The sights in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala's capital, are ageless and continue to attract repeat travellers. However, taking a detour from the popular tourist spots for a one-day trip offers a different experience. The main advantage of such a journey is the leisurely pace that can be adopted. In addition, travellers can enjoy drives along almost deserted paths, in contrast to negotiating the heavy traffic on the city roads.
To the seashore
Leave the city early and drive to the Anchuthengu Fort. It was built by the British back in 1695 with the permission of the Rani of Attingal. Though the fort is neither mighty nor are there any interesting monuments to see, the route to Anchuthengu is extremely picturesque. The narrow road lies parallel to the seashore and travellers can get down from their vehicle and wade into the beach at many spots.
Apart from the fort, the other attraction at the place is the lighthouse nearby. A climb to its top would reveal the exact square shape of the fort. The best views of the wide expanse of the sea, the coconut groves on the shore and the backwaters beyond can be had only from the vantage position offered by the lighthouse.
From Thiruvananthapuram, the route is via Thumba. The road, though having thin traffic, is narrow and care should be taken while driving. There are no good restaurants anywhere along the way and travellers have to ensure that they have their fill from the city or carry food parcels.
A visit to Anchuthengu takes about three hours. But if travellers venture into the beach, more time can be spent. Another interesting experience on the trip is a drive over the sea wall at Muthalapozhi.
Lunch can be had after returning to the city.
To the lake
The afternoon journey can be to the Vellayani lake, which is the third biggest fresh water lake in Kerala. It was from here that the lotus flowers offered to the deity at Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram were supplied.
Well-known tourist spots Kovalam and Vizhinjam are quite near, but Vellayani witnesses thin tourist footfall. Coconut trees leaning over the waters and blooming lotus flowers add to the beauty of the Vellayani lake. The road cuts across the waters here.
Carrying a good camera and tele-lens, along with patience would be rewarding. If the camera is focused on the lotus flowers, tiny birds hovering around can be ‘captured’.
There are shacks selling hot tea and snacks in the area and driving along the country roads gives travellers an idea about life in the villages.
Vellayani is 18 km the city via the Kovalam Bypass.
Back to the seashore
Kovalam and Vizhinjam are right next to each other, but the contrast between them is striking. While Kovalam is a typical tourist spot, at Vizhinjam the real life of a fishermen's village by the sea can be experienced. At Vizhinjam, the relentless sea batters the protective walls built of solid rock and the ‘pulimuttu’ that is also meant to block the invading waters.
Along the shore are anchored numerous multi-coloured fishing boats and there are places of worship that are located face to face. Vizhinjam is always a crowded place but close observation reveals people engaged in prayer, exchanging local gossip or relaxing after a tiresome fishing trip to the sea.
The pictures that a traveller clicks at Vizhinjam would be far from pretty, but they certainly reflect the pulse of ordinary people. Though the local folk have a rough physical appearance, they are among the most friendly and good-hearted people around. Several of these men had selflessly taken part in the rescue missions in Kerala during the floods.
Vizhinjam is nine km from Vellayani.
The one-day trip can be concluded by returning to the city from Vizhinjam by evening.
To the hills
Another option is to head to Ponmudi instead of Vizhinjam by noon. Along the way, travellers can enjoy a dip in the cool waters of the Kallar river. The sights of the evening are amazing from the hills of Ponmudi.
The distance from Thiruvananthapuram city to Ponmudi is 58 km.