph: +91 471 2267 333 / +91 471 2480413 [10] Luxury heritage beach resort. Adjoining two pristine, unspoilt beaches and completely secluded from the busy tourist areas of Kovalam. Stay in a carefully restored traditional Kerala tharavadu dwelling. At our Spa Niraamaya, highly trained therapists pamper you with herbs, oils, and concoctions that relax your body, revitalise your mind, and renew your spirit.
  • Swagath Holiday Resorts [11] ph: + 91 - 471 - 2481148, 2481149 - is a 3 star deluxe hotel.
  • Taj Green Cove Resort [12] Located on one of India’s most popular beaches, Kovalam, the property is spread across 10 acres of land, offering a breathtaking view of the backwater, lush landscapes, coconut palms, and unspoiled beaches. Taj Green Cove Resort is located just 12 km from Trivandrum airport and 14 km from the station.
  • The Beach Hotel ph: +91 (0) 471 2480 179 [13] price: 1000-3000 Private veranda towards the sea
  • The Leela Kempinski [14] is a 5 star hotel with a private beach
  • Travancore Heritage[15]is a seaside resort in Chowara near Kovalam. It is built with traditional Kerala style architecture in 15 acres of land, landscaped with coconut palms.
  • Varmas Beach Resort ph: +91 (0) 471 2480 478
  • Wilson Tourist Home +91 98473 638 31
  • Hill & Sea View Ayurveda Beach Resort [16] rooms with private balconies and spectacular views of either the ocean or tropical gardens. Just 20 minutes from Trivandrum, this beautiful resort is located on a cliff facing the Great Arabian Sea.
  • Pappukutty Ayurveda Resort [17] is right on Hawa beach (Light House Beach) and kissed each other. It has 38 well furnished A/C Rooms with all modern amenities inside. It also has a beach facing restaurant, swimming pool, Ayurveda & Yoga Centre and cultural programs. In the morning, you can help the fishermen to pull the fishing net on the beach in front. Seasonal Discounts are offered for the tourists.
  • Center For Longevity [18]. Exclusive ethnic clinic combining Ayurveda, Siddha Vaidya and Modern Medicine to achieve unique results in wellness, health promotion and longevity in addition to the management of chronic disorders.

Get out

Vizhinjam - Head down to the harbor at sunset for some spectacular shots of the area with the seaside Mosque in the background. The atmosphere is quite lively with fisherman heading to and from the sea. Note: Once the sun is down, it is probably best to head back to Kovalam unless you are with a guide. While hostility/violence to foreigners is VERY rare, you do not want to get caught up in a scuffle between the rivaling Christian and Muslim communities.

Sebastian Indian Social Projects (S.I.S.P), [19]. - A Belgian based not-for-profit NGO school located near Kovalam Junction. The school provides free education and welfare services to orphans, would-be child laborers, school-drop outs, and the poorest of the poor from around the area. If you plan to spend several months in the area it may be worth organizing some volunteer work. It is certainly worth supporting them financially.

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

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