Kovalam: Of Crescent-shaped Beaches and Ayurveda
Kerala besides being well known for its backwaters is also popular for Ayurveda. And there could be no better time than the Monsoon to take Ayurvedic treatments. Kovalam, just half an hour’s drive from Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city, is among few prominent places in Kerala that you can head to for a beach and Ayurveda holiday.
Ayurveda is believed to be the 3000-year-old science that has become Kerala’s big tourist attraction. A crop of ayurvedic ashrams, clinics and resorts have mushroomed all over Kovalam making it easy for tourists to opt for any Ayurvedic treatment of their liking. However, this also makes it difficult to chaff genuine ayurvedic centres from the spurious ones. The best is to stick to classified ayurvedic centres and those run by certified physicians. Almost all reputed hotels have their own Ayurveda centres.
Kovalam is popularly known for its three crescent-shaped beaches that pretty much make for its popular tourist attractions. Lighthouse Beach is quite popular among tourists. Lending beauty and character to the beach is the old lighthouse that stands on a rocky promontory.
In fact the beach gets its name from this very lighthouse. The beach is great for taking long leisurely walks or just to let your hair down and relax. There are many restaurants that line the beach and you can enjoy fresh seafood and other delicacies. You may also visit a monument dedicated to 15th century poets Ayyippilla Asan and Ayyanappila Asan at ITDC Junction near Lighthouse Beach.
Hawa Beach, separated by a rocky outcrop from Lighthouse Beach is another popular beach attraction. It is fairly clean and makes for an ideal beach to relax. The third beach is known by the name of Ashok Beach and it is adjacent to the Hawa Beach. The beach gets its name from the former ITDC hotel, Hotel Ashok. A small mosque, the Kovalam Jama Masjid stands on Ashok Beach. On the opposite side, beyond the road is a Ganapathi Temple.
You can also visit Samudra Beach, which lies north of Ashok Beach but one has to take a detour past Kovalam junction to reach this beach. Not far from Samdura Beach is the Kovalam Sri Dharmasastha Temple.
About two kilometers from Kovalam is Vizhinjam village, which is known for the 18th century Vizhinjam Cave Temple. The temple has half completed carvings of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Vizhinjam Fishing Harbour is close by and it is busiest in the district. The Marine Aquarium is another tourist hot spot that can be visited. This aquarium has a rich treasure of marine wealth. You may get an opportunity to see a rich variety of underwater fauna, which includes clownfish of Finding Nemo fame, moon wrasse, butterfly fish, giant turtles, lionfish and triggerfish.
Kovalam is well connected from rest of the country. Trivandrum International Airport is the nearest airport and Trivandrum Central is the nearest railway station to Kovalam.