Monday, 8 August 2016

#TICVacations - Thiruvananthapuram : Pristine beaches, Coffee house and Malayalam film

At the last phase of my Tamil Nadu solo trip, I went to Cape Comorin which last tip of India. Kanyakumari is  a pilgrimage spot for Hindus. A rock memorial is built in the honour of Swami Vivekananda. The ferry service is provided by the port authorities and is expensive compared to Kerala. The high point for my Kanyakumari trip was North Indian food. It was a relief for my taste buds since I was craving for a Paneer dish. Thiruvalluvar statue which was shut during my visit is a 133 feet statue made up of rock in the middle of the sea. Thiruvalluvar was a writer ( Blogger of the old times ) and the greatest poet of South India. I was enchanted to see a statue of a writer in a place where gods are larger than life.

Lighthouse Beach, Kovalam

After a 5 hour super cheap bus ride, I finally arrived at Thiruvananthapuram which is the capital of Kerala state. I had booked a bunk at Vedanta Wake Up - Central Station which located near to the main bus stand and railway station. You can find it on the MakeMyTrip app. This was cheapest stay in India. I paid just Rs. 133 ( $2.20 USD ) for a day (it had air condition!). I prefer not to travel outside the city for the first day; just to observe the lifestyle, economy and transportations. My day got better with a Mahaboli; a sweet roti with gram and jaggery filling. People from Maharashtra and Goa call it Puranapoli and this special dish is only made on auspicious occasions like Holi and Pola. 

Mahaboli ( Malayalam ) aka Puranpoli (Marathi)
Liquor was banned for some time before the elections by UDF ( local party alliance with Indian National Congress ). But the Malayalis people didn't accept the decision and voted for LDF ( Left Democratic Front ). Malayalis (Kerela peeps) are considered to be the highest consumers of beer and whiskey in India. The local drink palm wine is also sold under the license of excise department. Liquor is inexpensive but one has to queue up outside the government owned liquor stores. Needless to say...it was a long queue. 180ml whiskey costs Rs. 80 and beer 650ml is priced at Rs. 70. Magizchi!

After having a time of my life with my roomies, Kovalam was on my list. Kovalam is beach town in Thiruvananthapuram district. It is 18 kms from my hostel in Thampanoor. KURTC provides AC bus to Kovalam beach from East Fort. The Volvo 8400 AC buses are very well maintained and provide cheap and superior transportation to tourist spots in Kerala. The AC bus costed me Rs. 32 and ordinary buses are available every 10 minutes in mere Rs 15.

#TICVacations - Create Adventures for Yourself

Kovalam features three spectacular crescent beaches. The most popular and largest beach is the Lighthouse beach. There's a promenade where one can just chill :) . The black sand is soft and there were no signs of pollution. Do not miss the sunset here. I visited Kovalam during off season. I am sure this place would give great vibes in December. Buses back to Trivandrum ply till 9pm. If you plan to have lots of shots get super drunk, there is always a option of private transport.

Me before getting sweaty at Varkala Beach
Varkala, you must have heard a lot from this place. Varkala is perfect hostelling getaway in Kerala. I recommend Shiva Garden and Homestay for great hostel atmosphere. Papanasham beach is one of the best beaches in India. Papanasham in Malayalam means 'dip into the water and wash away your sins'. The view and the sunset was scenic and took me to Nirvana.  I started a conversation with a loyal Kerala Blasters fan. After few minutes, I was playing beach football with the local people. The sand makes it difficult to run and I couldn't match up with the local heroes. 
Stairway to Heaven
Varkala beach is adjoined to a mountain. Led Zeppelin's stairway to heaven proved to be a perfect song for the climb. The hide and seek between monsoon cloud and the sun helped me to click a perfect shot. The approaching dark cloud was message to pack up. KURTC AC buses are available from Temple chowk. It was pleasure to see heavy rain after 9 days. Bus conductor of KURTC was courteous to offer me an entry into his bus one hour before its schedule. Within 10 minutes, the main chowk was flooded with mud water coming from the hills. KURTC AC Volvo costs Rs. 96 for a 4 hour ride to Thiruvananthapuram.

Cold Coffee and Masala Dosai at Indian Coffee House, Trivandrum
I strongly recommend my readers to visit the Indian Coffee House for brunch. Indian Coffee House is a chain of restaurants managed by Workers' Association in Kerala. They are locally famous for a delicious and affordable food. The Indian Coffee House in Trivandrum is a unique building with a spiral seating. The waiters are dressed elegantly with the local headwear. Masala Dosa with Uzzhunu vadai, Cold Coffee and Ghee Roast is my personal favourite. Sharjah juice made up of bananas, horlicks and vanilla ice-cream is highly recommended.

I totally missed out of Tamil movies in Tamil Nadu. To avoid the same mistake again, I booked a ticket for Malayalam movie Anuraga Karikkin Vellam in Aries Plex 4K near Thampanoor. There were no subtitles in the movie. I frankly feel that regional movies in India are better than bollywood. The film revolves around a policemen father who spots a ex-girlfriend on his duty. He tries to contact her but accidentally contact his son's girlfriend Elizabeth. Yeah! As a prank, Eliza continues to talk with Biju( policemen) to tease her boyfriend. Soon, the prank is over but rather than been ashamed Biju uses the skills to improve relations with his wife, and they happily live after. Happy ending!

- Chaitanya Kulkarni ( twitter.com/chai2kul )

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