Veli Tourist Village
Veli tourist village is a popular picnic destination in Thiruvananthapuram district. It consists of a large garden on the southern banks of Veli lagoon. A floating bridge connects this garden to the Veli beach. This picnic destination offers a wide range of attractions such as play areas for children, various boat rides in Veli lake, games, horse rides, swimming pool, shopping stalls, cafeterias, a floating restaurant, a long walkway connecting to Aakulam lake, stone and grass sculptures by Kanayi Kunhiraman which dots the garden landscape, a collection of pet birds such as pigeons and swans, small ponds with fish and tortoises and more!
Getting to Veli
Veli tourist village is located about 10km from Thiruvananthapuram city. You can take a bus, auto or a taxi to reach Veli. If you are driving from Thiruvananthapuram city, take the airport road via Chacka. From All Saints College Jn. (7km from city) head straight towards Kochu Veli Railway Station. After a distance of around 400 metres from Kochu Veli Railway Station, take a left turn towards Veli Tourist Village. About 200 metres or so along this road you will find the first parking slot on the left side. If parking here is full, head another few metres to park on the right side. You need to pay a small parking fee (Rs. 10).
While driving, you will see the Veli entrance on the right side. There are also a number of small shops around the entrance. If you are visiting with small children, buying one of the plastic balls would be a good idea (or you can buy them from shops near the beach as well). There is an entrance fee of Rs. 5 per person (there is no camera fee here). Tickets are not needed for children under the age of 14.
The following location map gives a top level view of Veli Tourist Village. Please refer to the following table for the location details. Check out the activities section for a detailed look at the activities at each location.
|Map ID||Location Details|
|1||Car parking slot.|
|2||Second parking slot, this is much bigger than the first one and can accommodate buses.|
|3||Veli tourist village entrance. A ticket counter is on the right.|
|4||Walkway to boat dock. This path is lined with flowering plants.|
|5||Toilet complex located on the left side of the Veli entrance.|
|6||Children’s park and a beautiful grass sculpture of sleeping woman created by Kanayi Kunhiraman.|
|7||A pond with a huge sculpture of a Conch shell (Sanghu). This is the signature landmark of Veli. The pond contains fish and plenty of tortoises. On the right side you will find a herd of swans (Arayannams).|
|8||Interesting stone sculptures by Kanayi Kunhiraman and a beautiful garden.|
|9||Walkway to Aakulam lake.|
|A||Cafeterias are located here. There is also a pigeon cage with an impressive collection. The giant trees here provide much needed shade and also a nesting place for birds.|
|B||2 boat docks are located here. There is a ticketing counter nearby. Boat ticketing is a 2 stage process. In stage 1 you pay the fee and in stage 2 you fill in an application form with your address etc.!|
|C||More stone sculptures and garden.|
|D||A two storied floating restaurant operated by KTDC. Unfortunately, second floor is not operational. It is a medium range restaurant with limited menu.|
|E||The 60 metre floating bridge which connects the Veli garden with the Veli beach.|
|F||A swimming pool is located here (not operational). There is plenty of open space here making it an ideal place for children to play.|
|G||Shopping stalls are located here. This is operated by local population. A giant wheel is on the right side.|
|H||More shopping stalls and gaming stalls. Horse riding is also available here.|
|I||The newly constructed walkway on the Veli beach. This is usually deserted. An excellent location for some beach watching.|
|J||Veli beach. The sea here is relatively rough, but offers a better private experience than other beaches. Life guards are present.|
|K||Veli lake. A sand bar separates the lake from the sea. During floods, this sand bar is manually cleared for water drainage.|
Following is the location map displayed at the entrance of Veli tourist village,
Veli tourist village offers a wide variety of activities for children, adults and families. The beauty of Veli is that it offers something to everyone! These include,
Boating: Boating in the lake is what attracts a large percentage of tourists visiting Veli. Boating is operated by KTDC and there are 2 boat docks and multiple types of boat rides are offered here. Usually the boat ride lasts 20 to 30 minutes and covers the stretch from Veli beach side to the NH47 bypass bridge (over 1 kilometre). The boats available include safari boats, pedal boats, row boats and speed boats. Boating is open from 10am to 5pm and there is a lunch break between 1pm to 2pm. Boat ticketing is an interesting 2 stage process. In stage 1, you pay the fee and get a fee receipt and a form to fill your address details. In stage 2, you submit this to approve your application and a register is filled in. Then you stand in a queue near the boat dock. Even during the peak hour, I found the staff to be friendly and considerate.
The tariff structure as of 2014 is given below,
|Safari boat (per person)||Rs.70|
|Safari separate boat (for 10 persons)||Rs.800|
|Safari big boat (15 persons)||Rs.1100|
|Speed boat (4 persons)||Rs.700|
|High speed boat (6 persons)||Rs.1000|
|Row boat (2 persons, 30 minutes)||Rs.100|
|Pedal boat (2 persons, 30 minutes)||Rs.100|
Tickets are not needed for children below 5 years of age. Some of the boats may not be available depending on the rush and the availability of the staff. Since the lake is narrow, the high speed boat ride is a hair raising experience!
Leisure Walk: There is a walkway on the lakeside which connects Veli to the Parvathi Puthanar canal opening just near the NH47 bypass bridge. This walkway is over 1 kilometre long and offers an excellent leisure walk opportunity. Please be aware that this walkway can be deserted at times and hence it is not advisable to visit alone or as a lonely couple. There is also a toddy shop (shop selling country liquor) along this way. Last time I went, this was closed. Another walkway on the other side of NH47 bridge (Aakulam lake) is currently being developed. Currently Veli and Aakulam walkways are not connected.
There is another excellent elevated walkway newly constructed on the southern side of Veli beach. This is hidden from tourists who visit only the Veli lake. You need to cross the floating bridge towards the beach and then cross the games/shopping area to reach this walkway. This walkway is about 300m long and provides an excellent view of the beach. It was originally intended to bring nightlife (large flood lamps are constructed here) in Veli similar to Kovalam. But this place also closes at 7pm probably due to lack of tourists or due to lack of staff.
Children’s Park: There are multiple small children’s parks in Veli. The first one is on the right side of the Veli main entrance. This offers various playground sets such as slides, swings etc. Interestingly this section also has swings which are marked for “couples”. It is very rare that such consideration is extended to couples in Kerala!
Dining: There are a number of small cafeterias (located on the right of the boat dock) and a floating restaurant operated by KTDC (located on the left side of the boat dock near the floating bridge). Cafeterias offer snacks, ice-creams, soft drinks etc. and are cheap for a tourist destination. The floating restaurant is priced on the medium range and offers excellent views of the lake and the beach. Order a hot coffee and watch sunset from here!
Shopping: Small shops are located on the main road outside the Veli tourist village entrance and also on the beach side where lake meets the beach. You can buy everything that you get when you visit a festival ground. You can always haggle, but I found the prices to be reasonable. Remember when you buy something, you are supporting the local population.
Bird Watching: Veli also offers excellent opportunities for bird watchers. The hotspots include the large trees located near the boating area, trees located on the southern side of the floating bridge and the lake areas towards the NH47 bypass bridge. Obviously early morning is the best time for bird watching. Unfortunately the park is only open after 8am.
Games & Fun: At the Veli beach there are a number of indoor games and rides suitable for both adults and children. These include a giant wheel, shooting games, darts etc. Horse riding, caricature drawing etc. are some of the other fun things here. The fun games are very cheap (Rs.5 for a game)! Most of these are run by families living on the beach side.
Photography: Veli is also a good place to try out your photography skills. The beach, the lake, birds, garden, stone sculptures and the overall landscape offers excellent opportunity for trying various types of photography. The garden here is excellent and is well stocked and well maintained. This offers excellent opportunities for your new macro lens! The roads crossing the lake also offers excellent views of the place.
Swimming/Beach Fun: There is a swimming pool located near the Veli beach which doesn’t seem operational. The Veli beach is a bit rough, so you need to be careful if you plan to take a bath in the sea. A couple of life guards are also present here. Please note that toxic waste from factories are discharged directly to the sea barely 1km away from Veli beach and hence it may not be a good idea to swim in the sea!
Veli Picnic Experience
Entry to Veli lake tourism village opens at 8am and you need to pay an entry fee of Rs.5. The entrance is through a narrow pathway leading to the main boat landing area. This pathway is decorated with beautiful flowering plants. You can either head straight to the boating area, take a left to the beach side or take a right turn to the children’s play area. In the following article, I will give a recommended itinerary for a afternoon picnic. If you want to experience Veli fully, you need a full day. However it is also possible to cover most of the interesting activities in a half day.
After entering the tourist village, take a right to the small children’s park. There are a number of small rides for children. Swings are also provided for children and adults. The swings are even marked as “children” and “couples”! After this area you come across a pond with a huge sea shell/conch shell (Sanghu) in the middle. This is the signature landmark of Veli tourist village. Currently this pond contains a huge population of tortoises and you will find them floating over the water. There is also a beautiful garden around this place. On the right you will find a flock of swans (Arayannams). On the left side there is a beautiful, sexy grass sculpture of a sleeping woman created by Kanayi Kunhiraman. As you walk to the right of this towards the lake, you will encounter a number of interesting stone sculptures also created by Kanayi Kunhiraman.
From the the lake side you can walk to the right towards Aakulam lake. This walkway passes under the railway line and ends near the NH47 bypass bordering Aakulam lake. This is a stretch of around 1km and offers excellent opportunities for bird watching and photography. There is also a toddy shop on the right of this path way. I am not sure whether this is currently operational. This stretch is also a preferred location for couples from the city looking for some private space.
When you are tired, walk back towards the boating dock located at the other end of this walkway. You can have snacks, tea/coffee, ice-creams etc. from the shops located here. There is a also a rack of pigeon cages and a pretty good collection of pigeons and children can take a close look at them. The giant trees here offer much needed shade and also provides a nesting place for birds.
After a break, get a ticket to a boat ride. I highly recommend the high speed boat ride. The ride takes about 10 to 30 minutes depending on the boat selected.
After the boat ride, head towards the floating restaurant. Operated by KTDC, this restaurant has 2 floors. The upper floor gives excellent views of the area. Unfortunately it is not operational. The area around restaurant has more of Kanayi’s sculptures and flowering plants. After tea and hot cutlets, head towards the beach through the floating bridge. If you decide to watch sunset from here, you may not be able to spend time at the beach since the park begins evacuating tourists by 6:30pm.
The floating bridge connects the Veli garden to the Veli beach over a branch of the Veli lake. As you walk towards the beach over this bridge, you can spot plenty of birds on the left side. After the crossing, you can head straight towards the beach. On the way there is an open space with a number of shops and small games. This amusement park also has a “giant” wheel.
The beach here is rough, but unlike Kovalam or Sanghumugham, offers a more private experience. Recently an elevated walkway was constructed along the beach extending to the south side of the beach. This is an ideal place to relax with a coffee. Unfortunately there are no shops around this place. Also even though this was constructed with grand ideas (it even has a floodlight suitable for nightlife), not many tourists are here. This is because most people come here for a quick picnic in the evening and by the time they reach here, it would be dark. After the sunset, head back to the park exit.
Veli Travel Tips
- Veli is a favourite destination for organized picnic from schools and colleges. It might be a bit crowded during the picnic season. Ideal time to visit the place would be around 3pm.
- Even though the tourist centre is open till 7pm, security guards will start pushing you out by 6:30pm. This is because they want clear up the place and leave by 7.
- Few people take the walkway and hence it is deserted most of the time. Be careful if you walk alone or walk as a lonely couple along this route.
- Life jackets are mandatory in boat trips. The bad side is that life jackets are old and stinky. Boating is advertised as a 5km trip which in reality is a trip covering 3km or less.
- The sea near Veli beach is polluted from the toxic industrial waste that is pumped out from nearby industrial areas. Also when the polluted Veli lake is connected to the beach, getting into the sea is not recommended.
Future of Veli Tourism Village
- The northern side of the Veli lake is in the hands of VSSC (Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre). An administrative block with guest house has been constructed on the banks recently and even a portion of the lake is added to this centre reducing the overall lake size available for the tourists.
- Kerala government has plans of extending Veli tourism village with the addition of a theme park. It is supposed to be a hybrid park with night cricket facilities, go-karting, bowling alleys, ethnic restaurants, fun zone etc. Even though the land for this was acquired more than 10 years ago, the project is still in a limbo.
- One of the things that threaten the Veli beach and Veli lake is the rapid rise in pollution. The streams that join Veli lake (Amayizhanjal canal, Parvathy Puthanar canal etc.) are nothing but city drainages bringing in highly polluted waste water. What makes things worse is the lack of any waste management process in Thiruvananthapuram district. Also the industrial toxic waste is pumped without proper treatment to the sea.
Veli tourist village is an ideal picnic location for families with children. It is also a place where you can spend your day just walking around and having fun. However it might be a bit crowded in the evening. And if you like some adrenaline rush, there is always the high speed boat ride on the narrow Veli lake!