A state with soul-soothing landscapes, calm backwaters and historically fascinating cities, Kerala has many undiscovered attractions that deserve your attention. Here’s a list of five rare places to visit near Thiruvananthapuram. By Smrithi Suresh
Rare Places To Visit Near Thiruvananthapuram
1. Vembanad Lake
The pristine Vembanad Lake is India’s longest lake, dotted by mangroves and coconut trees. This destination is called the ‘Backwater Paradise’ and serves as a perfect spot to enjoy the tranquil beauty of Kerala. The lake stretches along the major tourist locations such as Kochi, Alleppey, etc. A pit-stop in Kumarakom is highly recommended. A slow-paced ride on a canoe will take you through the small island of Pathiramanal, where you can enjoy lush plantations and traditional ways of fishing. Vembanad Lake also offers various houseboat rides for tourists. You can visit the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, which serves as a home to many exotic birds. Do not forget to take a boat trip during sunset to catch a view of the sky enveloped by different shades of orange. You can either treat yourself with fresh seafood and a spa day, or visit nearby tourist spots like Vaikom Temple and Marari Beach.
Distance from Thiruvananthapuram: 156.1 km (3 hours 50 mins approx.)
Best time to visit: November to February
Must-try food: Seafood delicacies
Stay: Taj Kumarakom Resort & Spa, tajhotels.com
An eco-tourism spot in Kerala, Gavi is a beautiful village with salient forests. Situated near the Periyar Tiger Reserve, this place is home to spectacular flora and fauna. You can also visit the plantations nearby, take a stroll near the valley, or indulge in activities like boating in Pamba Reservoir. This destination is a heaven for jungle trekkers and birdwatchers. You can even interact with the enthusiastic tribal people of Gavi and stay in the treetop houses. A notable viewpoint — Pullumedu Peak — offers a splendid view of the famous Sabarimala temple.
Distance from Thiruvananthapuram: 183.2 km (5 hours 8 minutes approx.)
Best time to visit: September to February
Must-try food: Traditional Kerala cuisine like Puttu and Appam with curry
Stay: Springdale Heritage, springdaleheritage.in
3. Munroe Island
A cluster of eight islands separated by lakes and channels, Munroe Island is another hidden gem of Kerala. This place takes you on a serene journey on the peaceful backwaters accompanied by an attractive range of trees. You can enjoy boat rides with a backdrop of beautiful villages through the canals. With the chirruping of birds and calm ripples in the water, a ride in a canoe through the lagoons will leave an everlasting memory on your mind. You can also interact with the locals and try your hand at coir weaving, or go for fishing and hiking to catch a birds-eye-view of the backwater. This calm and clean island could be your detox getaway from the city buzz.
Distance from Thiruvananthapuram: 81.4 km (2 hours 21 minutes approx.)
Best time to visit: October to May
Must-try food: Local delicacies provided in the farm
Stay: Vini’s Farm; vinisfarm.com
This place houses a hidden valley and is surrounded by voluminous clouds that touch the peak of three hillocks. The most fascinating thing about this location is that instead of trees, it is covered with a thick sheet of grass. Ilaveezhapoonchira translates to “pond with flowers where leaves do not fall” in Malayalam. The curvy roads in this region are unpaved and hence it’s better to hike to the top, for a panoramic view of the mountains and the Malankara reservoir. A walk to Kannadipara — the highest point in Ilaveezhapoonchira — is also recommended by the locals. The pristine water of the nearby Kazhukankulimali waterfall cascading through the bamboo groves and wildflowers is a must-see. You can also go for a guided trek and camp.
Distance from Thiruvananthapuram: 183 km (4 hours 46 minutes approx.)
Best time to visit: June to September
Must-try food: Vegetable pakoras
Stay: GreenBerg Holiday Resorts; greenbergresorts.com
Thenmala in Kerala is India’s first planned eco-tourism site, which comprises of 10 tourist destinations. It is situated very close to the hill ranges of Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram and serves as one of the best places for a fun-filled weekend getaway, Here, you can enjoy a bunch of activities in the luscious forest, visit the Palaruvi falls or check out the Butterfly Garden Park. There are also many leisure zones in Thenmala. If you are an adventure lover, try mountain biking and rock climbing to get your adrenaline pumping. River crossing is also a popular activity here. You can lay tents or stay in jungle camps inside the Thenmala region. The place also qualifies for some amazing Insta clicks at the suspension bridge, with a backdrop of the valley and the dam.
Distance from Thiruvananthapuram: 70.3 km (2 hours approx.)
Best time to visit: May to November
Must-try food: Appam, paratha with kadala curry
Stay: Rooms offered by Thenmala Ecotourism