Kerala tourism, God’s own country, is blessed with the astounding beauty of nature and a diverse cultural disposition. Here is the list of some getaways you should add in your itinerary, once you land in the state’s capital:
KERALA TOURISM: EXPLORE THIRUVANANTHAPURAMRISM
1) Poovar Backwaters
Attractions : Golden Sand beach, Floating restaurants, Mother Mary Statue
Distance from Thiruvananthapuram : 32 km ( takes around an hour)
Where to stay : Floating cottages (Could range from 1500-8000 INR)
With the grandeur of coconut trees and the calm of river Neyyar, Kairali backwaters at Poovar shall mesmerize you with the charm of its beauty and diversity. It is believed that Poovar was a major port and a trading hub of woods and spices thousands of years back, especially during the Chola dynasty.
You could hire a cab from the city and reach Poovar. The ticket prices shall depend on the number of people visiting(For two people, it would be as costly as 3000, while a group of 30 could haggle to get the price down to Rs. 300 per person). A motor boat with life jackets is provided for safety and your boatman shall swirl you through the intricacies of the river flowing through this small village.
Flora and fauna at Poovar backwaters
Rivers in kerla
River Neyyar eventually seeps into Arabian sea , covering a stretch of 56 kilometers. Mangrove forests surround a major chunk of this island. With such a diversity of vegetation, it would not be hard to spot ducks and kingfishers making their abodes in this heaven. Many of these groves are poisonous in nature. The canals meander amongst the trees, traversing through coconut grooves and swamps.
Making through the AVM canal , the boat stops at Golden Sand beach. On one side of the river, there are floating restaurants and resorts , while the side facing the beach shall welcome you with the roar of strong currents and waves. These waves are pretty strong and vigilante life guards are always on their toes.
Enjoy sipping on to coconut water at this end point of Kerala, a village named Pozhiyoor, while the other edge of the scenery is where the territory of Tamil Nadu begins. Golden sand beach and heritage resorts (like Isola Di Cocco , Club Mahindra and many more) are not the only attractions that shall drive you to these backwaters.
The next stop is at the statue of Mother Mary holding Jesus. There is also a huge rock laid in the midst of water, a carving in the shape of an elephant. Thus, it has gained the name Elephant rock.
The statue of Mother Mary holding Jesus
Golden Sand Beach
The backwaters are definitely a treat to your eyes. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Poovar is a place worth your visit if the divinity of nature lies close to your heart.
Attractions : Lighthouse Beach, Adventure sports
Distance: Around 20 km ( takes half an hour)
Where to stay : Beach side resorts and hotels ( a budget accommodation can be availed in a range of 2000-3000 INR, five star accommodations are both pricey and luxurious!)
Lighthouse Beach at Kovalam
Kovalam, a small beach town, is another perfect getaway from the city of Thiruvananthapuram. Kovalam means ‘a grove of coconut trees’. Thus justifying its nomenclature. Kovalam has a stretch of three beaches- Hawah beach, Samudra beach and Lighthouse beach. Lighthouse beach is the largest among the three. It takes more than 130 steps to climb up the 30 meter tall lighthouse standing at this point. It is indeed a pedestal to a beautiful view of the paradise.
Besides, these beaches are a storehouse of adventurous activities. You could rope in for various activities like swimming, parasailing and surfing. You could also visit the Vizhingam marine aquarium.
There are a plenty of beautiful beach resorts in the periphery, which range from 5 star hotels to budget accommodations. These are one of the major attractions of Kovalam. You could go in for spa , relax with some window shopping or capture the charisma of sunsets along the vast expanse of Arabian sea.
3) Meenmutty Waterfalls and Ponmudi
Attractions : Meenmutty falls,Echo Point, Ponmudi falls
Distance : Meenmutty waterfalls(35 km-1 hr) and Ponmudi(55 km-around 1 hr 30 minutes)
Where to stay: Golden Peak Resort or cottages at Ponmudi (would cost between 2000-5000 INR)
At a little distance from the city, Meenmutty waterfalls lie near the Neyyar reservoir area. These waterfalls are not directly accessible and thus you would have to trek for about two kilometers to have a glimpse of the scenic view. This place is thus a treat for adventure lovers and photographers. The rocks are slippery yet the fun experienced in walking around and enjoying the greenery is boundless!
These falls lie en route to a beautiful hill station,Ponmudi. Ponmudi provides an extensive platform for trekking and hiking. Ponmudi means ‘Golden Peak’, hence the name.Amongst the scenic beauty it holds, you could get a view of sprawling tea gardens and luscious vegetation.
The main attractions at Ponmudi are the Peppara Wildlife sanctuary, Echo Point ( showcasing a clock tower) and Ponmudi falls ( which lie around 2 kilometres away). You would be enchanted by the mist laden valleys and pleasing cool climate. Wood and stone cottages streamline the boundaries of this hill station. Golden Peak Resort is one of the ideal locations on the top of the hill station, to enjoy the bounty of nature.
Mist laden valleys at Ponmudi
Attractions : Papanasam beach, handicraft shops and eateries
Distance : 42.5 km ( 1 hour ) – Hire a cab/ board a train from the city
Where to stay: Beach side resorts
Cliff beach at Varkala
Varkala is a small town in the suburbs of Thiruvananthpuram. Varkala is unique as cliffs border the Arabian sea, unlike the other coastal beaches of the state. The Varkala Beach or Papanasam beach is also considered holy as justified by its name ( washing away all sins) . The beach stands close to Janardaha swami temple which is approximately 2000 year old and followers visit this place in regard of Lord Vishnu.
The cliff is a platform to a number of small shops, selling a huge variety of handicrafts and ethnic accessories.You would see a number of local shopkeepers wooing foreign visitors for a glimpse of their small setups.
Besides you could appease your taste buds by trying a variety of cuisines with a pleasant ambience on this cliff (Coffee Temple,Rock cafe, Garden Bistro being a few of the best ones). The beach has a number of resorts and villas at reasonable prices if you plan to stay over and explore(again budget accommodations would not be too pricey!) . You could also avail the relaxing services of a Panchakarma therapy at an Ayurvedic centre!
5) Padmanabhaswamy Temple
Attractions: Richest temple in India
Distance : In the heart of the city
Gold and antique items in Kerla
With its largest collection of precious gold and antique items that were found in the vaults of this temple, Padmanabhaswamy’s worship place has become the richest temple in the country.The temple of Shree Padmanabhaswamy is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
About temple architecture
Built in a traditional Dravidian style, the temple architecture dates back to the era of Epics and Puranas.In many works by great poets, the Temple has been mentioned as the one having walls of pure gold. It is considered one among the 108 Holy abodes.
Entry to the temple is strictly guarded and carriage of mobile phones and cameras is prohibited. Worshippers are allowed to enter in a proper traditional attire (which includes dhotis for men and sarees for women; though you could buy a dhoti and wrap around your waist in case you fail to observe these regulations). You are also endowed with the option of worshipping the deity by paying a ticket price of Rs. 180 for two persons.
The main shrine of worship showcases the diety of Padmanabhaswamy , resting in ‘Anatha’ posture(yogic form). He reclines on the serpent ‘Adi Sesha’ with his right hand on the Shiva Lingam. Other shrines include those of Thekkedom and Thiruvambadi, for deities Urga Narasimha and Krishna Swamy respectively. There are also shrines to worship Appaswamy, Rama and Sita, Lakshamana and Hanuman. The temple marks its ancient past with its grand architecture and engraved carvings.
It is believed that the treasures found in the temple were a result of the wealth accumulated here by various dynasties like Cheras, Pandyas , Cholas and many other ruling dynasties. Although five vaults were opened with the permission of the Supreme Court of India back in 2011, it is believed that another great treasure lies hidden somewhere in this land of worship.
It is rumored that the treasure is being guarded by two Cobras and anybody who tries to open the vault shall meet with a disaster. The temple is one of the oldest, richest places in India, beholding a queue of followers and the blood of history running through its veins. Definitely, it is not worth a miss!