Alappuzha and its unparalleled coastal beauty

Mararikulam Beach

Alappuzha is famous for its long coastline. Some famous; some unexplored, we take a day trip. The sun was just about rising on the horizon as our car turned west from Kayamkulam ONK Junction on the national highway and entered the Kayamkulam-Kochi jetty road. The view of the Tsunami bridge over Kayamkulam lake on the Kollam-Kottappuram national highway, with Chinese nets spread out all along the lake was breathtaking. It is time for a halt and a selfie with the family; I religiously upload it on Facebook. Even as the post gathered 'likes' and comments, we had taken the left turn from the coastal road. A little along the way, you come across the beautiful interplay of the blues of the sea on the west and the lake on the east, as if the lake is virtually embracing the sea. Perhaps it is this beauty that prompted the poet to year for another life here. This is Valiazheekkal beach. It is still early morning, and a rare treat awaits travelers here: a bank of tetrapods jutting about 500 meters into the sea. You can take a bike ride over the tetrapods into the sea. Or you can walk down. The sea beckons you from either side as you walk. Sea gulls hover overhead, fishing boats bob over the waves, and anglers of both the local and foreign variety line either side. If you have a fishing tackle and rod, you too can catch some fish. We feel as if these are sights that dreams are made up off. But, we have other plans. We follow the coastal road again to the north. We cross Aarattupuzha and enter Trikkunnapuzha. Yes, this is the land of Palani of 'Chemmeen.' Memories rise up of Palani in a boat being dragged by a shark caught in his fishing hook, the lines of a mournful song play in the mind. It is on the sand banks here that the Vavu bali for ancestors is held. All along the beach are granite blocks meant for a sea wall. Eleven years back, the sea had just swallowed up this whole coast. Now you can catch glimpses of the sea from the road through the gaps in the wall. Our car now heads to Pallana junction, between the sea and the sand. A left turn from here takes you to Kumarakodi. The old Asan memorial at Kumarakodi is being rebuilt in the model of the Shakespeare memorial at Avon. The memories of 'Redeemer' that sank on the Pallana river, taking with it the life of Kerala's famous bard, still linger around these banks. A light breeze lisps poetry on the palm fronds. It is an ideal place to take a break. Soon we said bye to Pallana, carrying with us some memories of Kumaran Asan. Now to Thottappalli beach; the sun was already beating down on the sands and we could not spend much time on the beach. As the car crossed the spillway bridge, it looked like the sea and the lake were getting ready for a beauty contest. It is about noon. About 10 kilometers ahead on the national highway is the famous Ambalapuzha Srikrishna temple. You have to turn east from Ambalapuzha junction and travel about a kilometer inside to reach the temple. When we arrived, the temple was still open. A brief stop and again we hit the national highway; 15 kilometers ahead is Alapuzha city. We eat our lunch and hit the beach. It is a beautiful sight, the sun shining down on the beach; the sea a flood of silver. We take a look at the sea and the bridge and head to the lighthouse. It is a structure about 30-metere tall and the second modern lighthouse in India. We pay for our tickets and start the climb. The wooden planks on the ladder creak under our weight. Some others climbing with us tire out and fall behind. But the view from the top is worth all the sweat: all around are picturesque views of the sea, the Vembanad lake and Alappuzha city. As the sun is descending toward the sea as we take the coastal road again. Our next destination is Marari beach. In between we pass some famous resorts, and some really beautiful beaches. Marari is a regular presence in Malayalam films. It is a pleasure to sit and just watch the sea from the shades of the coconut trees on Marari beach. We get into the sea and wet our feet. And hit the road again, for the many more beautiful sights awaiting us. A few kilometers north, we come up on a beautiful stone building. This is the famous Arthunkal Basilica, the pilgrimage centre of St Sebastian. The same Basilica that is mentioned in an old Malayalam film song. You can also have the darshan of Arthunkal Veluthachan here. Another six kilometers ahead is Thankippalli, and beyond that is Andhakaranazhi, or the dark corridor. It is the last stop on our journey. The sky has taken on a reddish hue. We enjoy the views from the elevated walkway built on the sea wall. A lighthouse far ahead adds to the beauty. We just had to travel 90 kilometers to enjoy this enchanting tropical dusk. And what we got were some great views - unparalleled and unforgettable.

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