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: "Gods Own Country" has the lushest landscape in India and can be found on the South Western coast just 8 degrees from the equator. It is one of the richer states in India and boasts a high degree of literacy.

The climate is tropical, averaging around 30 for most of the year, rising to 34 in April/May and dropping slightly in June/July.
There is usually no rain from December to March and occasional downpours during April and May. The monsoon rains 'officially' arrive in June and are heavy until August when it is more likely to rain at night only.
August and September are particularly pleasant months to visit Kerala, it is ONAM (harvest festival) time, there are few tourists and it is quiet and 'fresh' after the heavy rains.

Trivandrum is the capital of Kerala, built over 7 hills it is a colourful and vibrant city with cinemas, museums, shops, restaurants and temples. The largest temple is Sree Padmanathaswamy Temple at East Fort and it dominates the fort area.

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Kovalam is a popular beach resort attracting Western and Indian tourists to its 'laid back' atmosphere. High season it can be busy by Indian standards but happily it is far from being a package resort. There is only one charter flight a week from England and no sky rise hotels, all inclusive resorts or discos. There's very little nightlife as such: watch a video movie in a beach restaurant, enjoy a cultural dance performance, sit and chat or people watch. Maybe send and receive emails from an internet cafe for less than £1 per hour or simply admire the night sky. Whatever…………..

In the day, the sea is great for swimming and body boarding but can be quite strong, so be wary of the undercurrents. There are lifeguards on the beach during season time and flagged areas for safe swimming. You can also use the swimming pools at a number of hotels for a nominal daily charge.

Changing money is quick and simple with the money change kiosks in Kovalam, or slightly more time consuming in the bank at Kovalam Junction. There is an ATM machine at the H.S.B.C bank in Trivandrum that accepts most UK cards.

Eating is inexpensive and a real delight for fish eaters or vegetarians. Tasty freshly prepared food is cooked to order with as little or as much spice as you like. The majority of restaurants are not licensed, but will sell you beer if you keep the bottle under the table! Bottled drinking water is widely available so do avoid drinking tap water.

A ‘must do’ while in Kovalam is the cookery class at the Lonely Planet Restaurant. Shiva, the owner, makes it look so easy and is very entertaining

Travelling is also not expensive; hiring a taxi for a day is a comfortable way to sightsee. We will happily help you arrange taxis (with a trusted driver as your guide) if required.
Good day trips include Kanyakumari on the most southern point, Ponmudi Hill Station in the Cardamom hills, Neyyar Dam with the Sivananda Ashram and Lion Park or ask Sivan about taking a short backwater tour from his home village of Pachalloor. It's a very scenic and relaxing trip and fantastic at sunset!

N.B: Away from the beach area you should dress modestly covering your legs and shoulders.

Travelling further from Kovalam along the coast, you can visit Alleppey and spend the night on a converted rice boat or take the all day backwater cruise to Quilon, perhaps stopping at Vallikavu to get darshan (a blessing) from Amma, a renowned local guru. Go to Cochin, the commercial capital of Kerala: browse round the antique shops in Jew Town and see the Chinese Fishing Nets at Fort Cochin.
Come inland to Thekkady to visit the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary then travel up 1800 metres into the hills of the Southern Ghats to reach Munnar Hill Station and tea plantations. Travel by local bus and train to have a real picture of India, finding accommodation as you go.



Kovalam Beach

Dr Farin



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Things to bring:

Travel light, saving your luggage allowance for the journey home with your souvenirs.
Do bring a torch, especially if staying back from the beach and some citronella oil to keep the mosquitoes away.
Most toiletries can be purchased in Kovalam except sunscreen and tampons, so bring what you need.
Light cotton clothing is best for the climate and flat shoes for the terrain. The tailors in Kovalam sell ready made cotton trousers, shirts,dresses and tops (for a fraction of UK prices) and can also expertly make you an outfit or copy an existing one, usually on a next day service. There's a vast choice of materials and silk is a particularly good buy.

Please bring your own rubber yoga mat if taking classes. A foam camping mat is also suitable (available from Millets or Argos.)

Finally at the end, although top of the list, is PATIENCE ……………………………….don't leave home without it !

Arrange your visa in good time by contacting the Indian High Commission in London. Telephone 0207 240 1012
Jabs are not mandatory but often recommended. See www.travelhealth.co.uk for more information and advice.
P.S It can be worth looking for a late deal and cheap flight; see teletext or try www.uk.mytravel.com

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