WORDS: AMIT GAIKWAD
PHOTOGRAPHS: HASHIM BADANI
GREAT FROM: Trivandrum, Kanyakumari
GREAT FOR: Beaches, museums, backwaters and scenic drives
Road trips are always exciting. Especially if they involve a drive across two states, along the coastline, offering you breathtaking views of lakes, rivers, beaches and mountains. And, at the end of it all, if you find yourself in Kanyakumari, one of the most iconic places in India, you get to tick that off your bucket list as well.
Start your journey from Thiruvananthapuram, in Kerala, on a roughly 100km drive to Kanyakumari. Apart from a few congested roads that you will encounter during the initial phase of your trip, the rest of the drive is as easy as pie. Start early with an indulgence of the senses – with a typical south Indian breakfast at the Maveli Cafe run by the Indian Coffee House. Take your pick from local delights like ghee dosa, uzhunnuvada or, opt for something heavy like the meat fry with porotta. Wash it all down with a strong cup or two of the signature coffee.
Barely nine minutes away, on the LMS Vellayambalam Road, lies the famous Napier Museum home to a range of ancient artefacts like ivory carvings, bronze idols, ancient ornaments and temple chariots that date back to the 8th century. You’ll also find a botanical garden, a playground and a small ice-cream parlour to keep your kids entertained.
Once the kids are fed and you’ve got yourself a crash course on arts and history, you’ve earned yourself a nice relaxed afternoon. Drive on just 16km to scenic Kovalam Beach. As you walk along the shore, pick from one of the many restaurants and cafés that serve international and local dishes, many with an open-air terrace setting that faces the beach. At Fusion Restaurant order the local favourite, Malabar meen (either basa or king fish) curry with a bowl of piping-hot rice. You could easily spend a couple of hours here or walk along the shore to shop for kitschy souvenirs.
Time for a relaxing boat ride? Spend a few hours cruising the backwaters in a small boat at Poovar, just 16km away.
Drive on – you have two options. One takes you on a scenic 36km drive via the Pazhaya Uchakkada Kanyakumari West Coast Road, to the beautiful Padmanabhapuram Palace located at Thuckalay, Tamil Nadu. It is believed that this magnificent wooden palace was built by Iravi Varma Kulasekhara Perumal around 1601 CE. Take a guided tour and visit the small museum on site.
Want to experience uninterrupted driving? Take the SH 91 from Kovalam, which will lead you to the beautiful wind farms in Aralvaimozhi. Touted as one of the largest wind farms in the world, these huge windmills tower over fields, lakes, rivers and even mountains, making it worth the drive.
Then, get back to the MDR 113 route for a dramatic end to this road-trip. Time this 38-minute stretch to get you in place to watch the sun go down at Kanyakumari. You’ll find plenty of parking options, so find a perfect spot at the sunset point for a quick photo or two. The promenade at Kanyakumari is, sadly, quite smelly, which is a let-down considering how stunning the sunset can be. Get here in time, get your shots and get out. Then walk down to Afsal eatery to enjoy the local favourite, kothu parotta, and check into your chosen stay option to call it a day.