Just a week more for the long summer vacation of 2019 to come to an end. If the election and the heat prevented you from taking a break with your children or friends, fear not. Here are five breathtakingly beautiful places, all a short drive from the city, to visit and bond with your family or friends. All these are ideal for this weekend before the next one has you running around for uniforms and books. And, enjoy a different kind of a ride on each of these adventures!
Nothing can beat a ride on a quaint double decker bus of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation. Kerala is said to be one of the first States in India to have a red-coloured double decker plying its streets. Take a ticket that costs between for ₹14 and ₹19, travel about 7 km to Shangumugham beach from East Fort or about 18 km to Kazhakkuttom. Ensure that you sit on the top deck of the bus, enjoy the wind in your hair and watch the city go by. Make sure that your camera is clicking as you pass iconic sights on the way. Or else, take the evening bus service to see the city lit up. Both are guaranteed to keep you mesmerised.
KSRTC also rents out the double decker for special events such as weddings, college reunions and so on. Contact: 9495099901
Timings: The bus service starts at 6 am from East Fort.
In the evening, the last double decker starts from Kazhakkuttom at 8.15 pm.
The banks of Vellayani Lake have some of the most picturesque places in Thiruvananthapuram. A drive on a sleepy Sunday morning with the hint of rain clouds in the horizon is a wonderful way to begin a holiday. This is the season for birders. Once you are done with watching and photographing the winged visitors, you could strike a conversation with one of the men gathering lotus flowers for temples in the city. Small makeshift outlets by the roadside sell tender coconut water while another promises to keep the hunger pangs away with spicy omelettes and thattu dosa. If you stay on till noon, chicken perattu is on the menu or make a beeline for some of the popular hotels in the vicinity for a rustic meal. Check out Vavvamoola, which has benches under shady trees and, if you are lucky, a rickety shelf would have books on it to read. Listen to the breeze, the birds and the sound of silence.
Distance: about 18 km
The drive to Kottoor is a treat in itself with the road taking you through rural places of the district. While the road may be patchy at some places, the green destination will erase all the city blues.
The only one of its kind in Kerala, Elephant Rehabilitation Centre at Kottoor comes under the Forest Department. A shelter for rescued elephants, this is the nearest place to go to if you have ever wanted to have a close encounter with jumbos and say hello to baby elephants that were rescued from the wild. If you start early enough and reach by 9 am, visitors can see the elephants being given a bath. There are many kinds of boat rides to explore the verdant surroundings and a children’s park. A canteen inside the premises offers lunch and snacks while an outlet at the entrance sells forest produce.
Distance is about 35 to 40 km, depending on the road taken.
If you need a blast of spray and sunshine, Poovar, a beachside village to the south of Kovalam, is the ideal place to enjoy the sun and the surf. It has backwaters, mangroves and an estuary. A boat ride around Poovar island and its vicinity offers vignettes of the lush vegetation as the boat glides under a canopy of trees. Pozhikkara is where the river Karamana merges with the Arabian sea. The clean sand, the quiet-flowing river and the exuberant sea is a rare sight and make for plenty of Instagrammable clicks. Sleepier than Kovalam, what Poovar lacks by way of excitement is made up for by the sheer natural beauty of the place. There are many travel companies offering boat rides but it is best to book early as different kinds of trips are offered to suit your tastes.
Around 30-plus km.
Beat the traffic and explore the dawn landscape of the heritage agraharams in and around East Fort. Bicycles are best to cover narrow paths and roads, some of which are dug up. Or walk it down to get a feel of the place up close. Temple bells chime in the distance while chants can be heard from houses and the many places of worship in the surroundings. Watch kolams being drawn swiftly and deftly by nimble fingers. Aroma from several small hotels and informal eating places are hard to ignore and so indulge yourself at one of the outlets.