Kovalam is(was) a beautiful tourist destination 18 kms from Trivandrum, half an hour drive from the international airport. The place came into prominence when the Travancore Royals built a castle called the Halcyon castle in the early twentieth century. The place became a popular destination slowly towards the 70’s, thanks to the HIPPIES who were a sort of backpackers who found solace in the isolated and untouched virgin beaches.
I was a regular visitor during my college days and used to take occasional break to sit watching the beauty of the sea, waves splashing against the rocks, watching the sea taking away the evening sun. The place was crowded with tourists mostly foreigners enjoying the waves, eating in the restaurants amid western songs. It was a very pleasant atmosphere.This was in 2000. Now the condition has changed and i really feel sad. Even in the normal peak season the beaches are less crowded by foreign tourists but offcourse localsare present but actually they spend time just for few hours. This decline was a gradual process and now it has become horrific.
As a person who was present here i think the main factors which contributed this were lack of infrastructure like street lights, comfort stations etc, increasing theft and robbery,exorbitant price for Hotels mostly shabby and food, increasing constructions mostly illegal flouting all coastal rules etc by paying bribes. High handed and ineffective policing can also be credited to this.Exploitation and harassment of the guests by the locals also take place giving a bad name to the place. Unhygienic and illegal Ayurveda massage centres bring a lot of criticism and wrong message. Increasing popularity of cheap, professional and natural destinations like Srilanka ,Thailand etc also pose threat where facilities are better and more cheaper.
Alarm bells should be ringing with the Dept of Tourism, Govt of Kerala or else this pardise would be lost for ever and would be difficult to regain the lost glory. Tourism Department had proved earlier by promoting Kerala on the world tourism map by coining Gods own country tag and related marketing.