The next most important thing is food and behold! that posed some challenge to me surely, vegetarian options are quite less with a few small outlets serving South Indian (Dosa, Idli, Appam etc.) and finding a Jain restaurant is almost impossible. However, for Non-Vegetarians there are many restaurants if you are comfortable with Beef being cooked in the same Kitchen. Well, by saying this there is nothing against any sort of food, however, I know many who are very specific of not visiting restaurants serving all kinds of meat, so this is just for info and not meant to hurt any sentiments. Almost all the people understand basic English so exploring the streets wasn't much of a problem. :)
There is a local market place near the palace known by the name of the area - Fort and yes, I did enjoy shopping there. It consist of small street vendors to large shops hosting dresses, jewellery and many other goods. I did venture out and bought quite a few Sarees, they were very aptly priced and I did not have to bargain much. The jewellery options available was also quite good with beautiful bangles, Jhumkas and lots of earrings. It was such a satisfactory feeling going through the narrow lanes with hordes of public buying, choosing and what not! I moved from shop to shop and it was a perfect retail therapy. For all the shopaholics, this place is a must and also, you would find almost all the big brands on MG road for that last moment shopping. I did also see a lot of antique shops with beautiful collections and yes, handicraft is exceptionally beautiful and a must try. All these shops were within walking distance from my hotel , so you see, the location is really important.
In this same location there is Palace known as Horse Palace which has been turned into a museum now.
The museum hosts a lot of reminiscences from the bygone era when India had monarchy and is completely made of wood. The entry is Rs. 20/- for Indian Nationals and we should wait for our turn where the guide comes and takes you in a group of around 10 people. We were asked to keep our slippers outside, the guide came and took us in, he also gave us an option of selecting the language to communicate - English or Hindi. As we had few foreign tourists we agreed upon English. Inside photography wasn't allowed but I still have the beautiful images saved in my memory. Beautiful paintings, large wooden carving of legendary Kathakali characters, pottery made of China Clay, Italian Chandeliers, various portraits of the Royal family are quite a few to be mentioned among the thousands of beautiful artefacts preserved there. All these made me understand that the Royal Family is really progressive and had always worked towards the betterment of the people. This palace is a two storey with extensive wooden carvings on the ceilings. A speciality as told by the guide was that each room has a different carving in the ceiling which left us spell bound. At the centre is the library from which like sun's rays, all the rooms venture out. Currently, all the rooms are not open to public and renovation is going on for quite a few. However, what we saw delved us into a different era, it completely took us to a land which was so progressive even at that time. There were a few rooms dedicated to Dance, Scholarly discussions and also holds a secret passage to Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, which opens once in six years during Lakshadeepam Festival when the Royal family goes to the temple via the passage. Let me show you one of the wood carvings from the ceiling in the waiting Verandah which captivated me, which will give you an idea on the brilliance of their carving.
Also, all the windows are aligned in such a way that they fall in the same line for all the rooms and the outside lining has wooden carvings in the shape of horses, hence the name as Horse Palace. Although this wasn't one of those grand palaces I had visited, however, it has a very unique charm of its own and I must say that its worth a visit.
Now, for my favourite part, the beach and yeah Kovalam is undoubtedly one of the best beaches, turquoise water splashing the Golden Sand, coconut trees over the land. I went to the part known as Hawa Beach and oh! its pure beauty, but I really suggest to visit on a weekday when there are few people on the beach and you can have almost the entire beach to yourself. Isn't that straight out of a Bollywood movie? Perfect water, Golden Sand and Coconut trees swaying and not much of people around to bother. I just loved it!
With time ticking towards the end of my quest with the beach, I returned to the hotel after a surreal feel with the sea.
Few tips on a Trivandrum visit is:
- Autos are easily available to move around, however, just hop into it, say the location you want to go and tell him to put the meter, else he will ask any price as per his mood which is really high once he realises you are new. I did the same and always kept my GPS on to follow on the roads being taken. Buses also ply, however, I always chose auto for shorter distance and OLA cabs for longer ones.
- People are friendly and tend to smile at you which is fine, so just smile and move ahead.
- Do not pick up any fight with any local until and unless you know the language else no will listen or understand even if you are correct.
- Solo girls might want to return back soon to their hotels as night life doesn't exist much and even the main roads are deserted post 8 o'clock in the evening.