82. Beaches of Kerala

@My favourite beaches, Kerala, India.
In the last few years, I have visited too many beaches in Kerala, and it is no surprise because the state has a long coast line compared to its total size. Most of the roads which we took were through the coastal areas too. The two places that come to the mind when talking about the same are the Kovalam beach and the Shankumugham Beach which I visited during my childhood, but due to the memories being mostly replaced, I would give them honorary status like the Great Pyramids has among the Wonders of the World and proceed to share something about my favourite beaches of Kerala, all of which I have visited in the last three years, a journey beginning and ending at Kollam Beach.
*^*Just my personal favourites; do not ponder over it.

10. Kappad Beach

Kappad Beach at night

Kappad Beach at night.

This is a place of high historical significance, as Vasco Da Gama landed here in 1498 and began an age of colonization which was to follow and to be taken over by the British. A new trade route from Europe to India was established in this part of Kerala which was to change the way in which Indian history was to be shaped later on. The beach is a nice little place, with not too much crowd, and there was a lot of developments going on there when we visited, and this is going to be a pretty nice place the next time we visit.
Nearest railway station: Calicut
Nearest airport: Calicut
Nearest town/city: Calicut
District: Calicut (Kozhikode)

9. Calicut Beach

A sunset at the Calicut Beach

A sunset at Calicut Beach.

The Kozhikode Beach is a nice place in the heart of the city and is blessed by statues and remains of piers giving it a rather historical look. It has successfully joined the beauty of nature with the rush and modernity of the city and provides the visitors with a nice experience as it remains crowded. There would be no reason why one goes through the city and not take a look at this beach which is well maintained and is expected to be even further developed – this is the beach I visited earliest, among the beaches in this list and I feel that a lot have changed about this one.
Nearest railway station: Calicut
Nearest airport: Calicut
Nearest town/city: Calicut
District: Calicut (Kozhikode)

8. Quilon Beach

The mermaid (jalakanyaka) statue at Kollam beach

The mermaid (jalakanyaka) statue at Kollam beach.

Known to many people as the Kollam Beach as well as the Mahatma Gandhi Beach, this is a wonderful location close to the heart of the city. Quilon has the history of being a very important seaport in the past, and is still the second largest port in Kerala after the Queen of the Arabian Sea, Cochin. We can regularly see large ships moving around in the sea if we spend enough time at the beach. There is a lighthouse and the ruins of historical forts which form the mementos of European rule which existed there.
Nearest railway station: Quilon
Nearest airport: Trivandrum
Nearest town/city: Quilon
District: Quilon (Kollam)

7. Kappil Beach

The sea on the left and the lake on the right.

The sea on the left and the lake on the right.

There are only a few beaches which can boast of having an identity different from the rest, and that too without being huge or without having any structure or monument, but Kappil Beach achieves that. The beach begins from the side of the road and goes on to an area where the sea and the lake are separated by a small stretch of sand a part of which where we can drive through between the coconut trees. There, we see a beautiful green world on one side and the sunset on the other, with jelly fish near the water around our legs!
Nearest railway station: Paravur
Nearest airport: Trivandrum
Nearest town/city: Paravur
District: Trivandrum

6. Azhikode Beach

Azhikode beach with its Chinese fishing nets.

Azhikode beach with its Chinese fishing nets.

Located near Kodungallur, this is one of the lesser known beaches of the area, and we were glad to find it using the google maps, and let that not fool you because this is a beautiful beach with not much rush, and has a lot of areas to spend some lone time and also take photos. Known as the Azhikode-Munakkal beach, this has a big place in the history of Christianity in India, as Saint Thomas the Apostle is believed to have landed near this area. The first mosque in India is also not that far away from here.
Nearest railway station: Irinjalakuda
Nearest airport: Cochin
Nearest town/city: Kodungallur
District: Trichur

5. Varkala Beach

The parking is at the top, and so are the best viewpoints.

The parking is at the top, and so are the best viewpoints.

Also known as the Papasanam Beach, this is a nice place with a difference, and it remains calm and peaceful despite the good number of visitors, including a lot of foreigners. Its unique geography makes sure that there are cliffs surrounding the beach, something not common in Central and South Kerala. You can have a look from the cliffs when eagles fly closer. There are water spouts and nice restaurants around the beach, and there is enough parking as long as you make sure you come early.
Nearest railway station: Varkala
Nearest airport: Trivandrum
Nearest town/city: Varkala
District: Trivandrum

4. Payyambalam Beach

This came as a pleasant surprise at that time.

This came as a pleasant surprise at that time.

Payyambalam is a beautiful beach where we can see the lagoon being separated from the sea from many angles. It is very close to the town of Kannur and is very clean. A number of Kerala’s prominent political and social leaders are also buried in an area at the beach including A.K. Gopalan, E.K. Nayanar, Sukumar Azhikode etc. You can also go to St. Angelo’s Fort, most commonly known as the Kannur Fort from there, a symbol of Portuguese dominance in that part of the country.
Nearest railway station: Kannur
Nearest airport: Calicut
Nearest town/city: Kannur
District: Kannur

3. Fort Cochin Beach

There is always something about Fort Cochin.

There is always something about Fort Cochin.

The beauty of Fort Kochi beach is more in its own identity rather than just the sands. It lives in and breathes history like no other place in Kerala. There are lots of buildings which is of colonial architecture around the beach along with places of spirituality and religion, and the number of foreign tourists is enormous. I would suggest visiting the place during the next Kochi Biennale exhibition, and lets join the beauty of nature and historical monuments with art. You don’t always need to go to Goa or Pondicherry.
Nearest railway station: Cochin (Ernakulam)
Nearest airport: Cochin
Nearest town/city: Cochin
District: Ernakulam (Cochin)

2. Cherai Beach

They wanted me to write down something on the sand.

They wanted me to write down something on the sand.

There are only a few beaches which can grow with the pace that Cherai has developed from just another sea-side to the most visited beach in Central Kerala. There is a lot of development still going on there, and it is a very long extending by road to what is called Munambam, which is rather another beach where one can see the river Periyar flowing into the Arabian Sea, surrounded by Chinese fishing nets, an inspiration for any poet or photographer deprived off ideas by modernity.
Nearest railway station: Aluva (Alwaye)
Nearest airport: Cochin
Nearest town/city: North Paravur
District: Ernakulam (Cochin)

1. Muzhappilangad Beach

The best beach is where the Beat goes.

The best beach is where the Beat goes.

How can you not visit the largest drive-in beach in Asia? To be frank, I don’t know about any other beaches in India where you can drive this long on the sands. As we reach here through a small road surrounded by coconut trees which bows their heads towards the road and reach the nicely maintained beach which seems to stretch towards eternity, there is an unbelievable amount of happiness that we feel in our hearts. It is a lesser known destination, and it is going to develop a lot considering its potential.
Nearest railway station: Thalassery
Nearest airport: Calicut
Nearest town/city: Thalassery
District: Kannur

Other mentions: Puthuvype Beach (Ernakulam/Cochin), Snehatheeram Beach (Trichur), Aleppey Beach (Alappuzha), Munambam Beach (Ernakulam/Cochin), Chavakkad Beach (Trichur).

Diving out —>
TeNy

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79. Thy Tourist Village

@Kumbalangi, Kerala, India.

DSC06564

There has been not many places that I have known for this long a time, but Kumbalangi certainly remains one of them. I remember going there with my parents in a boat, as it was more of an island without a bridge rather than just another remote village. There was quite a long time spent looking at the backwaters waiting for the boat. I would wonder if that had given birth to some creativity which I kept for myself. I used to be afraid of the time spent on the boat, and always believed in death by water kept ready by the Grim Reaper himself. But the fact remains that I have traveled there more when there was no bridge, and less when there came that bridge. Thus are the games which fate plays on us. There is no doubt that the place has gotten better, but the fact remains that I myself has no longer the interest nor the need; but I did visit the place a few months ago contradicting my thoughts about not going.

It is located about fourty to fifty kilometres from the Cochin International Airport, and about fifteen kilometres from the Ernakulam South Railway Station. Yes, the place is well connected and there are more than one routes to reach there. There is an older road from the other side of the island, but it is quite a long one which is not recommended due to possible rise in the water levels and the condition of the roads. The first one may be the most commonly used and the most crowded path which goes through Edappally, Palarivattam and Kaloor, going through M.G. Road, and the another one is the same road which takes a small deviation which goes through Ernakulam Jetty and passes near the High Court and these two roads join together later as if they are made for each other. Both routes have lots of city service private buses and Thiru-Kochi buses of Kerala State Road Transport Corporation along with AC and non-AC low-floor buses of Volvo and Ashok Leyland make every fifteen minutes or twenty minutes apart from each other making this the most desirable route if travelling by public transport.

The two were the roads which we used to take when I was a kid, during those journeys to Kumbalangi in the city service private buses which remained the only choice at that time. The second one can be joined by a road which takes right turn from Kalamassery – the Vallarpadam Terminal Road which has the least amount of traffic and has the better roads except for small areas which should have some potholes and unexpected rising of terrain. The next one has a number of busy junctions on the way which goes through Edappally, Vyttila and Marad joining the other road on the new bridge to Thoppumpady, a route having tolls, but not too much to be spent – not that crowded except for those big junctions. Just be aware of the Vyttila junction which might be the busiest interjunction around despite the size of the roads. This road can also be joined from Thrikkakara and Kakkanad if a left turn was taken from Kalamassery towards the HMT junction. It is a clear one road from the airport to Aluva though, as the other possible routes towards the Perumbavoor side are more of the unreliable ones.

You can visit Kumbalangi when you go to Fort Cochin or Mattanchery, taking a deviation from Thoppumpady. The first thing you notice is surely the backwaters and the Chinese fishing nets which are located around – just like a visit to Fort Kochi. Kumbalangi is actually more of a cheaper alternative to Fort Kochi and Mattanchery even as there is not much of a history out there, with Saint Francis Church, Santa Cruz Basilica, Dutch Palace or the Jewish Synagogue, and the development also might seem less. But Kumbalangi Integrated Tourism Village project has been transforming the village and the visit is going to be totally worth the money. The island also has its smaller but beautiful churches, that is for sure – a good number of them on the sides of the main road itself. They are symbols of faith and belief which has disappearing from the world at high speed. I have known most of those churches for quite a long time and did attend mass at more than half of them. There is that beauty in simplicity and serenity out there.

Kumbalangi is the first Model Tourism Village in India, and thus has undergone quite a transformation which has not ceased yet. There is financial assistance from the state government, and the procedure has seen increase in the number of tourists who come to the place, but there is not too much rush till now. It is indeed blessed with natural beauty which has not been seen or explored much. There are smaller roads and not many bigger shops and restaurants are around, but that doesn’t take away anything. It is the ideal destination for everyone who wishes to keep away from the crowd and enjoy peace and calmness with nature supported by whatever joy the backwaters bring. There are many interesting and cheap packages for the same. It will be good if you add the place to the list when you travel to Fort Cochin and Mattanchery, as that should make a good combination. May be you can go through Kumbalangi and reach Fort Cochin through the other side of the island thus going through the centre of the island.

If you do go to Kumbalangi, there is Kallanchery which you can visit. There is also a resort of three acres, surrounded by the awesomeness of backwaters there, called Kallenchery Retreat which is a very beautiful place to spend time – it is Kallenchery Retreat (http://www.kallancheryretreat.com/) and you can check that website for more details. There are not many places like that around. Check this website and you will know about a miraculous church which you won’t want to miss – situated at Kannamaly at the end of the island (http://kannamaly.com/news/kannamali-church/) and the festival there is very famous as people from all parts of Kerala comes there for blessings. I hope none of you will miss that church and it will be even better if you are there for the feast. It also has a history as the first church there goes back to 1745. It is also the native village of our honourable minister of food and agriculture, K.V. Thomas who has also written a book about the place, Ente Kumbalangi. When you visit South India, take your time and have a look at one of the most beautiful backwater villages of South Asia at a cheap rate and a lot of happiness.

I would like to leave you with these images of Kerala Backwaters. (Check Kerala Tourism’s latest campaign on the most fascinating waterworld on Earth @ http://greatbackwaters.com/)

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TeNy