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Poovar – the backwater paradise

Blue sky, merky backwaters, a sandy beach, an estuary, endless rows of coconut trees, mangrooves, boat, birds and us. This is Poovar lake, a nature lovers delight, lost somewhere near the tip of South India, tucked in Gods own country , Kerala.

Table of Contents:
Poovar at a glance
  1. How to reach
  2. where to stay
  3. Cost

My Experience of a Poovar Backwaters
  1. Beginning of the Tour
  2. Going deep
  3. The delta
  4. The beach and Estuary
  5. The conclusion of the Tour

Poovar at a glance:

Kerala has innumerable number of backwater canals; so much so that gems like Poovar are lost in the midst of more popular attractions like Allepey and Kumarakom. The fact that it doesn’t rank very high in the tourism radar of Kerala however has ensured that the natural serenity of the place remains intact.

Poovar boasts of unique views of the backwaters that isn’t experienced as part of any houseboat tour in either of the aforementioned popular backwater locations. Small narrow canals with mangroves all around, huge river, close up view of village life, a beach, an estuary and a lot more; Poovar, is truely a very unique destination.

How to Reach:
Poovar is 32 km from the capital of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum).
Nearest Airport : Trivandrum International Airport (18km)
Nearest Railway Station : Trivandrum Central – 22km, Nemom – 12km.
From Thiruvananthapuram you can easily get a cab to reach Poovar, which should cost around Rs.1500 for a round trip. Ensure you take a round trip as very limited transportation options are available in Poovar.
Kovalam is a beach town halfway between Thiruvananthapuram and Poovar, you may stay there as well, in which case to an auto rickshaw for a round trip, should costs around 400 to 500 rupees.

Where to Stay:
There are a few resorts in Poovar, which can be availed if you want to explore the islands and nearby villages, and are in no hurry.
Otherwise Kovalam, which is midway between Thiruvananthapuram and Poovar has many budget and Luxury accommodation. In addition one can experience the beautiful Kovalam Beach as well.
Thiruvananthapuram also boasts of multiple budget and luxury accommodations, so one can stay there as well

Cost:
A 90 minutes motorboat trip costs Rs. 500 per head, and a boat can hold 5 to 7 people. If you are travelling in a group try to hire a full boat for yourself instead of the per head costs. In which case you can get a whole boat for as low as Rs. 2000 to 3000 depending upon the capacity of the boat.

My Poovar Experience:

Our plan for the day was sorted. We were visiting Kovalam beach and Padmanavapuram palace as part of a day trip from Thiruvananthapuram. During our breakfast the waiter at our hotel, who by now had become familiar with us, introduced us to a backwater place called Poovar.

We were reluctant to give it a shot, as a backwater houseboat tour in Allepey was already in the cards, and I was skeptical that we might have a repeat of the scenery. The waiter however was insistent. He went so much gaga about the place that finally we gave in and called our driver to ask if we could club it in our plans for the day. He agreed and off we went on our first backwater tour.

Our very first backwater experience at Poovar

Beginning of the backwater tour:

The canal on which the tour started

The boat cruised slowly in the Neyyar River moving from a more urban to rural setting by every passing minute. Trees flanked the banks on either sides of the river, covering up most of the things that lay beyond. We could only catch little glimpse of houses through some small sliver of space between them.

We had succeeded in hiring a boat for a 90 minutes cruise over the Poovar backwaters for Rs. 2000, all thanks to my father’s bargaining skills.The place was hot and the life jackets we were made to wear, was making the heat even more miserable. Can’t complain much though, safety comes first.

Going into the Backwaters:

The boat slowed its speed and took a turn into a small canal. There was thick foliage on both sides with some familiar flora in the form of coconut, pineapple and mangroves, but most of the trees looked like a Frankenstenial mingle of greens.

The canal was very narrow, sometimes being just 10 ft wide with trees bending down and forming a kind of canopy for us to glide through. The experience was unreal as this is something I had never witnessed in my life. It was like floating through a cave, only this time the walls were made of trees.

At places the tree cover reduced, which provided glimpses of the local life in form of boys diving into the water, bathing and playing, women washing clothes on their porch, and men boating their way to business. We witnessed some ducks carelessly peddling in the water, some kingfishers waiting patiently in low branches to pounce upon any unsuspecting fish.

A few more turns and the boat entered into much denser section that bore pungent smell of marshy land. The trees were so closely knit that barely any sunlight reached the surface of water. The colour of the water here was a mix of green and brown, with no signs of birds around. It was eerie, as though we had entered a cursed jungle, floating through a stream, with the only audible sound being that of the motor. The speed of the boat was turned slow as the water level is pretty shallow here. This was making the whole experience even more surreal.

The Rocks in the Delta:

Just like the night is at its darkest before the sunrise, the dark, claustrophobic canal was the last narrow waterbody. Just like magic, a turn of the stearing wheel, took us out of the canal and placed us in the Neyyar river yet again. As we continue to remain awestruck by the visuals, the river now was making its way towards the sea, it’s final journey.

The Neyyar River

Cruising through a couple of rocks tugged at my attention. One of them is called Elephant Rock, named such because the rock was shaped like an elephant’s back. The top of the rock had a holy cross placed on it. The other rock that interested me was a giant one with a beautiful sculpture of mother Mary showering her blessings. Building that sculpture on top of that rock in the middle of a river must have taken quite some effort.

The Beach and the Estuary:

Soon our boat anchored on a sandy stretch of land that separated the river from the sea. This piece of land is called the Golden Sands Beach of Poovar. The waves of the vast Arabian sea crashed every now and then into the shore, at times chipping away some sand and sometimes depositing the same. The landscape changing with every wave. The beach became thinner as we walked south and gradually vanished, merging the river with the sea.

The estuary with the sea infront and river behind. Pic curtesy : Tripadvisor

Visitors are cautioned not to venture anywhere close to the meeting point, the estuary, as high tides has a tendency to appear at any given point in time, and submerge parts of the beach. The river that flows behind the beach also chips away sand from the base as it moves along. This creates chances of the sand caving in, hence visitors are always reminded to be cautious when on the beach. We spent a few minutes there, sipping coconut water and admiring the beauty of the estuary.

Conclusion of the tour:

On our way back we encountered several floating restaurants and a few vendors had setup shops on boats. The 90 minutes tour deterred us from trying the food in those restaurants. We spotted a few resorts on our way back as well, built on floating platforms. That must be some experience to spend a night in.

Moving through the backwaters, inching closer to the jetty, I had only praise for the amazing backwaters of Poovar. The streams, canals, river and mangroves are a nature lovers paradise. If only I could have seen a few more birds, had more time to bask in the golden sands and spend a night floating in one of those cottages. It’s definitely added to my bucket list. See ya Poovar, my next trip to the state of Kerala will all be for you

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