On the Malabar coast along the Kerala shore line is a small village, called Kovalam. This sleepy town suddenly came on the tourist map when its fabulous beaches were discovered. Today Kovalam has become one of the most popular beach hangouts in India. Kovalam means a grove of coconut trees and truly the coconut trees along the beaches gives it a ravishing look. The palm-fringed bays in secluded coconut groves, promise a relaxed stay. The boundless blue waters of the Arabian Sea and miles of white sands washed away by the surf at the feet of the stalwart palms and the rocky promontories, makes this beach paradise. This marvellous beach is a tourist's dream come true. A sheltered natural bay with cool soothing palms and gentle waves. Where when you are tired of aquatics, swimming or sunbathing, you can explore the handicrafts, jewellery and cloth shops spread along the waterfront. Not to speak of the delightful sea-food fare including lobsters available at the beachside restaurants. The crescent-shaped beaches of Kovalam can be divided in three parts. The southern most beach, and the most popular, is the Lighthouse Beach. Further south on the beach one can have a spectacular view of the Vizhinzam mosque. Photography is prohibited here. The middle beach is called Hawah. Each morning this beach acts as a base for the local fisherman. The northern most beach, Samudra, is least affected of all by the changing times.It is dotted with few rudimentary wooden fishing vessels. In the evening the quiet atmosphere of the place is enlivened by Kathakali performances, the classical dance-drama of Kerala. This mellow Kerala coastal village was once a picturesque settlement built next to two palm-fringed coves enclosed by rocky headlands, but development has been almost unplanned. There's a plethora of places to stay, ranging from cheap concrete boxes to up-market resorts, and a large number of under-equipped restaurants catering to standard Asian travellers' menus. The ITDC-run Ashoka and the Kerala tourism department's 'Samudra' at the Kovalam beach provide five-star accommodation. There are other hotels as well to suit every pocket. Kovalam is developing not only as a beach resort but is fast developing as a Yoga and health center. One can have Ayurvedic massages and oil baths or learn the intricacies and dynamics of Yoga and meditation taught by experts.
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