As close to a free private beach as you can get in Ernakulam

beach
Elamkunnapuzha beach, Ernakulam.
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Fed up of the crowded beaches where people outnumber the grains of sand? Yearning for an evening of fresh sea breeze unadulterated by the thronging crowds? Alas! Private beaches are not within everyone's reach.

But never worry. The coastal line of Kochi hides a lot of secret treasures. Just a short drive away from the bustling metropolis lies a country road that strings together some of the most beautiful beaches that open up just for you. You can wander along the almost deserted pathways that skirt the prawn farms. And see the life of the people living in those hamlets that might be licked up by the waves lest the sea should turn a little rough.

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Let's leave behind the routine spots of Ernakulam. Leave behind the crowded sand strips of Fort Kochi or Cherai. Take a jankar ride from Fort Kochi to Vypeen. Or, you can also drive down the Goshree bridges from Ernakulam High Court Junction. Then take the road to north Paravur, till Njarakkal.

At Njarakkal, you can find the Aquafarm of Matsyafed. Turn left from the main road. It's just a narrow lane and larger vehicles cannot ply in this road as a culvert is being constructed. If you reach the fish farm by noon, you can buy tickets and roam along the prawn farms. Or just enjoy the salty breeze lying in the hammocks hung between coconut trees. You can try your luck with a fishing line. And tuck into a hearty meal complete with fish fry. You can hear the roar of the sea even from the fish farm. It's better to go for fishing after the lunch. As the sun comes down, continue the drive.

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Soon, the road will hit the sea wall, literally. You can stop the vehicle and get out, into the beach. This beach is not that beautiful. So, let's continue driving towards the left. Again, it's a narrow lane. The sea spreads along the right side. In between, there are small homesteads lined by plastic sheets instead of fences. Small houses. Headless coconut trees. Small patches of grass in between. Youngsters playing in the small playgrounds, enjoying the evening sun. Teenagers and elderly people chatting on the sea wall. Watching all these peaceful evening sights, you can drive along quite slowly. Never drive fast. The kids may run across the road any moment.

Just switch off your car a/c and drive along, enjoying the sea breeze. The tarring is not yet completed, still the road is rather smooth. The only precaution is that you may have to carry the drinking water and any eatables, as there are hardly any shops along this route.

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You can hear the roar of the waves on the other side of the granite wall. But how to reach the sands? Going ahead, you'd reach Elankunnappuzha. Leaving the vehicle on a patch of grass, we walked to the beach. There were just a couple of country boats. The local kids were playing in the waves.

The sun was already going down. The waves were rather small. May be, because of that, a family was bathing in the sea a little ahead. They are local people, familiar with the sea, someone said. May be, that's true. The sea is familiar to them, but we can't take the risk. The sand strip is clean, without any plastic waste. Walking along the country boats, sit down where the small waves can kiss your feet. It's better to return once the sun goes down as the coast would soon turn completely empty. You return, wondering who gave this wonderful beach the name of a river – Elamkunnapuzha!

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But there is not a soul to ask that question. Washing off the sand at a road side pipe, continued the drive. Heading in the same direction, you'd reach Malippuram. The beauty of the evening sun is beyond words. Bidding goodbye to the beach, turn into the road along the backwaters. Actually these are not backwaters but prawn farms. There is a wall along the left side of the road. Local people sit on the wall, chatting among themselves.

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There are no street lights. Only the clear sky can shed any light. But, just sitting there, enjoying the slightly warm breeze, is just heavenly. And a little advice – the prawn farms are the livelihood of many people. It's not the place to dump your waste.

Those who want to visit more beaches can ride along the coastal road from Njarakkal to Kuzhuppilly. All the open spaces on the left side of the road lead to the beach. You can go till Munambam beach along this road. Some places may get filled with land. It's better to make enquiries to local people. Malippuram is just 13 km from Ernakulam South Railway Station.

Do come along this path, for a quite ride along the coast. And enjoy the beaches that open up just for us.

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