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iXiGOers Dec 09 2012

What is the history and culture of Kovalam?

Reet Cheema DEC 10 2012
0 people found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

Starting as a plain little fishing town consigned to the farthest corner of Kerala, the story of Kovalam’s rise to fame as an internationally renowned beach destination is short, but quite a colourful one. It all started in the late 1920s, when the regent queen of the Travancore kingdom, Sethu Laxmi Bayi, decided to set up a family retreat in the form of the Halcyon Castle, right in this region. Later her nephew, the Maharaja of Travancore, played a major role in giving Kovalam its first taste of limelight.

The king loved this place, and would spend hours on the beaches or wander amongst the endless sight of coconut trees in this village. Actually, that’s how Kovalam came upon its name; which can be literally translated to a coconut grove. He also hosted many parties and banquets for all his state guests (including Sir Thomas Cook), who were equally enthralled with this place. Gradually the village started attracting more and more. European families as well as Indian aristocrats, settled in Bombay and Madras. And the Hawah beach became the first Indian topless beach. We are still talking about the 30s and early 40s.

Post-Independence, the village continued to have a small but steady flow of Indian and some foreign tourists. The major break for Kovalam came during the 1970s when the hippies rediscovered the charms of this fishing village. They gathered in large amounts and ecstatically made elaborate plans about settling down in the region, but alas, the Kerala government had some other ideas - and the rest as they say is history. Once the government realised the potential of the state as a tourist magnet, Kovalam was the first destination to be publicised for Kerala tourism.

Today, Kovalam has undergone a complete metamorphosis with a conspicuous cosmopolitan flavour, but fishing still remains a major occupation amongst the locals. Apart from that, the economy is also significantly dependant on the tourism industry (especially the Ayurvedic Health Resorts), which has also brought about changes in the lifestyle of the people. Tourists from abroad flock here for Ayurvedic massages, yoga sessions, oil baths, meditation and so much more. Though there are no more remnants of the hippie culture and no more topless beaches, Kovalam still attracts a large number of national and international tourists every year, whether for romantic moonlit walks, snorkelling, water sports, or for relaxing Ayurvedic massages. Just like any other region in Kerala, Kovalam also has a number of celebrations and festivities (Elephant race and the Village Fair), which add a heavy touch of brightness, colours and an overall air of merriment to the atmosphere.

With some of the best places to visit in Kovalam, you can learn more about the history and culture of the city.

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