India - Kovalam/Varkala

Community Highlights Asia India - Kovalam/Varkala

Kerala is still reeling from the floods in recent years. It appears that things have been mostly rebuilt since but the area relies on tourism and it has simply not returned fully since the terrible news became public. This was very apparent by the constant touts and vendors forcefully (But nicely.) trying to sell you things. Even suggesting that they will come back in an hour in-case you have changed your mind. Mildly annoying but completely understandable given the personal circumstances of the locals.


Kovalem was a bit underwhelming to be honest although we were treated to one of the most beautiful and epic thunderstorms we have ever witnessed, which continued to rage on above the ocean long after the rain had passed over head. The sea view restaurant we decided to eat at that evening offered spectacular views of the storm over the water.


We also visited the local aquarium, which was a bit heartbreaking as some of the animals didn't seem to be looked after all that well. (We were followed in by a class of school children who seemed to have been hurried through by the teachers. A sorely missed learning and discovery opportunity.)
After three nights in Kovalam we decided that it would be time for us to go somewhere new. Now a dab hand at the Indian trains (Ok so we’ve taken one so far!) we booked a day train to take us to our next destination.


The platform was in chaos. The carriages were poorly marked and the platform was littered with parcels and various other obstructions! This made it very difficult for us to find the correct carriage for our tickets. We just went for broke and hopped on the one we thought was correct hoping not to get kicked off if we were found out!
The two hour journey to Varkala was very enjoyable. Taking in the Keralan sights along the way.
That evening we had dinner in a restaurant with clifftop views over the beach and sea. As the sun set over the horizon the sky became a magnificent purple, something I have never seen before. And to top it off we had huge flying foxes flying over our heads! These animals had wingspans way over four feet! Exceptional!


While in Varkala we had the opportunity to witness a genuine tabla band, a first since being here in India. A truly magical experience! (Link to video here.)
There’s a lot more to do and visit in Varkala compared to Kovalam. We hired a bike for a couple of days and visited the various beaches up and down the coast from where we were staying.
Unfortunately our bike's fuel gauge was broken so it was guesswork as to how much fuel we had. At one point we knew that we didn't have much fuel left and headed for a gas station. However we run out before we got there. As testament to the kindness of the Indian people a couple of younger lads worked out we were having issues and offered to take Scott the rest of the way to the gas station. Thankfully it was only about five hundred yards up the road. (So we nearly made it!) Scott hopped on to the back of the young Indian guys moped to get more fuel while the other stayed with Hannah practising his English!. We have nothing but high regard for the kindness of the Indian people which we found throughout our trip.


We also visited Golden Island Temple that could only be accessed by a small ferry. (Read “gondola or pieces of wood held together with hope and optimism”.)
It took us a while to find the ferry man who was deep in the village. A young boy who spotted that we were looking a bit lost offered to guide us to the ferry man. (Turns out it was the ferry man’s son!) We followed him through what appeared to be villagers property but the locals were nice and waved as we passed through.


Golden Island where the temple was built was filled with wildlife and is considered a sanctuary and no onebody lives there. There was only us and the island warden. The warden walked us through the complex of buildings blessing us at each shrine. At the end of the tour the warden allowed us some time to be alone and reflect on our experience of the temple island in private.
On the return boat ride we were blessed with a congress of dozens of eagles flying overhead. We have never seen so may eagles in one place before! Truly mesmerising!

Link to the Kovalem gallery here.
Link to the Varkala gallery here.

This featured blog entry was written by philosipha from the blog A Million Smiles Away.
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By philosipha

Posted Thu, Apr 04, 2019 | India | Comments