Sunday, March 17, 2019

Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala: Uncovering Unexpected Discoveries

Our journey in Kerala began with a splendid and blissful cruise through the backwaters (ALLEPPEY HOUSEBOAT OVERNIGHT), followed by a four-hour drive to Thiruvananthapuram. This coastal capital nestled by the Arabian Sea is a vibrant cultural hub steeped in history and tradition, known for its rich heritage, educational institutions, and bustling markets - a blend of modern comforts and old-world charm waiting to be explored (COLOMBO & GALLE SPOTS).

As we traveled, I couldn't help but marvel at the serene natural beauty - tranquil paddy fields, towering mountains, and the peaceful village life offered a refreshing break from city bustle. Along the way, we made a delightful pit stop at a roadside stall, enjoying Kerala's Masala Chai and snacks like freshly fried vadai and Palam Puri (Kerala Banana Fritters). 

While the chai warmed our hearts, the vadai was good, but let's be honest - nothing compares to our Malaysian Pisang Goreng! (Maybe Keralites need to visit Malaysia for tips on achieving that perfect crispy outside and soft inside!) Just kidding!

After continuing our journey, we arrived at Uday Samudra Leisure Beach Hotel & Spa in Thiruvananthapuram around 1:30 pm for an overnight stay. After dropping our bags in our fourth-floor room, we quickly headed to "The Courtyard" for a delightful buffet lunch overlooking the pool. Despite some dishes running low, the flavors of Kerala cuisine shone through, making it a truly satisfying meal.

Following our city tour of Thiruvananthapuram, passing by notable landmarks such as the Kuthiramalika Palace, Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Napier Museum, and Sree Chitra Art Gallery - though the names were somewhat uncertain - we opted, on our guide's suggestion, for the "Poovar Backwater Cruise" instead. Despite initially likening it to our experience in Alleppey, we decided to give it a go and found ourselves swiftly boarding the boat.


The cruise unfolded into a mesmerizing journey through green waters winding amidst mangrove forests and serene villages, including Poovar Village - a quaint coastal settlement near the southern tip of Thiruvananthapuram. It was a perfect opportunity to sit back and marvel at the well-preserved local flora, adorned with countless spices, exotic birds, and vibrant flowers. Lush banana and coconut groves passed by, whichever that caught our attention along the way.

The cruise also included a delightful 20-minute stopover at Golden Sand Beach overlooking the Arabian Sea, where we couldn't resist reliving our childhood memories, basking in the sun and enjoying the moment of "Poovar Backwater Cruise."

Continuing our boat ride, we caught sight of Pozhiyoor Church at the mouth of the Neyyar River near Poovar, although we didn't get a chance to visit. However, the highlight of our excursion felt almost like a legendary achievement: as we navigated the Neyyar River, our guide pointed out the spot where India meets Sri Lanka, separated only by a narrow stretch of water. We were mesmerized by this unique geographical feature, observing locals along the coastline engaged in everyday activities like washing clothes. It was a truly captivating moment that resonated deeply with my love for history.

Opting for the Poovar Backwater Cruise turned out to be an excellent decision, and we were grateful to our driver for the recommendation when he returned to pick us up. Next, we headed to Kovalam Beach to witness the sunset.


However, the experience at Kovalam Beach on a crowded Sunday was a bit overwhelming. The narrow streets leading to the beach were jammed, delaying our arrival, and the bustling beach filled with locals made me uneasy as many stared at me while I tried to approach the water. Feeling uncomfortable, I stepped back and found a quieter spot to enjoy the coastline and watch the sunset. Although not a pivotal moment, it added another memorable layer to our Kerala trip.

Next change: Kochi.

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