You have to envy the travellers who first discovered KOVALAM back in the 1970s. Before the appearance of the crowds and sunbeds that nowadays spill over the resort’s quartet of beaches, not to mention the warren of hotels, shops and restaurants crammed into the palm groves behind them, this must have been a heavenly location. Four decades of unplanned development, however, have wrought havoc on the famous headland and its golden sand bays. Virtually every conceivable patch of dry ground behind the most spectacular of them, Lighthouse Beach, has been buried under concrete, along with most of the area’s Keralan character.

Since the suspension in 2009 of direct charter flights from Europe, Russian package tourists have colonized Kovalam in a big way. Signs in Cyrillic script pop up along the beachfront from mid-December onwards, and the local lobsters are steamed in vodka rather than white wine.

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