Weekend Getaways from ThiruvananthapuramThiruvananthapuram is easily accessible from many getaways ideal for the weekend. From beach resorts to hill stations, the range offers many attractions with options for every budget. Cruise along the canals of Allapuzha, indulge in the best seafood in Kochi, shop for artefacts in Thiruvalla or enjoy the weather in Munnar. All these place easily accessible by train, bus and car. Visitors can also fly to Kochi.
Unending canals, coconut groves and paddy fields characterise Allapuzha, in the heart of Kuttanad, Kerala’s rice bowl. Splendid houseboats ferry tourist along the canals, gliding by while giving them a glimpse of everyday life in this area. Also known as Allepey, the city is called “Venice of the East” for its numerous canals. The annual Nehru Trophy Boat Race, in which hundreds of snake boats vie with each other for the prize, is held here at Punnamada Lake.
Coir manufacturing is the chief industry in Allapuzha and its presence is everywhere with numerous people engaged in making ropes, mats and other products. Other attractions in the city include the Ambalapuzha Sree Krishna Temple, Mannarasala Temple, Edathua Church, St. Mary’s Church, Krishnapuram Palace and Allapuzha Beach. Cities nearby such as Kottayam and Kollam are accessible by boat.
How to get there: Allapuzha is 155 km from Thiruvananthapuram and is easily accessible by train (from Rs 135) and bus (from Rs 300). NH 47 passes through the city.
Accommodation: A range of accommodation is available from backwater and beach resorts to houseboats to mid-range and budget hotels.
Things to do: Houseboat cruising, boating, swimming, fishing and sun bathing.
Helpline: Allapuzha Police Station - 0477 2251166, Ambulance – 0477 2212305.
Aranmula is known as a temple village and for its snake boat races. The main temple here is the Parthasarathi Temple, dedicated to Lord Krishna, which draws many devotees. Other temples include the Pulikkunnumala Mahadeva Temple, Ganapthi Temple and the Vilakkumdaom Temple. Visitors can appreciate traditional their Keralan architecture as well as check out the unique Aranmula mirror, which is made out of an alloy of tin and bronze.
The Aranmula Vallamkali, the boat festival, is another major draw. It is held on the River Pampa, which flows through the town, during Onam. Hundreds of snake boats, moving in pairs, vie with each other, cheered on by the crowds. The boats are gaily decorated and the oarsmen sing songs while rowing their boats.
How to get there: Aranmula is 128 km from Thiruvananthapuram and easily accessible by bus (from Rs 76) and car (from Rs 2000 round trip). The closest railway station is at Chengannur, 9 km from Aranmula.
Accommodation: Some budget hotels, guesthouses and homestays.
Things to do: Sightseeing and shopping.
Helpline: Police - 0468 2214100.
Attractions in Courtallam include the Peraruvi Falls, Chitraruvi falls, Shenbagadevi falls, Aintharuvi Falls, Pazhaya Courtalla Aruvi Falls, Tiger Falls and Honey Falls. Tourists can also visit the Snake Park and Aquarium.
How to get there: Courtallam is 109 km from Thiruvananthapuram and easily accessible by bus (from Rs 49) and car (from Rs 3000 round trip).
Accommodation: A range of resorts, hotels and guesthouses.
Things to do: Sightseeing and boating.
Helpline: Police – 04633 233274
The southernmost tip of the mainland of India, Kanyakumari in neighbouring Tamil Nadu is most famous as the place where the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal meet the Indian Ocean. The beaches here have different colours. Formerly known as Cape Comorin, it was once part of the kingdom of Travancore. Visitors to Kanyakumari can also see the Vivekananada Memorial, statue of Thiruvalluvar and the Gandhi Memorial. The Padmanabhapuram Palace is close by in Thuckalay.
The Vivekananda Rock Memorial honours the memory of Swami Vivekananda who meditated on this rock in 1892 before leaving on his journey to the United States. It was built in 1970 by Eknath Ranade. The statue of Thiruvalluvar was installed in 2000 to honour the saint poet of Tamil Nadu. The Gandhi memorial was built on the spot where the Mahatma’s ashes were kept for public viewing before immersion. The sun’s rays fall on this spot every October 2, Gandhiji’s birthday. Other attractions include Vattakottai Fort, Udayagiri Fort, St. Xavier’s Church and Mathur Aqueduct. Don’t miss the sunset at Muttom Beach.
How to get there: Kanyakumari is 82 km from Thiruvananthapuram and easily accessible by train (from Rs 135) and bus (from Rs 200).
Accommodation: There are a number of mid-range and budget hotels and guesthouses in Kanyakumari.
Things to do: Swimming and sightseeing.
Helpline: Police – 06452 246324.
Kerala’s biggest city, Kochi is part of the metropolitan area which includes Ernakulam. It is the state’s most densely populated city, its business capital and one its main tourist destinations. It is also one of the most important ports on India’s western coast and is headquarters of the Southern Naval Command. Also known as Cochin, it was a centre of the spice trade and had a long history of European settlement. Its rich history is reflected in sights around the city such as the Chinese fishing nets, churches, temples, palaces and museums. Kochi today is a cosmopolitan city which attracts people from all over India and abroad and is dotted with cafes, restaurants, malls and cineplexes catering to a young upwardly mobile population.
Kochi’s main attractions include Fort Cochin, Pardesi Synagogue, St Francis Church, Mattancherry Palace, Vembanad Lake, Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary, Marine Drive, Hill Palace, Bolgatty Palace, Parikshit Thampuran Museum, Pallipuram Fort and Willingdon Island. Other attractions close to the city include Athirapally Falls, Cherai Beach, Kalady, Kodungallur, Aluva and Chottanikara. Apart from sightseeing, tourists can indulge in various other activities.
How to get there: Kochi is 204 km from Thiruvananthapuram and easily accessible by bus (from Rs 300), train (from Rs 175) and flight (from Rs 5,000).
Accommodation: Range of accommodation from five-star luxury to business and budget hotels as well as homestays.
Things to do: Houseboat cruising, bird watching, shopping, ayurvedic therapy and cultural performances.
Helplines: Police – 0484 1090, Traffic Assistance – 0484 1099, Ambulance – 0484 2363815, Blood Bank – 2312550, Women’s Helpline - 0484-2396730,Child Helpline – 0484 1098.
Kollam also known as Quilon was the centre of spice trade. Kollam is an important commercial centre of Kerala; it is also known for the backwaters tourism. If you want to have a glimpse of the Kollam culture you should attend the Kollam Fest which is held every year. The President’s Trophy Boat Race, held in Ashtamudi Lake, is another popular attraction here.
How to get there: Kollam is 70 km from Thiruvananthapuram and easily accessible by bus (from Rs 36) and train (from Rs 165).
Accommodation: Range of accommodation from luxury houseboats to business and budget hotels and homestays.
Things to do: Houseboat cruising, watersports and fishing.
Helplines: Police - 0474 2764422
Known for its contribution to literature and the print media, Kottayam is located on the banks of the Meenachil River and in the backdrop of Lake Vembanad. It was the first city in India to become 100 per cent literate. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy is set in Kottayam. The city is the hub of the rubber trade in the state. It is also the centre of the Syrian Catholic community in Kerala.
Kumarakom, close to Kottayam, is very popular for its backwaters tourism and a number of resorts have come up here to cater to the demand. The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is also popular with visitors. Other attractions in Kottayam include the St. Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Churc,h Vimalagiri Cathedral, Kottayam Cheriapally, Thazhatangady Juma Masjid, Thirunakara Mahadeva Temple, Venimala, Kallara and Kudamaloor. Kanjirapally, 38 km from Kottayam, is the gateway to the hills and another centre for the Syrian Catholic community.
How to get there: Kottayam is 152 km from Thiruvananthapuram and easily accessible by bus (from Rs 104) and train (from Rs 165).
Accommodation: Range of accommodation from luxury resorts, houseboats, hotels and homestays.
Things to do: Houseboat cruising and sightseeing.
Helpline: Police - 0481 2567210
Fabulous weather, magnificent scenery and splendid tea gardens have made Munnar famous, making it one of Kerala’s top tourist destinations. At an altitude of 1,700 mts (5,600 ft) above sea level in the Kannan Devan Hills, Munnar is an ideal destination in the summer. It is also famous for the flowering of the purplish-blue kurinji flowers, which happens once in 12 years. Anaimudi, South India’s highest peak is located close by and is a favourite with trekkers.
Munnar, which mean three rivers, is at the confluence of the Madhurapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundaly rivers. A number of resorts and hotels cater to hordes of tourists during the season. Attractions here include Echo Point, Power House Waterfalls, Tata Tea Museum, Kundala Lake, Anaimudi, Idukki Arch Dam, Mattupetty Dam, Bison Valley, Marayoor, Eravikulam National Park, Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Kurunjimala Sanctuary and Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary.
How to get there: Munnar is 274 km from Thiruvananthapuram and easily accessible by bus (from Rs 141) and car (from Rs 5,000 round trip).
Accommodation: A wide range of resorts and hotels from luxury to budget.
Things to do: Sightseeing and trekking.
Helpline: Police – 0486 230321.
Thekkady & Periyar National Park
Thekkady is where the Periyar National Park is located, in the heart of the Cardamom Hills. The Periyar National Park is home to a number of tigers and elephants as well as other wildlife. The park is the catchment area for the Pamba and Periyar rivers and surrounds the lake formed by Mullaperiyar Dam. Tourists are ferried around the lake in boats to watch the elephants coming down to the lake to quench their thirst.
Other attractions nearby include the Mangala Devi Temple, Murikkady and Kumily. The hill station of Peermade is close by. The area has a number of tea, coffee and cardamom plantations.
How to get there: Thekkady is 211 km from Thiruvananthapuram and easily accessible by bus (from Rs 94) and car (from Rs 3,500 round trip).
Accommodation: A number of resorts and hotels offer accommodation for every budget.
Things to do: Plantation tours, elephant rides and trekking.
Helpline: KTDC - 04869 223887
The temple town of Sabarimala, located at an altitude of 486 metres (1,535 feet), draws millions of male devotees of Lord Ayappan every year, especially during November-December. They perform rigorous austerities and wear black for 41 days before making the pilgrimage. Some travel the entire distance of 52 km to reach the shrine on foot while others do so for part of the way. Prasadam in the form of payasam and appam is distributed to the devotees.
The cult of Ayappan gathered steam in the 20th century, attracting numerous men in South India. The temple at Sabarimala is administered by the Travancore Devaswom Board and the head priest is from a family of Chengannur. Legend has it that Lord Rama met a tribal devotee, Sabari, here.
How to get there: Sabarimala is 175 km from Thiruvananthapuram and well connected by bus (from Rs 83) and car (from Rs 3,000 round trip).
Accommodation: Accommodation is available in lodges and guesthouses at Pamba, Nadanpathal and Pandythavalam.
Things to do: Pilgrimage.
Helpline: Travancore Devaswom Board – 0471 2314288
In the heart of Pathanamtitta district, Thiruvalla is a bustling commercial and religious centre. It is the location of many churches and temples. These include Niranam Church, Paliakkara Church, Vallabha Temple, Chakkulathu Temple, Kaviyoor Cave Temple, St. John’s Cathedral and St. Mary’s Orthodox Church. The Kadalimagalam Padayan Festival, showcasing some of Kerala’s rare performing arts, and held every year at the Kadalimangalam Devi Temple, also attracts many culture enthusiasts.
Thiruvalla’s shopping centres attract many people from the surrounding cities and towns. The city is close to Sabarimala, Changanassery, Chengannur and Mavelikara.
How to get there: Thiruvalla is 125 km from Thiruvananthapuram and easily accessible by bus (from Rs 85) and train (from Rs 165).
Accommodation: A range of hotels and guesthouses.
Things to do: Sightseeing and shopping.
Helpline: Police – 469 2630226
A sleepy town perched high in the Western Ghats, Vagamon’s swirling mists and enchanting greenery attracts visitors and travellers who believe in doing nothing much more than putting up their feet and enjoy a steaming cup of tea while admiring great views. Those who are more active can explore the forests around. A paragliding festival attracts many tourists.
Kurisumala Hill in Vagamon is a place of pilgrimage for Nazrani Catholics and features a huge cross on top of the hill. Monks reside in a monastery close by and manage the Indo-Swiss Dairy Project. Thangal Hill and Murugan Hill draw Muslim and Hindu pilgrims. Other attractions in Vagamon include Vagamon Meadows, Pine Valley and Mooppanpara. Peermade is close by.
How to get there: Vagamon is 196 km from Thiruvananthapuram and easily accessible by bus (from Rs 103) and car (from Rs 3,200 round trip).
Accommodation: A range of resorts, hotels and homestays.
Things to do: Trekking, paragliding and rock climbing.
Helpline: Police - 04869 232085
Varkala near Thiruvananthapuram is another popular tourist place where one can plan a weekend trip. Papanasam Beach, Janardhana Swami Temple, Ayurvedic therapy centres, Varkala Tunnel, etc are some of the attractions.
How to get there: Varkala is 50 km from Thiruvananthapuram and easily accessible by bus (from Rs 36), train (from Rs 95) and car (from Rs 800 round trip).
Accommodation: A range of resorts, hotels and homestays.
Things to do: Swimming, paragliding, sightseeing and yoga.
Helpline: Police - 0470 2602333