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Kerala
 

Most of India's finest beaches are in Kerala. For virtually its entire 600 km length, the Kerala coast is lined with sandy beaches, rocky promontories and coconut palms. Each year greater numbers of visitors arrive here in search of the tranquil, palm-fringed beaches.

 

Kovalam: (16 km from Thiruvananthapuram) internationally renowned, this seaside destination comprises three adjacent crescent-shaped beaches, of which the southernmost known as the Lighthouse Beach, is the most popular. Kovalam offers a variety of activities including snorkelling, catamaran rides, sunset viewing, cycling on the beach etc.

 

Shankhumugham: (8 km from Thiruvananthapuram) Adjacent to the Airport, this beach has an indoor recreation club, the matsya kanyaka (a gigantic, 35m long sculpture of a mermaid), a restaurant shaped like a starfish and a traffic training park for children. Nearby are two popular picnic spots - Akkulam and Veli Tourist Village.

 

Chowara: (8 km south of Kovalam in Thiruvananthapuram) Pristine and serene, this fishing hamlet is an unending stretch of white, sandy beaches.

 

Poovar: (2 km south of Kovalam in Thiruvananthapuram) An isolated but spectacular beach, Poovar is situated close to the Neyyar River estuary. A trading port in its early days, it is today an important tourist destination.

 

Papanasham: (45 km from Thiruvananthapuram in Varkala) A dip in the sea at Papanasham, meaning redemption from sins, is believed to be holy. Fringed by red laterite cliffs, near to the beach are the cool mineral springs, serene backwaters, the 2000-year-old Sree Janardhana Swamy Temple, a century old tunnel and a Nature Cure Centre.

 

Thirumuilavaram: (6 km north of Kollam) This secluded beach is a beautiful picnic centre.

 

Alappuzha Beach: (3 '/2 km from the city) A 137-year-old pier which extends into the sea and an old lighthouse add to the attractions of the beach. Ph: 2242960

 

Fort Kochi Beach: (21 km from Ernakulam) Overlooking the Arabian Sea, with its legendary Chinese fishing nets dotting the foreground, Fort Kochi Beach offers views of spectacular sunsets. Another highlight here are the waterfront stalls serving fresh catch prepared according to taste.

 

Cherai: (23 km from Ernakulam) This lovely beach bordering Vypeen Island is ideal for swimming. Dolphins are occasionally spotted here. A typical Kerala village nearby, with paddy fields and coconut groves is an added attraction.

 

Natika Beach: (24 km from Thrissur) Fringed by palm trees, this picturesque beach is a hot spot for picnickers.

 

Padinjarekkara: (5 km from Chemravattom, Ponnani in Malappuram) Famous for bird watching, the beach also offers a breathtaking view of the confluence of the Bharathapuzha, the Tirur Puzha and the Arabian Sea.

 

Vallikunnu: (40 km from Malappuram) A beach resort set in the midst of a coconut grove is the main attraction here. Close to it is the Kadalundi Bird Sanctuary.

 

Kozhikode Beach: (31/2 km from the city) This beach is a favourite haunt of sunset viewers. Adding to its natural beauty is the old-world charm retained by the ancient lighthouse and the two crumbling piers, each more than a hundred years old, that run into the sea.

 

Beypore: (10 km south of Kozhikode) One of the prominent ports and a maritime trading centre of ancient Kerala, Beypore is located at the mouth of the Chaliyar River. The boat building yard here, famous for the construction of the Uru (Arabian trading vessel), boasts a tradition of almost 1500 years.

 

Kappad: (16 km from Kozhikode) This is the historic beach where Vasco da Gama landed on the 27th of May 1498, with 170 men in three vessels. The rock-studded beach is locally known as Kappakadavu.

 
Payyoli: (40 km north of Kozhikode) The shallow waters of this beautiful beach is ideal for swimming. During November-December hordes of the endangered Olive Ridley turtle come in to lay eggs.
 

Vadakara Sandbanks: (50 km from Kozhikode) This beach where the Kottakal River merges into the sea is stunningly beautiful and is a favourite spol for locals and tourists. The nearby Birla Bungalow offers a delightful view of the Sandbanks Beach.

 

Payyambalam: (2 km from Kannur) Famous for its flat laterite cliffs that jut out into the sea, well-laid gardens and the massive landscaped sculpture of Mother and Child make this beach extremely captivating. The adjacent Baby Beach accessed through the Burnassery Cantonment is delightfully quiet.

 

Kizhunna Beach: (11 km from Kannur) This beautiful stretch of sand is one of the most secluded beaches in Kerala.

 

Meenkunnu: (12 km from Kannur) Uncrowded, the beach is a tourist's paradise, with golden sand and surf.

 

Muzhappi langad: (15 km from Kannur) A swimmer's paradise, this is Kerala's only drive-in beach. Adventure sports like paragliding, parasailing, micro lite flights and a variety of watersport options are possible here.

 

Bekal Fort Beach: (1 km from Bekal Fort in Kasaragod) Also known as Pallikere Beach, this scenic seaside offers a spectacular view of the historic fort and has ample facilities for recreation and relaxation. Kappi I: (2 km from Bekal Fort in Kasaragod) A winding lane meanders througl palm-fringed landscape to this totally unpolluted, secluded beach. The Kodi CM close by offers a panoramic view of the Arabian Sea. 2 km away is the Pallikunnan Temple.

 

Kan watheertha: (3 km from Manjeswaram in Kasaragod) A large swimming pool-like formation of the sea on the vast beach is the main attraction here.

 

Backwater

 

The backwaters of Kerala - meandering inland lakes networked by canals -stretch to over 900 km. Boat trips across these tranquil stretches are an experience unique to Kerala. Large kettuvalloms (traditional country crafts over 60ft. in length) have been convened into luxury houseboats for these cruises.

 

Thiruvallam: (10 km from Thiruvananthapuram) This serene backwater stretch, en route to Kovalam, is famous for its 2000-year-old temple on the banks of the River Karamana, canoe rides, kayaking and cruises in traditional houseboats. For details contact: Golden Tours, Ph: 2268101, Email: binojcin@yahoo.com

 

Kappil: (53 km from Thiruvananthapuram) A confluence of the sea, river and the backwater, this secluded, picturesque spot is worth the visit. The Priyadarshini Boat Club here offers boating facilities. Ph: 0470-2662323

 

Kollam: (71 km to the north of Thiruvananthapuram) One of the oldest ports in the State, Kollam is where the magnificent network of waterways begins. From the famed Ashtamudi Lake, known as the gateway to the backwaters, a 130 km long system of interlinked canals and lakes winds all the way to the north. The eight-hour trip from here to Alappuzha is the longest backwater cruise in Kerala. An important stop druing the cruise is the picturesque little village of Alumkadavu, home of the skilled artisans who crafts the enormous kettuvalloms.

 

Alappuzha: Referred to as the Venice of the East, this backwater country with its vast network of lakes, lagoons and fresh water rivers is immensely beautiful. Venue for the world-renowned snake boat races, Alappuzha is also famous for its marine products and coir industry. Kuttanad in Alappuzha, known as the Rice Bowl ofKerala, is the very heart of the backwaters and is one of the few places in the world where farming is done below sea level. The enchanting island of Pathiramanal (sands of midnight) on the backwaters is a favourite haunt of hundreds of rare migratory birds from different parts of the world.

 

Kumarakom: (10 km from Kottayam) Nestled among lush paddy fields, highlands and extensive rubber plantations is Kumarakom, one of the most popular and most beautiful backwater stretches of Kerala. An exotic picnic spot, Kumarakom provides boating, fishing and sightseeing experiences that are truly

 
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