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2023 - The Year That Was

Places impact you for a variety of reasons. And the same place impacts different people in different ways. This is especially true when it comes to spiritual experiences, where every single person’s experience is unique. And personally, every spiritual experience is unique, the same person can have different deeply spiritual experiences at different places, at different times. This thought has emerged because of my own experiences over the years, but especially so this year, with different and unique experiences at various places I have visited recently. I began this year with a visit to Baroda (Vadodara) with friends. It was meant to be a relaxed trip, a touristy trip, with our sons. We enjoyed ourselves to the hilt, but the highlight of that trip was a visit to the Lakulisha temple at Pavagadh. It was the iconography of the temple that I connected with, and I spent a few hours simply lost in the details of the figures carved around the temple. There was an indefinable connect with

Poovar Part 1 - The Resort and Kovalam Beach

Island – the word evokes memories of childhood classics such as Robinson Crusoe, The Swiss Family Robinson and Treasure Island. These were some of my favourite books and there have been times I have wondered what it would be like to be actually marooned on an island, cut off from the rest of the world. Well, I live on an island, but there is no feeling of being cut off from the world – in fact, it is more crowded and noisier than many other cities, and there doesn’t seem to be the remotest chance of my being marooned on some uninhabited island. So much for fantasies……

However, this vacation brought the fantasy as near to fact as it is possible in these days of faster and more efficient methods of communication, when we visited Poovar.

Poovar is a small island about 30 Kms from Trivandrum, where the backwaters merge with the Arabian Sea. The river Neyyar also empties into the sea here, and thus, at Poovar Beach near the island, one can see the remarkable sight of river, sea, beach, backwaters, as well as lakes (formed at intervals due to the flow of water), all converging at the estuary. The only way to approach the island is via boats. There are 3 resorts on the island – The Poovar Island resort, Isola de Coco and The Estuary Island resort. Click on the resort name to visit their websites for more details.


The Poovar Island Resort - what you can see are the floating cottages


The Estuary Island Resort


Isola De Coco

All these resorts have their own jetty from where boats are available to the resort. For those who have reserved rooms at the resort, this boat ride is free, but if you simply wish to visit the resort and return, the boats are available for a fixed charge. The resorts are about 2 Kms away from Poovar, and the motor boat ride takes about 20 minutes.


The Poovar Island Resort Jetty

On the way from Poovar to the resort jetty, there are also other jetties from where one can take a boat ride down the backwaters to the estuary and the beach, without having to stay at any of these resorts. During the peak season (November to March), smaller establishments open up along the backwaters with a few rooms each.


Another Jetty


A smaller resort, closed in May

Time seems to have stood still here, for it is still a tiny fishing village with just a couple of resorts, who have at least tried to maintain the status quo without impinging too much on nature. However, as everywhere, things are beginning to change, with new resorts coming up in the area, and even smaller players trying out their luck with small establishments. I am happy that I have been able to see this wonderful place at least now, and hope the changes will be for the better, and not for the worse.



The Poovar Island Resort is a Club Mahindra affiliate, which is how we got to stay there. The most attractive part of the resort are the floating cottages, built on lightweight concrete hulls on the water and connected to the island by a bridge. They look just divine, and it would have been heaven to live in one of them. That wish, however was not to be fulfilled, for, among the dozen such rooms, only 4 belong to Club Mahindra, and we weren’t the lucky ones to get those.


One of the Floating Cottages

We had to settle with the land cottages, which are built on the parts of land amidst the crisscrossing streams of the backwaters.


Our room


There are bridges connecting these cottages, and plenty of fishes in the water below. We even saw a few frogs and a really big crab! Needless to say, Samhith was thrilled!!!


The connecting bridges..

And

the frog......


The crab....

and..the fish...


The resort is divided into two sections – the first portion is the regular resort, behind which is hidden the more exclusive Ayurvedic village. The main Ayurvedic centre is, of course, common for the entire resort, but the village is for those who have especially come down for treatment over a period. This section has everything separate from the main resort including a pool and a special restaurant serving meals appropriate to the treatment. I couldn’t restrain my inquisitiveness, and on enquiry, was told that most of the guests were Germans and Swiss – no wonder their library had mostly German and French books!!!


The Ayurvedic Village

All kinds of amenities are available at the resort for indoor and outdoor games, swimming, reading, etc. and to enjoy it best, one has to go in a group. For loners like me, it is best to find a secluded area and settle down with a book… and there were plenty of such places too…. The place is so huge; one can wander around without meeting too many people.

The close proximity to the water and all the greenery around attracts lots of birds, and we saw quite a few, prominent among which (or rather, to be honest, the ones I could identify) were egrets, cormorants, kingfishers, and bee-eaters.

Here are a few of the birds we saw...












Boats are available to take us to the beach, though the sea is so rough, it is not really safe to get into the water. One can enter the water in the backwater-side of the beach, where it is quite calm. This is also not a very good place to collect shells, as we found to Samhith’s disappointment – the sea was so rough that there were only broken shells, and they too were few and far between – the sea simply washed out everything!!!!!!


Poovar Beach...


The calmer side of the same beach

The best place to go for a beach experience is surely Kovalam. Kovalam beach is about 15 Kms from Poovar. A car from the resort cost about Rs.1000/-, but a cheaper option is to get to the mainland by the boat and then take an auto. The charges for the return journey comes to about Rs.250/-.

Kovalam Beach

Kovalam is certainly one of the most famous beaches in India. Discovered by the British guests of the Travancore Maharaja, it is one of the earliest beaches to become a tourist hotspot from a sleepy fishing village. The whole stretch of Kovalam is divided into 3 crescent shaped beaches separated by rocks. The lighthouse beach is the most popular one, followed by the Eve’s beach, so named for the European ladies who used to sunbathe here. The third is known as the Samudra Beach.



We arrived at the beach when the tide was high, but the sea is quite shallow here, and it was safe to bathe, and Samhith and Shankar thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Again due to the high tide, few shells were available, but the few that we did collect turned out be exactly like those we collected at Goa!!!! After all, come to think of it, it is the same sea and the same stretch of land too, right????



We were approached by boatmen offering to take us in their boats and show us fishes of different colours as well as coral reefs, but I was too scared of entering into the boat when the sea was so rough and the surf was so high, and didn’t take them on. As to Shankar and Samhith, they were having too much fun to get diverted. So I shall never know whether you actually can see coloured fishes and reefs. If any of you have had such experiences, I would love it if you could share it with me...


One of the boats

On an island surrounded by water and sand what can you do? Once you are through with the beaches, the only other activity is the backwater cruise. However, this post has grown too long, and I shall stop here for now.

Coming up: Backwater Cruise – A photo-blog

Meanwhile, here are a few more pics for you......











Comments

  1. Anu I liked your frog so much that I linked to your post from Blogbharti-

    http://www.blogbharti.com/mridula/travel/check-out-her-frog/

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Anu. Its so good to read your blog about your Poovar visit. I am going along with my husband and my year old kid. First time after I got pregnant we are going on such a good long vacation far from home (I live in Chennai). Was trying to read about Poovar and places I could go when I came across your blog. Great write and nice pictures. I shall let you know my experience as well. I am also gonna go to Ashthmudi along with Poovar.

    PS: I do not write blogs but wouldnt mind staying in touch with you through mails. My ID is dwivedi.smita@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  3.  Hi Annu,

    Thanks for the wonderful experience sharing..... I'm planning my trip - a honeymoon tour to kerala this FEB.
    will poovar island resort be good or isola di cocco is nice ?
    can you guide me in the selection please,

    Ashutosh D
    yash.fun@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi!! My kerala vacations are just a fortnight away and thank god I came accross your blog... It is vry beautiful and informative....

    I had to choose between going to Poovar or Cover Kanyakumari ... I guess I will go with Kanyakumari....and skip the floating cottages )

    ReplyDelete
  5. A wonderful write up. We are planning to have school reunion in Poovar/Kovalam. Which is good?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Divya. That depends on you... and also your choice of resort.

      Delete
  6. Hey Anu, it feel so awesome that you have been in Poovar for some days, i also love poovar and the golden sand beach is a beautiful beach where you can see that the beach separates a lake and the sea. You can also enjoy the floating resorts over there. Poovar is not a very crowd place and the beach is also not crowded. I got a chance to visit poovar in one of my visit to Chowara. I have been in Chowara for 7 days for an ayurvedic treatment at Ayurrathna Ayurvedic treatment center. As a complimentary gift to my visit they took us to the beach for one day. I would say it was amazing! and i enjoyed the house boat trip to poovar and it was amazing. I feel as happy as you feel while being there on Chowara. Thank you for such a good post.

    ReplyDelete

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