Kerala – Kovalam beach

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Kerala – New Year in Southern India

Kovalam Beach in Kerala, Souther India, is a simply idyllic place to spent any part of the British winter. Especially New Year!

Kerala India
Sunset at Kovalam beach

The first stop on our epic Southern India trip was the Marigold Mini House on Kovalam beach for the New Year festivities. Don’t confuse things with the Marigold Hotel of film fame, this is a real place to stay. The Marigold Mini house is a charming and real establishment run by Manesh, and is right next to the Indian ocean and the Kovalam Lighthouse. I do love a lighthouse, and this one is as fine a red and white striped example as you can find anywhere.

Kovalam beach Kerala
Delightful lighthouse

Our small balcony overlooked the crashing surf on a correspondingly mini beach. It was a short walk to the beach front road, with all its restaurants, shops and people watching opportunities. At midnight there was a great firework show, just like the firework displays at home only much, much closer. At one point one landed on the roof of the mini house but thankfully extinguished itself immediately.

Kovalam beach kerala
The Marigold Mini House

Kovalam beach Kerala – what to eat

There are lots of dining choices here. All the restaurants were vying for our New Year rupees and we had a delicious meal at the ABC beach café. Owned by Rajesh, the ABC café has the most gorgeous menu at the cheapest prices. Prawns in coconut sauce, fish in banana leaf, and caramel chicken with coconut rice, are just a small sample of their to-die-for dishes. Top cocktail of the trip – their ginger Mojitos!

Georgeous ginger mojitos
We started chatting to the locals. One young man told us proudly that he was a gold hunter. He made a living scanning the beaches for gold jewelery left behind by visitors to the beach. His best find had been worth so much it had enabled him to put a deposit on his car. If he found any particularly pretty pieces he saved them for his prospective wife! We asked what was going to be happening on the beach for New Year. He told us that 5,000 boys would be appearing!
Kovalam beach Kerala
Boys began to appear

Quite a lot of boys soon did appear as the sun went down, in small groups, sauntering along the beachfront with their arms about each other. They were preening themselves, taking selfies and checking their man bags. More boys appeared doing lots of drumming. Conversely, girls, not afforded the same freedoms in India, were conspicuous by their general absence. We saw some amazing Bollywood/street dancing at one of the hotels where we snuck in for the show. Yes we were definitely in India!

Bollywood on the beach!

Kerala – seafood specialities

Kovalam is a fantastic place for seafood and we saw some huge specimens. Mighty, large swordfish were humiliated by ending up on an ice platter with a  tomato stuck on the end of their fine sword. Presumably to alert passers by to the danger of being spiked. King fish with their great bull heads were also everywhere. This is rather an ugly fish, which tastes a lot better than it looks.

Big King fish face

Kovalam beach is a shopper’s paradise. You may think that this a cliche but in this case it is an incontrovertible truth, and as a professional global shopper I should know.

Kovalam beach Kerala
The Master tailor

Here, everything can be tailor made for you in a day. Prescription glasses at a fraction of the UK cost (got some) Beautiful made to measure sandals in coloured baby soft leather (got three pairs) shirts and shorts (got some) and beautiful hand made silver rings with huge (semi precious) stones like lemon and smoky Topaz (we got quite a lot of those.)

Clock the rocks!

Kerala – shopping paradise on Kovalam Beach

The fakes are great here. You get buy a convincing Mulberry bag for about £28. There are colourful Saris, t shirts caftanas and bags of all shapes and sizes are brilliant value. Allow some time for browsing and shopping, you could be in negotations for some time,

Saris with a smile

The scarves are totally gorgeous and we had a lovely chat with the proprietor of the Pashmina House who had just arrived from Kashmir (where it was snowing incidentally) He showed us a picture of his little brother Bir among his two hundred goats from which the very fine fleece is sheared.

Bir and his goats

I had to buy a beautiful silk one in chocolate and iceberg blue, which I took to wearing draped about my person in order to create what I called my ‘sub continental’ look.

Kashmir scarves from the Pashmina House

As in many poor countries, pets are considered a luxury here, and so there are lots of street dogs roaming around which live on the beach, but they are collared and cared for. Signs explain that they are not dangerous – ‘if you remain calm, we will be calm.’ I liked the shapes they threw after dark when they collapsed in the cool, looking as if they were flying though the night to street dog dreamland in suspended caninmation.

Kovalam beach Kerala
Trampoline dog
Galloping dog