I have always loved the images of coconut trees and backwaters, so much of greenery, that it would make you wonder why my city Delhi is not like that. Kerala, the God’s own country as its known is a beautiful place and I am sure everyone would love to visit it at least once. It is the place which boasts about its heritage, culture, spices, Ayurveda, highest literacy rate in country, backwaters and beautiful beaches.
I myself have been planning to visit Kerala for a long time but somehow the trip never happened. So this time when I came to know that my little sister friend would be getting married in Thiruvananthapuram, I was super-excited as this was the perfect excuse to plan the most awaited trip to Kerala.
The wedding was in Thiruvananthapuram, so we planned our trip accordingly.
The first thing I did was got our tickets booked months ago, this way we got the tickets at far cheaper rates. The second thing was I asked a friend of mine who had completed his studies from the capital city of Kerala to make my itinerary.
Let me tell you guys one thing, I am a person who plans everything so I needed to have an itinerary before I reached Kerala so that I can enjoy the trip without any complications.
Mind you, mine was not a budgeted trip as I was travelling with my mother and my sister so I had to balance luxury and my budget too. I used Tripadvisor app to book the good hotels in my budget. Its a good app which gives information about various hotels and places you could visit and the reviews from tourists .
Day 1: We had taken 6:30 am flight from New Delhi and we reached Thiruvananthapuram around 9:30 am. We went directly to Kollam which is about 66 km from the airport and it took us approximately two hours to reach the city. From Ibn Batuta to Marco Polo, legendary explorers have talked about the prominence of Kollam district for centuries. Blessed with a long coastline, it is the de facto leader of the cashew trade and processing industry in India. It is historically remembered as being among the most important ports which were part of the legendary Spice Trade.
I had booked a houseboat for a day in advance from District Tourism Promotion Council, Kollam. There are various packages available on the website: dtpckollam.com. All you have to do is call their centre and book the package as per your needs. We were three people and we got a houseboat till 5 pm and it included lunch and one room. It costed us Rs. 7,500 of which Rs. 2,000 I had already given as advance via online bank transfer. We explored the Ashtamudi Lake which covers over a third of Kollam’s surface and is a very beautiful lake. While we were in houseboat, we experienced peace and calmness. The little houses around the lake were visible and being in houseboat itself is a serene experience. The lunch served to us comprised of the local dishes and fried fish. It was the best meal I had in Kerala. In evening around 5:00 pm we took an auto to the resort “The Raviz Resort & Spa” where we were upgraded to the Premium Room with a lake view. It was as if God was smiling on us on day one itself. The resort is very beautiful and also offers houseboat trips, so if you wish you can book the houseboat directly from resort too. The staff is courteous and very helpful and the food served varies from local food to continental and North Indian food . My mom and sis who are vegetarians were very happy to stay here as they got to eat their favorite chapatis and paneer.
Day 2: After the lavish breakfast and walk along the backwaters, we headed to Varkala, which is about one hour from Kollam. Here, we stayed at Black Beach Resort which is located near Varkala beach. We took a sea view cottage and were surprised by the splendid sea view. The first thought I had after check-in was that we have reached at mini Kasol. There were small cafes, lots of foreigners, small shops selling colorful tops, skirts, dresses, dhotis, shirts etc. Varkala beach is the most beautiful and clean beach in Kerala. The main beach area was about 2 km from our resort and we walked till there. We took a shortcut and walked through the villagea where we got to see the kids playing, women taking water from well, classical dance classes being conducted, and small rooms located over the pond. It was the first time that my mom was visiting the beach, seeing her enjoying the water and at the same time being scared of the water was once in a lifetime experience. Varkala is also known for Ayurvedic therapy centres, yoga and ayurvedic massage. If you are there, you should definitely try it.
Day 3: Around noon, we checked out and headed to Hotel Lake Palace in Kadinamkulam, it’s a small city located around half hour from Thiruvananthapuram. We took a room here as we wanted a hotel which is surrounded by greenery. This hotel is located at backwaters and also offers lots of activities at a reasonable package. Here, we visited Crocodile or Muthalapozhi beach. This beach was not very clean but you could enjoy the beautiful sunset here. You may also find crabs and jelly fish at this beach. There are no shacks or eatery joints here, so visit it only if you want to enjoy nature.
Day 4: This was the day of the wedding which we have been waiting for eagerly. We attended the wedding in daytime, it was completely new experience for us. After the wedding was over, we did some shopping. We bought variety of chips from Maha Chips store, its one of the best store in the city. After buying lots of beautiful and colourful Kanchipuram sarees, we headed to Kovalam beach which is about 16 km from the capital city. It’s a black sand beach with lots of shacks and eating joints available alongside the beach. As compared to Varkala beach, it was more crowded and you could even see people surfing here. This is a very long beach and divided into three parts. We spent most of our time at the lighthouse beach and even enjoyed the speed boat ride. In evening, you must visit the lighthouse and enjoy the sunset which is definitely a mesmerizing moment.
We intentionally didn’t explore too many places as we didn’t want travel to be hectic. We savored the beauty of Kerala and enjoyed the peace which we always miss in the metro city.
What to wear: While we were visiting Kerala, we were told by our Malyali friends to dress appropriately and to keep ourselves covered all the time. But in Varakala and Kovalam females would be found swimming and taking sunbath in biknis. I made the mistake of visiting Kovalam beach in t-shirt and jeans and it was the biggest mistake I made. It was the only day when I don’t know why but I chose to wear jeans. The temperature rises in daytime in Kerala and it’s better if you would wear only cotton clothes which are airy. You can wear shorts, skirts, t-shirts, cotton trousers and even dresses. But make sure it’s cotton and not too tight.
Safety of females: I found Kerala to be completely safe. We were three females exploring the beauty of Kerala and we would take long walks in early morning and evening. We didn’t have much difficulty in communicating with locals as Hindi or English was known to them.