On our last night at Varkala, we camped at the beautiful beach of Mayyanad, around 10km north of Cliff Beach. The sea breeze that day was not cold, making it uncomfortably warm inside the tent. So, I decided to get my sleeping mat out in the sand and got inside my sleeping bag on the beach itself. Since there was absolutely no one on the beach except us, we had a sound sleep. And that also checked my sleeping out on an empty beach thing that I used to dream of.
We make a point of rising up early on such locations to get a good look at the sunrise. This truly makes our day. So we woke up around 5am to witness the magical hues over coconut trees’ silhouettes that only a Southern state can offer. Plus the last night was a full moon, so we had an amazing moon setting over the ocean with Sun rising from the backwaters. Silent for an hour or two, we packed up and left Varkala around 8 o’clock.
After this peaceful beach, we were now headed towards the popular Lighthouse beach of Kovalam. It is around 60km from Varkala but took us much longer as we try to avoid the highways and find our way through the smaller villages. This is a thing that we realized on this journey, avoid highways as much as you can. They are boring and dangerous at the same time (I will soon write a detailed post on the roads that we rode on). Anyways, considering the time we spent on asking directions, filling our bowels, and enjoying the empty roads (which were numerous) we didn’t do bad by reaching Kovalam around 12o’clock.
It was a particularly hot and sunny day, so without wasting much time, we got a room near the beach and decided to leave only when the sun was little more merciful. We left for the beach at around 4pm and were properly flabbergasted to see what we saw. The beach was teeming with people. Tourists and locals in almost equal numbers. Also, since it was the last day of National Games 2015 (Kerala), players’ contingents and volunteers thronged the beach in multitudes. Trying to take in the shock the best we could, we looked further of the crowds and found the beach was worth everything that has been said about it. The waters are dark blue here, among the prettiest I have seen in India. The beautiful lighthouse sits atop a small rocky hill overlooking this paradisiac setting.
We strolled along the beach with a long camera stick in hand & getting odd looks from a lot of people, tried to climb the hill in front of lighthouse only to be whistled down by the coast guards, shared some light moments with the people at the sunset point, and returned.
Just like any other popular beach of Goa, this beach has unlimited food options, from little chana-jor-garam stalls to 5 star resorts. We had an amazing chana mix, perhaps the best we have ever had. Similarly, the area has enough accommodation options to suit your needs and budget. From expensive sea view rooms to the budget rooms about 1 km away from the beach. We stayed in a 500 INR room for the night.
As it got dark, we thought of making use of our proximity to Kerala’s capital by checking out a movie and a dinner in Thiruvananthapuram. Surprisingly, we found that there is not a single multiplex in the capital city, and only the traditional talkies function here – all the more reason to watch a movie now. As we rode through the streets of the city, we found that Thiruvananthapuram also has the similar Dutch style architecture as seen at Fort Kochi. The main lifeline of the city, MG road, has beautiful a beautiful mix of British Era & Dutch buildings. After taking a number of detours and a lip-smacking dinner at a small restaurant, we entered the hall. The movie was Shamitabh, so we were bound to be surrounded by a lot of enthusiastic fans due to obvious reasons. It was a great movie, and a great experience watching it amidst whistles and hooting on almost every scene. We returned to the room at 2am. We leave early morning the next day for Kanyakumari.
Although, Kanyakumari is around 95km from Kovalam, in our quest to avoid the highway and take smaller roads we had to travel a little more than 120km. As you travel further South, you notice that it becomes hot very early during the days. But the highlight of this day’s ride was a special drink called Fruit Mix. Something indigenous to Tamil Nadu, this is a fruit cocktail made in a manner that will definitely make your day. We had several of these on our stops.
Another observation on that day’s ride was the visible difference between house’s structure and the urban planning of Tamil Nadu & Kerala. While Kerala is more like a continuous urban area, Tamil Nadu is more like the rest of India with houses congregated in a setup of village or town. The houses in Kerala are prettier with huge backyards / front yards and well shaded with coconut trees. The houses in Tamil Nadu are, again, more North Indian style, compact and seemingly less comfortable. In short, 20km into Tamil Nadu, and we were already missing Kerala.
As we neared Kanyakumari, we could feel the change in air and landscape indicating that we were close to our destination. Where there had been coconut trees along the coast, there were now everywhere. Where there had been a pleasant sea breeze, there were now strong gusts of wind hitting us. Kanyakumari welcomes you in style of its own.
Kanyakumari town has very little vegetation, which is very surprising as villages around it (just 3-5km away) have the same South Indian greenery to them. Nevertheless, after spending the after in our ashram kind of lodge, we went on our bullet to take a look around. Being a weekend, Kanyakumari was full of tourists, so much so that there were at least a 2 hours waiting at 6am for the ferry to Vivekananda Rock Memorial. Hence, avoid visiting Kanyakumari on weekends.
We could not witness the famous sunset of Kanyakumari due to a dense cloud cover, but the Indra dev was good enough to clear everything up for a gorgeous sunrise the next morning. Due to the long queue for Vivekananda Memorial, we contented ourselves by sitting near the Adi Shankara temple, tried to talk philosophy, sounded so foolish to ourselves that we rushed back to our room to pack our bags and start our journey along the eastern coast.