Uncovering the traditional and cultural side of Kovalam – classic, celebratory and artistic

Uncovering the traditional and cultural side of Kovalam

So, you have decided to visit Kovalam – one of Kerala's most popular beach destinations that is known for its scenic views, relaxing atmosphere from its coastal climes, and serene natural beauty. And if you are a culture buff, you might wonder what you should do in Kovalam besides sunbathing and swimming. You are in luck because Kovalam actually has a rich and diverse cultural background that you can explore and enjoy.

It is time to uncover Kovalam's traditional and cultural side – classic, celebratory, and artistic. Here’s a glance at the best ways to soak in Kovalam's traditions.

Experience festivity like never before

Where: Year-round festivals all around the town

Kovalam hosts several festivals yearly that showcase its religious and cultural diversity, like the Village Fair of Kovalam, The Elephant Festival, the Kovalam Festival, and the Nishagandhi Dance Festival. Each has its own attractions – from a ‘Kerala village’ ambience at the beach to decorating elephants with jewels and necklaces to immersing in classical and folk dance forms. Witnessing Onam and other religious celebrations at the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple – also known as the world's richest temple - is also a magical experience.

Across these festivities, you can witness mesmerising classical art forms, especially Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Theyyam, Chenda Melam performances, and Kalarippayattu.

Discover the artistic side of Kerala

Where: Kovalam Art Gallery and Kerala Arts Crafts Village

Kovalam has a vibrant and creative community of artists and artisans who produce various handicrafts, paintings, sculptures and souvenirs. Some popular items include coconut shell products, wood carvings, brass lamps, pottery, jewellery, batik fabrics and paintings.

You can find these items in the local markets, shops and galleries in Kovalam or even visit the nearby villages where they are made. You can also interact with the artists and learn about their techniques and where they draw their inspirations from. Two great places for gaining these experiences are the Kovalam Art Gallery – ideal for contemporary art including paintings, sculptures, and handicrafts - and the Kerala Arts Crafts Village - ideal for local crafts and souvenirs such as Nettur Patti, Aranmula Kannadi, and Balaramapuram Kaithari.

Explore Kerala's regal past

Where: Kuthiramalika Palace Museum and Napier Museum

What better than museum tours near Kovalam to learn about Kerala's rich history?

One attraction in Thiruvananthapuram that you should take advantage of is the Kuthiramalika Palace Museum, built by Maharaja Swathi Thirunal Balarama Varma in the 19th century. The palace is a fine example of traditional Malayali architecture and displays a collection of paintings, musical instruments, weapons, royal furniture, and other artefacts that belonged to the royal family.

If you are curious about the history and culture of the state, you should also visit the Napier Museum, which lies in close proximity to a zoological garden and a botanical garden where you can see various animals and plants.

Immerse yourself in a guided Kerala village tour

Where: Any local village near Kovalam

If you want to experience the culture of the locals, why not spend a day with them? Head out on a guided Kovalam village tour and discover the magic of everyday rural life in God's own country. You can also participate in or witness activities like handloom weaving, fishing, toddy tapping, etc. Certain 5-star beach resorts in Kovalam, such as The Leela Kovalam, A Raviz Hotel, are your perfect starting points for accommodation and enjoying such curated cultural tours and experiences.

Truly, Kovalam is more than just a beach destination. It is a place to immerse yourself in Kerala's unique traditions and culture while you discover what makes Kerala truly special. Whether you are interested in watching a Kathakali performance, joining an Onam feast, or buying a coconut shell lamp at an art exhibit, you will find something to suit your taste and soothe your curiosity in Kovalam.